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Get Prequalified—The Minimalist Home - 1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19

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Should the top priority of a single person be to get married? Can a Smart Home also be a minimalistic home—with just one occupant? Why is it that singleness is sometimes considered less acceptable than marriage? Can the single life be a full, enriching, and positive experience? Perhaps you’ve lost your mate or you’re still waiting to find one. Or maybe you’re happy to stay single. Today let’s consider singleness and celibacy in light of Scripture.

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8/12/2018
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Get Prequalified—The Minimalist Home
1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19
Skip Heitzig
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Should the top priority of a single person be to get married? Can a Smart Home also be a minimalistic home—with just one occupant? Why is it that singleness is sometimes considered less acceptable than marriage? Can the single life be a full, enriching, and positive experience? Perhaps you’ve lost your mate or you’re still waiting to find one. Or maybe you’re happy to stay single. Today let’s consider singleness and celibacy in light of Scripture.
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Smart Home

Smart Home

Stop imagining a better home life and start building it. Whether you're single and just surveying the landscape, married and mediating the man cave versus the she shed, or rebuilding your home (and heart) after significant loss, God has a blueprint for you. No home is beyond repair, so join Skip Heitzig for Smart Home and start building the home of your future today.

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  1. The Single Life (1 Corinthians 7:1)

  2. The Celibate Life (Matthew 19:11-12)

  3. The Sensible Life (1 Corinthians 7:27-28)


Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: August 12, 2018
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Get Prequalified—The Minimalist Home"
Text: 1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19

Path

Should the top priority of a single person be to get married? Can a Smart Home also be a minimalistic home—with just one occupant? Why is it that singleness is sometimes considered less acceptable than marriage? Can the single life be a full, enriching, and positive experience? Perhaps you've lost your mate or you're still waiting to find one. Or maybe you're happy to stay single. Today let's consider singleness and celibacy in light of Scripture.
  1. The Single Life (1 Corinthians 7:1)
  2. The Celibate Life (Matthew 19:11-12)
  3. The Sensible Life (1 Corinthians 7:27-28)
Points

The Single Life
  • According to the Washington Post, there are 109 million unmarried Americans over eighteen.1 This is the largest number in recorded history.
  • In light of Scripture, singleness is okay. It's normal.
  • Christians in the Corinthian culture struggled like Christians today. Corinthian culture was corrupt and morally tolerant.
  • To "touch a woman" (v. 1) was a Jewish expression that meant to have sexual intercourse. It may be that Jewish Christians pressured single Gentile Christians to get married.
  • But Paul said it's good for a person to remain single.
  • He was establishing that singleness is good behavior, not inferior. But there were a couple of clarifiers:
    • Singleness is good when it involves celibacy.
    • Marriage is also good, but it's not the only good.
  • Singleness has many practical advantages; it allows for greater flexibility and freedom.
  • There are a lot of single heroes in Scripture. Consider the following:
    • Joseph was the prime minister of Egypt and saved the world from famine—as a single person.
    • Daniel was the third most powerful person in Babylon and gave insight to its ruler—as a single person.
    • Amos was a prophet who influenced Israel in the eighth century BC—as a single person.
    • Elijah was a prophet who stood single-handedly for God—as a single person.
    • John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, who called him the greatest man ever born (see Matthew 11:11)—as a single person.
    • Paul was a missionary, church planter, and Bible teacher—as a single person.
    • Jesus accomplished salvation for entire world—as a single person.
  • More modern single Christian leaders include David Brainerd, Robert M'Cheyne, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and John Stott.
The Celibate Life
  • The Jewish culture the disciples grew up in was rampant with divorce. Yet Jesus properly interpreted marriage and single life.
  • Jesus mentioned three categories of celibacy that were common in ancient history:
    • Eunuchs from birth: those with congenital deformities that prevented them from having children.
    • Eunuchs made by man: those who were castrated, such as harem guards.
    • Self-made eunuchs (celibate singles): those who voluntarily chose celibacy for the kingdom of heaven. Why would someone do this? Because they have the gift of celibacy.
  • These categories show us two things:
    • A single life can't be accomplished apart from a gift, an enablement.
    • If you have this gift, you know it, either by nature or choice.
  • How can you tell if you're called to celibacy? You won't "burn with passion" (1 Corinthians 7:9).
  • But remember this, as John Stott stated: "The Bible doesn't indicate…that either gift is necessarily permanent. Just because someone is single now doesn't mean they always will be, and just because one is married now doesn't mean they will always will be."
  • Jesus said, "He who is able to accept it, let him accept it" (v. 12).
The Sensible Life
  • We should cherish singleness as a blessing from God and recognize its many advantages.
  • And remember: it's not wrong to get married, as long as it's to a fellow believer.
  • And though it is "not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18), marriage can bring trouble, conflicts, demands, and hardships—things singleness may or may not have.
  • We must learn to be content whether single or married.
  • One must be called by God to long-term singleness and then kept by God. Just as it's wrong to be married and act single, so, too, is it wrong to be single and act married.
  • Here's advice for the married person: don't discount, demote, or overlook single, divorced, or widowed people. Include them in social activities and encourage them in their walk.
  • Here's advice for the single person: don't waste singleness. Throw yourself into God's plan for your life. There may be no other time when you'll be as free to serve as now.
  • Ann Kiemel Anderson wrote this prayer: "Jesus, if this is Your will, then yes to being single. In my deepest heart I want to marry, to belong to a great man, to know I am linked to his life…and he to mine…following Christ and our dreams together…but You know what I need. If I never marry, it is yes to You."
  • The single life can be good, the celibate life must be a gift, and the sensible life is the goal.
Practice

