Sunday, May 07, 2006

Why Family for Men? Centrality to Purpose

Upon hearing the story behind the ring Bilbo had left to him, Frodo said, "I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?"

"Such questions cannot be answered," replied Gandalf. "You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have."

Even though it ended up involving untold peril and hardship, there is something envious about Frodo discovering his purpose in life. For many young single men, a sense of purpose is highly elusive. In an affluent culture, where money can deliver all kinds of stuff and experiences, it becomes that much more frustrating that it can't deliver purpose. Consider this passage from the book A Whole New Mind:

Abundance has brought beautiful things to our lives, but that bevy of material goods has not necessarily made us much happier. The paradox of prosperity is that while living standards have risen steadily decade after decade, personal, family and life satisfaction haven't budged. That's why people--liberated by prosperity but not fulfilled by it--are resolving the paradox by searching for meaning.

Why do you think Purpose-Driven Life has sold 25 million copies?
Why do you think Wild at Heart has been so popular with men? These books offer modern readers an opportunity to rediscover timeless Biblical truth in order to restore purpose and vision to their lives. Unfortunately, these books have little to say about family. Yet family is woven throughout the Bible as an element of purpose--especially in the initial creation and commissioning of humans that takes place in Genesis.

Take a look at Genesis 1:26-29 and Genesis 2:18-24. Theologians find in these two passages a commissioning for men to get out in the world and to be stewards of God's creation--creating and developing the world in His image. It's also clear, however, that God is directing men to take on that challenge and responsibility in partnership with a wife. Using strong verbs, God calls a man to "leave father and mother and be united to his wife" and to "be fruitful and increase in number."

Young men longing for purpose in life should recognize that Genesis offers a rough outline for their calling. While it doesn't tell them what creative or developing work they should take on, it does indicate to them that a wife and family will be central to accomplishing that work. Unless they are among the small minority of men who are given a gift of celibacy that allows them to take on their calling without the companionship of a wife, family will be the organizing structure and central element of their purpose.

A man's calling to create and develop will intersect with family in two ways--both in his pursuit and cultivation of a family and then in how family will bring support and motivation for the creative and developing work a man has been called to do.

A young man who prayerfully discovers whether he has been called to do his work in family or in celibate service will then gain a new perspective for all the other decisions he has to make--regarding his time, his money, his sexual drive, his vocation and his avocations.

One of my favorite lines in It's a Wonderful Life is when George Bailey's mother says to him, "Why don't you go see Mary? She may be able to help you find the answers." While we all know that only God can complete us and that only He has answers to our deepest questions, we can see from Genesis that He created marriage and family as a path by which many of those answers will be revealed.


At 7:10 PM, Blogger Ashleigh said...

Steve, this is a great series you're doing! I look forward to reading the next three reasons.

At 8:05 AM, Blogger Dance To You said...

Fantastic series! Please keep speaking the light of truth in this darkened world. -Jenny

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Kcirtap said...

Thanks, Steve... you and Candice are challenging a lot of young guys (well, at least one) to start thinking. You are hitting the nail right on the head. Please, please, keep up the challenge. It needs to be heard.

At 1:51 PM, Blogger Mike Theemling said...

Part of the problem with a lack of young men committing to marriage is that our society is structured in a such a way now that having a wife/children aren't necessary to be "successful". In fact, sometimes they can be viewed as a hinderance.

Success in our society is defined by money, social status (power, influence, fame, etc), and appearance. Look at our idols of today: Sports players, Pop music stars, actors, etc. Very few of those professions require a wife/family. As stated before in posts here, the model of young adult living per TV rarely shows commitment, taking care of babies, and supporting the community.

Another big contributer is the sexual revolution (for both men and women). For men, often the only way to get their desires satisfied was through marriage unless they sought a prostitute. Now, that desire can be met quite easily through promiscuity and pornography. For women, because they often give away one of their biggest bargaining chips it has made intimacy easily accesible (This problem probably contributes to why too so many are looking for their "soulmate").

Finally, there is the changing role of women in the workplace (This is more factual and not a defense of the lack of equality in the workplace). Since women now can attain statuses and titles previously unthinkable before ("breadwinner", "CEO", "MD", etc), there isn't as much motivation on the women's part to find someone who can take care of her. Perhaps part of the problem is that despite the inner desire of a man to rescue that "damsel in distress" they look around and see women who are not in distress or fake it really well to show they aren't helpless.

All this taken together and you end up with young people who can have "free sex" where children are viewed as a hinderance to climbing the ladder, and the attitudes of traditional gender roles are considered demeaning or sexist.



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