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Monday, November 14, 2005

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and...ummm, er, wha?

If there's one things chicks can't resist, its a Reformed aerospace engineer. Why I'm still single, I don't know. I mean, just look at how dashing I look in that Hugh Hefneresque robe!

Being 26 years old and single poses certain spiritual and emotional challenges for us guys. I began thinking about the matter at the prompting of Douglas Wilson's article in Agenda/Credenda on the topic of rearing sons to leave the household. He comments:

A normal pattern is for a son to leave home in order to marry. A man will leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. There it is—leave and cleave.

So what do us poor schlubs do who have left our parents' homes yet haven't been blessed with a woman to cleave to? Wilson continues:

[A man may leave the home] even if he is not getting married—he may have joined
the Navy or be off at college.

As much as I'd like to believe that my work as an engineer, designing aircraft for the military, is as noble and sacrificial as going off to battle, it simply is not. Unlike those in uniform, I have no impediment to establishing a household and family whilst I do my part in the War on Terror, in the safety and comfort of my air conditioned cubicle.

Unfortunately, Wilson's article simply does not address folks like me, even by implication. Have you left? Yep. Are you cleaving? No. Are you in college or the military? No, no. Nor am I a missionary, nor a prophet (two additional candidates, biblically speaking, for bachelorhood). I've fallen through the cracks, rhetorically speaking, in Wilson's exposition. Poor Dave.

So I'm left to think this through on my own. After extensively consulting exegetical commentaries, tomes of systematic theology, and even Bible Code cryptography, I have concluded that my situation stinks. Genesis says straightforthly that it is not good for man to be alone. Knowing this, how should we, as godly men, deal with this uncharted state of limbo? God has witheld, for His purposes, the blessing of pastoring and serving a godly family, along with the attendant encouragement and comforts of spousal companionship and intimacy or even so much as the care and guidance of our parents. Why? For us to do what?

Now at this point in the discussion, I'm usually handed the trite "well, your sufficiency should be in the Lord" or something to that effect. The truth of that statement is not trite, but that sort of response to the issue certainly is. This line, of course, is usually handed to me by a married person or a single person who still lives with the comfort of their parents and family, and it is usually just another way of saying "don't worry about it." Often the subtext of this, which I resent, is the thought that one who is concerned just plain old doesn't trust God. But is this how we treat any other area of our lives? If, say, I had failing health and no home, it would certainly be imperative for me to declare that God's grace is indeed sufficient for me. However, contentedness is the opposite of anxiety and unbelief, not inaction or unconcernedness.

In truth, I should say that the "leaving but not cleaving" limbo isn't totally uncharted in Scripture, both by way of example in biblical figures and in general principles of godly living. Jacob, for instance, traveled to the east and toiled for 14 years for his two brides. Not that everything in this narrative is to be considered normative, but we must admit that at least the principle of proaction and initiation to find a spouse is affirmed here. None of that "let go, let God" business here.

The most common response to this sort of resolution, however, is the borderline-superstitious advice that one should stop looking for a wife, and most likely the perfect match will just happen when not looking. Sorta like a Chinese fingertrap - stop trying to get your fingers out of the fingertrap and you'll be able to get out of the fingertrap. Usually this advice is accompanied with a "that's how it happened with me" testimonial. The problem with such anecdotal evidence is that, well, its anecdotal. Examples abound of Jacob and Rachel-like relationships, too.

The more general biblical principles also apply during these years. Namely, be busy building God's kingdom! If you don't have your own household to serve, then concentrate on serving God's church. Disciple others. Although it can only be a stopgap, "cleave" to the body of Christ at your local church for encouragement for now. (I think my readers won't misunderstand me here, as implying that one doesn't need to remain vitally involved with the church once married). Let Christ be known to unbelievers in your friendships and acquaintances. Fulfill the cultural mandate in your job and in your hobbies, by taking back all corners of God's creation and putting it under Christ's dominion. And, yes, prepare your home for a wife and family in humble anticipation of the Lord's blessing. Pray for a wife, but examine your motives (James 4:2-3).

All of this usually translates into mundane stuff, and it will not always satisfy the affections or drive out the feelings of loneliness, but it is more importantly purposeful and glorifying to God. And if the Lord wills, I will live and do this or do that, or leave and cleave.

Category: Theoblogia


  • For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

    11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

    By Blogger chris2011, at 6:35 AM  

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