I want to continue today to respond to a message from Al Mohler. I’m using several posts for this because I believe that a lot of what Mohler is saying is representative of the kind of things that church leaders believe and teach. It’s not a Mohler problem. It’s our problem. To his credit – at least he flat out says it.
We’ve talked previously of the idea that our walk with Jesus is seen through the lens of marriage mainly and how that makes the nuclear family an idol as well as how using young men as the scapegoat of our society is not right and obviously not working.
Today I want to address a smaller part of Mohler’s statement that leads to total confusion and frustration in the Church’s singles.
Here it is,
“Young men and women should not delay marriage until it is convenient for them to take a spouse but should actively seek the mate God has chosen for them”
Now to be honest, I agree with part of this. Although I would back up several steps. The first question needs to be, do I feel like God is calling me to serve him from a context of celibacy or from one of marriage. I’m not going to say a lot here as this is not a post about celibacy. But there are those who for various reasons and callings end up following Jesus in a lifetime of being unmarried. This is a part of the Kingdom and one that should be pursued by those called and honored by the Church at large.
If one is not called to that, then I do agree that sooner rather than later, we should look for a spouse. This only makes sense. But here is the problem with the above statement. The idea that you have to find the one God has for you.
Nowhere in scripture does it say that we have a Christian Soulmate as it were. In fact the scripture says the opposite. Jesus says that we will not be married in heaven. You and I will spend eternity unmarried. Beyond that, no where does the scripture say to go and find this exact one person that God has for you.
Paul does not say, “Go and find your wife.” He says “Go get married.” This idea of “The One God Has For You” is bad on many levels.
First it can be an excuse on our end and a part of the problem of delayed marriage that Molher is complaining about. “I went out with her for a year but she just wasn’t the one”. “No one has asked me out, so I guess God just hasn’t sent me the one yet.” In other words it can lead to inaction. I don’t have to do anything, after all God has the one for me.
Secondly it’s used as a spiritual platitude to “comfort” people. “Don’t worry, He wasn’t the one.” “God is preparing someone just for you.” “God is in charge. He’ll show you the right one at the exact right time.” Essentially we take what I would call bad Calvinism combined with Oprah/”help you sleep at night” theology to explain why you aren’t married yet.
Third and maybe worst of all, it puts an inordinate amount of pressure on everyone. There are some who would basically say don’t go on a date with someone unless you think they could be “the one”. It can lead to not giving someone a chance. It can lead to staying in relationships we shouldn’t because we are convinced they are the one, or bailing too early because we can’t be sure that they are. The idea of the one also creates a sense of the perfect person or at least the perfect one for me. After all God would want the best for me right? And He would surely bring the perfect for me person.
The most frustrating thing about this message is that I have to go out and search and work to find this one. So it’s not enough to go find someone that is godly that I can marry, I’m looking for this Christian Romance Novel person who God has for me.
No where in scripture are we promised The One. As I’ve said here many times this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t bring people into our lives. I believe that He does. I believe that as we walk with Him, He can lead us to someone to marry. But marriage is a choice. “The one” is the one that you choose to marry. We are searching for a one not “the one”. It’s not just semantics. How we see this affects how we go about it.
Telling people called to marriage to go and seek a spouse is good. Telling people who are called to marriage to go and find THE ONE™ is counterproductive and confusing at best, and unbiblical and paralyzing at worst.
Your points are pretty much all spot on, so I’ll just say I agree with every point you made with one possible caveat, which is that I’ve seen Christian after Christian find someone to marry who seems really great for them, so in effect, it seems God led them to “the one,” and I’m using that particular phrase, because in a lot of the cases, the individuals weren’t what I would consider very attractive, but they still didn’t have to search far and wide for a spouse or spend years on end doing it like some of us have had to do. Instead, it seems that God intervened for them early on in their adult lives, since they found someone they loved who loved them back, despite their flaws.
Of course, this just goes back to what you mentioned about God bringing people together, and it’s true that it’s really better to view it that way, as the concept of “the one” can cause us to have the wrong mindset, which can cause us to take the incorrect actions you mentioned. To use your Calvinism parallel, we don’t know whether or not someone’s “the one” any more than we know if someone is one of “the elect,” so I don’t find it particularly relevant or beneficial to emphasize the concept of “the one” or “the elect.”
Paul mentions that a single man is concerned about serving God instead of a wife, but I think singleness and its accompanying loneliness burden my spiritual life much more than being married would, at least if I were married to someone with the right qualities, which would hopefully, be the kind of person God would bring me to.
