Complementarian, Gender Roles, Being Married, Being Single, Desiring God’s Influence
This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.
Today, children, we will talk about marriage and singleness, husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers.
Marriage and Singleness
This chapter talks about how being married and being single are both good gifts; although, there is greater focus on being married than being single — go figure.
The authors start by letting us know that it doesn’t matter if you’re married or single:
Being married and being single (not married) are gifts too. Both are good gifts from God. One isn’t better than the other. They are just different from each other.
Does this sound familiar to you? It’s the same rhetoric as talking about men and women – one isn’t better than the other, they are just different.
The chapter continues with the thought that marriage must follow God’s design: marriage is between a man and a woman, God joins the marriage together, Christians should only marry Christians, and marriage is made to last until death. I wonder if it is permissible to marry after the death of a spouse. Do they believe that couples remain married for eternity?
Divorce is not a part of God’s design because “God hates divorce.” Here’s why:
He hates it because He joined the man and woman together, and He knows that separating brings much sorrow and pain. Marriage is meant to be an example of God’s faithfulness to His people. So divorce in marriage is not showing God’s good example to others.
This is my main concern about this chapter. The authors leave no room for cases of infidelity (which Jesus does address) or abuse, and they do not believe that separation is permissible. As to the argument that divorce brings sorrow and pain, well, a lot of marriages bring sorrow and pain, too. If a person is in an abusive marriage, that marriage does not reflect God’s faithfulness.
As far as being single goes, the benefits of being single are: more freedom, more time to serve God and help others, and a greater dependence upon God, which brings a closer relationship to God. Interesting…so you can either be in a relationship which mirrors God’s relationship to the church, or you can be single and be closer to God.
Tell me what you think about this activity:
If we don’t look at things the way God does, we might think it is better to be married than single. Sometimes people do not serve or honor single people. As a family, do something this week to bless a single person.
Husbands and Fathers & Wives and Mothers
I want to keep these chapters brief, so I have combined the two together. Honestly, there’s not much new here because everything in these two chapters has been covered through the entire book so far. After discussing these two chapters, I would like to go back and address how the church deals with single and married people.
Basically, the chapters discuss roles like this:
God gives his commands for his design for husbands and wives and families. If we don’t follow his commands, that is unwise. God’s command is clear, so if we don’t follow it, we are being disobedient. That disobedience reflects a sinful heart.
The husband is the head/leader of the wife. As a father, he “provides for, protects, and leads his children.” Fathers must correct their children, love their family with kindness and sacrifice (i.e., give up his plans) when needed. I doubt that the authors consider that women may sacrifice their plans when they stay home with children.
The wife must submit to her husband and trust that “he will care for her and make good decisions.” If he is disobedient to God, she must continue to follow and respect him. Women’s important work is “having children and caring for them.” Women have the choice to make a happy home and “take care of the needs of their families,” or be grumpy about their role and make the family unhappy. I love this ending kicker — a single woman can make her home welcoming and hospitable, too. I guess single guys are free from opening their homes to company.
On Being Single or Married in the Church
“God’s Design” is a book about gender roles which tends to focus on husbands and wives and fathers and mothers. So why even mention singles? One doesn’t need to be in the church long to recognize that it views marriage and families highly. Desiring God’s website also sends this message loud and clear. Oh, they’ll tell you being single is good, but just you wait single person…married life offers so much more!
I came across an article on Desiring God’s site and came upon some interesting comments on their Facebook page:
Clearly there are people who do not like how the church gives so much attention to marriage. I know that we have had discussions of that on the blog before. Many times people feel uncomfortable or excluded because of the extreme focus the church places on marriage. How can/should the church respond better?
Categorizing people can be fine to a certain extent. But in the end, whether we are married or single, we all deal with similar struggles when it comes to relationships, jobs, or personal problems. Is it reasonable to ask the church to view people as people instead of solely in categories?
If you would like to read prior reviews on God’s Design, here are links in the order of the book chapters: