Written by Edith McKlveen
Not every problem humans have is rooted in being sinful and unworthy. Some responses to life challenges have roots so deep and old that they seem like a natural part of who people are or even part of their spiritual awareness.
If coming to terms with marriage is a struggle, maybe just maybe, on occasion Christians singles need to start going out into their culture and kicking butt and taking names and placing blame for struggles there instead of praying endlessly for forgiveness and transformation into someone other than who God has really made us to be.
The Bible has a lot of beautiful things to say to Christian singles about the institution of marriage, and the Reformed view of marriage is especially positive. So, when I find my head saying, “That’s great!” but my heart says, “I can’t quite believe it” . . . these days I stop and ask why my heart is so reluctant to embrace and celebrate what the Bible says about marriage.
A Message for Christian Singles
Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi has a beautiful sermon on marriage as one of the four creation ordinances or mandates that God gave to his human creation before the Fall.
The other ordinances are procreation, ruling over the earth, and observing a day of rest from daily activities, all of which he talks about in other sermons that are on the RTS website.
ReformedWiki.com quotes Dr. Ligon as saying, “Creation ordinances are mandates, or commands or principles that God gave to us in our original, our prefallen, our unfallen state. They are designed to promote God’s glory and to practically express what it means for us to be made in God’s image.”
The creation ordinances are what God wants all human beings, not just Christians to participate in to the extent they are able. Adam and Eve were the unfallen human beings to whom God first revealed the creation ordinances, and they are the parents of all the human race.
Adam and Eve were also the folks who screwed everything up for the rest of the human race when they disobeyed God and ate the fruit he commanded them not to eat. Thanks to our first parents’ sin, and thanks to the reality that even the godliest Christian is a redeemed sinner, not a perfected saint, there is nothing we to do to promote his glory or to show what it means to be made in God’s image that is easy to accomplish.
Here at the dawning of the 21st century, marriage seems to be the creation ordinance that is the most challenging for many American Christians, whether they are trying to find a marriage partner, trying to live with a marriage partner, or trying to recover from the betrayal of a marriage partner.
It is in the nature of many, Christian and non-Christian, to try and dig through a lot of inner thoughts and feelings and do a lot of often negative self-reflection when marriage, however they are dealing with it, does not turn out to be the beautiful experience that magazines, theologians, and friends and neighbors describe glowingly.
That activity, it seems to me, is useful in certain circumstances but mostly counterproductive. Human emotional and psychological innards, if you will, are always going to be a mess. I am at a point in my life where I want to understand where I got some of the ideas about marriage that I have struggled with for years. And I definitely want to understand how those ideas wormed their way into my heart and mind so thoroughly that for years they seemed pretty much normal (though now I see they are not normal at all by Biblical standards).
The fact that I live in a certain culture filled with really awful ideas about marriage is no excuse for me conducting my life based on some of those ideas. But more and more these days I ask myself, and I want to ask others:
– What ideas about marriage do I have that interfere with my belief that it is a blessing that I can confidently and joyfully ask God for?
– If the thought crops up, “There’s nobody for me,” or “I’m not good enough,” where does it come from?
– If I meet a possible marriage partner who seems to have his or her act together as a Christian and a member of his or her sex, and I find yourself getting nervous and feeling terribly insecure around that person, is that the Holy Spirit’s leading, or is it founded in some irrational fear I have never taken time to come to terms with?
– Have I ever felt ashamed of admitting to someone that you want to be married?
– Am I beating yourself up because you are not married and rationalizing the fact that I am treating myself worse than God would ever treat me?
I think it may be time for a whole bunch of unmarried people including me–people who want to be married but lack confidence in pursuing it–to stop endless self-examination, grab hold of a Bible, and turn to hack away with righteous indignation at the world, the flesh, and most of all the devil.