Sunday, January 20, 2019

Why Are Conservative Pundits Demanding Young People to “Get Married!”

In my previous article, I wrote about the growing rallying cry among conservatives, especially Dennis Prager and his fellow intellects, about the crisis in marriage. Specifically, they argue frequently that marriage is the rite of passage which young people need to engage and embrace again.
In fact, they go to great lengths to shame people that they need to get hitched, or they should be prepared to get ditched in this life. While the most enlightened conservative intellects have their opinions, the Bible is our standard for wisdom. In both the Old Testament, there are men and women who do great things for God, and they are never married (like the prophets Elijah and Elisha). In some cases, marriage or romance can hinder a man’s service to God (consider Samson and Delilah).

To recap the Biblical stance on singlehood, let’s refer back to what Paul the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians:

“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” (1 Corinthians 7:1)

Paul encouraged everyone to be like him: celibate, unmarried, committed to God’s work rather than raising a family. (1 Corinthians 7:6, 32-35). However, he assured the church that there is nothing wrong with being married”.

“Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.” (1 Corinthians 7:27-28)

Also, it’s worth nothing that just because someone is not married or does not want to get married, that they are immature in some fashion. Marriage does not define or undermine adulthood.
The next question arises: why are conservative pundits determined for young people to get married?

1.       Depopulation

Decades ago, academics argued that the world would struggle with overpopulation. As far back as the late 1700’s, Thomas Malthus predicted that demands from population growth would far exceed available resources and wealth.

Then came Industrial Revolution. More bountiful harvests with less work results from agricultural reforms. Mechanical ingenuity produced and transported goods better, faster, and cheaper. Families moved into bustling, teeming cities, where a growing network of commercial activity created higher demands, more work, and so on.

Larger families were no longer crucial, whereas agricultural families had reared many children to help with work on the far. The need for larger families tapered off. Fast forward to today, there’s an unprecedented number of younger people who don’t want to marry, especially among men. As a result, populations in Western countries are declining. “Get married! Have kids!” is an understandable reaction. A better response would assess more proximate causes.

The higher suicide rate among young people should concern us. The opioid crisis is wiping scores of people. Rampant violence among gangs, drug cartels, and even terrorism are wiping out people. Yet even removing these concerns, lots of people are not getting married for selfish reasons: they want to live their lives in the present, unencumbered by demands, etc.

Death has been a fact of life since man sinned, however. Populations in decline and in growth are a more frequent phenomenon than most people realize. Would anyone expect Japanese families to birth out large numbers of children when there is so little room for all those people in that country?
What’s really animating this “marriage crisis” for these conservatives?

They want to save Western culture at all costs. Married life as an institution bolsters conservatism in general. As they witness the growing moral malaise of the modern Western World, conservatives want to retain a strong, vibrant Western Civilization, and that requires a Mom and one Dad bringing new lives into the world. Conservatives are right to see declining marriage trends with concern. However, they are treating a major symptom rather healing the disease.

Why are people, especially men, avoiding marriage? Why is the culture in such decay? It’s not because more people are avoiding marriage.

The attack on manhood has turned off men to getting married and raising children. Third Wave Feminism has shamed and demeaned men as such. Rather than commanding respect in their homes, colleges and their Third Wave feminist acolytes have been taught to see men as the enemy. Who would want to marry someone with that kind of worldview? Legal institutions have inculcated this anti-male bias, drawn from decades of progressive indoctrination in colleges and graduate schools. In courts of law, the wife/mother is automatically entitled to half of everything just because she’s the wife. Following a divorce, the woman custody of the kids nine times out of ten.

Why is Western culture in decay?

God’s reign of grace and truth has been demeaned, rejected, and excluded. The Judeo-Christian ethic which makes civilization possible, which blesses and prospers married life, has fallen into disrepute. Children no longer learn about God the Father or His Son Jesus Christ, which was long ago routinely taught in public schools. Students no longer read the Bible and receive revelation from it. In those schools, teachers have replaced school prayer with secular regression.

While conservatives are alarmed about the decline in marriage, and the decline in population which has resulted from it, they need to focus on the fundamental disregard for God and His Majesty in our public as well as private lives. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

Conservatives need to focus less on shaming men for not marrying, and they need to do more than merely promote its fringe benefits. Christ is the center of all happy marriages, and any society which wishes to foster this sacred institution must restore its sacred core and displace its secular degradation.

