In his article “Putting the Family First Puts the Church at Odds with Jesus,” Russell Moore said, “In fact, Jesus seemed out of step with the entire thrust of the Bible. The biblical story starts with a family—a man and a woman charged with being fruitful and multiplying across the face of the earth (Gen. 1:28).” What is Moore getting at? He goes on to tell us that “Jesus marginalized his own immediate family in ways that would be startling in any context and any culture. Indeed, for many, Jesus’ attitude toward natural family attachments might have been the most controversial thing about him.” One of the things that disturbs me about men like Russell Moore is the degree to which they exaggerate the Scriptures. Did Jesus seem to be out of step with the entire thrust of the Bible? He did not. This is clearly a gross exaggeration. It is true that Jewish men married by the age of 30. Jesus never did. But Jesus was no ordinary Jewish man. Why is it that these supposedly highly educated men like Moore cannot see where we are to follow Jesus and where are cannot follow Jesus? Should we take whips into these entertainment centers called churches and drive the people out with whips? It is incredibly irresponsible not to pay careful attention to those parts of Jesus’ life that we are to mimic and those parts of his life that were unique to who he was and to his mission as the only begotten Son of God.
Did Jesus really marginalize his family? That is a modern term resting on contemporary values of a culture that despises God and the fundamental elements of the Christian tradition. It is probably best not to apply it to anything anyone did in the ancient Mediterranean world. Moreover, to claim that Jesus’ attitude toward his natural family attachments might have been the most controversial thing about him is pure hyperbole, a gross embellishment if ever there was one. What is Moore doing with this kind of writing? What is his article attempting to change about us? That is the question every Christian should ask when they read any article on any blog. What is the author of this article trying to change about me? Every author has an agenda. He or she has a goal in mind. What is Moore’s goal?
Now, I want to bring in a friend of Moore who I believe shares the same goal as Moore. Recently, Sam Allberry wrote an article entitled, “7 Lies the Church Believes About Singleness.” Allberry grounds the belief that “singleness is bad for you” in the modern western focus on romance as fulfillment. He says, “This is partly due to a confluence of our culture’s focus on romantic fulfillment as key to being whole with common Christian thinking that marriage itself is the goal of the Christian life.” Sam Allberry is a gay priest in the Anglican Church whose mission is to make the Same Sex Attraction or the sexual urge to be with someone of the same sex acceptable so long as one never acts on it. Let’s examine Allberry’s article to see if in fact his claims are anchored in sound exegesis of the biblical text itself.
First: Singleness is Bad for You. Allberry writes, “Not fulfilling your romantic or sexual desires is increasingly seen as repressive and harmful. Christian celibacy is therefore to be avoided at all costs. Yet Paul had a very different perspective.” Here Allberry brings in 1 Cor. 7:28, 32-33 to support his claim that not fulfilling one’s sexual desires is increasingly repressive and harmful.
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Response: The language in this pericope is clearly referencing some external distress, such as persecution and the pressures of the Christian life imposed upon it. In v26 Paul references “the present distress.” In v29 he uses the expression “the time has been shortened.” The language eschatological imminence must be taken into consideration if we are to understand Paul correctly. There can be no question that if a man can embrace a single life and remain pure in his sexual behavior and do so in order to be more devoted to Christ, that is a good thing. I have no argument where this is the issue. However, Scripture must be interpreted with Scripture. And I am afraid Allberry ignores some very clear instructions from Paul at the onset of this chapter: But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Cor. 7:8-9) Paul tells us that if there is a need to repress sexual desires that it is better for one to marry than to have those desires residing in them. From these instructions we can conclude that Paul’s instructions later in the chapter must be applicable to those whose sexual desires are less of an issue. This is not the case for most people and it is irresponsible for Allberry to lump everyone into the same category. Paul’s instructions are much more nuanced than Allberry infers. But again, do not forget to ask the question, what is Allberry doing in this article? He is definitely doing something. What is it?
Second: Singleness requires a special gift. Allberry goes on to say: And so we think when Paul talks about the “gift of singleness” we imagine he’s referring to this rare God-given capacity. But this is to assume singleness is itself bad and requiring a gift, rather than seeing singleness as good and itself constituting a gift.
Response: This is simply a non-sequitur. It does not follow that just because we view singleness as a special and unique gift from God that therefore, singleness must be bad. I don’t think that way. I believe singleness is a good and unique gift from God. See how that works? But singleness requires a certain gift. And that gift seems to be connected with sexual desire. Specifically, you know you have it because your desires for sex and for a spouse are not the same as those who do not possess that gift. The danger here is trying to will the gift of singleness where is it is not present. Paul is clear that sexual desires that are present should not be repressed but that the answer is always going to be marriage in those circumstances. Jesus gave clear instructions about the practice of singleness and Paul must be understood in the light of Christ’s own words. Jesus said, “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” (Matt. 19:12) For those who can accept the instructions to be single and not have the cares of a spouse, it is good to do so. But this is NOT what Allberry is saying and it isn’t what he is doing. Singleness doesn’t require a gift, it is the gift.
Third: Singleness means No Intimacy.
Response: I don’t know of anyone who actually thinks that being single means you cannot have close friends But is this really what Allberry is after? Think about it for a second. Do we have a problem here? Do heterosexual men have a problem having close friends whether they are married or single? What is Allberry after? He is after intimacy for gay men in the Christian church. Sorry Sam, but I am not interested in having an intimate relationship with a man who is sexually attracted to me. It’s why men and women who are not married to one another should avoid the those kind of relationships as well. No, Jesus did not have intimate friendships with men who were sexually attracted to him.
