Late Friday night I was engaged in a furious round of channel-surfing when something caught my eye. . . which I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I stopped on. It was a Royal Wedding discussion led by Joy Behar. Included at the table were Joan Collins and two other people who I’m somewhat proud to say I didn’t know. I’m proud to say it because. . . well. . . I just admitted that I know who Joy Behar and Joan Collins are. . . and I stopped to watch and listen. Maybe not knowing one pair cancels out knowing the other pair. However, nothing cancels out the fact that I decided to watch.
The discussion had a bit of roast-like flavor to it, as Behar took snarky shots at the customs of British royalty whenever she could. At one point, Behar asked an interested question about whether or not this marriage would last, especially with the royal family’s track-record of infidelity and divorce. Someone mentioned that Will and Kate have been together for a long time already, and that they had spent time living together. Again, this was all news to me, as I’m not a follower of Britain’s famous soap opera. In an effort to find out more, I decided to do what all good researchers do. . . and I Googled it. Yep, they lived together. . . which might explain the smirks on their faces as they stood at the front of the church with the also-smirking Harry. Maybe it’s just me, but it was almost like they were putting up with going through the motions because they had to.
My Googling episode quickly took me to an article in The Telegraph: “Royal Wedding: Archbishop backs William and Kate’s decision to live together before marriage.” Statistically, that decision puts William and Kate in the majority. Last Wednesday’s USA Today ran a front-page story on couples who live together and then break up. Not surprisingly, the article reports that the break-ups are like a divorce. The article also reports that more than 60% of married couples live together before walking down the aisle. Truly, a sign of the times. . . and a reality that requires the attention and response of the church.
In William and Kate’s case, it seems the church has responded. And the response of the church to William and Kate is also a sign of the times. The article in The Telegraph includes some quotes from Dr. John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York. It seems that Sentamu justifies the couple’s living arrangements because like other modern couples, they want to “test the milk before they buy the cow.” That’s from a leader in the church who was talking about the Prince who will someday become King. . . and when he does, also become the head of the Church of England.
In a way, William and Kate are only being faithful to the worldview they’ve been swimming in since the days they were born. Maybe the bigger problem is one with us – the church – as we fail to exercise a prophetic presence in a world where things are not the way they’re supposed to be. Could it be that we’re living in a day and age where people truly don’t know any better for the simple reason that nobody’s ever told them about something better?
Thanks for your post Walt. I’m British and have been in the U.S for just over 10 years now. I only watched Royal wedding only because my 5 year old little girl wanted to watch it with me, you understand? 🙂
The sad news is that many of the top bishops in the UK have fallen to some very poor theology, practices, and leadership within the Church of England. Prior to coming to U.S, I was a part of a church led by a pastor who was the head of “Reform”, (a UK organization pushing the church of England to come back to it’s Biblical roots and beliefs). Unfortunately, they continue to depart from these roots… It’s sad to see, but I am also encouraged by some brilliant churches and friends in the UK who are striving to live Biblically and soundly.
Please be praying for the Church in the UK, there are turbulent times ahead.
Thanks again for your post and the reminder that we as the church need to help people see that God’s ways are healthy and best…
Walt, what do you mean by the phrase “prophetic presence?”
Great question AAnnie! Basically, we need to know God’s Word and where God stands on these issues (what is a proper theology of marriage?, etc.), and then proclaim that truth by what we say and how we live.
THE OTHER SIDE OF COHABITATING
For me, living together was the best thing that could have happened to me on several fronts, including the start of opening my mind to new perspectives. Upon my boyfriend (Matthew) and I graduating from college (Patrick Henry), we had neither the financial means to support living on our own and continue dating, nor the desire to move back home and live with our ultra-conservative parents and be separated by hundreds of miles. Since we were entertaining thoughts of marriage, but knew that it was way too soon to make such a commitment, we realized that living together would be the perfect solution. We also realized though that we would have to remain celibate so as not to be living in sin. Easier said than done we soon realized. Matt came up with the perfect solution. He recalled that in one of James Dobson’s books, he stated, “It was acceptable to ‘please’ one’s self as long as the subject of one’s thoughts is that of a future wife”. On my behalf I utilized the same wording substituting the word “husband” for “wife”.
Cohabitating was now accomplished without sin and also gave Matt the opportunity to show how patient and understanding he was. Being extremely busty, my parents ALWAYS ensured that I wore either loose-fitting or bulky tops, which inevitably led to feelings of shame and embarrassment about my bosom. In following Mr. Dobson’s solution Matt slowly helped me realize that him enjoying looking at my body was no different than enjoying looking at my face. After all, it was all “me” wasn’t it? This newfound freedom, perspective, and release of shame, embarrassment and inhibition, was nothing short of exhilarating, all while cohabitating absent sin.
The other more important benefit in cohabitating was that eventually we both realized that we were really not compatible enough to live together forever. Cohabitating saved us from what would have been a most devastating divorce for both of us, our parents, and most importantly our prospective children.
So this just shows that there are always two sides to an issue, and that cohabitating can successfully take place without violating scripture.
thanks for being prophetic! i taught a course called ‘the church and society’ and i pointed out how we are again ‘pulling up the rear’ in being salt and light. thanks for the charge to do better.
Tammy highlighted an important part of the issue, and why so many in the church look just like the world in this regard. It is financially and emotionally “easier” (at the fore front of the decision) to just live together and see how it goes.
-Or so it would seem.
God’s reasoning and commands to us are usually counter-intuitive or counter-productive to what the world sees as wise or beneficial.
God’s response? Obey me, and you will be blessed.
When we council adults, we must point this out – it is harder to obey God, and maybe even costly – but following God will cost us everything.
Gosh, Brother Walt – your blog never fails to depress me! But it’s a depression with drive – to continue to proclaim the Word of the Lord to a dark and dying world!