‘He That Marries Not Does Better’
1. (a) What proves that an unmarried man is not half a man? (b) What is the only kind of bride Jesus Christ will ever have?
MARRIAGE has joys and blessings that God purposed it to have. By the attraction that he put into play between the sexes it is normal for man and woman to marry, not even leaving out Christians who are in the flesh. However, for Christians God’s Word does not take the view of some tribes or peoples that a man has not reached his full estate unless he is married, so that if he is not married he is only half a man. To take this view means to downgrade Jesus Christ, for he died a virgin, a single man, at the age of thirty-three and a half years. He died unmarried according to his heavenly Father’s will. But by this course of self-control and obedience he wins a spiritual “bride,” a congregation of 144,000 faithful followers who love him with a love surpassing that of a man for a woman, of a husband for a wife. This spiritual bride whom the Father unites to his Son in heavenly beauty and radiance is the only wife that Jehovah God has authorized Jesus Christ to have.—John 3:29; Rev. 19:7; 21:2, 9-14.
2. What other examples do we have of God’s servants who did not marry?
2 The young prophet Jeremiah held back from marriage because Jehovah God, like a father, forbade him to marry and have children inasmuch as it was the “time of the end” for the Jewish kingdom of the line of David. (Jer. 16:1-4, AS) The apostle Paul did not avail himself of his “authority to lead about a sister as a wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas.” (1 Cor. 9:5, NW) The overtowering reason why many Christians in the “time of the end” of this wicked world stay single must be considered and, if understood, wins no reproach but high respect.
3. (a) What may bereaved mates choose to do, and why can married Christians be virgins spiritually? (b) For what powerful reason only do some remain virgins?
3 A Christian bereaved of a mate by death may remarry but may choose not to do so. In the case of a Christian woman, “if her husband should fall asleep in death, she is free to be married to whom she wants, only in the Lord [or, only if he is in union with the Lord]. But she is happier if she remains as she is.” (1 Cor. 7:39, 40, NW) Married Christians may still remain spiritually virgin toward Christ by not becoming adulterous friends toward this world and its womanlike systems: “These are the ones that did not defile themselves with women; in fact, they are virgins.” (Rev. 14:1-4, NW) With commendable virtue many Christians, virgins whether men or women, may choose to remain single, though making no vow to do so. They remain virgin, not because there is a Christian rule “forbidding to marry” in this “time of the end,” in these “later periods of time.” (1 Tim. 4:1-3, NW) The New World society has no such rule. It Scripturally allows freedom to marry before the battle of Armageddon. The powerful inducing reason for virginity is God’s kingdom.
4. How do some make themselves eunuchs for the sake of God’s kingdom?
4 Jesus called such voluntary virgins self-made eunuchs. After he told his disciples that adultery alone was the ground that God allowed for divorce, his disciples soberly said: “If such is the situation of a man with his wife, it is not advisable to marry.” In commenting on that saying Jesus said: “Not all men make room for the saying, but only those who have the gift. For there are eunuchs that were born such from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs that were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs that have made themselves eunuchs because of the kingdom of the heavens. Let him that can make room for it make room for it.” (Matt. 19:10-12, NW) They do not make themselves eunuchs by physically castrating themselves as did the religionist Origen, who produced the famous Hexapla edition of the “Old Testament” in the third century. They do it by making room for it in their hearts, willingly resolving to keep themselves physically in the unmarried state like that of a eunuch who could not marry, the state of singleness. What keeps them from marrying is not necessarily a vow of celibacy nor self-castration or some physical disability, but is their overpowering desire to apply themselves to the service of God’s kingdom as fully as possible, and the more so now that the Kingdom was established in the heavens in 1914 and “this good news of the kingdom” must be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, because the complete end of this doomed world is constantly getting closer.
5. How does one receive the gift of singleness?
5 As Jesus himself said, not all Christians make room for the saying about the advisability of not marrying under present uncertain, imperfect, evil-infested conditions. Only those who “have the gift” do. A “gift”? Yes, but not one by being born a eunuch or by some miraculous bestowal of powers from God. The privilege of staying unmarried is a gift that God holds out to all single persons who become followers of his Son Jesus Christ. But not all avail themselves of this gift; not all make room for it. Yet there are many who take under consideration all the circumstances and conditions that have to do with them as Christians, and also the opportunities and Kingdom service privileges that are set before them. They look ahead to see what the outcome of a certain course of action or a certain life relationship with another might be. They weigh the married estate and its dues and limitations against the single state and its possibilities, all this with a regard for Jehovah’s precious “treasure” of service. After serious study of the matter they make an intelligent decision, a firm resolve, to stay as they are, single. They then avoid entanglements that might obligate them to leave their singleness.
