Captain Sensible's Invincible Ignorance
I have finally found a phrase to describe the marriage mandators with whom I have interacted, who, rather than address my arguments, just take Debbie Maken's word for it. Dr. Robert Morey mentioned it. It is called "invincible ignorance." He used this to describe people who have the arguments right in front of them, and yet they refuse to address the arguments, and just keep repeating what they have said before.
Recently, an open theist who reads my blog [i.e. Paul] has decided to try to get one of these people with invincible ignorance to address some of my arguments from my 20 theses. Of course, Captain Sensible does not ever address any of my arguments; she just keeps parroting Debbie Maken. For instance, she said:
Take God working everything for good. That doesn't mean that everything is good. For example, suppose a Christian man fell into temptation and looked up some pornography on the internet. Would that be "good"? Clearly not. Does it mean that being a glamour model serves God's purposes? Well, I think we can safely say God would prefer her to choose another job! Can God still use these things somehow, someway, for good? Well, the Bible seems to me to show that, yes, He can and He does. But that does not mean that either of these things are okay!
Of course, the point is not whether or not something is good, but whether or not something is purposeful. If your situation is purposeful, then it has a purpose in molding you into the person God wants you to be. That's the point. Thus, Captain Sensible does not believe that God can say "no" to her request for a spouse because he is working on her for his own purposes. It is either all the man's fault, or it is because there are not enough men in the church, etc. However, if everything, including her singleness has a purpose, then God will give her a spouse when he wants to give her a spouse, and not when she "gets serious about getting married."
The point of my theses 13-14 is to recognize that singleness is purposeful, and not an accident which just could not be avioded because we were not "getting serious about getting married." God ordains both whether or not you search, and if and whether or not that search will be successful. Captain Sensible dispises that because she believes that God has no purpose for her singleness.
Thankfully, Paul knows exactly what I was talking about, and corrected Captain Sensible. That, of course, didn't stop Captain Sensible:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" (Romans 6:1)That was what I was thinking of earlier. Is it a bit like saying, "Well, God can use your circumstantial singleness to work all things for the good, so even though it may have come about through sins (eg. lack of outreach to men by our church leaders? Wrong teaching on singleness that encourages men to passivity?) then don't worry about trying to fix those things. God's working them for good anyway, so there's really no point. Maybe God is glorified even more when working things that are not good, for good."?
I wouldn't say that God can use "circumstantial singleness" for good, but that God decrees "circumstantial singleness." Also, Captain Sensible did not deal with any of my refutations Debbie Maken's abuse of Genesis 1:28 and 2:18, and just assumed that she was correct. Thus, it is not "going on sinning that grace may abound" because protracted singleness isn't a sin! Certainly I think that, if a person wants to marry, they should pursue marriage. However, the reason why you search is because God has decreed it, and he has also decreed whether or not that church will be successful. He will make that search successful at the time he wants, not at the time Captain Sensible thinks he should make it successful.
Captain Sensible continues with her invincible ignorance:
Is it possible to "make an idol" out of feeding the hungry?Is it possible to "make an idol" out of loving your neighbour?Is it possible to "make an idol" out of reading Scripture?Is it possible to "make an idol" out of worshipping God through songs of praise?I only ask these questions because I am not sure it is even possible to "make an idol" out of doing something that God wants us to do anyway. If someone becomes so committed to feeding the hungry, that they are in danger of burning out, then there are other cautions I think that are more appropriate, like reminding them that God knows it is good to rest, or that Jesus at times withdrew to be by Himself.And if someone becomes so keen on singing worship songs that they begin to annoy the people they live with, it may be advisable to remind them that they should prefer others' needs to their own, and maybe they should give them a bit of peace and quiet already!Do you see what I am getting at? In terms of doing something that is pleasing to God, I don't think we can "make an idol" of it.
The answer to all of this is "yes." Yes, you can make all of these things an idol. Perhaps Captain Sensible has never heard what Jesus said:
Matthew 6:1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 6:5-6 "And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Yes, even feeding the hungry, loving your neighbor, reading scripture, and worshipping God can be an idol if it is done in arrogance to point to yourself as better than everyone else. Once these things are done for self-glory, and not for God's glory, then, yes, they become an idol. Hence, we should not only watch our behavior, but the modivations for our behavior. Often, the modivations for our behavior will give away whether or not we are making something an idol. Desiring marriage is not making marriage an idol. However, pursuing marriage because you are loathing your singleness is making an idol out of marriage.
This is why the bladder example is irrelevant. I would ask what would happen if you went to the restroom, and you could not urinate? Would you say it is because you are not "getting serious about urinating?" What happens if you do everything you can, and you end up having to have go on kidney dialysis because you cannot urinate? Does your failure to urinate mean that you were not "getting serious about urinating?" No, obviously not. God can, by his sovereign decree, cause you to not be able to urinate, and to have to go on kidney dialysis. In the same way, God can, by his sovereign decree, cause your pursuit of marriage fail, and tell you that you need to trust in him since he did not decree that your pursuit of marriage would be successful. Apparently, Captain Sensible and Debbie Maken think that God does not have that right.
Also, what happens if a person is trusting in these actions to save them? Isn't that also making the good works Captain Sensible mentioned an idol? If we are going to be good protestants, then we would say, if we do not trust in God alone for our salvation and trust in our works, then, yes, those works have become an idol because we are trusting in them rather than trusting in God for our salvation.
