So What’s Wrong with Conservatism?

One of my last articles was a definition of conservatism. I received some heat for that article on social media. Well, if you didn’t like that article, I’m going to warn you up front that this article is likely to be even more offensive, so you may want to just not read this. In fact, you probably won’t understand what I’m telling you anyway.

The reason I defined conservatism was because I make a lot of references to conservatism on this blog, and I want everybody to understand what I am referring to. I also wanted to bring out some of the characteristics of conservatism and the conservative mindset.

In this article, I want to go a step further and flesh out what’s wrong with this mindset, plus make a few more points.

Tradition!

Fiddler on the roofA couple weeks ago, I saw Fiddler on the Roof for the first time. I was struck by its application to conservatism. (If you haven’t watched Fiddler on the Roof, you need to.)

The movie begins with a monologue from Tevye, the main character, talking about traditions in the fictional village of Anatevka:

A fiddler on the roof… Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy.

You may ask, why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word!

Tradition!

Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything: how to sleep, how to eat, how to work, how to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition get started?

I’ll tell you.

I don’t know.

But it’s a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.

Tevye’s problem is that the world around him is changing, and traditions can’t guide him in handling a new situation. Anatevka’s traditions give its residents a false sense of security and “sameness”—until the constable announces that they have to leave.

Tzeitel thinks about marrying Lazar, a man older than her father
Tzeitel contemplates the prospect of marrying Lazar Wolff, a man older than her father

In addition, as Tevye’s daughters realize, the traditional system of arranged marriages is broken. Yet, their father is more concerned about keeping traditions alive than making sure they are happy and cared for—despite praying, in his Sabbath prayer, for husbands who will care for them.

 

Like Anatevka, conservatism is based around tradition. Those extra rules that I mentioned in the definition article? Many times, they aren’t new rules that were recently decided upon. Instead, they are old traditions, or keep the traditional view of Scripture alive.

Now, obviously, if a traditional view is totally correct, then it is a good idea to continue it. My experience, however, is that many times, the traditional view is not 100% correct. Nonetheless, no one will take an honest look, step outside of the box and say, “Are we right?”

What are the consequences of holding on to tradition?

Creating Manmade Sins

Perchik inviting Hodel to dance at Motel and Tzeitel's wedding
Perchik inviting Hodel to dance at Motel and Tzeitel’s wedding

Going back to Fiddler on the Roof, we find an excellent example of traditions creating sin. At Motel and Tzeitel’s wedding, the men and women are segregated from each other, with a rope dividing the dance floor. Perchik, the young communist, steps across to the women’s side and asks who will dance with him. He is met with gasps, and the declaration that it is sin for men and women to dance together.

But, as the rabbi admits, the Scriptures do not forbid men and women from dancing together. It was merely a tradition—probably with a “Scriptural” backing.

This is a real problem with conservatism. Applications of Scripture are made into binding rules. Then people feel guilty about breaking these rules, as guilty as if they were disobeying Scripture itself.

Creating Division and Rejection

Traditions create division and rejection because they have no solid basis. Each person, church, community, people group, and nation has their own traditions. Everybody tends to do things a little different than everybody else, because we are all different, with different backgrounds.

But when traditions conflict, the result is division, rejection, and repression. For example, predominantly white churches tend to frown upon the more exuberant, expressive worship of black people. Raising your hands and shouting “Hallelujah” in a conservative Mennonite church? Scandalous! Clapping to the music? Horrors!

When someone within the group attempts to stop a tradition, it creates division. They may be rejected by those who want to hold on to the tradition. It may even be a seemingly minor tradition, such as the order of the church service.

The worst sort of this rejection is the shunning of people who break the church’s traditions, as though they were terrible sinners. For example, shunning somebody because they got a radio or TV. Or had their ears pierced.

God’s body is not divided. There is not a Mennonite body, a Baptist body, a Lutheran body, and a Methodist body. Why do we treat one another as though we belong to separate bodies?

