Realizations

Philosophy in the Middle of the Desert

My Valentine February 15, 2014

[written on 1/25/14 with my left hand, during 24 hours of silence; posted in honor of Valentine’s Day!]

If you’ve gone through a whole day without loving God, trusting God, or truly focusing in on Him/tuning into His voice… then you failed your top priority of the day.  The day was a failure.  You got an F.  You didn’t pass the test of loyalty.  After all, isn’t this the greatest commandment in the Old and New Testament, and indeed the meaning of life?  “Love the LORD your God with all your heart…”

If you don’t feel love for God in your heart something is wrong.  Stop everything you’re doing; take off from work if you have to.  Until you’re right with God, until you get to the place where you can honestly ask God to give you opportunities to proclaim His name today, to proclaim your Love.  And then go out actually looking for those opportunities.

God wants us to love Him like a lover — like in Song of Songs — consumed with Him as if we have a crush.  God wants me to run out through the fields to find a tree that I can carve a heart with both our initials in it.

We always put God on the shelf, getting Him out when it doesn’t conflict with anything else.  But why not put everything else on the shelf until it doesn’t conflict with God?  Why not love God and trust Him even if it means we die?  [21514- As my friend, Spencer Argow, pointed out to me last week, the last time I saw him before he died:  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” ~Job 13:15]

[I should note that writing this article is my very act of living out my advice, as this came to me during a time when I have so much stuff people want me to do, and I chose to put it on the shelf until I’m right with God again.  It’s kind of corny, I know, but that’s the point!]

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Mortal Ghost April 1, 2013

I am a ghost. Floating above the world, looking down, looking through.

I have been unplugged from the Matrix. Freed from Plato’s cave. Broken from the earthen chains of gravity.

You think you see me, but you don’t really see Me.  For you see but an apparition, a physical manifestation  of the spiritual within.

I am no longer able to stop and smell the roses, for I cannot see the roses. Whereas the world stops and sniffs the roses because it cannot see the suffering around them.

I am a prophet, a mortal ghost, living on another plane of existence.

Sometimes it is lonely being a ghost, but I know it is lonelier not being one.
Sometimes it is lonely drifting through this carnal world, but lonely freedom is better than communal slavery.

I wander the earth looking for others who have died to this world, yet live within it.

//

 

Living Sacrifices November 9, 2011

[This and the following Living Sacrifices parts written from 61511 – 112511]


Genesis 1:27
– God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created them. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. But then man sinned against God and God left the Earth. The Earth, now separated from its creator’s direct presence, became cursed. Instead of being “very good” it became imperfect, and then bad, and then very bad. Yet some men still tried to take up their calling and fulfill their purpose of worshiping God, taking care of the Earth, and living the life God created them to live (fulfilling their good human desires and thus taking part in God’s pleasure of creation and life). And in those simple times it was enough to satisfy God. Good men lived good lives and were blessed in life. Bad men lived bad lives and eventually died, and that was it. But it still wasn’t like God intended it, and so God sought to restore his relationship with man (the main point of the creation).

Acts 17:30:Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

So it was that God made the Old World with its Old Covenant to pass away and he introduced a New Covenant which ushered in a New Age. But this new age wasn’t a new world, but rather simply a preparation for the New World, in which Shalom (perfect earthly harmony) would be restored to Earth and God would once again live alongside man as originally intended. As the old age was ushered in with God himself on earth walking alongside man, so was the new age instated with God himself walking alongside man, except this time God came to Earth in the form of a man, whom the world knows today as Jesus. And Jesus changed everything.

Whereas in the beginning God said, Enjoy life to the fullest, now he said, Live for a transcendent cause beyond this life, sacrificing your life for the sake of others. Before he said, Be fruitful and multiply, now he was saying, Take in the widows and orphans, and if anyone can remain single he should, for the end is near.

He said before “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” (Ecc. 5:18 & 9:7)

Now he gave man a divine mission saying, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15)

Instead of Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, it was “They will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.(Matt 24:9).

Jesus turned everything upside down in this new age, and his followers followed suit. His disciples actually acted like the end was near: quitting their jobs, leaving their families behind to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel.  Even the ones who weren’t traveling sold their possessions so as to use everything in their power to prepare the world for the end. All their time, all their talents, and all their treasure. Aka the exact opposite of the American Dream, which more or less reverts back to a Christianized Old World mentality of “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and go to Heaven.”

Christianity was a radical, revolutionary philosophy and way of life. It wasn’t acceptable to society back then and it isn’t acceptable in our modern-American church society either. The New Testament I read implies we should all surrender everything we have to live as living sacrifices, sacrificing everything we have to speed the Great Commission and hasten Christ’s return. Keep nothing for ourselves except that which equips our ministry, use the rest of our money to fund other ministries. Recognize that God owns everything, so everything that we have is only what God has chosen to loan us–talents he will one day come to collect, expecting at least interest. (Matt 25)

I haven’t taken a vow of poverty, mainly because Christ advised us not to make vows, but it is my conviction to live a life of “moderate poverty.” I still have a car and a computer and spend money on things that work towards my calling, but that’s it. I feel that as Christians we have no place to spend our money on anything that goes beyond necessity. Absolutely no vanities. Cut out expensive vacations, nice jewelry (including engagement rings), movies, cable, music, and restaurants from your budget.  Of course some times going out is almost as cheap as buying something at the store and making it at home(and more conducive to your schedule); and sometimes (such as when travelling) you don’t have means of cooking.  Restaurants are especially hard to avoid because people assume everyone goes out to eat and so I’m always invited to restaurants, which gets awkward constantly declining and you don’t want to disrespect people or miss out on opportunities to “fellowship in the gospel” with them.  So my rule is that I don’t go out to eat unless it’s really cheap (like $2), it’s my only option, or it’s for a special occasion (which includes evangelistic opportunities).  I would even go so far as to not invest much in retirement, since it’s a gamble anyways, because you could die tomorrow (unless of course you could designate your unused retirement funds to a ministry).
Of course there’s no way to make it all cut and dry because there are gray areas. Such as when it seems I “need” something to make my ministry as effective as possible– in my case I feel called to reach people through music (which can be more expensive the more effective you want it to be). But the bottom line is that as Christians we cannot afford the time or money to have lives of vanity.  Even when it comes to our necessities we shouldn’t indulge in luxurious necessities. We need food to survive, but we don’t need the best-tasting food to survive. I challenge people to buy generic brands of everything. It will never be as good as the real thing, but that’s the price you pay for being a Christian (an incomparably smaller price than what God payed for you). I’ve heard it said that it’s not how much you spend that counts, but how much you have left.  In the story of the poor widow’s offering, Jesus said her last 2 pennies were more than all the other donations combined.  (Mark 12:41)

How much money would you give to save someone’s soul from Hell?

