“What’s Better Than Being Married? Not Being Married.” – The Apostle Paul
Daily Scripture readings for September, set #9:
The final verse of Joshua chapter 21: “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass”(vs 45). Not a word. But then, moving on to Psalm 79, the very first verse states: “O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” In thinking about this, I’m realizing that this too was a promise of God (see again Ex 23:22). It’s another Old Covenant = “if” moment.
Mark 3:29 is the oft-quoted and oft-questioned verse on “the unforgivable sin.” “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Here is a sermon I found helpful for how to understand this verse, and how we as Christians should live in light of it.
1 Corinthians 7 is another familiar and commonly referenced passage in the NT, especially for marriage counseling and like topics. But reading verse 7 is always a surprise to me, as if I forget it’s there. “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” Paul basically tells the Corinthians that being single is better than being married, in his view. WOW. I wonder what the youth group and young adults landscape in our churches would look like if this verse was taught with force.
Daily Scripture readings, set #10:
The “Altar of Witness” incident in Joshua 22 is a welcome reminder to me of my trigger-happy instinct to take up arms (so to speak) against someone who I suspect might be wrongly representing Christ. How helpful it is to first seek to understand a situation before launching a war. This passage makes me think of the constant online bickering amongst Christians brothers and siblings who speak so quickly against each other. Such quarreling is of course not ALWAYS the result of misunderstandings and snap judgments, but the caution is still warranted.
Psalm 80, verse 4: “O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?” Is this a misspoken phrase? Wouldn’t it be the people’s ACTIONS that the Lord was angry with? Well, Scripture doesn’t misspeak, though I often interpret passages as if it does. The Lord is angry with the people’s prayers, and for the people, that’s a BAD place to be.
I find the contrast in Mark 4:11 to be interesting and noteworthy. “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables.” Jesus describes two groups: one that “has been given the secret of the kingdom” and the other, simply described as those who are “outside.” And this distinction follows immediately on the heels of a parable about what kind of person hears the Word of God and accepts it, and what kind of person doesn’t.
Paul continues his strong words against marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, and I call his words “strong” because they dare to suggest that marriage isn’t purely amazing and godly and good and helpful and to be sought after. So the question comes to me again: does the evangelical church of the West get it wrong on the marriage issue? Now, I’m happily married and very thankful for my wife, but that’s probably largely due to the fact that most/all of my young adulthood was spent actively seeking a wife, having never heard anything from my church or fellow Christians that at all resembled what Paul says in this chapter. Evangelical churches simply do not teach youth about the potential downsides to marriage like Paul does. Should we?