procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

the wisdom of wedlock

i tried to follow the same basic outline for all three weeks, so the outline was again

i] what is wedlock?
ii] we need wisdom to guide us through wedlock
iii] Proverbs is not the end of the story - Jesus redeems wedlock

again, it was an opportunity to put together some of the strands from ethics this year.

i] we first thought through the importance of wedlock in the media - both the gossip columns as well as the political sphere. we also recognised that we all have some interest in the topic - most of us are the product of wedlock, and most of us either are, will be, or desire to be married one day.

again, we looked at Gen 1-2 and 3, to see that there is a tarnished goodness in marriage - it is spoilt by sin, but there is still goodness in marriage.

ii] Proverbs is a bit politically incorrect - the context is the father to the son. and you can't just make it all gender non-specific, it doesn't always work. so that, as well as the context where most people are married (most at church aren't) means we need wisdom to apply the wisdom of Proverbs to us in our situations and contexts.

the two extremes are the adulteress and the quarrelsome woman.
  • as far as the adulteress is concerned, this is not marriage advice but fooling around/sowing-wild-oats kind of advice. she is alluring
    Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
    let us delight ourselves with love.
    For my husband is not at home;
    he has gone on a long journey;
    he took a bag of money with him;
    he won’t be back for a month.”

    Prov. 7.18-20
    but despite the intoxication of the thought of 'lovemaking till morning', this woman leads us to death.
  • the other extreme is marrying poorly
    a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.
    Prov. 9.13b

    Better to live on a corner of the roof
    than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

    Prov. 25.24

    Better to live in a desert
    than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

    Prov. 21.19

  • the middle point, the third way, is to choose your wife well and enjoy your life with her.
    May your fountain be blessed,
    and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
    A loving doe, a graceful deer—
    may her breasts satisfy you always,
    may you ever be captivated by her love.

    Prov. 5.18-19

  • an even better good tho, than finding a good wife, is finding miss wisdom herself, and marrying her.
    Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
    and call understanding your relative.
    She will keep you from the forbidden woman,
    from the adulteress with her smooth words.

    Prov. 7.4-5
    that is, finding true wisdom will keep you from following the path of folly to death.
    this places the good of marriage into it's appropriate place, that is, it is a good thing to marry (Prov. 18.22), but this good is secondary to the goodness of seeking wisdom; the folly of marrying the quarrelsome woman is therefore not a good to be pursued.
iii] this then is how Jesus redeems wedlock. such that Paul can write to the Corinthians both of the goodness of marriage, but also great good of not being married. so then marriage is seen differently, as it points people to the love of Christ for the church. but singleness is seen differently also:
  1. because we’re part of a community of believers, unmarried people can honour marriage, by being glad for those who are married without bitterness and envy, and caring for those who are married in their own areas of need.
  2. part of this can be making sure marrieds don’t turn their marriages and families if they have them into an idol. you can do this by reminding them of those beyond their immediate horizon, that God’s Kingdom is to be our horizon, and service of others is to be the way of life for all Christians, whatever our marital status.
  3. single people can model in a different way what it looks like to be a Christian who is content with the riches we share in Christ. this means being sexually pure, making the most of the gift of singleness. this also means that while you may ask God for the gift of marriage, there is no place for thinking of yourself as a second-class Christian, or for making crass jokes about getting people married. there may be many reasons that people are single, some not by choice, but others are single for well-thought through reasons.

finally, i reflected a bit more on the sadness that singleness can be, because it is good part of God's good creation.
and then there was a call in line with Heb. 13.4, that all are to honour marriage.
and lastly, a reminder to all, to keep focussing on the thing greater than the greatest marriage, the future of all believers, in the closest of relationships with our saviour.

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