Yesterday was a great day at the Florida College Lectures. While it was wonderful visiting with old friends, meeting one new ones and enjoying the various scheduled activities, the lessons themselves were powerful, personal and penetrating.
The theme, “From the Beginning: Recovering the Divine Design for Marriage and Family,” seemed to have a reoccurring common warning. This was expressed in a variety of ways.
In the opening lecture, Dr.Thaxter Dickey, a Florida College Professor, discussed the state of marriage in America today in his lesson “A House Divided.” He talked about a house divided by divorce. Gender confusion. Out of wedlock births. And single parent families. Among the reasons cited for this divided house is what Thaxter called “affective individualism.”
“Whereas previously marriage and family were thought of as a duty or opportunity to serve other persons,” Dr. Dickey observed, “now marriage and family became a means to self-fulfilled and personal happiness…It is about being happy; not about making someone else happy.”
In the following lecture gospel preacher, Nathan Fritz, from Lubbock, Texas, spoke from 1 Corinthians 13 on “Love Seeks Not Its Own.” He addressed “the problem of elevating emotions over the will.” His lesson discussed the perverted definition of love by the world and how it stands in stark contrast to the Bible’s definition.
In the lecture book, Nathan wrote, “We live in a society driven by a ‘redefinition’ of biblical love, a definition based on lust, self-centered motives, and selfish even devilish, desires.”
“Self love,” Nathan observed,” is the word of the day. Self centered love will envy, it will parade itself, it will be painfully puffed up, it will behave rudely, it will seek its own interests alone, it will be easily provoked and think evil…” Nathan was right self-love “will not bear the responsibilities real love for others demands, and it will not endure hardship.”
In a powerful presentation, Kenny “Tack” Chumbley, addressed “Today’s Preoccupation with the Physical” in his lecture “Contrary to Nature.” It was a masterful exegesis of Romans 1:18-32. In it he talked about the “emergence of evil,” “the expression of evil,” and “effect of evil.” He spoke of how God’s glory had been revealed, but humankind rejected it. How and why God’s wrath was poured out. But how the righteousness of God can bring us back into a right relationship with Him.
The problems expressed in Romans 1 that undermine the foundations of the home are at their root egotistical, humanistic, and hedonistic. They are not new. But are on the rise and challenge the very fabric of our families.
The morning was concluded by Denny Freeman’s lesson, “You Are Not Your Own” from 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. He spoke to “the problem of radical individualism.” As F. LaGard Smith wrote, “If once we were a nation ‘under God,’ we are rapidly becoming a nation under self.”
Denny discussed “America’s growing obsession with radical individualism and the damage being done to marriage and family life as a result.” Individualism, he pointed out, is about “one’s personal feelings and self-interest.” It denies responsibility. “Tears at the fabric of home life.” And “poisons the lifeblood of our nation.”
In a “throw-away society” Denny pointed out not only “our penchant for throwing away things,” but a more serious problem of “throwing away moral anchors.” And tragically even throwing away our marriages. Our society says, “if you are unhappy with your marriage, get a divorce and make a change.”
At the end of the morning, I was keenly reminded of that we’re all susceptible to the sin of selfishness in our relationships. It’s the root of so many of our problems. I also recalled attending a marriage seminar by years ago by Dr Paul Faulkner who said the problem in the home today is “too much me and not enough we.”
Last night’s lecture by Andrew Roberts from Ephesians 5:21-32 was a fitting conclusion to the day. He challenged us to follow God’s divine pattern with a marriage that would shock the world. A marriage where husbands lead, love provide for and protect their wives. A marriage where wives respect, submit and serve their husbands.
God’s Word and God’s way is the antidote to individualism. And the answer to selfishness in the home.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman