Sunday, January 28, 2007

Relational Cultural Myths of Post Y2K: Part II

In my first entry regarding this topic, I shared the first three cultural myths presented by my pastor at Life on the Vine Church, David Fitch, regarding singleness and marriage. Here are the other four. If the first three myths dealt with more general issues of singleness and marriage in our culture and in the evangelical church, then the last four myths deal more specifically with issues related to dating and seeking relationships. As before, both the bold statements and the commentary beneath are pastor Fitch's words with some slight editing in the interest of better clarity and form.

Myth 4: I just haven't met the right one

...someday it will just click...

An indefatigable faith that the next one is just around the corner and will be the right one. but we go from one dating relationship to the next, each one short-circuiting. Could it be that the problem is with me, my character, my vision of marriage, what I am looking forward to and the reasons why I enter into a relationship. Could it be that I require the skills and character capable of trust, discernment, forgiveness, self-examination, speaking the truth in love, and self-knowledge in Christ. Could it be once I begin to see my own growth and examination as a central part of a relationship, not just "getting what I want," that the whole dynamics of a relationship change into what God intended. (Eph 5:25-27)

Myth 5:I'm attracted to him (her), it must be love...

"We are all attracted to someone naturally. It is why we choose person A over person B. There is this chemistry that is the natural basis for a relationship that must mean it is love and we will live happily ever after."

But we are attracted to and desire the things we place a high value upon, we place importance in, things we admire. Often times these things we value are scripted from foreign places and need to be examined. Our attractions and desires may be off, the result of sin both past and present. Once we examine these areas of our lives, we might find the ways we are attracted changing. For example, once we begin to cherish certain character traits that are Christian we may find our attractions changing. Once we examine our physical body scripts we may find the same. the fact is, attraction often is the outworking of commitment and can develop, grow, and flourish if one is open to it. It doesn't always have to happen this way, but it can and most often does in later ages. "...I pray that your love may grow more and more with knowledge and deeper perception..." (Phil 1:9

Myth 6: I'll just know

"I always had the blind faith that I would know when it was right. My heart would just know."

But the reality is that "the intuitive know" is a confusing mess these days because we have accumulated so much junk, so many scripts, so many emotions that we aren't even aware of. We need a place to come clean, be pure, and allow the cross to heal us and unite us towards his common purposes. (Rom 12:2)

Myth 7: I need a (wo)man with A, B, and C

"I'm looking for A, B, and C. I need a good sense of humor. I need someone that won't make me angry. I need someone that is smart and stimulating. I am attracted to someone who looks like. . ."

There certainly is the issue of complementarity and the sharing of gifts and humor. the reality, however, is that if we are not united for the right reasons, around purposes of God for a marriage, no complementary gifts or personality traits can sustain a relationship. Instead, these things can often fall into line if we are both committed to the same purpose in coming together in Christ. We often, therefore, do an analysis on the person as to what he or she can offer me, as if it is some horse trade, when in reality we would profit from looking for a companion on life's journey towards wholeness and the fulfilling of God's purposes in Christ for our lives. Out of a search for this commonality, each one's gifts and personality can come to the fore. (Eph 5:29)

That's all of them!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fear is the Mindkiller

Here is a link to an excellent short comment on Peter Leithart's blog concerning Christians and fear. This strikes me as a good and succinct diagnosis of what is, unfortunately, in my opinion, a major problem among evangelicals. Once about 8 or 9 year's ago, when I was an undergrad, I worked for a couple weeks between semesters at a direct mail marketing firm stuffing envelopes with various mailings, many of them politcal in nature. I remember seeing exactly the sort of thing he is speaking of here in some of the mailings I stuffed.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Relational Cultural Myths of Post Y2K: Part I

The following thoughts are from a presentation given by my pastor at Life on the Vine Church, David Fitch, this past Saturday, Jan 20, 2007. The presentation was titled "Singleness in the City of Endless Desire: Why it is Spiritual Formation or Die." As part of the presentation, there was a handout highlighting seven cultural myths about relationships/singleness/marriage that predominate in our society and in the evangelical church. I thought these thoughts were so good that I want to share them here with my readers. Both the sub-headings, and the text that follows are Dave's. In this post, I will feature the first three myths. I hope these are an encouragement to you or at least provide you with some good food for reflection. I hope over the coming weeks and months to offer a number of posts featuring encouraging and thoughtful theological reflections/writings on singleness by various authors.

Also a word of warning: To those who wish to debate the issue of the so-called "gift of singleness" or the mandatory marriage teachings and the like, please take it elsewhere. There are a number of sites where that issue is regularly discussed and debated if you wish to do so. At this time, I have no desire to debate that issue any further. I wasted a lot of time and energy following and being involved in that debate during 2006 and I found it to be a largely fruitless and rather acrimonious debate that generates far more heat than light. Any attempts to drag it up here will be summarily deleted. Rude remarks will also be deleted. You have been warned.

Myth 1: A woman or man is incomplete until (s)he is married. (then (s)he is finished).

American society reinforces that each person must have a soul mate, a complimentary partner who makes him or her complete, but this is neither Scriptural nor possible. The picture of marriage is one of spiritual formation (Eph 5), not soul complementarity, of growing in Christ, a oneness achieved over time. This is why marriage can in fact be forgone in anticipation of the completion of the Kingdom whereby in Christ we can live in his reign (Matt 22:30). Man and woman's ultimate true end is God, and his/her purpose is His glory/His purposes/His mission, not marriage.

Myth 2: I would rather die than face life not married.

Culture says"to deny ourselves sexually" is to deny the essence of life. It shapes us to believe "Who we are" is based a.) in marriage and children, and b.) in our job status. We can't imagine being single as a calling - a station to be embraced as vocation. Yet if we are ever to be in God's will in regard to marriage, we must also be in his will regarding being single. We have the MEANS TO RESIST THESE SHAPING FORCES (emphasis Dave's) via the nobility and superiority of singleness in the church. 1 Cor 7:25-35

Myth 3: If you're going to be in ministry you need to be married.

The message around the evangelical church is that you are not fit for leadership if you are not married. Yet this is a lie contradicting the apostle Paul. The prejudice should be for single pastors and ministers of the gospel. If you are single you have less encumbrances towards pursuing a life of service and mission. And it is in that service that the will of God for your marital future will be made possible (whether single or married). Matt 19:12