The cultural rot overwhelming our societies stems from national disregard for God’s grace and the Finished Work of His Son Jesus. When He is properly recognized as the Head of all Creation once again, then we will see Male and Female Great Again, and Marriages Strong and Abundant Again.

The Single Life: A Challenge to Overcome or a Blessing to Receive?

Is there something wrong with being single? Should Christians rush into marriage?

In many churches, the message from elders, pastors, and even (for singles) our friends and family suggest that if you are single, it’s a status that needs to change. I have heard this question, to myself as well as to others: “Why aren’t you married yet? Pastors like Pastor John Hagee have exhorted their congregation bluntly: "Get Married!" He even suggested that individuals in the Bible who remained unmarried did so because they were prepared for martyrdom. Even Pastor Joseph Prince of New Creation Church has shared that the married life is better.

Even mainstream conservative pundits like Dennis Prager emphasize marriage, describing the institution as a necessary and proper rite of passage, or the best way for men to maximize their manhood, income, and social status.

True, married people live longer, make more money, etc. However, these are spurious correlations. Marriage does not automatically produce these results. This “marriage makes you better” argument is a "post hoc, propter hoc" fallacy. A work ethic, a sense of responsibility, a diligent outlook for the good of others besides oneself define manhood, or more importantly adulthood.
Employers hire married people because they display more consistency and integrity in their work, perhaps. Men (and women) can have different reasons for earning more money besides the rearing of children. Responsible people are more likely to get married, as opposed to marriage makes people more responsible. Some people like business, like working; other people are dedicated to other causes which require more funding. These benefits are not exclusive to marriage!

“But even the Bible calls marriage a blessing—Won’t I miss out?”

The Bible does consider married life blessed:

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord." (Proverbs 18:22)

And also:

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psalm 127:3)

Does that mean if I don’t get married, I won’t find a good thing or obtain favor?

Not at all! Proverbs identifies other ways in which people obtain favor:

"Blessed is the man that heareth me [Wisdom, a type of Christ appearing in the Old Testament], watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

"For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD." (Proverbs 8: 34-35)

Favor and reward have everything to do with God, not with marriage. The first mention of "reward" appears in Genesis:

"After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." (Genesis 15:1)

Indeed, children are a heritage from the Lord, but all of us can receive all blessings through our spiritual inheritance in Christ Jesus:

 "In righteousness, you shall be established … this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me" (Isaiah 54: 14,17)

This pronouncement should settle the matter:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”

We obtain favor, life, all other good things because of Jesus!

Finally, what does the Bible say to singles and about the single life? Is there something wrong with not being married?

In Genesis, God commanded Adam and Eve, then Noah and his family to "be fruitful and multiply.”

This exhortation occurs under the Old Covenant. Today, we live under the New Covenant.

Let’s consider what the New Testament shares on the matter of marriage or the single life.

In Matthew 19:10-12, Jesus relates that there are those who choose not to marry for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. Many believers who have received the Kingdom of Heaven (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost Romans 14:17) are content and see no need to marry (and there is no need to castrate oneself, so take it easy!)

The Apostle Paul’s statements to the Corinthian Church this matter are the most informative:

“It is good for a man not to touch a woman.”

How about that? Yet “good” in the King James Version is not adequate. The Original Greek has kaloswhich means “noble, beautiful, inspiring!” 

Paul also writes:

For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." (1 Corinthians 7:7)

Paul preferred the single life. But it was his preference, not God's commande. Thee statement “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” – that is from God!

What are the benefits of single status, according to Paul?

"But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife." (1 Corinthians 7:32-33)

Married people will have more burdens, more concerns to consider in their lives. Many people need to recognize this when going into marriage. No matter what standards the world has laid out (or rather, abandoned), marriage is a full-on commitment for life. Those demands will change a person’s status, outlook, and outcomes for good.

“And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction." (1 Corinthians 7:35)

In fact, Paul considered the single life better!

“He that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.” (1 Corinthians 7:38)

Our standard on the single life must be God’s Word, not preachers’ sermons or pundits’ articles. So, why is it that so many pastors, preachers, churches, and teachers are promoting the message to their congregations that singles should get married?

