Sunday, February 12, 2006

Idolizing relationships

Dr. Mark Coppenger wrote a good article in our school newspaper entitled, "When marriage isn't God's will: idolizing relationships". A snippet:
I never stop marveling at the way in which those who profess Christ will barge ahead with romances and even marriage plans where the Bible gives them no encouragement whatsoever. When the "love" bug bites, they will toss aside scruples, ignore Scripture, alienate their believing friends, horrify their family, and embarrass the church. They will even fornicate and cohabitate as they slide into marriage. And though they may make a gesture or two toward breaking it off, they'll then mope around as martyrs, only to spring back into each other's arms at the slightest prompting from their fevered brows. As a ministerial colleague volunteered last week, there's virtually no talking them out of it.

Why is this so? I can think of two reasons right off: relationship idolatry and mission deficit.

...

Which brings me to Lottie Moon, the namesake of Southern Baptists' annual offering for International Missions. She was engaged to Crawford Toy, a rising star in the universe of Baptist, and indeed American, academia. But when she found his treatment of Scripture objectionable, she walked away from the relationship and chose a life of sacrificial solitude half a world away. Consider this passage from Irwin Hyatt's book, "Our Ordered Lives Confess: Three 19th Century Missionaries in East Shantung" (Harvard, 1976), found at the SBC website:

"Professor Toy, as he had now become, wrote reproposing marriage and suggesting mission work together in Japan. … He was known as a brilliant linguist and theologian. Following the Civil War he had studied in Europe, where he was exposed to Darwinian theory and to 'the new ideas of the German scholars' on Old Testament history and inspiration. … Her conclusion was that … evolution was for her an 'untenable position.' … Later in China, heated letters arrive, and 'The temptation is great.' The professor, however, now espouses theories that 'do not square with God's Word.' Rejecting C.H. Toy, Harvard and glory, Miss Moon says, 'My cross is loneliness. …'"

Of course, Lottie Moon was concerned with relationships, but those that mattered most were with her Lord and with the Chinese people to whom He sent her on mission. She could have consorted and snuggled with Professor Toy in Massachusetts or Japan, but she knew that he was not her soulmate on mission for the Lord. This was quite enough to end that romance and free her for heroic service in Christ.

Those seeking marriage outside the counsel of God often quote the Genesis verse that says it was not good for Adam to be alone. I've just passed the life-sized portrait of Lottie Moon, hanging in Southern Seminary's Honeycutt Center, and I've been reminded that she was not at all alone. Standing around her are five Chinese beneficiaries of her life, prepared to say, "Thank you, Miss Moon" (and not "Mrs. Toy").
A helpful reminder... read the rest here.

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