Wednesday, September 17, 2014

real talk // singleness and marriage [part 2]

this is the last installment of my series on The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller.

thanks for reading along as i process all the truth in this book!
you can catch up on past posts here: 
  the secret of marriage | the power for marriage | the essence of marriage
the mission of marriage | loving the stranger | embracing the other | singleness and marriage (part 1)

the last half of this chapter discusses practical advice for those seeking marriage. some of these are things i learned the hard way, some i wish i had been told in my teenage years. 

o1 | understand there are seasons for not seeking marriage
if there is always a sense of needing to "have somebody" there may be a seed of idolatry in your heart when it comes to marriage. there are certain times during your life when your judgment may be cloudy due to emotionally charged times, dealing with the death of a close loved one, starting a new job, etc. during these times, what is needed most is deep Christian friendship. 

o2 | understand that your time of singleness is a gift. 
no matter how long or short that time is - it is not a waste or just a "waiting period." Paul speaks of the gift of singleness because it gave him a freedom to concentrate on ministry that he wouldn't have had as much of if he was married. during your time of singleness, whether lifelong or temporary, God is helping you grow and build others up.

o3 | get more serious about seeking marriage as you get older.
as people get older, they tend to think that someone going out on dates with them is interested in a serious relationship. if you are dating someone and you are in your thirties, you could very easily play with their emotions. when you are in your teens or early twenties, you may go on dates with numerous people and not be interested in a relationship. however, the older you get, the more serious you need to take dating because most older people are probably expecting a relationship. 

o4 | do not allow yourself deep emotional involvement with a non-believing person.
although this is a controversial point, there are strong reasons in the Bible for this rule. if Jesus is central to your life and fundamental to your view of life, your spouse that doesn't believe in Jesus won't be able to understand a significant part of you. because your decisions will be based on this view of life, your spouse will also not understand certain decisions you make at all. in a Christian marriage, you relate everything to Christ and the gospel. if your spouse doesn't do this then you will have only two choices - hide your faith and lose a certain connection and transparency with your spouse, or move Christ out of the central part of your life. neither option will aid a healthy marriage and faith. 

o5 | feel attraction in the most comprehensive sense.
marriage is comprised of more than just physical attraction. comprehensive attraction, as defined by Tim Keller, is to be attracted to the character and spiritual fruit of a person. C.S. Lewis speaks of a secret thread that unites people's favorite things. these things trigger an "inconsolable longing" that pull you towards joy in God. "sometimes you will meet a person who so shares the same mythos thread with you that he or she becomes part of the thread itself." spouses can be attracted to who their spouse is and the future glorious self they are becoming through God.

o6 | don't let things get too passionate too quickly.
dating in today's world moves along faster than it used to. there isn't as much time for evaluation of a person's character. because of this people often get swept up into emotions without allowing the comprehensive attraction to develop. "when two Christians participate together in the same Christian community, however, there are plenty of opportunities to enter the worlds of one another in the older way." I love this quote because it is so true. Thomas and I were friends for about 2 years before we started dating. it was during those 2 years that we really got to know each other, we were in small group together and got to know each other's hearts for Jesus and connect on that level before we ever starting dating. i do believe that was such an important part of our story and the best way to really get to know someone's character through friendship. 

o7 | don't become a faux spouse for someone who won't commit to you.
if the relationship has been developing for years and there is no signs of progressing or moving forward, one person may be receiving everything they need and have no plans to move forward to marriage. "the reason Jesus told his disciples not to cast pearls before swine was because a pig can't recognize the value of a pearl. it would seem like just a pebble."

o8 | get and submit to lots of community input.
the great thing about community is that there is so much diversity and people that are at so many different walks of life. we can learn from each other and we should allow others to look into our lives. married Christians should share their marriages with singles and other married couples. "one particular way married people can do that is by displaying the real work of their marriages - not just the sweet, light parts . . . but the hard, embattled parts - to the unmarried." as a married person now, my hope is that i can share how hard and yet how glorious marriage is, not just that "marriage is awesome". it is my hope that my marriage reflects the gospel - there is sin, there is grace, there is restoration. 

what are some things you learned/are learning through singleness in this culture?


  1. I love the 2nd one - understanding that singleness is a gift - I think that is so important, to enjoy it, not be bitter in it!!!!

  2. it really is life-changing!! i am so lucky that i had some wise women & teachers in my life when i was single to show me that! :)

  3. This is all such practical advice--especially the one about community input, that's really important, to be willing to listen to the advice of those older and more experienced than you.

  4. so practical! yes! we were made to live in community & sometimes they will see things that we are blinded to & that's why it's important to be active in community!

  5. Ha, as a Christian married to an atheist, you're right that #4 is controversial. I spent a lot of time praying about it at the very beginning of our relationship, but it took me very little time to come to peace with it. Even my very devout parents can't imagine me with anyone else.

  6. thank you for your comment, Brita!

    i just want to clarify - the points in the book (that this post is reviewing), are not to condemn anything. they are simply stating what the Bible says in multiple places (2 Corinthians 6:14, Nehemiah 13:25-27, Exodus 34:12-16, 1 Corinthians 7:39, etc.) - which is that marrying someone of the same faith is so beneficial to your own faith.

    just like in 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul says it is better to NOT marry - because it is more beneficial to your faith & you have less worldly distractions. but he certainly doesn't say that marrying is a sin. and he certainly doesn't tell anyone not to marry. just like the points in this book are not saying that marrying someone outside of your faith is a sin.

    there is also an example in the Bible of an inter-faith marriage that God did not condemn (Moses Numbers 12:1)

    God is the judge & He is bigger than everything. if God has given you specifically a peace about it, then that is all you need, right? :)

  7. the first 2 are so critical! it is a real struggle when you're single though - i remember!