Given the central motif of marriage throughout the Bible (between God and Israel, Christ and the Church, etc.), not to mention the original purpose of women–to be a companion of men–why do both Jesus and Apostle Paul sanction celibacy as even greater than marriage?
Verses that support this view:
1st Corinthians 7:8-9
1st Corinthians 7:27
1st Corinthians 7:32-35
1st Corinthians 7:38
I am interested in your educated perspective on this.
The New Testament is composed of four rather brief treatises on the life of Jesus and a few letters by the early apostles written to the various churches, mostly with the intent of correcting the false doctrine that was creeping into the early church. After the apostles were all put to death the doctrines continued to change and degrade until the apostasy was complete and the church that Christ organized ceased to exist. Since that time men have attempted to construct the gospel of Jesus Christ from those few letters and the four gospels. This of course has been an impossible task, resulting in hundreds of denominations all citing the same source for the various doctrines that have been devised from that meager source. The New Testament was never designed as a doctrinal compendium, although until the restoration of the gospel that was the only source that existed.
At the appropriate time of the Lord His true and living Church was restored to the earth, and the true doctrine was revealed by God in its fullness through the prophets and apostles that He called to preside over the Church. So a full understanding of any early doctrine cannot be gleaned from the Bible alone, but needs the added information available from modern revelation for its full understanding.
From the references you cite it would be logical to conclude that both Jesus and Paul favored celibacy over marriage, although they both state that marriage is an honorable institution.
When Paul states that others should be as he is, we don’t know how he was. What was the nature of his affliction that he sometimes referred to? That information could shed additional light on the statements that he made concerning marriage. Further, the references you cite cannot be judged by themselves, at the exclusion of other recorded statements of both Jesus and Paul. If Paul really thought that celibacy was preferable to marriage, how could you rationalize his statement in 1 Cor. 11:11—
Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord,
and his marriage counsel given in Eph 5:33—
Let every one of you love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Now we come to a more profound aspect of the gospel that is key to the sanctity of marriage and its predominance over celibacy. The highest saving ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the ordinance of eternal marriage. We learn the following from modern day scripture—
In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase (D&C 131:1-4).
Although the Savior was perfect and therefore needed no baptism to wash away sin, yet He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness—
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him (Matt 3:13-15)
If baptism was required by the Savior to fulfilling all righteousness, it would be absolutely essential for the Savior to have also entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage, as it was and is a requirement for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. The meager scriptures that comprise the New Testament do not explicitly state that Jesus was married, but the fact that he was married can easily be deduces from what those early scriptures do contain. Contemplate the wedding at Cana. It was the mother of Jesus who was concerned because they had run out of wine and reported the fault to Jesus. If Mary and Jesus had been guests at the wedding that discrepancy would have been none of her business, and indeed improper for her to have taken measures to rectify it. The apostles and prophets of the Lord in today’s Church aver that the wedding at Cana, reported by John, was the marriage of Jesus Himself. He was the bridegroom, and his wives at that wedding were probably the two Marys and Martha.