Archive - May, 2006

Complementarianism and the T4G statement

I have heard some rumblings about the fact that the Together for the Gospel Statement made an issue of complementarianism — that view which maintains that the Bible prescribes distinct roles for men and women in the home and in the church. Mark Dever has a very thoughtful post that in some ways, I think, responds to the concerns being expressed. Dever’s conclusion:

“Of course there are issues more central to the gospel than gender issues. However, there may be no way the authority of Scripture is being undermined more quickly or more thoroughly in our day than through the hermenuetics of egalitarian readings of the Bible. And when the authority of Scripture is undermined, the gospel will not long be acknowledged. Therefore, love for God, the gospel, and future generations, demands the careful presentation and pressing of the complementarian position.”

I happen to agree with Dever.

Newsweek Cover Story

Daniel McGinn of Newsweek has a cover story in the June 5 issue of Newsweek called, “Marriage by the Numbers.” I’ll be discussing this article and other topics in an interview I’m doing tomorrow with Bill Feltner of Pilgrim Radio out of Carson City, NV. McGinn’s article harkens back to a Newsweek cover story of 20 years ago — in the mid-1980s that famously declared, “A woman in her 40s has less chance of getting married than of being killed by a terrorist.” The 1986 Newsweek article (“The Marriage Crunch”) was based on a study by Bennett, Bloom & Craig that found a 2.6% likelihood of a woman marrying after she was 40. A 1986 census report later showed the numbers were actually closer to 17-23% at that time. Still, before 1980, “a woman that hadn’t married in her 30s probably never would” says McGinn. (Which I take to mean: less than 50% chance.)
The point of the 2006 Newsweek story is that more marriages are occurring later in life than in previous years. The story is interesting and fair. Some highlights:
* Married households now make up only about 50% of all households (I quote a similar figure in my book).
* Women in their 40s and 50s, who may be single by choice, nevertheless hope to marry. A 2004 paper by Maryland’s Martin suggests that 90% of baby boomers actually will marry. This reminds me of a great study by American Values that makes the same case about college students, who date less frequently than those of previous generations. Find it here.
* Four out of five twentysomething, lifelong singles say that “education and career come before marriage at this time in my life.” I bet this is higher than its ever been (discounting the early 1900s when a man needed to apprentice for many years before being able to afford to marry).
* 86% of twentysomething, lifelong singles say that “it is extremely important to be economically set before I get married.” The interpretive difficulty is that this could mean anything from getting out of debt to owning a Mercedes.
The Newsweek article is available here.

Thoughts on Modesty

JoythruChrist has a great post on the importance of modesty (a subject men are not allowed to talk about for fear of being perceived as perverts).
HT: Challies

Other Good Resources on Marriage and related themes

Some other interesting folk worth reading on the whole issue of the importance of marriage — and not just Christian marriage, but marriage as a common-grace gift of God to his image-bearers — are Leon & Amy Kass, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Wendy Shalit, Allan Carlson, Beth Bailey, and Kay Hymowitz. Each has written either directly on marriage or on the topic of sexual restraint and/or modesty. You’ll find them to be historically informed and winsome.
Wendy Shalit is part of a group blog. There is an excellent post on the commodification of women today.

Ligon Duncan Interview

Here is a helpful interview with Ligon Duncan on the relationship between gender roles and pastoral ministry.
(HT: Justin Taylor)

Mayo Clinic Reports on Benefits of Marriage

Here’s an interesting story reported by the MSM that is in agreement with previous research: married couples are generally healthier, happier, and wealthier than their single counterparts. The study also showed that cohabiting, unmarried couples do not experience all the same benefits. Other studies have shown that individuals who cohabit outside of marriage are more likely to eventully break up or to divorce should they ever marry.
http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/MH/00108.html
For additional insight in this regard, check out Steven L. Nock’s book: Marriage in Men’s Lives. Nock shows how profound the benefits of marriage are for men — whom today, more than ever (and more frequently than women) are disregarding marriage.
http://www.virginia.edu/sociology/publications/nockmarriageinmenslives.htm
Agree or disagree?

Adrian Warnock challenge

John Piper’s recent book, God is the Gospel, is an outstanding read on the centrality and supremacy of God above all the good gifts He bestows. Adrian has an offer whereby you might get a free copy:
http://www.adrian.warnock.info/2006/05/free-christian-books-to-give-away_15.htm
Check it out!

