Out of the blue, the other morning I received a call from my old friend and sometime nemesis, Jeremiah Bereano. 'Where have you been?', I demanded, quite rudely! There was silence on the other end for a bit, then kinda of a short, terse reply ( like I'd hurt his feelings or something )'Well, hello to you too'. I hadn't heard from him in some time, and I reminded him that he had promised to keep in better touch, but he replied ( in reminder to ME ) that it worked both ways; I coulda called him, and it had been a shorter time this time then the one before, between calls! I had to ( grudgingly ) admit that he was right on both counts, then and so, I asked quickly, 'what's up, Doc?' ( apparently, he was now Dr. Jeremiah Bereano, PhD. )
Well, it seems that my friend, in his spare time, along with the doctorate and all, had been doing some thinking. 'You know I'm single again, right, Chuck?' Well duh; I knew that he was in circumstances much like my own, and I quickly reminded him of that lamentable fact! 'Yes', I slowly and deliberately said. ( like, DUH! ) 'Well", he said, 'I've been thinking.......... 'I wonder if some of us aren't able to better serve the Kingdom of Heaven better as single people'; maybe that's what Jesus meant when He said, '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’s sake. He who is able to accept [ it ], let him accept [ it ]'. ( Matthew 19:12 ) 'I know that you believe all Scripture has been fulfilled, and that this passage must be read in the covenant context of audience relevance, but might not this Scripture apply to us today?' 'Being the husband of one wife, and women naturally being jealous, wouldn't it make practical sense that if one were unmarried, he would have a better opportunity to minister to people, in particular, women?'
He had a point, as far as that went; not that women are the only ones naturally jealous ( men are too-and just like men, not all women are ). 'Isn't it God's Plan though, according to Scripture, that 'each man have his own wife, and......each woman.........her own husband' ( I Corinthians 7:2 ) To be fair, audience relevance and context could be argued here as well, but thankfully, my friend didn't push the issue! The immediate context, as well, of Paul's words ( 'because of sexual immorality' ) nix the whole idea that everyone should necessarily be married! Marriage obviously, on its own anyway, does not put the brakes on sexual immorality! Later on in his letter to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul stated that it was better if they could remain as he was, whether unmarried, divorced or widowed. ( I speculate that Paul was previously married, but that his wife divorced him when he became a Christian )
'I realize', he said, 'that some are trying to make the Bible, or Scripture, not applicable to us today, since we are not Jews and all of Scripture has been fulfilled, but I agree with you Chuck ( I about dropped dead here ) that the meaning of 'fulfilled' had a better connotation of 'filled up', rather than 'ended'!' 'Just because Jesus and Paul were speaking and writing to those first-century Jews, according to the situation ( not unlike ours today ), doesn't mean that those words hold nothing for us today!'
'Well', I replied, 'their situation was like yet unlike ours today; we are merely facing a paradigm shift, they were facing the end of all things!' 'We are dealing with the Eternal Covenant which the end of their paradigm/age ushered in; they were dealing with a paradigm shift as well, but theirs was a paradigm shift that made the people of God His New Temple, as they were meant to be!'
'Did you know that Paul used the same word in Ephesians 5:21 as he did in 5:22?'
'What does that have to do with whether or not we can serve the Kingdom better being married or being single?!' ( My friend could be annoying sometimes, with his seemingly out-of-the-blue 'switching gears' )
'It is related', he reasoned, 'sorta'! 'If the husband is to submit to the wife as much as the wife to the husband, then that kinda blows out of the water the whole notion that men are somehow the final authority, and that the woman is the only one who needs to bow, or submit to that authority!'
'Okay, I still fail to see how that relates!'
Apparently, this is what he really wanted to talk about when he called! Therefore, it's related........because he said it did! Okay, so we were still on the subject of marriage, although a slightly different aspect..............okay, we can do this!
My friend, the PhD, soon advised me of this very fact! 'While it is true', he said, 'that God did set the man over the woman, or wife, as the head of the family; He also gave the wife just as much authority over her children, and charged them both with submission to each other!' Okay, Paul said as much in his letter to the Ephesians (5:23 ); 'For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church'. In the immediate context, though, Paul tells them that 'He is the Savior of the body'. We,as men, are certainly not a perfect picture of Christ, as the heads of our families! Nor, I think, are we meant to be; by submitting to each other, in the Lord ( as our children are to obey us in the Lord ) we submit ourselves to Christ as our True Head!
'This may be a conversation for another day', my friend remarked, before he hung up ( something about a meeting ), 'but what exactly did Jesus mean when He said that 'those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage' ( Luke 20:35 )?' 'I know that these words were primarily meant for the ears of His first-century audience, but as we are the sons of that coming age He talked about, those words are for us as well, don't you think?' 'I'm not trying to say that the institution of marriage is over and done with, but I would think that they have some meaning, as most Scripture does, beyond the first-century!'
Well, my friends, Dr. Jeremiah Bereano was right; that was a question for another day!
We both said our quick goodbyes and hung up our respective phones; back to the glorious rat-race of Kingdom Life; he to his, and me to mine!