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Bullying: A Christian Perspective, pt. 5

If you are being bullied…

Over the last several weeks, we have been exploring how God’s word addresses bullying, specifically from the perspective of the bully. In the following weeks, we will be exploring how Scripture addresses bullying from the perspective of the one being bullied. The one being bullied should take heart and pursue righteousness in their situation based upon four main topics, which we will explore each week: Responsibility and Sovereignty, Personal Peace and Purity, Right Appeals to Authority, & the Resolve to Persevere. We will conclude our series with a reminder of the identity and security of the believer who bullies others or who is bullied by others.

Responsibility & Sovereignty

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The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Dt. 29:29). When we are the recipients of bullies’attempts to target us with humiliation, we are introduced to a slippery slope of response. Ken Sande, in his book, The Peacemaker, describes it like this, “There are three basic ways people respond to conflict. These responses may be arranged on a curve that resembles a hill. On the left slope of the hill we find the escape responses to conflict. On the right side there are the attack responses. And in the center we find the peacemaking responses.”[1] Sande goes on to explain that anytime we are faced with a difficult conflict or dilemma, we stand upon this icy slope and, depending upon our view of God, we can slide either way. Ultimately, we want to stay atop this slope, faithfully making a Christ-exalting response. But as said before, the crucial factor that determines this is our current understanding of God. So the question is posed, “Does God know about this?”

One of the most treasured truths about our God is that He is sovereign. As a popular theologian once put it, “”There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'”[2] Put a better way, Paul writes

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Col 1:15-18)

Notice this beautiful truth, that as Christ is head over all things, He is also head over the church. In all things He is preeminent. This means that the same one whom God has appointed Master over governing officials and empires, He has also appointed as the Head of the Church! In other words, what have we to fear? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) Does God know about your “friend” spreading false rumors about you? Does God know that you are getting beat up for apparently no reason? Does God know that groups of girls are ganging up against you to ruin your reputation as you know it? This text suggest that not only does He know it, but He is in control over how far He will allow it to go.

The question comes, “Why has He allowed it to go this far?” To this, I believe, God gives you the only answer you need to know. Peter, in writing to Christians who were persecuted, explicitly for their faith, writes to encourage them and guide them, saying, “In this [the past, present, and future effects of God’s salvation] you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7, emphasis mine). Simply put: testing reveals genuineness. Applied to being bullied, how you think, feel, and respond to being bullied has everything to do with your relationship to God – and it will show its genuineness in your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Will you grab ahold of all the blessings and promises of God and trust in your Creator and Savior? Or, will you take matters into your own hands and slide down to either side of the slippery slope? Once Paul asks the question in Romans 8:31, his next question injects a shot of relief and joy in the ears of his audience, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (8:32) The God who is sovereign over all, who has shown His ultimate love in offering His Son up for your sins, has also abundantly given you all things you need to face the situations He allows in your life.

So, since our God is sovereign and for His people, how are we to be responsible over our situation? The next few posts will explore different ways that God opens up for us to be responsible. I need to stress that each of the ways we exert our responsibility needs to be grounded in a character that aligns with Christ. Roles and responsibilities that are carried out apart from the identity and character we have in Christ will be done foolishly and dangerously. Christ’s purchase of his disciples by his death and resurrection, his example of love and sacrificial servitude by his life, and the indwelling of his Spirit by his ascension all must stir in our minds and hearts as we carry out the responsibilities he gives to us.

[1] Ken Sande, The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Conflict, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004), 22-23. For a more teen-oriented version, see Ken Sande and Kevin Johnson, The Peacemaker: Handling Conflict without Fighting Back or Running Away, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2008).

[2] Abraham Kuyper: A Centennial Reader, ed. James D. Bratt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 488. Quote from Kuyper’s inaugural address at the dedication of the Free University of Amsterdam.

Bullying: A Christian Perspective, pt. 4

Jesus Offers a Rescue for Bullies

Truly this man was the Son of God!” In Jesus’ time, a common way to execute a criminal that was not a Roman citizen was to crucify him. Today, crucifixes are worn around the neck, on bracelets or anklets as pendants, all over T-shirts, or on any part of the skin as a tattoo. It’s interesting how things change over time. It’s more interesting to hear this quote in the context it is spoken. A few hours after nailing Jesus to the cross, this Roman centurion[1] observed Jesus give up his life, crying out with his final breath, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk. 23:46) and “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). This made an immediate impact upon the soldier for at least two reasons. First, it was unheard of that a crucified man would die that early in the process. It could take several days for a man to die by crucifixion, since the way one dies is by slow asphyxiation. Crucifixion was meant to be a tool for warning and humiliation for all criminals to see, which is why it was performed on a hillside, so all passing by got the memo. It was meant to strike fear in the hearts of all the would-be lawbreakers, as if saying “criminals beware.” The Roman guards, keeping watch over the victims, would supply them with sour wine mixed with numbing medicines to keep them alive as long as possible. The incentive to the drink was that the numbing medication took away some of the pain of the victim. So while you lived longer in such a condition, you also felt less pain. Furthermore, crucifixion was reserved for the worst of criminals. Normally, Roman citizens could not be crucified. Only foreigners that have committed heinous crimes could be crucified, including Jews.[2] Therefore, for a Roman centurion to see a man die within six hours of initially being nailed to the cross would be very rare. I would argue that it was so rare that it took the guard by such surprise so as to open his eyes to see that Jesus was the man he said he was.

Second, when Jesus died by crucifixion, he left an imprint no one else did when they were executed in such a way. Matthew, in his gospel, records certain miraculous effects that took place at Christ’s death, namely, that (1) the curtain of the temple was torn in two, (2) the earth shook, (3) the rocks were split, (4) tombs were opened, and (5) the saints who had died were raised to life and appeared to many (Mt. 17:50-54). Matthew writes, “When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” His eyes were opened to see the miracles as being linked to Jesus’ death and not some coincidental chain of events.

The point is this: the death of Christ surrounded a hardened, government-sanctioned executioner with such awe that it melted his heart and caused him to praise the one, true God. The good news is that since Jesus offered his life for those who took part in nailing him to a tree, he most certainly offers it to those 2000 years later who, in a different way, took part in the same act. While you may have made people cry, hide, fear, contemplate or even commit suicide, Jesus offers forgiveness. While this doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility in the matter(s) (you must make justice complete with those who you have wronged by seeking reconciliation through the process of asking and living out forgiveness), it does clear your guilt before God and gives you a new heart and desires to do good and to start down the path of making right the wrongs you have committed against others. Look to Christ. Be overwhelmed by his tremendous sacrifice for such a sinner who despised his Maker and looked only after himself. Repent and be restored. Then, go seek restoration with those whom you’ve wronged. May God bless you richly in Jesus Christ.

[1] A “centurion” was a military commander in charge of about 100 soldiers.

[2] All information on crucifixion taken from J.B. Green, “Death of Christ I: Gospels,” in The IVP Dictionary of the New Testament, under section title “Crucifixion in the Ancient World,” (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2004), 265-66.

Bullying: A Christian Perspective, pt. 3

If you are bullying others…

Last week we considered how bullies abuse both people of God and the power that belongs only to Jesus, which he earned through his perfect life and sacrificial service. This week we will look at two other aspects involved in bullying: its extent and its judge.

The Extent of Bullying: 1=10

10 Commands Bullying Graph

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it,” All of the Ten Commandments are linked together. As James wrote above, if you break one, you break them all (Jas. 2:10).  What bullies need to understand is that the act of harassment is not simply an act that violates one law. It is an act that violates every law. (See figure 1) Further, in violating every law, it violates what the Law points to, namely the holiness of God.

Potentially, one could argue that a better name for bullies could possibly be “murderers.” As you can see in Figure 1, one broken command is linked to all others. So, along with murderer, we could also add coveter, liar and slanderer, thief and robber, abuser of both relationships and time, one who brings shame instead of joy, scoffer, idolater, and ultimately, God-hater. “Bullying” is much worse than what the word makes it out to be. And what is true of bullying is just as true for every other sin. I write this not to shame or guilt bullies into anything, but to remind them that what may seem to be a little thing, is actually monumental to a holy God. We must have our eyes opened to the fact that sin is not a little thing in the eyes of an infinitely holy God, but is instead an infinite offense. One violation to His standard, in fact, violates all His standards, and does so infinitely. Therefore, if you call God your Creator and name Jesus Christ at your Savior, it would be good for you to think on these things, and not suppress them any longer. Spend time thinking over passages like Romans 1:16-32, 1 John 1:5-2:11, and James 2:8-13. Pray that the Lord would open your heart to understand these truths and ask that He make them applicable to you, that you might truly live out the purpose for which you were made.