Connect Up: Consider Jesus as the greatest example of singleness. How did He live and interact with people as a single man? If you're single, how can you imitate Jesus' life of singleness? If you're married, what can you learn from His life of singleness? And what does singleness tell you about God the Father?

Connect In: One writer called singles "the lepers of today's church,"2 as they are often forgotten or made to feel odd. Discuss ways the church can be a more welcoming place for singles. If you are single, share your thoughts and concerns. If you are married, share what you experienced when you were single.

Connect Out: When reaching single people for Christ, the method is the same: a clear presentation of the gospel. But do you think having an outreach specifically for singles could be helpful? What might that outreach look like?


1 Bella DePaulo, "What Has Changed for Single Americans in the Past Decade," September 20, 2016, The Washington Post, accessed 8/12/18.
2 Gina Dalfonzo, "Are Single People the Lepers of Today's Church?," https://www.onfaith.co/onfaith/2014/04/09/are-single-people-the-lepers-of-today/31646, accessed 8/12/18.

Transcript

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Get Prequalified—The Minimalist Home - 1 Corinthians 7; Matthew 19 - Skip Heitzig

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Start building the home of your future today, Smart Home.

Father, we thank you that we're here at this time in this place to hear the scripture read, taught, applied. A place where we can think about these things and apply them to our hearts. And we realize that in the Church in the body of Christ that you wonderfully blend together different people from different backgrounds, different sets of circumstances. And all of that is for our mutual benefit that we might grow and learn from each other about you and bring you glory because of it. Help us, Lord, to understand this issue that we deal with today, in Jesus' name, Amen.

We're doing a series called Smart Home as you probably know. And it's building your home of the future by looking at God's blueprint in the scriptures in the Bible. When people think about their home, their dream home, they usually think about a house, a physical place. And if you were to ask a young couple what your dream home if you could have any home, they would probably describe a two or three bedroom-- or four bedroom depending on how big their family is-- home with a two-car garage or a three-car garage or a 35 car garage, depending on what's going on there, maybe a man cave or a she shed or a big yard for the kids.

There's some idea of what the dream house would look like. But lately over the last few years I've discovered there's a new movement in our country toward a much smaller home called a tiny home. I don't know if you've ever seen those shows on TVs. I'm fascinated by these things, by the way. I mean, these are people who are deliberately downsizing their square footage to live in homes that are like 100 square feet or 400 square feet. That's the biggest one. That's the massive one. It's the size of a room basically. It's called the tiny house.

And these are people who are rejecting the idea that bigger is better. They would rather spend less and have more time and freedom to go places and do things with their family. I would say tiny families, because that's about all that can fit in it.

But today I'd like to consider the tiny home in terms of the single person, the minimalist home. I want to speak about not a trend but a reality. And that is the reality of singleness in our culture.

According to the Washington Post there are 109 million unmarried Americans over 18. 109 million singles in our country. According to the article, never before in US history have so many adults been unmarried. They said 47% of all households are this way, 47%. According to the Wall Street Journal there are now more single adult households than two parent households.

Now, with this reality, and it is reality, comes pressure. And the pressure is from peers and from parents and from friends and from society and also from the church. The pressure is on those single adults it's almost like, what's wrong with you? How come you're not married? Or how come you're not married yet? Is it bad breath? Is it bad habits? Skeletons in your closet? Nobody wants to hang out with you. It's as if you're single, you are less than somebody who is married. Which creates the kind of pressure that makes a single person think, yeah, what is wrong with me? How come I'm not married? Should I be married?

Now, some people are content to be single. Some people are obviously not content to be single. In fact, they may even be angry. They may even be bitter. I heard about an elderly woman who died. She never married in her lifetime. And she made a special request that at her funeral she would have no male pall bearers to carry her casket. Those were her instructions. They were written down, handwritten instructions. She said, they wouldn't take me out while I was alive, I don't want them to take me out when I'm dead. So there.

What I'd like to do is consider singleness in the light of scripture. And by doing so to sort of clear the air. In clear the air I hope that you'll end up leaving in the very least seeing that singleness is OK. That it's normal. And since all of us lived for a time as singles, it must be normal. I made a discovery as well that happily married people were at one time happily single people. And that if you're not happy as a single person, you're not going to be so happy as a married person. That marriage itself isn't what changes and makes you a happy person.

