Postmarital Singleness

I ran across this excel­lent arti­cle, and while there is much to take away, it’s clear that it was writ­ten to the Rebeu­tion youth. For those of us who have once been mar­ried, the temp­ta­tion is to seize on it all, most espe­cial­ly the opti­mism and hope Paul gives for those who are sin­gle, and while some of that is there to be seized, I do not think all, and care and con­sid­er­a­tion should be tak­en.


Sin­gle­ness is a Gift and That’s Bib­li­cal in Case You For­got

Sin­gle­ness is not a form of embar­rassed earth­ly pur­ga­to­ry. It is not a sign of God’s dis­plea­sure. It does not make you a dif­fer­ent kind of Chris­t­ian or require you to start your own sep­a­rate Bible study with the oth­er spir­i­tu­al lep­ers.”

Per­haps Kee­ley, but that’s exact­ly what divorced sin­gle­ness is. You’ve bet the farm on what you knew was not a gam­ble and you’ve lost. You’ve giv­en away your best; inno­cence, youth, ener­gy, opti­mism, all your ‘firsts’, hopes and dreams, and your entire heart and you come away with a piti­ful rem­nant.

I keep return­ing to the night­mare at the begin­ning of Josh Har­ris’ I Kissed Dat­ing Good­bye; “I thought I had your heart.” “You do. All that’s left is yours.” Mar­riage is the first mar­riage. Remar­riage, while it can be won­der­ful and can be many of the things the mar­riage was sup­posed to be but wasn’t is still some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Once you under­stand that you’re almost forced by good con­scious to lim­it your remar­riage yearn­ing to only those who are also the rem­nant that you are. You become con­vinced that you have no right to take from anoth­er what you your­self lost, even if freely giv­en. You rec­og­nize and defend in that oth­er per­son the poten­tial and the ethe­re­al “right” to have a mar­riage, not a remar­riage, with a ful­ly intact com­pli­ment of God’s gifts; inno­cence, youth, ener­gy, lifes­pan, etc.

It there­fore becomes dif­fi­cult to see post-mar­tial sin­gle­ness as a gift, because 1 Cor 7 sin­gle­ness is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent ani­mal. Your gift of sin­gle­ness has been spent. Your gift of mar­ried­ness has been spent. “Yes God, I’m ready to serve.….…..All that’s left, is Yours.”

Titus 1:15–16

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbe­liev­ing, noth­ing is pure, but both their mind and their con­science are defiled. They pro­fess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and dis­obe­di­ent and worth­less for any good deed.

I won­der if Lewis was not con­sid­er­ing this pas­sage when he wrote Book 3: Chap­ter 8 of A Pilgrim’s Regress, “Par­rot Dis­ease”. ‘Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no dif­fer­ence between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?’

Every day a jailor brought the pris­on­ers their food, and as he laid down the dish­es he would say a word to them. If their meal was flesh he would remind them that they were eat­ing corpses, or give them some account of the slaugh­ter­ing: or, if it was the inwards of some beast, he would read them a lec­ture in anato­my and show the like­ness of the mess to the same parts in themselves—which was the more eas­i­ly done because the giant’s eyes were always star­ing into the dun­geon at din­ner time. Or if the meal were eggs he would recall to them that they were eat­ing the enstru­um of a ver­minous fowl, and crack a few jokes with the female pris­on­ers. So he went on day by day. Then I dreamed that one day there was noth­ing but milk for them, and the jailor said as he put down the pip­kin:

Our rela­tions with the cow are not delicate—as you can eas­i­ly see if you imag­ine eat­ing any of her oth­er secre­tions.’ Now John had been in the pit a short­er time than any of the oth­ers: and at these words some­thing seemed to snap in his head and he gave a great sigh and sud­den­ly spoke out in a loud, clear voice:

Thank heav­en! Now at last I know that you are talk­ing non­sense.’

What do you mean?’ said the jailor, wheel­ing round upon him.

You are try­ing to pre­tend that unlike things are like. You are try­ing to make us think that milk is the same sort of thing as sweat or dung.’

And pray, what dif­fer­ence is there except by cus­tom?’

Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no dif­fer­ence between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?’

So Nature is a per­son, then, with pur­pos­es and con­scious­ness,’ said the jailor with a sneer. ‘In fact, a Land­la­dy. No doubt it com­forts you to imag­ine you can believe that sort of thing;’ and he turned to leave the prison with his nose in the air.

