Last week, one of my friends sent me a link to two videos, one of David Platt and the other of Matt Chandler, both encouraging men and women to marry. The David Platt video, I'm okay with. Platt acknowledges celibacy when he says "Single brothers, unless the Lord tells you to stay single, find a wife." That statement is definitely in line with what I have said before. Platt's main focus appears to be decrying a prolonged adolescence into 20s and 30s; according to Platt, one reason men and women don't marry is not from a calling to celibacy (that calling seems fine to him), but due to a prolonged adolescence.
I have no argument with David Platt. Matt Chandler, on the other hand... big problem there. 42 seconds into the video, Chandler stated that Adam needed a wife in order to be the complete creation that God wanted him to be. That is not scriptural.
In the Genesis creation narrative, the entire Trinity is speaking. One God using a plural pronouns.
Then, God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness." (Genesis 1:26) Man in this verse refers to humanity. Humanity will be in the image of God.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God, He created him; male and female. (Genesis 1:27) This is a little bit of an expansion... let's rephrase because sometimes man or mankind refers to humanity. In gendered, patriarchal language, masculine is the default.
So God created humanity in His own image; in the image of God, He created humanity; male and female. (Genesis 1:27)
Every member of humanity - every human - was created to have the fullness of God. Each man and each woman was meant to have the fullness of God. Men and women are not half-gods who need to mate to become full-gods. Following that line of thinking would lead to worse idolatry.
Genesis 2:7 starts an expansion of the Genesis 1:26-28 narrative. At first, there was just Adam. And Adam needed to have already the complete image of God because at that time, Adam was all there was to humanity. And when Eve was created, she also had the complete image of God because she was comparable to Adam. Furthermore, Genesis 1:27 already states that both men and women are in the image of God. Adam said about Eve:
"bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." (Genesis 2:23)
According to the Genesis narrative, Eve was taken from a rib and not from his soul. The soul was not divided in half. According to the Book of Legends, this represents modesty and temperance from both the man and woman. So, both man and woman had the completeness and fullness of God. And they do not need each other to be all that God wanted them to be. Due to the fallen sinful natures, both men and women now need Jesus for them to be all that God wants them to be. Paul of Tarsus wrote that we are
"according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love... to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19)
All we need to be complete and to be what God wants us to be is to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and to have faith in Him who rose from the dead so that every Christian "...may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God..." (Colossians 1:10)
Around 1:36 or 1:37, Chandler states that marriage is a mandate from God. What does he mean "a mandate from God"? I see one verse where he could gather that interpretation, but that particular word has an entirely different meaning in the New Testament. Yes, God told the man and woman, "Be fruitful and multiply," (Genesis 1:28) This does and can refer to marriage and children. Marriage was created and instituted in the Genesis creation narrative, and yet there are different ways in which people can be fruitful.
When Jesus who is celibate - and I know, that's shocking to some - preached on earth, He referenced fruit quite often as a result of the spirit. Later, His Apostles frequently discussed bearing fruit. And fruit in the New Testament had nothing to do with marriage or children except perhaps leading people to become Children of God through the rebirth of the spirit.
"He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one." (Mathew 13:37-38)
"every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear bad fruit." (Mathew 7:17-18)
"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit." (Mathew 12:33)
Fruit is simply any action, reaction, or interaction that a person takes within any given situation. Jesus is God. God gave the command "be fruitful and multiply." And so, we have in the New Testament, Jesus coming to earth to ensure the fulfillment of this command. There were plenty of families and children, but the fruit was still bad because their souls were bad.
"fruit of the Spirit..." (Galatians 5:22) is the fruit that every Christian should bear. Hebrews 12:11 and James 3:18 speaks of the fruit of righteousness, and every Christian should be fruitful. Being fruitful here refers to compassion, mercy, and justice. Jesus came to sow seeds within our souls so that we can bear these fruits. Be fruitful and multiply applies to the reaching people with the gospel. This is what Jesus did, and this is what all his Apostles did. All of His followers, His believers, all those whose souls were purified are the fruits of Christ. And thus, He sowed seeds of holiness, bore fruit, and multiplied righteousness. This does fulfill the command "be fruitful and multiply."
There is nothing sinful in marriage. Paul wrote "even if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a [woman] marries, she has not sinned," (1 Corinthians 7:28), but marriage is not a mandate from God for every man and woman. Some men and woman are called to marriage, and some to a life of celibacy.
"as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches." (1 Corinthians 7:17)
The video was posted in 2011 from a 2007 sermon. I hope that he has developed a more nuanced view of marriage and celibacy since then. I enjoyed his sermon at Orange Code Revival a year or two ago. The video continues to receive YouTube comments. For some people, marriage can be a distraction away from serving God. Once we have our sights on God, are filled with the completeness of God, listen to what God wants more than what we want or what the world wants, then we will live fruitful and fulfilling lives. The focus should always be on God, even within a married couple.
"I want you to be without care. he who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord - how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world - how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world - how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction." (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)
Keep the focus on God, and everything else will fit into place. Stop demanding that people marry. Keep the focus on God so that if God wants them to marry, then they will marry. Demanding that people marry only creates more problems because it resolves nothing. Marriage is a broken and damaged institution.
Demanding that more people enter this institution will create more brokenness and more damage. Focus on God and focus on fixing the marriages that already exist. Teach people how to follow the example of Christ and how to lead godly lives. Keeping the focus on God would fix a lot of problems. The focus should always be on God first and foremost for both married couples and for single individuals.