6. (a) How do these fill up their void, and what blessings result therefrom? (b) How do these fortify themselves for their chosen course?
6 To fill up the void that they might naturally feel because of not having a beloved marriage partner, they plan and strive to fill up their lives with all the service to God that they can, becoming full-time servants of his if that is possible, undertaking all the engagements of service that they can. Keeping fully occupied in the divine service holds their hearts and their attention riveted on the urgent work now to be done in the short remaining time. This self-application rewards them with joys and blessings that counterbalance anything that their flesh might at times try to persuade them that they are missing by not being married to a Christian mate. Self-control is one of the fruits of God’s spirit, one of the important things that every Christian must add to his knowledge, faith and virtue. So they specially cultivate the spirit’s fruitage of self-control in order to hold onto their singleness. (Gal. 5:22, 23 and; 2 Pet. 1:5, 6, NW) They strengthen and fortify this specially directed self-control by looking at the advantages they enjoy by this and the undesired things that they avoid by this. Besides that, they plan and make provision to enjoy their singleness to the full, to get the greatest benefit out of it. This is not selfish. It is not depriving someone else of the opposite sex of a marriage due, but it is enjoying that to which they are entitled, while they let married couples enjoy that to which they are entitled. Primarily it is done to the pleasing and praise of Jehovah God and in the interest of his kingdom by Christ.
7. What fine examples are there of keeping single, and why are these not to be pitied?
7 By way of example, there are hundreds of Christian women who have gone single into foreign missionary fields. The local population wonder how they manage to keep single, and the married native women may incline to pity these missionaries as undergoing a great deprivation and hence a hardship. But by the spirit of Jehovah they give themselves fully to the missionary work and experience unspeakable joys. They are not to be pitied. While they may pity many of the native women for being married under the prevailing conditions, they do not pity themselves but feel like Jephthah’s daughter.
8, 9. (a) How did Jephthah’s daughter view the vow her father made regarding her? (b) What blessings were hers, and what does like singleness win and gain today?
8 When Judge Jephthah her father broke the news that the vow he had made to win victory in battle obliged him to devote her to a life of singleness in full-time service at Jehovah’s house, did she pity herself? Judge from this reply of hers: “My father, if you have opened your mouth to Jehovah, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, since Jehovah has executed acts of vengeance for you upon your enemies, the sons of Ammon.” She had something real to bewail and she did bewail the virginity to which she had to be devoted in fulfillment of Jephthah’s vow, but for only a short time, two months in isolation with her sympathetic girl companions.
9 After that she gave herself over to service full time at Jehovah’s blessed house. She died single, and that without the hope of enjoying married life in God’s new world after she is resurrected from the dead. But what a record she made for herself in vindication of Jehovah’s rightful sovereignty over heaven and earth! And while she lived on in her virginity at God’s house she regularly received encouragement to be faithful in her privileges close to God. “From year to year the daughters of Israel would go to give commendation to the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite, four days in the year.” (Judg. 11:34-40, NW) Singleness maintained in the interest of God’s cause, not by one’s being imprisoned in some monastery or convent, but by preaching the Kingdom tidings publicly and from house to house, wins God’s good pleasure and gains commendation from those who are dedicated to God. In Scripture the four daughters of Philip the missionary are favorably mentioned as “virgins, that prophesied.”—Acts 21:8, 9, NW.
“EACH ONE HAS HIS OWN GIFT FROM GOD”
10, 11. (a) For whom is singleness the best course? (b) For whom marriage?
10 Married life has its joyous, satisfying privileges and these are a gift from God. Singleness, too, has its own peculiar privileges and opportunities and these are a gift from God. Which gift do you want? Paul, in discussing this, wrote: “But I wish all men were as I myself am [he not leading around any sister as a wife]. Nevertheless, each one has his own gift from God, one in this way, another in that way.” Then turning his attention from the married Christians and their marital gift, Paul went on to recommend his own unyoked condition to those having no married mate, saying: “Now I say to the single persons [virgins] and the widows, it is well for them that they remain even as I am. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to be inflamed with passion.”—1 Cor. 7:7-9, NW.
11 Those being almost consumed with passion did not have the cultivated gift of self-control that Jesus mentioned. Because of the “prevalence of fornication” in this corrupt world, it was and is better for those on fire with passion and distracted by its flames to give up their singleness or their widowhood and safeguard themselves against fornication by having a legal marriage mate. In harmony with this Paul wrote concerning “younger widows” in the congregation: “The one that goes in for sensual gratification is dead though she is living. . . . when their sexual impulses have come between them and the Christ, they want to marry, having a judgment because they have disregarded their first expression of faith. At the same time they also learn to be unoccupied, gadding about to the houses, yes, not only unoccupied [in preaching work], but also gossipers and meddlers in other people’s affairs, talking of things they ought not. Therefore I desire the younger widows to marry, to bear children, to manage a household, to give no inducement to the opposer to revile. Already, in fact, some have been turned aside to follow Satan.”—1 Tim. 5:6, 11-15, NW.
