Listen to the commentary
Dear Marketplace Friend,
Last week, I fired a salvo at the modern cultural-mainstream bent on deconstructing civilization built on the foundation of biblical truth. According to a just-released study by the Pew Research Center, “Americans are more pessimistic than optimistic about the institution of marriage and the family… Few Americans say marriage and parenthood are central to living a fulfilling life.” (Report | September 14).
The Creator made a surprise – though, prophesied – visit to Earth about 2000 years ago. It was the earliest episode of Undercover Boss; he toured what he had dubbed “The Promised Land,” and saw for himself how the social architecture he designed to enable the best community experience possible in a world hijacked by sin was working, under human oversight.
While touring Israel, there were some religious power brokers who saw their opportunity to disrupt Jesus’ popularity by asking him a loaded question: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (Matthew 19:3). His answer included a frequent phrase in marriage vows between Jesus followers: “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (v 6).
His extended reply gave grace to divorce occasioned by willful infidelity but painted that as the exception to the divine plan. The gravity of the marital commitment – as viewed by God, not by culture – rattled the Twelve who were within earshot: “The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”” (v 10).
Is there room for spiritual singleness? He made the astute accommodation: “Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven…’” (v 11-12).
Using the model of a eunuch – a person without the capacity for sexual intimacy – he said that some were naturally devoid of those needs, some have been turned from that natural path through the actions of others, and others would make personal sacrifice of those intimate relationships in service to the Kingdom. According to Jesus, remaining single could have a variety of foundational causes.
If you’re among the singles in our missional community, your capacity to serve the Kingdom is, in some very real respects, an asset that sets you apart from those who have an ongoing responsibility to give godly attention to their life marriage partner.
If you’re married, you’ve made a deliberate commitment that is a part of your calling from God and allows you to follow the framework that is ultimately modeled by the mystical union of Jesus, the Bridegroom, with his church. You’ve woven two powerful and individual Kingdom Callings into one combined and operative entity. This does not dilute your potential for eternal impact; rather, God’s math says that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor…” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
How’s that partnership doing right now, in the opinion of both partners? Here’s an exercise we encourage in Session #4 of The Master’s Program: find a time – perhaps over a date-night dinner – and pose three questions to your spouse: 1 Using the classic 1-10 scale, how would you like the quality of our marriage to measure by Q1/2024? 2 Using the same scale, where would you place our marriage, today? and, 3 For our marriage to elevate from its current status to your preferred status, what could I do before the end of the year to help move your satisfaction up that scale?
Here’s what I’ve learned over 52.5 years of marriage to Cheri: as great as I may think our relationship is, there is always a gap between what “is” and what is “possible.” Our realistic desire is that our life together would never be perfect but should always be progressing.
Progress is never gained from the status-quo; it results from intentional clarity. Make some conversation prompter notes and schedule that evening out on the town! Let us know how that goes!