A few weeks ago I spoke about marriage, the gospel, and how the church ought to love and consider our LGBTQ neighbors and friends. In response I took your questions. The first five questions and answers can be found here ... the second set of five questions and answers are below. Thanks so much for your thoughtful questions about an extremely important subject. Let me know if you have any follow-up thoughts or questions!
- How does one know who to marry? By God’s grace. I’m going to assume this is a specific question about marriage and not a general curiosity about knowing how we know anything. Therefore I would first say there are many ways to know. I’ve seen God reveal his will for marriage in people’s lives through Scripture, relationships, fruitfulness, attraction, mission, passions, and through simply meeting Jesus. And so I would say, implement as many of these as possible. With the concept of marriage and perhaps who to marry freshly on the mind … read Scripture (not just about marriage but also about being a godly woman and/or what it means to be a godly man. Also, ask trusted advisors and mentors and married couples you admire what they think about a prospective spouse. Get your friends opinions. Look for evidences of God’s grace in a person’s life, family, work, and friendship. Then, trusting fully that God is good, generous, and sovereign take that step of faith.
- How far can we (try to) compromise on differences in personality and life plans and possible calling from God? Compromise is the greatest myth of marriage. I don’t think compromise is found in a biblical comprehension of marriage. What I mean by that is this … traditionally compromise is all about conceding things you want or possibly need. Usually this is viewed like poker chips, one person cashes this time and the other has to next time. But in Scripture marriage is all about becoming one. Not keeping score, but submitting and serving and loving one another. That means you don’t keep score and you don’t concede something you otherwise wouldn’t. It means in all things you seek unity. And so to directly answer the question … your personality is a gift, the vision God has given for your future family is always valid, and his calling on your life should not be laid aside in the name of compromise. If you are married always seek to become one with your spouse. If you are considering marrying someone consider how you may in the future seek to become one.
- Aren't Christians supposed to be tolerant (or love) everybody just as they are? We are not the judge, right? Judge no. Tolerate no. Love yes. Use discernment, absolutely! Communicate truth, always! Believe it or not this is all possible and all totally biblical. To be sure, Jesus is the only and rightful judge. John 5:22 reads, “the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” … that means Jesus, Jesus is the one and only judge. But since Jesus in his grace has given the Spirit of God to us through the power of his ascension we have responsibility to herald, communicate, hold to, and enjoy the truth of God’s goodness and grace. As the church we ought to strive to see the kingdom life Jesus lived, prescribed, and made possible lived out within the community of believers and encouraged throughout the world. Because God’s rule, reign, order, love, and way bring about true human flourishing. Everything else brings devastation.
- Could you expand on how sin is not a personal issue, especially in marriage. As the two become one flesh the sins we commit impact the other person in the relationship, whether it be poor financial stewardship, porn, harsh words…. A very good point. And one often lost on western culture. We have been encouraged from birth to believe about ourselves, education, sports achievements, and career on an individual basis. This paradigm leaked into the Church and has produced the “me and Jesus” complex. It is a spirituality on an island. This leads us to undervalue gathering with the body, see spiritual growth in self-righteous ways, and view sin mostly as a having no impact on any one else. But sin and Satan himself steals, kills, destroys, and deceives. Such thinking is completely deceptive. We are connected. We are the body. We are in this together. We are called to grieve with those who grieve and celebrate with those who are celebrating. Remember, we are born in sin because Adam and Eve sinned. In some respects we are under the curse of sin because someone else sinned (Romans 5). We are connected. However thanks be to God, that even though death came through Adam, life comes through Christ when we are joined with him.
- How did you respond to Nancy’s question? I told Nancy that she would never understand my answer to her question unless I first told her about Jesus. If you remember Nancy was someone I met in a Starbucks who asked me if her deceased lesbian friend was in hell. I think this is the best approach to answering such a pointed question. There is no way I could answer her question really. I knew nothing of Nancy’s friend’s life, understanding of God, salvation, the gospel or Jesus. So telling Nancy about Jesus and his story of redemption seemed like the only fitting response.
Keep the conversation going ... let me know what you're thinking and if you have any follow-up questions.