12, 13. What example did Anna give younger widows, and what was her reward?
12 The way for “younger widows” to avoid following Satan by indulging in fornication or a misuse of time and energy is to specialize on God’s direct service as far as possible. They can take as a strengthening example Anna, a prophetess of the tribe of Asher. “This woman was well along in years, and had lived with a husband for seven years from her virginity, and she was a widow now eighty-four years old.” How did she occupy her time, employ her abilities?
13 This way: She “was never missing from the temple, rendering sacred service night and day with fastings and supplications.” Was her long widowhood left unrewarded? Never, and in her old age her widowhood was crowned with the privilege of seeing the promised Messiah as the babe Jesus. Joseph and Mary had brought him to the temple where she served God. “And in that very hour she came near and began returning thanks to God and speaking about the child to all those waiting for Jerusalem’s deliverance.” (Luke 2:36-38, NW) So this keeping of one’s widowhood for a long time can be done and this will not fail of its sweet reward in Jehovah’s service.—1 Tim. 5:3-5, 9, 10, NW.
14. What advantages do the single have over the married?
14 Nineteen centuries ago Paul remarked that “the time left is reduced” and that “the scene of this world is changing.” That is why he wrote: “I want you to be free from anxiety,” and advised married Christians not to let their marital privileges take precedence over their spiritual opportunities and obligations. In discussing the matter of anxiety he now showed the advantage of being free of marriage ties and dues: “The single man is anxious for the things of the Lord, . . . But the married man is anxious for the things of the world, how he may gain the approval of his wife, and he is divided. Further, the single woman, and the virgin, is anxious for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in her body and in her spirit. However, the married woman is anxious for the things of the world, how she may gain the approval of her husband. But this I am saying for your personal advantage, not that I may cast a noose upon you, but to move you to that which is becoming and that which means constant attendance upon the Lord without distraction.” (1 Cor. 7:29-35, NW) This advice was of personal advantage to Christians nineteen hundred years in the past. It is no less of personal advantage to us now since the Kingdom was born in the heavens A.D. 1914 and the time left of this old world’s “time of the end” has been reduced by more than forty years and not very much appears yet to be left.
15, 16. Who is free to marry in the New World society and who may best stay single for the sake of God’s kingdom?
15 Remember that no free Christian is forbidden to marry whether he is an overseer, a ministerial servant or just a preaching member of a congregation, a widower or a bachelor. Singleness is forced upon no Christian qualified for marriage. Whoever can muster up enough self-control and proper regulation of his life course as to hold back from marriage in this “present wicked system of things” for the sake of God’s kingdom may do so, crowding out other attractive things that he may make room for this gift. “Let him that can make room for it make room for it,” said Jesus. But if he cannot do so and thinks a change is better, then he may do so. Paul wrote:
16 “But if anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virginity, if that is past the bloom of youth, and this is the way it should take place, let him do what he wants; he does not sin. Let them marry. But if anyone stands settled in his heart, having no necessity, but has authority over his own will and has made this decision in his own heart, to keep his own virginity, he will do well.”—1 Cor. 7:36, 37, NW.
17. Those remaining single in Paul’s day did so without any prospect of what?
17 Back there, when Paul wrote that, it was nineteen centuries before the battle of Armageddon, which will be followed by marriage privileges for the “other sheep” of the Lord Jesus who survive the battle. Those Christians faithfully dying single back there did so without hope of any future human marriage on earth because they hoped in a heavenly resurrection to be part in Christ’s bride up above. So virginity back there had no thought of a mere postponing of marriage on earth till after Armageddon.
18. What may be said of him who marries, and yet why can it be said that singleness is the better way?
18 Nineteen centuries later the Christian that marries now in this time of the end because he feels the necessity “does not sin.” Likewise, the Christian that keeps his own virginity “will do well.” Yet the resulting privileges are different, which leads Paul to write: “Consequently, he also that gives his virginity in marriage does well, but he that does not give it in marriage will do better.” A better course is also open to widows who could remarry. Since her husband has fallen asleep in death, “she is free to be married to whom she wants, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is,” not rebound to a new husband for as long as he lives faithful in this world. We can have faith that singleness is the better way, the happier way, because this counsel is the opinion of the apostle Paul, who certainly thought he also had God’s spirit at the time of writing this.—1 Cor. 7:38-40, NW.
