One of the recent trends in that I see in much of Christian culture is the idea that marriage makes you holy or that the point of marriage is holiness. In fact, as you look back over the last few decades (if not centuries in Protestantism), you see some groups state that it is the path to holiness.
Some of this was a reaction to celibacy for the kingdom previously being seen as more holy than the domestic life. But I see this idea of marriage as the path to holiness all of the time and frankly it’s not helpful as it views the whole frame in the wrong way.
Here are a couple of ways that this plays out in our culture:
Many years ago when I was driving through Colorado Springs I saw a bumper sticker directed at Focus on the Family that said, “Focus On Your Own Family”. I thought it was sort of funny but I didn’t really give it a lot of thought. But the phrase sort of stayed with me. Whenever I’d see something from Focus I’d think about that sticker and smile.
But in thinking about it, this might actually be a good idea. Now to be clear, before I start, I like a lot of what Focus the organization does.* I’m not picking on them here. However, the Church’s focus on the nuclear family is a huge problem with far, far reaching implications.
In the very beginning when God created the first people, Adam and Eve, He created them with purpose. I like to say that God created us to be in relationship with Him, reflect Him and to represent Him. Instead he said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule . . .” He created us male and female in His image. We therefore reflect who he is in our very being. But we were also to go, to multiply, to fill the earth. Now this was based on our communal relationship with Him. This of course takes exactly one page in the bible before we mess it all up.
However, once we are reconciled to Jesus, he essentially gives us the same command. “Go and share the gospel and make disciples” In other words, go represent me in the world and multiply.
Here’s the truth I want to get at today. We are created, each of us, with the desire to multiply. Yes there is a biological aspect to that. Understand that God even created that desire. But there is more to it than that. There is something deeper. Something that knows that we are to multiply.
I have a confession. For a long time, I thought the way to fix things was simply fix the men. In fact I remember a meeting where another guy and I were planning a men’s retreat. We said basically that if we could just fix the men, then the rest would fall in line.
This is the general consensus of a lot of evangelical leaders today. I’ve talked about this ad nauseam here. I’ve talked about blaming men, the man problem, the idea that if only men would ask women out, and on and on.
While I think that there are a few people waking up to this complete over simplification of the problems in our culture, it’s still rampant.
In my last post I began talking about this idea of being a servant leader that we toss around in Christian circles. I’m not going to rehash all of that here. You might start by reading that post. Today I want to talk about the servant part and in another post I’ll talk about the leadership side.
I want to clarify a couple of things quickly. I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t serve people. Not at all. We often should. Again, Jesus served. He called us to serve others. What I’m suggesting that serving and leadership are not the same and our motive for serving matters.
Jesus did not serve in order to gain followers. He didn’t serve to earn relationships. The reason Jesus is the greatest servant is because he didn’t have to serve at all and yet chose to. Not only that, but He gave the ultimate service in dying for us. Jesus served His followers. But again He didn’t serve to get followers.
I was recently at a conference where we spent some time talking about leadership. The conversation was centered around what makes a good leader and how do we be good leaders to others. One of the interesting things that was said was something to the effect of the only way to be a good leader was to be a servant. This is of course a common theme in Christian culture. And like a lot of themes in Christian culture it’s only sort of true.
I’ve been giving the idea of leadership a lot of thought lately – both in the context of my job and in the context of singleness and marriage. You can see some of my thoughts about leading while dating here.
I think in our context as a Christian man, be it single or married, this idea is very confusing. Partly because we use a lot of words like servant and leader interchangeably and I’m not so sure that’s helpful.
Recently I attended a conference on healthy sexuality. It was very well done and the spirit of the event was super encouraging to say the least. Within the many different topics and conversations was of course the discussion of how a person who is attracted to the same sex should live out their life.
Now this wasn’t a conference where people were demanding that anyone live a certain way and it was all non-confrontational, but the general answer was that from a biblical perspective that person should not be engaged in a same sex sexual relationship. In other words they should live a celibate life.
In response to this, one person said, “So basically we are condemning them to a life of loneliness and isolation.” I’m quite sure that this person was far from the only one in the room thinking that way.