Unlike the goal of Auntie, the goal of conversion is not to make every singleton into a couple. While it may be in the best interest for evolutionary biology for each human to procreate and further the complexity of the gene pool, it is not the sole goal of the gospel of Christ for people to experience matrimony. That being said, the church is a great utility and facilitator for this purpose. But this is not its main purpose.
Some might think this is heresy, but the goal of Christ is the redemption of humanity to its original purpose (as discussed in the inVerse lesson study on education) and to bring forth the righteousness of God as through justification (the new birth, seeing us as He would see Christ—His righteousness imputed or credited to us; Rom. 4:3–5; 6:6, 7), sanctification (growing in grace through His holiness being imparted to us; Rom. 8:4; Eph. 5:9), and glorification (the “finishing touch” of immortality at the second advent; Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 15:53). Being married or being single is not a prerequisite to this righteousness.
When Jesus responded to the Pharisee’s question on marriage and divorce, the disciples responded by saying, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matt. 19:10). Jesus replies with Matthew 19:12. Note before reading it, however, that this is a very difficult passage. It is sandwiched with verse 11 as, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given” and the end of verse 12 as, “He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” This verse has insights that would be very applicable to the world of ideas on sexuality today and, like many other of Christ’s sayings, it is not to be taken literally but understood contextually.
Jesus didn’t say, “No, no, no, one must always get married!” This is very much the cultural custom in many places in the world. Cultures of yesterday and even in many places today consider it a religious duty to be married and found righteous in God’s eyes. The single individual is seen as incomplete and given some temporary status given until married. As the first week established, we must forgo cultural conventions and be willing to accept the scripts of Scripture as the basis for our Christ-focused lives. What did Jesus say about singles?
Yes, God did say, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). But it’s interesting that He said it was “not good” and not “bad” (did you follow that?). Meaning, He didn’t condemn singleness; rather it was just not ideal. Good and evil clearly exist in the Scriptures, but “not good” exists as well—which should be avoided if possible because God has something better in mind. But at the same time, it’s not bad. We have clear examples of this in the life of Jesus Himself, as well as that of the apostle Paul.
Jesus gives three categories of singleness in Matthew 19:12. Though He uses the word eunuchs, the definition transcends our contemporary and limited understanding as one who is castrated. The first category are those individuals who were born from their mother’s womb as naturally single. These individuals were biologically (perhaps even the word genetically could be used) single to describe their sexuality. They were born to be single and not married. Jesus acknowledges people who have a physical, biological status that results in their singlehood.
The second group consists of those who were made eunuchs by others. This correlates to our most common usage of eunuch. These individuals were those who were made single by external forces. Some references suggest that Daniel and his friends were made eunuchs to work in the royal courts of Babylon (Dan. 1:3, 7–9). This was at times done to remove superstitions like the excess effects of testosterone to stir up aggression, rebellion, or possibly the impure impregnation of the royal harem. Regardless, a category of individuals not born this way exists, whose external life experiences have made them single.
The third group have made themselves such for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. These have taken up singleness for the higher calling of the kingdom of God. Though it’s commonly attributed to celibacy, it must be emphasized that it is not a sin to engage in a marital relationship, and by no means is sexuality evil, as established already. For the conditions that the apostle Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 7, the goal of the gospel is primary in these individuals, and they take on singleness for this evangelistic purpose.
What is wonderful and just as profound is that after this discourse on singlehood, Jesus blesses little children, saying, “For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” These three sections (on marriage, on singleness, and on children) are distinct, but the underlying common theme is that whatever course of life you are in, you should do it for the glory of heaven. A difficult saying indeed.