How Christians Have Failed on Teaching Maturity and Morality Vis A Vis Marriage / Parenthood – Used as Markers of Maturity Or Assumed to be Sanctifiers – Also: More Hypocrisy – Christians Teach You Need A Spouse to Be Purified, But Also Teach God Won’t Send You a Spouse Until You Become Purified
(The second half of this post deals with the Christian double standard, the hypocrisy, which says, “Marriage makes people mature / godly!,” and “If you want to get married, God won’t send you a spouse unless you mature first / become godly.”)
Over and over, I see a lot of Christians (and sometimes Non Christians) equate maturity and selfless-ness with either becoming married or becoming a parent. (I keep a running list of examples of how both views are utterly false, such as this list and this list).
One of the problems I have with these views, especially from a Christian background, is that if Christians are going to equate marriage or parenthood with maturity and godliness, this means they are failing children, or anyone who is new in Jesus Christ (which could be a 45 year old man who accepts Jesus).
From the time I was young, as young as five years old, I remember my mother encouraging me to share my toys and games with childhood friends of mine. She taught me about sharing.
By the time I was eight or nine, the lesson had taken hold. When I had friends over to play after school, I made sure to give them an equal amount of Kool-Aid – I was not a greedy jerk who poured more in my glass than theirs – and if there was only one cookie left in the box, I gave my little guest the remaining cookie.
Already at a young age, my Mom had taught me to play fair, share, and to remember there are other people in the world; the world does not revolve around me.
So, I find it quite puzzling when I see Christians – and sometimes Non Christians, usually rock stars and movie actors – who are 30, 35, 40 years old, who make comments such as, “I did not know what REAL love was until I had a child,” or, “I did not realize how SELFISH I was until I had my first child at age X,” or, “I didn’t realize other people had needs and feelings until I married at age 25 / 35 / 45.”
I see those kind of comments often.
How does someone arrive to age 25, 35, 45, or older, and not realize that the world does not revolve around them?
I am stunned it takes getting pregnant or married at age 25, 35, or older, for someone to finally catch on that there are other people in the world, that other people have needs and problems.
If you went to church as a tyke, or had Christian parents, you dang well should have learned, by the age of ten at the latest, to share your toys with friends and realize other people have needs, not just you.
It should not take having a baby or getting married for you to “stop being selfish” and “realize what REAL love is.”
If having a kid or getting married is what it took FOR YOU to grow up and become empathetic and caring, you either have a very bad personality disorder (please consider seeking a qualified therapist for counseling), or your parents did a sub-par parenting job.
I figured out before I was age ten not to be selfish, not to always put myself first all the time, to care about others and their feelings, and so on.
No where does the Bible teach that having a child or getting married are sanctifiers, maturity markers, or any of the other lofty things Christians ascribe to those milestones in life.
The Bible does say that the Holy Spirit is a believer’s sanctifier – not a spouse or a kid.
Jesus Christ never married and never had any physical children. The apostle Paul never married and never had children.
Neither individual, Jesus or Paul, needed to marry or have physical children to “grow up,” “mature,” be loving, be selfless, have a sense of empathy, or develop the skill of delayed self gratification, and so forth.
I think it’s totally pathetic that it takes getting married or having a baby to shake some people out of their selfish, immature behavior. And let’s face it, that is exactly what you are saying when you make doofus comments such as, “I never knew what love was until I had a child,” or, “I never knew how to be giving and put someone else first until I married.”
Some of us become godly, loving, and caring without ever having married or having a baby.
Clearly, having a spouse or having a child are not prerequisites or necessities for maturity or altruism, since many of us achieve those qualities, or learn them, without either one, and we tend to learn them in childhood.
I figured this stuff out before I was ten – how ignorant it sounds to me when I hear a 35 year old woman say, “I didn’t really know what love was or how to put someone else first, until I had a baby!”
If people can become godly and loving via child-rearing and marriage, Jesus Christ would not have needed to be nailed to a cross 2,000 years ago, and the Holy Spirit would not have found it pertinent to take up residence in bodies of people who are believers, even married ones, or ones who are parents.
By the way, Christian gender complementarians – some of them – actually teach that a husband acts as sanctifier for his wife, which is bogus. You can read more about that bizarre teaching at Spiritual Sounding Board blog here (off site link):
(Link): What is a Husband’s Role in His Wife’s Spirituality?
— HYPOCRISY —
On another note, this is another area where Christians are hypocritical:
On the one hand, Christians tell you that you need a spouse to purify you and mature you (they say that marriage is a process God uses to sanctify a person), but on the other hand, in some Christian material about dating, you will be told the reason you have not gotten a spouse yet is that God is trying to grow you up first, God has to remove your flaws (or God expects you to remove your own flaws), and he must mature you before He can or will send you a spouse.
This is tied in with the similar concept Christians toss at singles: “You must concentrate on being the sort of person you want to marry rather than looking for the person you want to marry. BE THE ONE.”
See, Christians cannot make up their minds if marriage sanctifies and matures a person, or if the adult single must first be sanctified and mature BEFORE God will send the person a spouse.
The Bible seems to measure maturity and self-less-ness on different terms, such as (notice there are no verses in the Bible that denote getting married and having babies as being marks of maturity or selflessness)….
- Ephesians 4:15
- …but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ
1 Corinthians 11:1
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart [sanctified you];
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
James 1:2 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…
1 Peter 2:2
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
“Being confident of this very thing, that he [God] which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God
6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
None of those passages, no other passages in the Bible, mention marriage or having children as methods of growing in godliness, spirituality, or becoming an all-around better person.
Not everyone who wants marriage will get marriage: there are more single Christian females than there are males, meaning some Christian women will never marry. It is cruel to teach a woman needs a spouse to be sanctified, when some will never receive a spouse. Some will die single.
If Christianity requires a woman to have a husband to be sanctified, and not all are being provided with a spouse (and they are not; a lot of Christian women over the age of 30 are not finding Christian mates, or some are having to marry Non Christians), then Christianity has a huge glaring problem and hole to it.
It’s time for Christians to stop preaching the LIE, the complete FALSEHOOD, that it takes marriage or having children to mature someone or to make them more godly, loving, or spiritual.
Related posts this blog:
(Link): Family Guy airs controversial Jesus episode, ‘The 2,000-year-old virgin’ – Secular Cartoon Show Ridicules Virgin Status of Jesus of Nazareth – Contra Stereotype, Having Sex is Not Necessary to Become an Adult
(Link): Seven Truths About Marriage You Won’t Hear in Church by F. Powell