Thursday, September 2, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Do you think marriage or celibacy is a higher spiritual calling?


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today


Sisyphos said...


According to Matthew 19,12 celibacy is at least a special calling: "11 Jesus replied, Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.
12 For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it. " And looking at Paul there comes the impression it might be more than than - although one could diminish Pauls impact on that question in relativizing his authirority saying that he is just a cultural expresser sf Christ

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

I think marriage is the plan intended by God for man and woman. There are exceptions though, cf. what Sisyphos pointed out. Both - the exceptions and the normal case - are "higher spiritual callings" in my eyes. (What does "higher" mean?)


Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

“Come as you are.” does count in this area, too! SDG

Greg said...

Thanks. Hope you're well!

This passage seems to indicate that some (those who have renounced marriage; seems the first two have no choice) might believe that the celibate life is a gift, therefore the norm could be considered marriage. For Paul, the celibate life may also be considered a gift, but in both cases there doesn't seem to be any emphasis that this is "better" way to be a spiritual person. Do you think Paul does some relativising of his own authority and views on such matters?

Greg said...

Thanks. "Higher" meant more spiritual, or a better spirituality, or closer to God - something like that. Do you think there is such a thing, when it comes to these matters of marriage and celibacy?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

No I do not think, that there is such a thing. If both are blessings or gifts of the spirit, how could be one better than the other? And even if, God does not want us to compare our spiritual gifts to those of others but he wants us to use them.

For a moment I thought it might be better to have another gift. But this is not the question. Never. God prepared good works for me to live in. And I can do so or complain about missing gifts. I am well prepared by him for everything I shall do. Paul might argue, that it is better for serving the lord as he does to have the gift of celibacy. But I am not Paul. Therefore this can not be an absolute statement.

Having read your latest blog post confirms my opinion. And how glad can we be, that God loves us the same. Me and my 70 year old single brother.

Sisyphos said...


I am fine thank you.
I do see Paul himself making a difference between his own preference and the alleged Word of God but still there is this overall impression which devalues marriage (or sexual intimacy)
But not just Pauls own understanding and view is decisive for placing his authority in such matters. I think in interpreting Paul we obviously have to consider his context - regardless how universal he thought the revelation was he received. Why? Because universal for him has to be seen in light of his knowledge, circumstances ets.
And one factor in his context is the persecution he and other Christians suffered.
And may I add another, more controversial factor, which might should be a factor in considering Paul: the expected imminent return of the Messiah.
Those considerations limit the horizon of Paul. But all too often his contextual understanding of theology is understood in a universal manner.
Which I am critical of. Jesus Christ is the transcendent Being, the divine Being, others such as Paul just claimed to have received the revelation of God.
Thus Paul has to be viewed in the tradition of other prophets like Moses, Eliah, Nathan etc whose revelations we consider to be contextualized.
So coming back to my first posted comment: I think that Paul is not very authoritative in this question. Jesus might be as the One reflecting two dimensions: the alleged divine and the human.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Hi Sisyphos,

have you read this article by Greg about Pauls views on marriage...? I would be interested to hear your thoughts about it.

I wonder how you seem to believe in Jesus Christ as GOD and human at the same time, which is revealed in the old and new testament, but seem to not really believe in what Paul says in the same bible. As if one part was the word of God, while the other was not.


Greg said...

True. The social status thing is way overplayed in numerous Christian circles and this tends to lead to a comparing of gifts, which as you note, is misplaced.

In Paul's context he may have preferred celibacy, but, if so, why?
Would it really be better for serving God, if one didn't have this gift?

Greg said...

Good. I agree about Paul in his context. In addition to the contexts you mention, there would also be his claim to be an apostle. This context too needs consideration. Granted, the apostle is limited. But would we not make some kinds of valid universal statements, even though we have a context? You seem to want to argue that context prevents us from legitimately doing so. I'm not as sure.

Looks like Paul's distinction is more "from the lord" and his own view - nothing about the Word of God. But again, as I previously implied, on these matters Paul would seem to agree with you that he is not very authoritative. He gives his opinion as one who is trustworthy and who has the Spirit.

But let's not stray too far off topic.