You may be fulfilled to a certain degree, but it won't change everything. One girl named Sue Kolinskey one woman said this, "I'm 33 years old, and I'm single. Don't you think it's a generalization that you should be married by 33 years old? That's like looking at somebody who's 70 and saying, hey, when are you going to break your hip? All your friends are breaking their hips. What are you waiting for?

I thought that was just classic. When we look at the scripture we discover there's lots of biblical heroes that were single people while being used by God-- a lot of them. We'll look at a couple in a moment. Author Fred Hartley said, "Jesus was never married, and He was normal." Paul was not married, and he was normal. John the Baptist was single, and he was normal. History is full of normal men and women who were never married.

We need to understand that one is a whole number. I like that. One is a whole number. So we're going to look at three categories today in these two text of scripture. The single life, the celibate life, and the sensible life. And what we're going to discover is the single life can be good. The celibate life needs a gift. And the sensible life is or should be your goal.

Let's begin with the single life. 1 Corinthians chapter 7, verse 1, he says, "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality let each man have his own wife and each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her and likewise the wife to her husband.

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

But I say this as a concession not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and the other in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, it is good for them if they remain even as I am but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion."

You need a little background here. The Corinthian Christians had written Paul some questions that they had. Questions that were about marriage, about divorce, about celibacy. The reason they wrote him these questions is because of the culture that they found themselves in. Do you know anything about Corinth, ancient Corinth? It was a pretty loose-- morally loose-- and debauched, corrupt society. They were morally tolerant of so many different kinds of behavior.

For example, there was rampant adultery, fornication was normal-- that is sex before marriage. Homosexuality was becoming normal. Polygamy, having many husbands or wives, and concubinage-- that is you're married to a wife but you have mistresses on the side. Many of them would see wives as they're are the people who cook your food and watch the kids and do the normal stuff around the house. But after all, I'm a man so I have to have my flings. And so that was normal behavior to have mistresses or concubines.

That was going on in Corinth in spades. Along with that-- I don't know if you know this or not, but in ancient Greco-Roman times and especially in Corinth there was a growing women's liberation movement. Solomon was right, there's nothing new under the sun. One Roman poet named Juvenal said things were so loose morally that he wrote of women who rejected their own sex, wore helmets-- that is war helmets-- delighted in feats of strength, and with exposed breasts hunted pigs for sport.

Now, I know you can't unsee that, right? But I just wanted you to know what was going on back then in Corinth. Not only that, but the same poet Juvenal says that women wore out their bridal veils because they had so many marriages.

So marriage, divorce, remarriage, divorce, remarriage-- just kept doing that. That was common. So you're living in Corinth and you get saved in that culture, well, you've got a lot of questions. And one of the big questions is, I'm a Christian now married to a nonbeliever who's not converted what do I do? Do I dump him? Do I divorce him? Do I have intimate sexual relations in that marriage? Do I stay celibate? Do I never get married? There was all this chaos that brought a lot of questions. So Paul begins to answer them. And he says in verse 1, "It is good--" you may want to underline that word if you're so disposed to doing that-- "it is good for a man not to touch a woman."

Now, let me unravel that. To touch a woman was a Greek way of saying sexual intercourse. It meant to touch sexually. If you were to look back for instance at Genesis when Abraham meets the King of Egypt named Abimelech and Abimelech sees Sarah, his wife. But Abraham's says, well, she's is my sister. Remember that story?

Well, he thinks, well, if she's your sister, then I wanted to be in my harem. So he takes Sarah to his harem. And it says that God prevented Abimelech from touching Sarah, meaning having sexual relations with her. That's how the word was used. Also in the book of Ruth, Boaz told his young men who were keeping the fields and gleaning not to touch Ruth, not to make any kind of sexual advance toward her. So it's used in Genesis, Ruth, and Proverbs in a way that means to touch somebody sexually.

Now, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is speaking and referring to singles, people who are single. He says, it's good not to touch a woman. Now, I'm going to make a guess. I'm guessing just from reading this chapter through and the context, I'm guessing that there were some Jewish Christians who were pressuring Gentile singles to hurry up and get married.

So Paul begins by saying, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. It is good, in other words, for Christian singles not to have sexual intercourse. That's good. But he could simply be referring to being single as good. In fact, some translations render it this way. Here's one from the 20th century New Testament that renders verse 1 this way, "It would be well for a man to remain single." That's what Paul seems to be saying. Basically, it's OK. It's good.

If you add to that, verse 8, I think you get the picture. "But I say to the unmarried and to the widows." And I think you can see that if you're unmarried, you're single. And if you're a widow, you're single. So he's speaking to single people in Corinth saying, "it's good for them if they remain even as I am." Paul was single. And he saying it's good. So Paul is saying it's good. It's OK. In fact, it's more than OK. He uses the word [GREEK] it's a good status to have to be a single person.