I know noth­ing about that,’ shout­ed John after him. ‘I am talk­ing of what hap­pens. Milk does feed calves and dung does not.’

Look here,’ cried the jailor, com­ing back, ‘we have had enough of this. It is high trea­son and I shall bring you before the Mas­ter.’ Then he jerked John up by his chain and began to drag him towards the door; but John as he was being dragged, cried out to the oth­ers, ‘Can’t you see it’s all a cheat?’ Then the jailor struck him in the teeth so hard that his mouth was filled with blood and he became unable to speak: and while he was silent the jailor addressed the pris­on­ers and said:

You see he is try­ing to argue. Now tell me, some­one, what is argu­ment?’

There was a con­fused mur­mur.

Come, come,’ said the jailor. ‘You must know your cat­e­chisms by now. You, there’ (and he point­ed to a pris­on­er lit­tle old­er than a boy whose name was Mas­ter Par­rot), ‘what is argu­ment?’

Argu­ment,’ said Mas­ter Par­rot, ‘is the attempt­ed ratio­nal­iza­tion of the arguer’s desires.’

Very good,’ replied the jailor, ‘but you should turn out your toes and put your hands behind your back. That is bet­ter. Now: what is the prop­er answer to an argu­ment prov­ing the exis­tence of the Land­lord?’

The prop­er answer is, “You say that because you are a Stew­ard.”’

Good boy. But hold your head up. That’s right. And what is the answer to an argu­ment prov­ing that Mr. Phally’s songs are just as brown as Mr. Halfways’?’

There are two only gen­er­al­ly nec­es­sary to damna­tion,’ said Mas­ter Par­rot. ‘The first is, “You say that because you are a Puri­tan­ian,” and the sec­ond is, “You say that because you are a
sen­su­al­ist.”’

Good. Now just one more. What is the answer to an argu­ment turn­ing on the belief that two and two make four?’

The answer is, “You say that because you are a math­e­mati­cian.”’

You are a very good boy,’ said the jailor. ‘And when I come back I shall bring you some­thing nice. And now for you,’ he added, giv­ing John a kick and open­ing the grat­ing.

2 Timothy 4:18

The Lord will res­cue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safe­ly to His heav­en­ly king­dom; to Him be the glo­ry for­ev­er and ever. Amen.

Frost said, “…but I have promis­es to keep; and miles to go before I sleep; and miles to go before I sleep.”

Miles and miles seem lit­tle dif­fi­cul­ty in light of the promise we know awaits.

Whence comes my lack of peace and obstacles over which I stumble?

Psa 119:165 Those who love Your law have great peace, And noth­ing caus­es them to stum­ble. (NAS­B­Str)

So much in this world seems so dif­fi­cult to man­age, in terms of just liv­ing day to day. How much of that dif­fi­cul­ty do I cre­ate myself because I’m reach­ing for some­thing oth­er than what God gives and com­mands. Fun­ny how I can tie my own shoelaces togeth­er w/o notic­ing our remem­ber­ing and then cry foul when I lat­er come crash­ing down.

I could use me some affliction, I think.

I could use me some afflic­tion, I think.

Psalm 119:65–71 Teth.
You have dealt well with Your ser­vant, O Lord, accord­ing to Your word. Teach me good dis­cern­ment and knowl­edge, For I believe in Your com­mand­ments. Before I was afflict­ed I went astray, But now I keep Your word. You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes. The arro­gant have forged a lie against me; With all my heart I will observe Your pre­cepts. Their heart is cov­ered with fat, But I delight in Your law. It is good for me that I was afflict­ed, That I may learn Your statutes. (NAS­B­Str)

It is a glorious phrase – “He led captivity captive”

James Stuart Stewart (1896–1990)

The very tri­umphs of His foes, it means, He used for their defeat. He com­pelled their dark achieve­ments to sub­serve His end, not theirs. They nailed Him to the tree, not know­ing that by that very act they were bring­ing the world to His feet. They gave Him a cross, not guess­ing that He would make it a throne. They flung Him out­side the gates to die, not know­ing that in that very moment they were lift­ing up all the gates of the uni­verse, to let the King come in. They thought to root out His doc­trines, not under­stand­ing that they were implant­i­ng imper­ish­ably in the hearts of men the very name they intend­ed to destroy. They thought they had defeat­ed God with His back to the wall, pinned and help­less and defeat­ed: they did not know that it was God Him­self who had tracked them down. He did not con­quer in spite of the dark mys­tery of evil. He con­quered through it.

