_____ According to _____

This ‘article’ caught my eye as I was scanning news feeds this morning.  These sorts of articles almost always trigger apoplectic episodes internally, so I try to avoid them.

I’ll start this by saying that I respect Ms. Bullock as an actress.  I’ve enjoyed some of her work.  She is a gifted actress and I have no doubt she is a very loving mother and probably a really nice person.  This post isn’t about her.

All that being said, why in the world would anyone look to her for sage wisdom on marriage?  Or me, for that matter?  Or any other individual?  Are there actually people out there who are unsure what to make of marriage and relationship, but turn to celebrities or other people of note to guide them on these matters?  On what basis?  Why would anyone expect a single person to have any lasting, valuable, definitive insight into marriage and relationships?   My criticism is not of Ms. Bullock, in other words, but of the magazine that would presume that her thoughts on marriage are somehow relevant to anyone, and to readers who might find them relevant.  Or that my personal thoughts would be seen as relevant.  Or that yours would be.

Why not?  Because our individual experiences of marriage should not be presumed to be definitive – for ourselves or for anyone else, for that matter.  Whether someone is divorced or married, whether they have been through painful divorces or married the person they met in kindergarten, none of these individual experiences of marriage can be definitive.  They are experiential.

As a Christian, I believe that there is only one source for trustworthy information about life and the universe, and that’s the God who created both the universe and life – both mine individually as well as all life.  This God can speak authoritatively on such matters because He created them and defined them.  Ms. Bullock can’t. I can’t.  For precisely the reason that we are not God.  We didn’t create marriage.  Our experiences with it are our experiences, and at best they can mirror or not mirror God’s intentions for marriage.  And whether mine mirrors God’s or not does not alter his definition in any way.

As such, I don’t need Ms. Bullock to define traditional marriage for me.  God has done that.  Likewise, I don’t get to define marriage for the young couple that I will wed in a few weeks.  I point them to God’s definitions on the subject.  The best that I can do is try to convey God’s definitions as accurately as I can.  As such, I have been provided with a definition for traditional marriage – a man and a woman for life.  This is the goal.  This is what we strive to emulate.  Even the closest to the mark will still fall short and fail in ways that others may never know about.

The greater problem is that it isn’t just random non-Christians out there who fall into the trap of looking to some sort of authority or personality to guide them in their lives.  American Christianity is chock-full of media personalities, superstars within the Christian arena, whether they are musicians or professional lecturers or academics or even, sometimes, pastors.  People who, for whatever reason, become celebrities expected to hold forth on various topics for their followers.

It’s sick that Christians would fall prey to looking to humans for advice.  It’s even sicker that we as musicians or pastors or lecturers or academics would envy that status.  But that’s what we’re taught to do. By a culture that drives us to see stardom as the goal, as the measure of our effectiveness.  Whether our audience is a few dozen or a few hundred or a few thousand, the pressure is constantly on expanding, growing our reach, our influence.  We can claim pietistically that it’s for the sake of the Gospel.  We can tell ourselves that it’s only so that the true Gospel will get into our culture and hopefully cancel out some of the false doctrine that is pandered by all sorts of people.   But there’s also an element of pride and ego buried under all those self-effacing comments.

This is dangerous.

I have many colleagues that I like and admire.  I think they’re truly gifted and capable men and women.  But as soon as I look to them for a definition of marriage, I’ve misplaced my trust.  As soon as they direct me anywhere other than the Word of God, they’ve betrayed that misplaced trust.  We are called as followers of Christ to point away from ourselves and to Him.  But we need to help our brothers and sisters in the faith – including those in positions of authority – to do the same.  To assure them that God’s Word is definitive, and overrides the experiences or ideas of anybody else that would seek to alter them.




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