Friday, 15 September 2017

The Modern Church's Despicable Idolatry of Marriage and Family

One of the most irksome things in the modern Church in the west is its idolatry of marriage and family. They treat these things as though one must be married and have a family to be saved, often without realising that is exactly what their thinking is. As such, they make many unmarried Christians, or those who may be married but have no children or grandchild feel that they are less blessed, less favoured by God, or even cursed. 

Many married Christians of the older generation, out of fear of how the culture has perverted single, love to warn single Christians about their impending loneliness in old age owing to their singleness, as if a person who is married could never be lonely in his or her old age. It is not that a Christian who remains single has no family. Rather, his family is his Church family. Every other saint is his mother, brother and sister:

And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.

And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.
(Luke 8:20-21).

They express a sugary false sympathy when meeting a Christian who is single and over 30 years. Articles written about singleness by married Christians are often written with this same sugary insincere sympathy, which is simply a manifestation of the thinking that the single Christian is in a "pitiful" position. Very few things are more offensive to the contented Christ-focused joyful single Christian than the view that he or she is to be "pitied" or "sympathised" for remaining single.

Such a claim may sound preposterous at best, and slanderous at worst. However, much of the contemporary Church discourse in the west on such matters is effectively focused on how married Christians, especially those with family can thrive and serve God. This is contrasted with much silence on how unmarried Christians, or married Christians with no children or grandchildren can serve God. Such silence itself reflects the belief that only the married Christian, especially the one with children is blessed, favoured by God and right with God, and therefore only worthy of being helped in his Christian journey.

This biased towards married Christians, especially those with children, is clearly seen in the ministry. They are more likely to be hired as a pastor, or serve in active roles in the local church than those who are not. Even in missionary work, married Christians are favoured, as if they are most holy and righteous than their unmarried counterparts, simply because they are married.

Most, if not almost all teachings on singleness are done by married Christians, and hardly anyone blinks an eye, except for only a few single Christians. Yet, teachings on marriage by single persons are met with outright hostility, or utterly dismissed as worthless. 

The reality, however, is that truth is truth, irrespective of who says it. Apostle Paul was a man, Jewish and single. He addressed women, Gentiles and married men and married women. He could address those who are not of his demographic group because He knew the Word of God. So, anyone who knows the Word of God can speak about it. Therefore, the idea that a single person is less credible when talking about marriage compared to a married person, just because he is single, is absolutely foolish. To think in such as way is say that Apostle Paul and Jesus were wrong, and that they were liars, when they spoke about marriage. Apostle Paul knew about its trouble in the flesh (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) and temptations of satan in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:5). Indeed, Apostle Paul said:

But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.
(1 Corinthians 7:28-35).

Many married Christians think that the unmarried Christian is selfish, self-centred and ungodly. They think that he or she must occupy one's vocation in "religious life", especially where she is a single Christian woman, out of some irrational fear that a single Christian woman who God calls to be single is going to become some "careerist" feminist by having a secular job, just because she is unmarried. Yet, how many of such Christians would rebuke a married Christian woman for wanting to pursue her "career" or have a job, acting independently of her husband which is absolutely unbiblical (Ephesians 5:23-34)? Hardly any. For indeed, the married Christian woman in the modern western Church is a sacred cow (no pun intended), who is not only above all reproach, but whose sins are always blamed on her husband or perhaps her children, where children are concerned.

It is the married Christian woman, not the married Christian man nor the single Christian woman who is to be rebuked pursuing full time work that is not home-based.  The requirement that a woman is to be a keeper of the home refers to the married woman, not the single woman:

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:3-5).

The single woman's role is not to be a keeper of the home. She has far greater liberty to do many things outside of domestic duties. Yet, when a married Christian woman seeks to claim such liberties, she is praised for being so "hardworking", "talented" and "wise". When an unmarried Christian woman exercises such liberties, not for herself, but to serve God in a secular job, she is treated with sceptism, or simply dismissed as a self-centred woman.

Church marriage counselors simply assume that all marriage problems are caused by the husband, and that family problems are all caused by him, and if not him, by the children. It is never the wife's fault, in the eyes of such biased "counselors" who are nothing but a curse to the Church, in simply justifying, and even encouraging the rebellion of many Christian wives who have no qualms with yelling, shouting or even slapping their husband, even in front of her children. 

