When we communicate we don’t just say words at a target, we share meaning through the words. Communication starts with what’s common between persons, what is shared. Even the phrase “speaking the same language” does double duty, not only in reference to using the same dialect but also to working with the same definitions. Conflicts often happen because the parties have a verbal disagreement; each person thinks differently about the same word.
In pre-marital counseling I always encourage couples to read a book or listen to a series about finances, not because I think they need to slavishly put all their money in envelopes, but so they learn to share the same vocabulary. What does it mean to be generous? Is $1.00 given out of every $10 more than she’s ever thought about giving before, or does generous mean only keeping the $1? The discussion gets them on the same spreadsheet, so to speak.
In a Christian community we share Christ. In Christ we live and move and have our being. That said, we not only have different gifts to serve one another as part of His Body, we have different expectations, different perspectives, different backgrounds, and different ideas about some community practices.
Our church community thinks marriage and family is great. We generally want our young men and young women to look forward to, and prepare for, if/when the Lord would bless them with those responsibilities. And yet, the community is made up of many families, and not all fathers talk the same way or share the same vision for getting their kids hooked up in covenant (which, even that phrase, means something different to a pagan these days).
There are a variety of approaches to the leave and cleave process, and spectrums from narrow to loose. And yet there are some principles that we should all know and agree on. When it comes to knowing God’s will, more than finding His will for your (or your child’s) spouse is recognizing His will for your (and your child’s) sanctification. “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). We’re supposed to share a desire to please God in our walk (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
For the next few weeks we’re going to consider sanctification in community relationships between the opposite sex. This is a subject for all of us, whether you’re in a dating relationship or wish you were, or you fancy yourself a matchmaker, or you’re a friend to a courting couple, or you have a father’s responsibility. “God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” Amen.