Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Update on the Mandatory Marriage Situation

I want to point everyone to an excellent sermon by Dr. John Piper. The marriage mandators seem to hate this sermon, because it calls us to set our priorities straight. It calls us to see marriage as a wonderful gift, but, at the same time, as a finite creation. That is, marriage, while it is a wonderful gift of God, is something that is created by God, and will cease one day. Therefore, God's gift of eternal salvation is a far greater gift, and singles should take their joy in it.

I would also like to propose a new attack upon the marriage mandate movement. This is from a text in 1 Corinthians 9:5:

1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

The problem I am suggesting with this text has to do with the age of Paul when writing 1 Corinthians. Remember, Paul was converted shortly after Jesus' death [around 32 A.D.]. The dating of 1 Corinthians is not that difficult. Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, gives the following information regarding the dating of 1 Corinthians:

Paul wrote this epistle from Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:8, 9, 19) while on his third missionary journey. It was probably written in the spring of 54 CE as is evident from the following data: (1) The letter was written some years after Paul’s first visit, since Apollos had ministered there (Acts 18:26-27; 1 Cor. 1:12) and Timothy had also been sent there (Acts 19:22; 1 Cor. 4:17). (2) This letter was written sometime after his first letter (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9) and probably not in the last year of his ministry in Ephesus. He mentions that he intends to spend the next winter with the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:6), a visit which, nevertheless, is not to be identified with the three-month stay of Acts 20:3. This latter visit (Acts 20:3) reads as though it were at the end of Paul’s Ephesian ministry, while it is doubtful that 1 Corinthians was written at the end because otherwise the chronology does not fit with data in 2 Corinthians. (3) This letter was written in the spring because Pentecost is just around the corner (1 Cor. 16:8).

I believe this information is very damaging to the mandatory marriage movement. Why is that? Because, in order for Paul to be 22 at the time he wrote 1 Corinthians, he would have had to have been born at the time of his conversion! In fact, if he were 29 at the time he wrote 1 Corinthians, he would have been 7 years old at the time of his conversion. The best the marriage mandators can hope for is that Paul was a teenager at the age of 13 when he was converted, in which case he would have been 35 when he wrote 1 Corinthians. However, that would seem totally self-contradictory to their movement, given the text in question:

1 Corinthians 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

However, the mandatory marriage advocate could just simply say that Paul is simply asking the question as to whether or not he has that right, and does not give the answer. The problem with that viewpoint is that it doesn't take into account the fact that Greek can use constructions in which the author is clearly expecting a positive answer or a negative answer. The Greek of this expression in this text is very clear. The phrase begins with "mē ouk echomen." The mē here expects a negative answer to the main clause. However, the main clause in Greek is negated. In other words, the Greek text literally expects a negative answer to the question, "Is it the case that we do not have a right to take along a believing wife?"

A.T. Robertson gives the following information about this construction:

1Co 9:4 - Have we no right? (Mē ouk echomen exousian;). Literary plural here though singular in 1-3. The mê in this double negative expects the answer "No" while ouk goes with the verb echomen. "Do we fail to have the right?" Cf. Ro 10:18f. (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1173). [A.T. Robertson Word Pictures of the New Testament]

Hence, the Greek text very clearly expects the very opposite answer that a mandatory marriage advocate would give. Thus the contradiction with the mandatory marriage position should be obvious.

BTW, I also wanted to let people know that good ol' Captain Sensible from the Gift of Singleness blog is at it again. He has recycled the old "you said barrenness was like being a nerd" "argument." Not only that, he also complained when someone posted a comment on the Boundless blog that he didn't like. He quotes what he doesn't like and then comments:

"Remembering that in the New Testament Jesus said agreed with his disciples saying that it would be better to not marry."

What?!?Boundless, are you going to address this? By posting this comment, you have now given a wide platform for the idea that Jesus said it would be better not to marry. Are you going to do anything about that? Or just leave it unchallenged?

Notice, he thinks that Boundless should take the time to answer all criticisms that ever get thrown its way. BTW, I know what it is like to be in their position, and if I answered every criticism leveled against me, I would never get anything done at school or otherwise. However, aside from that, again we see this utterly irrational idea that we need to in some way censor comments that we don't like. I also have a question. Why doesn't Captain Sensible defend his position? Why is he waiting on Boundless to do it? If we are so stupid, and the mandatory marriage movement is so brilliant, you would think he would jump at the chance to show us up.

However, again, as I said, the folks on this blog are moving off into a very cultic form of this movement. Even Philippa, who says she agrees with a large portion of what Debbie Maken has to say, says even she thinks Captian Sensible can be annoying. I can only hope that by the grace and mercy of God the folks over on the gift of singleness blog will be brought to their senses, and stop doing so much damage to the body of Christ.


Anakin Niceguy said...

Well Adam,

I don't think we can be surprised. The Marriage Mandate Movement is the culmination of an attitude the combines the following elements:

1) The notion that the authority of God precludes him giving us liberty in matters.

2) The Christians must be accountable to their church leaders for every move they make in their lives.

3) The spiritual advice of our "pastors" can supplement the plain teachings of the Scriptures.

4) One can use "inferences" to draw "principles" (which are often suppositions) on how Christians are to behave.

5) Our culture must be Christianized.

6) Conservative values are always Christian.

It was only a matter of time before those who would micromanage every aspect of our lives and tell us what the "Christian" and "Biblical" approach to dating, finance, job seeking, using the toilet, etc. would fall off the deep end and start sniping at each other. The wagging tongues of the Guilt Industry deserve each other.

It's time for Reformed/Evangelicals to be honest about the ripening of Neo-Phariseeism and cultishness in their midst.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Hey Anakin,

Ya, I understand what you are saying. The problem is that this is something that is very attractive to natural man. In Colossians 2:20-23 Paul says that this kind of teaching has the "appearance of wisdom," but is, in actuality, of no value against the desires of the flesh.

As far as conservative values being Christian, I define what is conservative as what is Christian. In fact, Andreas Kostenburger said that this kind of thinking isn't even Christian, and I agree with him. Hence, I would not even call this stuff conservative.

I suppose the hardest thing to think about during all of this is the fact that God does, indeed, make demands upon our life. Just because someone wants to bind unbiblical teachings upon our hearts doesn't mean that there are not biblical teachings that we are to obey. I can only hope that no one looses sight of that in this debate.

God Bless,