1 Corinthians 7:7-9 (NIV)
I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Matthew 19:9-12 (ESV)
And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, a“Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”
This week’s spirit gift is the gift of celibacy or singleness. The definition of celibacy is to voluntarily remain single without regret and with the ability to maintain controlled sexual impulses so as to serve the Lord without distraction.
Consider the following:
Today’s scriptures highlight that although the gift of celibacy or singleness is not listed in the spiritual gifts scriptures, it has been made known that indeed this is a gift. In our Corinthians text, Paul says, “I wish that all men were [unmarried] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (verse 7). Paul is careful to state that this is “a concession, not . . . a command” (verse 6). The ability to stay single and serve God apart from marriage is a gift, that only some were given but not everyone. However, for my biblical scholars, I would like to note that Paul is talking to people who had already been married, for whom the gift would have been given prior to the death of their spouse.
In our Matthew text, the phrase “only those to whom it has been given” refers to people receiving what some call “the gift of celibacy” or “the gift of singleness.” Jesus teaches that most people do not naturally desire to remain single and celibate for a lifetime. The exceptions are those who have “renounced marriage” for the kingdom’s sake, and have received a special gift from God. Therefore, if you believe God has blessed you with this gift, then remain single to be able to devote yourself completely to ministry and know that independence can allow more availability to move and act quickly as the Lord commands. I encourage you to enjoy committing wholeheartedly to projects, responsibilities, and ministry. However, know that it may be a lonely gift and at times the flesh may make you struggle with feelings of being “unwanted,” thus form life-giving friendships. Lastly, if this is your gift, scholars suggest to work in ministries such as prison or jail visitation and correspondence as well as discipleship.