Marriage of New Creatures
However, when once the marital relationship has been entered into it is too late for regrets, and nothing remains to the child of God except to carry out the marriage covenant implicitly, in letter and in spirit, to the extent of his or her ability. If both are New Creatures, and the mating be a proper one, there should be no difficulty on either side in deciding as to the proper arrangements and regulations of the home: nevertheless, compatibility of natural disposition and tastes should also be carefully considered. The true Christian husband, having the mind of Christ, will love his wife, will remember that he has covenanted to cherish her, to care for her, to provide for her not only as respects physical necessities, but also as respects the nourishing of her heart and affections. Such a husband will not feel that he has discharged his duty in providing merely the necessities and comforts of food and clothing and shelter, but will realize an obligation to his wife to consider her mental, moral and spiritual interests as well. He will not be satisfied that her time be entirely absorbed in family duties and cares, but will, to the extent of his ability, seek the cultivation of her mind, her heart--using his headship in the family in so arranging its affairs that she will have reasonable time for spiritual fellowship and the study of the Truth. Such a husband will not forget that, like all the remainder of the human family, selfishness is more or less intrenched
in his mortal flesh, and as a New Creature he will be on guard that this disposition shall not work hardship or injury to others--especially to his wife and his children, who are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.
Headship in the family, thus exercised in promoting the welfare of those under its care in guiding, counseling, etc., as well as in providing things needful for them, will be far from tyranny. Nor will the spirit of love in such a husband ignore the likes and dislikes of his wife and her properly given advice. He will recognize the fact that while the perfect Adam possessed all the qualities of manhood, the separation of Eve implied the separation of some of these qualities: he will recognize, too, that although the strength of mind and of body by divine arrangement abides with, and constitutes man the head of the family, nevertheless there are qualities of character specially possessed by the woman. The humility which belongs to the spirit of love will hinder him from being blind to the estimable qualities which the Creator apportions to the female, and he will recognize that his own qualities of heart and head need to be supplemented by the other qualities which by nature specially reside in the woman. He will, therefore, in proportion as he has "the spirit of a sound mind," desire the help of his wife, her cooperation, her views, her sympathy, her love, and will appreciate them highly.
This does not mean that seeking the wife's counsel means in all cases obedience to her views: it is for the husband to weigh, to consider, to balance, to decide--giving proper, reasonable, benevolent interpretation to his wife's sentiments. The responsibility of headship is upon the husband, and he must not avoid it. It is of divine imposition, a part of his stewardship, for which he will be called upon eventually to give an account.
Likewise the wife who is a New Creature and who has married "in the Lord," and, having exercised proper discretion, is well mated, should have little difficulty in recognizing the duties and responsibilities and privileges of her position according to the flesh. "Let the wife see that she reverence
her husband," says the Apostle. She is not to wait for outsiders to admonish her that she is deficient in wifely respect toward her husband, nor to wait for her husband to indicate that he thinks she is not treating him with the respect due him according to the marriage covenant and according to the Scriptural delineations of a wife's duty. On the contrary, in looking about her to see what are the responsibilities and duties of a wife, let her see that she reverence her husband and realize that nothing short of this is the meaning of her marriage vow according to the Scriptures --whatever it may mean according to the world and various human conceptions. Reverence toward the husband means much, and really enters into all of life's affairs, and touches and influences every act and word and thought respecting the home and its interests.
The Apostle Peter calls attention to this same matter in somewhat similar language, saying, "Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands;...of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. After this same manner in olden time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord." (1 Pet. 3:1-6) As the man who honors his wife honors himself, so the woman who reverences her husband honors herself. But this reverence of a husband as the lord or master or head of the household does not mean slavery, for the Church does not occupy toward the Lord a slavish position, nor exercise a slavish fear, but a reverence of love, of devotion--and this is the example.
This reverence for the husband does not imply that the wife should not exercise her judgment and bring to her husband's attention trials or difficulties or burdens too heavy for her, etc., but her presentation of her views, her hopes and desires should not be in a mandatory manner, but in a deferential way, which would recognize the headship of her husband and seek to be happy and contented with his decisions after having presented to him her thoughts on subjects of mutual interest. She should seek to be so considerate, so
wise in the management of such of the household affairs as the husband would intrust to her, that she would earn more and more of his confidence, and be able more and more to fulfil in the home, whether large or small, the important duties of a helpmate. The thought that she is a helper, and her desire for her husband's approval, will be seen to be in strict harmony with the Apostle's suggestion respecting the Church's proper attitude toward the Lord, in faithfulness, and desire for his approval. But as in the Church it would be a crime to ignore the Head, the Lord, in any measure in connection with the work and its interests, so the wife should feel that her course would be criminal and in violation of her covenant were she to attempt to regulate the earthly home, and to any extent ignore the one whom she has vowed to reverence as the head of the family.
In the case of two New Creatures not well mated--where the wife is evidently the superior--there is danger of difficulty in adjusting affairs. If the wife has better judgment in respect to the guidance of the home, in respect to the spending of money, in respect to the training of the children, etc., she is not, therefore, at liberty to assume the headship of the family and to order and direct her husband as though he were one of her children or a servant. Such a violation of the divine arrangement is sure to work disadvantage spiritually, if not financially and in temporal matters, not only to the man but also to the woman.
The man under such conditions would gradually lose what little manhood he possessed, gradually drop everything into the hands of his wife, and become merely her tool, her slave, to provide the living and keep her commandments. Such a condition would not be advantageous to the husband as a New Creature; such a degradation of his flesh would surely react unfavorably upon him, dispirit him and hinder his growth in grace, in knowledge and in the service of the Truth. On the wife also the effect would prove injurious to the extent that the wrong course is followed --much or little. If the case be an extreme one the wife--as her husband gradually lets fall upon her, or as she
gradually takes out of his hands, the responsibilities of a husband--feels the weight of this upon her in addition to her motherly duties; and in her attempt to be both husband and wife, both father and mother, she is sure to become more or less of a "business woman," more or less heady and self-conscious. Her friends may admire the strength of character which she displays, and may consider that the course she takes is unavoidable--they may even encourage her and hold her up as a commendable example of a strong-minded woman; but none of them will love her as they would have loved her had she developed along the lines of true womanhood and true wifehood. Moreover, the qualities of the flesh cultivated by such a course would react unfavorably upon her as a New Creature in Christ, and, unwittingly, she would become less spiritual and more self-conscious in things pertaining to the Church.
The proper course to take in such a case of mismating between New Creatures is for the husband to say to himself: I have taken a wife contrary to divine arrangement. I have thus run a great risk of domestic infelicity. My only course, now, is to strive to the best of my ability to reach up to my highest ideal of a true husband--to pattern as much as possible after the Lord's example. I will need to be all the more careful of my every word and act--to seek all the more earnestly the wisdom which cometh from above, that I may the more nearly accomplish the duties of the head of this household, for which I realize I am not naturally qualified.
The wife in such a case should say to herself: I have neglected the Lord's divine regulation and am mismated in that I cannot reverence my husband, but instinctively realize that I am his superior in natural endowment. I must make the best of the matter. I must do my part faithfully; and in proportion as I find my husband deficient, I will seek to use tact and pray for wisdom from on high to know how to help him, to lift him up, to make of him a noble man, and to enlarge his capacity as much as possible, that I may thus increase my love and reverence for him. Nothing short of
this is my duty under my marriage covenant--it shall be faithfully done as unto the Lord. As for his weaknesses and poor judgment, not only will I hide these from outsiders, but so far as possible I will hide them from myself; and in mentioning them to my husband I will seek to avoid any reference to or display of my superior abilities. I will expect that in due time his own failures will commend to him my better judgment, which, however, I will not press upon him nor insist upon, but simply state in a kindly manner appropriate to a helpmate. My expectation will be that ere long he will seek my counsel and give it more and more weight in all his affairs of life, and thus day by day and year by year we may grow up together in harmony with the divine pattern of the relationship between Christ and the Church. I will be blessed as the wife in the cultivation of humility and submission to the divine arrangement: my husband will be blessed by the uplifting influences which I will be enabled to bring to him, and thus the mismating which at first seemed so disadvantageous, may, by the Lord's grace--following the instructions of his Word--result in bringing us both nearer to the divine standard as set forth by the Apostle.
