Monday, Third Week in Lent

by Matthew B. Harper

1 Corinthians 7:27 – Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife…

In this Chapter of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he seems very negative about marriage and about sexuality altogether. It may very well be my least favorite passage in Paul’s letters. It must be remembered though that Paul is here assuming that Christ would return within his lifetime, or very soon after. With that in mind it was important to put aside worldly things and focus only on the Lord.

Paul calls his celibacy a gift and it is one I was not given. Yet here I am. I have always been in relationships with women and most of my close friends have always been women. My greatest dream in life has never been more than to be a good husband and father. And here I am, single, childless, and celibate. It is a kind of suffering for me, but even in suffering meaning can be found.

And being totally unavailable has produced some great gifts. There are a few women in my life for whom I am able to be totally devoted to without any ulterior motives. When we talk and write I can open my heart to them totally without wanting anything other than friendship. For some of them this is something unique from a man.

God gave children to Abraham and to Zechariah when they were old men, and I pray that someday I might sail the world with my wife and children. But that is in the future and in God’s hands.

So for now I live and serve. And like the reluctant monk who used to pray: “Lord give me continence, but not yet,” I pray “Lord give me continence—but not forever!”

That it may please thee to give to all people increase of grace to hear and receive thy Word, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit, We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord” BCP 150


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