Figures of Speech: Re Arrangement

Who knew that you could apply logic to the realm of romance and relationships? For far too long, the Western notion of “love at first sight” and “written in the stars” and other such feelings-based nonsense has guided the modern marital zeitgeist. Well, I’m here to show the difference between induction-based reasoning and deductive reasoning with reference to Mr. or Ms. Right. Or Mr. or Ms. Right-Now. Whomever you might be considering. And how, if we were to listen to the left brain when dealing with something that has been the domain of the right for far too long, it would allay most, if not all of the fallout resulting from a poorly planned matrimonial mash-up.

I would first like to say that when you or a loved one goes through a divorce (for me, it was my parents) you hear all the adages that make up the prevailing attitude of the event. I think the one that stood out the most for me was this phrase: “The seeds of the divorce are there when you go up the courthouse steps to apply for the license.” Or down the aisle, or wherever. The church. And that’s a paraphrase by the way, I forget where I read it. The point is, if a marriage is destined for failure (Destiny, hah!) the reasons for it were there all along. Someone wasn’t all in. What follows, at least for the partner most hurt, is a long, dark night of the soul during which they analyze to the nth degree every piece of information in an attempt to ferret out the clues that might have shown the end from the beginning. So why not do it now? If ya got the guts!

I don’t mean to be flippant. Please understand that I’m not a bitter cynic who’s been scorned by the opposite sex and am now here to spew invective at engaged individuals. I am however, concerned about the pathetic state of Western marriage in general (bored, by and large). Wondering if maybe the whole “disposing thereof” should be put into the hands of couples from a generation or two prior who’ve made it thus far. Put the arrangement of prospective couples in the hands of those who actually know what they’re doing. As I know that sanctioning something like that would never fly, the best I can offer is my two cents and the exhortation to put the thing in God’s hands and have Him bless accordingly (or not).

Say you’ve met someone. They now fill your dreams and color your days. You’re on cloud nine, ten even. And before I go any further, if you believe in God and that God has created you and also someone for you (as do I), then the procedure should be simple, right? In an attempt to divine a simple answer (yes/no), we try all sorts of things. Tantamount to pure divination, any sign we see either points to the fact or fiction of the one in question. S/he loves me? S/he loves me not? Enough to tie the knot? Oh, I’m so confused. This would be an example of deductive reasoning. From the top, down. Loosely defined, sure. But whenever we take a conclusion and assert that it’s the right thing, in this case, right person (a “yes”), then we tendentiously see all attendant phenomena as agreeing to their future station as spouse. I would argue against this being the right way to go about thinking of the whole matter. As I mentioned in the previous post, if there’s one thing on this earth about which I’m agnostic (agnostic: without knowledge), it’s the heart-depth of another person. I might be somewhat perspicacious (I like to think I am), but on any deeper level, I need the insight of the Holy Spirit to let me know if someone’s being genuine, honest, merely factual, or just shining me on.

“…for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts…” (1 Chronicles 28:9)

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why would someone want to deliberately deceive me into marrying them? Are you saying there’s no vestige, no trace of love in them for me at all?” And if you’re not asking yourself this, you should be. The world is replete with those who take delight in causing the downfall of others, strip-mining their faith and their confidence before they move on to the next victim. Some call them “emotional vampires”, elsewhere in other circles they are known as “sociopaths”. The Bible uses such terms as “flattering” (Proverbs 26:28), “subtle”, (Proverbs 7:10), “cunning” (Ephesians 4:14), among others. The truth is if we don’t retain some glimmer of a realization that the person we’re looking to spend the rest of our lives with could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, truly, we are being naive.

With these keywords in place, I believe we can then look to the method of induction (a bottom, up approach) as a means of analyzing any qualifying qualities in a prospective mate. Feelings fade. This is the natural order of things. And if this rubs you the wrong way, then take a step back and consider the mental effectiveness with which your boy/girlfriend or fiancée gives you. Do you feel like yourself (remember, can’t truly love another until you love yourself) when you’re with them? Now take feelings out of the equation and consider the smallest of cues, of clues. If you’re Christian, are they? Good. Do they ever bring up topics of discussion in matters spiritual? How deep are they? How sound are they in their doctrine? Now put feelings back in. Does the love of God shine through them? Are they patient? Kind? Compassionate? How do they treat the waiter? Seriously. Everything tells. And as you are making the biggest decision of your life (next to salvation), one that will in turn make or break you, everything should be on the table. Think. *clink* Bottoms up!