A still different case from the above may be suggested as possible, namely, that two New Creatures, well mated according to the flesh, might after years of fellowship and helpfulness become mismated. Such a conclusion to such a favorable beginning would imply that one or the other had lost the holy spirit of love--if not entirely, at least to a very great extent; that one or the other had neglected the apostolic injunction and the entire divine regulation of the duties of husbands toward wives and wives toward husbands. If the fault should be with the husband and he should cease to provide for the wife, cease to cherish her, and, on the contrary, should desert her either in heart or affection or actually, it would imply that he had seriously departed from the Lord, and from the guidance of his Spirit, and from "the wisdom that cometh from above, which is
first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits." Under such circumstances we could not consider such an one approved of the Lord as an "overcomer" until after reformation.
Or the difficulty might be with the wife. She might become heady, highminded, self-opinionated and gradually lose her reverence for her husband--might even misrepresent him and desert him and say all manner of evil against him falsely. Such a condition of things would indicate a very wrong condition of heart, very far removed from that inculcated by the Word and would surely imply spiritual degeneracy, no matter to what degree an outward form of godliness might be maintained. Such an one would surely be in a poor condition to appear before the Heavenly Bridegroom with any hope of his approval; for such a course toward the earthly bridegroom would certainly signify a small appreciation of the duties of the Church toward her Lord. If unfaithful to the earthly husband whom she has seen, it would certainly argue and imply unfaithfulness to the unseen Heavenly Bridegroom.
The earthly relationship as husband or wife between a New Creature and one who is not a New Creature is to some a matter of great perplexity, and there are many in this condition. Where the two are well mated according to the flesh the problem is difficult enough; but where they are mismated both physically and spiritually, the difficulties are multiplied. If the husband is of the New Creation and the wife has the spirit of the world, his true religion and the "spirit of a sound mind" which it gradually gives on all subjects, and the moderation which it inculcates in all affairs, should gradually lift him higher and higher in the esteem of his worldly wife, provided she has a naturally noble character and amiable disposition. His considerate treatment, the full liberty of conscience which he would willingly accord her, and his own devotion to principle, would all tend to make such a union a happy one, except that the husband would lack in his wife that spiritual fellowship which as a New Creature he must appreciate higher than all other fellowships.
But his prayers on behalf of such a noble-minded woman, his example, and his considerate presentation of the Truth will, in all probability, win such a wife to the Lord and make of her a spiritual, as well as a natural helpmate. Thus his patience and faithfulness to his marital obligations might bring a grand recompense while her faithfulness to principle would equally bring blessing and happiness to her life.
If the wife be a member of the New Creation and the husband have the spirit of the world, and they be well mated, the problem will similarly be comparatively easy of solution. The noble-minded husband, even though worldly, will recognize the conscience of his wife in its moderate exercise; and his desire to provide for her mental and moral and spiritual opportunities, as would be his duty as a husband, would give to her all that she could desire as a wife except the desire for spiritual companionship in her husband. To such a noble-minded man as we are discussing, his wife's faithfulness to the Lord, and to himself in all of life's duties, might eventually be blessed by bringing about the husband's consecration to the Lord. The wife might have good desires and ambitions in respect to temporal or even to religious matters which her husband might not be able to appreciate, however noble a natural man he might be. In such case she should consider the counsel of the Lord to his people, to be moderate in all things; she should consider her husband's general liberality, and while not compromising any matter of conscience or principle, she should remember that amongst her wifely duties, recognized by the Lord, is one requiring her to give her husband a measure of her companionship. This might, not improperly, hinder her from attending some of the meetings of the Church; but she should beware lest in her desire to please her husband she should violate her conscience and hinder her responsibilities and obedience to the Lord, her Heavenly Bridegroom. She should remember his injunction that we should not forget the assembling of ourselves together. All we are urging here is that she exercise moderation, consideration
for her husband, etc., so that she might divide the time to some extent with him, giving him a reasonable share of her company.
