Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Jesus, the Great Celibate

I’ve been finding myself freshly struck.

By the fact that Jesus was a celibate, and about what that means for us.

To use just a few descriptive phrases from the New Testament ...

He is the King, the Master; he is the Christ, the Messiah. The author and concluder of our faith, the first and the last.

All things begin and end in him. He embodies perfectly all aspects of God's kingdom here on earth.

So if we want to know how best to live for God, we must look at how he lived and do the same.

But he was celibate. Why, then, aren't there many more Christians who choose the way of celibacy?

Even from the age of twelve, with a pure, honest heart he was devoted to 'his father’s business', focussed on doing God's will, putting that first above the needs of family. Clearly he loved his family but, even as a child, there was something he loved more. And in all that he said and did throughout his life, this remains the theme; and in this, the light of celibacy shines brightly. As God the Son, eternally joined in union with the Father and the Spirit, we can hardly expect him to be seeking a wife or raising his own children. He had a totally different agenda.

Where does this leave me? And where does it leave all those people who have chosen to live a life given over to Jesus and to God's kingdom? It leaves us utterly challenged. It leaves us with a mission to fulfil and choices to make about the things we don't have time for. It leaves us thinking seriously about the things, and the people, we love - and about whether we love God's kingdom more. It leaves us knowing that if we want to live a truly 'kingdom of God' lifestyle instead of just carrying the name of 'Christian', or even 'Celibate', then we have to be like him. We have to do the things that he does; think the things he thinks; love the things he loves.

Do we? Or do we love other things more?

Wife or husband? Children? Work? Money issues? Recreational pursuits? Pleasures? Worries? Cares? These are just some of the things we can end up loving more than God's kingdom.

Jesus was, and is, the Great Celibate. It’s all too easy for us as Christians (celibates included) to secretly excuse ourselves by thinking, "It was okay for him, he’s the Son of God, but I couldn't do that." But surely, if the Holy Spirit has been poured out, if the very heart of Jesus Christ, the Great Celibate, has been made available to all, if we're really, truly followers of Christ, then we have to raise the bar, don't we?

Don't we?

5 comments:

Jeffrey O'Rourke said...

I praise the Lord that you are living for the Lord and living a fulfilled life. But this post makes it seem like the way to truly please God is to be celibate, like you. Did Jesus anywhere say the way to be truly holy is to be celibate? You imply that since Jesus was celibate, for me to be truly his follower I must be as well. Yet I am married. I have 4 children and 10 grandchildren. How do I excuse this? How can I claim to be following the Great Celibate and be truly holy when I am so clearly NOT living like Jesus?? The answer is simple and is found in 1 Corinthians 7:

1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

7 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.
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.
9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Why am I married and still claiming to follow Christ? and, how in the world can I really believe I have the blessing and favor of God? Because I have a gift from God, the gift of marriage. You have the gift of celibacy. "But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." Isn't that cool, every man has his 'proper' gift from God - meaning a gift suited to him. Celibacy is indeed a proper gift and so is marriage. And the apostles, full of the Holy Spirit, give much instruction to the married, indicating that they can also walk in the fullness of the blessing of God and be truly pleasing to Him.
I would agree that the modern Church has often not taught celibacy as a proper gift from God, one that needs to be considered, and for the reasons you proffer. But, just as the married is not spiritually superior to the celibate, neither is the celibate superior to the married. The truly spiritual one will know and follow his gift and seek to please God by abiding in his gift according to the will and Word of God.

s0upy said...

Thanks a lot for your comment, Jeffrey. I agree with you on every point, but I am not saying that the way to truly please God is to be celibate and that you can't do so if you're not. That would be wrong. I know many married couples who are living for God with wild devotion, and yes pleasing him. I would say the same of singles and celibates too.

The way that Jesus lived is just as much a challenge to people who are celibate as it is to all Christians who are serious about following Christ with abandon. There are many things which can at times cause us to be more concerned with the things of the world than the things of God (and, although it is hard to accept, later in the chapter that you quote above it says that marriage is one of them - 1 Cor 7:29:35) and I know I have to work at keeping myself focussed on the right things just as hard as anyone else - I certainly haven't got it all sewn up.

But I do love Jesus, and want the best for him, and his kingdom. And I do want to call (myself first, and then) others to raise the bar in the way I outlined in the post. This doesn't necessarily mean celibacy, but I do wish more people would choose celibacy in order to be more free for God's work, as did the Apostle Paul (v.7). There is an urgency about God's work, as 'this world is passing away' (v.31) and it is true that generally-speaking the gift of celibacy should ideally free people up to serve with more urgency.

Jesus was celibate, Paul was celibate; why shouldn't more of us mere mortals aim to be? :-)

Thanks again for your comment. I really appreciate your interest. And many blessings to your children and lovely flock of grandchildren - they too are a gift from God.

Reggie's Books said...

It is good to know that there are others like us out there. I am celibate for Christ. I am not Catholic or Lutheran. I am female (born female) and I have been celibate since 1992. I have been looking for more of us out there to connect with because generally speaking married Christians reject me. They think celibacy is ungodly which I find odd being that Jesus Christ is celibate. Their argument is that Jesus is married to the church. But, when Jesus was here in the flesh He had no wife and was not a fornicator. I would love to find more people who are living this way, locally, so that I may have friends.

s0upy said...

Hey, Reggie's Books. I appreciate the honesty of your comment. Celibacy can easily be misunderstood in church circles, or maybe more often poorly understood, which can itself lead to misunderstanding.

Because married life is so predominantly 'the norm' in society generally, and also in the church (understandable, since it is thus ordained by God), it can be the case that there is little room for those who seek a way other than the norm of marriage, whether it be people wanting to remain single for a time, maybe whilst they are young, or lifelong avowed celibates, or young people or gay people - or even just single people not really thinking about those things at all. Perhaps an unconscious, unintentional thing, with people who are not married being pushed to one side of church culture.

I am fortunate enough to be involved in a church that has a healthy vision for single people, and that has known a calling from God to not only honour celibacy but to actively promote it. There are 250 or so celibate people in my church, scattered all around the nation. If you would like to message me (See Contact Me in my blog menu), I'm sure I could put you in touch with one or two people who are local to you.

Also, take a look here in the meantime if you'd like some more inspiration about celibacy and related issues:

undividedblog.wordpress.com/

It's a blog that we started a while back which pulls together contributions from lots of different people, celibates included, exploring celibacy from various angles.

Thanks for the comment. :-)

josh said...

I am so happy to read your comments and yes, the virgin apostle john spoke about the 144000 virgins who followed the great Virgin Lamb of God. we have no arguments with less generous souls who have not given themselves completely to God(as st.Paul said). Let them remain with their justifications. nowadays we find people justifying even the satanic evil of homosexuality by quoting bible verses. we have no need to argue or justify our positions with them.
I thank God sincerely for the generous heart He has given you Soupy and reggie's books and would surely like to meet up with people like you so that I may also have real friends who love each other in a pure spiritual way.