So if you're single, you're not weird. You're not inferior. You're not a second class Christian citizen, because you're 33 and unmarried or whatever age. It's good. So singleness as long as it involves celibacy can be a good thing.

Now, some of you in hearing that might say, oh, wait a minute. Genesis chapter 2 verse 18 says it is not good that man should be alone. That's true. That's the norm. People get married. God said I'm going to make a helper suitable for you. But you know what? Just because you're single doesn't mean you're alone. Psalm 68:6 says God sets the solitary in families. And you can have a church family that surrounds you and brings you health. You don't have to live a lonely, alone life just because you're a single person.

And because it's not good that man should be alone, I'm going to make a helper. And they got married. They came together. That's not the only good. Because here Paul says twice, it's good to be a single person. It's good, but immediately in verse 2 Paul says it's hard. It's good but it's difficult. It's good but when you're single, you face certain pressures from society, especially in Corinth-- and I would add to that especially in America. Because what I just described about loose morals in Corinth, pretty much Corinth is America in terms of that.

So the pressure to live a single, celibate life in America in this new Corinth is pretty daunting. And not everybody can do that. And Paul recognizes that. Paul says it's hard and there are temptations, and most can't do that. Now, we read it. The Paul says, look, I'm gifted at this. I'm cut out for this. I'm called to this. But I realize not everybody is.

Now, I want to touch on something before I move on. And not that it's really germane to the application here but I think it's important, because I get asked enough questions about this, and that is Paul's own singleness. There's a lot of debate over this.

And some will say, well, since Paul the Apostle was at one time a voting member of the Jewish Sanhedrin-- that ruling council in Jerusalem that oversaw Judaism, and we know that from Acts 26-- because he was a voting member of the Sanhedrin, the Sanhedrin rules required that if you're going to be a voting member you have to be a Jewish male. You have to be married. And you have to have a child.

And so the question is where's Paul's wife and where's Paul's child? Because if he was a voting member of the Sanhedrin those would be requirements. Now, others will answer that and say those were requirements but they were not put in place till the late first century and second century AD. So that would post-date Paul.

So let me answer that by saying, I don't know. You're saying, well, why did you spend all that time just to say I don't know? Because it could be that Paul was at one time married, but when he came to Christ-- now, just picture this. He's a Jewish rabbi who believes in Jesus as the Messiah. His Jewish wife because of the pressure of Judaism at the time may have said, I'm out of here. May have divorced him. May have left him. Or she may have died. We just don't know.

What we do know is Paul at this point is single. And he is living a celibate lifestyle and he's OK with that. And he just wants to know that-- wants the Corinthian Christians to know that if you're single it's OK. In fact, it is good.

So if you're married, start looking at single people a little differently, not as some alien species that are living sub-normal lives. Nor should you try to play Holy Spirit in finding them a mate. I know people who are just like, oh, you're not married. And they become like a heat seeking missile and they try to play Holy Ghost and find him a mate.

Look it, you can be a helper. Just don't try to be the helper. God can manage without you. He might use you, but He might not.

So that's if you're married. Now if you're single in the very least, I want you to see your position as OK. But I hope you go beyond that and see your single status as not just OK but important. In fact, it is valuable. And your single status may or may not be permanent. They say now, why would it be so important? Why would Paul make a big deal out of saying, I want you to know it's good and it's OK? And he does so throughout the whole chapter, by the way.

Because-- and I want you to see this-- there are many practical advantages to being a single person. Paul says so. Look down at verse 32. Look what he says in the next two verses 32 and 33. "He who is unmarried--" that's single-- "cares for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world, how he may please his wife." Now, please don't misunderstand. He's not saying if you're unmarried, you're more spiritual. If you're married, you're worldly.

When he says cares for the things of the world he's making a valid point. When you're single, you have greater flexibility. You have greater freedom. You can move around and do whatever you want. You can follow the Lord's call to any country in the world, any activity at any time.

You can go somewhere at the drop of a hat and it's your hat. But when you're married that brings a certain preoccupation with it-- concerns for your spouse as it should. You're divided. You can serve the Lord certainly, but it's not unfettered, unrestricted. It brings with it a certain responsibility.

So he says it's not only good, it's very valuable. And you can be wholeheartedly focused on the things of the Lord. Now, for just a moment consider all the people in scripture who God used. Well, not all of them, just consider a few of them. Joseph, prime minister of Egypt, saved the world from a famine. And when he did so he was single. He was not married at the time. He got married later. But his greatest feat of activity was while he was single.

Think of Daniel the prophet in Babylon, third ruler of the kingdom, the one who gave advice to the ruler of the world Nebuchadnezzar as a single. Think of Amos the prophet 8th century BC, impacted, influenced Israel as a single person. Think of Elijah the prophet who stood single-handedly for the Lord in a corrupt nation as a single person. Think of John the Baptist, who was single, and Jesus said of him, he's the greatest man who's ever been born. And he was single.