$1,000?  $1,000,000?  The answer should be, of course, “All of it.”  Well, believe it or not, this option actually exists.  You can pay to save souls by funding missionary work and child sponsorship, which presents the gospel in the most persuasive of ways and will inevitably save souls. So how much of your salary should you give towards the Great Commission? All of it.  That’s not to say you give away all your money and have to dig through the dumpsters (that you live in) to find food. The healthier you are mentally and physically the more effective you are in The Great Commission, and the more effective you are at making money which can fund The Great Commission. Your specific calling will determine how healthy you should be or how much effort you put into your job, so as to not hinder The Great Commission by being too healthy or too hard of a worker.

Do not waste any of your time. Even in obeying the sabbath to rest don’t waste your time. Rest by reading literature to strengthen your spirit and meditation to stay close to God and hear from Him. If you’re too tired to read or pray then sleep or rest to get as much rest as you possibly can so that you’ll have all the more energy during the week to be active every day, draining your life and pouring it out as a drink offering. Do not watch TV for the purpose of being entertained only; only watch TV if it is spiritually-edifying somehow. If you desire entertainment then be entertained in a spiritually edifying way, aka fellowship with other believers in godly community, encouraging and sharpening them. Laugh at the things God would laugh at and let the joy and love of Christ which comes from fellowship of believers abound, which is greater recreation than any pop culture. Otherwise what good is entertainment or recreation if it doesn’t help progress God’s will?  It is just a waste of time that could better be used fulfilling the Great Commission, even if it’s incrementally. If you find spiritually-edifying recreation to not be entertaining then you need to change. Your senses have been so numbed by their over-stimulation from this over-indulgent society that you can’t even enjoy the basic pleasures of life, you can’t enjoy the things that were created to please you.

When you’re on your death bed, what will you wish that you had done with your life?

The way I see it is like this: Every single thing that you do in your life will affect the ultimate number of souls who go to Heaven or Hell. Through a spiritual butterfly effect something as simple as a disgruntled comment to a stranger you’ll never see again (who at least assumes you are a Christian) can turn that stranger against Christ by giving them a bad impression of Christians in general and thus Christianity, so that they are more likely to avoid it altogether. Their impression creates a subconscious instinct that guards them from being offended again.  Once they are hardened against it, they go on living their life subconsciously discerning reality around them, but now they lean towards anti-christ explanations and are progressively built-up to explain away Christ. Oh, that not one person would go to Hell because of us!

Therefore, every single thing that you do needs to filter through Christianity. From the first thing you do in the morning to the last thing you do at night. From the way you dress, the way you communicate, how you make money, who you associate with, etc. If you’re too tired, get more sleep. If you don’t have enough time/talent/treasure then cut out the things in your schedule getting in their way and put new things in your schedule that increase your time/talent/treasure for the ministry. If you’re not good at speaking then work on what you are good at. If you’re ignorant on apologetics, learn them now. Stop reading this and go learn it so that you can “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (Peter 3:15) And set up barriers in your life to prevent “the cares of this world” from stealing away your time/talent/treasure.

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Cor. 7:29)

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 1 – Paul’s Reasons for Celibacy/Marriage?

THE LOGIC BEHIND CELIBACY

*My main goal behind writing a persuasive argument in favor of celibacy is most pointedly (and most realistically) to simply open the average Christian’s mind to the option of celibacy for their consideration. And by using the 2 things we already trust in (divine revelation and logic) to support that option I hope to prove that it’s actually not radical or weird. Not to brainwash you with propaganda so as to join my ranks, but to show you what the Bible has clearly stated about it for 2000 years. Not to encourage you to join some kind of faith-based cult by tugging on your hearts, but to let you see that celibacy in general resonates with our innate sense of logic, so as to seem even more logical than marriage.*

Persecution
I’ve heard it argued that Paul was specifically talking about his era when referring to staying single because of how extreme the “present distress” was (1 Cor 7:26). But at the time Paul wrote that the persecution hadn’t even reached the peak it would in later years. And if he referred to the future, then was he only referring to until the 4th century when Christianity stopped being persecuted in the Roman Empire? Is that when Christians started marrying suddenly? So now that we’re not living in “present distress” in our country is it suddenly okay to live carefree lives, marrying and living comfortably in our pursuit of happiness like in the Old Covenant? Those early centuries of persecution were no doubt terrible, but were they anymore extreme than the persecution still going on right now in the world?

I wonder if the fact that we’re not personally being persecuted means we’re not living like we’re supposed to. How can we justify living a life of leisure when our brothers in the world are STILL living in persecution like the early church? Shouldn’t we forsake the excess resources which afford us a luxurious lifestyle to turn our lives and resources toward the alleviation of current persecution? If we did this we would feel the effects of persecution personally.

But really what does persecution have to do with celibacy anyways? I suppose it’s because a wife could do more harm than good in a persecution-inclined culture where your responsibility as a husband could collide with your responsibility to the ministry– as portrayed in the following joke:

What do you call a missionary’s wife in the 10/40 window? A bargaining chip.

My point is just that the logic behind celibacy goes far beyond persecution. Are the people right now who are being persecuted like the early church called to celibacy more than we? No, I think the point of Paul advocating celibacy is because the end is near. We don’t know when it is and so we need to live as if the end is tomorrow. And if the world’s ending tomorrow why would we get married, and especially have kids? Is that what Jesus advised us to do? No, just the opposite! He actually spoke woes to them that do, as he said in Matt. 24:19: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!” He doesn’t encourage people to keep living life like it’s always been, but instead to stop and prepare for the end. “Yeah, but people have thought it’s the end for thousands of years.” Wow, do you so quickly take the side of those “mockers in the last days” who say “Where is this second coming?” It’s that conviction of the end being nigh which continues to push the gospel ever forward despite the dangers.  Without that we wouldn’t have even gotten this far.

For “…they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” –Matthew 24:38-39

Lack of Self-Control
Personally speaking, most of the time I don’t struggle with lust and romantic longing, but occasionally I do.  And in those times I‘m shaken to my core, to the point I would consider throwing away all my commitments, calling, and logic for companionship.  For what’s the point of celibacy if you’re too depressed to be productive–which was the whole point of being celibate?  Those times when I have given in to romance are easily the worst parts of my whole life; nearly all the valleys in my life’s vicissitudes are the direct result of romantic deprivation.  But it’s important to note that these valleys almost exclusively come after being around women which arouse a desire in me which I don’t want to fulfill.  It’s not being by myself that makes me lonely; it’s the angst of being without something I suddenly desire that so greatly depresses me.  I think if I were distanced from women (and romantic allurement) and had friends/family with me to keep me from loneliness (through accountability/fellowship) I would still struggle just like everybody does (priests, monks, apostles), but not enough to consider marriage as my calling.

