This week I read an article at The Wall Street Journal, spring-boarding from Rick Santorum’s recent controversies about birth control to a commentary on the societal effects of contraceptives. For my purposes, I’m going to sum up part of their report:
Before birth control, women stipulated that they would only have sex with a man willing to take care of any resulting children (either only married sex or sex with the promise of marriage should she conceive).
After birth control and legal abortion, many women became willing to have sex, feeling like there was less potential responsibility attached.
These women’s willingness to fornicate raised the pressure on other women to also fornicate – even when they were less able to use birth control, or unwilling to abort. Men began expecting sex as part of a premarital relationship – and if one woman wasn’t willing to give it, they could leave her and find someone who was, without commitment. Why sacrifice yourself to take on the responsibilities of marriage?
As I read the above view of history, my brain worked to find the solution. Obviously my hope is to marry a good man who believes that sex is sacred to marriage, and hasn’t jumped on board with the trends in this country.
Men in the secular world pressure women to have sex or do without relationships. Men in the secular world make marriage hard to come by. But what’s the excuse for men in the Church? Why is marriage hard to come by for a Christian woman?
The norm, the expectation, for a man living in the United States is to go through a series of dating relationships, enjoying the benefits of intimacy, eventually getting around to marriage when he’s been with a woman for a long time and has a good job to (not support her and her children; she works and there will be far less children than in marriages of the past; but:) fund the engagement ring, wedding, and honeymoon. Men in this country are not taught self control or responsibility – nor the value of marriage and fatherhood (only obligations of the two). They are not equipped.
Because our secular world doesn’t tell stories about good men pursuing women with purity, marrying them, and fathering children – our Christian men are also unequipped. No one is training the men outside the Church, so the men inside the Church aren’t being taught the necessary life skills either.
Isn’t that last point part of a much bigger problem? Since when did the Church depend so much on the unchristian world to teach and disciple people? Why don’t we have an alternative story, an alternative school of sorts?
Is it because the Church has made it our goal to blend with the world around us? Is it because we have refused to be separate and holy, refused to be creative, and refused to labor in building the kingdom of God? We convert citizens of the world to belong to the
– but is our task to transform their institutions as well? Or have we been given a different kind of material to build a completely unique society? Are we building their culture or God’s? kingdom of God
In God’s kingdom, singleness has great value – not in avoiding responsibility and commitment, but in refocusing those virtues to the building of this other culture. In God’s kingdom, marriage is part of the typological design, where institutions and interactions breathe testimony to and imitation of the love of God. It is to be sought and desired by those called thereto, prepared for and invested in. Bearing children in a stable family is made to bring the next humans up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It is not supposed to be a regrettable consequence of giving in to lust.
Are there common features of the Christian community and the kingdom of the world to which the Church has lazily abdicated its roles? Of course. One of the powerful tactics of our Enemy (against whom we are supposed to be waging offensive war – in other words, building God’s kingdom for His purposes using His ways) is to take things that were created to be an instrument in the godly culture, and to take them out of their context and twist them just enough that they are ineffective. By doing this, he gives people the impression that they are still practicing the good things God ordained. They are also in little danger of those practices accomplishing what God intended them for. And the more we get used to the twists and decontextualizations, the more the Enemy can bring the things farther away and the more he can morph what they actually are, still lying that they are the things we read in the Bible.
1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
To God be all glory.