I was looking at my yahoo homepage and they featured a celebrity question. About 5,000 of us peasants answered one about education asked by, hmmmmmm, I think it was Oprah or someone like that. The readers chose the winning reply. And on that question, the winner got 41% of the vote. That's a lot considering the numbers with every post a potential vote-getter. The winner said the answer was (drumroll) "parents." He was a teacher himself who saw that parenting was the key in education. A no-brainer? Yes. But as a country we don't act or vote like it. Don't get me off on this one because this blog isn't about that. Who you marry will affect parenting, which influences children, which impacts their education. I believe that how we choose our mates more greatly affects all of this more than any single factor. I could take you through the problems it causes, but why not just start by asking what God wants. He does want something in this. We can see that in the text we began with in my last post, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.
If you were Paul and you had started and then been with a church for three weeks and then you wrote them your first letter and you had just a handful of things you wanted to tell them, would one of the topics be how to find a mate? Paul thought this was important enough to spend a significant percentage of his epistle on it. He writes in vv. 3, 4, "This is the will of God . . . that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour." You might say, "Possess his vessel is kind of a funny way to say it." Right. The preeminent lexicon for NT Greek, BDAG, gives as it's number one meaning of the Greek word translated "possess": "To gain possession of, procure for oneself, acquire, get." BDAG paraphrases: "Take a wife for himself." We don't normally speak of taking possession of our own bodies. That would be a very unusual sense of the word "acquire." He is speaking to the men, whether the single men or their fathers, and telling them that they need to learn how to obtain their life's mate. Well, the fathers didn't need another one, but they would have a lot to do with acquiring the one for their son (not speaking of any son in particular).
Using the word "vessel" puts an emphasis on the body. 1 Peter 3:7 states: "Giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel." The wife is mainly physically weaker, and if she isn't, then Houston, we've got a problem. I've seen a few cases where the wife could beat up her husband, and it's not pretty (the abused husband crowd, please hold off on your letters). Close behind the body of the woman (no woman in particular) is her emotions. The woman is characteristically emotionally more fragile as well (you know you are tip-toeing when you use two long adverbs in a row; it's weak writing, folks). Paul begs these Thessalonian believers to get a Scriptural understanding on how to acquire a life's mate.
Do any of you think this is important? You could never tell by television, radio, newspaper, and magazine ads that this was a big deal. Not. How much hair care product, cologne, perfume, candy, restaurant, fuel, car, and clothing money is spent every year because of how people find their mates today? What do you think a major theme of television show, movies, and books is? What do you think high school and college aged people are thinking about the most? I remember attending a make-out session and a high school football game broke-out. Hardly anyone was watching the game. I call it the mating ritual. Watch the two peacocks strutting with outstretched feathers. They are not only not watching the game, but they also have a hard time doing their homework or listening to their teachers, and their parents; well, we have a failure to communicate.
Is that how it is supposed to be done? Not at all. That is all actually what the very next verse (v. 5) says not to do: "Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God." Whatever the way is, it is not to be in the lust of concupiscence. And you know what that is, so let's move on. Well maybe we'll look at it, but only for those in the Western Hemiphere. We could understand that last phrase as "the feeling of desire." In other words, our hormones are not to be choosing our life's mate. Good thing that isn't happening. Ooops. That's right. It is. I still do have certain lyrics that will pop into my mind, and I only use this illustratively, mind you, but "the look of love is in your eyes, the look which I can't descriiiiiiiiiibe." We are not to choose a life's mate based on feelings. That's the whole plan with dating.
Did I say dating?!?! That's where I'll start next time.