You may think, “If he were really called to celibacy then he wouldn’t struggle with it.”  But doesn’t everybody struggle with it?  Isn’t that the way we were originally designed so as to populate the Earth?  All I know is if the Bible says Jesus was tempted in every way then surely he was tempted by the most tempting of human desires (romance and sex).  And if Jesus was tempted, of course a mere mortal like Paul would be, too.  I don’t see why Paul’s thorn in the flesh wouldn’t have been something like the temptation of those intense romantic or sexual passions he fought against yet still couldn’t shake.  I know during my past (and current) crushes I’ve begged God more than 3 times to take it away (to no avail I might add).  And yet Paul’s own romantic and sexual temptations weren’t enough to persuade him toward advocating marriage; it was in spite of them that he encouraged celibacy. Paul and the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 16) are the only people in Scripture I can think of whose call to celibacy was clearly, biblically-ordained, and yet if even Paul (the main advocate of celibacy) struggled against those temptations then why wouldn’t we also (who would be blessed to become even half of what Paul was)?  The struggle isn’t a clear indicator of your calling.

Is molestation at the hands of priests a sign that God never intended people to be celibate?  I don’t think so.  Maybe it’s a sign that we weren’t intended to make vows of lifelong celibacy.  Because it would have been better for those men to have been married all along than to be set apart to God only to end up burning with passion anyway and that passion being forced to manifest itself through a perverted outlet.  I think it’s these situations Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 7:9 which justify marriage.

You get the impression from reading that passage that the only thing Paul considers worthy to justify a marriage is lack of self-control (as if you would inevitably sin more without marriage to legalize your lustful thoughts and actions).  But is he justifying the lack of self control itself?  Isn’t this just a cop-out for sin?
“I have the choice between surrendering every area of my life to Christ’s discipline or giving in to my lust by justifying it with marriage?… That’s a no-brainer!”
That’s kind of like justifying your gambling problem because you donate the money you get to missions.  You don’t do anything to fix your self-control problem, but just get married only to find out later that your burning passions are too large to be righteously satisfied in marriage, and now you’re tempted by sins worse than the fornication you were tempted with before marriage.  Marriage won’t cure a lustful heart.

I used to think (as most men do) that living a lust-free life is not possible, it’s just part of a man’s daily life.  And I freely confess that I still struggle against my day dreams and wandering eyes (sometimes giving in), but I also confess that I know what it’s like to be broken free from the bondage of lust, and it’s so much better than any temporary ecstasy that has such addictive baggage.  I can only speak for myself, but God in his amazing grace allows me to break free from lust and then sustains me for extended periods of time (see my essay, “How To Overcome Lust“).  In those anti-lust streaks I don’t mean that I simply refrained from having sex or making out or looking at porn or masturbating, what I mean is I never even entertained a lustful temptation in my head!  I’m hesitant to even share that lest I be judged as being prideful, or lest people say “That’s a clear sign you’re called to celibacy; as for me I could never do that so I must not be.”  But I share that for the sake of telling you firsthand from experience that, in a society where Christians don’t really think it’s possible not to lust, it IS possible, and I don’t think escaping the sin of lust should be anyone’s determining reason for getting married. Sex will fade, and then what’s left in your marriage if that’s the main thing that brought you two together?

Lust is what keeps us on the same level as animals, and keeps us from being on the same level as angels.

And so people say, well, I struggle with lust so I must be called to marriage.  But Paul’s not saying marriage is for people who simply struggle with lust, but rather people who can’t control themselves enough to not have sex and commit fornication.  It’s better to be married than to sin by having sex outside of marriage.  This justification is for the people who know their extreme tendencies and are smart enough to recognize their weaknesses and beat them to it. Though I think a sex-based marriage will always be less successful than a ministry-based marriage of people who developed self-control before getting married.

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 2 – Love vs. Romance vs. Calling

Filed under: Celibacy,The American Dream — milesprowers @ 10:06 pm
Tags: , ,

Love vs. Romance
[I think it’s important to point out the difference between love and romance. You don’t love your family the same way you love your girlfriend; the latter would be considered romance. So rather than risk any confusion when referring to love, I will always refer to romantic love as “romance” and never just “love”, as is the common use in our culture.]

I’m always amazed by the people who freak out at me as if by my denial of romance I’m thwarting God’s plan for my life and passing up the mate God wants me to marry. As if life is a game where you have to play all your cards right or else you screw up and you’re accidentally off track the rest of your life. And how is it that I screwed up? By analyzing my life and earnestly seeking out how best to serve God instead of just giving into my selfish desires on a whim like the godless American majority? If anyone would hear God’s call for marriage wouldn’t it be those who surrender to His will and open their ears to hear from Him? If we are celibate because we honestly feel it’s God’s will, then we will marry when we honestly feel it’s God’s will. If it’s God’s will He would make it so, change the circumstances, change our hearts, and those of our soul mates, to bring us together providentially, not through eHarmony or dating every girl you see at church. It’s in His hands, any other way is faithlessness, out of fear and out of His will. There’s times and seasons in our lives, and God changes us according to our best fit in reaching the world. But at the same time there weren’t “times and seasons” in Paul’s life, and we must live with that resolve until God tells us otherwise.

I think of romance like hard drugs.  Romance is something you find physically tempting because of its promise to pick you up from your neutral-to-depressing existence and put you on cloud 9 in an experience of emotional ecstasy.  Once you give in just a little bit and have that first taste, your system is completely transformed to revolve around it.  It’s all you can think about, all you care about.  It immediately detours your plans for the day all the way until the day you die.  All your previous ambitions and decisions are immediately thrown out the window and replaced with attempts to get another taste.  Yet neither are necessities for living.  Neither help you physically or spiritually.  And in fact they do harm to your potential and that of the Great Commission as they throw away your time, talent and treasures.   Any spare time you have is spent thinking about it, to the point that you can’t really enjoy anything else anymore, so that anytime you are without it you are in emotional misery, which affects your mind, body and relationships to make all of them miserable as well.  Whatever time you do have is spent trying to get it back or fantasizing about it.  Whatever spare money you have is used to bring it back to you.  And then, of course, you neglect using your god-given talents by instead laying around, listening to the siren’s song in a euphoric state, and are no good to anybody.
How can anything be good that you are obsessed with all day?  The first thing you think of when you wake to the last thing you think about when you go to bed.  How can anything be so obsessive and yet considered good (aside from God, of course, whom we should be obsessed with all the time)?  Isn’t that just as bad as hard drugs?  In fact, isn’t that the reason hard drugs are considered bad?  Because they possess you and take over your life so that every decision is made in favor of that addiction, and so they destroy your life and recreate your identity.
[Of course this argument is largely referring to the puppy love stage, which is temporary….but I wouldn’t know anything about that having never made it beyond the puppy love stage.  🙂   And sadly I fear that many couples never make it past this romantic infatuation before getting married (so that their marriage is based on emotion instead of reason), and that is why they do not last.]