Paul, the Apostle first century missionary, church planner, Bible writer, single. Jesus our Savior who accomplished salvation for the world as a single. In fact, one journalist, H.L Mencken wrote "It is impossible to believe that the same God who permitted His own son to die a bachelor regards celibacy as an actual sin."

And we as the Church look back and are thankful for people like Origen one of the early church fathers. David Brainerd, missionary for the American Indians. Robert Murray M'Cheyne great influential author and churchman of England. Corrie ten Boom, whom I've often quoted survived the Nazi concentration camps. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor, Rachel Saint who ministered to the Auca Indians for years after her husband died. John Stott one of my heroes in the faith, all contributing to God's work as singles. So I think we can agree with Paul and say the single life can be what? Good, can be good.

Let's consider the second category. We'll go a little deeper with this now. The celibate life. You go, uh-oh. The celibate life requires a gift. Go now to Matthew 19. You marked that in advance, Matthew chapter 19. Verse 1, "Now it came to pass when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. A great multitude followed Him. And He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him testing Him and saying to Him, 'is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?"

Now, stop there for a moment. Do you know why they asked this question? Because they actually believed it was permissible for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason. You see, there was a passage-- still is-- in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 24. It's the only passage that regulates divorce. And in that passage Moses said, if a man finds a case of uncleanness in his wife it's permissible for him to give her a writing of divorce and to send her away.

So the debate was what is the cause of uncleanness that a man finds in his wife? Well, it was divided. There were the conservative wing of the Jewish party, under Rabbi Shammai who said uncleanness must mean sexual infidelity. If she goes out and commits adultery, that's the uncleanness that permits a man to divorce his wife.

However, there was the more liberal wing under Rabbi Hillel who said, well, you can divorce your wife for anything you think is an uncleanness. Now, I'm kidding you not when I give you some of these examples. If she puts too much salt in his food, uncleanness. If she greets another man publicly, uncleanness. If she wears her bound hair unbound-- that is loose and down flowing down-- in public, if she spins around with too much joy in public. I mean, it went on and on. If she speaks bad about his parents. Yeah, oh, somebody's-- now, that was interesting. And I won't ask you to raise your hand. But that was good. That's the kind of interaction I like, by the way. I like that.

OK. So you've got Rabbi Shammai saying narrow, only adultery. Rabbi Hillel saying wide, broad, any reason. Which do you think the Jewish men prefer, which interpretation? This guy. I like the anything goes. In fact, in this category of liberal thinking there was another rabbi who came later on named Rabbi Akiva who said if a man finds another woman who's more attractive than his wife, that's uncleanness. He can divorce his wife. So they come to Jesus and they say, is it OK for a man to leave his wife for just any reason-- to divorce his wife for just any reason?

So Jesus has an answer for that. He answered to them verse 4. And I always love His answers. He's basically saying don't you guys ever read your Bible? He answered them and said, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female." He said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh." What's he quoting? Book of Genesis.

"So then they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate." Now, they didn't like His answer. Because He took them back to what the Bible says and says, God holds a very sacred, narrow view. Verse 7, "They said to Him, why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and put her away?"

And here's what you need to understand. By the time of Jesus all these rabbinical interpretations came down and they believed now it's not just a permission slip to get a divorce, it's a commandment. I'm sorry, honey. I got to divorce you. Moses commanded me to if I find uncleanness. And I find it. So it's a commandment. Why did Moses give us a command to do that? Verse 8, He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

"And I say unto you whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality and marries another, commits adultery. And whoever marries her who is divorced, commits adultery." OK. So the disciples or listening to this conversation. And you're going to see they're shocked by it. Because the culture the disciples were raised in was this Jewish interpretation that made it permissible to divorce your wife for any reason. That was rampant in rabbinical teaching.

In fact, listen to this little quote from the Talmudic writings. One rabbi said, "A bad wife is like leprosy to her husband. What is the remedy? Let him divorce her and be cured of his leprosy." So listen to the-- listen to the shock. Verse 10, "His disciples said to Him, if such is the case of the man with his wife, it's better not to marry." Can you hear the shock in their voice? They hear what Jesus said in answering them and they're thinking if you're saying that it requires a life-long commitment that can only be broken by death or an infidelity on her part, that's radical. It's just better to be single.

And notice Jesus' answer to them. He didn't go, well, what he really meant to say was. He says, well, actually I'm glad you brought that up.

Verse 11, "He said to them all cannot accept this saying." What saying? What they just said, that it's better not to marry. "All cannot accept this saying. But only to those to whom it has been"-- what's the word? Given. It's a gift. For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb. And there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men. And there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven sake. He was able to accept it. Let him accept it."

