Daily Devotion for August 8, 2012
Interior of Antwerp Cathedral by Pieter Neeffs, c. 1650
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Faith Hill really hits the mark with this live rendition of "Peace in the Valley".
Prayer for the Morning (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me. In Jesus' name, I pray.
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the saints.
For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord?
Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?
1 Corinthians 7:32-40 (ESV)
The Unmarried and Widowed 
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.
I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry — it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.
A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
Notes on the Scripture
Paul continues at length the point he began in yesterday's devotional, that it is perfectly acceptable for Christ's saints to be married. But he retracts a little bit today, for he says that, although there is no sin in being married, and a person who marries "does well". But now, he admits, a person who is able to remain chaste in Christ's service "will do even better."
Christianity tends to be a bit prudish sometimes, but it is not this prudishness that underlies Paul's teaching; he is all in favor of sex, and even tells husbands and wives that they have a duty to satisfy one another's needs. (1 Corinthians 7:1-6) Rather, it is simply a matter of how one spends one's time. Married people have a spouse to worry about, and more often than not children. Having a family takes up time.
And, one must say, the most devout workers for Christ seem to remain unmarried. Vows of chastity are nearly universal among monks and nuns. Some churches require it of their leaders: Catholicism requires all clergy to remain unmarried. Some (primarily Orthodox) churches have a two-tiered approach; in the Russian Orthodox Church, priests may marry, but only the unmarried may rise to higher positions, e.g. bishoprics. Celibacy for priests is not a Biblical requirement, but rather a matter of church discipline and choice, for Paul himself taught that "A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife," in 1 Timothy.
Celibacy was a pressure point of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church had been through a difficult period in the Renaissance, when bishops, cardinals and even popes would have a mistress (or several!) and illegitimate children. Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, had four children by one mistress whom he acknowledged openly, and at least two others by other women.
Thus, when Luther demanded the right to marry, although it left him open to accusations of less-than-complete devotion to Our Lord, he had ammunition to fire back at his critics — that he, at least, would marry the woman he slept with!
Chastity in God's service has become gradually harder and harder to find. Whether this is because fervor in the name of Christ's service is diminishing, or that social mores towards sex have become ever more lax, is difficult to say.