I went to a wedding on Saturday. Honestly, I hated it. Traditional weddings bore me. They followed the formula perfectly with a sermon about why everyone needs to be married, why men are not good without women as their helpers, and a call to the woman to “respect” her new husband. I left pissed off even though he was a friend of mine for over 20 years. What I found most striking, however, was my mother’s response to my frustration.
My mother, the hopeless optimist, listened to me complain about the overt patriarchy occurring. She responded with this, “Yes, you’re right ben, but what I appreciated about the pastor’s message is he called them to always put G-d first.” For me, this leaves me feeling completely unsatisfied. Here is why:
What does “put G-d first” even mean? How do we “put G-d first”? The very thought of doing that puts me in an abstract activity of deity acknowledgment. Honestly, to “put G-d first” cannot fulfill our needs. If their marriage listens to and follows in the direction of the pastor’s advice and they work hard to put G-d first, what happens when they face a systemic problem in their marriage? What if they go to church, pray every morning, read the Bible every day, and he beats her? Are they any different than a couple who do not put G-d first yet suffer from male physical abuse? Similarly, what if they have a flawless, fantastic marriage while putting G-d first? Do others who do not put G-d first all have terrible marriages? We must face Christians with the same divorce rate as the rest of society, even among the couples who “put G-d first”. We are missing something.
Every one of us missed something in that chapel. Christians face a crisis because we miss it. I do not know what it is. I know what it is not: sex, money, drugs, alcohol, wealth, possessions, war, sovereignty, food, or whatever else it is we want. Christians miss something in a significant way every day. It leaves me feeling empty. I do not know what putting G-d first means. What I do know is if we do not begin to fight against the death-dealing powers ruling the world, there may not be much of a G-d to put first left. We need to reclaim resistance as the source of our devotion to G-d. Otherwise, we miss something. We miss G-d giving us life in the face of powerful demons who bring only death.