Now, you're thinking what is all that about? Well, what Jesus mentions here in verse 12 or-- yeah, verse 12 is three categories a single celibacy that were common in ancient times. Notice them. He said there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mothers womb. What is he talking about? People born with a congenital deformity, either undeveloped or underdeveloped sexual capacity. And that physical deformity prevents them from having children.

Second category He mentions, those who are made eunuchs by men. You know what that means? Men who were castrated. Now, I'm just guessing you probably haven't heard a sermon with castration in it probably ever. So here it goes. There's just no other-- there's no delicate way to say that. But in ancient times, there were harems or kings that had lots of women around them, and the keepers of the harems, the requirement is they had to be castrated males. Because they were safe for obvious reasons.

Because to perform that operation diminishes the sexual drive, and any kind of capacity. So it renders it safe. So in those days in paganism it was considered a way to appease your god by becoming one of these harem guards-- that that would please the gods. That's how warped their thinking was.

So you would have parents who would take their male children to be castrated for this purpose. That's antiquity, but that was going on. So He speaks about you next who we're born that way, congenital deformity. Those who are made eunuchs, castrated. But look at the third category. Those who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Now, He's not speaking about going to have a physical operation here. He's speaking here of a voluntary decision to be celibate. Those who choose celibacy. It's voluntary. they sign up for it. Now, some of you are looking to me like, who in the world would ever do that?

Well, Jesus answered that. verse 11, "Only to those to whom it has been given." And to verse 12, "He who was able to accept it. let him accept it." So this is what it tells me. It tells me number one, a life of single celibacy cannot be done without a gift-- a capacity from God, an enabling from God.

The word given or gift is [GREEK] in Greek. And it means to bestow a gift to one's advantage. So it's a gift. Now, some of you are giving me the look like, oh, dear God, don't give me that gift. Giving me a lot of other gifts, but not that one. Send me to the deepest, darkest jungles of anywhere, but don't make me do that. Good news for you. You ain't got the gift, if that's how you feel.

So it requires a gift number one. Second thing this tells me if you have this gift you know you have this gift. I know I don't have this gift. I know I've never had this gift. That's why I'm married. But if you have it you know it. And you know it because either by nature when you were born or by choice.

So the idea-- and Paul mentions this in one Corinthians 7. He goes, look. I have this gift. And I encourage those who have it to accept it-- is that God gives certain people an ability to withstand the pressures of this unique lifestyle. And how do you tell if you have this gift? How do you tell if your called besides wanting it or not wanting it?

Remember, what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7, it's better to marry than to burn with passion. If you burn with passion, if you are unfulfilled without the sexual release from a marital partner, you're not called to this. And don't sweat over that. It's not wrong to get married. That's what Paul was speaking about in 1 Corinthians 7.

Now, John Stott-- I mentioned him a moment ago-- a theologian that I've often read and loved. I had breakfast with him once in Amsterdam. He's now in Heaven. He lived his whole life and did his whole ministry as a single man, said, this, "The Bible does not indicate that either gift--" meaning the gift of marriage or the gift of celibacy-- "the Bible does not indicate that either gift is always permanent. Just because someone is single now doesn't mean they'll always be. And just because someone is married now doesn't mean they will always be."

And so Jesus in verse 12 says, "He who is able to accept it, let him accept it." If you can, accept singleness as the will of God for your life, which includes single celibacy, then accept it. If not, don't accept it. Don't sweat it. But you go by God's call. So that's the single life. That's the celibate life. The single life can be good. The celibate life must be a gift. Now, let's talk about the third category in closing, the sensible life. The sensible life.

Now, I'd like you to go back to 1 Corinthians 7 for a moment. We're going to close with two verses. 1 Corinthians 7 verse 27. I wish we could go through all this and then cover it. It would take several weeks, especially for me to do this. But we'll just sort of see where Paul sums it up.

1 Corinthians 7:27, "Are you bound to a wife--" I'm going to answer that for me and say, yes, happily so. Yeah, I've made that covenant. "Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife--" that is are you single-- "do not seek a wife." Verse 28, "But even if you do marry, you haven't sinned. And if a virgin marries, she hasn't sinned. Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you." Now, first off, this is just good, solid, sensible wisdom.

Cherish your life as a single person and take advantage of all that it affords. It's not wrong if you get married Paul says as long as it is to another believer. And it's not wrong to stay single as long as when you're single, you don't try to act married. You stay celibate. Yes, God did say in Genesis 2:18 it is not good that man should be alone. That's the general principle. But sometimes it is good not to be alone, isolated, but to be as a single person if God has called you to do that and given you the enabling to handle it.

Now, did you notice what he says in verse 28? I think most people just skip over this. He says, look, whether you're married or single each has a gift from God. If you're loosed don't seek to be in a covenant. If you're in the covenant don't seek to leave your spouse.

