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A Call to Christian Discernment: On “Marriage Isn’t For You” and “A Response to ‘Marriage Isn’t For You'”

11/05/2013

Recently, a blog post entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You” went viral in the blogosphere. In response to that, another post entitled “A Response to ‘Marriage Isn’t For You’” surfaced, which offers a nuanced take on the contents of the original post.

A quote may be appropriate, before we go further: “Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.” The same I beg of you.

Christians, at least many of those within my social networking circles, have taken a liking to both of these posts. I admit, they present helpful ideas (give them a quick read if you haven’t). Now, in no way am I an expert on marriage– I’m not even married (happily dating, though!). But while reading through and thinking about these two posts, some thoughts have come to mind. These are in no way my form of one-up-manship, but simply a plea with fellow Christians to discernment:

1. Christian marriage certainly involves selflessness. As does the entirety of the Christian life.

The author in the original post sets forth the groundbreaking idea that marriage isn’t for you, it’s “for a family,” “for your future children,” and ultimately “about the person you married.” True. Certainly true.

The Bible calls Christians to “not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4)– not just in the context of marriage, but in all of life. The Bible is full of such instruction toward an attitude of selfless, humble service to others. We’re supposed to be selfless, just like our Lord Jesus Christ.

I’m not trying to supplant the ideas of the original article, because I’m sure many Christians were helped by it. And maybe it’s that his post became so popular because selflessness in today’s world is so unpopular. Regardless, that author’s attitude in the original article is certainly refreshing.

2. Christian marriage is certainly the most intimate human relationship built for the glory of God, but more specifically a picture of Christ and the church.

The author of the “response” post poses somewhat of a correction to the original post– he ends his article by stating, “So, the author had it right: marriage isn’t for you, but it’s not only for your spouse either. Marriage is meant to symbolize the beauty of the human soul espoused to Christ. Marriage is ultimately to bring glory to God” (italics added for emphasis). Again, true.

The Bible calls Christians to “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31), and to “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom 12:1). All of life–whatever we do– is for the glory of God. That certainly includes marriage. And page after page in Scripture brings us to the conclusion that we are to humbly love and serve others for the glory of God.

Amen and amen. More specifically, though, than “symbolizing the beauty of the human soul espoused to Christ,” Christian marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. In Ephesians 5, Paul instructs the believing husbands at the church in Ephesus:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

It’s what Christ did for the church. He loved her and gave Himself up for her. He died for the church to sanctify her for Himself. This is what Christian marriage is modeled after. Not simply one human soul loving another human soul, but instead the man loving the woman as Christ loved the church.

According to Scripture, then, husbands are indeed to love their wives selflessly (original article) by intimately participating in their sanctification as fellow believers to the glory of God (“response” article). Bad paraphrasing, I know. The point is though, these two posts do indeed put forth some good ideas. Biblical indeed, and helpful to the Christian IF reasoned from the Scriptures and correctly understood.

3. Pay attention to who writes what you read.

Here’s where I start to take issue. Somewhat to my surprise, the original article was written by a Mormon. It’s clear from his “About” page. The “response” article was written by a Roman Catholic. That’s also clear from his biographical page. I could try to go through their posts and point out where the theology of their religions comes out in their thinking and in their posts, but I won’t. It would be mildly entertaining (at least for me), but it wouldn’t be productive.

I don’t take much issue with the content of either of the posts. In fact, I hope you’ve seen that in some basic ways I affirm what they have to say. I’m sure that to some Christians these posts might even be helpful in similar basic ways.

But you see, beyond those basic ways, the similarity of thinking ends there. Unless it’s Scripture, which finds its divine authorship in God Himself who used human instruments to produce the inspired Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:21), we as Christians must consider the source of the things we read and espouse. Even if by a Christian author, we must discern if something is worth reading based on the author’s background, his or her past work, by whom the material was recommended, and maybe even if the topic itself is important (or urgent) enough to spend the time on. This is all somewhat subjective criteria, which makes for some murky water to wade through at times. In such cases (and granted the material is worth the read), we would do well to ultimately hold the ideas, principles, and truth claims in everything we read against the standard of God’s Word. We must be discerning. Ant that’s with a Christian author!

In the case of these two posts, however, this is not the case. The authors are not Christians. Whether or not they would agree with such a statement would be up in the air. Granted, whether or not the authors themselves were posting to be seen as from a “Christian” worldview I am not sure. Clearly, though, the effect has been such– Christians have swallowed the content of these posts whole.

These posts certainly provide some attention-grabbing and convicting counter-cultural advice, but I would plead with Christians to read, principlize, and apply such posts with extremely cautious discernment. Even though these posts present some good ideas, ultimately they are written by the hands of men who preach a different Christ and hold to a different Gospel. Their advice may point you in a good direction, but not in a solid Christian direction. As Christians, we can certainly read these types of posts, and we can even like (and “like” and “share!” and “tweet” them), but in our minds they must not fall in the category of biblical wisdom.

So, whether it be a blog post, a news article from a “Christian” “news source,” or a book: Christians, this is a call to “take up and read” with discernment.

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