Friday, August 19, 2005

Response to "Response to the 3Ts"

Hey Hamster, thanks for alerting me to your response to the 3Ts.

For reasons stated previously, I'd rather not get involved in potentially endless conclusionless discussions regarding blog posts, and so if you don't mind, here's a short clarification that may not address every single point of your response:
  1. Specific Context to 3Ts
  2. You have a wife and Yong Chieh has a girlfriend. God forbid that we should comment on how either of you couples came together (not that we have any knowledge of the proceedings). The posts on the 3Ts were subsequent to a discussion started by Pre-dating Woe-ed Man ("PWM") and consequently were directed at his circumstances as a brother-in-Christ who was anxious to know the wisest (ie. most God-fearing) way to go about getting a girlfriend.

  3. Personal Experience vs God's Word
  4. I do not know your personal histories, so this is not a statement that is targetted at either of you but a general statement that it is worth noting that one should not extrapolate one's personal experiences into law just because some good came out of it in our personal history.

    Joseph's brothers meant for evil when they sold him away, but God meant it for good so that his family was in the end saved from the famine by Joseph's position in Egypt. Pharaoh hardened his own heart against God and refused to let the Israelites go out from Egypt. But God used that for good to show his awesome power and his saving grace to his people. Judas meant for evil when he betrayed Jesus but God meant it for good for by the death of Jesus on the cross, the offer of salvation from God's wrath was made effective for those who believe.

    Although good came out of all these evil actions, we cannot then extrapolate this to recommend as good advice that people should seek to kill/sell the siblings they are jealous of, or to refuse to acknowledge the living God, or to reject Jesus. All these perpetrators will be called to account for their actions on the Last Day. The good consequences of their actions will have no mitigating effect on their responsibility for their crimes.

    Again, please understand that I am referring to neither of your situations (of which I am ignorant) but to the many who say,"Look. A Christian was willing to date/marry me. And now I'm Christian too. So stop being so narrow-minded and asking Christians to only look within the church." God may have worked in their disobedience and foolishness for good, but this does not discount the fact that they will be held responsible for their neglecting to take God seriously when Christ comes again. And so just because it turned out alright for one person doesn't make it good advice for all! We must always be guided not by the personal experience of others but by the objective truth of God's word in the Bible.

  5. Summary of Target
  6. What we were discussing (which was somewhat reported in the Target post) was this:

    • the reasons why PWM wanted to date and marry and whether he had thought about Paul's recommendation of singlehood in 1 Corinthians 7. Whether PWM was "burning with passion" and so for godliness, should find someone to marry.
    • PWM said he probably was "burning" but would have to think more about that one. For the sake of discussion, we continued on to remind him of what he should/should not be looking for in a girl; not to be fixated on external beauty, but to be concerned first about her inner beauty of being a Christian. Not just a declared Christian (nothing very beautiful about that) but a living-it-out-in-her-life ("LIOIHL") Christian. As you and Yong Chieh pointed out, the qualities discussed were not particularly wifely qualities but qualities any Christian should have/be working towards. They show how much a person considers God in every aspect of their lives and how they are transformed by his word and his Spirit. Absolutely. PWM is looking for a Christian girl and these are qualities a Christian (which would include a Christian girl) should have/be working towards. As we grow and mature as Christians, our hearts and minds are to be more and more conformed to Christ's, and we are to find attractive what God finds attractive. Not outward beauty which will soon fade away but the unfailing beauty of a LIOIHL Christian.
    • [as a side note, it is not true that this is too high a standard. Get to know more people within the church. You'll be pleasantly surprised. I know many girls who are LIOIHL Christians. Many of them are past 30 and are slightly dumpy but what does that matter? They are a great encouragement to all!]
    • so if PWM was "burning with passion", and for his godliness it is better that he marry, then he should consider one of these LIOIHL Christians, even though his societally-corrupted mind may not find her physically attractive at first.
    • but even if PWM was "burning with passion", his life goal is not to find a girl and get married. It might be better for his godliness that he do so but part of the character of any Christian should be the trait of self-control. If he lacks self-control then getting married is not the solution. Marriage is not an alternative to self-control. He is to exercise self-control even in marriage. But in respect of sexual passion, it marriage may make self-control much easier. [Of course, marriage may make self-control in other respects much more difficult if she is a dripping nag...but let's not go there!]
    • as you also rightly pointed out, godliness is the godly duty of all Christians, not just Christian girls. But many "courtship" books (I assume these are the types very different from the ones you read, the types devoured by pre-pubescent Christian girls almost as the word of God and quoted endlessly to each other in Sunday school and imposed by them on Christian boys) indoctrinate, by implication or otherwise, that the point of godliness is to make oneself attractive to the opposite sex, to prepare for marriage, or to be so pure and holy that God will bless you with a partner. Of course godliness is a far more wonderful thing than a mere erroneously mercenary vehicle to achieve the ugly secular goals. Godliness is a response to the awesome revelation of God of the best way to live in the world he designed and the change wrought in our entire being by the Spirit as we prepare for the day when we will see him face-to-face.
    • when Chris Chia advocated tolerance vs happiness, I think he meant tolerance of what God would deem unimportant but which the world tells us we need to find happiness (like external beauty, talents or skills, squeezing the toothpaste from the end of the tube, leaving the toilet seat up or down, good dress sense) rather than tolerance of lack of interest/seriousness about God and his kingdom. Chris, if you are reading this, tell me if I'm off.
  7. On Response to Timing
  8. just a quick point on your response: a fair number of girls apparently struggle with the temptation to idolise their boyfriends/husbands, the temptation to please them rather than God, to seek their approval than God's and the fear of being abandoned by them rather than God. They struggle to prevent their boyfriends/husbands becoming their whole lives and from whom they find their value and meaning in life. I know that it is on the prayer lists of many wives to be able to resist this peculiar urge and keep their focus on God. It may sound arrogant to you that anyone would need to guard against being idolised, but if that's the unique temptation that many sisters face, then their brothers/boyfriends/husbands must help them guard against it. Of course not all women face this same temptation, but it is good to be vigilant.

  9. On Response to Technique
  10. Two even quicker points on your response:

    • as PWM is dating, it is only natural that he will grow to be more physically attracted to his girlfriend. But there is a difference between physical attraction and lust and physical attraction and undressing her with his eyes (which is also why tudungs don't work but that's another story). She isn't his wife yet (she may in fact end up as someone else's wife), therefore, he is still to treat her with absolute purity.
    • "do's" and "don't's" may in "courtship" books may have been intended by the authors as practical pointers, but there is a danger that many people will use them as a list of rules and regulations, thinking that if they follow them, they will be pure and godly. This is what the Bible warns against for the mind and heart of humans are sinful and crafty and will try their utmost to wiggle their way around the list. The all too common sin of the Pharisees. We wanted to remind PWM to focus on changing his whole mind and heart and not just on what others tell him should stumble him.
    • just anecdotally, two Christian flatmates were dating at college. The boyfriend of one of them was attracted by her in skirts, so she had to wear baggy tracksuits on dates. The boyfriend of the other was attracted by her in baggy tracksuits so she had to wear skirts (which she wasn't quite fond of, and neither was he). So one man's turn on is another man's turn off and each must judge for himself what practical steps to take to do what is right in God's eyes.

Cheers.

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