"I have said things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
I'm all about that truth. It really will get better. All things will be restored. The pain will end. It really will.
It’s a must.
We’d probably live in a solar-powered communal home. Adopt a bunch of diverse at-risk youth. We’d eat and share our vegan meals with those around us who are going hungry. We’d redistribute our resources amongst the community so that all of us are at an equal level with all needs met.
Our dates would be protesting the unfair labor practice of popular retail outlets. We’d stay up all night, talking about how we’re gonna change the world then actually start working towards that the next morning.
We’d collaborate on blogs that bring to light the social injustices plaguing the disenfranchised daily. Our careers would be deeply embedded in dismantling these oppressive systems that rule the world. Our electric car (or one that’s fueled by recycled vegetable oil) would be covered in all those bold, outspoken, liberal bumper stickers. We’d dance to “Imagine” at our wedding, then make that a reality all throughout our marriage.
We’d have each other’s backs as we picket and protest and sit-in and take up the causes of our extended family (re: all of humanity), supporting each other fully as we aim to live radical lives together.
Make our own clothes. Give away any extra we have. Stay away from possessions and materialism but when we do have to buy something, we’ll buy it from local businesses or artisans in other countries trying to make enough to survive.
We’d travel to tropical islands for vacation, but not to lie in the sand, drinking daiquiris, but because so many of those destination spots for the privileged are third world countries. But we would got for a week and consider our work done. We’d spend significant time there, embedding ourselves in their community and culture so we can come together with our fellow members of humanity, considering their challenges, struggles and interests as our own so we can work together to rise above, because we are all in this together.
We’d tackle institutions while not forgetting the separate individuals affected by these institutions. We’d fully enjoy the beauty of the diversity of the humanity that surrounds - one with each other, and one with everyone else.
And have lots and lots of great sex.
I see a culture of lonely, desperate single people because foolishness is spouted by the likes of Mark Driscoll and others, which perpetuate that we should seek the goal of being married.
But then you’re in your mid-20’s, unmarried not by choice but by circumstance, then feeling like a failure, like you’re a lesser person because you don’t just have a spouse, but no suitable prospects within a 50 mile radius (or so it seems).
So you start feeling lonely, desperate for this “eternal company” that you swear you’re meant to have as soon as possible, because that’s what God calls us to! And you start lowering your standards, trying to find this emotional fulfillment at the very least (forget marriage; you just want a warm body at this point) which inevitably leads to someone being hurt - mostly you.
I see the emotional damage, the irresponsible actions, the aching desperateness, the lowered self-esteem that this idea of “marriage as an ultimate goal” has wrought in those in my demographic. Society in many ways has conditioned us to feel like we’re missing something, under-accomplished, a lesser being if we’re not married by a certain age. This contorts our perception as purpose, and the quest for marriage gets a weight that is undue and was never intended to have.
Especially within the realm of Christianity, which is ironic considering Christians tend to be the greatest perpetuators of this marriage myth.
"It’s not good for man to be alone" (Gen 2:18) - I don’t at all think that has to do with marriage. In this origins story, Adam is the only human being in the world, doing the work of God all by himself (Gen 2:19-20). I know the passage goes on to say "therefore a man shall leave his mother and father" (Gen 2:24), but I think that just means that this was used as a precedent within the Jewish community per their interpretation, not that "marriage" was God’s intention for every single person when He created another human to help out the first.
Also notable is right after God says that it’s not good that man be alone, He continues to say that He will make a helper for him (Gen 2:18). Keep in mind, this is pre-new covenant (a.k.a. pre-Jesus Christ). So then when Christ comes to Earth, He promises to His disciples the Holy Spirit…who He refers to as a “Helper.” (John 14:26 ESV)
You cannot argue that so many things changed in the way of God interaction with humans, human purpose, etc which the coming of Jesus. If the old command was “be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28)” (which perpetuated the Jewish lineage so that eventually a Messiah could be born of it - that’s why that commandment was so important), then the new command was “make disciples of all the nations. (Matt 28:19)” There was the first Adam. Then there’s Christ, the “last Adam.” (1 Cor 15:45) So much changed with Christ. But spectacularly enough, there are striking parallels between these two states. New answers to replace the old ones in these same questions.
