I Peter 2:21 says, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” If Jesus were not teaching celibacy by His example, why didn’t He marry?
In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus confirmed the sanctity of marriage in the eyes of God by quoting from the creation account (Gen. 1:27, 2:24). He further sanctified marriage in verses 8 and 9, by strictly teaching against divorce.
But Jesus had valid reasons for not marrying. The harsh physical circumstances surrounding His ministry, prophesied in Isaiah 53, would have prevented Him from being the parent and husband He would have wanted to be to set us an example. And Jesus knew He would die an early, agonizing death that would have left His young wife a widow.
It would have been easier for Jesus to go off, get married and live a “normal” life, forsaking His mission on earth. But His desire to do the will of His Father (Matt. 26:39) made Him willing to forsake physical marriage, a “good thing” (Prov. 18:22), for a better thing. And so He said:
“All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: for 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” (Matt. 19:11-12).
Those who are “able to accept it” are those called to a harsh, difficult life-style for the greater good. Like Jesus. And like the apostle Paul, who endured shipwrecks, scourgings, imprisonments and constant travel for the Gospel’s sake.
But married life is not inconsistent with the life-style of the average minister serving in a local church. Even Peter, the chief apostle, was married (Matt. 8:14), and among the desirable characteristics of a deacon (I Tim. 3:12), an elder (Tit. 1:6) or a “bishop” or minister (I Tim. 3:2) is that he be a married man, (I Tim. 3:5). So we can say with the apostle Paul, on whose writings some claim to base a doctrine of priestly celibacy, that “marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13:4). Paul even classified commanded celibacy with doctrines of demons (I Tim. 4:1-3)!
But, physical reasons aside, the Bible shows that Jesus was not free to marry in the flesh, because he was bound until death by a previous marriage.
The Bible shows that Jesus was the Creator, the God of the Old Testament (John 1:1-3, 14, Eph. 3:9, Heb. 1:2), and the Old Testament relationship between God (Jesus Christ) and the nation Israel was a marriage covenant (Isa. 54:5, Jer. 3:14).
Thus, when Jesus Christ was made flesh, He was still bound by marriage to Israel, and was not free to marry. If He had married in the flesh, He would have committed adultery.
Christ’s death terminated the marriage covenant with Israel, making Him free to marry His New Testament Church, which is referred to as the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-27, 32, II Cor. 11:2), to be married to Christ at His Second Coming (Rev. 19:7-9).
Far from condemning marriage, Jesus was preparing Himself, and is now preparing His Church, for the most joyous marriage to ever take place.