The truth is that romance is blinding, and if you randomly fall in love with someone, regardless of their compatibility, then your mind (being now possessed and controlled by emotion) will shape logic around them, shape God’s will and your calling so that the person fits in right at the center– your new god. Can’t you see that this addiction (just like any other) is idolatry?  And yet it feels so natural, so right!  When you’re in love there’s no such thing as logic, because your emotions refashion your previously existing logic. And if, as was my case, the logic is square against the romance in any area, you just ignore it. When in doubt, side with emotion. Because you and your body feel emotion. You don’t feel logic. Your primal desires are more desperate to be satisfied than your mental unsatisfactions. Romance is invincible and blind. That’s why it’s important to look for a mate not based on romance, but before romance sets in and blinds you to God’s will.

I ask you, is that love? In the immortal words of Haddaway, “What Is Love?”
If Paul, writer of majority of the New Testament, encourages celibacy then why is it so rare today? Wouldn’t we all pursue, or at least consider, his logical, God-ordained advice? It wasn’t a command, just advice. But personal advice coming from the main apostle, perhaps the greatest Christian to ever live, shouldn’t that be heeded more than the advice of any other christian leader since? I mean, it’s in the Bible! And who is the opposition? Not the Catholic church, whose leaders are celibate. It’s the comfortable American church that fits into an unbiblical, non-sacrificial, hedonistic society pursuing the American Dream. It’s just Christian enough to get into Heaven, but not Christian enough to make a difference. Unchristian enough to fit perfectly in the devil’s plan. Why would Satan waste time on the lost who are already lost when he can just keep Christians from reaching them?

Romance Is Not Ideal
 34Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” –  Luke 20

If nothing else, we can all agree that at the very least romance is not ideal, otherwise it would be in Heaven.  Because Heaven is ideal and marriage (thus sex and romance) isn’t in Heaven, marriage must not be ideal.  And if there won’t be marriage in Heaven why bother dealing with it here on earth?  Of course, you could argue “because you won’t be able to experience it in Heaven”, but isn’t the goal of Christianity to do God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven?  And to ultimately prepare this Earth to become Heaven, which will descend to reside here at the end of the age? If God’s will is perfectly done in Heaven where there is no romance then what does that imply we should strive for here on Earth in making this place more like Heaven?

Remember that in the beginning, when God commanded marriage, that everything was perfect and he himself dwelt there so that there was no need of Heaven on Earth; Heaven was already on Earth.  Which raises a serious question: God created romance in the beginning, and wasn’t all God’s creation perfect and thus ideal?  Perfect, yes; ideal, no. Because it’s only perfect for this particular, physical world; it’s not the overall, universal ideal.  Just like planet Earth itself: though perfect, it was never intended to be as good as Heaven.  As Luke says, there is no marriage because there is no need for marriage.  In other words, the point of marriage in the beginning was to procreate and keep mankind alive (and tending the Earth), but since man doesn’t die in Heaven, there’s no need to procreate, thus no marriage (thus no romance which is the seed of the others).

Which also raises an interesting point: If the main point of marriage was to populate the Earth, now that the Earth is more than populated does that original intent hold the same weight? I’d argue that the Earth had become completely inhabited by the time of Jesus, so when Jesus fulfilled the Law (including “be fruitful and multiply”) and encouraged celibacy in Matthew 19 the timing was Providential.  God created romance in the beginning, thus it was “very good.”  But oh, how things have changed!  The version of romance we have today has been corrupted just like everything else post-Eden, so who’s even to say that it is still just as “very good.”  But that’s besides the point; the point is that even if modern romance is still good according to God’s design, it’s not the best.  Romance is good, but giving up your own romance/pleasure for the greater good of humanity is better.

Imagine all the drama that would vanish if there were no ulterior motives and mind possession from lust/romance.  Imagine people living without exclusive relationships to be jealous of or bitter about, to make for awkward situations. No one would be left out or marginalized based on their insecurities, looks, or handicaps.  While there would still be jealousy, loneliness, etc, it wouldn’t be magnified by this amazingly-large staple of human life, this void which only serves to intensify the pain of those who would be single regardless.  People would just be people, living together as friends.  Some are better friends than others (enter jealousy/bitterness/loneliness), but there’s no exclusive/legal/sacred bond between 2 people.  There would still exist the same kind of issues that exist today among people, it’s just that they wouldn’t be romance-related, which probably takes away half of our major issues.  Oh, what a relief the very thought is!


Your Calling
Doesn’t God have a divine plan for every person? Don’t we need to seek Him and wait on Him to reveal our specific calling, how to fulfill it, and the provisions needed to fulfill it, all exactly as God planned it? Of course. If that’s how it is with the most important thing in our lives, wouldn’t it be the same with the other most important thing in our lives (aka, marriage)? Worrying about marriage and rushing around trying to find a good enough girl to marry lest you miss it and are lonely your whole life or it’s too late to have kids is the same thing as worrying about missing your calling and rushing around trying not to waste time and plugging into a ministry based on society’s influence on you and what’s available, instead of based on prayer and seeking God’s voice that calls you to the ministry He created you for. No devout Christian condones the latter, why then is it the norm to condone the former?  Just as God created you for one specific ministry above all others, so God has chosen one soul-mate to complement you above all other people.

Everyone should start off as celibate until God reveals his talent/ministry/calling so they know what attributes to look for in a mate, but waiting on God to join them together supernaturally, not just marrying whoever is convenient or who you happen to be around and fall in love with.  Because you’re not just marrying another person, you’re marrying your future self- as you two become one mind. It’s not good to live a life of solitude unless you’re specifically doing some good project that requires it (ie, monks copying manuscripts). Celibacy might not be best for you if you struggle more than usual with being single while living in a world of single women to tempt you and married couples to make you jealous, bitter, lonely, feeling left out, and longing. But struggles are inevitable while living in this sinful world in our sinful flesh, regardless of your calling.

