Mrs Banda meets young Kelvin outside church. After noting how he has grown into quite the young man, she asks: “What are you planning on doing now that you are done with your grade 12?” Kelvin responds, “Well I’ve had my eye on Twiza Siame for a few months now, and I want to marry her in the next few years.” Mrs Banda’s expression turns to shock. Attempting to regain her composure and balance, she replies: “Of course my dear boy. But I was not talking about ten years from now. What do you plan on doing now that you are done with school?” Kelvin is a little puzzled, because he’d just answered the question.
The ‘new normal’ says that what matters most is not getting married, but getting a good education.
What Kelvin didn’t realise is that he had come face to face with the ‘new normal.’ This says that what matters most is not getting married, but getting a good education. You see, marriage is no longer what you need to be a functioning and fruitful member of society. We’re uncertain of its value and importance. But we all agree on what really matters: you need an education and a job.
We Think We Know Better Than God
One of the first things God is known to have said about mankind was this: “It’s not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). And shortly thereafter he made woman (Genesis 2:21). This statement is as fundamentally true as almost anything in the created order. Yet we’ve shelved it in our enlightened and more sophisticated day. Though we might not say it, we’re convinced that we know better.
We keep pushing the date for marriage further and further back. In fact, we no longer take it for granted that individuals will marry, period. So instead of asking when someone plans to get married we ask if they plan to. Whether they plan on getting married is now a legitimate conversation. Marriage is an optional add-on to further studies and dream careers.
Marriage is no longer the norm. It has become the exception.
We’ve flipped the created order on its head, exchanging the norms of our creator God for manmade counterfeits. Why does that sound familiar (Romans 1:23, 25)? Thus marriage is no longer the norm. It has become the exception. The things that matter are getting an education, earning a living and then making good money. Marriage is dessert and not the meal.
Our Priorities Differ From God’s
Before you rise to defend this sort of thinking imagine another conversation, between Mrs Banda and Kelvin’s older brother, Dennis. Dennis is in his late 20s, unmarried, but well paid. As they chat, Mrs Banda discovers that Dennis intends to study his Masters degree outside of the country. She’s overjoyed and congratulatory. However, she doesn’t point out that Dennis’ decision means that, in all likelihood, he’s going to forgo marriage for another two to three years. Again, getting married is now the exception and not the norm.
Like any strapping young man on the sunny side of 30, Dennis has been dealing with the desire for physical and sexual intimacy with a woman (1 Corinthians 7:9). This has been the case since his early teens. And both of them know it. This desire, like the desire for food or drink is not abnormal. God made it. He put it there. Sexual desire is good. However, when it isn’t channeled in the right way, it results in a lot of hurt and damage.
Sexual desire, like the desire for food or drink is not abnormal. God made it. He put it there.
Yet Dennis will pursue his studies. And those around him, like Mrs Banda, will celebrate his ambition. So he’s another man ignoring God ordained desires and the good gift of marriage in favour of education and economic success. Whereas God said it’s not good for man to be alone. Today we preach that it isn’t good for man to be without an education. What will the consequences of our reordered priorities be? Can Dennis resist that burning desire for the next three years? Only we don’t ask those sorts of questions. Nothing to see here. Move along. Or so we think.
Be A Disciple Of Christ, Not The World
We’ve arrived at this point because we failed to recognise that the world is always preaching and catechising. Thus little by little over the years we’ve exchanged God’s standard for what we thought were the bright lights of the world. In so doing we’ve switched off our minds to the obvious dangers within those reordered priorities. It’s not uncommon to see young and unmarried men getting ahead in the world while remaining unmarried. We don’t perceive this as a problem because we assume that they either don’t have a sexual drive or that they have it under control.
Then we pretend to be shocked at the rampant use of pornography within the church, naïvely believing that the vast majority are immune to their natural drive and aren’t scratching the God given itch through pre-marital sex, pornography, and other such sinful means? It’s time for some honest conversations in the church. We are to encourage and exhort one another to flee evil and do what is right (Jude 22-23; James 5:19-20).
It’s time for some honest conversations in the church.
Some might be upset that I am exhorting people to get married, as if that is the only right thing. But take your argument to God, starting in Genesis. For he is the one who determines right from wrong. Sorry to break it to you but God intended marriage to be the norm and not the exception, regardless of your new normal and our world’s priorities. Doing what is right might mean marrying the godly woman who is a six out of ten on your requirements list. It might mean delaying that Masters or abandoning your Hollywood-shaped view of love and relationships. But it most certainly does mean waking up to the dangers your soul faces if you indefinitely delay getting married.