And Jesus said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his [accomplishments]." And he told them a parable, saying, "The [mind] of a rich [wo]man produced plentifully, and [s]he thought to [her]self, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my [thoughts]?' And [s]he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my [blog] and build [a more accomplished one], and there I will store all my [thoughts] and my [writings]. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample [publications and a great reputation]; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to [her], 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"True love waits," "falling in love with Jesus," and other ideas.

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This blog entry has been floating around Facebook profiles these past few days, and I feel compelled to say some things about it.
For those who don’t have the time or desire to read the blog entry, it examines the flawed logic behind the purity ring.  According to the author, Christian women have adhered to the slogan “true love waits,” letting it pass between their lips as though it were God breathed, since they first sat in a purity lecture as a preteen. 
But “true love waits” sets up an expectation — not if a man will materialize, but when — and if this expectation is unmet, it has ramifications.  Some women become increasingly hardened toward God as the waiting period accumulates more years.  They act as though the absence of a lover were a punishment instead of a normal life circumstance.  Some women believed (and I had believed this at one point too) that “they weren’t fully satisfied in God,” and if they would somehow become satisfied, He would produce a spouse when the women were least expecting it.  Some women simply gave up on waiting and left the church to look for love elsewhere.  And up until this point, I agreed with the author. 
Where I disagree is the final exhortation.  The author says (in so many words), Women, we don’t have to wait for a man to fall in love!  We can fall in love — right now — with Jesus!  What’s more, we can find the strength to resist extramarital sex — not because we’re “saving ourselves for someone better,” because we love Jesus and strive to obey His commands!
There are some women who really like the idea of “falling in love” with Jesus.  I am not one of them.  ”Falling in love,” in my opinion, is a more fitting metaphor for “the hour we first believed” that it is for the years that follow. When we fall in love, our new disposition toward Jesus becomes clear.  When we learn one of the truths of the Bible, Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, we move from a state of cloudy neutrality or hostility toward God and toward a lucid affection for God.  This initial emotional attachment binds us to Him.  
But the longer we remain with Him, the more we come to rely on what is true rather than what is felt.  It is dangerous to suggest that “falling in love” should be the standard toward which Christians strive.  Do the New Testament writers ever liken a Christian to a lover?  Sometimes.  We are brides of Christ.  But what of the images of Christian as warrior, farmer and race runner?  These roles are less about affection and more about tireless diligence, in spite of emotion.  
Does that mean we shouldn’t feel affection toward Jesus?  No.  We should be emboldened by and respond to affection, when it comes.  But we shouldn’t rely on it.  Affection is similar to a romantic relationship in that it cannot be manufactured on command.  On the contrary, those mature Christians are the ones who continue to hold fast to God’s promises and surrender to Jesus’ teachings because of their faith — in spite of confusion or frustration or despair.  
Although the author does not state this outright, she should be careful not to suggest that “falling in love with Jesus” can numb the feeling of loneliness or desire for sex.  It doesn’t.  At least, not in my experience.  And in some ways, the modesty lectures, purity rings and Church culture only amplify my loneliness. 
So I pray as though I were drunk.  I make known to the Lord my downcast spirit.  I  rest knowing that I don’t have to fabricate “solutions” to my singleness.  I say to my soul, in the midst of all this striving to love God with your heart, mind and strength, it is acceptable to ache in the deep places and cry out as though you were barren. 

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