I received an interesting comment recently, one in regards to celibacy. Coincidentally, it came on a day after I had spent the morning considering this very thing.
My take: We’ve completely shot ourselves in the foot by developing this whole “gift of celibacy” thing.
There isn’t one.
I can find a lot of “gifts” in Scripture, but never the gift of celibacy. Ever. Or the “gift of singleness.”
Which leads to the all-controversial 1 Corinthians 7 passage. “34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.”
One Christian author addressed this passage in her book. In summary, she said, “It’s all fine well and good if you are single and can serve the Lord with your time, but if you spend more time sipping coffee at the corner store, then you should get married.” Wrong.
I understand that people want the ‘easy’ way out. They want to call it a ‘gift’ so they can say they don’t have it. But it isn’t a gift. It is a calling, and we all have it. Basically, it is this: If we are single then we are to use that time to serve God. Our primary command is to love the Lord our God with everything we have- heart, mind, soul, body, strength… everything.
That’s how this works.
It isn’t easy. We are told to be holy because God is holy. Is that easy? Of course not. Did God say, “I’m going to give some of you the gift of holiness, the rest of you just do the best you can?” Of course not. Holiness is a high standard, and we fall short every single day. The moment our feet hit the floor, we’re toast.
There is no gift of celibacy, there is grace for singleness. Grace that gives you the strength to sell out to God even when you would rather be doing something else. Grace that forgives when we fall- because we are human and we will fall. Grace that puts up with our failures and our misconceptions.
That’s what it all boils down to. If you are single right now, congratulations, you have a call to celibacy and the grace to embrace that call. If you are married, you have a call to loyalty and the grace to embrace that call as well. The “gift” of celibacy, is, in fact, simply grace- a sustaining grace given to us to face wherever God has us in life.
Does that mean things are easy where we are? No. But on the flipside, it also provides a safe place for us to land when we fall.