Spiritual: August 2006 Archives

Gift of Singleness

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Andreas Kostenberger has a thoughtful post on singleness in the Bible. I especially found one observation noteworthy. He finds a trajectory across salvation history with regard to singleness and marriage. Marriage is part of the creation order, part of God's original intent before the fall. It isn't until Jesus comes along to initiate the new covenant that you get any sense at all that there's anything but marriage as the norm, with singleness as an extraordinary exception (e.g. widows, serious illness). But Jesus indicates that some will be single by choice, and Paul even argues that the kingdom is more greatly served (in certain kinds of situations?) by those who are single, and therefore what was once the exception becomes something especially useful.

But Jesus also indicates that there will be no marriage in the resurrection. That means the intermediate phase between the initiation of the new covenant and its ultimate fulfillment in the resurrection is in tension between the marriage norm of the old covenant and the singleness norm of the resurrection. Seeing this according to a trajectory makes so much sense of how Paul can have such a high view of marriage and yet also view singleness as something for some to strive for. This doesn't (as some have argued) imply a lower view of marriage but simply reflects the tension between these two norms, one eventually to be replaced by the other but both having value in the in-between time. But Kostenberger does take marriage as a sort of norm even in this age, citing Matthew 19 as evidence. It's just not a norm in the fuller sense of when most everyone would be expected to get married.

Molly Ziegler, Leaving politics aside?, looks at the media coverage of borderline evangelical Greg Boyd's recent controversy over refusing to get his church involved in politics. (I say borderline because Boyd is an open theist, and many consider open theism automatically a disqualifier for evangelicalism, while others do not.) While I agree with the general sort of view of the church and politics that Boyd is saying, I agree with the criticism of his erroneous claim that Jesus didn't push people's buttons about sex. He most certainly did. Also, I think the abortion discussion toward the end reveals that there's a distinction between the church taking a stance on the best political policies and leaders (which I'd say is contrary to the church's purpose) and the church taking a stance on moral issues that are clear in scripture (which I think is its obligation).

I've just spent a good deal of time working through Augustine on this issue, and when I get a chance to put it into post form I'll be posting my notes. I really appreciate almost everything he has to say on it, but that will have to wait.

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