One Judge

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” In this passage, James addresses some Christians who are showing partiality to the wealthy and neglecting the poor. This led to many in the various churches getting angry, even to the point of fighting and quarreling with each other! James even has the audacity to call them “adulteresses” because of their passion for worldly things over their passion for godly things. Yet, James does not leave them with such a pronouncement of guilt without leading them to a solution. It would be absurd for a doctor to tell a patient they have a treatable kind of cancer, but then fail to mention the treatment. How much more absurd would it be for James to tell his readers of their spiritual cancer without pointing to an eternal solution for their lives! In this cluster of twelve verses in chapter four, James leads them through three phases. First, he lets them take a good, painful look in the mirror to show them the extent of their sin. The cares and stuff of the world blinded them to seeing their ugliness and wickedness. Sin was destroying them (4:1-4). But then, he reminds them of the word of God. Specifically, he reminds them that their life is not their own, but was a gift from God, for which he yearns jealously (4:5), and that God gives a grace that is greater than all their sin (4:6). Because of these Scriptural truths, James, thirdly, calls them to repentance (4:7-12). Specifically, James calls them to submit to God, to draw near to God, to turn their evil behavior into sincere repentance, and adds practical ways to change their behavior in verse eleven. At the end of this lies one very important reminder, “there is only one lawgiver and judge.” It’s as if he is saying, “Remember, there is one far more powerful than you. His judgment is the one that counts. Remember.” While the thirst for power, self-esteem, self-image, and popularity is always tempting, we must remember that sin always promises much (Gen. 3:6), and always delivers little (Gen. 3:7-10). We must not let temptation become so hungry that we sink our teeth into other people’s livelihood, and drain them like a parasite that we might have a more “fulfilled” life. Remember, there is only one, true judge. He is also redeemer. His judgment is the only one that matters.

Next week we will finish up this section of our blog by looking at one more aspect of bullying from the bully’s perspective: Jesus’ rescue for bullies.

Bullying: A Christian Perspective, pt.2

If you are bullying others…

There are several things that could be mentioned here, but since space is of the essence, we will only explore four vital areas the Bible shouts to those who are taking part in bullying others: (1) the abuse of people and power, (2) the extent of bullying, (3) the fact that there is only one judge, and (4) an ever-open invitation to repent.

Abuse: The Image of God and the Call from God

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” What is important to understand is that those whom you bully are just like you – they were created in the image of their Creator, just as you were. There is one Creator God, and we were all made in his image, to be his image-bearers to the ends of the earth. Our original purpose was to spread his purity, glory, love, and order throughout His created world (Gen 1:26-31). Each person is highly valued in His sight. He cares for His creatures. Therefore, bullying (or harassing or abusing) is a form of blasphemy against your Creator. The one who made you, knows you closer and deeper than you know yourself, and the one who provides each heartbeat, breath, and proper functioning of each atom of your body, is the ultimate one whom you are targeting. Each time you use your beating heart, your vocalized breath, your hands and feet to abuse the life of another made in the image of your Creator, you are breathing threats against Him. This is very unwise and not profitable for you. Furthermore, it shows a deeply-rooted carelessness and ignorance of God’s grand design in His creation. Losing awe over God’s creation is the first step on the path to abusing it. This includes humans. This ironically shows that the one who suffers most from your abuse is you in at least two ways. First, you intentionally mock your God and Creator who supplies your every need – though He is not required to. Second, you take part in blinding yourself to the glory of His creation, and therefore, to the glory of His essence. Simply put, you are missing out on living an abundant life filled with joy and satisfaction, through Jesus Christ – God’s merciful provision to abusers and slanderers.

