Saturday, October 16


I am consdering sending this essay in to my college paper. I'd like some critiques first, though!
Biola is often known as a marriage school. Jokes on this subject abound, ranging from the "Bridal Institute of Los Angeles," to comparing Biola to a cobbler's shop (they take you in, mend your soles[souls] and send you out in pairs). But perhaps this is too often taken for granted, and we forget to think about the other option.

Many of us don't know much about celibacy--and sometimes even assume that it is based on the idea that sex is evil. Before I continue, let me take a few moments to explain the basic ideas behind the practice of celibacy.

First of all, celibacy is thought to allow a person to be devoted to God alone. This is not to say that celibacy is the only state in which a person can be devoted to God; most people can marry and be devoted to God. Look at people like Billy Graham, or Jim and Elizabeth Elliot. Marriage itself is service to God; it has been known as the "bloodless martyrdom." But some people need--or wish--to be free of relationships that could distract them from God. I know that in my own life, celibacy is in some way a concession to a weakness, since I cannot--at least at this stage of my life--focus on human love and the love of God at the same time.

Secondly, celibacy leaves one free to do whatever God may call on him to do. Wht does God call most people to do? Get married, have kids, love their family, and serve God. But perhaps God leaves a few people unattached who can drop everything at short notice, and do something drastic that needs to be done. It would be cruel and irresponsible for someone with a family to care for to leave them and run around doing dramatic things. (yes, this sentence is bad; someone help!)

This being said, why should we at Biola think about celibacy? After all, most of us don't come from churches with a monastic tradition, and we grow up thinking about "when I get married..." Also, if the majority of us neither need nor want to be celibate, why should we think about it?

Firstly, Christianity has a long monastic tradition: many of the great saints were celibates. If nothing else, most Christians at most places at most times have found celibacy to be a good thing, whether they themselves were celibate or not.

Secondly, celibacy might be God's will for some of us. Let's face it: not all of us will get married, for one reason or another. The only options that Christians have been given are monogamy and celibacy. If we do not marry, then we must be celibate.

This leads to the third, and perhaps most relevant point. Even those of us who will get married but are not married yet must be celibate. This should not be a passive celibacy, one that is merely waiting for marriage, but an active one. Know who you are and who God wants you to be. You are not half of a soul, looking for a missing half. You are a whole person, made in the image of God. In the time of celibacy before marriage, learn how to be a whole soul and to serve God in the way He designed you to. Celibacy can, after all, be a preperation for marriage.

I hope I have made it clear that not all or even most people should be celibate. But we should learn the value of it, since we are all called to celibacy before marriage, and a few of us may take it as a permanent lifestyle.

1 comment:

slowlane said...

Maybe for that sentence that is awkward you could give an example of what drastic thing the parent might try to do that would be irresponsible. Granted, this might be tricky because there are people throughout history who have left behind family to do something drastic and have now become super-saints. (Jim Elliot being an example.) Maybe it would work better to go the otherway, pointing out that Mother Theresa couldn't have had such an affect on so many orphans if she had a husband and her own kids who she needed to tend to or Bruchko couldn't have headed off into the wilds of Colombia as he did if he had a wife he needed to provide for.

And then in the second to last paragraph, you go from "we at Biola" to "you." I know the "you" is general, but it sounds like you start preaching.

I think one other thing you might consider is to give a couple other examples of how celibacy is worthwhile. (Besides rushing off to do dramatic things and not trying to focus both on God's love and spousal love.) Like maybe mentioning celibacy also gives more time for the very undramatic things, like being support for families in the community, or being another window for seeing the character of God as He is reflected in their life.

But other than that, I think it is an excellent article. I think I can count on one hand the times when I heard "singleness is okay and here is how you can do it right" from all that is Biola. (I saw it lived out in several people, but it was hardly ever talked of.) So keep on educating!