Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To marry or not to marry

I've listened several times to Paul Washer explaining what he says to a young man who thinks he's found a young woman he wants to marry. He asks the young man why he wants to marry the girl, and the young man will list off all of the girl's great qualities--she's beautiful, I love being around her, etc. And then he will rephrase it back to the young man: "So what you are telling me is, you want to marry this girl because she meets all of your fleshly desires." I always had mixed feelings when I listened to him describe this, because on the one hand, yes, in marriage we seek not our own good but the good of our spouse and to exalt Christ and the Gospel through our marriage. But on the other hand, aren't there going to be some characteristics about your mate that draw you to them, causing you to choose them over everybody else?

Likewise, in answering the question "why do you want to get married" (just in general, not to a specific person) it may seem quite natural to describe a happier, more desirable state. I was asked this question by a friend and answered (in more specific details) that I seem to be more functional when there is a woman in my life, and that I've got a strong desire for the companionship and the intimacy that come only in marriage. In short he said that my answer(s) had one common thread: they were all about me. Me, me, me. And I knew he was right, but at the time, still wasn't sure it was a fair question--after all, it is not good for the man to be alone (Gen 2:18), and Paul says that it is better to marry than to burn with passion. So was I right that the question was unfair? No. I was wrong. Yes, these factors are one aspect of the decision, but they are not the only aspect of the decision between marrying and staying single.

There's a girl I've been talking to, and we like each other. It's gotten me thinking. I'm so used to being on my own. Since 2005 I've lived in Maryland, North Carolina, Arizona, Long Island, Manhattan, and Queens. And some of those moves were made on a whim--I chose my college in Maryland after seeing it (and no other colleges), I applied for my internship in Arizona as a real long-shot (I thought), and I chose my second college quite suddenly because I had 2 close friends there. And each time, based on these decisions made on a whim, I have packed up my life and started some place new as if it was nothing. So I was thinking about how, if I ended up getting married, that changes everything. I would not be the only one affected by my actions anymore (not that that is ever the case). My choice of jobs, ministries, apartments, homes, gyms, groceries, toilet paper and Dan Marino figurines would now be affecting the life of some beloved daughter of God, and our 2.5 children, and the kingdom, and the world.

And so what every Christian person has to consider, and what I think Paul Washer and my friend were getting at, is this: As Christians, our lives are not primarily for enjoying good things, but for enjoying God Himself, and putting Christ on display--and the decision to marry or stay single will have a huge impact for the rest of our lives with regards to how we conceive of that. So here are two videos of John Piper:


Alicia said...

I guess it's probably different for men. Or maybe I'm ascribing my personal feelings to women everywhere, I don't know.

For me, the question has never been "Will I get married?" but "When will I get married?" I've always known that a large portion of who I am--who God made me to be--was a caregiver and companion. I'm a nurturer, so I've always known that one day I would have a husband and kids to nurture. When I was a little girl I did not have an imaginary friend, I had an imaginary daughter--that's how much of a nurturer I am. If you don't feel like a large part of your emotional DNA is being a partner, someone who NEEDS to care for someone else, then maybe marriage isn't for you. If you need to care for and about someone else in an intimate way, then do.

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