The Gifts of Marriage and Celibacy
A devotional thought from Jarvis Williams for “Marriage”
In Matthew 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12, Jesus reveals that marriage is until death. If one thinks that he or she is incapable of honoring God’s marital covenant until death, then one should not get married. Rather, such a person should remain single and practice celibacy.
In 1 Corinthians 7:2, however, Paul clearly asserts that single people (and married people too, if sexually deprived by their spouse) will be tempted by sexual immorality. Consequently, in 1 Corinthians 7:9, he exhorts the single and unmarried, such as widows, that it is better for them to get married than to burn with uncontrollable sexual passion.
Paul’s words in the latter verse are very instructive for discerning God’s calling to singleness and marriage. Marriage is a gift from God; celibacy is a gift from God; and there is no shame in either calling (1 Corinthians 7:17,20). But celibacy is a lifetime commitment to sexual purity and singleness, just as marriage is until death and is a lifetime commitment to fulfill one’s sexual obligations to his or her spouse.
Pause and Reflect
• What are some practical ways to discern God’s calling to celibacy or marriage?
• What are some practical ways of practicing and maintaining celibacy?
• Ask God to help you with sexual purity if married or single, and ask God to help you fulfill your sexual duties to your spouse if married.
• Repent of any sexual impropriety, and ask Jesus to purify and cleanse you of all sexually impure motives, thoughts, and actions.