Another “Marriage is a Cure All” Message

I don’t know how many people heard Kay Hymowitz on the Boundless Show recently, but, again, it really made me wonder how shallow our views of purity are. The problem that was addressed was the problem male and female immaturity especially around the twenty somethings age. Of course, I agree that this is a problem. We are a very immature, self-centered culture, and the younger you are, the more immature you can be.

However, what was most disturbing is the fact that sociology was brought into the discussion. Now, sociology is an interesting science. However, the hard thing about using sociological ideas in a discussion like this is that they are very deterministic. I remember my sociology professor saying that you can get anyone to do anything if you just put them in a given situation. Of course, this is entirely against the Christian worldview, because it logically ends up destroying human freedom, and thus, rational inquiry. For example, if our thoughts and actions are all deterministic, then the only reason why we disagree on issues is because of the fact that we have different causal factors acting upon our brain, and, therefore, it is impossible to know the truth. However, one will have to grant that there is validity to, for example, Durkhiem’s suicide studies. What is interesting, though, is that there will always be some people who do not fit the mold. Now, sociologists explain this as the result of actions having multiple causes. My initial impression of that is to postulate that there are not *causes* at work here, but *influences.* When one finds other “causes,” we need to consider them as other “influences,” and these influences work to pursuade the individual to do various things. However, ultimately, as a Christian, I believe we do things because of our will, and because we choose to give into those influences. That is why I think the interpretation of those who do not fit is so important.

What is interesting, though, is that the ideas of sociology that were brought into the discussion about the immaturity of men and women in today’s culture. You see, sociology is concerned more with results that come from societal influences, than results that come from influences upon an individual person. Thus, we want to look, not just at the individual, but also at the sociological context of that individual in order to explain the individual’s actions. For example, in Durkhiem’s studies of suicide, he found that the more isolated you are in your societal context, the more likely you are to commit suicide. Hence, according to Durkheim, isolation is a causal factor in suicide. What has happened is that these studies have been applied to the whole issue of selfishness and immaturity in the church. The reasoning is that, because people who are a part of this new age group called “emerging adulthood” are usually living alone apart from a family, they are thus more self-centered and immature than other age groups. Now, of course, their solution was very clear at the end of the discussion with Kay Hymowitz: Get Married.

Now, I think that, both Sociologically as well as Biblically, this is entirely reductionistic. First of all, with regards to sociology, there will *almost always* be more than one factor. To say that not living in families is the *only* factor in this is something that is improper sociologically. Consider other factors, such as churches who stop being deeply involved in the lives of students after they graduate from High School and the youth group. Consider the selfish, self-centered messages that are taught on today’s university campuses. Also, consider the fact that the west is, as a society, extremely self-centered. Hence, you have Christian singles who are isolated from the Christian community, and fed messages of selfishness from universities as well as the culture, and are likewise living alone. One could probably think of more factors that this that could be contributing to this slide in maturity. Hence, even from a sociological standpoint, the solution “get married” is entirely reductionistic.

Now, from a Biblical standpoint, it is also entirely reductionistic. At the end of the interview, Candice Watters gives her solution of “get married,” and says, “It all comes back to getting married. We were made for marriage; we were made for each other. If you believe in a creator, we were created to be married.” Again, an overly simplistic view of man, and completely neglects the effects of the fall upon marriage. Also, we were not created to be married. There is nothing inherently deficient in us when we are unmarried. There is a situational problem [Genesis 2:18], but, now that sin has entered into the world, there is also a situational problem in marriage [Genesis 3:16]. Not only that, but I think such a teaching actually fosters hatred of men, because marriage is viewed as a necessity to life. Marriage is not something necessary to an individual’s life; it is something most people *want,* and something God may or may not decide to give you in this life.

Might I suggest that the problem goes much deeper than just “get married.” We live in a society of selfishness, and we have churches who just throw children out there in society without ever preparing them. Then they get bombarded with selfish philosophy and cultural influences, and end up becoming more and more self-centered. The solution is not to point people towards marriage, but to point people towards Christ. We need to call people to give up self, take up their cross, and follow Christ. If they would like to serve God in marriage, then they should have every right to pursue it. However, God is ultimately the one who will determine whether or not you will marry, and, if God determines that you are not going to marry, your ultimate desire needs to be to serve God and not serve yourself. I have said this before, but when a person presents what Candice says, there is a real danger of good desires like the desire for marriage and children becoming an idol, and thus, becoming just as selfish as the world. Notice how, throughout this whole interview, you have discussion about what people “want” and what makes them “happy.” Of course, God doesn’t care about what we want, or our happiness. He wants us to be holy, and, in fact, if Proverbs 3:11-12 is to be believed, there will be times when it is best for us to have God actually inflict pain upon us, in order to teach us, and to help us grow in wisdom. Ultimately, God’s way is best, and, until we realize that, we will always have the exact same problems of selfishness and self-centeredness, and we will never change.

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5 Responses to “Another “Marriage is a Cure All” Message”

  1. LadyElaine Says:

    Adam, I completely agree with you on this. I have married friends who agree with you. A person chooses to grow up and put away childish things. Frankly, I think what really disturbs me is that a lot of women refuse to admit that they’re grasping for everything else for happiness but loving and serving Christ,and they’re doing it because they’ve given into the social pressure and thinking that marriage will make you happy. Our joy in life was never meant to fall on the shoulders of imperfect people or things.

    Not everyone’s going to get married, and the Church needs to wake up and focus on what’s really important….THE GOSPEL!!!

    Single, widowed, divorced, married, doesn’t matter….we are to be one body, and our marital status should not be used as a means of division or unity….CHRIST IS! If you actually focused on demonstrating mature godly relationships in mentoring and discipleship and community ACROSS the board, then I really think that singleness would be what’s it’s supposed to be: a non-issue.

  2. russellandduenes Says:

    I think there’s a bit of biblical reductionism going on in this post. One needs to think seriously about the creation mandate to “be fruitful and multiply.” And please don’t read that and just say, “Oh, is everyone supposed to just go out, get married, and have babies?” If that’s all the further one can think about it, then it’s a moot point. Further, Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 7 surely needs to be brought in. No one arguing for marriage is saying that single people are second class or that your life is deficient without marriage. But clearly, the norm is supposed to be marriage, not singleness. I may weigh in with more, but I’ve already given a lengthy defense on my blog, which I would love to see you interact with in my comments section.

  3. otrmin Says:

    russellandduenes,

    I likewise have written extensively on those passages, and would likewise welcome interaction. In fact, you have walked right into my backyard, as I am currently studying to be a Hebrew scholar, and one of my areas of specialization is in the book of Genesis. I actually have written a full exegetical presentation of this passage here:

    https://otrmin.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/exegesis-of-genesis-126-28/

    With regards to 1 Corinthians 7, I would agree with Gordon Fee that Paul is dealing with widows and widowers. He is dealing with the unique temptations that result from the breakup of a sexual relationship due to death. Hence, it is not even relevant.

    Secondly, if you really believe that no ond is arguing that your life is deficient without marriage, then read this article by one of the women on the show referenced in this post:

    http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0000852.cfm

    Finally, when you say that marriage is the “norm,” what do you mean by that? There is a sense in which that is Biblical, and a sense in which it is not.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  4. russellandduenes Says:

    My apologies, Adam. I had not read enough of you blog to see that you’ve indeed covered the topic. I followed your link from my blog. I’ll read your other entries and share my thoughts. Your site looks inviting and interesting overall. Hope your studies are going well.

  5. Dani Says:

    Excellent post Adam (especially the last paragraph).

    Thanks!

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