With Brethren Like These, Who Needs Enemies

Last night a friend of mine sought to provoke a response from me by forwarding to me an article by a woman named Carol Taylor [1] that had been posted on a friend’s Facebook page by his father. To be sure, the post provoked me, as it was classic attacking of single people, something I rant about far more than I wish [2]. I would rather, of course, be courting a wonderful lady than trying to defend my own longings for a godly marriage when the time and situation are right, but so it is. Still, although my initial response was to rather savagely comment on the lack of character of someone who had long been single attacking others in her position, the more I thought about her mistaken thesis that single people are mostly or generally or often selfish in wanting a spouse, the more layers I found in it that were worthy of untangling.

Let us begin with one of the most obvious ones. It is immensely hypocritical and unjust for someone to attack others in the same position they once were. Perhaps we have moved on from where we once were, in a season of particular difficulty. That does not imply, though, that this particular difficulty is the result of some kind of mistake by the person suffering. There are many reasons why people suffer–time and chance, a deliberate challenge from Satan (as was the case for Job), refining and perfecting, besides punishment for sin. Likewise, many people marry that do not deserve to marry, but rather are given a gracious blessing that others are, for whatever reason, denied. We cannot assume that we move on from a given trial or a given season of difficulty because of our own nobility. God has His own purposes and His own reasons, and He does not choose to share the details with us at this time. So it is deeply unfair to assume that someone remains single for a long time because they are selfish or undesirable, no matter that we may feel like furtive escapees from a leper colony sometimes if we are particularly unwanted. I should note that the same is true for any prolonged crisis or trial or difficulty, like a health problem or prolonged economic trouble or any other such situation.

My natural assumption would be that people should be empathetic to those who are walking the same path one has trod. For example, part of my immense affection and tender regard for certain people I know is the fact that their lives have been so dramatically shaped by poverty and the absence of a father in the household for years at a time. This tenderness and compassion comes from my own experiences as an impoverished and fatherless child. How could I not be kind and understanding to those whose life mirrors my own, seeing as I wish to be as kind to others as I would have wished them to be to me, and in some areas, wish for that kindness still. This does not appear to be a universal response, though. There are others for whom a hateful experience is a sign of some deep and dark sin that must be rooted out so that one can live a successful life, and so as with the ungodly theology of Job’s friends, a trial is an occasion to berate others for being some kind of immensely wicked person rather than an opportunity to be generous-hearted and compassionate about the dark times that can fall upon us all.

On a related note, it is unfair that Mrs. Taylor attacks singles for being selfish in wanting a spouse. Part of the unfairness is that she is, in fact, married. One does not have standing to critique someone who wants what one has for possessing that longing. After all, it is the longing for marriage and intimacy and family and sex and a whole host of related concerns that brings people together. The fact that one does not have what one wants does not make that longing illegitimate, it simply means that the longing remains unfilled, and that a test of character and contentment and patience is taking place. It would be equally unjust, for example, for someone to criticize a longing for marriage if one was the kind of person who did not have that longing in the first place. The only proper response to someone in a lengthy trial, even if that trial is partly or mostly of their own making, is one of compassion. We all deserve death for our sins, so none of us has any right to be harsh towards others in suffering when we are in possession of undeserved grace in how God is working with us. We ought to help others as we can with every burden, give every encouragement possible, and pray as hard as we can that God bring happiness to others, in the hope that our own graciousness and compassion might decrease the immense burden of suffering and anguish that now exists in this present world.

On a purely scriptural level, those who long for marriage and family are in correspondence with the general will of God, in stark contrast to the unbiblical and ungracious and unjust criticisms of Mrs. Taylor and others of her ilk. From the very beginning of scripture, the desire for marriage and family is in accordance with God’s commands and desires. When God and Jesus Christ created mankind, their first command was for mankind to be fruitful and have children, in Genesis 1:26-28: “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Again, it should be clear that God desires a family, seeing as He is creating His own through the repentance and conversion of believers, who will assemble for Jesus Christ’s glorious wedding supper. If Jesus Himself is waiting for a good marriage, and longing for it deeply, how is it wrong for any of us to do so?

Then, shortly thereafter, Genesis 2:18 tells us that prolonged singlehood is not good for mankind: “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” When God says something is not good, we should take Him at His word. Whatever the specific will of God, a will that depends on our choices and the choices of others, the general will of God for mankind is for people to marry, to seek equal partners in a relationship of mutual love and respect, established by mutual consent. To desire this happiness for ourselves and for our future partner is not a selfish act at all, but is in accordance with God’s wishes and desires for mankind. It is rather those who attack the longings that God has created who behave in a selfish fashion, believing that God’s blessings are for themselves alone and not for those who have yet to find them. That is far more selfish conduct than anything done by a single person who uses their time to serve God’s people, study His word, give encouragement to others, and develop one’s character and talents while awaiting the opportunity to find marriage with a godly and worthy spouse. Let us hope Mrs. Taylor can repent of her selfishness, and bring her own thinking into accordance with the word and will of God.

[1] http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/single-malady-0/#.VPxJrfcmfLY.facebook

[2] See, for example, among many others:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place-the-intractable-dilemma-of-a-single-young-man/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/this-desert-life/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/youre-not-going-to-let-me-wait-out-here-forever-are-you/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/drink-water-from-your-own-cistern/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/a-room-without-an-open-door-is-a-prison/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/why-dont-you-say-so/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/no-need-to-say-goodbye/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/the-heart-wants-what-it-wants/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/the-lonely-hour/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/such-a-rollercoaster-a-review-of-the-2014-feast-of-tabernacles-in-redmond-bend/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/in-the-integrity-of-my-heart-i-have-done-this/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/matchmaker-matchmaker-make-me-a-match/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/it-is-not-good-that-man-should-be-alone-an-antidote-to-pre-celibacy-counseling/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/every-day-a-false-start/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to With Brethren Like These, Who Needs Enemies

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