Friday, January 21, 2005

Enemy #1 - Materialism

Enemy #1 to Christ-Exalting Marriage – Materialism
There is a mindset that believes the goal of life is to get educated, get married, get your first house, get an extra car, get a bigger house in the nice neighborhood, and provide everything your children will need to do all this and more. It is a mindset of upward mobility, often labeled the American dream. This article does not intend to outlaw things like big houses and cars, but it does want to make us question the way we use our money and the focus that we will choose for our families to have.

The mindset of upward mobility is not absent from the church. Signs of it can be seen even before the wedding, when a young man meets with the father of the girl he wants to marry. The main question is often, “How do you plan to provide for my daughter?” This is not an entirely bad question; the problem is that it often means, “How do you plan to provide lavish material things?” Or “do you have enough earning potential to make sure you will never have to struggle to pay the bills?” A better question may be, “Are you willing to work hard and do whatever it takes to make sure my daughter has food and housing and clothes, and are you prepared to provide spiritual leadership for your family?”

Too many guys have great jobs and a nice house, but do not know how to provide for their family. Many men know how to work overtime in order to pay for a tropical vacation, but don’t know how to pray biblically for their wife. Many couples have a thirty year vision for their financial life, but very few even have a one year vision for their spiritual life. For many, money has become the center of their marriage without their knowing it, and it is a center that will not hold. Every couple needs something bigger to live for than a dream home, a nice car, or a European vacation.

Jesus told us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, and to join Him in His mission to reach the world with the gospel of grace. Instead, many have traded the cross and mission of Jesus Christ for the security of a summer home and a big SUV. When this trade is made, marriage loses its meaning, and God loses some glory. The meaning of marriage is found in walking together with God on mission in the world. How many couples in your church see that as their goal? How many marriage conferences focus on walking with God on mission together? The better question is, how focused are you on that? There is nothing wrong with making a lot of money. But a marriage will be filled with much more joy and glory when couples save to buy Bibles for believers in China, or sacrifice to help a needy family in the church, or save for retirement so they can travel the world sharing the gospel, than if they go into debt to get a car as nice as their Sunday school teacher’s, and a house in the right neighborhood.

Again, I am not saying that we have to buy Bibles for China, and can never buy big SUV’s. But maybe before we make our next purchase or plan our budget, we should ask, “does this decision demonstrate that Christ is the Lord of our family?”

So girls, when you pick a husband don’t pick a guy because he has good earning potential. Pick a man that will take you on a lifetime adventure dedicated to expanding the kingdom of God. And guys, when you choose a girl (and really, the choice is yours. There lots of great girls out there waiting around for a godly guy to step up and marry them), choose a girl that loves to talk about Jesus and to Jesus more than she likes to shop. The glory of God is at stake….


PT Barnum said...

Holy..., That's a great article. I think that SUV's have become interwoven with what I think is a bad thing too. SUV's are bad (said with a sour face and a raspy voice). I think the question for the daughter's father you speak of has become somewhat of a routine; I always hear about it.
"Alexander, our older brother, set out for a great adventure...Come on Alex, you can do it. If you want Somethin', don't ask for nothin'. If you want nothin', don't ask for somethin'." -The Arcade Fire (it's one of my favorite songs...)

Jason said...

I too found your reinterpretation of the "fatherly question" interesting and on target.

Following is my favorite section:
"Many men know how to work overtime in order to pay for a tropical vacation, but don’t know how to pray biblically for their wife. Many couples have a thirty year vision for their financial life, but very few even have a one year vision for their spiritual life."

This is just too true, even in my own life and family. How have we gone so far astray?
Thank you for your insight and challenge.

Prayin' for you and your family cous'.


Mark said...

Good to hear from you. About SUV's... the best part about them is that the kids can watch a movie while driving down the road. So even thought the family may be all together, there is no danger of conversation going on between the fam. Can nobody else see a possible strategy of the enemy in all this? (Just a preview, the third enemy I will talk about is TV... that's if I ever get to it with all these darn books to read for school).

Jason, I can't tell you how much my family and I appreciate your prayers. I also am painfully aware of how difficult it is to live out a Christ-exalting marriage. Life would be a lot easier if all we had to do was write about it.