Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Like a horse and carriage

(Posted on behalf of Steve Hays.)

An email correspondent asks about love and marriage:

1. For most Christian men, permanent bachelorhood would be a spiritual impediment to sanctification.

2. Having more things to be thankful for draws us closer to God. If a wife and kids are an occasion for thankfulness, that will draw you closer to God.

3. Loving God is not a substitute for sexual and asexual varieties of human love. God has not made us that way.

4. We can also love God by loving God's handiwork. By loving natural goods.

5. In this life, our knowledge of God is indirect. It is mediated in various ways.

Frankly, we can't expect to feel the same way about God that we do about someone physically present in our life.

6. Romantic desire is complex. In animals, the sex drive is purely instinctual. And there's an instinctual element in human sexuality as well.

But there are also elements of anticipation and memory. We are conscious of the future. We reflect on the experience of friends and family members.

Our feelings may change over the years. The sex drive may be most insistent in our teens, yet at that age we may also feel that we have our whole future ahead of us. What's the hurry?

As we grow older, the emotional element may become more insistent.

For example, if a young man enters the priesthood, he may, at that time, be quite sincere about his vow of chastity.

Yet life can look very different at 30 than it did at 20, or 40 than it did at 30.

7. It's true that those who never marry may have never made a conscious decision not to marry. It isn't that they never decided not to. Rather, they never decided to do so, and take the steps necessary to make it happen.

You don't have to do anything not to marry. Doing nothing takes no effort. It's not a choice, but the absence of choice.

Marriage is not automatic. It doesn't just happen all by itself. You have to create your own opportunities.

If we're not careful, we can let time pass us by. Life moves very fast. It's easy to become preoccupied -- to lose track of the passage of time.


  1. I guess this is closely related enough...Steve, I remember you once commenting that you felt dating was superior to courtship (not sure if you used those exact words). Could you explain why? Is there a biblical basis for either? Thanks.

  2. My wife wrote (IMHO) an excellent post about this issue which you can find HERE.

    "I think loneliness is a battle that needs to be conquered in order to be content with the portion that God has blessed us with. We don’t deserve anything, so when God does bless us with our husband or wife, we can be 100 percent sure it is a gift from God and we will appreciate that person even more."

  3. Here's some material on "Biblical Courtship":


  4. If done right, I think of dating as a screening process. Do you like this person? Do you share the same values, priorities, and expectations? Are you a lark while she's a night owl?

  5. That web link Steve posted is by someone just a tad biased, don't you think? How do we know that the problem situations described are not just anecdotal? Maybe the courtship process wasn't the issue?

    Here's how I plan to handle things with my son when he gets old enough to start thinking along these lines. If he wants to engage in the "courtship" type process with a young lady I will be happy to facilitate it. OTOH, if he'd rather "traditionally date" (whatever that means these days), then I will restrict what he can do until he's 18 and I will put limits on who he sees and where and when. I will also teach him to not put himself in positions that will tempt him to sin, so that when he is an adult and is on his own, he'll know how to go about dating responsibly.

  6. The comment Jonah left seemed to be a tad bit biased, don't you think? How do we know Jonah's sense of bias in other people's works is not just anecdotal of his own modus operandi? Maybe bias wasn't the issue, but rather Jonah disagreed with the conclusion of the article? Of course if that's the case he could argue against the conclusions of the article, but it's easier to dismiss them as bias.

  7. Well, let's see. The title of the web page it's an "expose" of the courtship movement. That's hardly neutral language. And what I primarily objected to is the underlying assumption that parents have to have an unhealthy level of control over their kids in order for courtship to work. I object to the assertion that because I'm willing to facilitate a courtship for my son, that that makes me a bad and unbiblical parent. The author makes a hasty generalization with no warrant.

    I agree with the website author that forced betrothal is a bad idea, and that the Old Testament civil laws regarding such things are not applicable to us. I mean, we don't have Levirate marriages anymore either do we? The author's exegesis of the Biblical text is sound, but none of those passages speaks against parents being involved in the courtship/dating lives of their offspring. In my opinion, the author throws the baby out with the bathwater.