A few posts ago I wrote about that the fact that holiness is not THE point of marriage. Without rehashing all of that here, the main points were:
We often act as if there is not joy in marriage and that happiness isn’t even part of it, which is super counter productive to our culture at this time.
We’ve sort of created a context in which marriage is the answer to our supposed uncontrollable desire for sex. In other words we all desire sex, can’t control that desire, and therefore the only “holy” answer to that is marriage. This is theologically bad and practically creates all kinds of conundrums in our current culture.
But this raises many other questions not least of which is: what then makes you holy? Or maybe in this context a more exact question would be, when it comes to sexual desire, what is the path to holiness?
Carrie Underwood accidentally stirred the the twitter pot recently when in an interview with Redbook she said that at 35 she may have missed her chance to have a big family. This was of course one answer to one question in the interview but people jumped on it.
Now Carrie wasn’t trying to say that no one over 35 can have a kid. She also went on to say that they have talked about adoption and they do a lot to help kids which she enjoys. But that wasn’t good enough for many who insist that there are no limits to fertility.
I bring this up because I think we need to be honest about where our culture is at. Especially as we navigate singleness, marriage and children.
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:
It’s funny the things that you remember from college classes. I remember one of my favorite classes was an introduction to philosophy. I loved this class because the professor was very unbiased and we got to write some really cool papers. (One of my papers was: Is the judaeo-Christian ethic sufficient for handling environmental issues. The answer was of course yes – which I proved rather convincingly I might add).
One of the great moments of the class that has always stayed with me was a video in which a female pastor of some kind said, “The thing that separates humans from everyone else is our ability to sin. Nothing else on earth can sin.” That, friends will preach.
I bring that idea up today because I want to look at a couple of important things that we have sort of accidentally gotten backwards in the western church when we talk about singleness, marriage and sex. That is, that you are just an animal instead of a person.
Several months ago I had the opportunity to hang out with a group of men that included a Catholic priest. I could tell right away that this guy was just on fire for Jesus and we had a wide ranging conversation. This man was significantly older than me, had a great spirit about him and was in a role that really fit his sweet spot – ministering to college students.
But of course, as I write a blog about singleness, at one point I had to corner him at the end of the table and talk about celibacy and ask a lot of questions about how he viewed that. How could I not right?
This last weekend I was leading a discussion that centered around the idea of that we are not to be OF the world. In the world yes, but not of it. We were discussing 1 John 2:15-17 which tells us not to love the world. But if we are not to love the world, then we have to know what the world or “Spirit of the Age” is. If we don’t name it, then it is very easy to get lulled to sleep and passively get sucked into being a part of it. We came up with three Spirits of the Age: Busyness, Tolerance (which really means accepting anything as truth) and Consumerism.
As I’m sure you can figure out, these worldly trends have a huge impact on us when it comes to singleness, dating and marriage. Now I’ll spend some time on each of these in different ways in the following weeks but for today, I just want to mess with us a little in case you think these things aren’t impacting where we are going.