(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.