False Views Of Marriage – Part 2

Since writing the previous part of this series, I’ve had the opportunity to read more widely online. I don’t intend to link back to anything which I did in fact read, as my experience was something like sifting through a pile of garbage. Christians seem to have adopted a wide variety of beliefs and opinions regarding the institution of Marriage, even introducing practices in an effort to preserve purity which are foreign to the Bible. Assaults on free choice, making up systems of rules, attempting to bring back arranged marriages, claiming that Marriage or singleness is a gift, the suggestion that you’re not an adult without getting married, the claim that ministry is the only reason a person may choose to remain single, nonsense that God will supposedly try to frustrate your attempts to get married because it’s “not his will”, trying to elevate celibacy above marriage, and other false teachings seem to characterize this festering digital landfill.

No doubt, if you want to understand these issues for yourself I once again have a rather radical suggestion for you. Pick up your Bible, grab a concordance, discard all literature or websites talking about relationships, and study it for yourself. You might even think about getting yourself some good Bible software [my own personal recommendations to you are E-sword and Bible Analyzer], as Bible search engines are easier to use than a physical concordance. With that said, let us jump right into debunking these false teachings.

Assaults On Free Choice, God Meddling in Your Relationships, and the gift of singleness

One website I found spoke of people who try to find a spouse. Evidently this was done by going on mission trips, praying repeatedly, and using websites like E-harmony. After giving a lecture about how God does not promise a spouse to any of his people, the writer of the article proceeded to suggest that an individual’s lack of success in this area was due to God saying “no” or “not yet” and that he was essentially blocking the person’s attempts at finding some one.

The first problem with this position is it assumes that when God wants or does not want something, he will block people from going contrary to what he wants. In which case, I would challenge you research the concept of free will from the Bible. For instance, I made citation of two such passages in the previous part from Deuteronomy and Joshua. Free will allows people to walk contrary to God’s will, though there may be consequences for doing so. Jeremiah could’ve told the Lord, “I’m going to get Married whether you like it or not.” He would’ve experienced the results he was essentially warned of if he had, but the point is that he could’ve chosen to walk contrary to command.

As another example, lets take the Bible’s numerous warnings about marrying unbelievers. Christians often do this anyway, yet God does not step in and stop them. He sends warnings through his servants and perhaps convicts them by flashing the Scriptures back into their minds, but he doesn’t cause the relationship to fail and end in heartbreak. He may then allow people to experience the results of their choices. If a Christian prayed for a marriage and God’s answer was “no”, theoretically they could still find and marry some one anyway, as it is free will that ultimately allows this. I cannot stress this enough, you have a choice.

Another problem with these ideas is they ignore Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7. If a person is trying to find some one, that is a pretty good indicator that they “cannot accept” Christ’s saying in verse 12. Otherwise they would be perfectly fine, and might not experience even the slightest longings in that area. In addition, such views ignore the fact that only two of the Eunuchs on Christ’s list are involuntary and the third is a purely voluntary action chosen by the individual. “Made themselves Eunuchs for the Kingdom of heaven’s sake” makes this pretty clear. If God is manipulating circumstances to prevent some one from getting married because it’s “not his will”, than a person’s state of singleness is involuntary. Therefore one might reasonably argue that they’re not really the third type of Eunuch which Christ mentions. These ideas really are just another attack inside of Christendom on personal choice, likely held because the people espousing these ideas are deterministic in their thinking.

Consider also the Biblical record of Marriages. There are no cases where we read of God stepping in to prevent some one from getting married anywhere in the Bible. You may search from Genesis to Revelation, but you will find no such stories where God has ever done this. There are no records stating that God rigged events so that a person would not find some one. In addition, the only times he ever commanded people to marry or stay single were given under special circumstances to prophets who do not represent the general population. Thus we might safely conclude that in a general sense, God doesn’t do this kind of thing. He may not answer prayers the exact way you want him to, but this doesn’t mean he will stop you if you decide to do your own thing.