Celibacy is a gift (1 Cor. 7:7), but what is the gift exactly? A lower sex-drive? Simply more self-control? Greater contentment or independence? Couldn’t it just as well be the realization and conviction that Paul himself had that this life is short and temporary and we should live as such? Many things are done better with a helper (someone to pick you up, as iron sharpens iron), but some things are better done alone.  And why can’t your helper just be a friend? Celibacy doesn’t mean living a life of solitude, in most cases celibates would probably have more friends than couples because couples are so tied-up with each other they don’t have time or care about socializing. It’s not like being single means you’re all alone and don’t have any friends or family, or you’re living a sad existence alone at your house every night. If you’re single you probably have roommates and it’s like being in college your whole life, which could be better than marriage.

Just as your talents are spiritual gifts, the means by which you employ them (ie, celibacy/marriage) is a gift, too. Sure celibates are seen as set apart or above the norm of society and flesh. But I think couples can still be “set apart” or holy in contrast to the society they live in, and in deed should be. In fact married couples probably have it harder being in, not of, the world as they live more in the midst of the world and its temptations and trials, whereas celibates are typically set apart literally and physically. The married are tempted to keep up with the Joneses and the American Dream, and in fact the world looks down on them, too.  Because they’re abnormal just like the celibate, though not as much.
But just as one member of the body isn’t better than another, the means of one calling (celibacy) isn’t better than another (marriage). We’re two different kinds of people, members of the body, with different functions/missions. Celibates shouldn’t look down on the married for “giving in” to their primal desires. And the married should not criticize celibates for being “too uptight”, “legalistic”, “missing out on the joys of life”, or “rebelling against their design”.

Of course the most persuasive argument for celibacy comes from just reading 1 Corinthians chapter 7, which I encourage you to read alongside this essay, and I don’t feel the need to expound on it because it speaks for itself. But where Paul talks of his own advice (not of the Lord), the Lord Himself gives the same advice in Matthew 19, and if the Lord is giving advice, is it really just advice? Jesus says getting divorced and remarrying while your spouse is alive= adultery. The only justifiable reason for divorce is if your spouse committed adultery, but even then the innocent person is forced to commit adultery when they marry someone else (it’s the only justified adultery). The disciples responded saying that it is better to never marry once, than be divorced once. Then Jesus condones their words in a curious way by saying, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given….[For] there are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” Jesus changes the topic slightly to affirm the call to celibacy, later echoed by Paul (the 2nd most influential person in Christianity, next to Jesus). God Himself lays it out plainly: If you can remain single you should. Which seems to me that if you can remain single but do not, you are not living up to God’s expectations. It seems like He’s saying if you’re not sure you are called to be married then stay single. It is better to lean towards remaining single and being sinless than to lean towards marriage and possibly sinning. Better to err in the noble fight for righteousness than to err by simply giving in to the temptations of the world.

Ministry before Matrimony, Matrimony above Ministry
You should not marry because it feels good, nor should you be celibate just to lock yourself away to meditate in a euphoric state all the time (get high on God). The feeling you feel doesn’t benefit others, so it’s not worth doing unless it benefits others, such as if it is a means of a spiritual rest or equipping to prepare for future service. When it all comes down, the only reason you should marry is if it brings you closer to God to help you preach the gospel better. If your relationship takes away time from service or hinders your relationship/growth with God then you are clearly in sin. But if you’re married then it’s too late, and you have higher responsibilities than your calling. You must first understand your calling, then if marriage would help it or hurt it, then figure out what type of person would complement your ministry. Although only God ultimately knows what would help our ministry, there should still be some obvious things to look for and look against.
What is the one thing you are best at?

I think the answer to this is the clearest indicator of where you could make the biggest impact for the Gospel’s advancement (aka your calling).  I have the gift of song-writing; I feel it is the one thing I can do better than anything else.  So if I felt called with my mind and God’s spirit to marriage, it would only make sense to marry someone who would understand my calling, appreciate my songs, give constructive criticism to strengthen my ministry, and also give me enough time and space alone to work on them. It would be a sin to marry someone who I’m attracted to, though they could care less about music and would get mad at me for spending large amounts of time writing and thinking. If they need more time with me to fulfill their own calling so that my own is watered down and put on the shelf then I screwed up in marrying the wrong person, going with my emotions rather than the spirit, not waiting for God to reveal it first and confirm it in a way that makes sense.  And I fear that is the fate of many (if not most) marriages, if they aren’t centered on ministry. I’m not saying your ministry takes priority over your marriage in your daily life (it’s the opposite), but your ministry/calling comes first chronologically in your life-time and defines what your marriage will be.  If at all.  Marriage takes priority over ministry, so make sure your marriage complements both the ministry of the groom and bride. That way when you make marriage your top priority you strengthen your ministry at the same time.

Luke 14:16-24:  Jesus said to them, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many… One said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’  … The master said … “None of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 3 – Against Procreation

Filed under: Celibacy — milesprowers @ 10:05 pm
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Reproduction: Sin of Omission
Even in the times when I’m tempted by marriage it always inevitably comes back to the same wall, which is procreation. Some people are against birth control because it’s unnatural, goes against God’s purpose of sex (“spilling the seed” so to speak), or if nothing else because it’s been proven to cause abortions by accidentally killing the embryo after conception, just a tad too late. However, the reason I’m against it is because it’s not 100% effective. There’s still a slight chance life could be conceived. I feel strongly that to have a baby is the sin of omission. In other words, in a world like ours where over 2/3 the world is on their way to Hell, how can we leave all those innocent, dying children out in the cold by bringing in new children? Brand new souls who will never know starvation, or likely damnation, to lavish on them all the love, support, and basic needs we could’ve given to the ones already here and already without it, the ones who likely won’t ever get it. And the reason they won’t get it is mainly because of us keeping it from them.

It’s not just giving to the needy, it’s giving the opportunity of salvation to those on their way to Hell (who are dying faster than Americans, by the way); it’s the Great Commission. So what, instead we give our amazing gift of Christian parenthood to souls we make from scratch, who otherwise wouldn’t exist to go to Hell? What is so beneficial and selfless so as to entice people to have babies? Desires to live a life that’s physically and emotionally fulfilling in every way? Experiencing the joys of sex? Pregnancy? Parenthood? Passing on good genes? Legacy?  The only things I can think of are not selfless– they’re selfish. It’s all about you. It’s not even about the baby.

