"But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. But God gives to some the gift of marriage, and to others the gift of singleness." (1 Corinthians 7:7)
A friend recently posted this really good sermon about celibacy on a board I frequent. Here is the link to listen to it: http://www.churchrez.org/sermon/imitating-christ-in-celibacy/
It gave me alot to think about. I have always wondered how celibacy could be a gift since it seems so hard and the loneliness at times is so great. What kind of gift would make someone seemingly suffer and feel loneliness was my thought? I have always had the attitude that if its a gift I want to find the receipt so I can return it and get the gift I want instead lol :).
My biggest fear of living a celibate life is loneliness more than any thing else. To not have someone waiting for you after a long hard day of work, or to love you no matter what. The sexual aspect other than failing to M and P at times has not been as hard for me. Of course I have to continue to try and improve those areas with God's help but God has been really helping me lately especially on the P front. So its not the sex but the loneliness that makes the prospect of lifelong celibacy hard for me to accept at times.
Ok I got kind of side tracked for a bit. Back to celibacy and the church. It just has seemed to me that in the church today the single people are sort of swept to the side and sort of ignored while family and the joys of marriage are heavily emphasized, and are center stage. Sure there may be a singles group but even then its just other singles as if the rest of the church does not want to catch the disease of singleness or something. Instead of celibacy being celebrated as something equally as good as marriage many people in church look down on you like your strange, abnormal, or there is something wrong with you for not being married or having a family. Of least that has been my experience.
I have always had trouble seeing it as a gift and something as good as marriage. I guess its because I am lonely alot of the time and don't have a strong community like one needs to live a celibate life. But also because I guess I still hope for marriage to a woman even though its not likely because of my attractions. But this sermon really stressed how lost the church would be without its celibate members. They do so much of the work and devote alot of their life to the church. They dont have families of their own so they are able to go on missions trips easier to the far corners of the world. They have more time to pray, more time to serve, and more time to be there for others in need. They also have more time to get to know and love God one on one! I admit I have not been doing a good job at many of these things at all. I have not been making good use of my celibacy.
I think I have often treated marriage as an idol. I see others who are married and so happy and in love and are blessed with a loving family and I just dream of being them. I have always had a false view that if I could just be married then everything would be happy and care free. That I would then never be alone and always have someone to love. But I have to realize that there is great difficulty in marriage too its just you don't see it from the outside sometimes. I mean most of my relatives have been divorced and are on their second marriage so I guess being married is just as tough as being celibate just in different ways maybe?
Even Jesus says that its better for some not to marry:
10 Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:10-12)
I guess while I have been living the celibate life, I have not been embracing it and have been wanting healing from my SSA so I can be married to a woman. I have been treating celibacy almost as a curse instead of a gift. I have been resenting this gift. This sermon really made me think about alot of things. I really liked how the pastor said that celibates remind the church of the not yet and the unfulfilled promises and marriage reminds the church of filled promises and the now. And how the church needs both to support each other and be reminders of both Gods faithful promises today and the promises that wont happen until we get to heaven when the church is married to God instead of to one another. I still think that overall the church does not do a good job treating both celibacy and marriage as equally good and the church seems to really push marriage from my experience anyways. But I guess that no church is perfect since it is filled with humans.
Anyways this sermon was really good and gave me so much to think about. If you are like me and have been resenting the gift of celibacy then consider listening to this sermon as it really opened my eyes to alot of things. While I still hope for the gift of marriage I have decided I am going to try to embrace the gift of celibacy whether for a season or for my life and realize that yes it really is a gift that the Lord has seen fit to give me so I better use this gift to honor Him and not resent or reject it. Maybe it means He just wants to have me all to Himself with no marraige to get in the way? Who am I to refuse a gift like that from my Lord??
Lord help me to accept my celibacy as a gift from You. Help me to learn how to use my singleness to serve others and not as an excuse to feel jealousy, resentment, and unhappiness. If you do still have a plan for me to one day be married despite all the obstacles I face help me to not reject that gift either. If I am not to be married or in the meantime before marriage help me to find the community I need to fill my loneliness and to treat this as a gift to be cherished and used for Your glory and not as something that I should want to return! Help me grow and to be able to truthfully accept this as a gift and to be able to thank you for this gift and really mean it. Please forgive me for so often resenting this gift. I love you Father.