Paul wrote one last letter to young pastor Timothy from death row, his “green mile,” in a Roman dungeon.
The old lion in winter sounded a warning: “Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.”
Today we mark the end of the liturgical church year. Our thoughts turn to the end of this present world. We see the truth of Paul’s warning all around us, don’t we? The family feuds, rebellious children, irresponsible parents, recreational sex, gay marriage, abortion dumpsters, out-of-control love affairs with alcohol, unscriptural doctrines, terrorism and utter contempt for the gospel – all these are the collective death rattle of a broken world.
The brighter the light, the darker the shadows. As the coming of Christ in glory draws closer, the footprints of the prince of darkness are more pronounced.
Nowhere are the footprints deeper than in the foundational human relationship which God introduced with the words: “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a suitable helper for him.” In Paul’s day and in ours, the evil one has left his muddy tracks on marriage.
The cover article of a recent issue of Time magazine was entitled: “Who Needs Marriage?” All of the charts, graphs, polls and analyses probe whether one should get married at all when the privileges of the marriage bed, the procreating of children, the pooling of financial resources can all be had, and increasingly are being had without the commitment of marriage.
When pressed on the hot-button topics of marriage and divorce, Jesus went back to the very beginning: “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female?’ ”
It’s as though Jesus knew we would forget what He made us to be and why He made us to be that. We see it all around us. In university classrooms, in political campaigns, in the evangelism of evil on TV, we are brainwashed and bullied by the latest psychobabble to believe there is no difference between boys and girls.
“At the beginning the Creator made them ‘male and female,’ ” says the Savior, to complement each other physically, functionally, emotionally – so that, mysteriously and beautifully, “they are no longer two, but one.” You are not on earth alone. You are made for another. Even if you are unmarried and you have devoted your life to serving others, this truth remains the same. We live to serve others. God has a special role for those called to the chaste, single life also. St. Paul is a prime example of a single life devoted to God.
Yet, God has made marriage the primary arena for this principle – the Christ-like laying down of one’s life for another. To know Christ by faith is to appreciate the beauty and the mystery of this arena.