Q: “What about raising a godly family to impact the degrading society?”
But is that even a truly noble goal? Of course saving people from a life of starvation, oppression, and spiritual blindness is among the noblest of endeavors, but raising a family itself? Perhaps the end result is noble, but nothing in the means of getting there. And the end result is still less noble than other options. Godly parenthood is so time-consuming that you might as well be living a life of solitude in your homey comfort-zone, away from the world outside that threatens the safety of your family. Again, a huge temptation- as in the temptation to protect your children from evil and danger (as is your responsibility as a parent). But at the expense of actually being a light out in the world, so that you and your godly family are absent from the world, making it just as well that you and your godly family weren’t godly at all or even in the world in the first place. It’s kind of extreme, but I wonder if parents rightly trying to fulfill their responsibility of being a good parent end up being so consumed by it that they themselves are made almost useless for ministry themselves. Almost as if they’re hiding from ministry behind their children saying, “Well, it’s too late for me. I’m too overwhelmed to minister now, but I’m raising up godly children who will be able to do what I couldn’t.” Putting off their own responsibility of ministry on someone else, as if expecting their kids to make the sacrifices they weren’t willing to make.
[Of course that argument breaks down somewhat because a father still spends his time being a light at his job, may actually be full-time in the ministry, and does have some free time to minister, especially when his kids are older and out of the house. Still it’s an interesting point worth noting, and I do think there is truth to it.]
A: What could make more of an impact and be a testimony of Christianity than adoption.

I can’t think of a single good reason to have your own children instead of adopting.  You don’t know that that soul you’re bringing into existence will be saved, and if that soul you brought into eternity is damned for eternity it will be better if it had never been born.  If you want to raise up a godly legacy and leave behind salt in the world why not raise up the souls who are already in existence, already in eternity and soon to be judged, and who will go to Hell if you don’t adopt them?

“But adoption is so expensive!”
Then adopt from America.
I mean, in the U.S. they pay you to adopt! As is the case with being a foster parent. American adoption is less ideal because American orphans have infinite more resources and opportunities for life and salvation than 3rd world orphans, but there’s still a desperate need.  American orphans and foster kids are more likely to live broken adult lives after having broken childhoods, thus multiplying the slippery slope in America.  If you really wanted to “impact the degrading society” wouldn’t you try to fix it yourself instead of just leaving behind salt to take care of it?  Society is degrading at an exponential rate because the people who are degrading it are also having all these kids who will do the same (just in greater numbers now), and so on.  If you really cared so much about America then why wouldn’t you step in and stop the cycle?
Jesus never said be fruitful and multiply. No, he said take care of the widows and orphans for the end is near.

Here’s my question:
What good for society and the Great Commission does romance and sex produce?

I’m not against marriage, in fact I think that the greatest defense for marriage is the prospect of adoption (which wouldn’t be nearly as effective outside of marriage). But I am against procreation, and thus against sex. What greater temptation to have sex is there than marriage? Where suddenly satisfying your God-given desires and experiencing the single greatest physical euphoria of your life is not only legal, but encouraged. Of course I guess you don’t actually have to have sexual intercourse to satisfy your sexual desires, which is how it’d be with my marriage. But who would be up for that? I mean, sure, give up going out to eat, but SEX?!?!

To be married is to sleep in the same bed which is to inevitably have sex sub-consciously.  So if you don’t plan on having sex and thus don’t take birth control then you can’t sleep in the same bed or you’ll accidentally have sex while not fully awake, when you aren’t conscious enough to choose to restrict your body’s primal instinct.  So what are you going to do, be married yet sleep in separate beds or rooms?  I say there’s no point in even being married, you should just be engaged for life.  “This is my fiancee with a ring on her finger; she’s off limits.” And that’s it. (…a cheap ring of course.  ;))

Having such ideals as these make it seem marriage is not God’s will for me, or others with whom this essay resonates in their souls, and thus why torment yourself longing for the perfect mate that fits all of these requirements when it’s inconceivable aside from God’s sovereignty? Rather we are called to be content in our lives of sacrifice and obedience, longing for the Spirit alone, and if it’s God’s will to confound the improbability of a soul mate then it’s up to Him and He will do it in His time by His means, one way or another. I mean, it’s not like we’re celibates for ourselves, in spite of God’s real calling that we’re denying.  If we are celibate for ourselves, then we are in sin.

We are the ones who will discontinue our surnames, the dead ends of the family tree.

Nor let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For thus says the LORD, “To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”  Isaiah 56:3

The Great Commission vs. The Great Omission
What is the sin of omission? It’s the sin of not doing something you were supposed to. In that sense, not feeding the starving keeps them starving. Not saving someone who is dying is murder. If you can’t afford foreign adoption but can afford reproduction/procreation then why not give that money to sponsor a child who needs it more?  Through Compassion International and other ministries you can pay to have a child get fed, clothed and shown love and the Gospel in a 3rd world country where they might not have any of those things otherwise. Why waste the resources they need by making a new soul? Why keep them out in the cold, starving, just so you can create a little you? The ultimate selfishness. Don’t you know that these people will either live or die by your choice to aid them or not?  When these people live on a dollar a day, you have the choice of going out to eat tonight or letting 10 people live another day, who will die if you don’t. That puts everything into perspective. Shouldn’t that be our whole life’s perspective? Sponsor 3 children for the price of your one hypothetical American, Christian one.

Let’s be liberal for a moment and assume that there are 50 million Christian couples in America right now. If each of those American couples adopted or even just sponsored one foreign child that would be 50 million people taken out of their dark, hopeless fate. If they each adopted 2 children that would be 100 million souls removed from the road to Hell and raised on the road to Heaven, with abounding opportunities for salvation and the personal examples to make those opportunities extremely persuasive. And it doesn’t just have to be Americans that adopt.

It’s a little haunting to note that of all the things God could teach man during his time on earth, one of the main things he stressed was the necessity of helping “the least of these.” His emphasis on this in Matthew 25 was so stern that he warned those who neglected this duty as being in danger of Hell.