After this, the most obvious arguments that can be marshaled against such teachings stem from statements speaking of God’s character in the Bible. I think specifically of John 3:16, 1 John 4:16, Matthew 10:30, Psalm 145:8, etc. God is described as one who loves the world, who is Love, who numbers the hairs of your head, and who is full of compassion. How could a God who is full of compassion deliberately rig your relationships to fail or make it harder for you to find some one? I might further add that if God were to do such a thing, than he doesn’t really love you as he claims, and he isn’t love, because if you love some one you wouldn’t hurt them.

Usually at this point some one objects by saying, “but God will give you what is for your best, and his own glory!” I might ask in response how cruelty is in a person’s best interest, or how it glorifies God. Like it or not, arbitrarily manipulating circumstances in a person’s life to where they cannot get married is cruel. I would not be surprised if some folks would leave Christianity because of this suggestion. Given the fact that there are numerous Bible passages that portray God as a being of love, compassion, and kindness we may safely conclude that the suggestion that God is manipulating circumstances so that you can’t get married doesn’t glorify him. It makes him out to be cruel, like some one who seeking to torture you. Maybe a study on what actually does or does not glorify God from the Bible is in order.

But not only does this fact present itself, but the objection once again ignores Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7, both of which are authoritative Biblical texts that set the standard for what is or is not best for a person when dealing with this subject. You should let those verses sink in, because they put the abilities a person is in possession of on display and show that whether or not somebody is getting married is really up to them. God would not manipulate circumstances to prevent somebody who “cannot accept” Christ’s saying from getting married. As for 1 Corinthians 7, let’s take a quick look at Paul’s counsel which destroy these ideas.

“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 Corinthians 7:7-9

Paul starts off by saying that he “would that all men were even” as himself. If we scroll down to verses 8-9, we find some clues as to what he is here talking about. He speaks of how it is good for the unmarried and widows if they “abide even as I”, then makes reference to those who cannot contain, and says “let them marry.” This suggests that Paul remained unmarried, especially when one considers his reference to containment in connection with these cryptic statements about himself. Thus when he says he “would that all men were even” as himself he is saying that he stayed single, and that he would like it if all men were that way. Above in verse 6 he states that he speaks “by permission, and not of commandment.” So, Paul is here giving nothing short of his own opinion, and thus such a text should not be read as saying all men should stay single. This would be ignoring Christ’s statements in Matthew 19:11-12.

Paul then references gifts, saying that everybody has his proper gift of God. This is usually where people get the ideas of the “gift of singleness”, “gift of marriage”, or even “gift of celibacy.” The problem is that people stop at this verse and do not keep reading. Paul follows up by saying 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.” ‘Therefore’ is a word which links the two statements, since it means “for that reason, consequently.” Paul is saying that because everybody has their proper gift, it can be good if people remain unmarried, but if they cannot “contain” [i.e.] handle that lifestyle they should therefore be allowed to get married. He finishes by saying, “it is better to marry than to burn.” The New King James version adds the words “with passion” into the mix. Here is the crucial point, singleness itself is not the gift but rather to ability to “contain” as Paul states. Though these texts by no means state that celibacy, singleness, or marriage are themselves gifts.

The concept of the “gift of singleness” is something we’ll come back to. But for now, I want you to focus in on the abilities that a person is in possession of. If some one “cannot contain” as Paul states, is it really logical to conclude that God will manipulate circumstances so that they cannot get married? If it would cause them to “burn” as Paul says would God therefore block a person from finding a spouse? The answer would logically be a resounding “no.” This does not mean that prayer will cause a spouse to miraculously appear, or that God will always answer “yes” to such prayers. Though I know some personally who’ve found their marriages through prayer, this doesn’t mean it’s always going to make somebody materialize in your home. We need to remember that God isn’t a dating service or a vending machine. At the same time, I will not say that such prayers are inherently wrong though some act as if they are.

