August 5, 2010
Different Gifts for the Common Good
Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same LORD. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, NIV
I can hardly believe how quickly our engagement is flying by. Our wedding takes place November 6th of this year. This may sound like plenty of time, but Fiance and I are doing more than planning the ceremony. We're also working with a spiritual director to prepare for marriage.
The first reading our spiritual director assigned us is the profound and influential book Love & Responsibility by Fr. Karol Wojtyla. You may recognize this author under his more famous name, Pope John Paul II.
I'm not going to lie. Reading through hundreds of pages of philosophical thought is a bit of a sacrifice for us. But I am so thankful our pastor gave us this project. So often couples get caught up in the emotional highs of wedding planning, they fail to plan for the marriage. As the Family Editor here at Crosswalk, I receive countless heartbreaking emails from couples struggling to live out their vows.
Of course, some may ask what a celibate man could know about married love? Fr. Wojtyla doesn't dodge this question. In his introduction, he shares:
"[Priests' and celibates'] lack of direct personal experience is no handicap because they possess a great deal of experience at second-hand, derived from their pastoral work. For in their pastoral work they encounter these particular problems so often and in such a variety of circumstances and situations, that a different type of experience is created, which is certainly less immediate, and certainly ‘second-hand,' but at the same time very much wider."
Fr. Wojtyla's words remind me of another famous marriage expert: St. Paul. His words on Christian marriage and love rank among some of the most-quoted scriptures. Yet Paul, in imitation of Christ, embraced the celibate life. After giving some of his famous "marital advice" to those already married, Paul writes to those who are unmarried and encourages them to embrace celibacy:
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the LORD's affairs--how he can please the LORD. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife-- and his interests are divided. (1 Corinthians 6:32-34)
I believe it is the undivided devotion available to the celibate believer that allows a special perspective on those of us called to marriage. And the more I ponder this, the more I realize how illogical it is to claim a chaste believer knows little of love! After all, celibacy for the sake of the kingdom requires commitment, strength, sacrifice, and godly love for individuals - traits needed for successful marriages, even if these traits are manifested differently in married life.
We have to put these scripture verses in context, of course, and recognize that while Paul preferred celibacy, marriage is also a holy calling. I know Christian marriage is where my fiance and I belong. But the more my fiancé and I receive guidance from both married's and unmarried's, the more we appreciate the strength in God's decision to unite believers with different callings under the umbrella of His Church.
Intersecting Faith & Life: When you need godly counsel, do you always turn to those who will agree with you or who live just like you? Do you think you could benefit from a different perspective?
1 Corinthians 7