If one feels called to ...

anna asked:

If one feels called to missions and one's spouse does not, do you think it is consistent with scripture and God's nature that one would leave their spouse to respond to the call?(Matthew 10:32-39)

Jack Answered:

Anna, you perhaps should have quoted Luke 14:26, which mentions not only father and mother (as in Mt 10:32-39) but also “wife and children.” The full text reads: “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

My interpretation of this text in the light of your question would be that here Jesus, seeing the general response of a multitude, wanted them to see that it was serious business to follow Him. That he was to be first in their lives. (I take the word “hate” as hyperbole, an exaggeration to make a point, a common Jewish pattern of speech, like a camel going through the eye of needle.)

Many individuals respond to Jesus while their spouses do not; undoubtedly the same is true of a call to missions. Following Jesus in a committed way can bring a tension in the marriage. For this reason, Peter calls Christian wives (I Peter 3:1-6) to be submissive to their husbands and win them, not so much with words, as with their behavior, and specifically mentions a “gentle and quiet spirit.”

In the light of the above, it would be hard for me to support the idea of a wife leaving her husband to follow her “call” to missions. As a Christian she is committed to Christ, but in getting married she has entered into a life long covenant to her husband to whom she is to be submissive. There are cases when because of illness one spouse has to remain in the U.S. while the other returns to missionary service, but this is a mutual decision arrived at after much prayer and counsel.

May you and your husband find the Lord’s perfect way for each of you in your marriage.

Jack

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