While this process might be anathema to many in the throes of a complicated romance, this side should be explored by all. A logical, hands-off approach to finding a mate will not disappoint. Then again, if we don’t think through things rather than simply feel what feels good, we may very well end up being the ones who are disappointed. Where did it go wrong? The clues, the answers, were there all along. And depending on how the marriage turns out, you’ll find that it was arranged from the outset, after all.

 

Advertisements

Figures of Speech: Thinking Twice

Not sure if it’s come through, but as I am a child of divorce, the only thing that I’d assent to being agnostic about is other people. And it’s not that I’m cynical.

“But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men.” (John 2:24)

I can’t say I’m as keen in my ability to read people and motives as it says Jesus was, and is. But since I know myself, I’m therefore able to identify fickleness and shallowness in other people and strike their name from my list. No offense. Does that make them bad or evil? No, it makes them human. Just like me, unperfect. And unless those two things, among several other key factors are identified and reconciled with, placed on the table for discussion, someone shouldn’t be considered a prospective mate. It’s not unkindness, it’s wisdom. Thinking twice about marrying someone that you only think you know should be required of all couples with the intent to marry.

And pre-marital counselling should be legally prerequisite of all couples prior to going down the aisle.

“His disciples say unto Him, if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But He said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.” Jesus and His disciples speaking in Matthew’s Gospel (19:10-11) on the topic of divorce. He continues on in the next verse: “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake.” I read something once that sought to assert that Jesus was advocating self-castration here, which is ridiculous. Sure, a eunuch is a household slave who was castrated so as to prevent breeding. As blunt as that may sound. But there’s also an implied metaphor of willing celibacy—by choice. Then again, when Jesus talks of “cut[ing] off and cast[ing] from thee” any offensive member of the body (hand, foot, eye, Matthew 18:8-9), I suppose the same could be said for inordinate sexuality? Marriage isn’t just about sex. And when a man is attracted to a woman because that’s all he sees and that’s all she shows, the marriage is lame from the outset. Marriage—Christian marriage—is about two people coming together for the cause of Christ. To tell people about the saving grace of Jesus Christ and then show them how it’s done. No two ways around it. People’s words, in this case, aren’t enough to convince. Actions must show that the words spoken carry weight and resonate with the true state of a true heart. A heart that is resonant with the heart of Jesus.

I am a romantic at heart, don’t get me wrong. But as marriage is the most important decision next to salvation, it should be treated as such. And just because society’s paradigm regarding marriage says one thing, that doesn’t mean I have to align myself with it. As with anything, newness fades. And I’ve been smitten and overwhelmed by different women but know in the back of my mind and the bottom of my heart that the feeling will pass. And I also wonder about the source of such intense feeling. Pheromones? Maybe. But I know that there are deep and tangled reasons as to why I would meet someone and not be able to think of anything else for a time. That’s not good. Think twice.

Here’s the thing. I’m single, though only with reference to marriage. And as I am a child of divorce, my attitudes toward marriage have gone from being diametrically opposed, to neutral, to advocate. But even then, as I do not want to get divorced myself, I’m content to wait. One of the most pragmatic pieces of advice my dad ever offered me is when he told me if I had the desire to marry, God put it there and it’s because He made someone to fill that…not void, what’s a better word? Yearning. I assent to that. I’m willing to wait. And to pray for every girl who in spite of looking like she had what it takes, ended up being only a flash in the pan and then burning out.

The Bible is replete with stories of men and women who God brought together through circumstances that make mine look like nothing. Drawing upon those models for wisdom and encouragement is the thing to do.

How will I know? I’ll know.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for Him.” (Genesis 2:18)

And until then? Jesus speaking to His disciples: “and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

Figures of Speech: Denouement

Denouement

Almost sounds like “day no more”. Interesting. A fitting word for divorce. It’s from the French and literally means “the untying of a knot”. A divorce happens when one, if not both members of the marriage, have given up. To their mind, the relationship can go nowhere but down, the offenses in question are unforgivable and irreconcilable and any grass, anywhere, looks greener. As an aside, the actual part of a rope that makes up the braided, twisted part of the knot itself is called a “bight”.

