In this article, Shivonne and I just want to touch on the topic of how the church can sometimes idolize marriage. Right in time for Valentine’s Day, right?
Our view on marriage, whether good or bad, came from our culture. Our culture puts dating and marriage on a pedestal. There is nothing wrong with having goals we would like to pursue within a relationship. However, when we put those goals ahead of our relationship with Christ, we run into problems. We end up making an idol out of being in a relationship or being married.
I know because I used to make soccer my idol. I’ve been thinking of this verse a lot lately: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” 1 Corinthians 10:14 (ESV). Soccer was a part of my identity. It wasn’t until I recently found my complete identity in Christ that I realized I didn’t need soccer. Of course it was more complicated than that. I also lost passion for the game, but I think that was God telling me to find all my worth in Him.
Again, we are not condemning getting married. Our prayer is that people would understand their worth whether they are in a relationship or not. God blesses us in different ways because He has separate plans for everyone.
Growing up in the church, Shivonne was exposed to the idolization of marriage from an early age. She was taught to keep her heart pure so that she would be ready for marriage someday. Preparing yourself for a gift like marriage wasn’t wrong, but your intentions could lead you astray. Keeping yourself pure and striving for holiness should be because you want to be obedient to God, not just because you want a partner later in life. Men and women should be taught their value in Christ before bringing another person into the picture.
Another example of the idolization of marriage in the church came from Pastor Chad Dekay. In my recent bible class with him here at NCU, we talked about marriage and the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. We chatted about what marriage meant then and now. With this article in mind, I asked him “As a pastor, have you had any encounters with the expectation of marriage?”
He replied with, “Yes, I have had women in the church come up to me and set me up with people.” This wasn’t his first encounter with the expectation of marriage. He recalled another conversation where someone said to him, “Oh, you’re a pastor and you’re not married? Well you should start trying.” I was personally taken aback by this because I don’t think I could ever say something like that to anyone, let alone my pastor!
These are just real life examples, and it is upsetting to see that people think being in a relationship determines who they are. We are sons and daughters of Christ first, before we are a Mr. or Mrs. We’ll talk a little more about how Godly relationships can work and how you can tell you really like someone (based off discussions with Pastor Sol). We will save that conversation for our Valentine’s Day post. 🙂