Do Jesus’ words found at Matthew 19:10-12 suggest that those who choose to remain single have received the gift of singleness in a mysterious way?
Consider the setting in which Jesus made his remarks on singleness. When Pharisees came to him and brought up the subject of divorce, Jesus made clear Jehovah’s standard for marriage. While the Law allowed a man to write out a certificate of divorce for his wife in case he discovered “something indecent” in her, this was not the case from the beginning. (Deut. 24:1, 2) Then Jesus stated: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.”
On hearing this, the disciples declared: “If such is the situation of a man with his wife, it is not advisable to marry.” In reply, Jesus said: “Not all men make room for the saying, but only those who have the gift. For there are eunuchs that were born such from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs that were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs that have made themselves eunuchs on account of the kingdom of the heavens. Let him that can make room for it make room for it.”
Literal eunuchs were those who were born such because of birth defects or who were made that way by accident or mutilation. However, there were also those who freely made themselves eunuchs. Though eligible for marriage, they exercised self-control and remained single “on account of the kingdom of the heavens.” Like Jesus, they chose the state of singleness so that they could devote themselves to Kingdom service. They were neither born with the gift of singleness nor granted such a gift. They actually made room for it. That is, they deliberately acquired the gift.
Building upon what Jesus said, the apostle Paul explained that while all Christians
Thus, the Scriptures tell us that a Christian does not receive the gift of singleness in some mysterious way. Rather, he cultivates it by remaining unmarried so as to advance Kingdom interests without distraction. Many today have resolved in their heart to stay single for this reason, and others do well to be a source of encouragement to them.