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1 Corinthians 7 sermon

Here's a sermon on 1 Corinthians 7

Basically I think the chapter's about contentment.  Marriage and singleness etc are a presenting issue (v1).  But really Paul's telling us to stay put in our circumstances. 

And to do it we need to remember calling, timing and gifting.

God's call (v15, 17, 18, 20, 22) is His call to fellowship with Christ (1:7).  And it can come to anyone in any circumstances.  So the grass is not greener in another set of circumstances, you can fulfil this incredible calling wherever you are.  So be content.

The time is short (v29).  Marriage is not 'happily ever after', it's momentary.  Even if your job is "for life" it's completely insecure.  So plug into the roles where God has you but don't be "engrossed" (v32).   Our home is the future, not present circumstances.  So be content.

Our circumstances are a gift (v7).  If you're single you have the gift of singleness, if you're married you have the gift of marriage.  ie your circumstances have been given to you from the hand of Christ.  Singleness/marriage, this job / that job / unemployment is His gift to you - a gift from the One who loves you more than you love yourself.  Receive it as His gift and be content.

I ran out of time at the very end and left out a page of my notes.  It was basically all about how you're supposed to ever get married, given that singleness is to be preferred, and we're not to look for a spouse.

In brief - we should learn contentment in all circumstances, understand the benefits of singleness and if there's someone on the scene who belongs to the Lord (v39) and wouldn't be a sinful choice in other respects, and if you actually want to marry given all this, then go ahead.  Sexual attraction is a major sign that marriage should be on the cards, and if it is then for goodness sakes hurry up before it turns into sexual sin.

That kind of thing.  I also drew people's attention to these resources.

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0 thoughts on “1 Corinthians 7 sermon

  1. glenscriv

    Dev,
    Awesome talk! Do you want to link to it? I'll very happily plug it.

    Just a question: do you think a single could die never marrying and never having the gift of singleness? I'm thinking that the gift simply is the gift of your single circumstances (which is why some have one gift (singleness) others have another (marriage)). I take it that there is no third category of 'giftless' individuals. but what I hear many singles saying is that they happen to be single but since they have a sex drive they mustn't have the gift of singleness and so they start frantically looking for a spouse. It seems to me Paul would say to singles "You're single and this is the Lord's gift to you - enjoy!" just as he'd say "You're married and this is the Lord's gift to you - enjoy!"

    sort of thing

  2. Dev

    yea i'm not sure about that...
    because of the way gifts are talked about in 1 cor 12 - and that you can pray to receive gifts
    it sounds more like - you're single - please don't get married - focus on the gospel, focus on holiness, time is short - yes it may suck in the flesh - but actually its glorious in the Spirit - trust me
    - so even if you want to get married - reconsider

    since you can desire the gift of prophecy etc, and not necessarily have it

    you're married - ok good - make sure that marriage is worked on - for the gospel sake - but on the other hand - that marriage is part of the old body - what is fading away - consider yourself not married -focus on the gospel
    - and if you find your non-Christian spouse leaving or your spouse dying - don't get married again - gospel, gospel, gospel

    it's a really tricky one.. but this is as close as i can get for now

    yea you can link it if you think it's worth it =)

  3. gortexgrrl

    "Our circumstances are a gift (v7). If you’re single you have the gift of singleness, if you’re married you have the gift of marriage."

    No, this is not quite what Paul meant. First, keep in mind that he was speaking to a specific people during a specific time. In 1 Cor 7:26 he states that due to the "present distress" it's best for the unmarried to remain as they are. It was not meant to be advice for all peoples at all times!

    Verse 7 & 8 reads: I wish that all were as I am, but each has his own particular gift from God, one like so, another like so. So to the unmarried I say it's good for them to remain as they are, but if they cannot contain (sexually) let them marry, for it's better to marry than to burn (with passion).

    Paul is basically saying that he'd like everyone to be single for now, but not everyone is gifted with as much sexual self-control as he is. So it's OK to stay single, but only if you have that kind of self-control. If not, get married (see 1 Cor 7:2). Either way, it's a matter of personal choice and volition, not "God gives you the gift of marriage" or the "gift of singleness". Wherever the scriptures talk about marriage and singleness, it's always in the langauge of human effort, ie. "he who finds a wife, finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord".

