4. THREE IDOLS IN THE CHURCH – GETTING MARRIED, HAVING CHILDREN AND WORKING A SECULAR JOB
(The Called To Be A Wife Series)
As someone that has been single for most, if not all of my life, that has never experienced the joy of childbearing and rearing up to this point and as someone that has had at least five intervals (some short but some long) where I was without employment, I have come to realize that the Church (and by this I mean most of the members in it) is obsessed with MARRIAGE, HAVING CHILDREN and SECURING A JOB.
Don’t get me wrong. These three ‘achievements’ are good. God said in his Word that marriage is honourable, that children are an heritage of the Lord and that Christians should work (Hebrews 13:4; Psalm 127:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:11 KJV).
However, it was never God’s intention for these three things to be given such importance, such prominence, that they constitute what the goals of life should consist of and supersede what is truly the most significant, which is salvation, spiritual growth and maturity in Christ and pursuing God’s perfect will above everything.
Yet, the Church (and again, when I use this term I don’t mean everyone but most of its worldwide congregation) has exalted marriage, children and having a well-paying job, to the point where these three appear to have become idols in the hearts of many, if not most of the congregation.
The Bible states in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is there will your heart be also” and it is clear that for many sitting in the Church, these three areas are what they give priority and significance and prestige to. Whatever is in your heart is what you tend to talk most about and for the Church today, these three areas seem to be mostly what many in the congregation talk about and obsess about and gossip about and pressure the younger and close to middle-aged folks about.
If you are single, such people look at you funny, as if Christ dying for you was not enough and there is something wrong with you. They make it their life mission to match-make you with other ‘eligible’ bachelors in the Church, irrespective of how God feels about it, what he wants for your life, who he wants for it, where you are in Christ spiritually and the Ministry that he has called you to. If the matchmaking does not work out and nothing but broken hearts or disappointment are left in its wake, they turn a blind eye, as if they are not responsible for having instigated and advocated for the mess in the first place.
They don’t encourage you to seek God’s face as to HIS will for a spouse, if it is HIS will that you be married. Instead, they encourage and even pressure you, to marry quick, to just accept and settle for any man, once he attends a Church, whether that person is truly saved or not is serious about God or not is divinely compatible for you or has spiritual goals in life that line up with yours. One elderly ‘sister’ in the Lord even had the audacity to advise me, after the marriage of her daughter to a Church attending man had ended, that I should go outside the Church to look for a spouse and bring him in. She tried to persuade me with one of the most foolish arguments that I have ever heard, that sometimes the men on the outside treat Christian women better than the men inside the Church.
What? Since going outside would mean to blatantly disobey Christ and to turn my back on what he has commanded me as Lord was she suggesting that in the name of having someone to call my husband, that I should turn my back on Christ? That I should be unequally yoked in a marriage with an unbeliever?
What utter hogwash! That would be the biggest mistake of my life.
God forbid, that you reach an age, where they think that you have passed the time possible to marry or to birth children. You are considered an outcast and there are many ‘family’ programmes set by many a Church, where you are not eligible to enter. You are considered a failure, despite all that the Lord may be doing in your life spiritually as an individual and using you to do in the lives of others. You are regarded as one that maybe made too many mistakes in life and some judge and condemn you as having committed too many sins or being punished by God for some sin.
Others conclude that it must be that God has given you a fail grade, when it comes to being wife material, perhaps because you don’t cook well enough or at all or don’t keep a house properly or are not spiritual enough. Finally, there are those who regard you as having no useful purpose in life anymore, that you are as good as dead and some even treat you that way, when it becomes apparent to them (in their view), that no spouse is coming your way. For them, there is no purpose outside of a marriage.
The Church’s obsession with marriage over the years has served as a contagion with single people feeling pressured and stressed out about marriage, finding a mate and desperate to get hitched. It is not so much that they feel ready to get married or that God has said it is time and led them into it but in many cases, they marry anyone, just to get the negative limelight, focus and hurtful comments off of them.
It is the Church’s obsession with marriage that is responsible to a large degree, for the many marriages in the Church, that end in unhappiness, abuse, infidelity, divorce and even death. For, had persons been encouraged to wait on God’s will (whatever that may have been) and to seek God’s face in choosing well, had they been equipped with the tools to make better decisions, this could have been avoided.
In my view, being married has seemingly become more important worldwide in most Churches, than being married to Christ and faithfully serving him. It has become more important than his very Lordship with people trying to meddle and dictate who you should marry and when, some even getting upset with you if you refuse to enter into a relationship with a guy at Church that you are not interested in, where he has shown interest.
