Saturday, August 14, 2010

My First and Last Post on Marriage

A few months ago, I read what I hope will be the final book I read on marriage and relationships: Henry Cloud and John Townsend’s Boundaries in Dating: Making Dating Work. Chapter 4 detailed so clearly what I’ve seen to be the most prevalent position taken by Christian writers and speakers on marriage, dating, courtship, betrothal, and the like:

In order to cure your fear of being alone, you need to put a boundary around your wish for a relationship. Cure that fear first, and then find a relationship. (p. 73)

How do you cure your aloneness without a dating relationship? (p. 73)

The more you have a full life of relationship with God, service to others, and interesting stimulating activities, the less you will feel like you need a relationship in order to be whole. (p. 74)

It is a curious thing, but the process of spiritual growth itself can help cure aloneness. (p. 74)

Buried under the façade of warnings about making unwise choices and entering bad relationships is the basic assumption that there’s something wrong with seeking a relationship before you cure your loneliness through alternative means. In other words, the God-given cure (an intimate relationship with another person) is inferior to a man-made one (a relationship with God, etc.).

Now for the obligatory discussion of Adam: He had a relationship with God that the rest of us can’t even begin to contemplate. He had plenty of work to do tending the Garden of Eden and naming the animals. And yet, he was lonely.

Did God respond with the above quotes as Cloud and Townsend did to their readers? Did God deliver the “be content in Christ” line heard from the lips of other Christian leaders? Did God distinguish between “healthy” and “unhealthy” loneliness? No, no, and no. God’s solution was Eve.

The Bible appears to provide only two “reasons” for marrying, and neither is directly related to legitimate procreation, financial security, or being better suited to do the Lord’s work. (Those are in verses discussing what marriage should be.) Instead, people should get married so that they aren’t alone (Genesis 2:18-20), and people should get married so that they won’t fall into sexual sin (1 Corinthians 7, 1 Timothy 5:11-15). Is it a mere coincidence that so many people teach that loneliness and sexual temptation are the two reasons not to marry?

This anti-marriage sort of reasoning has got to stop. It’s done a great disservice to the current generation of young Christians, and I hope with all hope that the next generation completely ignores it. I should note that, although this is something that I’ve thought about for awhile, I’m certainly open to debate. If anyone can think of something I’ve missed, please share.