Calvin on Sexual Temptation
We had a great theology pub on Monday night. The topic of discussion was John Calvin: What’s good about Calvin? What’s bad? What do we need to learn from Calvin for today?
Speaking of Calvin, I continue to be impressed by how he displays common sense where some may choose to be a little less practical. Take this section on the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Calvin challenges those who choose to stay unmarried, figuring that they can handle the sexual temptation:
And let no man tell me (as many in the present day do) that he can do all things, God helping! The help of God is present with those only who walk in his ways (Ps. 91:14), that is, in his callings from which all withdraw themselves who, omitting the remedies provided by God, vainly and presumptuously strive to struggle with and surmount their natural feelings. That continence is a special gift from God, and of the class of those which are not bestowed indiscriminately on the whole body of the Church, but only on a few of its members, our Lord affirms (Mt. 19:12).
In other words, unless God has given you the gift of celibacy, don’t deliberately delay marriage thinking you can handle sexual temptation. You won’t succeed, even if you’re counting on God’s help. Very wise – but not what I would have expected from reading Calvin!