Monday, December 6, 2010

Married for God - Chapter 7

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

Chapter 7: Is it better to stay single?

Up until now, Ash’s motto has been ‘sex in the service of God’. Here he flips the coin and asks, what about ‘no-sex in the service of God’? Where does singleness fit in. Why this is obviously a book on marriage, I was pleased to see that he included this chapter, and it’s a very helpful one.

Should those of us who are single consider remaining single in order to serve God?
There is really only one thing that absolutely needs to be said: the whole duty and calling of every human being who has ever lived is to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength. ..The only question is how we are going to love and serve God. And this is where marriage does make quite a difference. (p126)

He goes on to make 4 points:
  1. Sex makes no difference to our relationship with God. It’s important to emphasise this in a society which thinks sex matters a lot.
  2. We find our identity and experience love within the family of God. Marriage is not God’s answer to loneliness, but rather a relationship with God and other Christians.
  3. Some will endure not being married for the kingdom of God. The fact remains that singleness for many people comes at a real cost.
  4. Getting married makes life a lot more complicated. Marriage can make us anxious – it adds many more of life’s worries into our lives.
The rest of the chapter discusses some of the issues raised in 1 Corinthians 7. There is a very helpful section on the ‘gift of singleness, in which he concludes that the gift of marriage or singleness is defined by that state itself:
I know which ‘gift’ I have by a very simple test: if I am married I have the gift of marriage; if I am not married, I have the gift of being unmarried. My circumstances are God’s gracious gift to me; and I am to learn to accept them from his hand as such. (p132)
This gift may change over time. All of us start life with the gift of singleness, many but not all will have the gift of marriage and some point, and many will again end their lives with the gift of singleness.

Ash concludes by asking “Can I serve God better unmarried?’ He says no: neither better nor worse, but certainly differently. Those who marry will have to work out what it means to serve God while also putting energy into a faithful marriage and the raising (God willing) of children. Those who do not marry may grieve the loss of such relationships, but also be able to serve God more wholeheartedly, or in different ways.
So long as your proposed husband or wife shares your faith, if you are a Christian, and so long as he or she is willing to marry you, you are free to marry. You will not be closer to God if you do, and you will be no closer to God if you don’t. You will not necessarily serve God better if you do, and will not serve God better if you don’t, but you will most certainly serve God differently. (p140)

No comments: