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Wednesday, February 15

Marriage as Idol

Oh! the gift of singleness. Some consider it a curse from God...and in so doing sin against the Lord.

What is interesting about being single, I wanted to remain single, yet I struggled with whether marriage was ‘in the cards’ for me. Did God want me to remain single for the rest of my life or have a family? This relates to previous posts I have regarding biblical decision-making [The Will of God and Counsel and The Will of God and Opportunity].

My understanding of marriage is affected by my understanding of Paul in 1 Cor 7.9 and the last days we are living in. Some people have taken (wrongly, I think) the command in the Garden “to be fruitful and multiply” and made it something that pertains to all people at all times. I think that those who are married (especially as Christians) should heed this command. However, there is a new economy, when it comes to marriage, in the New Covenant. Otherwise, why would Paul give a concession and desire that other people be single as he was?

I plan on working through “gift of singleness” in the future...but for now I want to deal with how marriage can be an idol.

The reason I even mentioned 1 Cor 7.9 has to do with the fact that I think as Christians we have bought into the notion that when God said, “It is not good for man to be alone...” we have assumed that he was referring to marriage. Thus, we have created a culture that is like an elite club - “marrieds“ get enveloped in the fold more readily than singles. The Singles ministries seem to be a little off in their focus - looking more like a 15-minute date party than a congregation of believers.

Because we have set ourselves up for such a world-view, we have made it very hard for someone to not feel left out, so to speak. That is, the goal of life is to get married, have kids, etc. This is not the goal.

The focus in the New Covenant seems to be on radical living in light of eternity. Marriage is not eternal, for neither are the angels married in heaven and we shall be like them in this regard (Matt 22.30). Being single means you are freed up to lay down your life for God’s flock and you don’t have to worry about a sizable life insurance policy to take of your survivors. Balance: Remember my last post...we must not be deceived by sin and become conceited in our hearts regarding marriage.

What does all this mean for a blog post (meaning, short and pithy)?

1) Well, as Christians we need to reconsider the language and paradigm that marriage is a fulfillment and obedience to God’s command and expression that it is good for man not be alone.
2) Our vocabulary needs to shift from speaking of marriage in the same categories pre-Christ and post-resurrection.
3) Singles must shift their focus off marriage as though it were the answer to their loneliness.
4) Instead, as Christians, we should be re-defining what it means to be single and married and live in community. In other, words we need to move our eyes off of relationships between men and women being for sexual fulfillment and more towards a brother and sister mindset.
5) At the same time, we must not negate the fact that God has called men and women to marry and have children. This is a tension, I admit, but one that we must live in and embrace in the last days.
6) Not view marriage as fulfillment of an individual life but as a propeller to more fruitful ministry. Expanding our influence for the Kingdom of God should be the mindset of the Christian. So when we consider marriage to an individual, we should firstly ask, “Will this marriage relationship further the Kingdom of God in the place and time that God has called me to?”

Comments on "Marriage as Idol"


Blogger Jason said ... (Thu Feb 16, 11:35:00 AM) : 

Looking forward to more posts on the call to singleness. I'm about 99% sure that this my calling. It breaks the girls hearts when they ask me out and I have to turn them down-- er, I mean... I'm just making that up.

Community is the essential factor, whether you get hitched and make seven or eight babies or take a vow of celibacy and live in community with like-minded people (of the same sex, of course).

And I do think taking a vow, either of marriage or celibacy, should be encouraged. You need to be absolutely committed to living out your relationship with God one way or the other when God has revealed that to you, and if that calling is singleness, it eliminates anything like "oh, this girl is pretty nice... maybe I am called to marriage after all..."


Blogger van.diesel said ... (Thu Feb 16, 02:18:00 PM) : 

Great post, Matt. Just as it is wrong to put undo emphasis on either sex (male or female) so it is with marriage/singleness. Different? Certainly. Better or worse? By no means. Again, great thoughts here, and we would do well - as singles or married folks - to consider this.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (Thu Oct 26, 08:54:00 PM) : 

"Being single means you are freed up to lay down your life for God’s flock and you don’t have to worry about a sizable life insurance policy to take of your survivors."

If everyone thought like you, there would no flock to worry about.

"Some people have taken (wrongly, I think) the command in the Garden “to be fruitful and multiply” and made it something that pertains to all people at all times"

Are you kidding?????????


Anonymous Alex Chediak said ... (Thu Oct 26, 09:02:00 PM) : 


I would grant that Paul acknowledges singleness as being strategically advantageous given the reality of a fallen world in which the kingdom of God is advancing (e.g., I Cor. 7:28b, 32). But in the context it is clear that not all have that gift (I Cor. 7:2,9). As a married man, I admire those truly gifted in this fashion (while acknowledging that I did not, and do not, have that gift).

So yes, being fruitful and multiplying doesn't apply to everyone. But neither should we conclude that simply being single means that one has "the gift." Some who are single should marry. And, yes, others should stay single. Though it be somewhat subjective, there are areas in a believer's life that others can look to in giving (fallible) advice. For example, someone who dates frequently probably does not have the gift of celibacy. I recently discussed this with Ligon Duncan. See also this exchange I had with Dr. Andreas Kostenberger (who responded with a comment to this open letter I wrote him).


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