Not only is the abuse of people an issue, but also an abuse of power. We are all drawn to power, for as we were created in God’s image, we fell from that glory to a selfish and lost mentality and status. Therefore, while we are drawn to power, we have impure motives for obtaining it and using it. In order to bring us to an awareness of power properly wielded (and to expose our abuse of such power), Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully man, came and, instead of dominating people, served their needs. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul paints a picture of how we are to act, which he ties directly to who Christ is and what he has done. His main points lie in verses 3 and 8, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves…And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Here, we see the God-man, Jesus Christ, who could have ruled over earth with an iron fist, becoming obedient to the point of death – dying for the ones who sinned against him! Surely he who had possession of all the power would have exercised that power better than dying! But there is no greater power than this – that he who has it would give it up, for the sake of his friends. And this is the connect Paul makes in verse 3, “count others more significant than yourselves.” We wrongly use power to put others down to lift ourselves up to impress our peers and look good. In so doing, we have such a lust for power, that we forget about people being made in God’s image and our foundational purpose to serve each other as Christ has served us sinners. This passage in Philippians ends with victorious irony – the one who subjected himself to servanthood is now the Only Powerful King over all creation – everyone, everywhere, everything, every time.

Within the last point is this essential truth: Christ has all power, not you. What this means, then, is that, while you believe you are exercising power over another, there is one far greater who is exercising power over you. Paul states the fact in Colossians 1:16, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” The passage goes on to say that not only did Christ create them, but he also is ruling above them. If this includes powers such as “rulers or authorities” over nations, it most certainly means all those under them – meaning you and me. Therefore, it is for your benefit that you recognize that while it seems you are at the top by putting others down, you are really at the bottom of an infinitely long chain of command. But if you would rather settle for relative popularity in this life, be my guest. Don’t expect it to last long, but expect the punishment to be with you the rest of your life – and possibly eternity. The beauty here is, that Jesus obtained this power by becoming a servant who sacrificed his life that abusers and slanderers could believe on him, embrace his truth and sacrifice, and be restored to living in a right relationship with God our Creator. Why fight your way up the ladder through abuse when true life is found in sacrificial service?

Next week we’ll try to take up the second aspect listed above – the extent of bullying.

Bullying: A Christian Perspective, pt. 1

Many reports storm the news, magazine articles, blog entries, facebook accounts, and even local and federal government policies, concerning bullying.[1] Anti-bullying movements are cultivated and, ironically, use aggressive tactics to solve this ever-increasing difficulty.[2] Schools are trying to keep the outbreak in check with various programs, moralistic appeals, and trying to create a “positive school climate.”[3] In fact, the first book published on preventing cyberbullying and “sexting” (entitled, “School Climate 2.0: Preventing Cyberbullying and Sexting One Classroom at a Time”) was released on April 10, 2012. At the time of writing this, every state, except Montana, has a bullying law in place in order to protect and give justice to those who are victims. While there is currently no federal law against bullying at this time, action is being taken.[4]

Despite all this attention (as good as it may appear), efforts seem not to be working. Today, 52 percent of kids report seeing bullying at least once a week,[5] and 43 percent of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last year.[6] With the major development of various social media venues over the past decade, bullying is soaring to new heights, taking what is done in school buildings to students’ own bedrooms. Furthermore, the induction of bullying into the cyber realm has paved the way for bullies to access more information through all the different social media venues including directions to their home address, current location, phone number, email, and other social media accounts – all aiding the bully (or bullies) to have a direct link to their target.

With an increasing number of teens suffering from bullying in public and private school systems[7] (not to mention at home and work), what must a Christian think about such things? Is there a category for bullying in the Bible that we can draw from and apply? How does a Christian handle being the target of bullies? Should we step into a situation where we see others being bullied? Could we be the bullies?

In this series of articles, I will try to make apparent how Scripture guides us to think about bullying from three different angles: the bully, the bullied, and special cases. At this heart of this, I am operating off the premise that bullying is a direct mockery of God, since all people are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27; Jas. 3:9). Ultimately, it should be seen as a form of abuse.

