Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Marry or Not to Marry

I decided to create a new post because there is so much to say about this that it would require several comment sections.

My friend and fellow blogger, Rick, brought up the fact that Catholic priest are forbidden to marry. I am reading the apocryphal gospels right now and in one of the epistles attributed to Paul he talks about marriage and the "curse" it brings upon the holy man. I do know that most Christians, including Rick, do not accept these particular writings, however the canonized gospels have a little to say about it also.

I found this article about marriage. I am not Catholic, nor do I defend the doctrine but I do see where they may find it bibilical.


Orthodox Jewish belief made marriage an obligation. If a man did not marry and have children, he was said to have "slain his posterity," and "to have lessened the image of God in the world." (William Barclay, "The Letters to the Corinthians") Orthodox Jewish belief also taught that there were seven who were excommunicated from heaven and the list began, "A Jew who has no wife, or who has a wife but no children." ("Ibid.") In the Jewish way of thinking, God had instituted marriage and had told man to be fruitful and replenish the earth. Therefore, not to marry and have children was to be guilty of breaking a command of God. Yet, we see Paul's idea of being single was quite different.

He states that:

A) Being Single Was Allowable

Paul says in verse 7, "For I would that all men were even as myself." Paul was speaking as a single man and declares that he wished that everyone were single like himself. It is obvious that Paul does not look upon being single as something wrong or sinful, but allowable.

Paul's desire that others be single like himself was a new concept. He was elevating being single. He was indicating that it was not an act of disobedience to God's command as was held in those days, but was perfectly allowable.

Secondly, he states that:

B) Being Single Was Acceptable

He adds in verse 8, "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I." The word "good" speaks of that which is acceptable and honorable. He was saying that being single was neither sinful or shameful, but allowable and acceptable.

Paul's words help the single to realize that they are not some second-class believer in the family of God. Being single is perfectly honorable and acceptable.

First, Paul defends the single life and then secondly:


Even though Paul wished that all men were as himself, he realized that his desire were not the desires of everyone. For the most part, people wanted to marry, would marry, and should marry. Paul was well aware that remaining single was the exception, not the standard or norm. But at the same time, Paul was aware that marriage was not for everyone. For some, living a single life was preferred and proper. Paul not only defended the single life but also defined a single life from the perspective of those who remain single throughout life.

First, notice:

A) The Determination for Remaining Single

We hear much about spiritual gifts. Paul had much to say about spiritual gifts in chapters 12-14. But there is one gift that you rarely hear about and that is the gift of celibacy. Paul declares in verse 7 that remaining single is sometimes the will of God for a person's life. We read, "For I would that all men were even as myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that."

Paul is declaring that in either marriage or remaining single, the will of God is the ultimate determining factor. He speaks of one's gift. The word "gift" is the same word that he uses to speak of the spiritual gifts in chapters 12-14. In the case of being single, there are times that is a gift from God. We will later look at chapter 12-14 and will learn that spiritual gifts are the basis of God's will for the life of the believer. If a person wants to know God's will for their life, understanding their spiritual gift or gifts can help a person understand how God wants to use them.

In some cases, remaining single is the will of God. I think for the majority, marriage is God's plan. Yet, remaining single is the will of God for some. If that be the case, the gift of celibacy enables a person to remain single. It is gift that removes the desire for marriage and gives the dynamic for remaining single.

Secondly, we see:

B) The Decision to Remain Single

Again notice verse 8, "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I." The word "abide" speaks of a decision that is made. The tense of the words speaks of a voluntary decision to remain single, a decision made once and for all.

Again, for most people it would be God's plan and purpose that they marry. But there are those, such as Paul, that it is God's will they remain single and thus the decision is made not to marry. When it comes to marriage, one must find what is God's will for their life.

Thirdly, we see that:


Even though it is Paul's desire that most remain single as him, he was aware that being single for most people would not be best. Therefore, he discourages the single life for most people. We read in verse 9, "But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it better to marry than to burn."

In these words we see:

1 Corinthians 7:6-9

A) The Desire to Marriage

The word "contain" refers to having power or control over certain desires. The desires that Paul specifically speaks of is sexual desires. What Paul is saying is directly connected to what he said about one's proper gift of God. Those who have the gift to remain single are given a special control by God over their sexual desires. It is not that sexual desires do not exist, but they are gifted to discipline and control those desires and not let those desires govern them.

If a single person makes the choice to remain single because they feel it is best for them, God enables them to exercise the necessary control over their physical desires. In those who do not possess such a gift, there is a desire for marriage and for a mate in life.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Is Jesus against families?

“I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. … He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”

When I was a believing Christian this verse always bothered me. It seems like an instigation to create problems in the family. How am I to understand this? How can a god who created us expect us to deny our family in order to follow him?

What kind of god would pit families againist each other?