If Adam needed another human, who happened become his wife, as a helper to do the work of God, then now all believers have likewise been given a helper to assist us in doing the work of God. No, not necessarily a spouse, but the Holy Spirit! If we were encouraged to pursue the Holy Spirit, cultivate relation with Him as much as we were told to find a spouse, then I guarantee you that would be an immediate deflection against the loneliness, worthless, desperation, etc that unmarried singles tend to feel.
If a greater emphasis of the Christian faith was put on working towards God’s goal of reconciling creation to Himself, which includes the end of all forms of evil (oppression, injustice, suffering, pain, hunger, etc etc) instead of finding someone to wife up or to be wifed up (or in my case, both ;) ), then real purpose could be found and accomplished. We could let marriage happen if it’s meant to happen instead of obsessing over it, and bemoaning ourselves and existence as another single year goes by.
Also, another answer to the “it’s not good for man to be alone” argument - community. The church body that is constantly esteemed particularly in the New Testament. I agree were were created for relationship, but I don’t think that necessarily means romantic relationship.
Marriage can be a good thing, don’t get me wrong. I’m no enemy of marriage, when done right and esteemed correctly. But there are so many flaws, particularly with Christians, of how marriage is approached. And just from what I’ve witnessed, I know so many people would be a lot more content if marriage hadn’t been placed on such a pedestal to begin with. There’s nothing wrong to want to be married, I don’t suppose, but to feel like your life won’t be truly complete without a spouse, to even turn it into a goal that must be reached - I think that’s ultimately unwise and unhealthy.
And I’m not saying that God doesn’t want you to be married. But I think He wants something much much greater than that. And I have to question exactly how important marriage is really intended to be within the Christian walk. Christ says to store up our treasures in heaven, not on earth (Matt 6:20), then later says that there is no marriage in heaven (Matt 22:30). To esteem marriage as some spiritual goal, as some part of life’s purpose, then, seems rather contradictory. If our aim is supposed to be eternal, then why are we telling people to make a goal out of something that’s not?
I just think this message of “get married as quick as you can; it’s a must!” is dangerous. I’ve seen the dangers manifested all around me, and though I know the problem is deeper than just poor theology, I think it’s a good start.
There’s no such thing as the perfect woman.
Don’t settle? That’s an impossible conjecture.
What if the desire for a relationship was framed by its output? That’s a convoluted sentence that makes little sense. What if all that I wanted out of a relationship was to be able to comprehensively love another person?
As opposed to little nit-picky things:
-must be able to dance
-compatible sense of humor
-appreciation of film
-love of Christ
I suppose if I am going to use the Bible as a guidebook to the way relationships are to work (which I’m sure is the intent of the book…y’all got that sarcam, right?), then I guess being in a relationship is about partnering up to serve God.
(Weird to me that people only seem to derive from the ‘Adam and Eve’ narrative is this male/female stuff - I think you’re missing the point of the purpose here…that’s my opinion. You might think I’m wrong. That’s okay, but I’m still going to think I’m right. Honestly - it really doesn’t matter anyway.)
Granted whatever we romantically engage in now is nothing like anything described in the Bible, so there’s a lot of discrepancies to be had. We put way too much thought and thus rules on “relationships” and “dating” and I guess ultimately “marriage”, and it wastes so much thought time and really is a vanity. Especially if you take to heart Jesus’ word on marriage, in which, other than ‘don’t divorce’, He pretty much stated that marriage is not eternal.
How important is something that doesn’t have eternal value?
So I want to simplify all of this right now - more so for my own sake as I process things than anyone else’s.
It’s all about love.