MARRIAGE AFTER ARMAGEDDON
19. (a) When was it first published that human marriage will continue after Armageddon, and what does dissolve marriage? (b) What blessing and command was given the survivors of the Flood?
19 As far back as 1885 The Watchtower has assured its readers that human marriage will continue after the battle of Armageddon has destroyed this old alien world and will continue as long as God sees fit according to his original purpose for this earth “to be inhabited” with his righteous earthly sons and daughters.a Death cancels the marriage bond. Armageddon will not cancel the marriage bond of those married witnesses of Jehovah who survive it together, any more than the global flood canceled the marriage bond of Noah to his wife and that of their three sons to their wives. But after they had come out of the ark of survival and had renewed Jehovah’s worship in the earth, he blessed them and said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” Noah had already borne the fruitage of three sons, and now those sons were commanded to become fruitful, each son by the one wife that he had. In that prophetic drama Noah pictured the Everlasting Father Jesus Christ and Noah’s wife pictured the spiritual bride of Christ.
20. Who will regulate marriage after Armageddon, for whom, and with what result?
20 After Armageddon the couples surviving will continue in their marital union. Others surviving in a different state, widowers, widows, virgin men and virgin women, will be privileged to marry. Whether there will be an imbalance between the available men and the available women surviving need not worry us now. Marriage then will be regulated by the Everlasting Father whom Jehovah God uses to fight the battle of Armageddon and to bruise the great Serpent, the wicked marriage disturber, in the head. So the Everlasting Father Jesus Christ will have redeemed his earthly children through Armageddon just as much as Jehovah redeemed Noah and his family through the Flood and as Jehovah redeemed the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. As all those redeemed ones belonged to Jehovah God, so all the Armageddon survivors will belong to their Redeemer Jesus Christ. As Everlasting Father to his earthly daughters he will give in marriage whomsoever of them he pleases and to whomsoever he chooses. That way there will be no poor selection of mates, and no one will experience a disappointment after marriage.
21, 22. Will marriage conditions will then prevail?
21 No one receiving a bride will pay a bride price to the Everlasting Fatherhood. All being his children, all being of one Fatherhood, they may be intermarried regardless of previous race or of color, as he may choose. Marriage, then, will be fruitful with children born of righteous parents, God not increasing the pain of pregnancy of their mothers, thus treating these differently from Eve, who took the lead in eating the forbidden fruit and then used pressure upon her husband to induce him to eat and sin.—Gen. 3:16.
22 Then husbands and wives will cooperate faithfully to stay within the paradise that will be restored to earth by their work and their children’s work and by Jehovah’s blessing through the Everlasting Father Jesus Christ. The proper places of husband and wife in the marriage union will therefore be observed and mutual obligations will be fulfilled. Besides God’s spirit, their approaching closer and closer to human perfection will make this easier and more enjoyable to do.—Luke 23:43.
23. What other privileges will the other sheep surviving Armageddon have?
23 The populating of the earth with their children and their children’s children will proceed with full regard for the coming resurrection. Jesus said that all those who are in the memorial tombs will in due time hear the voice of the Everlasting Father and come forth to a resurrection with precious opportunities for everlasting life in human perfection on earth. (John 5:28, 29, NW) Aside from marriage privileges, the “other sheep” surviving the battle of Armageddon will have untold privileges of service opened up to them by the resurrection of the dead, and these privileges will continue even after the purpose of marriage has been fulfilled and childbearing on earth ceases and husbands are relieved of the obligation to give their wives children.—Acts 24:15.
24. Then what heavenly and earthly proof will there be that marriage is a complete success?
24 Thus Jehovah’s purpose in beautifying this earth with human marriage will be gloriously accomplished. By Jesus Christ the Everlasting Father, Jehovah God will give eternal proof that marriage was certain to be a complete success on earth. Marriage will have worked in full harmony with his purpose in creating the earth and putting perfect man upon it, namely, to fill an earthly paradise with a perfect, righteous human family, in full vindication of his bringing in the irreproachable arrangement of marriage. Not only will eternally saved mankind on the paradise earth rejoice evermore but also the great heavenly Husband Jehovah and his faithful, beloved wife, his universal organization in heaven under Jesus Christ. Jehovah as an affectionate Grand Father and his universal organization as a tenderhearted Grand Mother will forever join in expressing their loving-kindness to their grandchildren, their God-fearing offspring on earth.
a See The Watchtower as of February 1, 1947, and its article “The Apostle’s Counsel on Wedlock” and the footnotes thereto on pages 45, 46.