So, if God doesn’t manipulate circumstances to block a person from getting married, what stops people? This would seem a very logical question, and in view of it I would like to point out that there may be practical reasons why a person is having trouble finding a spouse. For instance, it should be noted that the concept of the “gift of singleness” has been used to attack people who desire Marriage. Usually they will get a line about how singleness is a gift, dating is bad because it causes discontent with said gift, they should just be content with what they have, and its wrong to seek for it. They might even have 1 Corinthians 7:27 thrown at them, twisted outside of its context. This kind of garbage is what causes the reaction from the people who run around saying Marriage is a duty, and both positions are wrong. But further, it can cause a person not to seek out a relationship, and thus by default not to find it. Unless you actually put the effort into finding some one, in most cases it isn’t likely that some one will just magically materialize in your home so that you may marry them.

In which case, it is also worth pointing out that merely praying about it until you’re blue in the face doesn’t guarantee somebody will show up. Especially if you’re the man, because it seems like women these days expect men to do all the work in getting things started. Some even go so far as to preach that this is the way things are supposed to be, when I’m not convinced the Scriptures really definitively teach that. Others things worth consideration might be that you give up too easily [i.e. it fail a couple of times and therefore conclude it won’t happen], you have too high of or impossible to meet standards thus causing you to overlook perfectly compatible people, and you’re not open to looking in multiple avenues [there are more websites than just e-harmony, some of which are even Christian specific, and mission trips are not the only place to meet other Christians.] Maybe there are even things in your life and habits that block it from happening.

One of the biggest things that needs to be acknowledged is free will. Not only does the suggestion that God is manipulating circumstances to prevent a person from getting married ignore the free choice of the person seeking, but it ignores the the choices of others involved. For instance, women can choose to say “no” and reject your advances for virtually any reason. This isn’t God manipulating circumstances to prevent you from getting married, it’s the free choice of the woman who doesn’t want to date or marry you. Sometimes an individual just doesn’t like you, and I think Christians should acknowledge that such a thing is a person’s right. It doesn’t mean that God has rigged everything against an individual getting married, neither does it mean that therefore nobody will ever like you. This would be what is termed “over generalization”, which is where one or two pieces of evidence are taken to support blanket conclusion covering all of something.

To Be Continued

This seems to be a good point to cut it off and continue onto a 3rd part, which was ultimately not my expectation. So, I intend to continue examining and refuting the other errors in part 3. I hope this post is a blessing to you!

Why Do Christians Ignore Evidence?

I would consider this your official disclaimer. What follows may seem harsh, but in light of observations I’ve made I feel some toes need to be stepped on. I’m not deliberately seeking to be inflammatory or offensive, but I see a need for a warning message that must be delivered.

If you’re a good driver, you’re constantly scanning your surroundings as you drive. You watch for cars backing out of driveways, drivers who may be about to do something foolish on the road, or other dangers which may be lurking around the corner. You’re alert to the possibility of danger, and maintaining a good level of awareness of your surroundings. This will allow you to react properly when the situation calls for action.

But now picture the proverbial ostrich with it’s head buried in the sand. Is this a good level of awareness? No doubt, common sense tells us that this animal is not protected in any way by burying its head in the sand. It is placed in a position of twice as much danger because all awareness has gone out the front door. In like manner, think of the road yet again. If you cease paying attention to your surroundings while driving, does this protect you from getting into a car wreck?

Obviously not, but the real question is “how do these analogies relate to Christians ignoring evidence?” A branch of Theology exists within Christianity known as “Apologetics”, which is all about a defense of the faith and showing the reasonableness of Christian beliefs. I speak from experience when I say that a thorough study of this branch would bring an overwhelming mountain of evidence in support of Christian faith to the table. There is just one problem. If Christians ignore it, it might as well not exist.

To Ignore this branch of theology is to deliberately create a situation in which the evidences that it produces are unknown. If this is the case, the results of a lack of evidence automatically follow. What are those results? While surfing through the WordPress reader at one point, I stumbled across a blog post by an individual stating that he had come to the “heart wrenching” conclusion that there was no evidence in support of Christianity. I imagine this “discovery” lead the individual into atheism, and ultimately apostasy. But the real issue comes down to a question —- how much of this is their personal choice and how much of it is the fault of the Church?

