Friday, May 30, 2014

Five Reasons to Respect Marriage

This morning, I stumbled upon an article entitled Top 5 Reasons Not to Get Married by Krystal Baugher. I was so sad when I read it!

I wasn't sad because this woman is choosing not to marry. I think that singleness can be a wonderful thing, and can be a good gift from God. (I'm thinking of several singles from my church who are accomplishing great things with their lives that married folks do not have the time/ability to accomplish.)

I was sad because Miss Baugher is completely missing the beautiful design God has for marriage! Please don't read this as me being somehow angry with this writer. I'm not. I'm angry with sin. I'm angry with our culture and what it had taught people about life, love, and sexuality. I'm angry that Krystal has learned by the things she sees that having this attitude toward marriage is the best way.

Because it isn't. It just isn't.



So, I hope to present the case for marriage as it was intended, by using Miss Baugher's article as a springboard.


1) The Beauty of God's Design (in response to The Pains of Patriarchy)

Krystal says that the tradition of a father "giving his daughter away" is oppressive:
This ritual, both historically and symbolically, gives the woman away as if she is a piece of property that a man is privileged enough to own.
It is true that our history has included innumerable instances of women being unjustly treated. Frankly, feminism hasn't fixed that. If you think it has, consider how much the pornography industry has grown in recent years, and what that has done to men and women.

The tradition of giving a daughter away is truly beautiful. It exemplifies God's design to leave your parents and cleave to your spouse:
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
God's design is not for husbands to control their wives! A godly marriage can be a beautiful picture of the way Christ loves the Church—so long as husband and wife both have this understanding of the meaning behind marriage. John Piper says it well:
Headship is not a right to command and control. It's a responsibility to love like Christ: to lay down your life for your wife in servant leadership. And submission is not slavish or coerced or cowering. That's not the way Christ wants the church to respond to his leadership: he wants it to be free and willing and glad and refining and strengthening.

2) Someone to Live Life With (in response to I must find my prince and ride off into the sunset?)

Krystal brings up two different ideas under her second point. I'll address them both.

First, she states that "the idea of finding our 'one true love' is embedded in us all from a very early age." No argument there! Believe me—Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid were my two favorite movies growing up. This concept is all over just about every romantic movie out there.

The solution, however, is not to break out of the bounds of this thing she calls "heterosexual normativity." The solution is simply to recognize that, while there may not be someone out there who is our "soul mate," should we choose to marry, we can redeem "true love" to be all it was meant to be: a sacrificial, imitating-Christ love. Giving your life to another. For life. Finding someone to live life with—someone who loves God and who will lead us closer to Him.

Second, Krystal quotes the following:
“Most of the discourses on sex, be they religious, psychiatric, popular, or political, delimit a very small portion of human sexual capacity as sanctifiable, safe, healthy, mature, legal, or politically correct. The ‘line’ distinguishes these from all other erotic behaviours, which are understood to be the work of the devil, dangerous, psychopathological, infantile, or politically reprehensible. Arguments are then conducted over ‘where to draw the line’, and to determine what other activities, if any, may be permitted to cross over into acceptability.”
Beware this kind of thinking! Would you agree that there needs to be some sort of moral standard? If you don't draw the line somewhere... is pedophilia ok, then? What about bestiality? What if you bring this concept into other areas? Is it ok to kill someone for no reason? Why not?

See how this becomes a dangerous place to be? Maybe, just maybe, the reason why there are arguments over where to draw the line is because people have an innate sense that there must be some sort of moral standard in the world. And how could that sense get into our minds unless Someone put it there?

Bringing this back to marriage... maybe there's a better way. I would argue that there's much more enjoyment and beauty when sticking with one sexual partner for life:
The benefits of monogamy are huge, and they include better sex.
Experts say you get really great at something when you’ve put in 10,000 hours of practice. For instance, that piano player who can totally rock a Mozart or Vivaldi or Chopin tune. But imagine that you kept changing his instrument — piano, violin, percussion, trombone, etc. Would he be immediately as good at playing those other instruments? Not likely. In a covenant marriage, you get a lifetime to learn love with your particular partner, to try many different things, and to perfect your lovemaking. You can become quite the maestro!
Focus on the mate you chose. Invest yourself fully in this One True Love. Even if your original, natural bent felt a little more Don Juan than Romeo. Monogamous, covenant marriage, and awesome sex within, is God’s beautiful design, and the payoff is worth the investment.
More on monogamy now...



3) Monogamy, Beauty (in response to Monogamy, Monotony)

Krystal says:
Half of the people who tie the knot end up needing to untie it later—and usually it’s a really tight knotty knot that is difficult and expensive to untangle.
And I’m the weirdo for not wanting to be a part of that?
People get married because they’re told over and over again that this is the way it’s done, and yet over and over again it isn’t being done right (and obviously not for the right reasons).
I mostly agree (except the part about "needing" to untie the knot, and about why people get married). The whole purpose of marriage is that it should be a "really tight knotty knot"! Marriage is, by definition, a vow to remain committed and faithful to one's spouse for life. And, yes, marriage is unfortunately often entered into for the wrong reasons. Plus, we're sinners, so God's design for marriage has been drastically and tragically distorted.

Marriage is meant to reflect Christ's love for His Church. I'm so glad that God does not have the same attitude toward us that we so often sinfully have toward one another. I'm so glad He doesn't say: "Well, I love you, but only so long as you do what I want, make me feel fulfilled, and do everything you can to make me happy. I love you so long as I feel in love with you and think you're attractive." 

No, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." And, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." I'm so glad God loves us with a covenantal, unconditional love.

So, are we naturally monogamous? No, I don't think we are.
Monogamy is not natural. You’re right about that. 
It’s supernatural.
But is monogamy a good thing? Matt Walsh helps us think rightly about this:
I have found a woman who will be with me until I die, even while my hair falls out and my skin shrivels and wrinkles, even when I stumble, even when I fail, even through the doldrums of daily existence, through bills and dirty diapers, through all things — joyous or miserable, pleasing or painful — through every day until death comes. Why should it be hard for me to simply refrain from tossing such a gift into the garbage?...
If you won 600 million dollars in the lottery, would you go out the next day and break into cars to steal the change from the cup holders? That’s what sleeping around is like when you’ve already found a woman who will pledge her life and her entire being to you for the remainder of her existence.
Photo by Daniel LaBelle Photography


4) Lasting Benefits (in response to Benefits for Whom?)

In her fourth point, Krystal says, "I don’t think health care should be a high priority for a major decision like marriage."

I don't have much to say on this topic, other than that I don't think so, either. If you want to marry someone, don't do it for the healthcare benefits or tax breaks.

No, if you want to marry someone, do it because you have decided to make a lifelong commitment to that person. Do it because you want to love your spouse sacrificially and unconditionally. Do it because you want to be a blessing to your spouse by being a picture of Christ to him or her. Those are the lasting benefits of marriage.


5) Better for the Children—and Us (in response to *F* the Children)

Miss Baugher states the following:
We’re all really sensitive about our children, but guess what? We are the children, your parents are the children, your grandparents are the children.
This is, in one sense, a valid point. We all at one time were the children. I was once a child. And, boy, am I grateful that my parents gave me a stable childhood and exemplified a faithful, monogamous marriage. I'm so glad that I never had to experience the ravages of divorced parents, or the confusion of unmarried parents. So, yes, we once were the children.

There are statistics everywhere that prove that children who come from traditional families with loving, involved mothers and fathers experience less mental illness, less substance abuse, more economic opportunity... the list goes on and on. I don't think that this is a coincidence.

She also points out that children "are not innocent vessels of pure moral order." This is also true. They are sinners, like us all. That is why is is so crucial to be an example to them of what is good, noble, and right. It is so important to train them up to love God and the way He ordered things. It is imperative to show them what committed, sacrificial love looks like. Because they are sinners, too, and don't we want them to enjoy life the way it was designed, not experience the ravages of sin and death?

Krystal also asks,
When will we do what’s right for us instead of for some hypothetical person who hasn’t been born yet?
Well, that's just selfish (would you use this reasoning when talking about whether we should take care of the environment?). Besides, doing things God's way is not only better for "the children." It's better for us, too. And none of this is about us anyway.

Photo by Heather McKittrick Photography

Conclusion

Miss Baugher's article made me sad because it exemplified the way of thinking of so many in our culture today. So many people are missing the beauty of marriage as God designed it. It's affecting our culture, our worldview, our children, you name it. Marriage is meant to be so much more—so much better—than we so often think! Let's redeem our marriages and make them all that God intended—for His glory and for our benefit, too!
While it would be wrong to conclude that marriage is everyone’s answer to the “it is not good for man to be alone” problem, it is humanity’s answer in general and was the institution that God gave us to solve this trouble. It is and has been God’s delight and design that each of us come into His world through the communion, love and commitment of a husband and a wife. (The Family Project Blog)
I did not get married to (in Krystal's words) fulfill my "duty to be “princess” for a day (and wife for my life)." I got married because I wanted to love and be loved the way Christ loves. My husband and I don't do that perfectly, but we are committed to getting better at it for the rest of our lives. Why would I choose the loneliness and confusion of sexual "freedom" or sleeping around, or whatever else... if I can instead choose a life of deep, faithful love?

So, please, don't settle for our culture's view of marriage! Embrace God's design. There is so much more joy and satisfaction to be experienced when we respect and honor the way God designed things.

________________

6/2 Update:

Given several comments I've gotten about this post, I feel the need to address something:

I recognize that the core issue behind why Krystal and I disagree is that we (very likely) differ in our worldviews (i.e. the lenses through which we view the world). I understand that she is not likely to change her views on marriage without a change in worldview. I am also not likely to change my views on marriage without a change in worldview (which isn't going to happen). 

I believe that there is a God who has always been. He is holy. He created the universe and everything in it. He is a God of love, mercy, and justice. He is the only being worthy of worship. I believe that humanity is fallen. We are sinners. We can't meet God's standard of holiness. I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of this Living, holy God, and He was sent to the earth to redeem us through the sacrifice of His life in our place, so that we could be reconciled to God and live with Him forever in heaven. I believe that anyone who puts their trust in Him can experience this reconciliation. I believe that the Bible is Truth.

That is my worldview. And that is why I view marriage the way I do.

You may choose a different worldview. I simply encourage you to study up on your options, considering what you find is True, not only what you want to be true (I can say I don't want to believe in gravity, but that doesn't make it any less real). I encourage you to be sure about what you believe about God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, heaven, hell, and eternity. Because eternity is a really long time—much longer than this life you are living now. 
"Leave nothing unsettled that is eternal." –J.C. Ryle



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