Locker Room Dialogue: Matthew 19:10-12
“10) The disciples *said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” 11) But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12) For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”” Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭10‬-‭12
This text is directly connected to the interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees about divorce and remarriage in the previous seven verses. These verses need to be studied together.
There are two common interpretations of these three verses. The first one suggests the disciples were saying to Jesus; “If marriage conflicts are so common and serious that so many marriages fall apart, its better to not marry and remain single.” That’s a common view today, but the Bible makes no provision for living together outside of marriage. The Bible calls that “fornication.”
To the above view, Jesus might have been saying; “Being single is not for everyone.” This view looks back at Gods commentary about Adam; “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Jesus was acknowledging that He created people with a huge capacity for romance, companionship and intimacy.
The second view held by many notable scholars believes the disciples were saying the opposite. They see the disciples saying to Jesus; “If marriage is permanent and there is no way out of a bad marriage, then it is better not to marry than to be sentenced to endure a life of misery.” The response of Jesus to this line of reasoning might have been; “not all men are cut out for marriage.” (Women, did you hear that?)
I find both of these views to be intriguing and have merit in the context. Either way, Jesus was saying that marriage is a huge undertaking. It comes with the responsibility to provide not only for a wife, but most likely also for children and extended family. When a man says “I do”; he enters into a life changing covenant to “focus on the family.”
Jesus was by no means saying that being single was a bad thing. He was merely acknowledging that “being single” and “being holy” is very challenging. Being single is not a ticket to sexual freedom and a life of wanton pleasure for the Christian. By no means!
1 Corinthians 7:25-36 presented this case in the strongest of terms. In these verses, Paul says that God calls Christian singles to holiness and undistracted focus to the Lord. Because they have no distractions from other responsibilities in this life, they can be 100% devoted to serving Christ.
But wait just a minute; Paul opened 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 by saying if a Christian single cannot live a chaste and holy life, they should marry rather than burn with sexual temptations. Marriage was designed to be a safe place for sexual fulfillment.
We are now forced to look at the deeper context surrounding Matthew 19:10-12. Ask yourself the question; “Who was in this conversation?” Bingo! Both Jesus and His disciples were mostly unmarried men. Peter was the only one in the group that we can conclusively say was married at this time. Insight: “This was a discussion mostly among young bachelors.”
Jesus used this occasion to have a serious intermission discussion with His disciples about the commitments that come with marriage and manhood. Many Christian singles need this sobering “Locker Room Dialogue” today.
I may be a bit old school, but I believe in the full context of Matthew 19:3-12, Jesus was placing more responsibility on the husband than on the wife for the success and happiness of the marriage. He was saying that husbands need to step up and commit to their marriage and family. Marriage is not a casual commitment. It must be taken seriously!
His comments in Matthew 19:12 about eunuchs can in no way be construed as a call to celibacy. Jesus acknowledged that this lifestyle was commendable but not mandatory for Christian ministry or service.
I have a motto in life that says; “Wherever you are, be there!” If you are serving God as a single man or woman; be there! If you are married; be there! If you go on a short term mission trip; be there! If you have a job or career; be there! Live every moment in the now; be there! When you are with your family; “be there! When you read your Bible; be there! When you go to church; “be there!” When you worship God; be there! When you go on a vacation; “be there!” The conversation between Jesus and His disciples about marriage boiled down to the commitment to fully “be there!”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global