Their plane crashed. Everyone on board was killed. But my wife had also had a premonition and cut their journey short, getting off the plane the stop before the tragedy occurred.
I am grateful for the way it worked out. But I didn’t know beforehand that things would go as they did. And had it not worked out that way I would have grieved (God knows how I would have grieved), but I would not have regretted my decision to trust and to go forward.
This is what it means to follow Christ fully.
Pseudo-Marriage and Pseudo-Discipleship
The demands of discipleship are like the demands of marriage. But as we think of marriage, there is a disturbing trend in our culture these days. Instead of getting married, many couples are simply living together. In this country, the number of unmarried-couple households recorded by the Census Bureau multiplied almost ten times in the last forty years, and almost two thirds of the people born between 1963 and 1974 first cohabited, without marrying.2
I have to say, cohabiting seems like a very sensible thing to do, and I can understand its attraction. Surely, no one buys a car without first giving it a test drive. Shouldn’t we try out living together first before making some big, binding commitment?
And why do we even need to make that kind of commitment anyway. We love each other—isn’t that all that counts. And if we no longer love each other, then why should have to stay together? If someone else comes along who attracts me, why should I have to be locked in to just one partner? Cohabiting allows me to keep my options open—isn’t that what it means to be free? Cohabitation before or instead of marriage has now become quite normal.
Yet no matter how normal it becomes, such cohabitation is a form of deception for the simple reason that it is a result of a confusion of categories. You see, cohabitation looks a lot like marriage—you have a man and woman living in the same house together, sharing the same bed. But, in fact, it differs from marriage in the one essential thing that makes a marriage a marriage. Cohabiting couples, I’m sure, share a certain kind of romantic love—but it’s a love that’s lacking that one essential element that comes in true marital love. It lacks commitment—that public pledge of exclusive, unconditional, life-long, loyal love that makes the nature of that relationship very clear to everyone affected by it.
That’s why cohabiting before marriage isn’t a trial marriage at all. It is nothing like a marriage, for it lacks the one thing that makes a marriage a marriage. And the testimony of both the Bible and human history is that the kind of relationship between a man and woman to be had in cohabitation is contrary to how we were created to live. We are so made that our lives as men and women together most flourish, and the society we live in most flourishes, when men and women live in exclusive, committed life-long relationships of loyal love, recognized publicly through the covenant of marriage.3
People who cohabit are deceived into thinking they are experiencing marriage when they’re not. It’s an imitation, a poor reflection, a shadow of the real thing. They don’t know what it is to give of themselves fully and to live with someone who is committed to them with all their heart and soul unconditionally, exclusively, with a love that only death can destroy.
Now let’s get back to those hard words of Jesus we’ve been considering: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
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