However, Captain Sensible doesn't stop there. She gives an interesting look into the mind of these cultic marriage mandators. By what standard do they think morality should be defined? Well, I will let Captain Sensible tell you herself:
In the same way (although over a slightly more extended period!), I think the times in a woman's life when she is most likely to be accused of "making an idol" out of marriage, are just the times when her body is telling her that now would be a good time to reproduce and the body simply can't hold out for that much longer.To go back to your post, the examples you gave are again indicative, in my opinion, of another issue rather than "making an idol" out of marriage. If we are uncomfortable in our own skin, as I think the French describe it, then the root cause may be a self-esteem problem. Also I am not sure about how common it is for a woman to feel that a husband would be "the end to all their woes". I think most women have more sense than to think they will never again have any problems in their life, so long as they marry! However, having said that, being single is a major problem, and solving that one problem can make a tremendous difference to the quality of that person's life, and especially with regard to marriage and a family, it's the core of their human nature...
But one final plea is, please, let's give single Christian women a break! I despair at the way they are being treated by the church at the moment, it's absolutely shocking. I think I am going to start a new society: the RSPCSCW - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Single Christian Women. ;-) (To those readers outside the UK this may not mean anything, but I should say we have the RSPCA to prevent cruelty to animals, the RSPCC to prevent cruelty to children etc. and I think we now need a new one for single Christian women. They are the King's daughters, and I really think a new Royal Society would be entirely appropriate!)We are being terribly cruel at the moment, and inflicting huge amounts of spiritual abuse. Ridding single women of the accusation of "making an idol out of marriage" is just one of many issues that need to be addressed.
Wow, I mean what can you say! What is necessary, and what is right needs to be defined on the basis of "a woman's biological clock," and "her desire to reproduce????????" In other words, if a woman has a desire to reproduce, it is the man's duty to fulfill that desire, and God cannot say "no" if both parties just "get serious about getting married." Then, she goes on to say that if you dare say that God has any sovereign power over whether or not you satisfy your "biological clock," then you are being abusive to women. I know I have avoided saying this for a long time, but this is the same kind of thinking that the feminists use. They say, "My feelings are going to be the ultimate standard of what is 'abuse,' and thus, what is right and wrong." I am going to say this very calmly and carefully. While I respect a woman's desire to wed and have children, God does not care about a woman's desire to marry and have children in his sovereign decree, or in his commandments. God is the one who gets to decree what happens in this world, and God is the one who gets to define what is abuse and what is not abuse. As I said in thesis #11, feelings are irrelevant in determining what is right and what is wrong in relationships. God is free to do whatever he wants, and a woman's "biological clock" has nothing to do with it.
Thus, we see the selfish, and self-centered nature of the cultic version of this movement come full swing. This is the reason that they get to abuse the scriptures, alter quotations from the reformers, and avoid having to defend it is simply because of their desires to reproduce. This is one of the things that drives "invincible ignorance." You want to believe something because of your own desires, and these desires prevent you from seeing the truth. This is what I mean when I talk about marriage, and the desire for marriage becoming an idol. When God's sovereign decree, his right to define right and wrong, and all honest argumentation are thrown out the window because of your desire to marry and have children, you have just made marriage an idol. Yes, Captain Sensible can keep beating down her strawman of fatalism all day and ignoring this argument, but this fact still remains.
I believe that Captain Sensible and Debbie Maken are under the judgment of God, and their invincible ignorance is evidence of that very thing. Captain Sensible does not realize how insignificant Debbie Maken's argumentation is in the academic world. In fact, I presented Debbie Maken's views to a group made up of one of the Hebrew professors and several students here at Trinity, and all I got was laughter, and people poking fun at it. Of course, that doesn't matter to Captain Sensible. The validity of these arguments is not of any relevance to her. All that matters is whether or not she gets to have a husband and reproduce, and God's sovereign plan, and his ability to define right and wrong have absolutely no meaning to her.
It would be bad enough if the damage were limited to Captain Sensible alone, but it is not. She has before stated that women should go outside the church to find men, and bring them into the church to marry them. I wonder if these men would come into the church if they knew that they only reason this person was witnessing to them is, not because they cared about their souls, but because they wanted a husband. Something tells me that either the person would convert simply because they wanted a wife [in which case, we would have to ask if this is a true conversion], or they would be repulsed that someone only cares about their marital status, and not their eternal soul. I don't know what is going to happen, but I know it would be bad on both counts: the former instance because marriage to an unbeliever is, not only forbidden in the scriptures, but also very difficult, and the latter because of the fact that these men will *never* be saved in those circumstances.
How did we get into this mess? We got into it by "invincible ignorance." Captain Sensible needs to rethink what her standard of ethics is, whether or not she values truth, and whether or not she believes God is the sovereign king over all. God is not a Santa Claus who gives you whatever you desire. He is a God who knows what is best for you, even better than you yourself know. Should we pursue something if we want it? Absolutely, and most definitely! However, that does not mean that God is obligated to give it to you right then and there. In that case, we have to wait on him to cause our pursuits to be successful in his time.
I would like to close with the lyrics to a song by Steven Curtis Chapman. This was one of my favorite songs when I was a kid, and it is funny that you have to get into discussions such as these before you can see the wisdom in the lyrics to some of these songs. I only hope that single people will hear the message in this song, namely, that God does care about you, and he knows better than you what you need and what is best for you.
You wonder when the Lord will renew the strength within you;
You wonder how, how can He use you as you are.
Seems like you’re wasting precious time,
But then a voice comes to remind you (to wait).
Wait, wait, wait on the Lord;
You will understand in time.
Why you must wait,
Wait, wait, wait on the Lord;
Yes He hears you,
But for now you must wait on the Lord.
Answers come slowly to your cries of desperation,
But time is His tool, teaching the greatest lessons learned;
So let Him do His work in you,
And watch the miracles come true as you (wait).
And He wants you to know that
They that wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They will rise up with wings as eagles,
They will run, not get weary.
They will walk and not faint;
That’s a promise to us when we (wait).