— James Stu­art Stew­art (1896–1990), Scot­land

Psalm 68:18 KJV

Thou hast ascend­ed on high, thou hast led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebel­lious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

Eph­esians 4 KJV

1 I there­fore, the pris­on­er of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk wor­thy of the voca­tion where­with ye are called, 2 With all low­li­ness and meek­ness, with long­suf­fer­ing, for­bear­ing one anoth­er in love; 3 Endeav­our­ing to keep the uni­ty of the Spir­it in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spir­it, even as ye are called in one hope of your call­ing; 5 One Lord, one faith, one bap­tism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is giv­en grace accord­ing to the mea­sure of the gift of Christ. 8 Where­fore he saith, When he ascend­ed up on high, he led cap­tiv­i­ty cap­tive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascend­ed, what is it but that he also descend­ed first into the low­er parts of the earth? 10 He that descend­ed is the same also that ascend­ed up far above all heav­ens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apos­tles; and some, prophets; and some, evan­ge­lists; and some, pas­tors and teach­ers; 12 For the per­fect­ing of the saints, for the work of the min­istry, for the edi­fy­ing of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the uni­ty of the faith, and of the knowl­edge of the Son of God, unto a per­fect man, unto the mea­sure of the stature of the ful­ness of Christ: 14 That we hence­forth be no more chil­dren, tossed to and fro, and car­ried about with every wind of doc­trine, by the sleight of men, and cun­ning crafti­ness, where­by they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speak­ing the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fit­ly joined togeth­er and com­pact­ed by that which every joint sup­pli­eth, accord­ing to the effec­tu­al work­ing in the mea­sure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edi­fy­ing of itself in love. 17 This I say there­fore, and tes­ti­fy in the Lord, that ye hence­forth walk not as oth­er Gen­tiles walk, in the van­i­ty of their mind, 18 Hav­ing the under­stand­ing dark­ened, being alien­at­ed from the life of God through the igno­rance that is in them, because of the blind­ness of their heart: 19 Who being past feel­ing have giv­en them­selves over unto las­civ­i­ous­ness, to work all unclean­ness with greed­i­ness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off con­cern­ing the for­mer con­ver­sa­tion the old man, which is cor­rupt accord­ing to the deceit­ful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spir­it of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is cre­at­ed in right­eous­ness and true holi­ness. 25 Where­fore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neigh­bour: for we are mem­bers one of anoth­er. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Nei­ther give place to the dev­il. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, work­ing with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no cor­rupt com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­ceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edi­fy­ing, that it may min­is­ter grace unto the hear­ers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spir­it of God, where­by ye are sealed unto the day of redemp­tion. 31 Let all bit­ter­ness, and wrath, and anger, and clam­our, and evil speak­ing, be put away from you, with all mal­ice: 32 And be ye kind one to anoth­er, ten­der­heart­ed, for­giv­ing one anoth­er, even as God for Christ’s sake hath for­giv­en you.

James 1–3 NASB

James 1

1James, a bond-ser­vant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dis­persed abroad: Greet­ings.

2Con­sid­er it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter var­i­ous tri­als, know­ing that the test­ing of your faith pro­duces endurance. And let endurance have its per­fect result, so that you may be per­fect and com­plete, lack­ing in noth­ing.

5But if any of you lacks wis­dom, let him ask of God, who gives to all gen­er­ous­ly and with­out reproach, and it will be giv­en to him. But he must ask in faith with­out any doubt­ing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, dri­ven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive any­thing from the Lord, being a dou­ble-mind­ed man, unsta­ble in all his ways.

But the broth­er of hum­ble cir­cum­stances is to glo­ry in his high posi­tion; 10 and the rich man is to glo­ry in his humil­i­a­tion, because like flow­er­ing grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun ris­es with a scorch­ing wind and with­ers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beau­ty of its appear­ance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pur­suits will fade away.

12 Blessed is a man who per­se­veres under tri­al; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempt­ed, “I am being tempt­ed by God”; for God can­not be tempt­ed by evil, and He Him­self does not tempt any­one. 14 But each one is tempt­ed when he is car­ried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has con­ceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accom­plished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing giv­en and every per­fect gift is from above, com­ing down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no vari­a­tion or shift­ing shad­ow. 18 In the exer­cise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His crea­tures.