If Christians stuff their heads in the sand, ignoring evidence in support of Christian beliefs, than they’ll find themselves unprepared to help those struggling with doubt. Perhaps it seems a small matter, but such a failure may have its cost in the loss of souls. Think of whoever wrote that blog post. Do you honestly think that they remained a Christian? The odds are more in favor of them taking a bite out what a friend of mine calls “secular humanism.” But how could you expect anything less of them? If they were unable to find evidence that supports Christian beliefs, and the Church failed to provide it through lack of study, how could they be expected to make any other choice?

Yes, they would’ve made their choice. But the choice they made was certainly influenced by a seeming lack of evidence, which could’ve been prevented if people would take their heads out of the sand. If there had been just one person with enough knowledge of Apologetics, this individual’s Apostasy could’ve been prevented and they might’ve been convinced of the reasonableness of Christian belief. Instead things turned out the way they did.

In a post from “Bethinking” titled “Six Enemies Of Apologetic Engagement”, the top three listed are Ignorance, Indifference, and Irrationalism. It’s hard to imagine that somebody who just doesn’t know that the information exists could be held accountable. But I can say with a certainty that indifference is a choice — one that often implies some one doesn’t care. Can you see how wrong that actually is? Imagine for a moment that some one somewhere in the Church apostatizes, totally losing faith in God’s existence to become an atheist, and that it could’ve been prevented if some one was familiar enough with Apologetics. But it was not prevented, because the entire church corporately did not care enough to look, even when they had the opportunity. That’s actually rather infuriating if you think about it.

As I’ve undertaken a study of Apologetics, I’ve come across the shocking realization that many websites have to write a defense of Apologetics itself. This is because well-meaning but confused Christians within the Church start to oppose it. The reasons cited vary from what is essentially irrationalism to the notion that it must be ineffective, since you cannot win people by argument. Although answers for such ridiculous assertions exist, I cannot help but express a sigh of frustration because this fits the picture of the ostrich with its head stuffed in the sand.

While somebody assumed that the whole point of Apologetics was to win people to the truth who ultimately do not want to listen, another may become discouraged and lose faith because of a single encounter with an atheist. Its easy to dismiss this as a weak faith on the part of the person. But if we step out of the bubble of irrationalism for five seconds, we might discover that in all reality no thinking person can hold on to beliefs when confronted with what seems like evidence to the contrary. Thinking rational people do not do this. It is only those who willfully bury their heads in the sand against all evidence who exhibit this kind of behavior. Is faith really a requirement for the Christian to leave his or her brain at the door and enter into a total state of foolishness and irrationality or is it reasonable?

1 Peter 3:15 commands us to give a reason to those who ask us of the hope that is within us with meekness and fear. I think reality is more on the side of the reasonable faith, rather than the popular irrationalism. Yet some Christians have buried their heads in the sand, and their opposition to Apologetics is a demonstration of this fact. Then they act surprised when their children walk away from Christ at a later age. If you think that the Biblical definition of faith excludes any empirical evidence in support of Christianity or that we shouldn’t bother to look at that evidence because we’re not going to convince anyone than you are sticking your head in the sand.

You’ll then find, much to your horror, that you’re about to crash into the proverbial car because you weren’t paying attention. How could this be so? Your neglect to research such an important subject, even your resistance toward others choosing to do so, will drive others from the truth. If you don’t already, you should understand that this could mean the difference between some one continuing to follow Christ and a decision to walk away from him forever on the basis of unbelief.

False Views Of Marriage – Part 1

“You don’t get to decide to get married because you aren’t in control of your life!”

“What will you do if it’s God’s will for you to marry!? Will you say no!?”

I have been a Christian for seven years. Throughout my time as a follower of Jesus, I’ve often had encounters with people holding to false theology. False beliefs and teachings are floating around everywhere, as if every “wind of doctrine” is blowing in the Churches of Christendom. Marriage seems to be no exception, where even here some Christians do not seem to have correct views of it. I don’t mean to zero in on those who think that Marriage is the attainment of perfect bliss, either. This would constitute more naivete than false teaching. Instead I mean to target those views of Marriage which malign God’s character [and they’re more prevalent than you think.] There are also ideas related to this subject which are extreme and potentially dangerous.