“For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away.” (Malachi 2:16)

When God does anything, there is the stamp of permanence, of eternity. He “only doeth wondrous things” (Psalm 72:17). This is why, from His perspective, divorce is the antithesis of what He stands for, who He is. No one who marries consciously thinks that one day they might be headed to the courthouse or law office to undo the vows they took with one another. But as the years drag on and they realize that they’d be happier alone or with someone else, the quick-release option of divorce begins to glow with possibility. The current divorce rate is around sixty percent. It’s the same for Christian marriages, indicating either God didn’t bring them together (“What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” Matthew 19:6, emphasis mine), or there’s something missing that would help the blind couple see their relationship in a better light. Again, if three out of every five marriages is statistically destined for failure, and God “hateth putting away”, does this mean God hates sixty percent of all marriages? Food for thought. Don’t choke.

“I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:26-27) There! See how easy it is?

Marriages succeed or fail according to the level to which each spouse is willing to know and love Jesus and in turn live out a Christlike attitude towards the other. An attitude of selfless service toward their respective spouse. And yet, this attitude, this integral component of our being (in a word, wholeness) is supposed to have been worked into our life in the years leading up to the day we met Mr. or Ms. Right.

Here’s the thing, we as Christians—male and female alike—make up the bride of Christ. There’s a Japanese word, naijo. It literally means “the inner help”. It refers to the role of a woman in seeing her husband has everything he needs as he lives out his life of service to his liege lord or Shogun. The same principle is found in the Bible. As the man attends to the needs of God, seeing that the family is steered in the direction God would have it, the woman (generally more adept and adroit in matters emotional) is in charge of the invisible realm of the hearts of her husband and children before the Lord. Much has been written and argued over the roles of gender and I’m not here to do the latter. And predictably, there is controversy among contemporary Japanese women who view the status of naijo as demeaning and subordinating. In America, the same attitude is leveled at a biblical view of marriage that insists that the man is head of the house—under God. Though, I believe that equality in marriage—Christian marriage—is still retained in spite of clear roles defined for either gender–we complement one another. And I believe that when those lines—those roles—are disregarded and disrespected, the dissolution of the marriage is only a matter of time. This being said, if the man is askew in his reception of God’s voice, the wife should be able to call him on it. He needs to listen.

Divorce happens for any number of reasons, too many to list. If there was one overarching rule I’ve observed, starting with my own parents’, it would be an unwillingness to admit  they were wrong in some capacity—and then talk about it, being willing to give up everything to save what God started. I can only imagine the ensuing confusion when one thinks, not that they were wrong in doing something that upset their spouse, but in marrying them in the first place. Who knows? God knows. “Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) The word “trouble” there implies pressure. We shouldn’t be surprised when we feel pressed and frustrated in our marriage, but don’t let it get out of hand.

Like a broken bone, a broken marriage can heal and become stronger than it was starting out. And second marriages can in turn be better than a first. But until we learn to “attend upon the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:35), we won’t know how to respond to our significant other. Seen as a love story, we must realize that it takes time and patience and skill to drive a narrative (our marriage) from its opening scenes, on. And to see that the story continues.

“Happily ever after” costs everything.

“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)

 

Figures of Speech: Isaac by Hagar

One of the seminal stories of the Bible, Genesis 16 touches on a point in Abram and Sarai’s lives before they had children. They’d been living in Canaan for ten years and Sarai was getting anxious for a child. God had promised an heir to Abram so as to begin the lineage that would eventually produce Jesus. Up till now, no child had come. Sarai was barren. So in a moment of worry and weakness she decides to give Hagar, their Egyptian maid, to Abram to preempt the process initiated by God spoken of in the previous chapter.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

I watched firsthand as my parents’ twenty-nine year marriage dissolved day-by-day. Any matrimonial object lessons I’ve learned were done so by attrition. One mistake after another came to light and as my mom was unwilling to talk about things, my dad realized that he’d married the wrong person. A sad season for all. There’s no doubt that Sarai—later known as Sarah—was the one for Abram—whose name is now Abraham. But that model doesn’t fit so solidly upon the union that produced my brother and I.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

After Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven, He left the formation of fledgling church in the Spirit-enabled hands of the Apostles. Paul came alongside to elucidate some of the mysteries concerning the application of Christ-like principles to every arena of their new life as followers of Jesus. One serious point of doctrine is that of Christian spouses living in matrimony with those who are unbelievers. Most of his familial precepts are found in his first letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 7, he tells them to remain with their respective unbelieving spouses, that is, if said non-Christian spouses are “pleased to dwell with them” (verses 11-13). Innumerable stories are told of Christian husbands and wives “travailing in pain until Christ be formed” in their spouse. But what if one member of the marriage is merely pretending to believe while the other who truly does, is oblivious to the duplicity of the non-believer? That’s exactly what happened with my mom and dad. And I don’t mean to lambast my mother as she is the woman who God used to bring me into this world—physically. But my love for her has turned from that of a son, to that of a fellow human (a Christian at that) who is concerned for, not just her emotional state, but (as a Christian) also her eternal salvation.

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14)

God took care of Hagar and her son Ishmael after Sarai had cast them out (see Genesis 16:7). To debate on whether or not Sarai’s choice to “deal hardly with [Hagar]” (verse 6) was right is not the point here. The point I’m trying to make is, even if you either accept the Lord to your spouse’s chagrin, or realize that the person you married is not Christian and not the person you thought they were, take heart. My case is very cut and dry because I really wonder whether or not my mother really loves me. It doesn’t bother me anymore. But all of the attendant messiness of divorce can be allayed if both spouses agree to disagree (on such an important topic as religious differences)—because of the children. The children! Can’t we please think about the children!? Please do. And if you don’t have children yet, think twice. Whereas Paul says that the marriage should remain if both husband and wife are “pleased to dwell” with one another, the topics of disagreement weren’t open to discussion in both of my parents’ case so they divorced. Cut and dry. The detritus of which took years to sift through.

My brother, ten years my junior, sailed through. I, however, ran aground on the rocky shoal of a marriage that was built upon lies. My late teens and early twenties were rife with the fallout of decisions I made as a child that produced fruit after their kind. My mother’s influence of selfishness and deceit led me astray and were it not for my dad’s introducing me to Jesus at a young age (four years), I would probably be, now, twice as manipulative as she, ready to continue the cycle.

Isaac was the son of God’s promise. Sarah was the wife that God had given to Abraham to produce Isaac. In spite of our tendency to jump the gun and get involved with those we shouldn’t, He truly works all things “together for good, to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Everyone’s called, not everyone loves Him though.

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:24)

“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:4-5)

 

Figures of Speech: The Same Page

Communication is an art. Verbal communication. I believe that our words have power. And that if our hearts are true, then the words we speak will work together with body language, heart intent and any other non-verbal cue that we use to get our point across. But I believe that with most things, words should lead the way.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34b)

Any art form must be practiced, exercised and continually perfected. With reference to communication, no arena in life (except our relationship with God) is more important than that of our marriage. Sure, mom and dad (hopefully) loved us and understood us without words, but it’s also their presence in which you learned to speak. For God’s sake, your mother’s womb is the first place you experienced the phenomenon of communication. But now you find yourself living on your own with someone who is not related to you by blood, but by spirit. Who, for a time, didn’t know you from Adam. Getting on the same page (a fully justified page, at that) with someone who—in some ways—might be your polar opposite, is an art form that you will spend the rest of your life cultivating and perfecting. God help you. And spirit is thicker than blood.

Wondering

“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8) Same goes for a double minded woman.

I can’t read your mind.