Stay tuned for the next article.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

God's Amazing Grace: Jonah

"If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

"Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." (Psalm 139: 9-10)

This verse comes from one of the most beloved and well-known Psalms, and yet it's a perfect segue to another powerful example of God's grace in action: Jonah.

Like Abraham, Jonah was a prophet, and he was called to preach to Nineveh, a great, evil nation that had plagued the nation of Israel.

Jonah didn't want to do it!

"But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." (John 1:3)

Now, how effective is it to flee from God?

Really? But that's precisely what Jonah tried to do. God then caused a great wind to come over the sea and strike the boat that Jonah was fleeing on. All the sailors prayed to their gods. They even had to rouse Jonah out of his sleep--can you imagine this self-righteous prophet, sleeping soundly in the bottom of a tempest-tossed ship?--so that he would pray to his God.

Then they all drew lots to see what was causing this terrible storm.

And the lot fell to Jonah, who declared:

"9And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land." (John 1:9)

This is hilarious. Jonah prides himself as the prophet of the One and Only Living God, and yet this prophet is defying God brazenly, refusing to prophesy to Nineveh!

What kind of rash arrogance is this?!

Jonah then told the sailors what to do so that the storm would be calmed:

"Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you." (Jonah 1:12)

Jonah was so determined to disobey God's command, that he preferred to be tossed into the sea, to be killed in the flailing storms of the rough waters!

The sailors did what Jonah requested, but God was not finished with Jonah:

"17Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." (Jonah 1:17)

Let's assess what we have learned about Jonah:

1. He's a prophet
2. God entrusted him with a great calling, to preach judgment to Nineveh
3. He deliberately refused to do so.
4. He was arrogant enough to think that he could outrun God's call on his life.
5. God sent a storm that troubled the sailors' lives on the ship that he was riding in.
6. He didn't care even about what they were going through, he was sound asleep in the boat!

Yet for all this brazen, arrogant, selfish behavior, God prepared for Jonah to survive, even providing a huge fish to swallow him so that he would survive in the depths of the sea.

And then Jonah called out to God for help:

"Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly,

"And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice." (Jonah 2:1-2)

Can you imagine the brazeness of this?! He is praying to the very God whom he had blown off, deliberately disobeyed.

But God hears Jonah, and He delivers his wayward prophet from the mouth of the big fish:

"And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land." (John 2:10)

This is an interesting verse because of the word "vomit", which first appears in Leviticus:

"And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants" (Leviticus 18:25)

Every other context mentions "Vomit" to mean the abject rejection of a people from God's inheritance.

Its final mention appers here in Jonah, and here we have a disobedient prophet being vomited onto dry land as opposed to being vomited out of the land. What amazing grace.

God has not rejected Jonah, and He will not give up on giving this prophet the mission:

"1And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. 4And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." (Jonah 3:1-4)

This was all it took for Nineveh to repent. Everyone, from the King right down the commoner repented, put on sackloth, abstained from food, and prayer for God to be merciful to them.

That's all it took!

And God was pleased and relented from His punishment upon them (Jonah 3: 10-11)

Even though Jonah still had a negative spirit about him, even when he still refused to be gracious, hoping that God would change His mind yet again and destroy the entire city, God was still gracious with Jonah, God still ministered to him, and reminded him what grace is all about:

"And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:9-11)

I submit to you that Jonah wrote this entire account, from beginning to end, and he did not hesitate to "Tell on himself." I imagine that Jonah even laughed at his insistence obstinance, but through it all God was good to him.

This account demonstrates how great God's grace really is!

He is there for us even when we want to get away from Him. The most we try to run away from, taking the wings of the morning and to dwell in the deepest parts of the sea, God is not only there for us, but He is guiding us! He is taking us right where He wants us to go.

In fact, God would use Jonah's ministry, his struggles to foretell the coming of Christ Jesus, God's own Son!

"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:39-40)

God doesn't just use are failings, He even uses are deliberate disobedience to further His plans, and we in turn are blessed, too! He doesn't give up on us. He simply wants us to reach out to Him every time we face trials and tribulations--even when they are our own fault!

God's Amazing Grace: Abraham

Many people claim that God will bless us when we fail ONCE, but if we fail in the same way again, if we sin in the same way a second time, then God is going to get get us!

Yet that's not what happened in the life of the Father of Fatih, Abram, later Abraham.

He sinned not once but twice and in the exact same way!