Everyone a Sinner

Before beginning, it would be wrong for me to say that this is only one-sided – that is, 52 percent of teens are being bullied – without mentioning that those same kids may be bullying others too. In other words, we must be careful, when we think of bullying on a large or narrow scale, to slide into a “victim mentality.” With all the hype over bullying, there can come a mindset cultivated in students’ minds that do not help them in the real world. They begin to see anyone who poses a threat to be “the man” and therefore, must “stick it to them” in some way (whatever that means). Students in this position are constantly encouraged to see themselves as “victims,” and therefore, devoid of any guilt or responsibility in the matter, when in fact, every thought, response, or reaction is measured by Christ’s perfection. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the action being taken towards bullying must avoid being unidirectional. This must be seen as more of a two-front war, understanding the fact that both the bully and the bullied are sinners. This truth must guide our thinking and interaction concerning this topic. The bully is one who wants to invoke fear and pain while nurturing a low self-image and self-worth. The bullied is one who could potentially react to their hurt in a myriad of sinful ways, from self-harm (cutting, suicide) to self-protection (slander, murder) and everything in between.  Therefore, this series will try to  deal with both the bully and bullied in their biblical self-portrait: fallen image-bearers, offered redemption in Christ, on their life-path to their eternal destination.

Rethinking Terms

In the 1530s, “bully” meant “sweetheart.” In the 1600s, bully began deteriorating from “fine fellow” to eventually “harasser of the weak.” In 1710, the verb was coined and tethered to the negative form of the noun. Thus, we call those who harass others “bullies.”[8] However, the term “bully,” I believe, is inadequate and should be replaced with a more suitable word for the act (perhaps something like “harasser,” “abuser,” or “slanderer”). Nevertheless, addressing terminology does not properly address and attempt to provide guidance in a situation. What does the word of God tell us? Next week, we will take a look at how it addresses bullies, themselves.

[1] For an interesting example of a federal approach, see CNN’s article, “Obama anti-bullying message called ‘symbolic.’ http://articles.cnn.com/2010-10-22/politics/obama.bullying_1_anti-bullying-dan-savage-president-barack-obama?_s=PM:POLITICS (accessed: May 11, 2012).

[2] For an ironic and self-defeating take on anti-bullying campaigns, Dan Savage gives a model message. http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/tgc/anti-bullying-speaker-attacks-bible-christian-teens (warning: explicit language used in video).

[3] Sameer Hinduja, “Cyberbullying and School Climate.” Cyberbullying Research Center. http://cyberbullying.us/blog/cyberbullying-and-school-climate.html (accessed: May 11, 2012).

[4] Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin, “A Brief Review of State Cyberbullying Laws and Policies.” Cyberbullying Research Center. http://www.cyberbullying.us%2FBullying_and_Cyberbullying_Laws.pdf (accessed: May 11, 2012).

[5] Bullying Prevention. Ncpc.com. National Crime Prevention Council. http://www.ncpc.org/newsroom/current-campaigns/bully-prevention (accessed: May 11, 2012).

[6] Cyberbullying. Ncpc.com. “Stop Cyberbullying Before It Starts.” National Crime Prevention Council. http://www.ncpc.org%2Fresources%2Ffiles%2Fpdf%2Fbullying%2Fcyberbullying.pdf (accessed: May 11, 2012).

[7] Fourteen percent of students, ages 12 through 18 reported being bullied during school in 2001, a proportion that increased to 32 percent in 2007. In 2012, 52 percent report seeing bullying. For more information like this, see http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/371 (accessed: May 11, 2012).

[8] Bully. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bully (accessed: May 10, 2012).

Christian Ethics: Singleness (pt. 2)

Last week, we looked at the topic of singleness through two categories of ethics: character and duty. This week we will continue to look at this topic through two more categories: goals and wisdom. All this is founded upon the completed work that Christ has done on our behalf. This completed work, as seen in Ephesians 2:1-10, redeems us and repurposes us for the life he has planned for us.

Our Goals In Singleness

Our goals while we are single are to reflect what God has already planned for us to pursue. They need to be rooted in our identity of Christ and conform to the character of Christ (cf. Mt. 5:3-12). They need to reflect our call to be disciples and make disciples (cf. Mt. 28:18-20). They need to be rooted in God’s priorities for his servants (Mt. 6:33). Certain diagnostic questions could be asked and entertained in order to seek to align our goals with our Savior’s directives.

