There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

bringing the close of the book, perhaps, close to home

Do you feel like the church has elevated marriage over singleness? Insinuating, if not articulating, that life begins when youbrokenring2.jpg betroth yourself to another?

Or has the meteoric rise of divorce–even within the allegedly marriage-fortifying context of the church–sullied an earlier, more positive, view of marriage? Does the incidence of divorce and the precarious state of marriage insinuate that life might, in a sense, end when you say “I do”?

I’d like to wrap up our discussion of Tripp’s book on change and counsel by having you help us create a realistic-as-possible profile of someone in the church whose desire to be married has caused them to be so preoccupied with finding a mate, that one of two moods has emerged: either so despondent at the slight prospects of a marriage in the near-term, or so reckless in their pursuit of a mate. Specifically, I’d like you to envision how someone with either outlook would manifest that outlook in their day to day living.

Tripp outlines, with a sturdy foundation in 2 Peter 1, four simple principles in the “do” part of change and counseling another toward change. Anything I’ve tried to relate from his book has screamed for some real-world examples of how his principles would apply in a given setting. This week, I’d like to take the hypothetical profile you create and then have you employ what Tripp has to say about helping someone–someone who’s preoccupation with marriage has led them to make choices at cross-purposes with what it means to be a child of God. Those kinds of choices incongruent with our identity, I think you will agree, are often so subtle we don’t even notice.

This won’t be some veiled criticism against those who desire to be married. Nor will it be subtle devaluation of marriage. It will be a valiant, perhaps even quixotic, attempt to teach us how to counsel someone with a relevant struggle with an appeal to our identity, our responsibility (and its limits), and loving accountability.

And if you have some reading time available prior to Sunday, you might download this very interesting essay on a biblical theology of singleness and marriage composed by Barry Danylak, a Ph.D candidate at Cambridge University. It’s provoked a number of responses and reviews. Here’s one, and here’s another.


  Amy wrote @

The only red flag I see is that it kind of seems like you are saying
(and I haven’t read the articles yet, so bear with me) that people
should not make decisions that would best prepare them for marraige.
For example: I want to be married someday (hopefully sooner rather
than later, let’s be honest), and so as I make decisions regarding
finances, career, education, how I spend my time, etc… that does need to be
considered. I cannot put my life on hold for it, but it doesn’t hurt
to have that in your head as you make these major life decisions. Let
me further elaborate. I’ve always wanted to go to law school – now I’m
at a point where if I went to law school, that would most likely put
me in a career path (at least for a little while) where I might struggle
to find time to seriously date someone or get married and have kids
sometime in the next 5-10 years. Shouldn’t I consider that? I think
that I should, but it shouldn’t be the only factor in my decision making.

Okay – I’ve rambled. What do you think?

  Patrick wrote @

I know i can be hard to read sometimes, but if you heard me saying you
shouldn’t be making decisions that prepare you for marriage, then I’ve
grievously misrepresented myself. I think if marriage is your desire,
a righteous desire I might add, then by all means should you make
decisions that at least don’t disallow that from happening–like, entering a
convent, or signing up for a mars mission that would put you in
suspended animation for 3 years

what I’m trying to do Sunday is envision a person who is so preoccupied
with getting married that it has become an idolatrous
desire–idolatrous because it’s led them to make decisions or take on a mood that is at
cross purposes with exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. Can you long
for marriage and still exhibit that fruit? absolutely. Can you begin
to long for it in such a way that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
sadly, yes. I want to envision such a person to get at what kinds of
core beliefs about marriage could lead them to go the way of
despondency or recklessness. I would say the reasons people go either way is
because something’s flawed about their view of themselves, God, marriage,
and perhaps other things. If our task is to be able to speak the
truth in love and isolate some concrete ways of putting off what is at
cross-purposes with our calling, then using one whose righteous desire for
marriage has wandered into unrighteous territory might be a good test
for us all to learn what to say and what to ask of one who’s gotten off
track. (too many metaphors, sorry)

I think your contemplation about law school is on target. You are
realizing how it may affect your capacity to invest the kind of time in a
relationship that leads to marriage; but, let’s be honest, it’s not like
no one who’s gone to law school ever got married while they were
there. Don’t forget sovereignty here.

Right are you also to understand that life isn’t put “on hold” until
you marry; life is on right now and should be! But keeping the desire
for a holy marriage obviously requires that you take every investment
into consideration.

sorry for my lack of clarity in the post.

thanks, amy


  Lindsay wrote @

I think law school is a great way to meet guys!

They are mostly all successful and ambitious! I know my law school was like speed dating!

You go girl!

  Carrie Beth Young wrote @


I agree with Patrick that your head is in the right place. However, you don’t want to limit the tools that God can use to shape you today for the sake of your own hopes for tomorrow. Ie. If you want to go to law school, believe that you have the Lord’s blessing in it, and he provides a way… you go, girl! You never know how he can use your time there.

…Besides, as I recall, there are plenty of eligible men in the law quad. 🙂 That’s a fact.

Carrie Beth

  Lindsay wrote @

Carrie Beth,

You are every man’s dream. May the Dallas Bar Association be yours.


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