Where the two are unequally yoked--one an unbeliever and the other a New Creature--and where, additionally, they are mismated according to the flesh, so that the wife is the superior and the husband the inferior intellectually, etc.--the case is much more complicated and requires increased wisdom and grace on the part of the believer. The Apostle specially admonishes those who are so situated, saying: "The woman which hath an unbelieving husband and he be content to dwell with her, let her not leave him. ...But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart: the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For how knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" 1 Cor. 7:13-16
The one point made clear respecting the duty of the believer is that he shall do his duty, and seek in every honorable, proper manner to conserve the peace of the household and its general welfare, making as few points of contention as proper devotion to principle and conscience will permit. If there be real cause for separation, the believer must see to it that the cause is not in him. The Spirit of Christ in him is to make him more gentle, more humble, more peaceable, more prudent, more wise, more long-suffering, more patient, more loving and more kind day by day. All this, however, will not in every case meet the requirements of the situation. Sometimes the unbeliever is possessed of so mean a natural disposition, and gives way to it to such an extent as to be thoroughly irascible; and as the gracious dealings of God toward Pharaoh only tended to harden his heart, so the Spirit of God in his children, shining out to the very best of their ability in all the graces and fruits of that Spirit, may sometimes meet only with that hatred which the darkness has for the light, and to which our Lord referred saying, "the darkness hateth the light because it is reproved by it."
(John 3:19,20) In such cases separation may follow, as the Apostle points out, whether accompanied by a decree of divorce from earthly courts or not. In any event, however, the New Creature is not at liberty to remarry unless the divorce be granted, and that on the one ground mentioned by our Lord--adulterous unfaithfulness of the mate. Matt. 19:9
In the text quoted above, the Apostle declares, "If the unbelieving [one] depart, let him depart"; but this is not to be understood to signify that desertion by a mate would grant liberty either to a husband or a wife to marry another: it merely indicates that such a desertion should be viewed by the believer as one of the circumstances of life permitted by divine providence, which God is abundantly able to overrule for his welfare--and accepting it as such, corresponding opportunities for usefulness in the Lord's service should be expected. Although the Apostle points out very expressly that the believer shall not be the deserter, we believe that human courts have wisely understood and interpreted in deciding that there is such a thing as "constructive desertion" --namely, that a mate may desert his partner in life most thoroughly without their absolutely parting company. The unbelieving wife might exercise, and in some instances has exercised, so many petty tyrannies in the home as to destroy all of its homelike qualities, to make it a veritable purgatory, destroying her husband's religious literature and striving to make it impossible for him to read or study or think, by reason of the commotion purposely instigated amongst the children, swayed by her to disregard their father's word and counsel and to treat him with indignity.
Such a woman may not desert her husband actually, but with a meaner spirit may prefer to use him as her slave-- that by his energy she may enjoy life's comforts. Human laws have construed such a course to be desertion--desertion of the marriage covenant and obligations and of the proper and reasonable duties of life. Such an one becomes a hinderer and injurer instead of a helpmate. In such a case we believe a husband thoroughly justified in considering
himself deserted, and in taking up a separate home to which he could take such of the children as had not been thoroughly poisoned by the mother's wrong course. His obligations toward such a wife have already been terminated by her course: it is she that has deserted and broken the marriage contract; and in withdrawing her support he is merely acceding to the demands of her course. If, however, she is repentant at any time, he should be generous to a fault in forgiving her and in re-establishing upon a proper basis the family arrangement. Nothing in this advice should be understood to cultivate impatience or a readiness to take offense and feel injured. Love demands that all bearable treatment shall be borne; and that if evil has been rendered for the evil, in word or deed, the wrong shall be considered offset and condoned.