  4. glenscriv

    Hi gortexgrrl,
    Welcome to comments - good to have you.

    My take is that

    a) 'the present crisis' might be particularly intense in Paul's day sufferings-wise, but the ultimate crisis in view is 'this world in its present form is passing away' (v31). So I'd say this advice still very much applies (btw Dev's talk (who comments above) is brilliant on this:

    http://youarethechrist.blogspot.com/2009/03/marriage-relationships.html

    b) the 'burning' of v9 is not about passion but about shame (the only other time Paul says that people burn is 2 Cor 11:29). So the focus is not on singles with a raging sex-drive so much as on an unmarried/betrothed couple going too far.

    c) I'm open to the interpretation that the gift = a specific ability that only some single people have but I wonder then why Paul says that each man has his own gift from God, one has this gift, the other has that. Paul doesn't countenance here a third category of giftless person and the greek construction is the 'men' 'de' - on one hand this, on the other that. The immediate context is marriage and singleness. I think it would be slightly strange (though I could be wrong) if Paul meant: "Everyone has their own gift, some have the gift of singleness, some have the gift of tongues."

    ??

    You know?

    So if everyone has a gift from God and on the one hand it's this on the other it's that I reckon the context pushes you strongly towards marriage and singleness as 'this' and 'that'

    I can see other views on this and I'm willing to be persuaded on this - you'll see above, Dev and I have differed on just this issue.

    I think what I'm really nervous about is the kind of thinking that says "I mustn't have the gift of singleness because I have a sex drive". I think that's a misunderstanding both of 'burning' and of the 'gift' and it fuels a dissatisfaction with singleness which is completely at odds with the whole chapter. Dev's comments on eagerly desiring the gift of singleness in this circumstance are a good counter-balance.

  5. gortexgrrl

    "a) ‘the present crisis’ might be particularly intense in Paul’s day sufferings-wise, but the ultimate crisis in view is ‘this world in its present form is passing away’ (v31). So I’d say this advice still very much applies (btw Dev’s talk (who comments above) is brilliant on this"

    With all due respect to you and Dev, this is not what Calvin thought. In his commentary on this epistle, he acknowledged that this advice was for that of "expediency...nothing farther". Theologian Simon Kistemaker also supports this view.

    "b) the ‘burning’ of v9 is not about passion but about shame (the only other time Paul says that people burn is 2 Cor 11:29). So the focus is not on singles with a raging sex-drive so much as on an unmarried/betrothed couple going too far. "

    Actually, that passage from 2 Cor is more about burning with anger or frustration, which would also fit with the sexual frustration of singles at the time.

    "I’m open to the interpretation that the gift = a specific ability that only some single people have but I wonder then why Paul says that each man has his own gift from God, one has this gift, the other has that." Paul doesn’t countenance here a third category of giftless person and the greek construction is the ‘men’ ‘de’ - on one hand this, on the other that. The immediate context is marriage and singleness. I think it would be slightly strange (though I could be wrong) if Paul meant: “Everyone has their own gift, some have the gift of singleness, some have the gift of tongues.”

    It would be strange for someone to say "some have the gift of singleness and some...", because there is no gift of singleness!

    The GoS is a modern phrase coined by the editors of the Living Bible in the 70's, and it has since been removed from the New Living Translation (which it is now called) and The Message is soon to follow suit, restoring 1 Cor 7:7 back to something more in keeping with the original Greek text.

    “hos men houto de hos houto” is not an either/or proposition. It's non-specific and infinite. It's a phrase still used in Greek today. You might say "each fashion model has their own hair style, some like this, some like that (and so on, and so on). No third category necessary -- it's indefinite.

    In the case of Paul, he was basically saying that (at least for the time being) he'd like everyone to be single like he is, but not everyone is gifted in the way he is (whether it be in his ability to withstand celibacy and solitude, or a passion for a mission that exceeds his desire for marriage-- he doesn't really say). It's good to remain as you are, but if you cannot cannot, it's better to marry. Again, it's about giving the people advice so they can make wise choices (not waiting for God to tell you or give you one gift or the other).

