We’re back with Francis Chan, who is kind enough to join us today and tomorrow. Francis and his wife Lisa are the authors of the new book, “You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity.” As you know, Francis, men and women are postponing marriage later and later — even among Christians in the church — but they still have the full intent of marriage. What is this trend doing to the church and what is it doing to the institution of Christian marriage?
The Marriage Bed
I believe that at least 90 percent of those who are postponing marriage are already sleeping together, so they don’t see a big need to rush. There is no sense of “I want to get married to really consummate this.”
I mean, there is so much immorality in the church, and it is disgusting. People need to know that God hates that. Don’t fool yourself by saying, “We are going to get married anyway at some point. We are in love.”
I would respond by saying, “No, you don’t understand. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit. You are a member of Christ and you are joining yourself, basically, to a prostitute. You are entering into a union that God wants nothing to do with.”
This is an immoral practice, and I believe there is more and more of that in the church. It is becoming more and more acceptable. It is still just as heinous in God’s eyes as it has always been. And so don’t fool yourself.
I really do believe that premarital sex is the main reason why people are okay to postpone marriage. Sexually people are exploring and messing around and dishonoring God. It is destroying the church and its members in so many ways because now they feel guilty. They don’t feel like they can be used by the Lord. And, honestly, because of their unrepentant heart, their prayers aren’t being answered. That is probably not the answer you are looking for.
Ignoring the Mission
The other thing is that some of the postponing of marriage is because people are not seeing a lot of marriages they want to become like.
Often you see these singles who are radically on fire for the Lord and serving him, and then they get married. Once people get married either they spend all of their days enjoying each other and neglecting the mission, or they start fighting with each other, and they are in counseling all the time and ignoring the mission.
It doesn’t seem really exciting to either idolize your family to the neglect of the mission, or to be in such a desperate state of just trying to get along that you are not really accomplishing anything for the kingdom. That is another reason.
I don’t want to make it all about immorality, although I do believe that we are not doing so well in the area of purity within the church.
Starting a Marriage and a Church
Talk more about marriage on mission and how old were you when you were married?
I was 26 and Lisa was 22. We were both virgins when we got married. Two or three weeks into the marriage, I looked at her and I said, “I know we have never talked about this, but suddenly I feel like God wants me to start a church. And this would mean, if it is okay, you work and support us, if that is all right. Because I don’t want to take any money from the church. I don’t even know if anyone is going to show up.”
So that is how our marriage started: “Let’s gather some people in the home. Let’s start the church.” Eventually that became Cornerstone Church, and I ended up shepherding there for seventeen years.
Live as Though You Had None
How would you explain this conviction from Scripture?
I would start in 1 Corinthians 7 and explain from Scripture what Paul is saying about how marriage has the potential of distracting us from this undistracted devotion to the Lord. He tells the married couples, “Hey, those who are married, live as though you are not” (see 1 Corinthians 7:29).
What is he talking about there? Why would the apostle Paul who says, “Husbands, love your wives,” also say, “Hey, those who are married should live as though they are not.”
There is also another truth: there is something bigger than you just enjoying each other. The time is short, and that is why he says: “Those who are married, live as though you are not.” You know, it is just like there is something bigger than the two of you.
If you just spend your days enjoying each other, you are going to miss out on something greater. You also don’t want to set that example for your kids. It is also unbiblical.