Thursday, April 26, 2007

Deception Often Delays Marriage

It was asked of me:
"Why is it that people a few generations ago were ready to marry and start families at 18 (or even younger) while today we have 40 year olds who aren't ready? A lot of it goes back to the fact that our kids are being entertained to death. Everything is play, play, play, and they are never taught to grow up. That in itself has a huge impact on modern "dating". Let's face it, if a person is in the process of dating for 20 years without searching for a spouse, this person is going to eventually do things he shouldn't be doing."
I'm of the opinion that one new variable is that we now live in a world where education (or at least the gaining of a college degree) is more important than before. Accordingly, there are additional pressures that can delay marriage. Having said that, I believe that the main reason for what you have observed is that people do not take sexual sin as seriously today as in years gone by. Accordingly, we have men who keep going to the well of 1 John 1:9 rather than using God's provision for the flesh, which is of course marriage. In other words, if more men would make it an absolute priority to rid themselves of their improper thought life and premarital relations through God's means of appointment, then I think the result would be earlier marriages. Finally, I also find that men can be way too selective. Sure, a man must be attracted to his spouse but so many women are not seen as attractive as they actually are because today more men are lusting after the super models that are on parade. I suppose that many women are guilty of the same sort of thing. {At the risk of taking away from what I have said above, it must be said that there are many single men who are disciplined with their thought life and are earnestly seeking a spouse though getting up in years.}


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Dating: Part II

What is the godly end to which the dating process is supposed to lead? What is the telos, in other words, of such activity? If the expressed purpose of dating is not to ascertain whether another person is well suited to be one's spouse, then what would be the God centered purpose or design of dating – simply mere recreation and experience? What can be the biblical purpose of an exclusive relationship if not the pursuit of a life's mate? For instance, what could be the purpose of a sixteen year old boy and girl holding hands? Is such activity among Christians permissible without question, or are there some principles that must first obtain for such activity to be found appropriate? We might consider whether a girl would feel slighted if she saw the boy she was holding hands with yesterday holding another girl’s hand today. Obviously the girl would feel affronted because she would have learned that she was not as unique as she was led to believe. Consequently, something as “innocent” as holding hands has grave implications. Therefore, such activity should not be entered into lightly – for such activity implies unique and particular regard for another person and, therefore, should at least be reserved for one who is being pursued for more than just recreation and experience.

I am not categorically opposed to young men and women holding hands outside of marriage. Under certain circumstances I believe that such limited physical contact can even be appropriate, like taking a man's arm. If a man and woman are pursuing each other with the expressed purpose of ascertaining a life’s mate, then I can appreciate the physical relationship blossoming in a manner consistent with self-conscious, biblically harnessed feelings and intentions that would make holding hands a most wholesome and appropriate expression of such a relationship. I do believe, however, that such conduct should always culminate in engagement. To hold hands without an imminent engagement is never under good regulation. Also, I would argue that young men and women for a time may be exclusively dating, apart from engagement, but only in order to remain focused on the question of whether the other person is the right one or not. However, when people are too young to seriously marry, then I can find no sound reason for the exclusivity of a testing period that would entail holding hands. Again, it all gets back to purpose, which includes putting others before ourselves. What would be the purpose of a teenager who is not prepared to marry expressing exclusivity in the romantic, sensitive way of holding hands? How is God glorified in leading another person (by the hand!) toward nothing in particular? For that matter, what would be the purpose of any couple of any age expressing such exclusivity apart from an eye toward marriage?

Parents should be willing to ask their children, “Why would you hold hands?" and wait to see what they get for an answer. Unfortunately, if the question has to be asked, then the training of the child was probably not done in the first place.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Some Thoughts on Dating (Part 1)

1. If two people are merely friends, then it is misleading to say "they are dating." Therefore, dating must include some other element; whether it is dating according to biblical principles or dating according to the ways of this world, another element turns common friendships into dating relationships. Accordingly, when we are speaking of "dating" we are referring to something more than just friendly relationships between people of opposite persuasion. We are talking about a peculiar kind of relationship that is beyond mere friendship.

