Thread: On Widows
June 19th 2012, 09:05 PM #1
What happens when death do you part?
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What about those who are single through no fault of their own? Let's talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Recently, someone commented on my last blog on the benefits of marriage on what the book "The Case for Marriage" had to say about widows. Let it be noted that widows are to some extent the main involuntary group in the book described. The closest would be singles who don't want to be married and yet are having a hard time finding a partner and settling down. Widows meanwhile have through no fault of their own lost a spouse and are now in a single state.
In some ways, this can be a much more difficult state to be in I'm sure than a single state. You have already lived a life having given your heart to someone and now that someone is gone and only if they were a Christian and you are one too do you have hope of ever really getting to see that person again. You can never get to feel their touch and embrace again. If you have sexual desire, you have to just look back on fond memories. There is also the financial strain as having two people can make finances easier as well as possible difficulties if children are left behind.
Of course, there are difficulties whatever path you have in life. If you are single, you will have difficulties in life. If you are married, you will. No matter what your sexual status is with another person, you can be guaranteed that you will have troubles in life so when I describe the state of being a widow like this, let the mistake not be made that I am saying it is all gloom and doom. I am just wanting to draw some realities from it to show why the experience I could imagine to be difficult.
The Bible has a unique approach to widows compared to society. In the Old Testament, widows and orphans were those who were specifically to be cared for and God would hear their pleas for justice. Consider that in the story of the unjust judge in the NT, Jesus describes the lady who comes forward as a widow. It would be interesting to go through the Bible sometime and just see how often widows are mentioned and how God cares for them.
In the NT, the church was to care for the widows. In the book I'm about to finish now, Tim and Kathy Keller's "The Meaning of Marriage" they bring out the point that the church did not look down on the life of the widow. Under Augustus, a widow could be fined if she did not remarry within two years. For the Christian, one's future did not ride on whether they had a large family with descendants or not, but on rather they were in union with Christ. Christ is the future of the person in the church.
The Christian church saw being single as a valid lifestyle, and this in a world where marital union was considered the absolute norm. Of course, marriage is still seen as common today, but we have learned to accept that some people are single. The sad difference for us is that too often single people are still having marriage pleasure, that is sex, without having marriage commitment. For the Christian, to not have a spouse is the same as to not have sex. Any widow that that takes that upon themselves must be willing to face that. If they can, that is their choice and they can do so. If they cannot, then I agree with Paul that they should seek to marry.
What we should not do is to look down on people who are widows. For my friend who is a widow, I would often encourage her on dating, but I did receive a message one day just really explaining her stance, how she got to it, and how she is fine with it. Since then, I have had no problem. This is sadly something we can do in the church today where we look at people who are single and think that they are automatically leading an incomplete life somehow. This we say while ignoring that Jesus in all His life was single and quite likely so was the apostle Paul. Who wants to say they led incomplete lives?
Widows can also be a great blessing. As I prepared for marriage, the one I am thinking about was a real boon to me in giving me wisdom on how to live life and telling me about her own past with her husband. She was also one who was at our wedding and it was a joy to have her there. Widows in the church have much that they can teach others about marriage, about suffering, and about knowing that your true identity lies in Christ even if trouble comes to the one on Earth you value more than any other.
I do believe marriage can bring much happiness in life, but one does not have to be married to lead a full life and one can even go through marriage all the way and get to the "Til death do us part" and keep living a full and happy life and we can pray that those spouses will be re-united when God reigns on Earth as He does in Heaven. Until then, let us honor and celebrate those in our lives and show them the love of Christ where they are as they show it to us where we are.
June 19th 2012, 10:32 PM #2
Re: On Widows
Nick, I may be out of touch with society, but where are widows "looked down" at?He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
June 20th 2012, 08:47 AM #3
Re: On Widows
Jed. I'm talking about the idea that can apply to singles as well. "We just have to get you someone in your life." Some people get widowed and while they would like their spouse to be alive, can handle it. Some want to remarry. Also, the idea of looking down came from biblical times. In Rome, the widows had to remarry. The church said no. We will provide.
June 20th 2012, 01:15 PM #4
Re: On Widows
There is a tendency to "look down" on single mothers, though, and perhaps with some merit (or maybe, more kindly, we look at them, and their families, with some consternation.) The statistics about the future prospects of children raised by divorced or never married mothers is bleak indeed. The remarkable fact is that these bleak statistics do not hold true for children whose mothers are single due to the death of their spouse. In fact, by most measures, they fare nearly as well as children raised by married parents. However, when you are the single mother of minor children, you are very rarely asked HOW you became a single mother of minor children; you're just considered emblematic of "the problem." (It IS excusable that people would leap to conclusions this way; widows only compromise ~7% of single-parent families - quite the minority.)
As a single mother, I've been asked on several occasions about my ex-husband's visitation schedule, or about child support payments. Then comes the uncomfortable moments when you explain the situation and the questioner becomes contrite. I feel sorry for them at that point.
More frequently I'm asked why I've never remarried. Is that really a fair question? Maybe. I'm not sure because it's hard for me to untangle how much that question arises out of curiosity (what married person hasn't considered what they would do if, God forbid, their spouse were to pass away?) and how much of that question is based upon the assumption that married is definitely a much better situation. And if it's based on the assumption that another life style is better, isn't that 'looking down' on someone?
June 20th 2012, 01:30 PM #5
Re: On Widows
Thanks for commenting Michelle. I hope you liked the blog. It was what I was thinking of when I was reading Keller.
June 20th 2012, 04:25 PM #6
Re: On Widows
Thanks, both of you.He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)