I really don’t know what to do about finding a wife, and I’m not getting any younger. At 36, I’m already well above most younger women’s preferred age range, and “getting jacked” or making six figures, both of which I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to achieve for years and years, aren’t happening anytime soon.
I visit churches and don’t even see single women, let alone “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful” ones like that one pastor mentioned (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/05/11/christian-pastor-says-men-who-play-video-games-are-losers-possessed-by-a-retarded-spirit/). I definitely don’t see the ratio skewed towards there being more women than men in church like I see mentioned all over the place either.
I saw several men sitting by themselves and no women doing the same at the 11:00 AM church service I attended last week. There were probably 150 to 200 people there overall. Maybe the single women go to the 9:00 AM service. That was the first time I visited that church, and I don’t plan to go back. I don’t know where I’ll visit tomorrow.
I’ve been “born again” now for almost six years, attending church for almost eight. I have not seen one wedding, engagement, or relationship start in my local church. Mind you, we’re not that big; however I am friends with a few solid men who go to the mega-church down the street and the large AG church in mid-town. Same thing there. The pastor from the AG church told me off-hand three months ago while I was at his church’s Tuesday night “men’s fellowship” that he had not “performed a wedding ceremony in seven years, it broke his heart.”
And his church has around 1,000 people a week attending. I am quite positive that every single man there does not live in “mommy’s basement playing video games all day” and I am pretty sure that all the single women there do not have “contentious spirits and are perpetual nags”
I have an accountability and prayer partner (a Catholic priest from the local Catholic Charities Parish nearby. We’re about the same age….mid forties). We meet monthly. There are similar issues concerning these matters in the Catholic side of the equation as well.
We have a VERY broken system here in these matters in our churches. It’s across the board. Large and small. All denominations. Across the country….not just in California.
I see mostly “hard talk” about it which blames men and excuses women. I see outright “theological” errors being purported as truth from the pulpit. I see a lot of “bold n’ tough” talk from many pastors and other theologians…….but little inspiration or action. There are conferences, workshops, bold plans, and all these “tools” out there today to “make men bold for Christ” and to “man up” (ughhhhhhhhhh, I despise this phrase).
Yet we’re still at zero or barely stepping on square one.
Since I am not married, not endeared, not liked by many lukewarm Christians, and I really don’t care what people think, and nothing they are suggesting is working….I figure my opinion carries as much weight…………
God isn’t an American
I lived in India before I knew Christ for eight months in the late 1990’s, and I saw these Christians walking MILES under the hot sun to a church with no air conditioning. Many were barefoot. Many were probably going to get their only meal for the day at church. Modest at that I am sure. Husbands and wives held hands while they walked. Children played and sang and tumbled along.They were smiling, looking out for each other……staying together as a group…….they had community, a deep faith and a conviction to follow Jesus and obey God. They smiled, many were singing loudly and proudly as well.
Even at THAT time…..and I was no saint, and I was a terrible wretched sinner with pride and not an ounce of repentance in me…..EVEN then I thought “Heck, if Christians actually behaved like that in the USA…..I might give the church a shot”
Contrast with the USA……….
In the USA, all these married Christian Indian men were failing their wives and families miserably. They could not provide a car, a horse, a mule, an ox for their “precious princess of a wife” for the to ride to church. They were failing because they got married when they could not find a “real job” to be a “provider” for their children. They failed as husbands by our standard because they could not even provide shoes for their children. They missed the mark because they were going to church to get a meal for their family, and that’s not being a “real man” because a real man has to provide Starbucks and breakfast-out for his family before or after church…didn’t you know that? These men obviously had zero business being married because they could not make their wives have the newest sari, or afford a vacation. Many of these men by our standard were obviously “stupid” for getting married before going to college, or getting a good, high paying job. Heck these men were not even bold enough to have a modern church. Their church? They met under an awning with one electric light, and an electric fan that they all pitched in for……….they are supposed to follow the pastor’s vision and “reach out” with a new facility right? Hymns????? No organ? No rock band or “bollywood-styled” music????????? No ‘baby care’ or nursery for the babies? What kind of men are these Christians????? They don’t care about babies and children like Jesus does!
This is a START of an exhaustive contrast.
Want to know marriage is on the decline in the USA? We would rather follow our idols, our whims, our crass materialism, careerism, keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s, comparing ourselves to other, jealously and good ol’ ENTITLEMENT.
We ought to follow God ONLY and maybe when we do, and have Him be the Lord God of our WHLE life instead of just on Sunday or for what we want (men and women) maybe we’ll be blessed with marriage again as a whole in the church today.
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