“That I can tell you in one word! Tradition!”

"Tradition!"
“Tradition!”

Rejecting and Ignoring Non-Traditional Viewpoints and Suggestions

In Fiddler on the Roof, Perchik’s ideas are ridiculed and tossed out because he’s a “radical”. Obviously, we know how communism played out in Russia. Not all non-traditional ideas are good. However, he had some good points—for example, that marriage didn’t require a matchmaker, and that a man and woman should be able to choose one another for marriage because they love each other.

Perchik proposing to Hodel
Perchik proposing to Hodel

Instead of learning from each other, the battle lines are often drawn along traditional versus non-traditional lines. Unfortunately, this results in each side throwing out the other’s viewpoint, without learning the beneficial things that each can teach the other.

Inability to Change with the Times

The Jewish people of Anatevka had several warnings that all was not well. Yet, like the onions they referred to, they buried their heads in the ground and hoped for the best—until the constable informed them that they had only three days to sell everything and leave. Talk about flooding the market!

Likewise, tradition prevents us from recognizing change in the world and adapting. Recently, I was down in Washington, DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I noted that probably 95% of the women were wearing pants—as women have been doing here in the US for decades. Yet, some traditionalist, conservative groups still insist that pants are only men’s clothing. There is no room for change and progress.

This is sad, because God can use new technologies and new ideas to advance His Kingdom. His people should be cutting-edge—actually, they should be the innovators, not lagging 20 years behind the rest of the world. Not that we should embrace every new technology and idea that comes along, but we should be open to Him working in new ways.

Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters… Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:16-19)

Which brings us to the most significant point of all:

Traditionalism/Conservatism Quenches the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a very important part of the Christian life and the working of the Church. He dwells within us and guides us to do His work. He guides us into all truth (John 16:13). We can only live the Christian life through His power.

God warns us, “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Yet that is precisely what conservatism and traditions of men will do. Because tradition spells out how to live life, there is no room for the moving of the Holy Spirit to do something new or different than we are accustomed to. If the traditions contradict the Holy Spirit, the traditions usually win out, as with the Pharisees.

In addition, there is less impetus to ask God for guidance, because our traditions tell us what to do. We don’t have to ask God if there’s something He wants us to share with the rest of the church on Sunday, because we won’t have a chance to bring a psalm, teaching, revelation, or tongue for the edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:26). We don’t have to ask Him how to dress because our church and our customs tell us how to dress. We don’t have to ask Him how to raise our children, because the multitude of teachers around us have given us the tools and step-by-step plans for success.

In short, traditions quench the Spirit and prevent Him from having full control over our lives.

Make no mistake: as long as you follow tradition instead of the Holy Spirit, you are not completely surrendered to God.

So What Do We Do?

Should we throw out all tradition? Is the word “tradition” a dirty word?

No! A knee-jerk, anti-tradition response is no more spiritual than being traditional.

Instead, we need to stop quenching the Spirit and start following Him.

“The Voice of Papa is the Voice of God”, Part 3: Submission

In Part 1 of “The Voice of Papa is the Voice of God”, I addressed the “chain of command” that God has laid out in His Word, placing the wife in submission to her husband. Today, many people have rejected the idea that wives must submit to their husbands. A couple togetherThe very term “submission” has been made a dirty word, and any man who promotes it is deemed a “misogynist” (woman-hater) and chauvinist. However, this does not negate the truth of God’s Word, which clearly teaches, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” (Ephesians 5:22-23)

But does submission denigrate the one who submits? The Bible gives an emphatic “No!” to this question. People have ignored the fact that Jesus is also under submission to His Father.

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John 5:19)

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30)

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)

Did Jesus’ submission denigrate Him? On the contrary, it exalted Him:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

Nor did it affect His position as God.

