Matthew 19:11-12 (On Celibacy)

What conclusion did the disciples draw in Mat 19:10 from the strictness of Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage?  From a human, even religious perspective, why was the disciples’ response completely logical?  Recall the Pharisees’ question in Mat 19:3 and think: given the fallen state of mankind, will not one always be able to find lawful grounds against another, especially in a close relationship like marriage?  From a heavenly perspective of mercy, grace, and true redemption, why is celibacy not the only solution to the inevitable conflicts that arise in marriage?  Think: Which demonstrates in greater measure the nature and character of God: one who walks righteously because he is not subjected to the inherent frictions and temptations of marriage, or one who walks righteously in spite of being subjected to such frictions and temptations?  What does this teach us about the role marriage plays in the process of sanctification?

Throughout history the vast majority of people have married so that marriage has always been considered the “normal” state of man (cf. Gen 2:18), to such an extent that those who remain celibate are often considered abnormal; did the apostle Paul consider celibacy to be abnormal?  See 1Co 7:1,8.  Besides the negative strictness of Jesus’ teaching on divorce, for what positive reasons did Paul also give why it may be better for a Christian not to marry?  See 1Co 7:25-35.  What do Paul’s words teach us about the time, energy and use of our resources that are necessary for marriage that cannot but detract from devoting these to the service of God?  Should a married man ever suppose that his responsibilities to his wife and family leave him the same time to minister as one who is unmarried?  Should he ever suppose that a call to ministry exempts him from or takes precedence over those responsibilities?  See 1Ti 3:5.

Hence, for complete and undistracted devotion and service to the Lord, should we consider celibacy abnormal, or in fact commendable?  Although we tend to think of celibacy in terms of someone who has never married, what two life circumstances may also leave one celibate in order to serve the Lord more fully?  See Luk 2:36-37, 1Co 7:39-40, 1Ti 5:5; 1Co 7:10-11.  See also Act 26:10 (lit. “cast down my pebble”) which hints that the apostle Paul was at one time a part of the Sanhedrin and hence married, as only married men could serve on this Jewish council; thus it is quite possible that Paul was a widower (but not likely divorced; see 1Co 9:5).  While it is clear from Paul’s statements that a widow or widower may effectively serve God as a single, should we consider that divorce or separation from a spouse necessarily preempts one from effectively serving God?  Is it necessarily even a poor reflection on a Christian that an unbelieving spouse divorced them?  Cf. Luk 14:26.  What “good” (Rom 8:28) might God be working in such circumstances for the true believer?  See again 1Co 7:35.  Would the same be true if that person remarried while the former spouse was still living?  While divorce is always undesirable compared with maintaining the covenant relationship, what should the people of God consider to be the much greater taboo in light of Jesus’ teaching?  Although “impractical” to a worldly church, what is the Biblical response to divorce as it affects the true Church?  I.e., if given the “lemon” of divorce, what “lemonade” can the true Christian make from it?

In spite of the many positive reasons that Paul enumerates in support of celibacy, what was Jesus’ response to the disciples’ reaction to his strict teaching on divorce that it must then be better for a man not to marry?  See Mat 19:11.  Does Jesus’ statement in Mat 19:11 refer to his teaching on divorce (Mat 19:4-9), or to the disciples’ reaction to his teaching that it must then be better for a man not to marry?  What does Jesus’ statement about celibacy in Mat 19:11-12 indicate about the “normal” state of man and celibacy being a unique and special gift from God?  Throughout Christian history, what groups have upheld celibacy as commendable?  Is celibacy truly commendable if it is only understood in the sense of being unmarried, so that its practitioners because of it fall into sexual immorality?  See 1Co 7:2.  As leaders of the church, did the majority of Jesus’ disciples in fact consider celibacy to be the Christian standard?  Cf. 1Co 9:5.  Although Paul was celibate, what indication do we receive from his writings that even he considered matrimony to be the “norm” and not celibacy?  Cf. 1Co 7:7, 1Ti 3:2,4-5,12, 5:11-14, Tit 1:6.

Matthew 19:3-6 (Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 1)
Matthew 19:7-9 (Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 2)
Matthew 19:9 (The Exception Clause to Divorce and Remarriage)
Scripture Passages Related to Divorce and Remarriage
Matthew 19:1-9 (The Spiritual Significance of Marriage)
Matthew 19:10 (The Disciples’ Response To Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Divorce)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Remarriage Part 1)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Remarriage Part 2)
Matthew 19:11-12 (On Celibacy)

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