First, he lied about his wife Sarah (at the time Sarai), claiming that she was his sister when he went down to Egypt.

 "Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive." (Genesis 12:12)

He didn't do this because he cared about his wife, but because wanted to save his own skin:

"13Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee." (Genesis 12:13)

Of course, this ruse compromised his own wife:

"15The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house." (Genesis 12:15)

Can you imagine being the wife of such a man as Abram? This man allows his wife to be taken from him so that he can stay alive. She ended up in the harem of a strange man, a heathen of all people! Most women would walk away from such a man who would just let his wife go like that!

Did I forgot to add that God blessed Abram through Pharoah, who ended up giving Abram all kinds of great blessings, including money as well as livestock?

"And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels." (Genesis 12:16)

Here's the breakdown in this first major sin, major failure of Abram:

1. He lies to Pharoah about his wife.
2. Pharoah takes Abram's wife Sarah awy from Abram so that he can have her for himself. Keep in mind that Pharoah doesn't think that he is doing anything wrong, since Abram announced to everyone in Egypt that Sarah was his sister, and not his wife.
3. Pharoah blesses Abram because of Sarah, even though Abram is a downright cad for lying, for putting his own wife in danger to save himself, and he gets property for it!

Then see whom God reproaches in this matter:

"And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife." (Genesis 12: 17)

One would think that God would be plaguing Abram, since he was the one who lied and put his wife in danger and took Pharoah for all he was worth.

But God favors Abram, because Abram believed on Him, while Pharoah had no covenant of grace.

Instead of killing Abram or seeking retribution against him, Pharoah pleads to know why Abram lied:

18And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. 20And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had." (Genesis 12:18-20)

Abram got his wife, his safety, and all the goods given to him, even though he had lied to Pharaoh.

God blessed Abram in spite of his sins.

Now, the story does not end here.

Abraham--by this time, he has received a new name in order to recognize God's promise that he would be the father of many nations, and that through his seed all the nations of the world would be blessed (Genesis 18:18).

Yet still, Abram--now Abraham--would lie to another heathen king just to save himself on account of his wife:

"1And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 2And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah."

This time, Abraham didn't even bother to consult Sarah (her name had changed, since she was no longer bossy, but now a princess, and from her kings would reign). The Father of Faith still wasn't perfect in his faith, still struggling to trust God to care and protect him.

Yet notice, that when Abimelech took his wife, God not only plagued his household, but confronted this heathen king directly:

"But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?" (Genesis 20:3-4)

God had come through from one promise after another, and yet still Abraham had a hard time trusting God to take care of him. Nevertheless, God still kept coming through for the Father of Faith. Abraham didn't realize all the blessings, all the favor which comes with God's Covenant of Grace.

But he would learn soon enough notwithstanding, and God blessed Abraham greatly through Abimelech:

"14And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. 15And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. 16And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved." (Genesis 20:14-16)

Isn't this incredible?

Abraham lied about his wife not once but twice. His lie inadvertently troubled two kingdoms. How many people ended suffering because of this lie?

And yet not once do we see God chide, shame, or even abandon Abraham. God continued to favor Abraham, he blessed both of them.

Notice also that God came through for both Abraham and Sarah, just as He had said He would:

"And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him." (Genesis 21:1-2)

This is the Amazing Grace, the sweet sound which saved wretches like us, men and women who were dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:4-6), and God places us in His Son and seated us with Him in heavenly places!

We are set free from sin, and even when we fail, God does not abandon us, does not leave us, and in fact He continues to bless us.

God does not stop blessing us because we fail. God does not drop us when we make the same sin, the same mistake twice. He keeps working with us, bringing us closer to Him, transforming us as we see more of Him:

"17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

This goodness shapes us, makes us more like Him!

"11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;" (Titus 2:11-12)

The world says "When you fail, you will fall. We you sin, get ready for the beating."

That's not the Gospel. God blesses us when we don't deserve it, even when we sin, fall, fail.

With God, with His grace, He never stops showering His love on us. Because we live under an open heaven, a new covenant in Christ Jesus, we can receive--and keep receiving--the abundance of grace and the gifts of righteousness (Romans 5:17).

Saturday, January 5, 2019

God's Amazing Grace: Manasseh

Pastor Joel Olsteen's sermons have become incredibly moving and inspiring. He has spent less time talking about ourselves and more time talking about Christ Jesus and His Finished Work.

