Marriage? Work? Pastor, Help Me!

A man asks his pastor about marriage and work, what does the pastor say? How does he apply God’s Word?

First, parishioners will always have particular problems or dilemmas and expect then their pastor’s response be to the specific issues they raise. However, the pastor is given the task to look beyond the temporal and look to the eternal, that is, what is at the heart of this dear one’s question(s)?

On marriage and gainful employment, the pastor must consider with the dilemma stricken what these two actually mean. As for marriage, it finds its character in the words of Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” These words provide the narrow scope to marriage; that it begins a new family apart from that of his parents, is between a man and woman, and designed to be retained till death separates marriage’s one flesh union. And, elsewhere in Genesis (cf. chap. 4) to know each other, that is sexually, for the purpose of procreation. These primarily embody the pattern of marital life, along with other blessings of course.  

Now work, while perhaps considered separate from marriage, is supplementary to it. The parishioner comes with two questions, not realizing they are in fact one question under the order of oeconomia. This anthropological insight of how people categorize their lives indicates a problem with autonomy–living and working to ones own end. Marriage and work (vocation) is, for the Christian, one livelihood done for wife, children, and community. The Decalogue (Exodus 20) finds its direction in this world through the cross of Christ; in how he gives us to both love him and love our neighbors as ourselves, and how He perfectly loves and purifies us who fail to do so.  

The second matter after the question of what, is a pastor’s application of the Scriptural foundation. To the parishioner, who is seemingly weighted down by the Law, convicted for his failures, to him is given the Gospel. The truth of the Christ’s redemption is given to him in the forgiveness of these sins and he is to be encouraged to be faithful in all things. Meaning, he lives his life in faith: to trust in God’s provision and remain chaste, all while pursuing godly love and work. He can be certain of God’s will as he lives his life through Christ who redeemed him. This also means he is free in Christ to the ecclesia and politia orders too. Simply put to this man, he is free in Christ to be faithful in service to the Church and as a citizen. He has the Gospel, which is God’s ultimate will for his life, and freedom in faith from from sin, death, and the devil!

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