One such view is what should be termed “salvation by marriage.” It should be acknowledged that nobody literally runs around, so far as I know, thinking that Marriage will lead to their salvation. Instead there is a much more subtle teaching, which seems to have no Biblical support whatsoever, that Marriage is meant for the growth of Christian character. I’ve heard some go so far as to suggest that Marriage is God’s most effective tool for causing Christians to achieve likeness to Christ. But an in-depth research project on the subject of Marriage has yielded no such information supporting this view point. With the best Bible software at my disposal, I searched for words like “Marriage” and “Wife”, and studied each passage that jumped out at me in its context. I found no evidence anywhere from Genesis to Revelation that supports the notion that Marriage is God’s most effective tool for Character growth, that it was his original purpose for Marriage when he created it, or that Marriage has any connection to the Salvation of Christians.

I must say that if a Christian decides to marry an unbeliever, this has the potential to suck the Christian away from his or her faith. The Old Testament is full of warnings meant to steer the Isrealites away from marrying the Canaanites on the grounds that it would lead them into Idolatry. You also have stories which demonstrate the effects of this in action, such as Ahab’s Marriage with Jezebel which lead to the apostasy of both him and all of Israel. This is a Biblical route in which a Christian’s salvation could be effected negatively by a Marriage, and it has strictly to do with the influence a wife has on the husband and vice versa. This would be the rationale behind Paul’s prohibition of being “unequally yoked” together with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Marriage is not a salvation issue. If Christians do not get married, there is no evidence anywhere from Genesis to Revelation that even remotely suggests that they will be penalized for it. Neither does the Bible paint it as something which could be helpful in a Christian’s salvation. What some have failed to recognize is that a view which paints Marriage as the most effective tool for a Christian’s character growth/sanctification is a doctrine lacking in the department of compassion. What if a person never finds a wife or husband? Does this mean that sanctification will be harder for them than those who’re married? Such a thought would place considerable discouragement not only on those who have difficulty involved in finding some one, but people who have chosen not to marry.

People who hold to this view need to recognize that relationships are hard. My own personal experience is that it is exceedingly difficult to find some one, especially since my previous Church had no women my own age. In addition I’ve found it even harder to avoid something bad happening. Its been something like walking through a mine field. I cannot even begin to stress just how cruel it is to suggest to people who’re having such difficulties in this area that its going to be much harder for them to experience sanctification because of not getting married.

Some who think this way have a tendency to equate questioning their position with downplaying or attacking the institution of Marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution which was given to man as a gift shortly after creation alongside the Sabbath. Hebrews 13:4 calls it “Honorable”, and 1 Timothy 4:1-4 classes enforced Celibacy as a “doctrine of devils.” Proverbs 18:22 suggests that finding a wife is a “good thing.” [Surely this means a good wife.] It should also be noted that Christ performed one of his miracles at a wedding feast. There is nothing wrong with Marriage inherently, and it doesn’t need to be connected to Character growth in order to be a blessing to mankind, have sacredness, or be held in high regard by the Christian. Some through the centuries have had the mistaken notion, perhaps based on a misinterpretation of Matthew 19:11-12, that Celibacy is somehow more commendable than Marriage. Hebrews 13:4 destroys this false viewpoint. Thus Marriage can be still viewed as honorable without being seen as the most effective agent for your character growth.

Closely connected is the notion that the Christian doesn’t have a say in whether or not they’re getting married. The two quotations given at the beginning of this article illustrate this view point. Essentially it is claimed that we have to pray for divine guidance in order to determine whether or not we’re getting married and submit to whatever God tells us to do irrespective of our personal wishes. Now if a Christian wants God to lead in these areas of their life there is nothing wrong with that. But these ideas go well beyond that and practically imply that people will be forced into marriage by divine providence, which is usually accompanied by the suggestion that any resistance will cause the Christian to be lost. This is like the reverse of the age old position of enforced celibacy.

