Did you know? There is a problem with marriage in the West. It seems to me that some people are surprised by this -- that somehow marriage is in its death-throws in the English-speaking world and in all nations which can look back to the Greco-Roman civilization for their roots. I mean: they are surprised enough that they have finally started to write about it in any way resembling a defense of marriage.
Here's how we know they are serious: they have pulled out the common idiom they know how to speak in best to make their point(s). That is: the language of Business Administration. Maybe its because these fellows all spend a lot of time in airports, and those bookstores are littered with books for business travelers, and these fellows have read one too many of these books, but it seems to have damaged their vocabulary and their approach to solving problems.
|The Band, sans Bandwagon|
Here's what I mean:
Successful entrepreneurs are generally defined by three core qualities. The first is a powerful desire to improve the world in some way. The second is opportunity recognition—when faced with obstacles, entrepreneurs try to think of new and different ways of doing things that open up new opportunities for success. And the third is just plain, old-fashioned guts—but you can call it "risk tolerance" and "perseverance" if you prefer. When faced with both a threat and an opportunity, most people prioritize avoiding the threat; entrepreneurs prioritize the opportunity, even if that means risk and discomfort.Now, this bit of advice comes from a fellow who wrote a book about the so-called "Joy of Calvinism." This makes it all the more bizarre that the article reads like an updated paraphrase of Finney more than the advice of a Spurgeon or a Machen or a Lloyd-Jones. What that doesn't mean, by the way, is that everything he says is right out of bounds. For example, when he says this:
[Our opponents'] power comes from the falsehood of their descriptions. They win people's loyalty and belief to their worldview by creating fantasy worlds that are more enjoyable (in the short term) than the real one. These include not only the overtly pornographic and selfish fantasies—although those have played a critical role, and not just with men—but the more mundane ones as well. Twisting our softer sentiments has been as important as exploiting raw lusts.That's completely true enough. But then he says stuff like this:
This will require constructive efforts that describe how sex transcendently, metaphysically bonds husbands and wives in beautiful ways. (Note: it's not marriage that supernaturally bonds a couple, it's sex; that will be a key distinction for the new language to bring out.) It will also involve describing the monstrosity of divorce and the tragic suffering of disordered desire. And it will involve satire that exposes the conventions that maintain the fantasy world.Which is patently awful. Even if it is passably true, it's so unbelievably adolescent that I wonder how someone who is grown up can write it and not be ashamed of himself for talking that way. But in order to say that, I have to offer the alternative, so we'll start there today and work backwards into the larger picture of taking back the narrative and high-ground of the topic of marriage.
This poor fellow has missed this entirely. See: in Genesis, Eve is taken from Adam as his own flesh, and she comes into this world as "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh." That is: they are One prior to being sexually united because of their origin, not because of their later connubial bliss. Something about Woman is made for Man, and Man is exclusively for Woman -- prior to sex.
Trying to jump the gun here, like a fearless entrepreneur, only makes you a third-rate pornographer. It misses the point that when Man and Woman become Man and Wife, it is not that they are recognizing what sex has done for them: it is that they are now prepared for something more than simple friendship, and can make sex what it ought to be -- a gift, and a grace, and a sign of obedience in mankind's dominion over all things.
So when this author, publishing at the Gospel Coalition web site, says this:
Does this mean leaving behind the Bible, philosophy, and law? God forbid! It only means we stop trying to make any of those the centerpiece and organizing theme of the movement. First, define the movement in terms of a new description of sexuality—one that does not require familiarity with the Bible, philosophy, and law to understand. Then rightly relate each of those things to the movement.One wonders who checked his credentials. One wonders how he is coalescing with the Gospel, or when.
Now, before I bring this post home, the nose-out-of-joint presupp in the back row, still sore from the lashing from a month ago, is posting to his facebook wall, "Turk just Presupp'd and he doesn't even know it -- and he contradicted everything he said about Abortion here when he talked about Marriage."
a plain secular case for why society needs marriage, and who points to this piece by Sam Schulman as the show-stopping non-religious argument for traditional marriage. I still think that Romans 1 gives the unbeliever plenty of evidence in nature to know the difference between right and wrong. But: Marriage isn't simply a contract, and it's not merely a matter of vocation and therefore civil justice. When we allow it to be only that, we have given up the entire Gospel narrative in the one institution which all people find themselves called to in one way or another. We give up the part built into us which knows we must leave and cleave, and to be fruitful -- the way the church is fruitful in Christ, and Christ loves the church.
And this, to be as specific as possible, is why business school language about entrepreneurs and strategy all fail, all further run us down the wrong road and teach the world the wrong thing about the complementarian vision of God in humankind, made male and female: it's not just a contract, or even a covenant to be arbitrated by the heirs of Moses. It's a grace of God built into our kind, made in his image, and part of our charge to be in dominion over all the earth. It is literally the means God set forth so that this world could be very good, and live happily every after.
There's no business plan that is adequate for promoting that vision. But there is a Gospel, and a Savior, and a Church, and when God is gracious, there are families who are really living as if these things are true.