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No human being can escape existing within, or in opposition
to, the male-female distinction as the fundamental form of
fellow-humanity. However, not every human being need
We remain free to enter with God’s blessing into the
order of marriage and there to live out our obedience to Him.
We are also free, however, while granting the inestimable
importance of marriage as a sign and realization of our creation
for fellow-humanity, to live out our commitment to our fellows
in the unmarried state. We may expect that marriage will
remain the norm, but we must make room for Jesus’ own
recognition that there may be some who “have made themselves
eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:12),
that is, some who have chosen to forego marriage in order to live
out their vocations in service to the Lord. And we recognize that
some who do not choose the single state may, nevertheless, live
such a life. They too exist within the duality of male and female.
They too live as male and female.
The Christian community needs to be sensitive to the
needs of all single persons in its midst, including those who for
various reasons are unable to marry or who may have lost
their spouse through death or divorce. Many unmarried
persons bear the burden of loneliness and feel “left out” of the
life and activities of their congregations and sometimes are
given the impression, intentionally or unintentionally, that
they have a less-privileged status. The Christian community
must assure all those who are unmarried that their situation is
in no way inferior to the state of those who are married. Rather,
they too, apart from the earthly institution of mar riage, have
been called to be members of God’s family and to devote them-
selves to the work of Christian service (Eph. 4:12). To them may
even belong opportunities for well doing which are not open to
those who have the responsibilities of married life. In a spirit of
mutual encouragement, married and unmarried alike must
make it their aim to help each other secure their “undivided
devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:35).
A further reason why marriage cannot be made a necessity
It is true that in the days of the Old Testament the unmarried state was regarded
with disfavor. This was because of the Israelite stress on procreation as the continuation
of the people, the seed of Abraham, from whom the Promised One was to come. We,
however, who are of the new Israel and who confess that the Promised One has indeed
come to His people, stand under no such necessity. (Our discussion here follows Barth,
pp. 149—168.) The barren and the fruitful, the married and the unmarried are alike
members of a new fellowship and family (Gal. 3:28).
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