    When you get right down to it, verse 7 is really quite inconsequential. It's merely preamble to verse 8, where Paul gets to the point of his advice (which is that it's up to them, "concession and not command" as he says to them in verse 6 and verse 25, whereas his advice about marriage and divorce in v.9-10 is "from the Lord". He reiterates the "it's up to you" theme to singles later in the chapter in verses 36 & 39). No burning bushes, no big prophetic moments. Nowhere does God promise to "call" you to marriage or singleness, or confirm who you will marry.

    So you need not be nervous about thinking “I mustn’t have the gift of singleness because I have a sex drive”, nor should you feel you must be "eagerly desiring the gift of singleness". It really concerns me that anyone today would tell a single "you’re single - please don’t get married - focus on the gospel, focus on holiness...even if you want to get married - reconsider" based on these passages, but some have -- even though there are no NT examples of God ever telling anyone not to marry.

    Some church leaders give the impression that you must first let go of your desire for marriage and attain some kind of contentment nirvana before God will even consider giving you the gift of marriage. This is wrong. Christians of the past never expected this of their youth -- if you were of age, everyone conspired to find you a spouse, before you could even think of sex! There are Christian leaders today, such as Steve and Candice Watters at Boundless.com who realizing that today's Christian young have been burdened with too many spiritual and material prerequisites for marriage -- too much modern extra-biblical stuff, however well-intended it may be.

    I'm not saying that people should rush into marriage without prayerful consideration. I'm just repeating Christ words in Matthew 19 that "not all can receive this teaching" of remaining single for the sake of the gospel, therefore we should not be challenging all singles to embrace a gift they probably don't have (and don't want!). Besides, he didn't bring it up until someone asked him about the option of being able to stay single. I think we should do the same.

  6. glenscriv

    Hi gortexgrrl,
    sorry to be slow in response.

    Thanks for the correction on 'men de'. Point well taken.

    I'd consider this passage and Jesus' words in Matthew 19:10-11 to be exactly a call for singles to consider whether they can accept singleness in preference to marriage. Of course if they can't accept this word then they should marry - and marry quickly.

    Glen

  7. gortexgrrl

    Rather than a "call" for singles to consider accepting, it may be closer to an exception made for those who express an interest.

  8. gortexgrrl

    Sorry if I seem so contrarian, it's just that I've seen too many young people over the years thrown into a state of crisis because they think that they must consider singleness, or risk displeasing God. Or after seeing or hearing the phrase "gift of singleness" or "called to singleness" for the umpteenth time in a week, they worry that God might be telling them something. Or if they are having problems attracting the opposite sex, that they must have the GoS. There is an out-of-print book about this called "The Freedom to Marry", by Ellen Varughese.

    We should instead be affirming the goodness and universality of marriage (1 Cor 7:2) and framing the current widespread circumstance of prolonged singleness as being a modern departure from God's original design. And that is what causes so many singles to be discontent, not necessarily their spiritual failings. Here's are some books that encourages the "good goal" of marriage that is recommended by Focus on the Family:
    Get Married: What Women Can Do To Help it Happen, and Getting Serious about Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness.

  9. Jacky

    gortexgrrl>

    I haven't yet listened to Glen's sermon, but I've listened to Dev's. What do you think of (Dev's) sermon on 1 Corinthians 7? I've actually written an essay on it as well, but Dev's sermon is more focused esp. on the 'gift of singleness' and 'calling of singleness' issue moreso than my 'urgency to marriage' take (something which you mentioned in your latest comment).

    Not sure where you're coming from on this, but I don't think 'prolonged singleness as being a modern departure from God's original design' is the most accurate analysis of the theology behind singleness. Many ancient fathers practised celibacy, albeit for all types of reasons. If you consider Calvin as authority (as you did in one of your responses), you may have overlooked his comments on 1 Corinthians 7 in his "Institutes" where he states that singleness is a gift. Thankfully I (occasionally) take Calvin with a bit of salt, but it so happens that his take on 1 Corinthians 7 in his "Institutes" (rather than his commentaries) seems to follow in the line of Christ's comment in the synoptic gospels that singleness is not for everyone, but it is more suitable for some than others. It is in *this* particular sense and context that I agree with Glen more over his openness to understand singleness *and* marriage as both gifts from God.