I have even been told sarcastically by an aunt years ago, who was displeased that I refused to settle for a guy in my then Church that was interested in me, that she wished me well and that if I kept turning down offers, I would end up alone.
I’m sorry but God’s will for my life is much more important than me getting hitched and birthing babies. I love marriage yes. It is a beautiful institution but it will NOT be my idol. I will therefore WAIT on God as he continues working on me spiritually, to orchestrate my presentation to the one that HE wants me to marry, in HIS own timing if it is HIS will and in HIS own way, without any meddling by marriage-obsessed individuals, who are operating, not in faith but in the spirit of desperation.
Then there are those that have dodged the proverbial bullet. They have been fortunate to get married and the man seems like a good catch too. Before they can even settle down to enjoy their marriage though, the questions start pouring in: When are you going to have a child? What are you waiting for?
People cannot contain themselves. They simply must ask!
It is as if these children-crazed and idolatrous individuals have completely forgotten that in our own strength, we can do nothing of ourselves. A husband and wife can make love as many times as they want, if God is not ready to give them a child or does not intend to give them one at all, then they are powerless to have one. He is STILL on the throne, remember?
When Isaac, after getting married to Rebekah (the woman that God had chosen for him), realized that time was rolling on and his wife was not getting pregnant, the Bible states: “And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.“
When Rachel was finally able to have children, it did not happen by chance or according to her or her husband’s ability but the Bible says quite clearly: “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.” (Genesis 30:22). Similarly, years earlier, the Bible states in Genesis 29:31 in relation to Rachel’s sister who Jacob was not in love with: “And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.”
Psalm 113:9 reminds us that : “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.” Psalm 127:3-5 also tells us: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”
Ruth 4:13 tells us: “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son.”
The same happened with Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth. God is the one that gives or allows conception and solely through his grace and mercy, he is the one that allows a woman to traverse through the course of pregnancy successfully and to birth a live baby and to survive the ordeal. These are not things that are in man’s power to bring about in his own strength. They are God’s.
Why is it then, that so many people in the Church (who ought to know better) behave as if they don’t know this fact?
When it comes to married couples, there are those that are deliberately putting off the rearing of children until later, yes but even so, who are you to harass them with YOUR timeline and YOUR vision for THEIR marriage?
Why can’t we just let a couple be and entrust them into the hands of God? If you see the years rolling on and they still do not have a child, then doesn’t common sense tell you, that maybe they desire one but have not been successful so far? Can’t you have a heart and be considerate and imagine, that if so, how much it must hurt them? Why do you have to go rub salt into their wounds and make matters worse?
Maybe one spouse is fertile and the other is not and your constantly harassing them could result in the fertile person developing resentment towards the spouse that has the fertility issue. When this life is over and you come before the judgment seat of God, do you want to be told that YOU are responsible for that man that left his wife or vice versa?
The Bible says if any man lacks wisdom, he should ask of God who gives liberally. Instead of harassing, provoking and creating damage with your constant prodding therefore, why not ask the Lord to give you wisdom instead? Why not, if you see a problem or would like to see a couple have children, pray privately to God about the issue, instead of running to the couple to voice your concerns? And so what if it doesn’t work out the way that you would like it to? Are you God?
Then there are those that are job-obsessed.
It doesn’t matter what the job is whether it is God’s will for you to be in it, whether it involves compromising as a Christian or is dangerous to your health, your sanity and your very life. All that matters to them is that you have a flow of money coming in, as one brother recently told me, when I explained how stressful my last job had been.
I’d have you know, that at one of the jobs I resigned from some years ago and never regretted my decision to do so, the client that mainly caused me to leave was mysteriously gunned down (by the Lord alone knows who), in an assassination hit, some years later! Imagine my shock when this made the national news and was plastered over every local newspaper, for days and even weeks on end.
Looking back, I faced opposition with my choice to leave and faced a great deal of financial hardship and uncertainty in the aftermath. However, that situation confirms that I made the right decision and did not allow the idea of continuing to have a steady flow of income, to guide me. Doing what was right in the eyes of the true and living God and without compromising is what I considered.