Discount Copies Available

Dear Friends,
Here is the best price I am aware of for obtaining a new copy of this book. Amazon is another option.
Thank you,
Alex and Marni Chediak

Endorsements of With One Voice

Courtship, dating, and marriage have become flashpoints of debate among young evangelicals–and this is a controversy worth our attention. Alex and Marni Chediak offer sound biblical advice and a clear Christian framework for working through the maze of confusions surrounding modern marriage. Against the stream of our postmodern culture committed to personal autonomy, this couple points Christians to a higher standard–the glory of God. Christians young and old, single and married, will find help in this concise book.
-R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
If only courtship and marriage were so simple that all we needed was a manual to figure them out! The Chediak’s give us something better: a compass and a travel guide for the serious pilgrim. True north is the glory of God – get that straight and everything else will fall in place, miss it and nothing works. The rest is details, matters of topography and climate/local customs. That too the Chediak’s provide with warmth, wisdom and the good humor of those who know the road and some of its potholes!
-Ben Patterson
College Pastor
Westmont College
Dating books have been avalanching off the press in recent years. Few, however, approach the subject theologically, and even fewer accent how the critical biblical foundations of manhood and womanhood are related. That is what makes With One Voice unique. This book boldly and clearly connects the Bible’s undeniable teaching about manhood and womanhood to how Christians should think about singleness, dating, and marriage. Parents, married couples, and singles need this book more than they know!
-Richard L. Holland, D.Min.
Pastor, College & Student Ministries – Grace Community Church
Director of D.Min. Studies – The Master’s Seminary

Summary of With One Voice

The ritual of courtship in America has depreciated to the degree that the path to marriage, once enriched by established cultural patterns, gender role expectations, and a sense of the normalcy of marriage, has become a bewildering maze. A century ago, young people looked forward to marriage and child rearing as both marks of adulthood and economic necessities. Today, the fruits of the sexual revolution, feminism, careerism, a growing youth culture, and a modern economy that values individuals over families have all contributed to the divorce of sexual expression from long-term commitment. Though not all of the social forces of the last century are intrinsically sinful, we must soberly admit that, to many, marriage is no longer an economic, social, or sexual necessity. Instead, it is at best just one more option for individual self-fulfillment and at worst a distraction from education, career, and sexual exploration. Such views have resulted in the increasing acceptance of a rise in the age of marriage, the debasement of women, the normalcy of divorce, and the general immaturity of young adults, particularly men. Against this backdrop, our youth and singles must recover a sense that marriage and childrearing (with their many associated joys and responsibilities) are not only precious milestones that provide direction and stability in life, but are biblical norms that mark the successful transition to adulthood.
In light of the world’s frightening trend toward a disconnection of commitment and intimacy, many western Christians have assumed that if the “good old days” could be resurrected, modern troubles such as promiscuity and detachment might go away. Though well-intentioned and sometimes producing good results, this approach can discourage Christians who lack a biblical family model in their own upbringing, and may therefore feel sentenced to a second-class marriage. Alternatively, it can (ironically) promote the delay of marriage by causing young people or their parents to set unattainable ideals for a spouse. Rather, we need to freshly communicate and impart timeless biblical principles in our rapidly changing world—transforming our culture, rather than being conformed to it. Such principles include a respect for mature biblical masculinity and femininity. Young men need to cultivate a sense of leadership, the assumption of responsibility, personal maturity sufficient to lead a wife and family, and a willingness to expend their God-given strength for the good of others. Young women should develop emotional security in Christ, relational wisdom, a discerning yet nurturing disposition, and modesty. These characteristics are in short supply in our day, given contemporary culture’s promotion of passivity, the prolonging of adolescence, and an emphasis on finding worth through good looks and popularity.
In a romantic context, young adults should embrace the Scriptural norm of marriage and its associated God-assigned responsibilities. Such interactions will display godly restraint, communication, wisdom, joy, and, in the proper time, decisiveness. In seeking to practice such premarital relationships, young people ought to emphasize their own spiritual, emotional, educational, and financial development toward adulthood, as well as cultivate an ability to recognize and affirm mature masculinity and femininity in potential partners. In the process of choosing a spouse, young adults should avoid the extremes of exclusively considering either objective criteria (how long she’s been a Christian, the quality of his family) or subjective criteria (physical attraction, enjoyment of his companionship). Friendships should blossom in community and family settings to the degree possible and progress with caution as interactions and conversations become more substantive. When proper, a man ought to declare his intentions without excessive delay and tenderly lead a particular woman into a committed relationship that is marriage-directed. She ought to honor his masculinity and her own femininity in the process by responding to and affirming his leadership, without either undue caution or prematurely surrendering her heart. Ultimately, With One Voice challenges both men and women to both become and to recognize a godly life partner, glorifying God and honoring others in the process. It is also a resource for parents and pastors seeking to raise a generation who will value the favor of God more than life itself, and who will love their husbands and wives out of the overflow of their love for God.