    I'm not sure if we've considered this in the discussion so far (I haven't been following it all that closely unfortunately, so forgive me if I'm re-treading ground here), but we should also consider the eschatological state of man/woman in New Creation - we are no longer given in marriage to one another. Of course this doesn't do away with the gift of marriage now, but we shouldn't ignore it and go to the lengths of 'universality of marriage' just to respond to specific 'crises of singleness'. There are of course amazing truths to be understood in Genesis 2 concerning marriage, but I strongly believe that (as in Ephesians 5) we are, as Paul did, to look beyond it's carnal meaning towards its spiritual typology to Christ and church more than anything. This may follow more in line of Paul saying in 1 Corinthians 7 that he hopes for us to be like him in this respect... to be completely devoted to Christ as Bride is to the Head. Celibate people will display this truth in their vertical relationship with Him, whereas married couples will display this mystery in the spiritual typology of their horizontal marital relationship.

    In any case, hope you get a listen of either sermon... I don't know whether this discussion has passed its climax, but I'm not sure it is faithful to Scripture to discredit the theology behind the gift/calling of singleness just because of certain negative testimonies towards (understanding and applying) it...

  10. gortexgrrl

    Jacky,

    I can't access the sermon due to the firewall on my work computer.

    "I don’t think ‘prolonged singleness as being a modern departure from God’s original design’ is the most accurate analysis of the theology behind singleness. Many ancient fathers practised celibacy, albeit for all types of reasons. If you consider Calvin as authority (as you did in one of your responses), you may have overlooked his comments on 1 Corinthians 7 in his “Institutes” where he states that singleness is a gift."

    Calvin (and pretty much every other theologian in history, until that mistake I mentioned with the Living Bible) was referring to voluntary celibacy for those who have been gifted with the continency to manage it. His concern was about churches of that era requiring a celibate vow from all priests, because of God designing humans to want sex that most would not be able to manage it. And history has proven him right.

    When we expand Paul's use of the word "gift" in 1 Cor 7:7 to refer to the circumstantial singleness of many, rather than gifted voluntary celibacy of a few, we are deviating from centuries of theologial understanding. There is nothing anywhere in 1 Cor 7 to indicate that Paul was suggesting that singleness or celibacy should be undertaken any way but temporarily for the ordinary listener. Christians of the past would never have assumed that mass numbers of their young people could live chastely well into their 20's without marriage.

    Even if all happens under God's sovereignty, do you really think that the legions of unmarried believers in that age group (and older) today are single because of "God's gifting", or that perhaps because the world has fallen so low? Most of them are struggling greatly with their singleness, and are not living up to this sky-high "eschatological state" of "contented" and "godly" singleness. And that is how "your singleness is a gift" and other slogans became popularized -- it's about leaders trying to control an uncontrollable situation.

    Because we have coin this phrase "gift of singleness" and muddled the two definitions of it, one being circumstantial singleness, the other being more along the lines of the "gift of celibacy", I suggest that we drop it altogether because of the many, many negative testimonies toward it and give those who desire marriage our wholehearted blessing to pursue it.

  11. Jacky

    Haha.. I love how you are accessing the site on your work computer. Touche over here.

    Your generalisation aside ("the every living theologian" comment seems a bit vast, even if you are a professor of church history!), I totally agree with this statement which you made:

    Calvin was referring to voluntary celibacy for those who have been gifted with the continency to manage it.

    However, whether or not it is accurate to say that Calvin was *purely* reactionary to the Catholic tensions during his time is debatable, something which I'm not comfortable to tread on because I'm not deeply learned concerning both Calvin and the church atmosphere of his period. Of course, most theologians of every age react to the doctrinal differentiations of their time...

    However...

    "And that is how “your singleness is a gift” and other slogans became popularized — it’s about leaders trying to control an uncontrollable situation."