Some will even try to guilt you with the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, that says that if a man does not work, then he should not eat. This scripture clearly referred to a person who had deliberately made the choice not to work when work was available. In your case and unbeknown to the naysayers, you have been crying out to God, asking him to open a door, reminding him how much you love to work and how hardworking and ambitious you are, even fasting for days with much weeping over the issue. The naysayers don’t know because they never cared to ask, that you have been doing your best to secure employment that does not go against your beliefs, which would not require you to compromise and that would be safe but the Lord saw it fit to keep the doors shut firmly for a period, as he worked on you and had you do some of HIS work, like writing these very Articles. They therefore wave the scripture in your face (not even being privy to all of the facts), pour salt into your wounds and conclude that you are lazy.
Of a truth, you know in your heart that this is far from the truth. You love working and have always worked very had whenever you were employed, honestly in the sight of God (even in the face of serious challenges and oppsition) and as unto Him and not man. Yet, the naysayers who were not there and don’t know your work ethic (as was certainly demonstrated to your employers and supervisors over the years, to the point where there were times that they were impressed with the quality of work you presented, one even continuing to send work for you to do after you had left and paying you for it and another telling your other co-workers that you were “brilliant” and that she did not know what she did to deserve you), speak on.
In those times when you were out of work because you made the choice to hold on to your faith and walk away so as to not compromise, the naysayers, who did not see the hundreds of applications you sent out and kept sending out, even for positions that were not within your area of expertise and that could be considered to be beneath your qualifications, speak on. The naysayers did not see when you aced that interview at that place that was paying $40,000 a month but turned down the opportunity when you asked about the nature of some of the work and realized that it would involve helping people to obtain a divorce. This is against your beliefs and so, to the utter shock and dismay of the interview panel, you thanked them for the opportunity and walked away. Alas, the naysayers did not see when you stood before some of the highest dignitaries in the land at an interview in which your Resume was so impressive, that you were shortlisted as a potential candidate to work in close professional proximity with them. They did not see, that when at that interview and asked your view on a particular issue, that you did not back down and throw Jesus under the carpet to secure that very prestigious position but you boldly declared, not caring about the consequences and knowing that your response would not find favour, that your Christian beliefs were the most important to you, that which you prioritized above all else.
You were told by one dignitary on the panel, “Thank you for being honest” and you knew that that would be the end of that so-called opportunity. Yet you left and you praised God, having not a clue how much longer your dwindling savings would last or what would happen next. Yet, you refused to turn your back on Christ, even for a moment before an interview panel, just so that you could get a job.
In any event, it does not even matter to the naysayers if you are busily involved in advancing the work of God. They do not care about that as much as they do, having a secular job. Where one of their children or grandchildren is not saved therefore but has a good, well-paying or prestigious job, they consider themselves to have been good parents and grandparents and sit proud, of who their child has become. After all, he is a Doctor! Or an Engineer! Or a Lawyer! He has his own thriving business, he works for a large monthly sum and he is well-respected in his field!
They take no thought as to whether he is well respected in eternity and they seemingly forget, that with all his earthly accomplishments, if he does not serve Jesus Christ as Lord, his whole life with all of his so-called ‘achievements’ is a waste because he has lived life as a fool. He has sought to gain the whole world and in the process, lost his own soul.
Do these things matter in the Church anymore?
Where we have idolized these earthly and temporary accomplishments and in the process, have dethroned almighty God, we need to repent because God is NOT pleased.
He has said in his Word that we should have no idols before him. Absolutely NOTHING should be placed in front of him or given the pre-eminence over him. HIS will, HIS timing and HIS purposes for each of his children, whether it involves a spouse or not or children or not or a good job in a particular season or not is ALL that matters. What you think is irrelevant because you are NOT God.
How is it that these three idols have been allowed to grow, from something beautiful into something that is regarded as THE PURPOSE of life? The purpose of life is to serve God, not to marry, not to have children and not to have a well-paying job or to be promoted in the secular world or to have material success.
WE, have lost our focus. WE, need to get back to Christ. WE, need to put him back up on the throne where he belongs. WE, need to dethrone these three idols that we have set up in our hearts and in our Churches.
Instead of asking that woman, if she has “…seen anybody yet” or when she will be getting married or why she and her husband are taking so long to have a child or where she is working and for how much, we need to get back to asking the most important questions of all: How is your relationship going with Christ? Are you growing spiritually? How is your prayer and repentant life? Are you spending quality time in the Word?
These are the questions that really matter, not a wedding ring, not having a warm body in a marital bed, not birthing children into this dysfunctionally sinful world or being promoted high on the world’s professional ladder.
When this world ends, EVERYTHING that we have been running after and encouraging people to run after, WILL end as well. It is only what we do FOR CHRIST and how we lived FOR HIM, that will matter.
(Written on 18th July, 2018, added to thereafter)