It is pretty sad that when I write a blog that is meant to defend Reformed theology and Protestantism, that I have to correct Protestants. Even worse yet, as a married man, I have to defend celibacy. Why? Because the Scripture’s teaching on the matter is clear.
On Christian Forums a Catholic wanted to flame-bait Calvinists into a debate over celibacy:
In general, Protestants reject Biblical teaching on chastity, which I think they do to their own error.
However, Paul writes later to the unmarried that if they are young, they should remarry, the same issue being the presumption that they will not be able to deal with their lust.
I think there is a lack of teaching on Christian marriage that Christians should marry for this reason. By default, we are marrying sinners and we ourselves are sinners. So, you already have by default two incompatible people. God calls men to be like Christ to their wives though their wives are sinners and for wives to submit to their husbands as if he were like Christ even though he is a sinner. Throughout the process God will sustain His people by His Spirit and conform married people increasingly to the image of His Son…
However, the issue here at its center is lust. If lust is not a struggle Paul is clear, it is preferable not to marry. If lust IS struggle Paul says it is no sin, it is good to marry. The same God sustains all men and women in both decisions.
Speaking of 1 Cor 7:6 a Protestant wrote:
Personally, I oppose this interpretation. The Scripture is the word of God, not Paul. I even think the greetings exist in the epistles, as well as the Epistle to Philemon, to give us an accurate idea of what the Spirit-driven life consists of. There are no useless speculations and opinions in Scripture. All Scripture is God-breathed.
As for Paul, he ends the chapter saying, “and I think that I too have the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 7:40). I think Paul is being humble. He knows he is talking by the Spirit, just not from a specific commandment from Jesus’ ministry.
Another Protestant responded:
Theoretically yes, but it runs deeper than that. We would not trust a celibate religious leader for marital or child-rearing advice, even though God used Paul for such things and he was unmarried. I think in many ways, we do not trust the leading of the Spirit and doubt how He can work through different people.
Let’s admit it. Unmarried people are considered weird. We don’t trust them as much. Any man unmarried is presumed to be a homosexual in the closet or a real freak that cannot land a woman. I really don’t think this is what the Bible says.
The Holy Spirit can raise unmarried men just as well as married men to lead the church. Of course, God in His wisdom knows there will be many more men with normal sexual inclinations that should be married, which is why in the Pastoral Epistles the guidelines to be a deacon and elder presume the man is married.
I do not share your concern about a demographic epidemic for Christians if they take Paul seriously. God will convict the heart that reads 1 Cor 7 to take the advice according to His will for that man or woman. There will always be Christian parents and children, and there will always be children who become Christians despite their households, and children stay in their sin despite the beliefs of their parents.
Apparently what I wrote was making too much sense, so a Protestant disrespectfully responded:
Wait, aren’t we on the same side?
This is the sort of spiritual blindness that has been plaguing Protestants (and by the way I worship at a Reformed Baptist church I am not a Catholic). The whole chapter is God breathed, this is the portion you refer to:
To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Cor 7:8, 9)
Clearly, Paul’s instruction is that it is preferable to remain unmarried, but if the individual does not have the gift of celibacy (which is the presumption) then Paul says by all means, don’t struggle with lust and marry.
It is a pretty straight forward teaching, with no corners to get painted into.
Us Protestants should not be cutting off our nose to spite our face. So, that means defending Biblical truths that Rome has been doing a better job explaining on the most part than us.