26 August 2008

Don't Be a Whale

My first opinion column was published in the Kansas State Collegian today. Here it is:

Last week a humpback whale calf was spotted off the northern coast of Sydney, Australia trying to suckle a yacht. The baby whale seemed to think the yacht was its mother. According to National Parks and Wildlife regional manager Chris McIntosh, the calf was not yet weaned and could not survive long away from its mother.

No doubt this whale – the Australians nicknamed it “Colin” – was lost and confused, not to mention very hungry. To onlookers, it is illogical for a whale to demand from a boat what it was not designed to provide. This relationship inevitably ended in disaster. Officials determined the animal was too weak to survive on its own and euthanized it.

Colin’s story seems innocent enough. It was simply a baby whale looking for something to provide for its needs. It was looking for food and love from a yacht that was not capable of providing that.

Looking for love seems natural for college students. It’s all part of “the plan”: go to college, meet someone, get married, graduate, get a job, have kids, and grow old. Fox News reported that the divorce rate in 2007 was 36 percent; it’s obvious there are some flaws in “the plan.”

As a woman, when I see that something isn’t working how it should, I turn to the instruction manual. I’ve yet to discover a reliable paperback that defies societal norms.

As a follower of Christ, I turn to the One who created relationships. Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”

The better we understand how something is designed to work, the less we will try to get it to be something it’s not. Have you ever tried cooking eggs in a toaster? What a mess! The toaster was not designed to cook eggs. How did God design relationships to work?

The most common misconception about relationships is that a person should find a soul mate to “complete” him or her. The problem here is this turns into spiritual idolatry. We are to find fulfillment and purpose in God. Our spouse will fail as our “god.” No person can live up to such expectations.

God’s design for marriage is five-fold: to model Christ’s love, to be fruitful and multiply, to provide a helpmate, for sexual intimacy and enjoyment within the covenant of marriage, and to fulfill God’s Great Commission together.

Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” What does it look like to imitate Christ’s love? Paul’s letter instructs the Ephesians to get rid of attitudes that tear down and hurt and to extended grace and forgiveness to others, even if it is a great cost to us.

Instead of finding the right person, falling in love, and fixing our lives around this person for our future fulfillment, God’s design for relationships is to become the right person by doing what God does, to walk in love, and to fix our hope on God and seek to please Him with our relationship.
Author Gary Thomas reasons, “If happiness is our primary goal, we’ll get a divorce as soon as happiness seems to wane. If receiving love is our primary goal, we’ll dump our spouse as soon as he/she seems to be less attentive. But if we marry for the glory of God, to model His love and commitment to our children, and to reveal His witness to the world, divorce makes no sense.”
If you must be completed by another person, you will find that whatever they have to give you will never be enough.

Don’t be a whale.


You did an excellent opinion piece on marriage. You creativity in writing, your wisdom shared and your boldness for Christ is applauded.

Thank you,

Mark Taussig
Kansas State University
Associate Director/Planning - Facility Planning Facilities


JR said...

Good insight!

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