One of this greatest sermons yet discussed how God uses people who deliberately disobey Him. His grace is too great for our sin, and even when we have sinned greatly, not just out of hurried behavior or misunderstandings, but when we deliberately defy God, He does not run away from us.

When we call out to Him, God will hear us!

It is indeed Amazing Grace!

Consider the incredible, brutal account of King Manasseh of Judah.

His father was Hezekiah, one of the greatest Kings in Judah's history.

His son, however, turned out to be the most wicked, even worse than Ahab and all the other wicked Kings who reigned over the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel.

"But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel." (2 Chronicles 33:2)

He insisted on bringing idol worship into the holy places. He even brought his own carved idols in the Temple, the same Temple where God had declared that He would place His name forever.

Manesseh, whose name means "Forgetful" or "Causing to Forget", rigorously defied the LORD God.

"6And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger." (2 Chronicles 33:6)

Manasseh not only did not care for holy things -- He deliberately made God angry, defied Him repeatedly.

He ended up captured, enslaved, imprisoned with a ring placed in his nose.

This hardened hatemonger, dabbling in all kind of evil, who had sacrificed his own children to evil deities, would then cry out to God for help:

"12And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God." (2 Chronicles 33:12-13)

And it didn't stop there:

14Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. 15And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. 16And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel." (2 Chronicles 33:14-16)

First, God restored Manasseh, and God restored this most wicked of Kings because he begged Him for His help

When God heard him, it was that then Manasseh knew "The LORD", notice that the writers of Holy Scripture reference God's Covenant Name.

Manasseh was under the Covenant through David, the Beloved, the Great King! In the same way, for those of us who believe in the King of Kings, the Root and Offspring of Jesse--Christ Jesus--we have His protection and blessings through the New Covenant, too (Hebrews 8:10-12).

Manasseh, the worst of the Kings of Judah and Israel, when he cried out to God, was heard of Him.

Today, let us rest and receive -- keep receiving this abundance of grace, this gift of righteounsess (Romans 5:17), and like Manasseh, God will restore to us everything that we have lost, especially when it is our fault, and bless us evermore in His Son!

Monday, December 31, 2018

God Said So: It's Beautiful to Be Single

A number of pastors seem to have gone with the ways of the world, but in a slightly different sense.

There is nothing wrong with being married, or seeking to be married.

But it seems that many churches, many Christian communities, seem committed to pressuring everyone to get married.

This has long bothered me. I am single, and there is no burden or demand for me to get married.

I am content to be unmarried, to be single, to "not touch a woman", as Paul writes in his First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Ten years ago, I remember meeting with a prayer group every Thursday. The women in that group would spend a bit of time talking about helping me to find a wife. They even wrote my name in their Bibles with that prayer.

I didn't know what to think of that at the time, but I look back on it, and I must say it was presumptuous and arrogant.

Even my parents would intimate that there was something wrong with me because I had no heart, no need for marriage.

This conflict came to a head when one of my relatives was talking about

This train of thought brought in Dennis Prager, who wrote a stinging manifest against those who don't get married:

I would like to make some arguments on behalf of early marriage.

The first and best argument for early marriage — providing, of course, that one meets a good person and believes this person will also be a good parent and/or provider — is that it forces you to grow up.

No it doesn't. I know many people who have married, and they still have immature thoughts and habits. Getting married does not force you to do anything. In fact, there are many married men and women who do not step up to many of life's challenges. They make poor decisions with a limited vision. I know people who have had children, too, and their lack of maturity has not abated.

Prager was wrong here.

There's more. Prager adds that societal pressure induced people to get married:

Why were people throughout history ready to commit to marriage at a much younger age than people today? Only because society expected them to become adults at a younger age than today. Nothing makes you an adult as much as responsibility does. And no responsibility makes you an adult as much as marital responsibility.

Adulthood is about responsibility, yes indeed. But we can embrace responsibility without being married. In fact, Paul writes to the Corinthians that not being married allows adults to take on different responsibilities:

"32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord" (I Corinthians 7:32)

Even then, God wants us to cast ALL our cares on Him (1 Peter 5: 6-7)

At any rate, the fact that conservative pundits shame people for being single--that is a real problem.

Pastors have done it, too. Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church exhorted his audience mightly: "Get Married!" He then countered the argument "Well, Jesus didn't get married. Paul didn't get married" by stating that they new they were going to die, to be martyred.

