Sex, Marriage & Fairytales

Inspired by Real Marriage, Mark & Grace Driscoll.

Practice What Is Preached

Have you really made an impact, an impression? Does your life bear witness to your faith in Christ and show the grateful response to your undeserved salvation? No? We seem to suffer from Gospel-forgetfulness.

It might be that you are a Christian and that your desire is to apply that what you have learned. This desire is usually at its strongest after coming into contact with the Bible, be it in church, small groups or conversation with a fellow Christian; yet you find yourself a week later without a single example of a practice that is implied from what has been preached.

Think about the previous sermon at your church or application discussion during last week’s small group gathering. How much have you applied?

  • Do you approach work as if it is for God, not your employer? (Col 3:23)
  • Do you serve with the gifts which has been entrusted to you? (1 Pet 4:10)
  • Do you busy yourself with charitable deeds? (Matt 25:31-40)
  • Do you give to your church with a willing heart? (2 Cor 9:7)
  • Does your spouse become more like Jesus because of you or in spite of you?  (recipe being Eph 5:21-33)
  • etc

So how does it work? How do I apply what I heard in church, read in the Bible and discussed during my weekly small group? What is the switch that needs to be flicked? And so we turn to Thomas Manton:

“What is the reason there is so much preaching and so little practice? For want of meditation…. Constant thoughts are operative, and musing makes the fire burn. Green wood is not kindled by a flash or spark, but by constant blowing.” —Thomas Manton (1620–1677)

As we constantly ponder the things of God, of Jesus and what has been revealed to us in His word we in effect discipline our minds; we redirect our hearts and find our hands busy with the things we want them to do.

(Men) Man Up

Die algemene tendens is dat mense op ‘n ouer ouderdom trou. Nog ‘n algemene tendens is dat daar meer dames is, volwasse vir die huwelik, maar hul kry nie die mans (dié nodig vir die instansie) nie. Waar is die knape? Die vraag mag dalk meer van toepassing wees in ons Noord-Amerikaanse vriende, maar ek dink tog ons kultuur neig in daardie rigting.

Kevin DeYoung, skrywer van Just Do Something (sit dit op jou 10-boeke-om-te-lees lys), het onlangs hierdie onderwerp aangespreek op sy blog DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed. Ek dink dit is van waarde om die te lees as jy nie in ‘n verhouding is nie, in ‘n verhouding is, verloof is of getroud is – in kort: mense sal hierby baat.

As I speak at different venues across the country, one of the recurring questions I get comes from women, young women in particular. Their question usually goes something like this: “What is up with men?”

These aren’t angry women. Their question is more plaintive than petulant. I’m not quite sure why they ask me. Maybe because they’ve read Just Do Something and figure I’ll be a sympathetic ear. Or maybe they think I can help. They often follow up their initial question by exhorting me, “Please speak to the men in our generation and tell them to be men.”

They’re talking about marriage. I have met scores of godly young women nearby and far away who wonder “Where have all the marriageable men gone?” More and more commentators–Christian or otherwise–are noticing a trend in young men; namely, that they don’t seem to be growing up. Recently, William Bennett’s CNN article “Why Men Are in Trouble” has garnered widespread attention. The point of the post is summarized in the final line: “It’s time for men to man up.” Sounds almost biblical (1 Corinthians 16:13).

Virtually every single single person I know wants to be married. And yet, it is taking couples longer and longer to get around to marriage. Education patterns have something to do with it. A bad economy doesn’t help either. But there is something even more befuddling going on. Go to almost any church and you’ll meet mature, intelligent, attractive Christian women who want to get married and virtually no men to pursue them. These women are often in graduate programs and may have started a career already. But they aren’t feminists. They are eager to embrace the roles of wife and mother. Most of the women I’ve met don’t object to the being a helpmate. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of mates to go around.

What’s going on here? Why are there so many unmarried, college graduated, serious-about-Christ, committed-to-the-church, put-together young women who haven’t found a groom, and don’t see any possibilities on the horizon?

Maybe women have impossible standards. That is a distinct possibility in some circumstances. I’m sure there are guys reading this thinking to themselves, “I’ve pursued these young women, Kevin! And they pushed me over the edge of the horizon.” Some women may be expecting too much from Mr. Right. But in my experience this is not the main problem. Impossible standards? Not usually. Some standards? Absolutely.