    ... seems to be quite a cynical statement, attributing the 'popularisation' of the gift of singleness to pastoral manipulation. I'm not denying that pastors are *not* doing this, but perhaps going about it with huge misunderstandings and with unclear definitions. This leads to my next point...

    ...I also agree that if the phrase becomes a stumbling block, then we should (a) remove it and/or (b) clarify it altogether. However, I'd like to hear you more on your particular distinction on the gift of celibacy vs. the gift of singleness, because I seem to be more in line with your definition of the gift of celibacy if we were to use that phrase at all. Perhaps you can pull that together with what Christ said concerning the suitability of celibacy for some and not others in the synoptic gospel.

    Hope you get to access the sermon(s) after work :)

  12. gortexgrrl

    I didn't say ”the every living theologian”, but "every other theologian in history" -- up to the point where the Living Bible invented the GoS, and now there's a lot of people arguing every which way about it.

    "seems to be quite a cynical statement, attributing the ‘popularisation’ of the gift of singleness to pastoral manipulation." I don't think they are consciously trying to manipulate anyone. They're just doing with best they can with what they've got. And what they've got is The Message, which essentially copies (with some variation) the GoS mistake from the Living Bible. Unfortunately, a lot of those pastors have go on to write scores of horrible books to singles. In effect, the GoS has become kind of a rogue theology. But there's a lot of resistance to rethinking it, because it's embarrassing to have to retract even bad ideas.

    "However, I’d like to hear you more on your particular distinction on the gift of celibacy vs. the gift of singleness, because I seem to be more in line with your definition of the gift of celibacy if we were to use that phrase at all."

    Personally, I don't think there's any such thing as the "gift of celibacy" or the "gift of singleness", since those phases appear nowhere in the Bible. Neither does "called to singleness", another phrase that's problematic, because it causes many young people to worry that God's going to tell them to that they must never marry. I've actually met singles who shut their ears off to God for fear of being told this. This is a tragedy much greater than having a bunch of sexually frustrated young believers fretting about their love lives more than their relationship with God -- as if any of us are that holy!

    "Perhaps you can pull that together with what Christ said concerning the suitability of celibacy for some and not others in the synoptic gospel. "

    Gladly! Matthew 19:11-12 reads "Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12For 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."

    Note that the passage begins with "not everone can receive this saying", so obviously he's not talking about "all singles", what's more, receiving (or hearing) a teaching is about being willing and able -- "only to whom it is given", those who have whatever gift you'd need in order to be able to willingly "receive it". As a matter of fact, Christ presents this option only after the disciples bring it up!

    And then Christ goes on to talk about those who are born eunuchs and those who are made that way by MEN (not God) -- both cases of involuntary circumstantial singleness. This teaching isn't for them -- their singleness is a done deal. BUT, for the third kind, who voluntarily -- "made themselves" -- eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom. Again, Christ repeats himself as if to be sure we get it -- "let the one who is able to receive this receive this".

    But alas, we don't get it. You know, I've actually heard this passage interpreted to mean that God is encouraging all singles and "gifting them" in their singleness. I believe God loves singles as much as marrieds, but I don't think that's what this passage means that. Note the stark realism Jesus uses in describing the first two eunuchs, there's no pollyanna "how wonderful that you have the GoS" platitudes here. They aren't even mentioned as candidates for kingdom service (although I'm sure they'd be welcome if they volunteered). It's not encouragement for all singles in their "singlehood", it's for the third kind of "eunuch" who is able to make such a choice "for the sake of the kingdom", which sounds like pretty serious work (not just teaching sunday school), the early martyrs of the church who died young come to mind.

    Again, you can see that, in both this passage and 1 Cor 7:7, words like "given" and "gift" don't refer to anything specific. And of those who can sacrifice marriage, who knows what gift they may have that enables them to make such a choice? Remember: 1 Cor 7:7 says that we each have our own gift of God, so it may be something different for any of them. It makes sense that it's the gift of "self control", since that's alluded to in 1 Cor 7:8 and Matt 19:12 suggests similar voluntary continency. For some, it might even be a passion for a mission that exceeds the desire for marriage. But nowhere is there any "gift of singleness" or "gift of celibacy".

    Also, I think it's worth noting that nowhere is marriage called a gift, either. I know it probably sounds cheeky to say that, but one problem with it is that it gives the impression that one must sit back and "wait on the Lord" to give you either marriage or singleness as your gift. When in fact, the sciptures speak of marriage entirely in the language of human effort and volition: Proverbs 18:22 (a man FINDS a wife, and FINDS what is good, AND (then) receives favour from the Lord). And numerous references in 1 Cor 7 suggest human choice, such as verse 8 which is written clearly in the language of making a wise decision. And verse 36 and 39 "a man should do what he wants", "a widow can marry whom she chooses". And of course 1 Cor 9:5 which staunchly defends the right to marry.

    I'm not denying the sovereignty of God here, I'm just pointing out that the scriptures don't super-spiritualize marriage and singleness into this great mysterious thing that requires having to divine God's "perfect plan for our lives" in order to make a decision. But that's the message so many singles are given -- and then we wonder why so many guys are so passive about pursuing the women in their churches! Why should they, when they've been flattered into thinking that their singleness is a "gift"? If we want people to take action and get on with their lives, we must challenge this false doctrine that God will or must send a burning bush to confirm that "this is the one". There's no scriptural mention that God will confirm his mate selection for you. If you really want to go SOLA SCRIPTURA, you'll find that you will have decide for yourself.

  13. Jacky

    gortexgrrl>

    That response was wholesome! - thank you. Since this is after all Glen's blog, perhaps he has a few words to say when he returns from the conference. Meanwhile, just a brief comment on only one point...

    "Also, I think it's worth noting that nowhere is marriage called a gift, either. I know it probably sounds cheeky to say that, but one problem with it is that it gives the impression that one must sit back and "wait on the Lord" to give you either marriage or singleness as your gift. When in fact, the sciptures speak of marriage entirely in the language of human effort and volition: Proverbs 18:22 (a man FINDS a wife, and FINDS what is good, AND (then) receives favour from the Lord). And numerous references in 1 Cor 7 suggest human choice, such as verse 8 which is written clearly in the language of making a wise decision. And verse 36 and 39 "a man should do what he wants", "a widow can marry whom she chooses". And of course 1 Cor 9:5 which staunchly defends the right to marry."

    Perhaps I'm working off of theological terminology, but I'm not saying there is such a specific phraseology either. Rather, I'm saying that, like the Trinity and other Christian doctrines, many are not explicitly stated in black and white - such words like 'penal substitution', 'hypostasis' etc... but of course, they are understood and inspired by Scripture. So when I mean 'gift of singleness/celibacy', I mean it in the most honest interpretation of 1 Cor 7/Eph 5 rather than impute a meaning which isn't inherently there. Ironically, I came to the conclusion of these two gifts (marriage and celibacy/singleness) only after I began meditating over 1 Corinthians 7 in detail rather than being influenced by Christian traditions in the west (thankfully I'm in the East... perhaps I've escaped such 'contemporary' waves of misinterpretations). Prior to that, I had no idea that either marriage or celibacy is considered a gift - but one thing that I do know is, quoting Glen:

    "I’d consider this passage and Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:10-11 to be exactly a call for singles to consider whether they can accept singleness in preference to marriage. Of course if they can’t accept this word then they should marry - and marry quickly."

    Furthermore, I entirely agree that we are to quote unquote find a wife (under the quoted circumstance) - just as Paul says that all Spiritual gifts should be actively desired (1 Cor 12) should not conflict with the idea of the Spirit gifting us with the gifts. I also disagree that there is only 'one' wife for you - so perhaps there is some misunderstanding there over my interpretation of 'gift of marriage' compared to yours. At no point do I consider God's 'gifts' or anything related to the Spirit for the matter to mean us sitting passively on our behinds. I personally consider my fiance and future marriage to be both a gift and something which I had to pursue - maybe at this point we're treading along the lines of what Packer called 'antinomies' - the apparent tension of God's sovereignty and our responsibility. The difference here is, of course, we're contextualising it within the context of marriage/celibacy... Then again, I don't want to forget that we may be arguing more over the etymology moreso than the substance of doctrine (which we may actually end up agreeing over)...

