This weekly topic is an effort to recap the Wednesday night Bible study I teach at Sola5, my youth group. I hope it serves to help us all in contemplating the ceaseless riches of God’s grace as revealed through the Scriptures.
After a very busy June, last night was our first regular Sola5 Bible study in nearly a month. It was great to be back with all my students again as we continued our summer question and answer series, “You Asked For It.” We looked at the question, “Why was Jesus never involved in a romantic relationship with a woman?” This is a question that has popped up more often over the last few years since the release of the book and movie The DaVinci Code. For those unfamiliar, the novel is about a professor who discovered the long-buried secret that Jesus actually married Mary Magdalene and had a child with her. Why does this bother Christians so much? After all, marriage is a gift from God, right? Genesis 2:24 holds it up as the most precious of all human relationships. Heck, an entire book of the Bible (Song of Solomon) is devoted to it! So why, then, did Jesus never pursue romance?
I tried to answer the question in two ways. The was to answer historically – why don’t we believe that Jesus ever married? Why do we find Dan Brown’s version of history so problematic. Well, quite simply, the Bible doesn’t say anything about Jesus getting married (or indeed entering a romantic relationship of any kind) or having a family. Now, the Bible doesn’t tell us everything there is to know about Jesus (in fact, John tells us that all the libraries in the world couldn’t hold the books required for that), so some might say that this is perhaps just a detail that the gospel writers left out. That hardly seems plausible, though. Wouldn’t you find it a little odd if you had a friend who you knew for years and they never mentioned the fact that they were married? That’s hardly a small detail. So, it would be equally as strange for the disciples to record Jesus life over 3+ years of ministry and never think to mention the fact that he was married with children.
The second aspect of the answer is to answer explanatorily – why didn’t Jesus pursue romance and marriage? On that front, the answer is a question of purpose. What was Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth? Though he was fully human like all of us (including sexual desires), he was also fully God, meaning his purpose on the earth was different than any other human being who has ever lived. His purpose was to save us from our sin by the sacrifice of his death and the power of his resurrection (John 3:16-17, Colossians 1:19-20). His purpose was to demonstrate to us by his life what God is like (John 18:37, Colossians 1:15). So then, the question to ask is this – did romance and marriage serve the purpose for which Jesus came? The answer would seem to be no. Jesus' task of traveling Israel preaching the coming of the New Covenant and dying to usher that covenant in caused him to live a life of singleness - with many friends and followers, but no wife or children to commit himself to. This shouldn't serve to denegrate marriage and family, but to highlight the supremacy of Christ's calling. In fact, 1 Corinthians 7:25-35 tells us that as important as the marriage relationship is, it is subject to a higher calling – our calling as followers of Christ.
This brings us to the point of application. If Christ’s purpose on earth dictated what he did in his life – even when it comes to romance – then each of us must ask ourselves, “What is my purpose?” As Christians, we live to glorify God and to take his gospel to all people. That, then, is the filter that we need to pass our conception of dating, romance, and marriage through. Last night, I asked several questions to get my students thinking in this direction. First, why do you date? I would bet that most American teens get their concept of dating from the culture. I certainly did when I was in high school. However, one look at the divorce rate in this country should tell us that our culture’s view of romance isn’t exactly one worth emulating. Stop dating because it’s what your friends are doing and start asking yourself what you’re looking for. Are you dating to find a potential spouse? Is that something that you’re ready for at this stage of your life? If you’re not dating with marriage as the goal, then what is it you’re after - and is it something that is honoring to God? Secondly, who do you date? We have an explicit command in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 not to marry a non-Christian. If the purpose of your dating is to seek a spouse (and again, if it’s not, then what are you doing?), then it follows that you have no business dating an unbeliever. What sort of person are you looking for in a mate? All the good looks and all the personality in the world won’t mean a rip when you are an infinity apart on the most foundational aspect of human existence – your relationship to God. Thirdly, should you date? As I said earlier, we tend to be big cultural followers in this area. Have you ever stopped to ask whether the purpose that God has for your life is served by dating? Perhaps some, like Paul, will never marry in order to follow the calling God has placed on your life. Perhaps some will, like Peter, embark on a life of Christian ministry and balancing it with family life. Some will be called to singleness for a time in their lives to follow where God is leading, and some may meet their spouse in high school, and marry young, like Heather and I did. The point of it all is this – are you willing to submit your dating life and your search for a spouse to the wisdom of God’s word, or are you going to follow the lead of our culture which sprints headfirst into romantic or sexual behavior that is pointless at best and destructive at worst? Are you cultivating a biblical worldview, where what you know to be true about God and his word actually impacts the way you see the world and live your life? Wherever you’re at in life, take time this week to rethink the way you view romance and to pursue it (or not) to the glory of God.
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