I and my Father are one. (John 10:30)

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)

Jesus submitted to God the Father because someone has to be in charge. The Father was first-in-command, and Jesus was second-in-command. It provided order in their relationship. But it did not mean that Jesus was a second-class god.

In the Home

Similarly, God has also ordained that, in the marriage relationship, the wife is to submit to her husband. In other words, the husband is first-in-command, and the wife is second-in-command. This is not denigrating to the wife. It is a means of keeping order in the family and the house. Quite frankly, it also gives extra responsibility to the husband, because God has placed him in charge, and he must guide his house properly.

In Galatians 3:28, God assures us that He does not look on women as second-class citizens of His Kingdom:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

No woman is forced to submit to a man, under God’s plan. She is free to remain single and run her own house. But if she wants to get married, she has to take her place as second-in-command.

In every marriage, there will be times when a decision must be made, and the husband and wife disagree on what is best. If no one is truly in charge, who makes the decision? If nobody can say, “THIS is what we are going to do”, the family will be paralyzed by indecision. If the parents do not agree on the standards for their home, the children can pit the parents against each other and add to the confusion. That is why God wants someone to have the final word—the husband. And that final word is not “Yes, dear”!

Part of the reason that submission has gotten such a bad rap is that it has been badly abused. Women in abusive situations have been told to stay with their husbands and submit to them. When I was growing up, my impression of what I heard from the Mennonite and homeschool cultures around me was that if the woman did her part and submitted, everything would be fine in her marriage. That is not true. I am not aware of any passage that says that. God does tell us:

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation [conduct] of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. (1 Peter 3:1-2)

Note that God said that the unsaved husband may be saved by the conduct of the wife. It is not a guarantee.

The truth is that while one person’s efforts can go a long way towards making a better relationship, it takes the cooperation of both spouses to achieve a marriage that truly exemplifies the relationship of Christ and the Church. If you read over Ephesians 5:22-33 (the passage discussing the marriage relationship), you’ll find that there are four verses that speak to the wife and nine verses that speak to the husband. Is that an indication of who needs to put in the most effort?

The husband who requests his wife’s submission had better make sure that he loves her as Christ loved the church. Men, if you demand submission without doing your part, you may as well kiss your marriage—and your relationship with Christ—goodbye. God cares about your wife very much, and threatens to hinder your prayers if you do not treat her with proper care.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

A couple hugging each otherThe truth is that God has not merely called wives to submit to their husbands, without placing any checks-and-balances on the husband. God has called the husband to love his wife with sacrificial love, treating her as his own flesh, and seeing that her needs are met. This sounds like the recipe for a happy, successful, lifelong marriage, between two people who work as a team, led by the husband.

What Submission is Not

  • Treating the husband as God
  • Expecting the husband to be God to his wife
  • Being a yes-woman or puppet
  • Shutting up and not sharing concerns, feelings, cautions, or ideas
  • Believing that the husband is always right
  • Accepting everything the husband says without question or reservation

The Failed Promises of Equality

Today, the idea of “marriage equality” is prevalent in our culture. Many people believe that marriage should be run on a 50/50 principle, with responsibilities and authority split equally between both spouses. Childbearing is the most obvious violator of this idea of equality: men are physically incapable of being pregnant, nor can they breastfeed a baby.

In a marriage, the authority structure has to tip one way or another, sooner or later. Otherwise, if the husband and wife disagree, they can’t come to any decision. My observation is that in “50/50” marriages, it ends up tipping in the wife’s direction.

Is this really what women want, though? In a recent Huffington Post article, Randi Gunther, a secular psychologist, talks about what she is seeing in these 50/50 relationships.

