Adulthood= Marriage?

Given the thread of the blog posts I thought I’d post this. I posted this on Facebook awhile ago but thought is relevant…

What’s below is my wrestling with Dr. Al Mohler’s statement from New Attitude 2004. As you will read I would humbly submit that Dr. Mohler’s statements regarding “eunics for the kingdom” and “adulthood equals marriage” are simply not supported in the broader Biblical context. Please consider both what Dr. Mohler has said and what I’ve responded in light of scripture. Look into it for youself…

I remember shortly after turning thirty beginning to honestly ask myself if I was being called to the mission field. Now I’ve never wanted to be a missionary, and certainly never felt qualified to pursue that vocation. But it just seemed like the thing to do now that I hit the big 30.
I know this is a question many if not most have struggled with entering mid life and still single, and unfortunately many well meaning brothers and sisters (and even Pastor’s) don’t help with. Questions like, “Do you feel called to be married?” “Maybe you have ‘The Gift’…” These questions infer what I humbly believe to be an error in interpreting 1 Corinthians 7
6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. [1] 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.
8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

The question of “calling”:

I’m going to make a statement that I believe to be Biblically true then prayerfully back it up with scripture. The statement is this: That the “call” to singleness is no different than any other call God places on our lives. Also that the “gift” of singleness or celibacy is no different than any other “gift” God gives. The scriptural backing I refer to is actually in 1 Corinthians 7
17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a slave [3] when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brothers, [4] in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
Smack dab in Paul’s conversation about singleness He exhorts all to “Live the life God has assigned him…” In this passage Paul emphatically denotes that the “callings” to be a Jew or Gentile, slave or free, and in context single or married are all equal. One doesn’t “count more” than the other. As if you are a better Christian if… This actually explains Jesus’ assertion that there would be “eunuchs” for the kingdom. In both Jesus’ and Paul’s cultural context marriage wasn’t an option, it was presumed. Especially in Jewish culture both marriage and children were considered signs of God’s favor upon a person’s life. I would argue that instead of elevating “singleness” above marriage both Jesus and Paul were in fact giving a person who wasn’t married, nor who had children, EQUAL status with those who were married. Given that Jesus made this statement in His thirties when it would have been extremely uncommon for Him NOT to be married, nor would He ever get married it is entirely possible that He was even validating His own ministry to His disciples. That simply because He hadn’t received the particular blessing of marriage and children, that He was still “approved by God”.

What about the “gift” of “undistracted devotion”? :
Let me address this on two fronts. First, that ALL spiritual gifts are intended for the edification of the church. (1 Cor. 12) The gift of singleness uniquely edifies the body in a specific way, just as the gift of marriage uniquely edifies the church in a different way. In this, these gifts are no different than the gift of apostleship, teaching, serving, etc. Nor do these “gifts” and “callings” obscure all the “callings” God gives us. Take marriage for example. The gift of marriage doesn’t immediately cause a change in job, church, etc. Marriage gets worked out within the context of life. I remember talking to a friend who was recently married and I asked Him what shocked Him the most about being married. He replied, “What surprised me the most was how much stuff I’m still dealing with that I dealt with as a single man. Marriage didn’t totally change everything automatically, especially me.” The “gift” of singleness too gets worked out in the context of life in the various callings to church, vocation, and friends.
Secondly, the calling to the single life differs from the call to be married in one key distinction: That the call to marriage is a lifelong commitment, the call to “singleness” isn’t a lifelong commitment. No where in scripture are singles commanded to commit themselves to God in their singleness in the same way that those who are married are commanded to commit to each other. (“Forsaking all others…Till death do us part…”) In fact Paul in 1 Cor. 7: 28 Paul admits that those that marry do not sin. In 1 Tim. 5 Paul actually instructs young widows to get married. Even in 1 Cor. 7 Paul goes out of His way to denote that His encouragement to singles is NOT a command from the Lord. (vs.25) As singles you and I do not know what and to whom God may call us in the future, and where God hasn’t commanded a commitment we shouldn’t presume.