Nonsense. That is simply not true.

Where is the Scripture for this command that we must get married? There is only Scripture warning about those who "forbid marriage":

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

Yes, there are the two commands in Genesis to "be fruitful and multiply", but that is under the Old Covenant. Today, under the New Covenant, the issue is not bearing children, but preaching the Good News, that men born dead in their trespasses may be born again and never die.

There is only one pastor who has best ministered to the singles and the single life: Pastor David Jeremiah.

Here are some of the comments which he made in his sermon on this issue (Click her for the two radio broadcasts):

1. Being single is good.
2. The issue that singles have is not with being single, but with all the other church people who insist that they can (or rather should) get out of the single life.
3. Churches ignore the singles in their midst, as most events, activities, and ministries are geared toward youth, couples, seniors, etc.

In his sermon "The Lonely Single", Jeremiah relates the story of a church leader who asked the singles in her church to write about the biggest struggles they face as singles.

Most of the letters identified that their problem wasn't with the single life, but with the perceptions people were heaping on them because of their single life. The conflicts arose because of other church people who insisted on geting them out of "singlehood."

I have been there. My father had said to me: "Don't you want to share your life with someone?"

When I had gotten a new job that I liked, he said offhand: "Now we need to get you married!"

I was shocked about that, and I asked him to explain. He then took it back. As I write this, I want to make it clear that I do not hold any ill will against my Dad. In fact, when I recall "we need to get you rmarried", he said that almost by rote, as though someone had already said that to him.

It's a habit, it's a mindset in the world, especially in churches today, that marriage is a goal which everyone should seek and achieve.

But what does the Bible say? We can start with some explicit passages in the Gospel of Matthew:

"His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. 11But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12For 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. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matthew 19:10-12)

I would submit that there are many of us who have received the Kingdom of Heaven (righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost Romans 14:17) and the great peace and content is enough for us.

There is no need to cut off one's private parts, either. So rest assured!

But let's look at what Paul writes to the Corinthians in full:

"1Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. 7For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that." (1 Corinthians 7:1-7)

And then

"32But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. 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. 35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction." (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

What's really compelling is that Paul considers singlehood better than marriage, not vice versa!

38So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better ... But she is happier if she so abide [as a virgin, unmarried], after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God." (1 Corithians 7: 38,40)

John the Evangelist writes in Revelation:

"4These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." (Revelation 14:4)

So, thanks to Pastor David a plenary reading of God's Word, I have received great comfort in remaining single, unmarried.

"The Lonely Single" is an interesting turn of  phrase, since Dr. Jeremiah spends more time assuring single people about their status. Loneliness is not abated with more people in one's life, or with marriage. In fact, two married lonely people will produce ... two lonely married people. In fact, being lonely is made worse when married with someone, because the supposed cure does not measure up or assist the issue.

Loneliness is based on a lie, that you are not cared for. The truth is that we are fully cared for:

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:6-7, emphasis added)

So, God's Word establishes that singlehood is blessed. In fact, passages in the Scripture assert that singlehood is better!

Other Concerns

Yet for me, there were still problems, still upsets for me.

Going back to the account of the relative whom I was speaking with a few days ago. He was going on and on about a counsin-in-law. He had a big family, all kinds of work, different jobs and careers, etc. At first, I began to feel jealous. "He has so much for his short time on earth, and where am I in my life."

Right away, I realized that such comparison games are not worth playing. It's dangerous to do that. It is not wise nor worthwhile to do that.

I remembered reading these passages about marriage from Dennis Prager, too:

If you’re 25 and not ready to commit to another person, in most cases — even if you are a kind person, and a responsible worker or serious student — “I’m not ready to get married” means “I’m not ready to stop being preoccupied with myself,” or to put it as directly as possible, “I’m not ready to grow up.” (No job on earth makes you grow up like getting married does.)

That's a load of crap. There are many people I know who are not married and do great things for others. This is really offensive, since it is so patently untrue. People who are single and happy are not preoccupied with themselves. Why? To be preoccupied with oneself invites depression and sorrow. Marriage cannot undo self-centered all that much, really. Just as two lonely people getting married will not rid the two people of their loneliness, so too two selfish people getting married will not rid them of their selfishness. Marriage is the strongest form of affirmation, folks! Whatever you see in someone you are going to marry, expect double of that trait, whether good or bad.