But He says, look, I'm just trying to tell you that I want to spare you from the trouble you'll have in the flesh. The word trouble [GREEK] literally means pressure. Do you know what he's speaking about? It's the pressure that married people have that single people don't have. Every married person should be going, yep, that's true. Once you get married you experience a certain kind of pressure like two completely opposite personalities blending in a single unit.

Dude, what do you doing leaving your socks there? Or, honey, why do you make the toilet people go under, it should go over. All those little adjustments, right, that we go through as married couples. Conflicts that we have as married couples. Demands that come with marriage. Hardships that come with the relationship. Sacrifice that comes with the relationship. All of these are the pressures.

Paul said, I want to spare you single people those kinds of pressures. It's not a sin if you get married. It's fine. God calls people to do it, in fact most people that do it. But I would just like to spare you those pressures. Because you don't have those as a single person. You go, I know, but I've got a lot of other pressures. Yes you do. But you don't have those pressures.

One gal said there's only one thing harder than living alone and that is to live with another person. So here's the sensible life. Learn to be content. By the way, it has to be learned. Paul said, I've learned to be content. It didn't come naturally. I know many single people who are not single who are not content being single. And I know many married people who are not content being married. I have a guess that they were not content being single. They need to learn contentment in whatever God has called them to do.

So the caution is this. You must be called by God if this is going to be long-term. And you must be kept by God, whether it's short-term or long-term. Because just like it's wrong to be married and act single, it's wrong to be single and act married.

What do I mean? Well, you've all known people who are married but they act single. It's like, dude, what are you doing picking up on that chick? What do are you doing talking to her like that? Well, you know-- no, just stop it. It's inappropriate. Act married. You're in a covenant relationship. Knock that off.

But it's also wrong for single people to act like they're married. Like, well, we sleep together. We enjoy all the fringe benefits of marriage. I can do whatever I want. That's Corinth. It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

So you need to be called and you need to be kept. So once again, if you're married, don't discount single people. Don't overlook divorced or widowed. Include them in your social activities. Don't pressure them. Encourage them in their walk with the Lord. And if you're single, please don't waste your singleness. What do I mean by that?

I mean since you're single why not throw yourself wholeheartedly into the plan of God for your life, the work of God for your life. There may never be another time in your life where you have the freedom to serve the Lord like you do now as a single person. And so use it.

In fact, there's a side benefit to that. Just think about it. As you pour yourself into serving the Lord you might just meet somebody else who's pouring him or herself into serving the Lord, and that might be your future husband or wife. By the way, that's where you want to meet them. Not at a bar, but serving the Lord together. They have that common passion to serve Him.

I want to close-- and I am closing. You're going, thank you, Jesus-- with something that I read that ministered to me as a single male before I was married. So you have to think, boy, that was written BC. And I read this. It was by Ann Kiemel and now she's Kiemel Anderson. She got married. But as a single author I think she captured a maturity. She said this, "Jesus, if this is your will, then yes to being single. It is my deepest heart that I want to marry, to belong to a great man, to know that I am linked to his life and he to mine following Christ and our dreams together. But you know what I need. So if I never marry, it's yes to you." Say yes to Him today single or married.

So the single life can be good. The celibate life must be a gift. The sensible life should be your goal.

Father, thank you for clear instruction in this area. I think a lot of people think about your Word as some ambiguous, religious text that doesn't deal with real issues of life. When in fact, you speak about relationships and the home and singleness and celibacy and divorce and marriage, all those things, you speak about sometimes in very graphic detail-- in great detail. And how thankful we are for those kind of principles that we can look at and that can become our blueprint.

And, Lord, we have many single people in this fellowship, and how thankful we are for them and their giftedness and their calling and their ability. And thank you, Lord, for those that you have joined together and brought together. And, Father, we pray for those who have lost a spouse, that you'd comfort them but use them. Show them what the next step is.

