I’m currently reading Timothy Keller’s latest book (see here and here to read more about my respect for Keller). This book is co-written with Keller’s wife, Kathy Keller, and it’s called The Meaning of Marriage. I’ll write more about it in the future but let me just say right now that it’s very good and full of Biblical wisdom.
In one chapter, Keller cites an essay entitled “Singled Out by God for Good”. (You can follow that link to read the whole essay. It’s by Paige Benton Brown.) The essay is about being single and being a Christian. Why, you might ask, would I be interested in reading such an essay when I’m married? What a great question, hypothetical blog reader! Well, truthfully, I was single once.
More to the point, Benton Brown isn’t just talking about singleness, she’s talking about the church’s attitude toward singleness. I think that attitude basically falls into two categories. 1) You’re waiting to get married, when your “real adulthood” begins or 2) Better to be married than burn! ie: getting married is somehow for the weaker-minded/more lustful. I definitely fell into that first category for a lot of my single life. Peter and I have discussed how both of us, before we met and started dating, feared that we would never get married. Just to be clear, we were 21 when we met – I wish I could go back in time and give myself a shake. Benton Brown discusses how these attitudes are both unhealthy and contrary to what God wants for us. What struck me while reading both her article and Keller’s book was that I can tend to view my marriage as a sign of my success, as a reward for my labour if you will. That is so untrue! First of all because Peter is a person, not a reward, but primarily because getting married demonstrates no greatness about me. Lots of people get married who are wonderful and lots of people get married who are not wonderful. Lots of people are single who are wonderful and lots of people are single who are not wonderful. To believe that I “succeeded” in my relationship because I earned or because God somehow chose to reward me that way is simply false. I’m not married because I’m a good Christian or because I’m a bad Christian. I’m simply a married Christian. God has a plan for Peter and I as a couple and I have confidence that His plan is good. Were I single at this point in my life, God’s plan for me would be equally good. That is the very nature of who God is. Here’s how Benton Brown puts it:
“Can God be any less good to me on the average Tuesday morning than He was on that monumental Friday afternoon when He hung on a cross in my place? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me tomorrow either, because God cannot be less good to me. His goodness is not the effect of His disposition but the essence of His person – not an attitude but an attribute.”
That is truth. God is neither better nor worse to me than He is to an unmarried woman, just as He doesn’t love me more or less. God is good and He loves His creation. And so, while I thank the Lord each day for my husband and my marriage, it doesn’t make me special.
I particularly like the way Benton Brown ends her article…but for that, you’re going to have to read it!