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But every­one must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the right­eous­ness of God. 21 There­fore, putting aside all filth­i­ness and all that remains of wicked­ness, in humil­i­ty receive the word implant­ed, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove your­selves doers of the word, and not mere­ly hear­ers who delude them­selves. 23 For if any­one is a hear­er of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his nat­ur­al face in a mir­ror; 24 for once he has looked at him­self and gone away, he has imme­di­ate­ly for­got­ten what kind of per­son he was. 25 But one who looks intent­ly at the per­fect law, the law of lib­er­ty, and abides by it, not hav­ing become a for­get­ful hear­er but an effec­tu­al doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

26 If any­one thinks him­self to be reli­gious, and yet does not bri­dle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s reli­gion is worth­less. 27 Pure and unde­filed reli­gion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to vis­it orphans and wid­ows in their dis­tress, and to keep one­self unstained by the world.

James 2

1My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glo­ri­ous Lord Jesus Christ with an atti­tude of per­son­al favoritism. 2For if a man comes into your assem­bly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 3and you pay spe­cial atten­tion to the one who is wear­ing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my foot­stool,” 4have you not made dis­tinc­tions among your­selves, and become judges with evil motives? 5Lis­ten, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the king­dom which He promised to those who love Him? 6But you have dis­hon­ored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and per­son­al­ly drag you into court? 7Do they not blas­pheme the fair name by which you have been called?

8If, how­ev­er, you are ful­fill­ing the roy­al law accord­ing to the Scrip­ture, “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self,” you are doing well. 9But if you show par­tial­i­ty, you are com­mit­ting sin and are con­vict­ed by the law as trans­gres­sors. 10For who­ev­er keeps the whole law and yet stum­bles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11For He who said, “Do not com­mit adul­tery,” also said, “Do not com­mit mur­der.” Now if you do not com­mit adul­tery, but do com­mit mur­der, you have become a trans­gres­sor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of lib­er­ty. 13For judg­ment will be mer­ci­less to one who has shown no mer­cy; mer­cy tri­umphs over judg­ment.

14What use is it, my brethren, if some­one says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15If a broth­er or sis­ter is with­out cloth­ing and in need of dai­ly food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is nec­es­sary for their body, what use is that? 17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18But some­one may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith with­out the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shud­der. 20But are you will­ing to rec­og­nize, you fool­ish fel­low, that faith with­out works is use­less? 21Was not Abra­ham our father jus­ti­fied by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that faith was work­ing with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was per­fect­ed; 23and the Scrip­ture was ful­filled which says, “And Abra­ham believed God, and it was reck­oned to him as right­eous­ness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is jus­ti­fied by works and not by faith alone. 25In the same way, was not Rahab the har­lot also jus­ti­fied by works when she received the mes­sen­gers and sent them out by anoth­er way? 26For just as the body with­out the spir­it is dead, so also faith with­out works is dead.

James 3

1Let not many of you become teach­ers, my brethren, know­ing that as such we will incur a stricter judg­ment. 2For we all stum­ble in many ways. If any­one does not stum­ble in what he says, he is a per­fect man, able to bri­dle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the hors­es’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are dri­ven by strong winds, are still direct­ed by a very small rud­der wher­ev­er the incli­na­tion of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a for­est is set aflame by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniq­ui­ty; the tongue is set among our mem­bers as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of rep­tiles and crea­tures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a rest­less evil and full of dead­ly poi­son. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the like­ness of God; 10from the same mouth come both bless­ing and curs­ing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11Does a foun­tain send out from the same open­ing both fresh and bit­ter water? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, pro­duce olives, or a vine pro­duce figs? Nor can salt water pro­duce fresh.

13Who among you is wise and under­stand­ing? Let him show by his good behav­ior his deeds in the gen­tle­ness of wis­dom. 14But if you have bit­ter jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion in your heart, do not be arro­gant and so lie against the truth. 15This wis­dom is not that which comes down from above, but is earth­ly, nat­ur­al, demon­ic. 16For where jeal­ousy and self­ish ambi­tion exist, there is dis­or­der and every evil thing. 17But the wis­dom from above is first pure, then peace­able, gen­tle, rea­son­able, full of mer­cy and good fruits, unwa­ver­ing, with­out hypocrisy. 18And the seed whose fruit is right­eous­ness is sown in peace by those who make peace.