God’s character is maligned by these ideas. The Bible paints God as a being of love, compassion, one who numbers the very hairs of your head, and kindness. It pictures him as one who does good to all, and whose tender mercies “are over all his works.” You cannot claim to love some one and then force them into Marriage irrespective of their wishes on the matter. Regardless of the justification [some like to use the “its for your best” platitude that Christians often toss out at such an objection] this would be a very hurtful move to somebody who wants to remain single. The reverse is true for those who want to get married. In actual fact, this would just be a divine version of enforced celibacy, and thus it has to be acknowledged that most people would be harmed by this. I have a difficult time of seeing God as a being who is in the business of causing deliberate harm to his people, which sounds more like an accusation that would come from the mouth of Satan.

The teaching also ignores Bible passages, as well as whole chapters, such as Matthew 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7. Matthew 19:11-12 is the teaching of Christ regarding Celibacy. In verse 11 Christ says, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.” Clearer translations, such as the New King James Version, translate the word “receive” as “accept.” Jesus was virtually saying that not everyone was able to accept what he was about to say, but only those to whom the saying had been “given” could do so. A person’s acceptance or rejection of a message has to do with their initial reaction to it, and whether or not they want to carry out the instruction therein contained. “Cannot” is also a strong word, running contrary to the notion that Philippians 4:13 should be taken to its literal extreme. Evidently there actually are things that a Christian cannot do, although in this case it depends heavily on them personally and where they stand on the issue. “Given” in this statement seems to be suggesting that Christ’s upcoming saying is targeting a specific type of person.

In verse 12 Christ then says, “For there are some eunuchs which, were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive let him receive it.” The term “eunuch” is a word which references an individual who has been neutered, or rather a man who is castrated due to his service in a king’s harem. In general it references some one incapable of producing children. This is evident from Christ’s use of the term, as he speaks of people who were born that way, people who were made that way by men, and people who made themselves that way for the sake of the kingdom.

However, it should be noted that the third type of Eunuch Christ references is not an individual who has been castrated. You should observe that Strong’s Greek Lexicon, shown below, suggests that the term “Eunuch” has a figurative sense referencing living in an unmarried state. Taking his statement with regards to Eunuchs literally would be dangerous and extreme, sort of like taking his statements about cutting off your hand or plucking out your eye rather than sinning to an extreme literal interpretation and then severely injuring yourself because you thought this was Christ’s direction. It should be observed that Jesus often used figurative language in some of his teachings and parables, spoke with hyperbole, and used similar illustrations. Concrete thinking should be suspended when dealing with some of his sayings.

[*StrongsGreek*]
2134 eunouchizo yoo-noo-khid’-zo from 2135; to castrate (figuratively, live unmarried):–make…eunuch. see GREEK for 2135

Notice that Jesus used the words “made themselves”, and then contrast that with the two previously cited types of Eunuchs. If a person is born incapable of having children they had no control over this happening. Somebody who was made a “Eunuch of men” was forced into that position by the cruelty of men. The third type of Eunuch is completely deliberate. The word “made” strongly implies that it was a deliberate action on the part of the individual. In other words, they did this to themselves. It was not decided for them by anyone else. These words alone, in contrast with the individual who “cannot” accept this saying imply free will or choice on the part of the Christian. This is through a contrast of options, something which Scripture uses to suggest free will in other locations of the Bible. [See Joshua 24:15, Deuteronomy 30:19]. Either a person “cannot accept” Christ’s saying, or he can and therefore he makes himself a Eunuch for the sake of the kingdom. But whether or not he is capable of accepting it depends heavily on him. Not only may we derive free will from this fact, but it should be clear that a person’s abilities also has an influence on whether or not they’re getting married.

Now, to demonstrate more fully that these passages are in fact in reference to Marriage take a close look at its context. Verse 10 states, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” From verses 1 down through 10, the entire subject was marriage and divorce, and it was brought on by a question the Pharisees were using to entrap Jesus. Thus Matthew 19:11-12 must unquestionably be talking about Marriage, and the conclusion is inescapable that Christ was using “Eunuch” as a figure to reference living in an unmarried state for the sake of the kingdom.