//

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 4 – Its Non-Biblical Incentives and Flaws

Filed under: Celibacy — milesprowers @ 10:04 pm
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OTHER, NON-SPIRITUAL REASONS FOR CELIBACY:

*You change. You lose your self, your identity, and your individuality and become more like someone else as the two become one flesh. Marriage makes it harder to be yourself and do what you love because you now have a responsibility to be what someone else wants you to be. Instead of being “you”(who you were your whole life) you suddenly become a “unit”. I can’t just hang out with you anymore, now I have to mess with red tape. And even then I have to hang out with you and some stranger I’m not as good of friends with. It will never be the same. All those good times can never be relived, because you’re too busy having good times behind closed doors that only one other person will get to experience.
*Your character is tamed/watered down. We’re all characters in this great story, and the cool characters are the ones who live on edge, who stand out. Would you rather be the independent, mysterious loner, or the domesticated softy anchored to a house, job, kids, and routine?  What is cooler, really?  James Dean who is a promiscuous ladies man sleeping around all the time?  Or the mysterious, virgin, loner James Dean who’s above the animalistic instinct of sex, and too cool for the mush of romance?  I say the latter, through and through.  Because he’s on a whole other plane (higher than the common, normal, predictable, natural plane) touching the divine.  A legend.  And more respectable, too.

-You only live once.  So in the great story of History, if you got one blurb to sum up your whole life would you rather be recorded as being a character like Isaac, who’s only real significance was his birth and death (legacy) through whom Abraham’s descendants would be blessed (whose life is little more than the dash on a tombstone between 2 dates, that dash mostly being summed up by family quarrels), or Elijah, the loner in the desert who pours out himself before God only to be filled by him and so see the supernatural first hand as it works through him while he stands before kings to rebuke them as ambassador of the King of kings.

– – Of course this is the stupidest argument in the whole essay, yet it still has some merit.  Isn’t it true that the most captivating, attractive men of the Bible are the prophets out in the wilderness?  The revolutionaries?  Of course being married doesn’t automatically mean you will be tied down and have kids, routine, etc.  It just makes it that much harder to be a living sacrifice, and it’s how the vast majority of marriages end up (not that those things are bad if they are what God called you to, and even then you are still called to be radical in that calling of marriage, parenthood, and routine, and not mediocre).  One thing’s for sure, in marriage the mediocrity of life is so much more tempting than in celibacy.
*Romance stinks, it complicates everything, makes it so you can’t really be good friends with the opposite sex, and when they’re married even more so. They’re off limits. It’s so exclusive and cut off, creates so much drama, and makes the most ordinary interactions with the opposite sex instantly permeating with paranoia and awkward tension.

FLAWS OF CELIBACY:

Of course celibacy has its own temptations and stumbling blocks.
When you think of a monk, what kind of sins would he be most likely to struggle with?
Well, if you’re alone most of the time, then the person you think about the most is yourself, because it’s the main person you “interact” with. It’s very good to have time to be still and meditate, analyzing yourself and how to serve God better, but it can also be dangerous.  Too much thinking can lead to depression, judgment, anger, perversion and insanity (what my Mom calls “morbid introspection”). If you’re so focused on yourself it’s inevitable that you become selfish, because there’s no one around to do anything else for or think about. It’s inevitable that you become over-analytical toward yourself which can make you depressed at still not doing all you can do for God. Also, in quiet seclusion it’s easier to desire what you don’t have/the things which are more obviously absent: the friends, romance, commotion, and fun you think everybody else is having right now, which makes you lonely and depressed. So you either jeopardize your convictions by indulging in those worldly things which will fill the emotional void in your life, or stick to your convictions and make yourself feel better by judging them for not sacrificing as much as you are for God’s kingdom and thus being in sin.

Judging
“This life of sacrifice sure is hard, but at least I’m doing the right thing, unlike everyone else who is sinning because they aren’t obeying God’s commands to the degree I am.” This is the case with the righteous man who thanks God he’s not like other men, and whom Jesus condemns in Luke 18. You have to assume what other people do or don’t do, though you really don’t know for sure what they’re going through or their attitude to God. Don’t get me wrong, it’s impossible not to judge and make assumptions as we go about daily life, and in fact Jesus actually tells us to judge righteously. But judging is perhaps the most sensitive issue out there, and if we venture into those waters we’d better be sure we’re living above reproach. We need to be so careful that we judge with the right motives and based on facts only, for those who judge are the ones in the cross-hairs of God’s judgement and the world’s. Who is more likely to be called a hypocrite, an adulterous, violent celebrity strung out on drugs or a preacher who told a lie?  Remember that when God was on Earth the people he rebuked were those set apart as holy, not the the average “lukewarm” Jews.

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7)

When you take a stand and truly surrender your life to God, making sacrifices beyond what most Christians make, it’s hard not to notice the distinction between your ideals and the majority’s. And thus it’s hard not to compare yourself with them and be frustrated that other people aren’t sacrificing the same things you are. Here you are laying down your life, denying your selfish desires, and living on edge after the model set by Jesus and the apostles (whom every Christian should model their lives after), and everyone else in the church is buying whatever they want, indulging in their physical desires, wasting their time watching tv, and never mentioning Christ outside of church. All without it ever crossing their minds that they’re doing something wrong; they’re just going with the flow.

Pride
This judgment of course leads to the biggest sin of all, which is pride, so that in trying to surrender yourself to God the most, you end up surrendering to him the least. Pride is the worst sin because it puts yourself in the place of God, the very one you were trying to serve. So that even in your attempts to serve God you have selfish motives and put your own ambitions over those of others (whose ambitions might actually be what God would rather have you pursuing at the time than your own).
“O that these people would become true Christians like me and the apostles, think of how different the world would be!” And then inevitably it goes to, “How dare they live their lukewarm lives, never stopping to examine themselves, keeping the starving starving and the lost lost! Delaying Jesus’ return.  What evil people!” And of course there’s a lot of truth to this, but more importantly this is pride disguised as righteous indignation which leads to elitism, among other things.

Anger
Your pride hardens your heart making you arrogant and unable to see your own sins, so that you can only see the sins of other people. It’s the plank in your eye (sin in your own life) that blinds you from seeing the situation clearly, from seeing what you actually are (just another sinner and really no better than they). And in your one-way “righteous indignation” you get angry at the sins of others you perceive, since you can’t perceive your own (because they’re blocked from your view by the plank). If you could perceive your own then you would be mad at yours just as much as the other person’s (if not more since you know the full extent of your own, and it’s you who’s sinning (the only one you are responsible for and able to control). Not being proud allows you to gain an accurate perception of yourself which convicts you of your sins and pulls you down to the same level as the other sinner, thus cancelling out the anger altogether. Humility allows you to see things as they really are.