In other cases the desertion may be on the part of the unbelieving husband. The meanness of his depravity may make of him a brutal tyrant, regardless of the health and happiness of his wife, and especially hostile to her religious views. As we have already pointed out, the believer is to seek and to attain the grace of the spirit of love which will enable the endurance of practically "all things," and to be profited thereby--to grow in grace under such conditions; by cultivating the Spirit of the Lord and its various graces. But there is a limit to all things, and beyond that limit it would not be proper to go. Beyond that limit the influence upon the unjust companion would be injurious instead of helpful. Each must decide for himself what is the proper limitation of submission in such matters. His own conscience must decide, after that conscience has been educated by both the letter and the spirit of the divine Word. As growth in grace is attained the trials may become the more severe; but there should be the larger capacity for endurance with meekness and the larger amount of "the spirit of a sound mind" with which to determine when the point of unendurable severity and injury has been reached. Grace from on high is needed, is promised, and should be earnestly sought under such conditions. Jas. 1:5
There are ignoble, brutish husbands who have no proper conception either of a husband's duties or of a wife's proper liberties--whose only conception of a wife is that of a drudging slave, better than any he could hire, or that of a cheap substitute for a harlot. Such treatment from a husband is a desertion on his part, and the law of God as expounded here by the Apostle properly interpreted is, we believe, fully in accord with human laws, which declare that for such a man the name husband is a misnomer--that if he ever did intelligently and really make a marriage contract with his wife he has most thoroughly and decidedly broken it, and by such treatment has most convincingly proved this. A wife so circumstanced is at liberty to consider herself deserted and to make as much better conditions for herself as she can; but she is not on this account permitted, either by human or divine laws, to remarry. In such a case she should look to the Lord either to mitigate her condition, or, possibly, to open a way of escape from it. She should take into consideration the ages of her children and what provision could be made for them as well as for herself, and should weigh the circumstances carefully and prayerfully before taking the step. But if her conditions are endurable, let her remain, as the Apostle says; and let her hope that in showing forth the spirit of meekness, gentleness, patience, love, she may win back again the heart of her spouse and possibly also win him to the Lord.
We have dealt with this subject at considerable length, realizing from a wide private correspondence that very many of the Lord's most faithful children live in a matrimonial furnace of affliction. Under the terms of the call of the New Creation, none should expect that the present life would be a smooth and pleasant dream of earthly felicity, for our Lord specially declared of such, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Matt. 10:36) They should not be surprised to be called upon to endure much for the Truth's sake, and thus to evidence to the Lord their faithfulness to him and to his Word; their willingness to endure all the fiery trials which he sees best they should have for the
development in them of the graces of the Spirit. They should realize, too, that they are not to choose the kind of fiery trials that shall develop them and prepare them and make them meet for the Kingdom, but are to leave the entire matter in the hands of the Lord. It is our duty, however, to point out to all such suffering ones that they, after reasonable trial and development, should be on the lookout for divine deliverance and the opening to them of a way of escape from things too difficult for them to endure. This is in line with our Lord's admonition and example: "When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another." Matt. 10:23; 2:13; 4:12; 12:15
Conscience, the Final Test
We have referred to conscience in connection with these matters, and it may be appropriate here to call attention to what we mean by that term. We mean conviction as to what is right, what is duty. With the perfect man conscience would be an absolute guide and he would know right and duty instinctively; but the six thousand years of falling have brought our race to a condition in which conscience is certainly out of order--perverted by wrong views. The basis of Christian conscience is faith in God, and acceptance of his will as being absolutely right, and acknowledgment of our proper obligation to be thoroughly and heartily obedient to the divine will. Conscience, therefore, needs just such education as the Word of God affords, and the developed New Creature is for this reason to have "the spirit of a sound mind"--his conviction as to what is right and what is wrong expanding and clarifying in proportion as he grows in grace and in knowledge and in the spirit of love. To obey conscience is to do what he believes the Lord would have him do; and he is not to jump to a conclusion on this matter, but is to weigh carefully the testimony of the divine Word and to decide accordingly. There are people who permit fear and servility to dominate their conscience and to vitiate it as a true monitor. A proper course for the Lord's
people is to guide their consciences--that is, to guide their convictions as to what is right and what is wrong by the Golden Rule and all the collateral instruction which the Scriptures afford.
Eunuchs, Virgins, Celibacy
The questions of sexology are amongst those which certainly give the New Creation considerable perplexity; and should, therefore, not be ignored here. Those begotten of the Spirit to spiritual joys and blessings, fellowship and communion, instinctively realize that fleshly or carnal intercourse is not spiritually elevating, but that its tendency is rather in the reverse direction. It is well that all the unmarried of the Lord's consecrated ones should weigh this subject thoroughly before entering the marriage relationship and undertaking its responsibilities. The Lord seemed to refer to the celibate state approvingly when he said, "Some are born eunuchs, some are made eunuchs by men and some [figuratively] have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake." (Matt. 19:12) That is, some by the exercise of their wills, after their consecration to the Lord, have determined not to marry but to maintain their virginity by living celibate lives. The Lord himself was one of these, and is surely our noblest example, in all of whose steps as closely as possible we should follow. The Apostle urges this matter upon our attention saying:
"Now concerning virgins [males and females] I have no commandment of the Lord, but I give my judgment as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I think, therefore, that this is good by reason of the present distress [that is to say, under present conditions--our own imperfections and the imperfections of others on the one hand, and the special duties, privileges and opportunities of those who have made a full consecration to the Lord on the other hand]--namely, that it is good for a man to be as he is [to remain in the condition in which the Truth may find him, married or single]. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to
be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a [female] virgin marry she hath not sinned.
