The Bible and Celibacy
Question: What does the Bible say about celibacy? Is it greater than marriage? What did Jesus and Paul teach on the subject?
Answer: Your general conclusion regarding what the Bible teaches is correct. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul regarded celibacy as a higher calling than marriage. However, this begs another question. WHY are some called of God to stay single while others are not?
Many men of faith in the Bible married. Some of these include Abraham, David, Noah, Isaiah, Peter, Job, Moses, Joseph and many others. Scriptures seems to indicate that those who choose celibacy (for whatever reason) include Daniel, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jesus Christ.
Part of the difference between those who serve and are married and those who live lives of celibacy is due to each person's sex drive. God knows humans (he did make us) and will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure (1Corinthians 10:13). Paul was aware of this, so although in 1Corinthians 7 he places the single state as being spiritually superior to the married state, he made it crystal clear it was not a sin to marry (1Corinthians 7:27 - 28).
According to Paul, it is not a sin to marry nor is the sex act itself within marriage a sin (1Corinthians 7:1 - 7). This last verse, as well as verse 2, helps explain why Paul said the married state was not a sin, but it was a lower spiritual state than remaining single. Interestingly enough, Jesus gave similar reasoning to the disciples when they questioned His condemnation of easy divorce laws.
Paul, in 1Corinthians 7, merely makes it clear that yes, indeed, those who are not able to receive Jesus' teaching on remaining single are not sinning when they marry to avoid burning with passion (1Corinthians 7:8 - 9).