Monday, September 06, 2004

Theological Foray #13 (I Think...): Yielding, Girls, and Mawwiage

So with all this talk about yielding lately, don't you think that you need to sacrifice everything, and that holding one thing back is a recipe for disaster?

Yes, actually. Whether you're holding back from God in one area or in all of them, the point is that you're still putting your will above God's. However, let's clarify: it's not so much that you need to actually sacrifice everything, but rather that you need to be willing to do so. Abraham was absolutely willing to sacrifice Isaac, but God chose to give Isaac back. On the other hand, Jephthah had to sacrifice his only daughter (Judges 11:29-40), and all of the apostles except John were executed.

Well, do you agree that if we're responsible to anyone or anything except God, it prevents us from serving Him?

Well, we can't serve two masters.

And, Paul says that he thinks that it's better for believers not to marry. After all, if your wife or children need help, then your efforts are going towards helping towards believers, rather than witnessing to unbelievers, right? Though all believers will be Saved, it sure seems as though those who truly want to be His and to serve Him need to be willing to sacrifice the possibility of getting married so that they may fully serve.

I see your logic. That's probably the reason why the Roman Catholic Church refuses to allow its priests to marry. It's certainly true that you miss out on a lot of opportunities to minister if you're obligated to your wife and children, rather than simply yourself.

Christ Himself even says that we must hate our parents and our siblings to follow Him. QED.

Hold up just a moment. You've made a good argument so far, but let's not forget that God instituted marriage before the Fall of Man. He also even commands it at certain points, as when he told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute. Marriage is even a model used to explain our relationship with God, using the Church as the bride of Christ.

Okay, so we've got a problem then. We're constrained if we marry, yet we also know that God approves of marriage and even commands it at times. Work your way out of this one.

Well, just as it says in Ecclesiastes, there's a time for everything. Let's look at the example of the Deacon Philip. It seems to be the case that he was single when he'd fled from Jerusalem and ended up meeting the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39). I have a hard time imagining him having the ability to be in such a position had been wed. However, when we run across Philip again, he's playing host in Caesarea to Paul on his trip to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8-9), and he's got a wife and four prophetess daughters. Clearly, Philip's marriage was required for this to occur. God uses us differently at different times. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that no matter what choice we make, we're eliminating a whole host of other opportunities from consideration. If I decide to spend an hour reading my Bible, that's an hour when I'm not, say, serving soup to the homeless. Likewise, if I spend time taking my kids to a baseball game, that's time when we're not serving others.

That sounds pretty selfish to me.

At first, it does. However, ministry doesn't always have to be active. For some people, simply seeing a loving marriage that works is a huge encouragement. Single people, while free in many regards, are also limited in others. If I have a married friend who's having trouble with his wife, what do I as a single man know to help him out? There's also a bit of a cultural bias against single people at a certain point. It's one thing for a married guy to coach a team or mentor a child, but if the guy is single then people often think that there's something wrong with him, and that he may even be a pedophile. Whenever you go down one path, some opportunities are opened and others are closed forever. The question, to me, seems to be "What does God have in mind?" I hope to be single as long as it is His will, and married as soon (assuming "if," of course) as His will dictates it. And, there's no point in rushing things. Not only do you risk marrying the wrong person, at the wrong time, or laying a poor foundation for your life together, but you're also distracted from doing God's work. We as Christians seek to do all that is commanded of us, but how will it be on our wedding day to realize that so many of the things God had appointed for us to do while single never got done? Speaking for me personally, I'm in no rush. If I get married before I'm thirty, I'll still probably be ahead of my family's average. And, more importantly, I'm seeing God working a lot in my life right now, in areas where I would have no or diminished effectiveness if I were married. God has a plan for each of us; worrying solves nothing.

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