    Perhaps there are some deep spiritual issues in whichever church you're from which has caused people to misunderstand marriage and singleness - for one, it seems like the men in your church are passive for the wrong reasons and perhaps (consciously or not) using this 'gift of singleness' as a reason to be lazy and not pursue marriage. That too needs to change. That phenomenon thankfully has not hit my church at home, because to them singleness is hardly a gift - rather, they think it is a curse!

    In any case, I'd best leave my commenting for others as well - thank you for the thorough analysis. I forgot to respond to one of your other points as well..:

    "Most of them are struggling greatly with their singleness, and are not living up to this sky-high “eschatological state” of “contented” and “godly” singleness."

    If that is true of those who claim to be gifted in celibacy, then that truly troubles me as much as it has troubled you - not because Scripture doesn't claim this truth, but because of the attitude behind these particular celibate men. Perhaps when you have a listen to Dev's sermon you can leave some thoughts as to where things could be clarified, mutually learnt or even discarded - he covers the eschatological aspect more eloquently and I prefer not to misquote him.

  14. gortexgrrl

    "So when I mean ‘gift of singleness/celibacy’, I mean it in the most honest interpretation of 1 Cor 7/Eph 5 rather than impute a meaning which isn’t inherently there."

    I'm not sure how you find gift of singleness/celibacy in Eph 5.

    "I came to the conclusion of these two gifts (marriage and celibacy/singleness) only after I began meditating over 1 Corinthians 7 in detail rather than being influenced by Christian traditions in the west "

    I thought you'd gotten the GoS from what Glen wrote above ("If you’re single you have the gift of singleness, if you’re married you have the gift of marriage").

    “I’d consider this passage and Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:10-11 to be exactly a call for singles to consider whether they can accept singleness in preference to marriage. Of course if they can’t accept this word then they should marry - and marry quickly.”

    This is indeed a welcome addition, but again, I would tweak it as I said "rather than a “call” for singles to consider accepting, it may be closer to an exception made for those who express an interest."

    "just as Paul says that all Spiritual gifts should be actively desired (1 Cor 12) should not conflict with the idea of the Spirit gifting us with the gifts. "

    A point of interest: even those who support the idea that the "gift" (charisma) Paul was referring to in 1 cor 7:7 was indeed singleness/marriage, don't necessarily agree that this "charisma" was referring to a 'spiritual' gift, per se.

    "Perhaps there are some deep spiritual issues in whichever church you’re from which has caused people to misunderstand marriage and singleness"

    If you google your way around the blogosphere, you'll find this is very much a global phenomenon. Boundless.com has written on it extensively. Debbie Maken's controversial book Getting Serious about Getting Married: Rethinking the Gift of Singleness goes into the male complacency response to the false flattery of having one's singleness referred to as a gift. Sounds like your church may be a glorious exception!

  15. Joe

    1Cor9:5 speaks about Apostles having the right to bring a believing wife in the context of their travels. It seems that except for Paul, the Apostles were married. If there truly is a "gift of singleness", then it would be appropriate for many of the Apostles to manifest this "gift" for the reason given today - to better serve the Lord. However, that is not the case as far as I can tell by reading 1Cor9:5, so there is no such "gift ."

    1Cor7 speaks about sexual immorality. Paul specifically mentions something about a man with his father's wife and a prostitute, but other than the examples he gives, he doesn't spell out exactly what he means by sexual immorality. Today, the church's have expanded the reference to sexual immorality to include everything even a simple hug between an single guy and gal.

    No wonder there ar so many singles!

  16. Glen

    Hi Joe,
    Glad to have you in the comments. What do you make of Matthew 19:10-12

    "The disciples said to Jesus, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry."
    But He said to them, "Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 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."

    Doesn't Jesus here speak of receiving a single status for life as a gift?

    As for 1 Corinthians - wouldn't you say Barnabas is also implied to be single from 1 Cor 9:6?

    It's a shame if you've heard the teaching you mention at the end of your comment. But I wouldn't throw out the baby with the bath water. Singleness is a gift to be received and it's to be held in very high regard - much higher than we often do in church I reckon.

