Refuting Common Arguments Against The Idea Of Biblical Celibacy
So let us begin with 1 Corinthians 7:1 regarding the phrase It is good for a man not to touch a woman. A possible interpretation and surely the one held by Tim is that this is not meaning to abstain from any sexual intercourse even in a marriage, but rather only abstaining from sexual relations outside of the marriage. While this is a possibility, I will explain why this is entirely irrelevant.
You may also be surprised to read why I am about to point out. It seems that when reading that verse, people have forgotten the first half of the verse. These are not Pauls words. That is correct, Paul never even said that. The first part of the verse says, concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me Paul was merely reiterating what the people from the church at Corinth had written to Paul.
Paul was not stating that this was valid, by no means. Paul merely restated what the people had written to him about, and then proceeded not to validate it but immediately contradict and refute it. The immediately following verse begins with the word Nevertheless, prose preparing for a refutation. The dictionary defines nevertheless as in spite of what was just said. In fact the original Greek uses the word which means however.
Hermeneutical analysis of 1 Corinthians 7:8
1 Corinthians 7:27 Loosed from a wife is not never married
What Does The Bible Teach
Monasticism is not mentioned in the Bible. We do not find one single monk, nun, or monastery in the New Testament. These terms and ideas appeared much later and were the ideas of people who wanted to dedicate themselves to God fully in a number of different services such as prayer or caring for the sick or copying holy books etc. It is sad to see in our modern times a distortion of this type of dedication. Some people, who have become disillusioned with life or disappointed by others, seek the isolation that a monastery has to offer. The Gospel does not teach anything like that. The Gospel teaches that those who have believed in Jesus Christ are to go out among the people, being totally dedicated to God while serving the people around them with the Gospel. I believe that Mother Teresa was a great example of living among the people and serving God by serving the people around her. She chose to live among those who were in the most need because of her love for Jesus Christ. She chose not to isolate herself but to live a selfless lifestyle serving the people around her. She was not preoccupied with herself, she lived and served the people around her as Jesus Christ did when He walked this earth.
There Are Always A Few Bad Apples In Every Barrel
It is definitely sad to hear of such cases, especially among people who are supposed to be godly. We must remember that we cannot judge an entire denomination or the practice of monasticism based on a few individual, isolated cases. As it is said, there are always going to be a few bad apples in every barrel and that is true even among Christian denominations. There have always been people among the faithful who have sinned openly and brought shame to their respective denominations and to the Church of Jesus Christ as well as to the Christian faith. I hope that these monks, nuns, and priests who were caught in the trappings of immorality were disciplined by their respective denominations according to the discipline that was practiced during the time of the Apostle Paul, like the case of the man in the Corinthian church who was openly practicing incest with his step-mother. Actually, if church discipline were correctly applied to all immoral people in the church, who pretend to be Christians, then all would view the consequences of sin very seriously. On the other hand, if cases of immorality are overlooked or tolerated, then the words of the Apostle Paul ring true, a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough, which means that a few people living openly in sin will end up affecting the entire body of believers and the high standards that God has set in the Bible will be lowered .
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The Apostle Paul On Marriage And Singleness
If that were true, why did God say from the very beginning that its not good for man to be alone ? Why did He purposely make humans male and female ? Why did He create a helpmate for Adam; ? Why did He bless Adam and Eve with the words, Be fruitful and multiply ?
Those statements make it clear that marriage is anything but a second-class state. On the contrary, . Its central to the Lords original intentions for the human race.
Along those lines, theres an important difference between singleness and a genuine spiritual calling to celibacy. We have to be careful not to confuse the two.
Tragedy Of The Tribe Of Benjamin
This is a very difficult story in the Bible. Be warned, that if you read it, it has more horror, death, and tragedy than most movies that Hollywood puts out. It is very graphic in places. At its root though is an event where a group of men from the tribe of Benjamin attempt to homosexually rape a Levitical priest. The end result is that most of the men of the Jewish tribe of Benjamin are wiped out.
The big picture is where it is placed in the book of Judges. Judges starts out with everything going fine as the new Israel is being created as a nation. The more that the book progresses, the more the people get away from God and following the Law of Moses. The end state is a rise of homosexual practice that causes a localized civil war among the tribes of Israel. Again, we see the idea that homosexuality in a society arises when a nation moves away from God and that judgement will follow.
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Where Do We Go From Here
The continuous message of the Bible is that homosexual practice is forbidden. However, this does not remove from those of us in the church the requirement to love beyond the worlds expectations. Start by praying and asking God not only to be with someone that is struggling with same-sex attraction, but ask God to help you be a source of comfort and security in their life.
The kingdom of God and its citizens should always present the message of grace and forgiveness to all people. Dont let this particular sin be one that is lifted up above others; sin is sin and it separates us from God. Your sin is no worse or better than anyone else’s and Jesus died to pay the price for it. Let us celebrate the love of God in all that we do and bless those that struggle, even if their sin is different than yours.