Men could ask themselves questions like:

  • Am I regularly being washed in God’s word that I might be able to wash my future bride in God’s word?
  • Am I in any relationships with older men in my church that can grow me in understanding of how to prepare to be a husband?
  • How do I need to grow in godliness to be ready to lead another in godliness?
  • Am I financially able to support another person?
  • Am I pursuing spiritual maturity in order to be more willing to make sacrifices when needed for my future wife?
  • Am I putting all my worship into my Savior alone that I may resist making my wife my functional object of worship?
  • Are my motives in pursuing this girl for marriage godly and commendable, or selfish and empty?
  • Is what I am looking for in a wife just a product of my romantic fantasies, or is it based in what I believe God has called women to be? (Our romanticized ideal of what we would like in a spouse is often not according to what God knows is best for us)
  • Am I making the connection that to the extent that Christ loved and gave himself up for the church will be the extent that I am called to love and give myself up for my future bride?
  • What am I doing in my relationships now that is cultivating that kind of love and sacrifice?

Likewise, women could ask themselves questions like:

  • How do I need to grow in godliness to be ready to be led by another without contending with him for leadership?
  • How am I engaging in relationships with the older women in my church to grow in understanding of how to prepare to be a wife?
  • Am I growing in maturity so that I may be able to love by making sacrifices necessary in a relationship?
  • Is my desire to be in a relationship based upon my God-appointed roles and responsibilities, or am I buying into the lie of the world that I need a certain kind of sexual/seductive attention?
  • Do I want to be wanted so bad that I could care less about how I make him think or feel about me?
  • Am I making the connection that how the church submits to Christ is how I will need to submit to my husband?
  • What am I doing in my relationships now that are cultivating that kind of submission and support?

There are two other categories that could be commented on here: personal purity and prolongation of marriage. Concerning purity, the question could be asked, what do you long for above all things: the benefits of a spouse or the pursuit of godliness? Further, how are you factoring in Mt 5:8 into your thoughts about and pursuit of a helpmate? Multiple times, we are called to flee impurity and idolatry, and to replace such desires with ones that would honor God. Since we are no longer children of darkness of sons of light, we must put off all inklings to indulge in pornography, sexual fantasy, scenario creation, searching eyes, and character creation, and put on purity, godliness, righteousness, and patience. (Rom 13:11-14; 1 Cor. 6:12-20; Eph 4:17-32; Col 3:1-17; 2 Tim 2:22)

Briefly concerning the prolongation of marriage, the simple goal if we have desire for the opposite sex, is to get married. It would be sinful to indulge the desire without going about it in the God-appointed way of marriage. Reasons for putting off marriage or prolonging an engagement should be strictly held up to the lens of Scripture and counsel should be sought with parents and pastors in order to be tested and the people protected. (cf. 1Cor. 7:8-9, 32-38)

The Wisdom Surrounding Singleness

Concerning wisdom, I will offer just a few points and reflective questions.

  • Do we care enough to desire our Father’s wisdom in our singleness, or do we instead desire to go about it our own way?
  • Though we may have been in relationships before, have they made us humbled to depend upon the Father’s leading or hardened to deepen our DIY mentality?
  • Wisdom in singleness will look like growth in contentment and assuming our God-given roles. Wisdom will guide the questions of: How? How much? When? Who? Where? How fast? How slow? Who else should I involve?
  • Wisdom also provides the understanding that the fate of our world does not rest on “a bad guess.” That is, while we need to make wise choices in step with our character, we will not utterly destroy our lives if we say “no” to this person or “yes” to that person and the relationship does not come to marriage.
  • Wisdom warrants risks. Due to Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we can take risks. Caution! Risk does not mean “license to sin and make dumb decisions.” Risk means “movement grounded in the full Gospel of Jesus Christ that takes us outside our culturally conditioned comfort level.”
  • Wisdom instructs us that we are engaging in a lifelong, committed relationship with a crazy sinner. There is no princess or prince right off the bat. These kinds of treasures are forged in difficult relationships, not fallen into.