Jesus is recorded as promoting celibacy, but only for those who can handle
it. It was a teaching added onto a statement about divorce:
"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for
fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso
marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
"His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it
is not good to marry."
"But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to
whom it is given."
"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb:
and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be
eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's
sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
Charles Laymon's "The Interpreter's one-volume commentary on the Bible"
suggest that at least the third option was added by later writers and scribes
and is not something that Jesus advocated. Laymon comments that the words:
"Eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of
heaven have [occasionally] been taken literally. This was true in the case
of Origen, the learned biblical scholar of the church in Alexandria in the
early 3rd century. But the saying likely reflects the growing tendency of
the church, even by the end of the first century, to regard abstinence from
the marriage relationship as a sign of holiness. The passage tells us about
the early church; it reveals nothing about the attitude of Jesus towards
1 Corinthians 7:1-2, and 7:7-9
Paul writes to the Christian church at Corinth about marriage. That group was
composed of former Jews Roman Pagans and Greek Pagans -- each with their own
marriage customs. He suggests that celibacy is a
1 Corinthians 7:1-2: ... It is good for a man not to touch a
Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let
every woman have her own husband.
1 Corinthians 7:7-9: For I would that all men were even as I myself.
But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and
another after that.
I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they
abide even as I.
But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than
He does not promote the unmarried, sexually inactive state as a general
principle, but only to those to whom God has given the gift of celibacy.
His opinion might have been influenced by his belief
that the end of the world would arrive in his immediate future.
Thus, any lifestyle arrangement would be strictly temporary. The prevalence of
persecution may also have been a factor. He gives
heterosexual marriage is an option for those who would otherwise burn with
He appears to have given no consideration to same-sex
marriage. He would have certainly been unaware of the concept of sexual
orientation which was first suggested in the late 19th century and not seriously
studied until the mid 20th century. He was probably unaware of loving, committed homosexual
This passage discusses 144,000 singers during the
end times, who seem to be given an preferential
status because they are virgins who were "undefiled with
women." They follow Jesus wherever he goes. "And in their mouth was
found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."
The implication is that sexual activity is polluting.
Some theologians have suggested that the 144,000 were free of spiritual
fornication -- e.g. accepting some heresy or practicing some form of idolatry.
However, this seems like a stretch, because verse four specifically mentions
being undefiled with women. These verses probably reflect the growing
anti-sexual movement in the early Church near the end of the 1st century CE when
the Book of Revelation was probably written.
It would seem that the Bible teaches that most people are happiest in a
loving, supportive, committed marriage relationship. However, if a person can handle
celibacy, then is is an alternative and perhaps a preferred option.
anti-sexual message of Revelation seems out of sync with the rest of the Bible.
But then, so is its portrayal of God as a wrathful, hateful, vindictive deity
bent on revenge, which is seen throughout the book. These may have been the themes in Revelation that caused Martin
Luther to reject the book, and relegate it to the appendix (along with James)
his German translation of the Bible.