By the way, Mr. Prager, marriage is not a "job". It's a status of life. So is singlehood, thank you very much.

Then there was this passage:

And then there's this video:

Professor X talks about the following marriage premiums:

1. After marrying, men assume a new identity, a rite of passage into manhood, an ethic of responsibility and new meaning
2. Married men are motivated to maximize their income
3. Employers are more likely to promote married men
4. Married men benefit from the advise and encouragement of their wives

Yes, marriage produces these benefits -- or is it exclusive to marriage?

Not at all.

We assume a new identity in Christ Jesus when we believe on Him. He takes us out of our dead selves in Adam, and God the Father places us in Christ Jesus!

Men (and women) can have different reasons for being motivated to earn more money. Some people like business, like working; other people are dedicated to other outcomes and pursuits, and those efforts require more money.

As far employers more likely to employ and promote married men, the issue isn't the fact that they are married. What matters is an ethic of diligence and responsibility. Those features can emerge in all kinds of people for many different reasons, not just marriage.

There is a bit of  the "post hoc, propert hoc" fallacy here. Responsible people are more likely to get married, as opposed to marriage makes people responsible. That assessment is more valid, I believe.

Here's another telling statement I had read from Prager implied that people will not vote for someone who is not married. All these so-called societal callings slip away from someone if they do not get married.

It seems to me that many of these videos are articles are geared more towards saving natural rights, law, and culture. That's important, but these arguments for marriage are not helping. Revival of the Gospel and preaching the Word would make all the difference.

Another concern

Doesn't the Bible call the married life with children a blessed status?


"He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the Lord." (Proverbs 18:22)

And also:

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psalm 127:3)

And then:

"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

"Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD." (Psalm 128:3-4)

The problem I started to have when reading this: I automatically assumed "So, if I don't have a wife or children, that means I am not blessed?"

That is not true.

Consider Proverbs 18. The same book identifies other ways in which people obtain favor:

"Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

"For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD." (Proverbs 8: 34-35)

and also

"A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn." (Proverbs 12:2)

The issue of "Reward" has everything to do with God, not with getting married or having a spouse:

The first mention of "reward" appears in Genesis:

"After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." (Genesis 15:1)

Our reward, our blessings, our joy are not conditional on marriage.

The Bible never said that, but I just read those passages wrong.

We obtain favor, life, and all good things because of Jesus!

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)


Final Reflection

I have shared a lot of ideas and passages from other articles in this post.

These issues have revolved around in my mind for a long time, but the small-time jealousy pushed this issue to the forefront and guided me to pray to God. I needed wisdom about this matter. I needed to get some wisdom, some insight into whatever I was feeling and also to gather some stable, spiritual data on the matter once and for all.

I meditated on those passages about who children are a heritage from the Lord. Then I remembered Isaiah 54:17: "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord ..." I then noticed, realized that mention of a blessing mentioned in connection with marriage and family is not a blessing exclusive to marriage or family.

What powerful relief we receive as we medidate on God's Word for truth!

Then I remembered Dr. David Jeremiah's sermon on singles and the single life. I found more information about it, then followed up on the passages he had quoted from Scripture.

And everything came full circle to peace once again!

It's a blessing to be single, as much as it is a blessing to be married.

Let us allow God's grace and peace to rule in our lives, in our hearts as the umpire of God's leading (Colossians 3:15).

I can rest assured that I have something--many things, in fact--which married people do not have.

And yet, everything I have is a gift from God, to begin with.

Last of all, I want to return to the key word in the title of this post: "Beautiful."

Paul writes in First Corinthians 7:

"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman." (1 Corinthians 7:1)

The original Greek allows for "It is good for men and women not to touch each other."

At any rate, that word "good" is more than "agathos", but "kalos".

Kalos means "beautiful"! also reports the following meanings:

Usage: beautiful, as an outward sign of the inward good, noble, honorable character; good, worthy, honorable, noble, and seen to be so.
HELPS Word-studies
2570 kal√≥s – attractively goodgood that inspires (motivates) others to embrace what is lovely (beautiful, praiseworthy); i.e. well done so as to be winsome (appealing).

Wow! Attractive, noble, inspirational.

That's not bad at all! It's Good!

It's Beautiful!!