159. Virginity is a form of love. As a sign, it speaks to us of the coming of the Kingdom and the need for complete devotion to the cause of the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor 7:32). It is also a reflection of the fullness of heaven, where "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mt 22:30). Saint Paul recommended virginity because he expected Jesus' imminent return and he wanted everyone to concentrate only on speading the Gospel: "the appointed time has grown very short" (1 Cor 7:29). Nonetheless, he made it clear that this was his personal opinion and preference (cf. 1 Cor 7:6-9), not something demanded by Christ: "I have no command in the Lord" (1 Cor 7:25). All the same, he recognized the value of the different callings: "Each has his or her own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another" (1 Cor 7:7). Reflecting on this, Saint John Paul II noted that the biblical texts "give no reason to assert the 'inferiority' of marriage, nor the 'superiority' of virginity or celibacy"166 based on sexual abstinence. Rather than speak absolutely of the superiority of virginity, it should be enough to point out that the different states of life complement one another, and consequently that some can be more perfect in one way and other in another. Alexander of Hales, for example, stated that in one sense marriage may be considered superior to the other sacraments, inasmuch as it symbolizes the great reality of "Christ's union with the Church, or the union of his divine and human natures".167
166 Catechesis (14 April 1982), 1: Insegnamenti V/1 (1982), 1176.
167 Glossa in quatuor libros sententiarum Petri Lombardi, IV, XXVI, 2 (Quaracchi, 1957, 446).
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