Fifty percent of marriages are still ending in divorce, and women continue to be the gender that initiates those endings. In the past, their reasons for leaving most often had to do with infidelity, neglect, or abuse. Now they’re dumping men who are faithful, attentive, and respectful, the very men they said they have always wanted. Why would women who have accomplished the female dream suddenly not be satisfied with it?…

…things started to go awry. Perhaps these androgynous couples over-valued adopting the same behaviors in their relationship. Maybe the men got too nice and the women a little too challenging. Oddly, the androgynous [“man-woman”] men seemed to like their new-found emotional availability, while the women began to feel more unfulfilled. Her “perfect” partner, in the process of reclaiming his full emotional expressiveness, somehow ended up paying an unfair price; he was no longer able to command the hierarchical respect from her that was once his inalienable right.

How can a man be a caretaker and a warrior at the same time? How can he serve his woman’s need for a partner who is vulnerable, open, and intimate, while donning armor to fight the dangers that threaten his family and place in the world? How can he stand up and be a man amongst men, loyal to the hunting band that covers his back, while taking the night feeding, while not appearing less than a man? Did he blend his male energy with his female side, or did he learn to be more like a female at the price of his innate masculinity?

The women I have treated who have left their husbands for more “masculine” men believed that their new relationships would be able to both excite and nurture them. Sadly, that has not always happened.

The bottom line? God is the creator of humans. The Bible is His “owner’s manual” on how to make human life work best. We need to follow His instructions if we want happy, stable lives, regardless of what society says.

But What If He’s Abusive?

Thankfully, in our relationship with God, there is never abuse. However, in the husband/wife relationship, there can be abuse and mistreatment. How much should a woman submit to an abusive husband?

One thing I want to make absolutely clear: there is no Scriptural basis to say that all marriage problems are the result of an unsubmissive wife. It is entirely possible for a wife to be submissive in every way, and yet be unable to get along with her abusive, unloving husband.

Nowhere—even in the story of Sarah and Abraham—did God ever give the husband the power to circumvent His commands and require his wife to disobey God. It’s important to note that when Abraham asked Sarah to say that she was his sister, it was a half-truth—she was his half-sister—and the Law had not yet been given. Today, God has clearly commanded, “Lie not one to another” (Colossians 3:9a). In addition, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29b).

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, God gives the wife an “out” if she is in an abusive situation:

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

An abused wife has the permission of God to leave her husband, not for the purpose of divorce and remarriage, but for her protection. She also has the right, in the United States and many other countries, to report physical and sexual abuse to the police.

The church needs to support women who leave abusive husbands, and not turn a blind eye to the husbands’ sins, or treat the wives like scum, or give them “You should have submitted better” guilt trips. I’m sure there are some cases where the wife’s lack of submission fuels her husband’s anger and abuse. But that does not, in any way, excuse him or reduce his responsibility for his own sin. God did not say, “Love your wife as long as she is submissive.” Instead, He calls men to love their wives like Jesus, Who loved us and died for us when we were still sinners.

The church needs to be a safe place where abuse is not tolerated and is not swept quickly under the rug with “forgiveness” and ignored. The church, as the holy Bride of Christ, should be the least hospitable place for those who rebel against God’s commands and abuse their families.

Submitting to Jesus

Both the husband and wife are to submit to Jesus. Is this Jesus’ way of putting us under His thumb and using us for everything He can get out of us? No! Jesus has a wonderful promise for us:

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)

When we follow Jesus and submit to His Lordship, He and His Father come and dwell with us. In the process, we become one with God. That is stupendously amazing—to be one with the Creator of the Universe! Wow!

Conclusion

In short, submission, in God’s kingdom, does not make those submitting inferior in any way. It is a means of providing order in leadership. Everybody, including men, submits to someone. Jesus submits to His Father. Men and unmarried women submit to Jesus. Wives submit to their husbands. Children submit to their parents. And when all that is in line, we find ourselves following the Perfect King of the Universe, who, interestingly enough, is not merely reigning on a high-and-holy throne, but is actually dwelling within each one of us. What a treasure!

For more of this series, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Singleness Is Not a Punishment

I am a 27-year-old single man. I would like to get married Single Manas much as the next guy. In fact, I don’t even plan on being single the rest of my life.

