I’m going to start with an observation: Anxiety is useful. Anxiety, obsessiveness, can be a positive trait. I want obsessive doctors and accountants. I want obsessive chefs. I want those blood results checked, the patient reviewed the third time…
Now, the Psalmist says that the way to avoid anxiety is to keep the law. It is like driving at or just under the speed limit. You don’t need to worry about the traffic (revenue) police, who (in the next province) ping you if you are 5 km/h over the speed limit…
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Which of you desires life,
and covets many days to enjoy good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil,
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.
But the law is slippery in human hands. We stop using it as a guideline, but a source of justification for what we want. And then we feel guilty. For good reason. Guilt is also useful, as our conscience is guided by the spirit to correct our behaviour.
Now Paul had a simple answer to all this relationship stuff. Contain yourself. Do not marry. And be free from the anxieties of this world: live cheaply — for your possessions and your family cause you to be anxious.
32I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. 35I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.
36If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his fiancee, if his passions are strong, and so it has to be, let him marry as he wishes; it is no sin. Let them marry. 37But if someone stands firm in his resolve, being under no necessity but having his own desire under control, and has determined in his own mind to keep her as his fiancee, he will do well. 38So then, he who marries his fiancee does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.
39A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. 40But in my judgment she is more blessed if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
Paul is correct. If you have children, you worry about them. If you are married, you better care for what your spouse wants and likes — from doing the dishes to weeding the garden. To chocolate and coffee, bacon, bread and beer. There is nothing wrong with marrying — but it will increase your anxieties.
However, no life will be free from fear, worry or guilt. They are the quiet friends that warn us. At times we have to fake counsel of our fears. At ofher times take our courage in our hands and do that thing which is risky.
Like speaking the truty, refusing to bow to this secular religion, or (even) marrying in this time.
Because in the end, we are hear nto for ourselves, but to bring God glory.