Too vague and cliche? I don’t mean it to be. What does it all matter when the purpose of anything - relationships included - is expending large amounts of selfless and sacrificial love towards someone? Submission and servitude without the unsettling historical implications those words tend to carry, but rather as a shout out to Christ who exemplified all of that in His life on Earth.
Do I want you to have brown eyes and a nice ass and a cute laugh that especially rings when I make a funny/witty/silly/really stupid comment? Yeah, yeah, sure, sure.
But what if I just picked somebody I liked and loved them, regardless of little details? If they don’t love me back - at all or just to the extent or whatever…if it ends terribly with a heartbreak…okay, but I don’t think it’s ever a waste of time to love. I want to frame it all differently - I don’t want to get into a relationship for me, but for her. Not what I’m getting, but what I’m giving.
I think if I pour my all into someone through love (and I’m not even talking about ‘in love’ - just the act of loving that is not exclusive to romantic feelings, even in intensity), then that does something. No one is unchanged by a fervent love. No one is left worse off by a fervent love.
And I’ve been striving to live a life that’s not at all about me, anyway. So let’s leave myself out of that equation up there. She’ll benefit - that’s all that matters.
I’m talking this one out with God right now. “So what if she’s not the ‘perfect’ one for me? Can’t I just love her, anyway?”
I mean, my definition of love is to be honest influenced by a cross. So I’m not talking about wallowing in stupid, overwhelming gooey feelings and feeding some chick chocolate strawberries as we listen to The 20/20 Experience. I’m talking about something akin to what Jesus has done for me. I drown in that shit daily, but I suffocate in it gladly. Can’t I just skip around, doing the same for others?
Can’t I just love?
I don’t know if this train of thought is born out of idealism or being jaded. Ironically, the latter (so I lied - I do know). It’s just so stupid over-thinking all these dating related things. True, I’m not going to be compelled to “just love” anyone, so I’m not saying I’m going to pluck some random off the street…
…except technically I should because I do believe in just loving everyone, but that manifests itself in different ways for different people …
…or even some person who I think is cool who likes me but I’m not feeling it with for whatever reasons. But for that person I am interested in - gah, I’m so tired of analyzing “Well, is she right for me? Will this actually work? Is this really God’s will? Is she marriage potential? Will this screw us over in the long run?” because what does it matter if I’m just loving in the way I believe I’m supposed to? More than just indulging in “butterflies in the stomach” and wanting to engage in endless kissing. But just showing someone what it’s liked to be specially served and cared for, regardless of what it all may have to do with me.
I could be entirely off base here. These aren’t conclusive thoughts. And I understand that I am coming from a place of wanting to rationalize and justify. This is just a glimpse into my internal process of seeking truth. This is still within the journey. This is not the end.
Because maybe what I’m describing isn’t an actual relationship at all, anyway. Maybe it’s just a throwback to being 17 and giving all of my love in every possible outlet to someone who could barely show an ounce of it back. There was a satisfaction in being able to love somebody like that, for sure. But that wasn’t a relationship. It wasn’t healthy. It was more hell.
And yet, I was still glad to be able to serve her. So maybe that’s why I just want to love now and not care about all the details. And I think if it blows up in my face because I’m loving exhaustively and she’s giving nothing back, that I’ll be okay. Why?
1) Been through it before and survived, and I had no idea what I was even getting into or doing it purposely. So 7 years later, I think I can survive again especially being more aware.
2) Christ did it. Does it. He empowers us to follow His example, so hey, I’m good.
3) Speaking of Christ, if all goes wrong, I have Him to fall back on. There’s no real heart break when I’m extended unconditional, endless love. With that love as my main source, I can love and not worry if I’m getting back from a human, because I’m getting more from God.
The thing is, you’re really cute.
Like, everything you do is cute.
And it’s easy to get caught up in that, smiling and staring and wishing I could be around you more than I get to (and without all those other people around, because those moments where it just gets to be you and me…man).
But I sit here and think of the “ideal” romance (I use that loosely, because my definitions don’t often corroborate the common ones) - I don’t think it could feature you.
