"Mean": Adj. - 'humble, obscure, or lowly'

O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love,
Upon the mean altar of my heart.

Spiritual thoughts by
Daniel J. Clausen, author of HOW GODS ARE MADE

A division of Codex Spiritualis

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Church Fail: Virginity

[Note: This post is in no way meant to be anti-marriage, but pro-celibacy. Neither is addressing this topic a reflection or thought of regret upon my own blessed marriage.]

This issue may seem trivial to many, but I am committed to following the doctrine of the Lord - the whole counsel of it. Many are undisturbed by the differences of the apostolic church and our present day manifestation. Addressing this issue is simply to show another area where we err to our own detriment.

Virginity in the modern secular world has become a badge of shame. One is made to feel unwanted, undesirable, and unattractive, or else called a "prude" or "stuck up". In the modern Christian world, virginity is merely the purgatorial state that one must endure before finding the "one" in marriage. God forbid, if they make it to 30 unmarried, there must be something wrong with them. Most Christian young people believe they are just waiting until the person God has for them shows up. Unfortunately, this view has more in common with Disney princesses than it does with the Bible, for the New Testament shows virginity and singleness, not only an intermediate state to endure, but as a virtue to be coveted and exalted, not just for a time, but for a lifetime. This means that for some, there is not God's chosen out there waiting for them, if they have been called to be a virgin. I know so many who are waiting and waiting, because they feel it is expected of them to find someone and marry, but that may not be the will of God for your life! Consider how foreign the Scriptural view is on this topic by considering what I have just said, and reading the following relevant verses:
"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.'"  Mat. 19:11, 12
"I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am." 1 Cor. 7:6, 7
"And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. . . I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord . . . So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage does even better."  1 Cor. 7:35-38
"Now this man, [Philip], had four virgin daughters, who prophesied." Acts 21:9  
"Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. . . It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb." Rev. 14:1, 4
You see, dear friend, how to Christ and the Apostles, marriage was good, but remaining a virgin was thought better? I know this sounds almost like heresy to some today, but it is not. It is the original teaching of the church. This is further solidified by the practice of the earliest apostolic churches, who kept an "order of virgins," who received alms from the church, like widows, for the women who had no man to provide for them monetarily.
Christ was a virgin, John the Baptist was a virgin, Paul was a virgin, every unmarried Apostle was a virgin. (history only records Peter and Philip as having married.). Do not despise what has been given to you as a gift. When has innocence, purity, chastity, child-likeness, angel-likeness, Christ-likeness, ever not been virtuous? Let them who can receive it, receive it. 

Now, consider some testimony of the early church on the subject:
"Many who have been Christ's disciples from childhood - both men and women - remain pure even to the age of sixty and seventy years." Justin Martyr
"How many voluntary eunuchs are there! How many virgins espoused to Christ! So many male virgins, so many voluntary eunuchs, carry their glory in secret, carrying no token to make them too illustrious." Tertullian
"The first type of celibacy is virginity from birth. The second is virginity from one's second birth - that is, from the font, which either in the married state keeps pure by mutual agreement, or else perseveres in widowhood by choice. A third class remains, monogamy, when after the intersection of a marriage once contracted, there is thereafter a renunciation of sexual relations." Tertullian 
"What else is virginity than freedom from liberty? It has no husband for a master. Virginity is freed from all affections. It is not given up to marriage, nor the world, nor to children." Novatian
"These have dedicated themselves to Christ. They have departed from carnal immorality and have vowed themselves to God, in both the flesh and the spirit. In order to complete their work, which is destined to a great reward, they no longer explore how to be adorned or please anybody, except the Lord. For it is from Him that they expect to receive their reward for their virginity." Cyprian
"A virgin is not ordained, for we have no such commandment from the Lord. Rather, virginity is a state of voluntary discipline - not for the reproach of marriage, but to have more time for godly service." Apostolic Constitutions
There are literally dozens of very edifying and beneficial statements on the topic by the early church, but I hope those will suffice. This is not a call for all to be virginal. This is not an erroneous catholic teaching requiring priests to be celibate. This is not to transition us into monks and nuns (though the origins of these orders find themselves in the original virginal orders). This is simply to teach what Christ and the Apostles taught, which is: For the Christian, to remain a virgin and unmarried is a preferred state over marriage. Marriage is not sin, and in it you do well. But as Paul says, "he who remains unmarried does better."

Let them who can receive it, receive it!

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