Fourth: Singleness means no family. Allberry points out that single people have all the folks in the church to fill that gap.
Response: Pay attention folks. The desires that Allberry is describing in this list of “7” is pointing us in a very specific direction that even Allberry seems to be oblivious to.
Fifth: Singleness is a hindrance to ministry. Allberry says that Paul says that singleness would be an advantage in marriage rather than a hindrance.
Response: I agree, but only if we take into consideration the qualification that Jesus himself made about it and that seems to be the best way to understand Paul. If a man is gifted by God, built by God to be this way, then by all means, Jesus said let him receive it. But an interesting thing happens when a man is built this way. Hang on, I am getting to it.
Sixth: Singleness is a waste of sexuality. Allberry writes, “We don’t have to satisfy our sexual desires in this life in order to fulfill their purpose: They point us to a deeper yearning, a closer union, and a greater consummation.”
Response: If you find this statement confusing, don’t feel bad. It is a bunch of nonsense. There is no mention of sacrificing your sexual desires in the Scriptures for the sake of ministry or Christ. Allberry has utterly missed the point.
Seventh: Singleness is easy.
Response: Well, Paul seems to say with Jesus, that for those who can receive it, those especially gifted for that end, singleness is easier than being married. Just a few lines ago, Sam said it himself.
Russll Moore and Sam Allberry, along with numerous other SBC leaders are in the middle of a project that I call the deconstruction of Christianity. Many movements have come along with this same goal. To prove my point, I will list some observations in bullet form:
- The church has been wrong about how it views and deals with homosexuality. Christians are accused of being unloving, mean-spirited, and inhospitable toward homosexuals. In order fix this problem, we must bring in gay priests like Allberry to help us fix our problems.
- The church was wrong on the slavery issue and this means that the church has been wrong on racial issues all along. In order to fix our racists attitudes, we have to celebrate men like Martin Luther King Jr. We have to install racial quotas, read black authors, high black pastors and professors.
- The church has been wrong in its political leanings. We should not be a one-issue voter. Abortion isn’t the most important issue. Economic and social equality are just as important or even more so. In order to fix this problem we have to bring in liberal democrats to teach us how to think better about all these social issues.
- The church has been wrong on the immigration issue. Loving Christians should always be for open borders no matter what. Again, the solution is liberal democrats wearing the cloak of Christianity and pretending to be what they are not.
- The church has been wrong on female leadership. We need to appreciate and understand the talent and skills of women in the body. To fix this issue we should hire female staff, have them teach men, even perhaps elect a female president of the SBC.
- The church has been wrong on its neglect of social issues. We have not done enough. To fix this problem we should begin to guilt Christians into adoption and foster care. This is the only way we can truly visit orphans in their distress.
As you can see, Sam Allberry, Russell Moore, Ravi Zacharias, J.D. Greear, Tim Keller, and numerous other leaders in evangelicalism are quite busy deconstructing Christianity and rebuilding it into something that looks eerily similar to what we have seen now in mainline protestant churches for over a hundred years now.
Allberry’s list of seven turns out to be an embarrassing contradiction. Let’s walk through this summary together. Allberry starts by trying to convince people that singleness is not bad for them. Then he denies that singlessness requires a special calling. For him, anyone can do it. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of being single. You can do it! And if you think you will miss out on intimate relationships, think again. You won’t. There are alternatives! This is good news. You think you might want a family? Just borrow the church as your family. Don’t worry about that. It’s the same thing. And if you think it will hinder your ministry, think again. It won’t. What about wasting all that sexuality? Don’t worry about that says Allberry, life is more than sex. Is it easy? No. Nothing is. But hey, that’s life. Really, Mr. Allberry?
Let us not forget that marriage was God’s idea, God’s design from the very beginning. Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Ge 2:18) Allberry seems to miss the fact that singleness is the product of the fall, not creation. While it is true that God has ordained it in some situations for his purposes, it is not normative. The idea that marriage or singleness is something like “choosing” whether or not I will wear a button down or a pullover today is out of step with Scripture. From the beginning man was created male and female to be image bearers of God in this world. God did not create a man to be married and then create another man who would be single. Allberry is attempting to find a path for homosexuals who want to hang on to their same-sex urges, attempt to remain celibate, and include them in the church. That is the goal. This is what he is doing. And men like Russell Moore and Ravi Zacharias see this as a way to show the culture that the church isn’t opposed to homosexuals after all. But those who are walking around with their eyes open know that it doesn’t end at celibate homosexual Christians. Not a chance. If you think otherwise, you are just like a frog in that pot of water on the stove.
Here is my advice to Christians who do not have the gift of singleness. If you don’t want to be single, get married. That is what Jesus and Paul said. If you want intimacy, family, to fulfill your sexual desires, then GET MARRIED. That is the Bible’s teaching on the matter. If you have sexual urges, you should find a mate and get married. If you are called to singleness, you will NOT feel the sort of pain Allberry is describing. And if you do, that is the best indication of all that you are not built to be single, not gifted to be single. And if you try to be something you are not built to be, very bad things can happen. Jesus says not to do. Paul says don’t do it. Allberry says you can do it. Sorry, I am going with Jesus and Paul. As for Allberry’s goals, it seems to me that Allberry is really talking to homosexuals who want to be in the church and not have sex. He is trying to encourage them that they can do it. The problem is that the bible knows nothing about this category of people. If you cannot contain your sexual desire, get married. Oh, you don’t have any desire to have sex with a woman? Then you had better kill that desire to have sex with a man because if you don’t, it will surely kill you. To allow same-sex urges to remain in place and choose only not to act on them is a path that is not open to the churches. The very desire itself must be repudiated and mortified. There is no other way.