One of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately as I’ve been reading some scripture is idea of choice in the face of different contexts. The particular scripture that started this thought was 1 Peter 2:13-20. Here Peter instructs even servants to submit to their masters. . . even the bad ones.
Now obviously our culture and history has a lot of impact on how we read that. But Peter’s point isn’t that slavery is good. Or that unreasonable masters are ok. The point is that regardless of my circumstances and context, I’m called to act as Christ would. Peter and the early Church Fathers backed this up with their lives. They actually did endure extreme injustice with joy. In reading their writings, and writings about them, you can’t really help but be amazed by it all.
This is true for every area of our lives of course. Our income level, our job, what country and situation we live in. But for the sake of this blog it also relates to singleness, dating and marriage.
Here’s the reality: we always have choices. In fact in our western culture we have more choices when it comes to marriage and singleness than any civilization in history and it’s not particularly close.
One of the things I remember being told when I was younger was that who I married would be the second biggest decision in my life (the first being whether or not I gave my life to Jesus). There is some real truth to that.
The truth is that the decision to get married, and certainly who you decide to marry, will impact your life in a huge way. But as I’ve written before it’s not just a one time decision but instead a decision that leads to lots of others.
One of the problems in our culture, both overall and Christian culture, is that we often simultaneously act as if we don’t have choices and that we shouldn’t have to face the consequences of our choices. Both of those are completely false. We always have choices and those choices always have consequences.
One of my favorite classes in college was economics. This was partly due to having one of the greatest most entertaining professors. A shout out to Dr Hamzee. He was outstanding! But one of the great lessons of economics is that of opportunity costs. That is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. This friends is a fact of life.
For most of history when it came to choosing a spouse there was actually very little choice. Most marriages were arranged and frankly the couple typically had very little to say about it. The opportunity cost was very low because alternatives weren’t an option.
Now however that has changed. The good news is that we both get to choose a spouse and be chosen by our spouse. That’s also the hard news. Some of us can’t get the people we choose to choose us. But, in spite of what we are often told by reformed romance proponents, we do indeed have choice.
But these choices have consequences. If I choose not to marry someone that has consequences.
Can we marry someone we aren’t “in love” with? Yes we could. Can we choose to wait for THE ONE? Yes we can. Can we choose to marry someone who doesn’t love Jesus? Yes we can. Can we give a person we aren’t sure we are attracted to a second or third date? Yes we could. Have most of us chosen to not pursue a relationship with someone who has most of the qualities that we say we want? Most of us have.
But it goes further than that. If we get married we then get to choose how we live married. We get to choose if we want to stay married or not, even when its really hard or we have no feeling of love for perhaps extended periods of time. We can choose to leave. We can choose to stay. Both have huge opportunity costs.
If we are choosing to not pursue relationships with otherwise qualified people that has costs. If we choose to pursue ungodly relationships with people that also has costs. If we aren’t chosen we still have choices. Will we be bitter? Will we close ourselves off? Will we ask hard questions about ourselves and let others speak into our weakness, wounds, and failures? Will we let God into it all? Who will we blame? Ourselves? The opposite sex? God?
If we are married we still have choices. Will I love my wife even though she is being disrespectful? Will I respect my husband even though he is not loving me well? Will I leave because I’m feeling unhappy? Will I engage in an affair emotionally or physically with someone else? Will I honor my vows?
One of the things that Jesus did is that he separated the Kingdom from the politics of power. This is a whole other post but it was truly revolutionary. The idea that there was something larger at play and that all of us could be a part of it regardless of station in life or current context. That’s not to say that I have to be content with my context. Heavens no. But it does mean that no matter what I have an opportunity to choose for the Kingdom.
And this bring it full circle back to Peter. At the end of the day, will I choose to follow Christ and the teachings of the scripture and the Church or not? Regardless of feelings, desires, circumstance, hurt, pain, and suffering? Whatever I choose will have consequences. There is always opportunity costs. But I always have a choice.