"Nevertheless, such [as are married] shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I would spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none [ignoring earthly relationships as much as possible, and setting the affections specially upon heavenly things]; and they that weep [who are in earthly trouble] as though they wept not [endeavoring to forget the trials and disappointments and difficulties of the earthly state in the joy and rejoicing of the better promises that are ours for the future]; and they that rejoice [in earthly prosperity] as though they rejoiced not [their rejoicing in spiritual things quite overshadowing all earthly sources of joy]; and those that buy as though they possessed not [not setting their affections upon the earthly things]; and they that use this world as not misusing it [permitting moderation and the interests of the New Nature to exercise a controlling influence in all of life's affairs]; for the fashion of this world passeth away [we are as New Creatures to live in accord with our new hopes, and not to be continually making provision for the flesh; but rather seeking at every cost to make our calling and election sure and thus to be joint-heirs with our Lord in the glorious dispensation and world to come].
"But I would have you free from care [of an earthly kind; and hence, in addition to the foregoing admonition of change of affections and transformation of mind, I now call your attention to certain unquestionable facts]. He [fully consecrated] that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married is careful of the things of the world, how he may please his wife. [He will find himself in continual danger of a division of his affections and a continual need to be on his guard, lest the earthly affections shall absorb all of his time and love and interest, and that to a violation of his covenant with the Lord; and the interests of the Truth must be
paramount if he would be an overcoming disciple and a joint-heir in the Kingdom]. And there is [likewise] a difference between [the condition of] a wife and a virgin. The unmarried [fully consecrated] woman careth for the things of the Lord that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
"And this I say for your own profit [not as seeking to bring you under bondage or in any manner to add to your burdens, but that you who are unmarried may carefully weigh the matter and consider your spiritual interests and the privileges you will be losing by marrying]: not that I would cast a snare upon you [to restrain you from the exercise of your liberties], but for that which is comely [most favorable to you as New Creatures], and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think [that in remaining unmarried] he behaveth himself improperly toward his virgin [toward a female friend whom he had given reason to expect he would marry her], if she be past the flower of her age [so as to have lost other matrimonial opportunities through her engagement to him], and if need so require [if she needs a protector or supporter] let him do what he will [marry or not]; he sinneth not; let them marry [if the necessities of the case seem so to dictate]. Nevertheless, he that standeth fast in his heart, having no necessity, but having power over his own will [to exercise self-control and to live a celibate life, that he might give himself more fully to the Lord and his service], and hath so determined in his own heart to keep his own virgin [his own virginity or purity] doeth well. So then he that giveth her [his virginity] in marriage doeth well, but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
"A wife is bound for so long a time as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead she is free to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she abide as she is, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the spirit of God [the mind of the Lord on this subject, which I have already declared. I am not speaking by commandment
or under direct inspiration, but according to my conviction or judgment of the divine will.]" 1 Cor. 7:25-40
After marriage is too late for one to decide for himself whether or not he prefers to live a celibate life. The Apostle points this out most distinctly, declaring that neither the husband has sole control of his own body, neither the wife the sole control of her own body; but that in marriage each has given himself to the other in such a degree that any refusal of moderate reasonable marital rights would amount to an injustice and violation of the marriage contract. The Apostle speaks of such a course as "defrauding one another." (1 Cor. 7:5) The time to consider such matters is before marriage. Neither would it be proper that either should attempt to bind the other, nor that they should together vow a life of celibacy in the bonds of wedlock. Moderation in this as in every other earthly matter must be the law, the brake by which the New Nature will seek to maintain its ascendancy over the flesh--bringing even the very thoughts of the heart into subjection to the Lord. Absolute continence, however desirable it may be, the Apostle points out, must not be enforced by either one against the other, lest it become a snare and temptation to a violation of the marriage obligations. He says: