Jesus, Paul, Daniel, and ‘Real Men’

 

marriage-license-1935.jpg!xlMediumReal men marry. They don’t pretend that they are pristine pure and sexually uninterested. That they are wiser than Solomon, more self-controlled than David, and stronger than Sampson. They know that they are more doubting than Thomas, more treacherous than Peter, and more fearful than Mark. They know that sexual temptations will overcome them even with a wife; and that life would be impossible (or at least unbearable) without one.

After posting my previous articles, “Real Men Marry,” and “True Love Doesn’t Wait,” I got responses, both from supporters and detractors, asking me if I thought Jesus or Paul were ‘Real Men’. I claimed that ‘Real Men Marry’ and, according to my opponents or questioners neither Jesus nor Paul married. Given that they were otherwise kind of nice guys (although I am surprised some of my opponents think so) how could I call them ‘not Real Men’?

I think the question represents both factual and theological error; but at the same time addresses a very real point, so I felt an entire article would be useful to deal with all of these.

Factual Issues

The factual issues have to do with the physical issue: Were Jesus and Paul ‘unmarried’? Let us look at them each separately.

the-holy-women-at-the-tomb.jpg!xlMediumJesus

As I am frequently informed when dealing with issues of marriage, it is important to realize that God is, well, God. While I disagree with their application (that the examples of God giving daughters in marriage become non-illustrative because it was God that was doing it) their underlying point is valid. God is God. When he rains fire and brimstone down on Sodom without the consent of twelve good men and true, well, that is sort of His business.

So I could be excused for saying that, well, Jesus was God. That perhaps His extremely short time on Earth was, perhaps, not the best time to worry about human procreation.

I could argue, with some justification, I think, that it would have ended up being confusing if he had had a one-flesh earthly wife (one flesh with  God??). That it would have been similarly confusing if he had had children, grandchildren, and the like (Grandson of God).

However while these arguments are valid ones, and I think most of my opponents already knew them in the back of their head, I’m not sure I even need them. You see there are two other issues that they, perhaps, have forgotten.

The first of them is that Christ was, and is, a betrothed man. He was, and is, bound in eternal covenant with a wife that His Father has given Him. So he wasn’t really ‘eligible’ for a wife on Earth, nor did He have need.

The second was that, well, Christ is God. And God speaks of himself as being married several times in the Old Testament. Married with children even.

Now the objection will immediately be raised that those weren’t, umm, physical marriages. No doubt. To which I will reply that God isn’t an, ummm, ‘physical’ God. The physical needs that we have, He doesn’t have. The physical temptations were are subject to, He is ‘above’.

central-panel-of-a-triptych-study-for-a-window-at-st-paul-s-church-birmingham.jpg!xlMediumPaul

I think my opponents think they are on solider ground with Paul. Isn’t Paul said to be single in I Cor 7? Well,  yes and no.

First of all, the word ‘single’ is not actually in the Greek, however it may appear in modern translations. In the verse Paul merely says ‘as I am’. So we have to infer that what he is talking about from the context.

But the context is problematic. To work for their argument my opponents have to make Paul out to be a virgin. Hopefully a young virgin struggling with the temptations to fornication that he talks about in the chapter.

But Paul was a Pharisee. And Pharisees believed and taught that ‘it was not good for man to be alone’. That the Godly man married. Indeed many commentators believe that Paul was speaking against some of the Pharisees man made rules in I Cor 7. But Paul was, and had grown up to be, a Pharisee. The natural assumption then, is that he had been married.

While it seems clear that he wasn’t married at the time that I Cor 7 was written, the natural assumption would not be that that was because he was a virgin, but because he was a widower, divorcee, or someone whose wife had abandoned him… all groups he specifically deals with in I Cor 7.

And besides…

by-a-pool-1.jpg!BlogTheological: Gift of Celibacy

Both Paul and Christ mention another kind of man. A man who has, at least temporarily, the gift of continency. The man not covered by I Cor 7:2 or 9. A man who could contain.

No one, well, no one interested in this discussion, will deny that Christ was such a man; and Paul deliberately includes himself in that category. So the very rules that Paul lays down in I Cor 7 and elsewhere, the essence of being a ‘Real Man’ that Solomon speaks of in Proverbs 5 and the Song of Solomon, have a deliberate exception in those with the gift that Paul speaks about.

And Christ doesn’t call them ‘real men’. Christ, in words no doubt as offensive to His listeners as they are to those who read them today (at least those who understand them) called those able to abstain from sexual intercourse ‘eunuchs’.[1]

Mat 19:12 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.

Three categories of eunuchs. Those born with some deformity that makes them sexual incapable, those forcibly castrated by men, and those who have ‘made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’. Paul, discussing this issue, makes it clear that only those who have a special gift from God are included in this group.