Application:

Ok so what does this all mean? Well for starters, if you’re still single cheer up! God may call you to be a eunuch for the kingdom but He may not. Let me give a personal analogy that might help. When I applied to the Police Academy there were a series of tests over an extended period of time. I first passed the initial physical, written, and psych tests then had to wait six months for the final review and oral interview before I finally knew I had the job. Over those six months I began running to get myself in shape. I did this while at the time working two jobs. Now I ran in the hope and belief that God was calling me to pursue a carreer in law enforcement. However, I still showed up to work at both of my two other jobs and endeavored to perform them to the best of my ability. In fact I didn’t let one of my jobs know that I was even attempting to get another job until I actually had received an offer from the Police Academy. Now I know you’re thinking, “Duh, that just makes sense.” But put it in the “call” to be single. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing marriage as long as you are fulfilling your “job” in being single. What does fulfilling your “job” as a single look like? I don’t know, I don’t know your particular situation. Maybe it’s cutting back on overtime to be able to participate more in the local church. Helping someone move on a Saturday because you know not everyone is able to help. Perhaps it’s providing financially if you’re able to, to a family in the church because you don’t face the same pressure. Maybe it’s turning down that promotion that would have you move simply because you’ve made a commitment to a local church. Or possibly taking that promotion because you have the ability to pick up and go and serve another church. Maybe it’s acting kindly to a sister that you don’t intend to marry because she’s a sister and God’s put her in your life. I don’t know. But here’s a quote I love from John Calvin: “Love God, and do what you will.” The difficult thing is loving God. The rest tends to work itself out. “Pursuing His righteousness trusting that all will be added…” So is God calling you and me to the mission field as mid-life adults? I don’t know, lets Love God, do what we will, and find out…

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2 Responses to “Adulthood= Marriage?”

  1. gortexgrrl Says:

    “Ok so what does this all mean? Well for starters, if you’re still single cheer up! God may call you to be a eunuch for the kingdom but He may not.”

    God never “calls” anyone to be a eunuch. Go to Matthew 19 and look at the three types of eunuchs. Note that the first type of eunuch, “so born from their mother’s womb”, is not described as being made that way by God — same thing with the second type (made eunuchs by MEN). Both would certainly have been considered an unfortunate affliction in Biblical times, and they both have something in common: neither had any choice in the matter. The whole point of the teaching emerges when Christ presents the third kind of eunuch, those who MADE THEMSELVES eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom. It is plain to see that Christ is making a distinction between those who have no choice (and would probably never have made such a choice) from those who can choose to sacrifice marriage and all its connubial benefits to fulfill a mission.

    Christ then concludes this verse by stating A SECOND TIME the conditions he set in verse 11, reiterating clearly that it is for those capable of receiving it (rather than obeying under compulsion or command from God): Dunamai choreo choreo (He that is able to receive (it), let him receive (it).

    There may be some individuals who God has gifted in such a way that they have this capability, but that is not to be confused with those who long for a spouse but are circumstantially single. Even then, God does not “call” or tell anyone to be single — even among the “gifted”, he leaves it up to them (1 Cor 7:8, 28, 36,39).

    “Also that the “gift” of singleness or celibacy is no different than any other “gift” God gives. The scriptural backing I refer to is actually in 1 Corinthians 7
    17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”

    Neither marriage nor singleness are identified in the bible as “gifts”, NT passages always refer to both entirely in the language of personal choice and human effort. 1 cor 7:17 was written a time of “present distress) (v 25-26) and we cannot assume this “remain as you are” message applies to today, as we are experiencing an unprecented drop in marriage and birthrate, even in the church.

  2. jaymallow Says:

    Thanks for your clarification. You might want to read what I’ve just posted for a clearer perspective of what I was trying to say.

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