But what if marriage isn’t part of God’s plan for me? What if I am going to be single the rest of my life? Does that mean that I got second-best? Is God treating me unfairly, compared to my brothers and sisters in Christ who are married?

God doesn’t owe me a wife

One thing that we must recognize is that God has not promised that anyone will get married. In fact, 1 Corinthians 7 tells us that it can be a very good thing not to get married:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. [i.e., it is good to be single] (1 Corinthians 7:1)

For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. (1 Corinthians 7:7-9)

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 7:39-40)

If you’re familiar with the chapter, you know that there are more verses on this subject in between the ones that I quoted. I skipped them because it is specifically stated as Paul’s opinion on the subject and not commandments of God. However, they do contain some great nuggets of wisdom that we would do well to listen to.

Look at the first two passages above. They both specifically state that singleness is a good thing! The last passage says that Paul believed a widow will be happier if she remains single! That’s the opposite of what we usually think. We think that we will be happiest if we are married!

Paul pointed out some of the benefits of singleness:

But I would have you without carefulness [anxiousness]. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

Paul, a single man who made a huge impact for the Kingdom of God, says that he is giving these recommendations for the Corinthians’ benefit and profit. He knew, from personal experience, what he was talking about. I can’t imagine Paul doing all the traveling he did and going through all the persecution he endured, if he had been married. He would have been too tied down, caring for his family.

A Greater Reward?

Even if you believe that God’s best, His purpose, for you is singleness, it can still be tempting to think that God didn’t treat you fairly. It is easy to look at singleness as getting the “short end of the stick”, as though “God’s best” for the single person is $50, while the married person got $100 from God. After all, the single person never gets to experience the intimate joys of marriage, the pleasure of having children and grandchildren, the ability to continue the family line.

However, this time on earth is an infinitely small blink in comparison to the infinite span of eternity. I believe that if we could actually grasp the significance of getting to enjoy our Heavenly reward forever, it would reshape the tiny amount of time that we have to accumulate that treasure. Jesus told us:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Considering Paul’s words above, there is an excellent possibility that a single person will have the ability to gather more Heavenly treasure than a married person, or at least some married people. In Heaven, there will be no marriage, so when we get to Heaven, it’s not as though we will be able to continue our marriage relationships that we formed on earth. Therefore, marriage could actually end up being a ball and chain around my leg, preventing me from accumulating everlasting Heavenly treasure.

However, if I look at singleness as a ball and chain, preventing me from living life to its fullest, I will not experience the benefits that Paul talks about. I will be too busy trying in vain to find a mate, trying to find purpose in life, chafing at the bit, never accomplishing what God has for me, and ultimately, never surrendering my life to the Lord Jesus–because if I did, that surrender would require me to accept that singleness was good for me.

Benefits of singleness

  1. Easier for me to totally dedicate myself to serving the Lord Jesus and accumulating Heavenly treasure.
  2. Less need for money, so less need to work a secular, money-making job.
  3. Ability to handle bad circumstances without having to worry about taking care of a family.
  4. No need to raise children (my dad calls it the world’s hardest job).
  5. No need to care for a spouse.
  6. No chance of becoming a widower/widow or having to nurse a spouse or child through a long, protracted, fatal illness such as cancer.
  7. Freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want, without having to take care of a family.
  8. Freedom to serve the Lord in unusual ways, such as ministering to people in the middle of the night.
  9. No chance of having the heartache of a wayward child.
  10. The potential of being able to impact the world for Christ in a greater way than I ever could as a married man.

When singleness is not good

There is a time when singleness is not a good thing. 1 Corinthians 7:7 alludes to this when it says, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”

In other words, not everyone is called to singleness. For some people, marriage is God’s best, and His plan for their lives. If they decide, against His will, to be single, they will not experience the benefits of singleness. They will not accumulate the Heavenly treasure that they would have if they had married.