    Blessings in Jesus,
    Glen

  17. Joe

    Glen -

    Thanks for your reply. I was attempting to address the topic from the perspective of a Christian who was living in Corinth at the time Paul's letter was read to the church, which was written in response to questions. Thus, the Christians in Corinth didn't have the bible as we have to compare different books. Based on Paul's letter, it seems that if there were a "gift of singleness" he would would have made a much stronger case that demonstrates the manifestation of this gift in the early church.

  18. gortexgrrl

    "What do you make of Matthew 19:10-12...Doesn’t Jesus here speak of receiving a single status for life as a gift?"

    It's not the single status that's a gift, but the ability to sacrifice marriage for the sake of the kingdom. I summarized Matthew 19:11-12 earlier in this thread:

    “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12For 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.”

    Note that the passage begins with “not everone can receive this saying”, so obviously he’s not talking about “all singles”, what’s more, receiving (or hearing) a teaching is about being willing and able — “only to whom it is given”, those who have whatever gift you’d need in order to be able to willingly “receive it”. As a matter of fact, Christ presents this option only after the disciples bring it up!

    And then Christ goes on to talk about those who are born eunuchs and those who are made that way by MEN (not God) — both cases of involuntary circumstantial singleness. This teaching isn’t for them — their singleness is a done deal. BUT, for the third kind, who voluntarily — “made themselves” — eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom. Again, Christ repeats himself as if to be sure we get it — “let the one who is able to receive this receive this”.

    But alas, we don’t get it. You know, I’ve actually heard this passage interpreted to mean that God is encouraging all singles and “gifting them” in their singleness. I believe God loves singles as much as marrieds, but I don’t think that’s what this passage means that. Note the stark realism Jesus uses in describing the first two eunuchs, there’s no pollyanna “how wonderful that you have the GoS” platitudes here. They aren’t even mentioned as candidates for kingdom service (although I’m sure they’d be welcome if they volunteered). It’s not encouragement for all singles in their “singlehood”, it’s for the third kind of “eunuch” who is able to make such a choice “for the sake of the kingdom”, which sounds like pretty serious work (not just teaching sunday school), the early martyrs of the church who died young come to mind.

  19. Zoe

    Thank you for talking about single status, I cant find much on sermons on how to embrace being single I began to think it was wrong, no one talks about finance problems,loneliness,being obsessed with finding some one and missing the now, this is what you were saying, which is great, also single mothers have circumstances to overcome there is no help and no teaching on it - why when its such a big part of society these days and we have so many in our church is it so over looked - cant find much on-line either.

    Regarding this statement below - do you think this is more lust, If a couple say we should get married, shouldn't people create a friendship 1st then a relationship, then dating, then attraction sexually comes last not first if you get on in a friendship learn communication then surely this works for a life.

    Sexual attraction is a major sign that marriage should be on the cards, and if it is then for goodness sakes hurry up before it turns into sexual sin.

    I'm researching on singleness - why its not taught on why there is only marriage conference - i am going to make a change in this area
    I would appreciate you wisdom, views, comments.
    Thank you
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Zoe Robinson

    zoedawnlee@hotmail.com

  20. Glen

    Hi Zoe,
    Regarding my sentence: "Sexual attraction is a major sign that marriage should be on the cards, and if it is then for goodness sakes hurry up before it turns into sexual sin." - I should say that sexual attraction should not be the primary and is certainly not the only sign! First you should be sure they are 'in the Lord' (ie a Christian - v39) and that this is a person you can go through 'troubles' with (v28). But if you've been wise in these sorts of things then I think sexual attraction is an important sign that now is the time to marry. If it's not there then maybe you shouldn't marry. If it is there (and these other things are there also) then don't spend a minute longer than needed in getting married. (I get this from v8,9 and 36). Of course if sexual attraction is there and they aren't an appropriate marriage partner then FLEE (1 Cor 6!)

    For a much better 1 Corinthians 7 talk - check out my friend Dev's:

    http://christthetruth.fourkindsofchristmas.com/2009/03/11/proper-1-corinthians-7-talk/

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