Friday, December 27, 2013

Options for All Godly People, Single or Married Alike

I don't normally pick fights with one of the country's leading pastors, but I will today.

A few weeks ago, a girl I know from college posted a link to an article written by Mark Driscoll on her Facebook:  6 Options for Godly Single Women Wanting to Marry.  Driscoll was inspired to write the piece after he spoke with a single woman at an event where he was teaching.  He goes on to write that he thinks about this issue often, as he has daughters and also wants to care for the women of his church.  Great intentions.  He is the first to state that he is by no means an expert on these issues, and for that I (and others I suppose) am thankful for.

Driscoll's six reasons are as follows:

  • Sin.  (Party, sleep around, cohabiting with a boyfriend, etc.).
  • Surrender.  (Wallow in self-pity, give up on ever getting married, and become the cat lady you were destined to be).
  • Settle.  (Similar to the sin option, but more like marrying/dating someone who doesn't love Jesus).
  • Suffer.  (A direct quote from this paragraph:  "You can let your singleness be a club for Satan to beat you with over, and over, and over, and over...").
  • Strive.  (The boy-crazed adolescent in a grown-up woman's body.  The she-wolf in the closet).
  • Solace.  (A glimmer of hope).

Followed by six reactions:

  • Sin.  Wow.  I wasn't aware that sinning was only reserved for single women.  People in godly marriages, godly relationships, and godly singleness all sin, and a single person sinning is no different in God's eyes than a husband or wife sinning.  I am married to a wonderful man, and we both do our best to keep our focus on Jesus.  But I'm still mean to my husband sometimes. I am still selfish and want my own way.  I still have a desire for control instead of equality.  I am sorry to report that this option does not disappear once you are married.
  • Surrender.  What a depressing choice.  No thank you, please.
  • Settle.  Settling in the sense that Driscoll describes it would be considered sin, no?  
  • Suffer.  Another depressing choice.  Another thing that isn't reserved for single women.  Single men can also choose to suffer in their singleness.  As can wives and husbands choose to suffer in marriage.
  • Strive.  In this sense, also known as idolatry.  We can strive after the perfect potential spouse, yes.  We can also strive after money.  The perfect job.  The perfect house.  Perfectionism itself.  All idols.  All things that a lot of people do.  Still sin.
  • Solace.  Driscoll writes, "You can take comfort in God's love for you and that Jesus is the Man in your life who sympathizes with your singleness."  Well, that sounds a lot like making Jesus your temporary boyfriend.  Which is no good (Christianity Today has a great blog post about that, which you can read here).  
I would like to offer some alternatives for all single people.  These options are even available for the married folk, too.  

Options for All Godly People, Single or Married Alike
  • Learn to recognize our sin and repent.  As we have discovered that sinning is a consistent pattern for all people, we need to first and foremost seek after Jesus.  His words to us are to repent of our sins, to go and sin no more (Matthew 4:17, John 8:11).    If we are to be in right communion with Him, we must take this up.
  • Find a good counselor.  Marriage won't solve any problems.  I had a coworker who used to say, "You take you with you wherever you go."  Yes.  We take ourselves, our talents, our attitudes, our issues, and our baggage wherever we go.  The best time to start working on personal issues is always today, and a counselor who helps you with these things is always a good investment.
  • Volunteer and serve.  I have a friend who moved to Denver right around the same time I did.  She has made it a priority to serve the community.  Over the summer, she took a job before starting grad school that would allow her to have every Friday off of work so that she could use it to volunteer with a  day camp for at-risk youth.  What a great example of someone who loves her neighbor as herself. 
  • Stay in community.  This is self-explanatory.  Community is good.  Doing life together is good.  It's a hallmark of Acts 2, and a way to serve others and follow Jesus.  
  • Perfect the art (and spiritual gift) of hospitality.  This may seem a little strange, but having an open home is a way to serve the Lord (Romans 12:13).  Creating an environment that is peaceful, welcoming, and nurturing is not always an easy task.  It's hard work to clean and de-clutter your home to have guests.  It's also hard work to clean up after you have guests.  But it is a rewarding one.
  • Follow Jesus.  As my husband Justin says, "Joy is not dependent on circumstances."  Joy is dependent on Jesus, not on a marital status.  Joy is looking past circumstance and finding our deepest longing and our most valuable treasure in who Jesus is and what He has done for us.  

"Don't look at yourself!  Take your temperature when you are sick.  Otherwise look at God and others.  They're much more interesting."  - Peter Kreeft

On a lighter note, this  may (or may not) be a more helpful article on talking to single people.