Therefore, it’s very important for each of us to find out God’s will for our lives, and whole-heartedly pursue it, rather than doing our own will. In the end, doing our own will can never have the reward that doing God’s will would bring.

The point of this article is not that marriage or singleness are superior, but that they are equally good (Hebrews 13:4  tells us that “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled”). Neither one is “the short end of the stick”. Each one has its advantages and drawbacks. The bottom line is, “God’s plan for you is good–very good!”

Singleness and divorce

There is another aspect to this subject, and that is the subject of the divorced person. Often, when we teach that the Bible prohibits divorce and remarriage, somebody will jump all over us for saying that a divorced person can’t remarry, even if they were divorced by an unfaithful spouse or had to leave an abusive marriage.

Here, however, is where the results of entering into a life-long union come into play. Because God has united you and your spouse in a permanent, one-flesh union, you are not free to marry someone else, even if you think you would be much happier with that person.

“How terrible!” some people protest. “How dare you say that?”

And here we need to recognize the underlying belief: that marriage is “best” and singleness is inferior, even a curse. That remaining single is a terrible deprivation, an undeserved punishment.

As we have seen above, this is simply not true at all. Singleness is not a curse or a punishment. It is just as good as marriage.

Remember, God does not owe us marriage. Singleness is not inferior to marriage. Therefore, there is no excuse for a person to remarry after divorce, even if they were abused.

In other words, the forced singleness of a divorced person (unless they can reunite with their spouse) is a consequence–the result of marrying the particular person that they married–but not a punishment per se, or a curse. In fact, it may be a blessing from God!

The Stay-At-Home Daughter

One subject I briefly want to touch on is the patriarchy teaching that a woman should remain in her father’s house until marriage–even if the daughter is in her thirties, forties or even until her parents die. Consider this quote from Steve and Teri Maxwell:

Our girls have chosen not to work outside our home, and they have also chosen to live in our home until marriage. They have made those decisions because of the protection and sheltering they have within our home…

They said that if they don’t marry, they couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. They said they love living here. Yet, if the Lord brings the right man along as a husband, each will be happy for that too…

Allowing our adult, unmarried children to live in our home provides accountability for them that they have wanted, and it is economical as well. They are our best friends, and we are delighted that they want to live in our home. Our girls are welcome here until marriage, and if they are never married, they can stay until we are gone, and then the house will belong to them.

While all of this is said to be the girls’ (I should say the “ladies'”–Sarah is in her thirties) decision, this was the sort of position taught by Doug Phillips and his now-defunct Vision Forum–that a woman should stay in her father’s house until married. Phillips seems to have had a definite influence upon the Maxwells. Having come from this sort of background myself, I can definitely see that they might not be able to imagine living anywhere else–because they wouldn’t ever think of doing so. It’s just not “the way it’s done”.

Without pounding patriarchy into a pulp, let me just point out that this mindset keeps young (and not-so-young) ladies from being free to use their singleness to serve God. There seems to be no real consideration that God may not have the daughter to get married, but instead to serve Him from somewhere other than her father’s home. Once again, the mindset is that marriage is the ultimate goal for everyone, so just wait around for Prince Charming.

Unfortunately, it tends to work out like this:

Conclusion

Is singleness a punishment? NO! It is a blessing from God. A single person is not cursed, treated unfairly, or underprivileged.

Fellow singles, let us seek to passionately follow God’s leading for us, whether that includes marriage in the future or not. Let us love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, so that we know how to love others as He wants us to.

And to my married brothers and sisters: we are not second-class citizens. We are not less important, less privileged, less blessed or less mature than you because we are not married. Please seek to follow God with all your being, and let us work together for the Lord, hand-in-hand.

What the Bible Says About Divorce and Remarriage

A Bible study of what the Scriptures teach us about divorce and remarriage.

Covenants, Vows and Christians

A video of some things that God has taught me about marriage, divorce and remarriage.