I take that back. If I were to try hard enough and you were deliberately transparent toward me, then something might come across. One of the many reasons (outside of knowing God) that I have a hard time resorting to a theory of scientific materialism is the plethora of unspoken communication (for good or ill) that happens between humans. Animals too. But as we are pretty much exclusive in the spoken-language capacity (Alex the parrot knew…), the chief means of communication in interpersonal, human to human (read: spousal) relationships is words. We weren’t created to think at people, to telegraph our thoughts and feelings to another person. Even if subtle, non-verbal clues seem to indicate that your spouse gets what you’re projecting, that assumption may be totally wrong. No way around it. And it isn’t about enlarging your vocabulary (though that can help), it’s about selflessness and altruism in a loving and Christlike manner toward your significant other. About living out the tenets of love so that even though we’re learning how to see the other person in light of Jesus, we still believe the best for them until their communication is as incisive as it needs to be. So please, don’t think at me.

Wandering

“Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name.” (Psalm 86:11, emphasis mine) That word “unite” is yachad in Hebrew. It means join, unite, become one. It appears thrice in the Bible (Genesis 49:6 and Isaiah 14:20).

I can’t read your heart

Though the Holy Spirit can let me see something, or tell me directly. But again, that’s God’s arena. He knows what we think, He knows how we feel and even then He asks that we speak to Him: “And He (Jesus) spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;” (Luke 18:1, emphasis mine) When we take the easy road and elect to use (for lack of a better term) telepathic transmissions as a substitute for genuine conversation in which real words from a renewed mind and a transparent heart are spoken, we are doing everyone (God, ourselves, our other, to be clear) a disservice. Emotional insecurity and ambiguity–and animosity–are silenced by verbal disambiguity: the speaking, in love, of exactly what we think, and therefore mean, to say.

Words have meaning. I think words are one of the chief examples of symbolism in our lives. Here’s a word. It means this. The sounds and letters that form said word, that in turn forms a thought on which rests emotion and action is one of the miracles of God’s creative power. Learning how the whole system works and using it to the best of our advantage should be one of the chief aims of our lives. Our lives as lived out with our spouse.

 

Figures of Speech: Polarization

So you’re married! Congratulations. I hope you didn’t think that it would be “happily ever after”. Surely you’ve heard the punchline, “the best years of the marriage were the ones before the wedding”? Ouch. Like a jab to the jaw.

We don’t attain to a superior level of humanity upon saying “I do”. A common misconception. If anything, our foibles and shortcomings tend to show themselves now with a greater poignancy than before. Our need for Jesus and His mercy and His insight only increases. As well the need for His forgiveness and understanding. When you were single, if you didn’t spend your time getting to know God as well as yourself, then—and forgive the expression—you’re in for a world of pain. That is, unless you married someone who wasn’t also human, like an angel or something…

“Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.” (1 Corinthians 7:28)

Bitter

Not sure if the phrase “opposites attract” is entirely accurate. It’s one thing to look on the outside for desirable physical qualities in a mate, another to seek semi-superficial character traits that are enticing. But both of those pale in comparison to the importance of Christlikeness in the person you’re (theoretically) going to spend the rest of your life with. The term “polarization” connotes opposite ends of the spectrum, and to my mind, also white, cold, and frozen. It may be one world, but the poles are nigh uninhabitable. As an aside, penguins are only found at the South Pole. Penguins have the ability to inwardly filter salt out of oceanwater to drink, a process known as “desalination”. So too, does the albatross. We don’t have that ability. I know I’m going all over the place here, but follow me. Early editions of the Bible (1600s) show pictures of an albatross as symbolic of Jesus. The correlation here is that Jesus is the one who makes saltwater, fresh. Yeah, I know this sounds silly. But: “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet (fresh) water and bitter (salt)?” (James 3:10-11) James compares the words we speak, for good or ill, to saltwater and freshwater. The former being undrinkable. When we drink saltwater, it leeches the moisture out of our bodies and ends up dehydrating instead of hydrating us. Never tried it myself, but they say it feels like you’re sating your thirst while drinking, only to find that you end up thirstier than when you started out. That is, until your tongue swells up and you choke. Maybe you should put “desalination” on your list of desirable character traits for a prospective mate? Can’t marry a bird…

The words we speak and the motives and thoughts behind them are one of the main causes of polarization in relationships. “For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