Instead of disciplining them as they should (See 2 Corinthians), they justify and encourage their rebellion, and pervert the doctrine of a husband's love for his wife, by telling him that he is being "domineering", "aggressive" "unloving" or even "abusive", by exercising righteous authority over his wife in disciplining her. They tell him that he has failed to be a Christian husband in rebuking his wife's sins, or upsetting her in gently and kindly speaking Biblical truth to her. And yet so many Christians think the married Christian is more blessed than the single Christian? The married Christian woman might be, from the earthly perspective, as she has the so-called earthly financial and emotional 'security' of marriage, and is above all reproach and never rebuked for her sins. Such security is a false security because it is earthly and temporal. There is no marriage in heaven (Matthew 22:30), and if one is not sanctified by it, what good is it to oneself for one's eternal wellbeing?

They think that only the married Christian has a right to work in a job which enables one to makes sufficient earnings for one's survival. Yet, they have the audacity to gloat to unmarried Christians that marriage increased happiness and wealth, saying that it is "unfortunate" when a single Christian has no family. Does one not see the hypocrisy of such Christians, gloating in one's increased earthly security, yet saying that a single Christian, especially a single Christian woman devote one's life to "religious life", which is a codeword for living a life where one is not to even earn a living for one's basic needs?

No where does it say in the Bible that a single Christian man or woman cannot work in an ordinary secular job to earn a living. Such a belief is absolutely foolish and not at all grounded in Scripture.

The single Christian in no less loved by God, or less blessed by God, or forgotten by God. Jesus Himself was single, and He was certainly no less loved by God, or forgotten by God, and was perfect in every way. The holy apostles Paul and Barnabas were single, and were called holy apostles (Ephesians 3:5; Revelation 18:20). How many people in the modern Church today, both married and unmarried could be called holy, in the sense of having reached a certain level of holiness? 

The single Christian's holiness is questioned, and treated with sceptism for his singleness, only respected as a single where he remains single to remain focused on God. However, the married Christian's motive for marrying is never questioned, and simply just respected for being married, as if being married means he is so holy and righteous in seeking to be sanctified.

Not all single Christians have reached a certain level of holiness where they can be called holy. However, neither is it the case that all married Christians have reached such a level of holiness, nor whose motives for marrying are Biblical.

This all indicates an extremely idolatrous thinking that the marriage and family are that which are needed to be pursued as ultimate ends in themselves, when the Bible makes it clear that they are just earthly temporal institutes. Even more perverse is the doctrine that a person can only be holy, righteous and truly serve God by being married and having a family. No where in the Bible does it ever say that. If anything, it says in the Bible that it is better to remained unmarried, for the purpose of being able to focus on Christ, so that one will not be distracted by other loyalties, except for that towards one's parents (1 Corinthians 7:28-35; Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26).

A wife, or for that matter, a husband, is a loyalty other than towards Christ that a married Christian owes, which can be a distraction, as Jesus indicates by saying: 

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26).

Jesus made this statement because loyalty to family members can be that which distract a person from loving Jesus first. Jesus demands that that our first love be for Him and Him alone, and that our love for Him must be far far far greater than love for earthly family members, including those who are saints, that our love for them must look like hate in comparison. One is to treat one's family members and one's own life as simply nothing, but  without abdicating one's responsibilities toward such family members.

Thus, the doctrine that a person must be married and have a family to be holy and righteous is an error, and all doctrinal errors are snares to its targets. Yet, that is what so many married Christians effectively imply in their discussions on marriage and family, without realising it, as they become distracted by such things.

The single Christian who remains single by the will of God, should never ever ever ever feel that he or she is less blessed, less favoured by God, forgotten by God or cursed. Rather, he should feel all the more at liberty to do more great things for God, and rejoice that he or she may be undistracted by the cares of the world and troubles in the flesh. 

Likewise, the married Christian who becomes married by the will of God should be humble, and not assume that the joys he has in marriage are deserved, but rather by God's grace and undeserved. He must remember that it is only temporal, and that if he or she fails to be sanctified by his or her marriage, there is no profit to him.

He should never ever ever ever let married Christians even make him feel that he has less joy than them, for such joys in marriage are temporal. Sacrificing marriage and family, and remaining single to truly serve God is truly honourable.

But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.
Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.
So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.
(1 Corinthians 7:36-38).