Because I’ve had a fire ignited inside of me before, and though you certainly do something to my insides, it’s not that.
I don’t think we could ever truly create passion together.
That could be shallow - the result of watching too many whirlwind romance movies as I grew up (or just the same one over and over and over again for the past 16 years - Titanic, anyone?), but no, because like I said: I’ve had that fire ignited inside of me before. And once you’ve experienced that, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
I think right now I’m caught up in all sorts of crush feelings and infatuations and don’t get me wrong, I really do think you’re great, but the more I think about it, I suspect that there will be a point where that will all fizzle away, and it’ll have to end because it will go no further.
And perhaps that’s okay, for the experience.
But I’m starting to delve a bit into my mid-20’s and goodness knows that if I had a say in the matter, I would be settled down and married last week, and I don’t care how “traditional” it sounds - I want to start investing into the person I will be spending the rest of my life with now. I don’t want to waste such intentional time on anyone else.
And I already know I won’t be marrying you. Nobody tell me “Well, you never know what will happen.” I know. It won’t be you.
And beyond that, I know I have to be with that person who lights the fire inside of me. If we can’t create passion, then…
How I’m going to propose to/seduce my future wife
Think about it.
God created our bodies to be beautiful. Our entire bodies.
Yet we’ve turned it into something shameful and made it impossible for someone to appreciate the body as a whole without it immediately being “lustful.”
But then in an attempt to fight this, people have taken it to the other extreme and embraced a sexualization of the body, which isn’t the answer either, but actually rather fuels the initial problem - equivocating the naked body solely with sex.
If you cannot take in and appreciate the naked body of your preferred gender without it being lustful, then there’s going to be some issues come the wedding night.
It’s a fine line to walk, I admit, but maybe not as fine as we think. When we give into this idea that all appreciation of nudity, all sexual desire is immediately lust, then it opens wider the doorway to actual lust. We resign ourselves immediately to lust without consideration, which in turns makes it easier for us to fall directly into actual lust.
We also end up ultimately demonizing what is supposed to be a good thing. It’s dangerous to think of something “bad” or “forbidden” that actually really isn’t, because it turns a small stumble into a huge fall. It creates guilt and shame that may very well actually be unwarranted, and once that precedent of shame is there, it’s actually easier to fall deeper into something that actually is bad. Shame has a funny way of driving you further into sin. Shame makes you feel like you’re not good enough, so why not just give completely in since you can’t fight against it?
(Whereas grace draws you to something much better than what you’ve been doing. It gives you the freedom to overcome, the knowledge that you have been made good enough and with that comes the strength to resist.)
I think we define lust a lot of times as something as it’s not. I think we also use it synonymously with “sexual desire/attraction” which just not the case. Don’t get me wrong here - I’m not writing this in order to justify certain behaviors or thoughts, or to “widen” the narrow path. Not by any means. When the issue actually is correctly defined as lust, then it needs to be handled appropriately.
Lust is consuming. It takes control. It drives your actions, your thoughts, your motives. It takes a good thing and makes it the only thing, thus sucking all virtue out of it.
You can want to have sex with someone without it being lust.
Even bolder - you can have premarital sex with someone without it being lust. And I personally believe that sex should be had within the context of a lifelong covenant between two people (what we like to commonly refer to as marriage), but to reduce all sex outside of marriage to being lust-driven is ridiculous.
I just know I can admire a beautiful body in the same way I can admire a beautiful face or beautiful heart. It’s driven by attraction, sure, but it doesn’t have to be lustful.
Has it been lustful before? It’s not something I deal with often, to be honest, but yeah, sure, it’s happened, I suppose. But if I see a nice pair of legs, I will go, “Wow. That is a really nice pair of legs, and I find that quite attractive…” Then I will move on. And I should be able to say, “She has great legs” without it being considered in the realm of lust. Because it’s not.
