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Scriptures to consider
- Genesis 2 -- marriage is the norm
- Matthew 19:10-12
- 1 Corinthians 7:6
Biblical celibacy has two components
- The sexual element
- It is assumed that church leaders will be married (1 Timothy 3), as correctly understood by Orthodox clergy.
Celibacy over-emphasized in the 2nd century
- An overreaction to Gnosticism, which deprecated sexuality
- See Ignatius, the Shepherd of Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Athenagoras
- Although the early church took celibacy too far, we (in our culture) are guilty of the opposite error.
Who should stay single?
- Those with the gift
- Those with certain sexual struggles
- Quite possibly those who, like Jesus, are destined to die young
- Those who, like Paul, lead a lifestyle inimical to marriage
- Some older brothers and sisters who, for whatever reason, are not likely to find a spouse.
- Don't tease the single. This can be embarrassing; it has the power to shame people into marriage; it entails a certain thoughtlessness, a failure to think theologically about celibacy. (If you are a single and are being teased, consider telling others how you feel. And do your best not to be touchy -- such attempts at humor are rarely made spitefully.)
- Social pressure is strong enough (to marry; to have children; to favor male children. Various stigmas are all too familiar to our single brothers and sisters.
- Yet Christians must not capitulate to culture, for we follow a countercultural Messiah.