On the other end of the spectrum, some women may be so over-eager to be married they make guys nervous about showing any signs of interest. There is a fine line between anticipation and desperation. Men don’t want to spot the girl they like inside David’s Bridal after their first date. The guy will panic–and be a little creeped out.

This path of prolonged singleness is a two way street. But I think the problem largely resides with men. Or at least as a guy I can identify the problems of men more quickly. I see two issues.

First, the Christian men that are “good guys” could use a little–what’s the word I’m looking for–ambition. Every pastor has railed on video games at some point. But the problem is not really video games, it’s what gaming can (but doesn’t always) represent. It’s the picture of a 20something or 30something guy who doesn’t seem to want anything out of life. He may or may not have a job. He may or may not live with his parents. Those things are sometimes out of our control. There’s a difference between a down-on-his-luck fella charging hard to make something out of himself and a guy who seems content to watch movies, make enough to eat frozen pizzas in a one room apartment, play Madden, watch football 12 hours on Saturday, show up at church for an hour on Sunday and then go home to watch more football.

I don’t think young women are expecting Mr. Right to be a corporate executive with two houses, three cars, and a personality like Dale Carnegie. They just want a guy with some substance. A guy with plans. A guy with some intellectual depth. A guy who can winsomely take initiative and lead a conversation. A guy with consistency. A guy who no longer works at his play and plays with his faith. A guy with a little desire to succeed in life. A guy they can imagine providing for a family, praying with the kids at bedtime, mowing the lawn on Saturday, and being eager to take everyone to church on Sunday. Where are the dudes that will grow into men?

The second issue is that we may simply not have enough men in the church. Maybe the biggest problem isn’t with nice Christian guys who lack ambition, maturity, and commitment. Maybe we have lots of these men in the church, but they’re all married and there aren’t enough of their brethren to go around. I don’t know which is the bigger problem, the lack of good men or the lack of men in general. It’s probably a combination of both. The church needs to train up the guys it has. And by “training” I don’t mean “clean ‘em up, plug ‘em in the singles ministry and start matching them up with a spouse.” I don’t believe most unmarried Christians are looking for a church community full of Yentas. But a church full of godly, involved, respectable, respected, grown up men? That’s a project worth undertaking.

So, what can be done about the growing tribe of unmarried women? Four things come to mind.

Everyone, pray. Pray for a joyful accepting of God’s providential care, believing that godliness with contentment is great gain.  If you are single, pray more for the sort of spouse you should be than for the sort of spouse you want. Pray also for the married couples and families in your church. If you are married, pray for the single people in your church, for those never married and those divorced or widowed. All people everywhere, pray for ways to start serving the Lord now, no matter what stage of life you are in or wish you were in.

Women, don’t settle and don’t ever compromise on requiring solid Christian commitment in a husband, but make sure your list of non-negotiables doesn’t effectively exclude everyone outside of Mr. Darcy.

Churches, don’t make church one giant man cave or machismo, but think about whether your church has been unnecessarily emasculated. Do you challenge and exhort? Do you sing songs to Jesus that men can sing with a straight face? Does “fellowship” at your church always focus on activities men don’t typically excel at, like sitting around and talking about how you feel? Does your church specifically target the discipling of men–particularly young men in high school and college? Grab them young and get them growing up in their teens instead of their twenties.

Men, you don’t have to be rich and you don’t have to climb corporate ladders. You don’t have to fix cars and grow a beard. But it’s time to take a little initiative–in the church, with your career, and with women. Stop circling around and start going somewhere. It’s probably a good idea to be more like your grandpa and less like Captain Jack Sparrow. Even less like Peter Pan. Show some godly ambition. Take some risks. Stop looking for play dates and–unless God is calling you to greater service through singleness–start looking for a wife.

– Dude Where’s you Bride? Kevin DeYoung

Maak ook ‘n punt daarvan om na “Singleness” ‘n preek deur Johan Verster te luister.

Om te trou. Of nie.

Twee aparte stukke wat ek hierdie laaste week gelees het, het my net weer herinner hoe belangrik is dit om alles te hoor wat God op ‘n onderwerp te sê het. Ek vind myself vinnig om een ding te gryp en daarmee te hardloop asof dit die laaste woord oor die onderwerp is, net om weer te besef dat Sy wysheid soveel meer omvattend is as ‘n kort lys van moets en moenies…

Die eerste van die twee was John Piper se voorwoord tot Redeeming Singleness en die ander die artikel The Case for Early Marriage. Beide is van baie waarde…