Because why is it that we’re made to feel like we can’t appreciate God’s creations fully without it being sinful? There is a line - I will return to that, because I do think, say, pornography objectifies, exploits and is used to feed lust. But I honestly wouldn’t consider a tasteful, aesthetic and artful photograph of a naked woman’s (or man’s) body pornographic or inherently lustful if it’s intent is to truly highlight the beauty of God’s creation rather than present this woman or man solely as a sex object.
A common Christian complaint is that the world puts too much weight on sex, but I think traditional Christianity falls prey to that as well. Human attraction and relation doesn’t all come back to sex; there’s something much more beautiful and complete that it manifests into. If we say the object isn’t sex, then we need to stop freaking out about everything that can be remotely tied to it, too
I know I’m all over the place with this post, and a lot of it is relatively convoluted, but it’s not meant to be some put-together essay but rather the thoughts floating around in my head.
I think it’s a multifaceted issue. Wanting to have sex is not a bad thing. We’re supposed to want to have sex. And exercise self-control, of course, but have the maturity, wisdom and such to be able to embrace sexual desire as a part of being human. Repressing and villainizing it until marriage is a little ridiculous; are we supposed to suddenly turn on a switch to change how we feel about it as soon as the ring gets on?
I really don’t know if this is my concluding point, but you can think about sex without it being a lustful venture. It may very well be a harder thing for people to do, I admit - I am largely speaking from personal experience. I don’t know. I just think a lot of the dialogue about sex and lust within Christian circles is really ridiculous and ultimately ignorant. This “fight” against premarital sex that the church has taken up has turned into criminalizing all things that have to do with sex in some attempt to keep the unmarried away from it (which as we have seen is so effective) and I think there’s so much more to the sex thing than that.
I don’t know. I’m just talking.
Just kind of watched this video in which the speaker is saying that the Word is calling men to get a wife.
Really? Because the New Testament has a definite lilt of almost reluctance when talking about marriage. Jesus mentions marriage twice (didn’t double check this so I am willing to admit that I may be wrong on this): in regards to divorce and declaring that there is no marriage in heaven. There is definitely no “call” to marriage in his ministry, as far as what’s recorded in the New Testament, but a call to make disciples of all the nations. (Matthew 19:3-9; Matthew 22:30; Matthew 28:19)
It should be noted that after Jesus speaks on divorce, the disciples say that it is better not to marry, and Jesus does say that not everyone is able to receive that call. It is notable that He doesn’t refute the disciples’ words, but rather acknowledges that not everyone can handle singleness, which reads more as consolation than a call. And even if not a consolation, still not a call to marriage, but rather an allowance to those who want to marry. He’s not speaking against marriage, but He’s certainly not commanding it either (Matthew 19:10-12).
And of course famously, Paul has quite the negative take of marriage, offering it as a consolation for those who lack self-control. He’s practically like, “Well…if you can’t keep it in your pants, I guess we’ll let you get married, but you’re really better without it.” (my paraphrasing of 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 haha)
Stop making marriage the utmost aim of the Christian life! Because it’s not. Don’t tell men that they need to go find a wife now (as if it’s that easy or necessarily in God’s immediate plan for them). Exhort them to serve Christ and serve people! And if that significant other comes along, snatch ‘em up, sure! But I personally don’t believe we should be looking to get married. We should be looking to share love, address needs and serve others as we get closer to God, having faith that if we are called to marriage, then God will place that person in our lives at the right time. And being open to what He wants for us - whether it be marriage or singleness.
But to say that as soon as we hit our twenties, we need to be on the prowl for a spouse is foolish, in my opinion. And such hastiness and mixed priorities leads to trouble and potentially entering into a marriage one shouldn’t be in or isn’t ready for.
Why are we focusing on all the wrong things? Jesus Christ, who we’re called to imitate, was unmarried, for goodness sake! And Paul was unmarried during his ministry. Yet we hold marriage in such a high standing that I think it actually becomes an idol, because we place it as a higher calling and purpose in our lives than, say, evangelism, charity and all out surrendering to God.
Ultimately, though, I suppose that’s my interpretation and opinion, so take it as you will.