Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Deafening Silence

We live in a therapeutic society. We tend to measure the value of things by the personal advancement we will receive. For instance, by around eighteen years old, men and women begin the quest to find a career that will bring fulfillment and meaning to their lives. If they choose wrongly, and don't feel fulfilled by their career, they change course in the middle of their lives to another career. I've even heard a story where a mother with young children went to work so that her unfulfilled husband could go back to college and start fresh in a new career after thirty. I'm not condemning their decision. But I do think it's an indicator of our selfishness. This man had a decent job, was providing well for his family, but just decided he didn't find his job fulfilling.

The decision to have children is sometimes made along similar lines. We decide whether or not to have children based on our feelings at the time. If we want to raise our children correctly, we realize how much of a "burden" it will be on our lifestyle. If we feel like life is providing all the meaning and fulfillment we are looking for without children, we fear that having children may endanger our fulfillment. On the other hand, if our life feels meaningless without children, we may decide to have children out of a search for meaning.

Our culture approaches marriage in the same way. We choose to marry, or remain unmarried, or live together outside of marriage, or pursue relationships with those of the same gender out of a desire for our own fulfillment, or what we think will advance us to the most self-actualized state we can attain. When we don't feel like our marriage is giving us that meaning or fulfillment, we figure maybe our spouse might not be the "one" after all. So we set out to find the "one" that we've missed so far. Forget the vows. Forget the kids. Forget God. Forget everything we've built with our spouse over years of investment. Divorce. Start over in the quest for self-fulfillment.

Christians have bought into this destructive lifestyle as much as anyone. But we must stop. Our lifestyle choices must flow from a Bible-saturated, God-glorifying conscience, not the latest episode of Oprah or the View. Marriage is all about serving God, not finding meaning. Apart from God, and a magnetic attraction toward Heaven, everything in this life, including marriage, is inherently meaningless because it's all under a curse. God has punished man by denying fulfillment in vocation, children, marriage, leisure and any other category of life. And so the quest for fulfillment is a quest in futility.

As we examine the subject of marriage in the Bible, we are confronted with a deafening silence concerning self-fulfillment. That's just not one of God's front burner issues. When we see marriage in the Bible, we learn very little about the couples' personal lives - how they felt about their relationships. Could the lack of revelation concerning personal marital satisfaction be a clue to where it stands in God's list of priorities? Could a couple's love for God and their neighbors be more important to God than how well they relate to one another? Could marriage be designed more for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ than the advancement of self-fulfillment? Hmmm.

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