Seclusion>Self-Absorption>Selfishness>Elitism
… of course you’re probably thinking to yourself right now, “You’d have to be pretty self-absorbed to write a whole essay about your personal views on this subject.” Alas, so goes the curse of the artist, the best of whom isolate themselves with only their ideas so as to become immersed in them and thus manifest them to the best of their human ability. So I’m not so much opposed to self-absorption, nor do I equate it with selfishness. It’s just that you need to beware of going down that road which ends in elitism. You are so possessed by your masterpiece of ministry that will one day reach the world that you neglect your daily responsibilities. Drive down that road ignoring those stranded hitchhikers on the side, excusing it because it’s not your gift. “Let the one who has the calling of pulling off pull off.” You can’t help because it would only distract you from your real calling– which seems bad and convicting now, but one day when your ministry bears fruit your present decision will be justified.
But sometimes the most mundane of service in the present is just as good as the monumental milestone in the future. All God really wants us to do is to do his will right now, at the present, and all the time. To be faithful with the talent he’s currently entrusted to us until he reveals the next thing we’re supposed to do for him.

I used to be ignorant and think all those monks living as hermits in monasteries were in sin, not going outside to fulfill the Great Commission. But now I realize how critical they were in the advancement of Christianity. The Kingdom of Heaven needs people who will be set apart from the temptations of the world in isolation so that they can do those sacred acts of ministry which can only be done in such an environment. I’m talking about copying manuscripts and the like. That is the kind of ministry where you can’t take chances getting distracted or tempted by the outside world and really do have to be set apart from evil, having a clear conscience and clear mind focused on God.

Those kinds of ministries are few and have tangible ends when there will no longer be a need for most of them, and so ideally God would set apart only a minority for those sacred services until finished.  But that’s ideally-speaking. In reality there are so few people currently involved in them that the need is perhaps the greatest.  So we might as well assume that God has called everybody to that kind of work until it has been accomplished.  I specifically have things like foreign Bible translation in mind, which would probably result in a greater number of salvations currently than would evangelizing Americans, who could learn about Christianity any time they want.  Yet even so, Jesus’ general commands were for us to be in the world, but not of the world- spreading the Gospel by forming relationships with people, acts of service, and communicating the gospel out in the world. Be careful of hiding behind your ministry to give you an excuse for not helping someone in your path (the priest in Luke 10:31). That person would not be brought into your path in the first place unless God wanted them there; if God wanted you to be secluded he would keep them away from you. Unless it’s a special case where God has called you to a sacred ministry, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting dirty in the process of helping the tax collector’s and sinners right where they are; chances are the ministry you’re using to justify your isolationism actually isn’t as significant as the need you see right now.  Just like everything else in Christianity, the Great Commission is a balance. In order to reach sinners you’ll have to be around sin and thus run the risk of falling into it yourself. But a tainted evangelist is arguably better than a perfect hermit.

Perversion/Insanity
Nikola Tesla, the great inventor, suppressed his desires for romance and companionship so that he could focus on science, only to become deranged in the end and have those desires force themselves to the surface in a perverted way– in this case developing romantic feelings for a pigeon.
I think it’s common that in the case of a monk who separates himself from all temptations that those tempting desires force themselves back into your mind in one form or another. If you aren’t around women, then you’ll be tempted by whatever else is around you– in the monk’s case by other men, in Tesla’s case by an animal. Though it may sound absurd, anyone of us is capable of this given the right circumstances. As celibates we must acknowledge our tendency towards insanity and perversion more than the married person who has those temptations satisfied in romance/companionship and sex, and we must take the precautionary steps in preventing it.

Others would include:  
*Mooching
off people because you’re so obsessed with not spending your own money that you take advantage of others who you assume would spend it anyways and reason that it’s not hurting them if you take a little from their abundance.   “They shouldn’t be spending money on this, but since they do anyways they might as well give it to a good cause.  The least they could do is give some to me (since I don’t have any of it) which is ultimately giving to my ministry.” It’s kind of like taking from the rich to give to the poor, or designating people’s funds for them, because otherwise it would all be wasted on vanity.  As if you are more important than they because you are more obedient to God than they, which isn’t for you to think about.
*Becoming obsessed with people, because your deprivation from relationships or THE relationship (romance) makes you idolize the few relationships you do have.
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But just as there are certain sins celibates are particularly prone to, there are certain sins that married people are particularly prone to (that a celibate wouldn’t struggle with). Such temptations from marriage would include: complacency in your comfort zone, chasing after the same things as the pagans/Joneses, materialism, idolatry (giving things priority over God), wasting time, etc.  All of these things can still tempt a monk, but he’s not as likely to give in as a married couple is; likewise a married couple will still be tempted by the monk’s temptations (judging, pride, anger, seclusion, selfishness, elitism, etc) in their own married manifestation.  For a celibate, the greatest temptations are the things he’s giving up, aka romantic companionship and sex. Likewise with the married, the greatest temptations are probably adultery and alone time to do what you want to do (independence), because those are the things you sacrifice when you get married.  In marriage the temptation is all the stronger to waste time by enjoying each other, which betters no one else in the world. And then you feel guilty when you do work by yourself on projects, etc, because you think you’re not upholding your duties as a spouse (which your sub-conscious mind tells you are to attend to your spouse at all times). And if the 2 of you can’t think of anything to do to spend time together and fulfill your marriage “obligations” then you just waste your time watching the television, which isn’t really time together anyways. Marriage tends to make null and void not one soul, but 2.

However, “celibate” or “married” should not be your main attribute. It is simply one of many attributes which collectively find their place in the background as your foundation, not your goal; they are just means of your ministry. No more than not being a liar should give you the label of a “Non-liar”. It’s just one of many disciplines of the Christian life; no more special just because some people don’t have it. The better off you are the sooner you forget about being celibate and focus on the Great Commission.

Also, I think one of the reasons for people struggling in the absence of romance is due to that being the norm of society, and there being such an emphasis on it in society. If the majority of society was celibate than it wouldn’t be anywhere close to the temptation it is today, because it wouldn’t be part of the culture. The reminder of your singleness wouldn’t be all around you, and thus it wouldn’t be on your mind to struggle against.  Just like most homosexuals today wouldn’t be homosexuals if they were living in the 50’s when homosexuality was an unspeakable sin that no one talked about, because they didn’t think about it enough for there to be a temptation.

Ultimately you are only responsible for yourself and can only control yourself, so therefore just worry about your own relationship with God, which still needs a lot of work. Maybe you are doing better than some people in an area, but they’re probably doing better than you in another. Who’s really to say which good deed or sin outweighs another? And you never know what a person has been through or is going through to justify that sin in their mind. All you can do is keep living out your own vision of how best to please God, hoping to inspire them to do the same (if it even is in fact God’s will for them to do it), and encourage them softly, in love, to surrender their whole lives to God (a lifelong process for every person) and take steps to get rid of what is keeping them from that surrender.//