However, Christ’s statements should by no means be taken as suggesting that Celibacy is more commendable than Marriage. The Bible should be making this clear when it classes enforced Celibacy with apostasy [1 Timothy 4:1-4], calls Marriage “honorable” [Hebrews 13:4], states that whoever finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor of the Lord [Proverbs 18:22], and so on. A more balanced position would regard permanent singleness by choice as something which could cause some one to have more time for ministry, but which is not necessarily something to be exalted over Marriage. It’s a choice and not something to be enforced, neither is it required on the part of the clergy. Not only would such a notion run contrary to 1 Timothy 4:1-4, but it would also contradict the qualifications of bishops and elders who were to be the “husband of one wife.” [Titus 1:5-6, 1 Timothy 3:2.]

A case by case study of the Marriages of the Bible also reveals that there were only two times in which God ever gave commands in this area of a person’s life. One was Jeremiah, who was told to remain single directly. The other was Hosea, who was ordered by God to marry a “wife of whoredoms” [implying either that she was a prostitute or a wife who cheated on him frequently.] Hosea 1:2-3 and Jeremiah 16:1-4 are where you may find this information. Verses 3-4 strongly imply that the whole reason Jeremiah was issued the command not to marry is simply that his wife and children would’ve been killed. Hosea’s Marriage is obviously being used as a symbol for Israel’s apostasy, which is evident by the phrase “for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.” In other words, these extremely rare cases are under special circumstances that the average person might not necessarily experience. I personally have never been used by God as a symbol for my local Church.

This alongside the low amount of such commands strongly imply that the majority of people are left to marry or stay single on their own. There really is no reason to believe that God is going to issue commands to the average person in this area. The fact that he has only done it twice throughout all of sacred history should give us a clue that generally he isn’t interested in playing puppeteer when it comes to whether or not a person will marry. Christians need to realize that this is a bit like expecting God to tell you whether or not to eat an apple or an orange, which is a bit ridiculous. God is a God of love and choices, he isn’t in the business of forcing others to do anything. Honestly, reading either Hosea’s case or Jeremiah’s as though we must wait for God to tell us what to do regarding whether or not we’re getting married is a bit of a stretch. I might go so far as to declare it Eisegesis [reading something into the Bible that isn’t there.] It should be remembered that these stories are descriptive rather than prescriptive, and thus are not meant to be suggesting that you cannot decide whether or not to get married, since this would run contrary to the actual counsel given in Matthew 19:11-12.

1 Corinthians 7 will reinforce this position, but it will have to be examined later due to the length of this article. However, one point that will be covered in closing will center around the belief that Marriage is a duty. This view is pushed by one particular person who recently wrote a book challenging the concept of the “gift of singleness.” I can understand reacting against people who teach this kind of thing, but swinging to the opposite extreme and implying that Marriage is something a Christian MUST do is a bit of a stretch. I will not only reiterate my previous point that relationships are hard, but point out that this has the potential to cause the Christian to live with guilt because they’re having trouble finding some one to marry. There also is no Scriptural support for such a position.

There are no Bible verses condemning Celibacy in anything other than an enforced context. Remember that Adam was the only human being alive when God gave Eve to him, and thus Genesis 2:18 would have more to do with isolation as opposed to singleness [which doesn’t necessarily result in a person being “alone.” How can some one be alone when they have friends they can talk to, co-workers they can converse with and witness to, or people to fellowship with at Church?] As close as the Bible gets to a command to Marry for the general populace is Genesis 2:24 which reads, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” When compared with Christ’s statements in Matthew 19:11-12, and later passages we will examine in 1 Corinthians 7, it should actually be clear that this is more stating that marriage is the general plan for most people. It is the natural order of things. Such a passage in Scripture would speak volumes as to why not everyone can receive Christ’s saying in Matthew 19, why some people would find Celibacy painful, and perhaps even why some one carries the desire for marriage. But when read in connection with other passages this statement no longer assumes the position of a command. Christians do not have a duty or obligation to get married. In fact, turning it into a duty is a bit strange since usually people want to get married.

I cannot stress this enough. Marriage is a choice, not a duty or an obligation. Christians do not have to get married if they do not want to. Neither do they have to stay single if they want to get married. Christians need to toss their false doctrines making it anything but a choice in the garbage.