A ‘eunuch’ is not a ‘real man’. Or not a ‘whole man’ anyway. A eunuch was forbidden from entering the congregation. Usually through no fault of their own their physical infirmity made them ceremonially ‘unclean’.

So I have not gone out on some limb by calling even those who have been specially gifted not ‘real men’. They are, at the least, not normal men. Paul stated that this gift was a special one, and designed for a time of special distress, but he made it clear that it made one very non-normative.

Daniel may well have been a eunuch. He and his fellows were placed under the care of ‘the keeper of the eunuchs’. We never read of his wife, or his children.

The Point

Let’s face it, not everyone is a real man. Boys aren’t… yet. Girls and women aren’t. And eunuchs aren’t.

But the first part of my article wasn’t written to any of them. Not directly, anyway. I hoped it encouraged boys as to what they should be when they become men. There was a section for women. And eunuchs, physical or spiritual, who recognize the authority of the Word of God should be called to encourage those who have the responsibilities my article spoke to.

But the direct audience for the first part of my article was the non-real men who should become real men; and those who have trapped them in their  ‘non-real’ state. My audience was the preachers who are failing to see, and preach against, the dearth of marriage in their congregation, the fruitless celibacy. It was the elders and fathers who, by building up a false edifice of man made wisdom called ‘courtship’, have failed signally to see that our sons are given wives, and our daughters given in marriage.

There are thousands of Godly young people of both genders who want to get married, are ready to get married, and should be married… indeed should have been married long ago… who are not married. Their church, their friends, and their families have all prepared them for marriage, for early marriage, for early, fruitful marriage… and they are not married. There is no persecution, no law, no physical infirmities that prevent them from being married… but they are not married.

This is not a ‘panic’, it is a crisis. Indeed, we have from among the very best and brightest of our Christian young people, the best taught, from the finest families, who are already well past the flower of their age, and they are not married.

That is beyond a crisis, it is a catastrophe.  And it is a catastrophe that we each need to work at fixing.  Don’t blame God for it, we are the ones that have invented our current unGodly systems of dating and courtship. We are the ones that have put obstacle after obstacle in the way of our young men and women.

It is time we ‘let them marry’.

Girl headcoveringAddendum: Extra for the Interested

There is a related issue, one that shares some of the traits of this issue, and that raises similar concerns, particularly among modern liberals and other illogical people.

Virginity has been traditionally valued. Especially in unmarried women. Less so in married women, if you see what I’m getting at.

But unmarried women. Their virginity is supposed to be valued. And most societies have done so. God’s law makes a rather big deal about preserving the virginity of the unmarried woman (it rather frowns on preserving the virginity of the married woman).

So unmarried virginity is good. The unmarried woman who goes out and loses her virginity is, well, not good. Frowned upon. In God’s law, if she pretends she hasn’t and gets married, she can be executed. If she confesses the young man concerned could have to pay a rather large fine, and be forced to marry her.

But what of the woman who is raped? The unmarried woman who is raped loses her virginity through  no fault of her own.

Certain liberals use this as an argument to say that virginity has no value. How can the woman have less ‘value’ they argue, if she can lose it through no fault of her own?

There are two obvious answers to this, both dealing with different aspects of the ‘value’ question.

The first is the obvious statement that something can be of value, and you can still lose it. Even through no action of your own. Someone loses their leg in battle, and we don’t say that the leg was of no value. We just say they have lost their leg.

The second is the equally obvious statement that moral actions require moral actors. The loss of virginity due to rape is a definite immoral action. But in this case all of the blame goes to the rapist.

The illogic in this area is similar to that of child-murder and the child of the rapist. The rape was wrong, certainly. But the person who must be blamed, the person who should be killed, is the rapist, not his child.

Footnotes

[1] It may be that some of my readers do not know what a ‘eunuch’ or ‘castrated man’ is.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING EXPLANATION IS NOT FOR SMALL CHILDREN OR THOSE WITH WEAK STOMACHS.

 

A ‘eunuch’ is someone who has been ‘castrated’ which, historically, means that they have had their testicles removed, along with, perhaps, their scrotum and penis. Removed. Gone. Usually via surgery of some sort. You don’t want to know how, really. Trust me.

Von is a father of six, husband of one. He has been a schoolteacher, missionary linguist, and now is a nurse and an EMT (ambulance driver). He is reformed baptist, full quiver, family integrated and theonomic, among other things. He enjoys writing on practical theonomy; and particularly on what Scripture says about the path to marriage (Hint: he doesn’t believe in either courtship or dating). He is the author of ‘What are you Doing?’ and ‘The Covenant of Betrothal’, both of which can be downloaded free from Lulu.com. He also writes for truelovedoesntwait.com.

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