To often celibacy in the Church has been considered a higher holiness than marriage and even in some cases, sex is considered to be either some unholy practice, or just simply an activity that is just a base instinct that is to be ignored.
In some cases however, such as Roman Catholic priesthood, celibacy may be a requirement, but not of the lay folk.
Celibacy does have positive benefits when it is NOT forced on the individual person. Sometimes celibacy allows for full dedication to YHWH, but this doesn't mean that an individual cannot marry. Quite to the contrary, marriage is holy and of course I mean biblical marriage and not referring to same sex marriages, which are NO marriage at all, much like how marrying a bridge, a country or your pet is NO marriage at all.
Bestiality, Homosexuality, Incest, Pedophilia and other sins cannot be the foundation of a true marriage, nor are they the foundation of such. Biblical marriage entails a man leaving his parents and clinging to his wife, in holy matrimony and God blesses such a marriage.
Christians recognise that marriage does NOT allow for the possibility of marrying unbelievers and that if one is to marry, they are to marry someone already in the faith.
"1 Corinthians 7:39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God."
Just like in the OT the Jews were not allowed to take pagans for marriage, the same goes for Christians with respect to non-Christians and heretics.
"2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[b]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”[c]
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”[d]
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”[e]"
Heading back to 1 Corinthians we read:
"25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."
While Paul is not against marriage, nor condemning marriage, he does make the point that those who are unmarried may have their attention given to the Lord wholeheartedly, but also he does go on to say there will be trials and tribulations should they marry, persecution for the sake of Christ is also included and there is a possible scenario where a family member is threatened to be killed unless their spouse renounces their faith in Jesus. It is possible that Paul doesn't wish for any, to be in that particular scenario.
Jesus also makes a point about those are celibate for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus in Matthew 19 is speaking to the Pharisees on the issue of
marriage, what it is and the subject of divorce. In verse 12, he is
speaking about those who for the sake of focusing on the Kingdom of God,
do not focus on Marriage but rather on giving the Gospel to the
nations. While there is nothing wrong with marriage, those who do may
face having to see their family persecuted or killed if they are
Christians as mentioned before:
"Matthew 19:10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”".
Only certain individuals however are to live this way, if God has taken them for a purpose.
Rabbinic Jews try to argue that Jesus sinned in this passage, due to supposedly violating Genesis 1:28. However, this is not the case.
While marriage is something that God has blessed the human race with, Genesis 1:28 speaks of filling the earth. I think with 7 billion people at the time this article was penned shows that the earth is quite full, even in the times of the TANAKH there were many nations after the time of Noah. This is not a command to be married, although marriage is part of being fruitful and multiply, considering fornication is out of the question. What do I mean? There is a command to marry and have kids, but because of the fact there are many on this planet after being fruitful, this command is not obligatory and marriage is an option. Considering the fact that in the time of Jesus you already had many on the earth, he is not violating this command by being celibate. The earth was already filled in his day.
"Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”"
An example of Old Testament celibacy can be given with Jeremiah himself. In fact God even told him NOT to waste his time marrying the daughters of Israel because the disaster that was approaching:
"16 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.” 3 For this is what the Lord says about the sons and daughters born in this land and about the women who are their mothers and the men who are their fathers: 4 “They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like dung lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.”"
Considering Jeremiah was commanded to be celibate in a given context and Jesus was talking about being celibate in a given context. Genesis 1:28 doesn't condemn Jesus or Jeremiah, but if one want to say it does condemn Jesus because of celibacy, then reject Jeremiah as well, if one are going to be consistent.
The fact remains that due to the earth being already filled as it is, it is still not a command for marriage for all people, my point stands. Furthermore, even if one wants to argue Jeremiah did it in a specific time and place for the purpose of a mission, Jesus had a mission to accomplish, he didn't have the time to settle down, nor was it the reason he came to earth. If anyone wants to argue that Jesus was violating Genesis 1:28, the individuals who raise this point are stuck with the fact that Jeremiah, despite not having children, EVEN IN a specific place, they would have to toss Jeremiah out.
While there are scenarios that celibacy is allowed, Celibacy is NOT to be forced on anyone, a vow of celibacy included. There is one reason why and Paul gives us that reason in the context of his first letter to Timothy:
"4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."
While under the OT it was holy and good for the people of God to abstain from certain foods, Gentiles are released from this under the New Covenant, contrary to what some Messianic groups and Seventh Day Adventists would have you believe:
Read the following paper on this issue:
Marriage is a holy vocation and good, it should not be forbidden to anyone, even if there is a good motive behind it. Celibacy is not a higher holiness than marriage, both can be regarded as holy to the Lord, each to his own I say. HOWEVER.....
There is NO biblical precedent for imposing a vow of celibacy on any elder of a church. The Romanist has NO excuse to justify forbidding biblical marriage to anyone, even if there is an intention or motive that is altruistic.
If you want to be celibate, fine, if you want to be married, that is fine. if the Lord has called you to one of those vocations, wonderful, but the bottom line is... Forbidding biblical marriage is a doctrine of demons.