Celibacy, Hospitality, and Church Leadership

What is “Church Leadership?” What does it even mean?

Why do so many (at least in Evangelical circles of various denominations) consider lifelong dedicated celibacy so lowly? Why is it something almost no one considers, while marriage is lauded everywhere? Why is it something no one sees and no one is encouraged to consider?

Maybe the two questions are related? Maybe “Church Leadership” and celibacy, though not identical, should often be seen together?

What if “Church Leadership” is more than preaching sermons and getting to know “church members” and “counseling” people? What if “Church Leadership” should mean being an example to both the brethren and those who do not yet believe? What if, anyone who isn’t so, is by definition not a “Church Leader?”

I’ve heard pastors preach sermons about how much they and their congregations do not engage in real hospitality – not the entertaining of their neighbors and friends, but inviting those who cannot repay them, strangers, the homeless, and such, into their homes, and that they should. But I do not see them doing it. Why not? Why do they not do so?i

This business of hospitality is easier if one is celibate – if one has no spouse or children who rely on one, then such hospitality will not interfere with the needs of one’s spouse and children. Those for whom one cares can neither take time or resources the spouse and children need, nor can they threaten or bring harm to the spouse and children – since they do not exist.

What of life in a hostile society or government? If one has a spouse and children, one will be considering their needs. If one has not, then one does not have those ties. One may care for others when such care may bring a prison or death sentence without thinking about whether this conflicts with one’s duty to care for one’s spouse and children. If one’s house is raided, if this is not done during the time of a Church meeting, only oneself will be found – and perhaps whatever strangers or homeless or others to whom one is showing hospitality.

What of preaching the Gospel in this environment? If one has a spouse and children, one’s imprisonment or death will prevent one from taking care of them. If one has not, one has not this issue: one’s primary care to the Church and to the world is that of witness – that which is perfected in martyrdom. So many concerns do not belong to one.

If one is celibate, one does not need to take care of a family, which means one will have more time and resources for prayer or for other endeavors related to ministry.

I am not saying that no one is called both to these things I have mentioned above, which are made simpler and easier by celibacy, and to marriage: God is to be trusted: we can rely on Him in any ways and all ways: He is Almighty, and knows best how to care for each of us. If you have been called to such a thing: do not fear! God knows the needs of your loved ones better than you. He can protect them quite easily from those things which seem like harm to you: it is nothing to Him to do so, to make the secret police simply forget that you have a family, to make that rowdy character polite to your wife, to provide whatever is wanted whenever it is wanted: all these are easy for Him to do. He does not need you to care for your family. However, if you think you are called both to some kind of such “Church Leadership” or “Ministry” and to marriage, especially if the idea of voluntary, chosen, dedicated celibacy has never occurred or been exposed to you, please consider whether you are called to marriage at all, or whether you only think you are, because you’ve been raised in a context that assumes marriage is for most everyone.


Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale

i I really do wonder why any real attempt at hospitality is so rare among many Christians in America: do they want to take out their dislike for American policies on foreigners and the homeless, instead of trusting that God is in control of everything, and loving those around them as He intended? Are they unwilling to obey Him lest one obedience lead to another, and something which they imagine they will hate befall them? Are they just playing a game of make-believe where they pretend to be Christians but never seriously intend to follow Jesus? It certainly makes me wonder what is going on when people talk about how they really should be doing something, and then don’t even look for opportunities to do it – it wouldn’t be that hard. Do they enjoy talking about how they’re not doing what they should be? Do they enjoy talking about how what God asks is too hard? But, then, I’ve heard people talk about how little their difficulties in being Christian in America are, and how they need to get out of their “safe bubbles” only to talk, a few minutes later, about how hard some trivialty is, like changing the place or time of their meeting. Once again I wonder: are so many of these people who claim the Name not persecuted because they refuse it? Because they bow to the Enemy, everywhere where it really matters, and put up just enough resistance to some societal or cultural trend here or there to make believe that they aren’t completely compromised – traitors through and through, or perhaps spies?

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