Is Celibacy Demanded of the Divorced?
Sin has consequences. If I shoot somebody I am probably going to jail. If I get in Hi Ho Silver (my little silver Kia Rio) and go flying down the streets of town, I am probably going to wreck, and I might even die. The first of these consequences is a penalty that the government will demand of me, and the second is a consequence that the laws of nature will exact.
Sin does indeed have
consequences. However, consequences and penalties that are put on us
by the government or the laws of nature are not penalties commanded
We all sin. If God exacted penalties in this lifetime for our sins it seems that when we kicked someone God would shrivel up our leg. The law might force our legs to take us out to do some community service and that would be a punishment from the government, but it would not be a penalty from God.
When we steal we might go to
prison, but God does not take away everything we have because we
stole. When we eat too much we get fat and have medical problems, but
God does not take away all our food. We do not go blind when we look
at pornography, our nose does not grow when we tell a lie, and I do
not believe that when we sin sexually God condemns us to a life of
If indeed celibacy is a penalty for sin, then as far as I know it is the only penalty God has imposed on any sin. You would think that if God did that sort of thing, then someone who murdered would suddenly up and die.
God does not work that way. The wages of sin is death--eternal death. That is sin that is not forgiven. Sin that is forgiven is covered by the blood of Christ, and the gift of God is eternal life--we get no punishment at all.
We are forgetting that this supposed penalty from God--not a natural consequence but a punishment from God--is being put on innocent people as well as guilty ones. Little children are having their homes broken up because their mother was thrown out by an evil man and then a good man (their father) took her in and married her and took care of her. God is supposedly punishing these people when they have nothing but honest hearts and love for one another.
People tend to equate having to live celibate with having to live with a sick spouse who cannot perform sexually. But it is one thing to stay with a sick spouse and care for him and quite another to be twenty-one years old and be told by the elders of the church that you can never have a companion again--not just for physical reasons but for emotional support and financial security.
I have a friend to whom this
happened. Can you imagine that? Being twenty-one years old and
condemned to a life with no hope of companionship ever? Who
could bear it? The person with a sick spouse still has a spouse, and
the love they share comforts them. But when people are left all alone
in the world, with no love of any sort, it is much harder to
Besides all that, both Jesus and Paul said some people do not have the gift of celibacy (Mt. 19:10-12; I Cor. 7:9). Those who have it probably do not understand why everybody cannot be like them, but I am sure Jesus and Paul understood the human race enough to know what they were talking about.
If it is true that in the early church some had rightful marriages under the Law of Moses but their marriages were suddenly considered adultery under the law of Christ, then I wonder why Josephus said nothing about the outrageous upheaval when countless men in the first century had to divorce their second and third wives.
If the mass divorce of the first century happened, why do we have no record whatsoever of it? Was this law grandfathered in? Were those that came out of Judaism allowed to keep whatever wife or wives they had but after all of these men died God expected everybody to know better? Did the couples stay together but move into separate bedrooms and therefore Josephus knew nothing about it? If it had happened, would somebody not have recorded it? I do not think it happened. I do not think it happened because Paul, speaking of marriage, said:
I Cor. 7:17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
It does not get much plainer than that.
Tina Rae Collins