Celibacy and Singleness

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #64

“For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Cor. 7:7-9).

As is the nature with all individuals, Paul thinks in terms of his own giftedness. He wishes that all men had his gift; he is a contented man, and he sees the blessing in what has bestowed on him. He doesn’t have the burdens and responsibilities of married life, and he doesn’t have the distractions of sexual temptation. Paul’s gift here is a rare one, and it is the gift of celibacy. This is quite distinct from the mythical gift of “singleness” that many young men today think they have. If it needs to be supported by porn, it isn’t the gift of celibacy.

At the same time, Paul is good about not being imperialistic with his own gifts. He enjoys it, and wishes other men could enjoy it too, but he knows that God is the one who apportions all gifts. He has given a handful of individuals the gift of celibacy. So if someone happens to find himself in a single state—unmarried or widowed—Paul’s advice is to remain in that state (again, in the light of the impending distress mentioned in v. 26). Nevertheless, present distress or not, impending persecution or not, if a person cannot contain himself sexually, then they need to marry. As Paul puts it, famously, it is better to marry than to burn. It would be better to go into a persecution with the responsibilities of a wife and family than to go into a persecution with a pattern of fornication on your conscience.

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Benjamin Rogers
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Benjamin Rogers

Pastor Wilson, I’m reading your book on Fidelity, wherein you discuss men who are celibate because they’ve been hurt or “burned” by women. This has been a continual pattern for me. I really want to be married, but many of my friends tell me it borders on idolatry. Really the discontent and anxiety comes from bad experiences / “hard providence.” I’m 26, live in L.A. (terrible Christian dating pool, by the way), I have a full time job, serve the church, am involved in Christian community, take initiaitve…and it just isn’t happening. What can I do except wait and pray?… Read more »

Benjamin Rogers
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Benjamin Rogers

Reality LA. One of the associate pastors just gave us a sermon on divorce and singleness via Matt. 19, which he tried to spin that singleness is always a gift wherever you find yourself, lumped together with the unique gift (celibacy). I don’t feel at all that our church encourages us to date or marry, and I think many of us need to hear we should. This particular pastor loves to say that “Jesus was single” in order to argue you are a “whole person” without another. Our congregation is about 3000, predominately single, ages 20-30. Most girls in our… Read more »

Benjamin Rogers
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Benjamin Rogers

Just curious what your thoughts were on all of the above. Your blog is pretty busy!