Archive for September, 2009

Married = adult?

Posted: September 30, 2009 in Commentary, Other people's writing

I tire of even explaining it to some, but I continue to see in print and in people’s actions the idea that an unmarried man is, effectively, a child. I am, so to speak, a pronuptialist — I believe that marriage is God ordained and that done well is a blessing to both parties. That all being said, the act of marriage — or the fact of being married — is not what makes a man healthy, wealthy, wise, spiritual, etc.

…. Just this past Sunday I was in a Baptist fellowship wherein elections were being held to fill slots for the office of deacon. The sermon was upon the role of deacon, and the necessary qualifications for this office, drawing from I Timothy and Acts. It so happens that this particular church was o.k. with the idea of a Christian man who was divorced and remarried standing in that role, even if it was not a divorce in which he was biblically free to remarry. Their particular conception of this matter was to consider where the man’s life was at the time of his election to the deaconship; was he a living demonstration of God’s redemptive work, etc. Some other fellowships and denominations would have a different understanding.

The interesting thing to me was that the notion that a man might be single — divorced or otherwise — and stand in this office — this idea was skipped over. The exegete in the pulpit was able to examine the notion in 1 Timothy that a deacon must be the “husband of one wife” from a variety of perspectives by way of fully fleshing out the topic, as some Baptists are wont to do.

Timothy was single; apparently he would not have been able to stand in the office of deacon at this fellowship.

Now, certainly there is room to examine the value of a man who is married standing in a church office in which a component of his service is to speak to people in like circumstance. Consider, though, that this assumes certain duties of an elder that might in fact be labeled “pastoral.” I will leave that controversy aside and leave you with the point about single men.

HT to Anakin for a fine post here, on a kindred subject.

This secular fellow has some good ideas about what to ask a prospective bride.

If you espy a lady in an on-line introductions service who says something like this in her profile….

“…I’m looking for a nice Christian man to go to church with….’

..Then you should proceed with caution. You were not redeemed to be a fashion accessory. And a lady who thinks God’s work in you is to cause you to be ‘nice’ (as opposed to ‘good’) may not have carefully parsed out all that she must to have a relationship with you. However she may simply be using language in a careless fashion, so extending a little grace may be in order. But keep these ideas in mind.

Ask the lady across the table from you if she believes that women have an old nature; or use suitable language of your choice to get at the same idea: Are women (as men are) creatures who have fallen short because of the sin nature in all humans? You know what conclusions you can reach if she has never considered this question or does not understand it.

Brain teaser #12

Posted: September 13, 2009 in Commentary, For sisters

The goal of this post is to make some sisters think, not to get sidetracked into a discussion about adultery.

Everyone’s heard “…whoever looks after a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart…….

Many Evangelicals are quick, then, to conclude that the lustful look is adultery, right? Well, yes and no. If you pressed them to come out and say that a woman can divorce her husband for this “lustful look” — as they would for the physical act — they would hem and haw and change the subject rather than directly answer this provocative question. This is because nearly every one of them intuitively understands that this passage is about either the nature of sin or the nature of the law. To even tread here, though, is to give someone an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to holiness or something by making sure to get a jab in about adultery. Such a one might be sidetracked by asking him (or her) if a man can divorce his wife for a “lustful look.” That might steady them up a moment or two. However this is all just warm up material….and thus we will pass by all this and get to my real topic for this posting….

Consider a woman who has a child out of wedlock, a believing sister. Is a believing man free to marry her, or must she be passed by because she has become spiritually one with someone to whom she is not married in the temporal and legal sense — the sense of the word “marriage” in the epistles?

How about a sister who has been one with someone, but has not borne a child?

I’m not looking for your help, here. I’m looking to make your brain cells turn over.

Better to try to assault a fortified city than win back a brother you have driven away.

Paul Coughlin’s latest posting at Crosswalk is just too good to keep to myself.

Unequally yoked?

Posted: September 3, 2009 in Commentary, For brothers, For sisters

I have observed in my wanderings in real life and in the ‘blogosphere more than a few cases in which the idea of being ‘unequally yoked’ is being applied to contexts in which this notion does not apply.

The passage in scripture where this phrase comes from is Second Corinthians 6:14, and tellingly, is not about “marriage” per se; but is in fact about being “unequally yoked.” Various commentators have parsed this out to mean everything from “don’t even enter into a business agreement with a non believer” to “don’t get entangled in something that will cause you to compromise your faith.” A former pastor of mine from long ago believes that one should not even go into the house of someone who does not tithe. I’m glad he’s my former pastor.

As this applies to dating and relationships, we are bedeviled by the elasticity of meaning found here. I know a man whose girlfriend thought they should discontinue the relationship because he was more “spiritually mature” or some such; and I have known ladies whose behavior and speech suggest that they have a prima facie assumption that any man they are with is by definition someone who has been waiting all their life for her attempts to pastor him.

My bullet point: It is a misapplication of scripture for men or women to avoid social interaction with a believer of the opposite gender because of the assumption or reality of differing levels of spiritual maturity, or doctrinal differences. I have not said, and I do not say, that those things can not be important. I have not said you are obliged to spend time with someone, or any such thing; let alone meet with them. I certainly do not say that you have some kind of courtship track happening because you have met someone over a meal.

.. I am saying that you do damage to your understanding of the scripture if you “hide” behind this idea of being “unequally yoked” if what you really mean to say is something else (it is convicting to be around you… I’m just not into you….I’ve put you in the ‘friends’ box in my head…) Words have meaning. And these particular words should be used only when the idea you wish to convey is what the words mean.