2. If dating includes giving one's heart away or any sort of exclusive relationship-claim whereby obligations are imposed upon another person without an eye toward marriage, then not only may Christians not date non-Christians - they may not date Christians either! When a woman gives her heart away to a man outside of a marriage commitment, the "boyfriend" is placed in the position of exercising unbiblical authority over the woman that is reserved for the woman's prime, earthly authority (typically her father) and is one day to be transferred to the woman's husband. In such exclusive dating-relationships the woman's conscience becomes un-biblically bound by the boyfriend whereby she loses certain privileges of singleness, such as spending time with other men who might be good candidates for marriage. Nobody except a parent or spouse is to hold such a position over someone else. A single woman is to submit to her father, not her "boyfriend." Giving one's heart away without a marriage commitment not only runs contrary to what the Bible teaches regarding guarding one's heart, it is contrary to what the Bible teaches about parental authority (and the proper transfer of that authority). What is it to have a commitment to another that can be broken for any reason?

3. If dating includes considering one for marriage, then obviously Christians may not date non-Christians because Christians may not consider marrying non-Christians any more than a man may consider marrying another man.

4. If dating does not include considering one for marriage, then what is the Christian's purpose in dating? What is "dating" after all?

5. There is no place to say "I love you" in a dating relationship. Those words mean commitment; yet when dating, the commitment only goes as far as the "feeling." What does it mean to say "I love you" if you may break up tomorrow because you found someone better? "I love you" translates to "I love me and I want you (at least for now)." Those words of commitment must be followed by proposal of marriage.

6. The right type of dating includes considering another person with prayerful purpose to be one's spouse; it includes no exclusivity outside an eye toward marriage; it includes wanting to bless the other person, considering them more important than yourself; it includes no obligations of submission to an unauthorized head; it includes not saying anything misleading to the other person in order to "win" her heart for personal, egotistical or any sort of selfish gain; it includes not implying anything without words that you wouldn't explicitly say with words; it means godliness.
These principles apply whether parents are involved in the dating process or not. They are principles that are within the grasp of any Christian who is serious about dating to the glory of God and, therefore, blessing a potential spouse.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rome: Its Teachers and Followers in Light of Paul

The apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit declared that if he or even an angel from heaven preached any other gospel other than that which he preached let him be accursed.

With respect to the gospel, what the apostle had in view was not the finished work of Christ but rather the appropriation of that work. In other words, the apostle was not addressing whether Jesus died for his people and rose again for their justification. Rather, the apostle was jealous to protect and desirous to declare the good news of how the finished work of the Savior must be appropriated so that one can be saved. The apostle had in view justification by faith apart from works (Galatians 2:16).

The apostle taught that the forgiveness of sins and a right standing before God comes only through the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit and not by obeying God’s ordinances (even by grace). By being baptized into the finished work of Christ sinners become heirs with Christ according to the promise that was made to the patriarchs (Galatians 3:29). It is only through union with Christ that one is clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Galatians 3:27). Upon union with Christ the sinner is imputed with Christ's perfect righteousness, constituted as such, and then pardoned and declared legally not guilty for the sake of Christ. The apostle indexes the instrumental cause of the sinner’s pardon and right standing before God to faith and faith alone. Faith is the gift of God that is immediately present within the sinner the moment he is recreated in Christ and found in Him (Philippians 3:9).

The apostle distinguishes between the "bewitched" saints and the false teachers who did the bewitching by perverting the gospel of grace. The apostle’s unambiguous anathema was placed upon those who perverted the gospel and not upon the confused congregants who were about to fall from grace as it were. The apostle in the tradition of Christ always dealt more severely with the religious leaders who made proselytes twice the sons of hell as themselves (Matthew 23:15). It is the godless man who slips in unnoticed and denies the Sovereign Lord’s gospel of grace who faces the greater condemnation (Jude 4). Accordingly, we do well to consider what we are teaching because it is the teacher who will incur the more severe judgment (James 3:1). We should want to ensure that we are not found among those who will be destroyed for smuggling in damnable heresies (2 Peter 2:1).

The churches at Galatia were confused. The gospel was faint and in some sense unrecognizable; yet the church existed in a visible form with visible sacraments and the apostle addressed his audience as "brethren." It is noteworthy that Israel had an incorrect view of circumcision and how corporate membership related to salvation. Nonetheless, even given a perverted use of the sacrament it still distinguished the Jews from the world, marking them out as the visible people of God. Accordingly, Roman baptism, although perverted, is to be honored. Moreover, Israel called for the crucifixion of their Messiah; yet the apostle John records for us that that Christ came to “his own” who received him not. How are God’s covenant people to be identified? Is it by the orthodoxy of the gospel or the visible signs of the covenant (or both)? How are the Popes to be viewed? Well that’s an easy one. Let the Pope and his Bishops who pervert the gospel and lead people to hell be accursed - and all our Roman Catholic friends be saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

He who cannot pronounce curses cannot pronounce blessings.


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