The New Testament says that spiritual gifts are determined and given by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11).
And yet we are also told to ‘eagerly desire the greater gifts’ (1 Cor. 12:31).
So gifts are given by God, but they are also to be desired and received by us. It’s a two-way operation.
So in that case, all spiritual gifts – healing, prophecy, tongues, intercession … and other gifts too – must surely be for anyone. They’re available to us all, if we so desire them.
I have found myself desiring particular spiritual gifts at different times throughout my Christian life; and then, some when down the line, I’ve been surprised to find that I’m using them! I’m sure God awakes in us the desire for certain gifts and that process is all part of him giving them to us.
It’s similar with the gift of celibacy.
Perhaps we find ourselves longing to give everything for the kingdom of God, longing for a close walk with God, longing to be like some of the celibates that we see around us, longing to be more fruitful. God awakes a longing in our heart for the things which celibacy embodies and – for those that dare – this is all part of receiving the gift. So in that sense, celibacy is for anyone. Although many will not choose it or receive it, it is available, even offered, to all.
Jesus said that only those to whom it had been given could accept that it’s better not to marry; but then he also said in the same breath that some would make themselves eunuchs (choose to stay single) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:10-12). So there’s a receiving of a gift in celibacy, but there’s also a very definite making of oneself celibate.
It would be wrong to say that celibacy is supposed to be for everyone – the Apostle Paul himself says that it is wrong to forbid people to marry (1 Tim. 4:1-4). However, I think it is right to say that it can be for anyone, whatever their age, race, sexual orientation, abilities or background.
The gift of celibacy is not for some kind of gifted, higher-class elite, but it’s open to be received, and enjoyed, by all.
Let me know what you think in the comments.