Larry White;is the pastor of Ephesus Baptist Church near Sanford, NC;
Does Jesus Address The Issue Of Homosexuality
Jesus himself does not come out and directly condemn homosexuality, nor does he support it. However, on issues of human sexuality, Jesus either affirms the Jewish understanding of appropriate human sexual practice or he places stronger restrictions on existing Jewish sexual customs . This affirmation of traditional Jewish understanding includes homosexuality. Jesus was never afraid to challenge a tradition or belief that did not align with the direction that God was taking humanity.
There was an opportunity for Jesus to address the issue. InMatthew 11:7-8, Jesus is confronting peoples expectations about his cousin John the Baptist. In his challenge, he asks if people were expecting John to be a man that wears soft clothes. The Koine Greek word for that phrase is malakos and it translated euphemistically as wears soft clothes. Its actual meaning is an effeminate homosexual male . Jesus associates this practice with the houses of kings and the wealthy who he often identified as oppositional to Gods kingdom.
This continues the idea that a proliferation of homosexual practice in a society has to do with the direction that a nation is taking in regard to following God. While not using direct language, this is evidence that Jesus did not view the practice of homosexuality as acceptable.
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Is This An Unforgivable Sin
The practice of homosexuality is not an unforgivable sin. In Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus describes the only unforgivable sin as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy according to Merriam-Webster is being irreverent or showing contempt toward God. While the Bible does describe homosexual practice as an abomination, it is well under the umbrella of forgiveness if the person repents. The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to cleanse us of all sin.
What The Bible Really Says About Homosexuality
Human sexuality is a complex and often difficult topic to discuss in our world today. The practice of homosexuality has become much more celebrated in western society and it has caused tremendous conversation to be kindled around the shifting morality of our times. Many Christians today begin to wonder what the Bible really says about homosexuality.
Our intent here is to present how the Bible speaks on the very sensitive matter of homosexuality, not to be ammunition for divisive arguments.
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The Difference Between Singleness And Celibacy
Singleness is circumstantial. It happens to people for all kinds of reasons: not being able to find a mate, death of a spouse, difficult family situations, medical or financial difficulties. The list goes on and on.
Celibacy, on the other hand, is a vocation. Its a rare gift that God grants only to a few special individuals .;And the charge of living a completely asexual life is a difficult standard .;Thats why we consider marriage such an important part of the divine plan for the average believer .
Paul doesnt pull any punches in this regard: To the unmarried and the widows I say that;it is good for them to remain single,;as I am.;But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion .
The practical application?;If youre single and arent convinced that you have a clear calling to the celibate life, you should think seriously about exploring the option of marriage.
Objectively, we cannot know ahead of time whether marriage or singleness will sanctify us more or honor God more. Does the internal reality of our heart lean us into the designs of marriage or the designs of singleness?;
Challenges Of Marriage As A Preparation For Eternity
Of course, in a bad marriage all of these things tend to move the opposite direction. However, God clearly defines a healthy marriage in the Bible, and to attain a healthy and holy marriage by following all that the Bible tells us, is to achieve one of the many gifts God has designed for us humans. And to attain a healthy marriage is to be able to more successfully achieve all that God has planned for us here on this earth in this life. God will be able to more easily work through us, move through us, teach through us, grow us, and shape us when we marry.
While marriage certainly is not without its challenges, God never intended for us to never have any challenges. On the contrary, God shapes us through difficulties and turbulence. However, a holy man and woman in marriage can get through every situation, and come through to the other side stronger than ever. And in doing so, gain spiritual strength and perseverance that goes beyond our earthly struggles. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says,
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
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Abstain From Sexual Immorality
When looking at abstinence, we cannot discuss it without a look at sexual immorality. God is pretty clear that we need to be moral in our decisions, and the choice to have sex is included:
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4God wants you to be holy, so dont be immoral in matters of sex. Respect and honor your wife.
1 Corinthians 6:18Dont be immoral in matters of sex. That is a sin against your own body in a way that no other sin is.
Colossians 3:5So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Dont be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Galatians 5:19-21When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
1 Peter 2:11Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.
2 Corinthians 12:21I am afraid God will make me ashamed when I visit you again. I will feel like crying because many of you have never given up your old sins. You are still doing things that are immoral, indecent, and shameful.
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Bible Verses About Celibacy
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb.
The disciples *said to Him, If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.But He said to them, Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mothers womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.
The Benefits Of Staying Single
6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet72 I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.
The first thing we should observe is that celibacy does have its benefits. When celibacy contributes to the cause of Christ, it is depicted positively in the Bible. Our Lord spoke positively of celibacy:
11 But He said to them, Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mothers womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it .
Paul speaks positively of it as well in 1 Corinthians 9 in reference to his choice and to that of Barnabas also to remain single . Finally, in the Book of Revelation we are told that the 144,00 will be celibates:
When Paul speaks of sexual abstinence and celibacy, he does so in a very carefully defined manner. Notice the qualifications Paul sets down regarding sexual abstinence:
If any of Pauls statements are less than a thus saith the Lord, we can count on Paul to tell us so.
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