Jesus has been symbolized by many different animals, from the lion (“of the tribe of Juda” Revelation 5:5), to the lamb (“worthy is the lamb that was slain” Revelation 5:12) In medieval times, He was symbolized as the albatross, the pelican, and even depicted as a unicorn who—in one Renaissance work of art—dipped its horn in a poisoned forest pond prior to being killed by hunters. The water was purified even as He died. The old poem “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who, himself was unhappily married) tells of a man, stranded at sea, who strings a dead albatross around his neck in order to stave off sharks (it works). Point is, as my dad has often told me, that, “out of both members of a union, Jesus is the most important person”. And the closer we would get to Him during the marriage, the closer we get to our spouse. It’s the natural order of things.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) Jesus is the best marriage counselor out there. Consult with and wait on Him before walking down the aisle and also during the marriage. As He is the one who brought you together, He’s also the one who will keep you that way. Figures of speech notwithstanding.

“And every creature which is in Heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Revelation 5:13)

Better

Then again, Paul says to the Colossians (4:6): “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how we ought to answer every man.” Maybe some “disambiguation” is needed. More on that tomorrow.

 

Figures of Speech: A Holy Hendiadys

A hendiadys might be unnecessary. A hendiadys just shows that you like to embellish your speech maybe a little more than the average speaker. Nothing wrong per se, depends on who you’re talking to, what you’re saying. An example of the grammatical and rhetorical term “hendiadys” would be… let’s see. Well first, a little etymology. It’s literally translated as “one by means of two” from Greek. But isn’t that the idea and ideal of a marriage made in Heaven? When God takes one person and matches them with another, He’s effectively making “one by means of two”.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” (Mark 10:7-8, emphasis mine)

The most elementary, introductory scripture regarding marriage. It even shows a little hendiadic flourish. Instead of saying, “For this cause shall a man leave his parents…” Jesus makes it clear—clearer—by saying “father and mother”. Another example would be when you choose to draw out a statement where simplicity and directness just won’t do. For instance, “to hear with ears that itch”, is essentially a hendiadys of the term “itching ears” from 2 Timothy 4:3. Which in turn refers to those who want to hear gossip and only those things that sound good to them.

Otherwise Engaged

“For I would that all men were even as myself.” (1 Corinthians 7:7) Paul is referring here to his state of singleness and celibacy before the Lord. He continues on by saying (same verse) “But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” Sometimes, a life of purposeful, holy singleness is the best thing for a person. Listen: “But I would have you without carefulness (worry, anxiety). He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” (7:32) Let’s just stop right there. How can we get beyond that? How can a single person get past this stark statement of pragmatic singleness? Same goes for the ladies: “The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (7:34) If we see the Lord as our spouse (try it), then even though we ebb and flow between states of loneliness and solitude and contentment, our anchor is in Him and we find completeness and validation in doing that thing, or things, whatever they may be, that God has placed on our heart for service to Him. This being said, anyone who you (or I) would consider courting, dating, marrying, better be willing to come alongside you to help you rather than having you lay down whatever it is that you’re doing in service to God.

Paul continues on in verse thirty-five: “…and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.” I like that. Sometimes, we think that this one thing (in this case, a significant other) will solve the loneliness that we feel. We see couples out walking, talking, holding hands, and we wish that were us. Should you desire it, rest assured, God has someone for you. And every day that you live and walk before Him is a day closer to meeting that special someone. Hold on, hold out. And even though Paul says that men and women who are married care for their wives and husbands respectively, I believe that marriage can be such that both care for Jesus more than their other, which will in turn cause the marriage to be a thing of lasting and resonant beauty.

Now we come to the end. I believe that after we live for a time in the service of God, learning what He’d have us know—both about ourselves and the world at large, with reference to Him—then, and only then, will He bring along that companion that we’ve been wishing, hoping, praying and waiting for. I believe they arrive when we don’t have to have them. When we’re content by ourselves, without any illusions. Granted, God saw that Adam was alone. “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18), but there’s also the realization that we’re living in the season after Jesus dealt with the uncoupling of God and humanity. He reunited us to God in a spiritual union of which matrimony is only a shadow, a symbol. It behooves us to explore this truth and this reality before getting caught up in the world of another. Take heart. If you have the desire to get married then God’s the one who put it there. And He will fulfill it ladies and gentlemen. Until then, live out your honeymoon with God and then He will effectively make of your life one statement to the world by bringing along another. Like a holy hendiadys.

God bless you.