So, Lord, we just embrace all those that you have brought to us for your glory, in Jesus' name, Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/gift. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/29/2018
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Meet the Architect
Psalm 127
Skip Heitzig
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In this first message of our Smart Home series, we focus on the foundational elements. Let’s meet the Architect of the home and the family—God Himself. His blueprints for the people He creates include satisfying relationships and integrated operation. We should make sure to build alongside of Him so that our homes become satisfying places of refuge, palaces of joy, and platforms for worship. Let’s take a fresh look at Solomon’s instruction.
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8/5/2018
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Get Prequalified—Finding a Mate
Genesis 24; Genesis 29
Skip Heitzig
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Dating can be exciting. It can also get weird and end poorly. I like the common sense of one who quipped, "Some people are unmarried for the same reason that some drivers run out of gas. They pass too many filling stations looking for their favorite brand!" Though dating was unknown in biblical times, let’s look at five principles in budding relationships to help you prequalify to build a solid, long-lasting, and satisfying Smart Home.
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8/19/2018
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Following the Blueprint—A Husband’s Love
Ephesians 5:25-32
Skip Heitzig
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To live in a Smart Home, occupants must follow the architect’s blueprint. God, the inventor of marriage, has given roles to husbands and wives so they can live together in harmony and joy. The basic role of a husband is to love his wife. This love is explained and described by the architect in the building documents found in Ephesians 5. This kind of love that a husband lavishes on his wife will enable her to fulfill her role with greater ease and deeper contentment.
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8/26/2018
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Following the Blueprint—A Wife’s Submission
Ephesians 5:22-24
Skip Heitzig
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When it comes to a family’s roles within the home, the “S” word (submission) can generate controversy. To modern ears, God’s standards can seem out-of-date and even distasteful to some. But I am suggesting that the quickest way to fulfillment for a married woman is to discover the freedom of her role as properly understood in Scripture. So let’s jump in and unpack this role and see how it is meant to correspond to a husband’s loving leadership.
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9/2/2018
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Building Your Future Home with Care
Ephesians 5:15-21
Skip Heitzig
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The construction of a house is no small undertaking. After the blueprints have been drawn up and approved, there are a series of steps to take to ensure the building is strong and durable. The verses we are considering today give us the preliminary features necessary to live peacefully with another person. Before the roles of family members can ever be exercised successfully, these considerations come first.
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9/9/2018
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Till Death Do Us Part—What You Need to Know to Make Marriage Last
Genesis 2; Mark 10
Skip Heitzig
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Is a lifetime commitment to a spouse even reasonable? Does permanence have to become a goal if it means a couple just has to grin and bear it? What if a marriage hinders one’s personal growth and self-fulfillment? Today I want to make a case not just for getting married but also for staying married. Let’s go back to the divine architect’s original prototype to understand what He had in mind when coming up with this idea of marriage.
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9/16/2018
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The Master Bedroom: Components of Marital Intimacy
Proverbs 5:15-21
Skip Heitzig
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Being intimate with your spouse involves more than just sex (though it certainly includes that). Intimacy is a sense of caring and affection in which one can be totally vulnerable with someone without the fear of being hurt or misunderstood. The physical/sexual factor should only enhance that. Intimacy is essential if a marriage is going to thrive. Let’s recover four components of marital intimacy.
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9/30/2018
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Communication Breakdown
Nate Heitzig
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God’s plan for the family is to build, strengthen, and protect it. But Satan has declared war on the family as he seeks to undermine, weaken, and destroy it. The statistics are staggering: the divorce rate has risen over 700 percent in this century, and there is one divorce for every 1.8 marriages. Since communication is key to oneness in marriage, Nate Heitzig examines the Scriptures to find how to deal with communication breakdown in a marriage, both how to prevent it and how to repair it.
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10/7/2018
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A Smart Home...with In-Laws?
Genesis 28-31
Skip Heitzig
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Every wedding creates a blended family. Marriage not only joins a man and a woman, it blends the extended family of mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and brothers-in-law. The odds for dysfunction run pretty high. Today we consider the roles of God, parents, in-laws, and married children doing life together. How can in-laws be prevented from becoming outlaws? Four principles apply:
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10/21/2018
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Money Matters for the Smart Home
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Skip Heitzig
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The issue of money in a marriage is a primary source of conflict and worry, so much so that this conflict often leads to collapse. How can a married couple handle their finances so the marriage relationship isn’t damaged? Using an example of the apostle Paul’s plan to raise funds for the Jerusalem church, let’s get some solid pointers on the believer’s (and hence believing couples’) relationship to finances. Like it or not, money matters.
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10/28/2018
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Looks Can Kill: Winning the Battle with Temptation
Matthew 5:27-30
Nate Heitzig
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Many have heard the saying, "If looks could kill…" The truth is, looks can kill, spiritually speaking: temptation leads to sin and sin leads to death. In this teaching, Pastor Nate Heitzig examines two admittedly uncomfortable topics: temptation and adultery. In light of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:21-31, two strategies emerge for how to stop temptation before it starts, and how to stop temptation once it starts.
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11/4/2018
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A Mother's Role in the Smart Home
1 Samuel 1
Skip Heitzig
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A mother's love is great—it sets the standard of unconditional love. God has done and continues to do great things through women. The Bible records numerous faithful and spiritually fruitful women, such as Jochebed (Moses' mother), Ruth, Esther, Elizabeth, and Mary. In 1 Samuel, we meet Hannah, a woman whose faith modeled three powerful truths about mothers.
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11/11/2018
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The Single-Parent Family
Acts 16; 2 Timothy 1
Skip Heitzig
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Some of the most struggling and lonely people in our congregation may be those who are single parents. They may be moms, dads, divorced, or never married. They may be young teenagers; they may be older grandparents—but they all have this in common: they are raising children by themselves. Does the Bible speak to this? Are there any clues for Christians to understand so we can help bear the load of single parents among us? Yes, there are. Let’s take a look at them.
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There are 13 additional messages in this series.