On the western church calendar Good Friday is tomorrow, the day when the church remembers the anniversary of the death of Jesus by crucifixion. As I have been meditating on the significance of this event upon which human eternity hinges, I think about death and how it is essential to life in a fallen world.
Jesus died to bring life for all His elect. The theological importance of the imputation of my sin upon Him and the propitiation of that sin in His death is staggering. As I am meditate on His death I am drawn to the familial nature of the sacrifice. The Bridegroom gives up His life to save the life of His bride. This death is personal, this is not to save sinners in the abstract, but to save His own bride made up of the collection of the elect who are made heirs with Christ.
Death has been a indispensable act for the family throughout history. A leading cause of death among women was complications due to childbirth. Women risked their lives to bring forth life. Having offspring to continue a bloodline and a legacy was a matter worth dying for. Men died protecting that legacy and their bloodline. Death then was central to the continuation of life. This kind of thinking seems almost foreign in the post-Christian west. It testifies to a cataclysmic shift in our culture’s philosophical orientation.
Existentialism has corrupted our value of the future and cheapened death for the sake of a shallow life. The thought of women dying to bring forth new life and to create a hope for the continuation of the family and a future or men dying in the preservation of life protecting that hope and future only makes sense for those with a future outlook.
Today in the west childbirth is relatively safe for the mother, but deadly for the child. In the past women risked their lives for their child’s chance for a future, today woman callously kill the child to enhance her own future. This act of treachery toward her own children is not simply and act of selfishness, but one of despair. Why despair, because it is born of an orientation that is incapable of a hopeful future, and a purpose greater than self. Thus the future is sacrificed for self.
Men have also abandoned hope. In the past they would fight to preserve their family, today they routinely have their children taken from them by a discontent and ungrateful wife. Men are increasingly losing a future orientation, which spells disaster for society. Men going their own way is a life strategy for men to avoid the pitfalls of life in a gynocentric society. Rather than risk the calamities of failed marriage and the expense of child-support for children they do not get to raise, they avoid the marriage altogether. Rather than take dominion for a better future they do just enough to enhance and enjoy their sense of self. Economically men falling behind as women choose to express their own sense of self in their career competing against men in a game that is rigged in their favor. Today there are more women are in US colleges than men, 80% of divorces are filled by women, and men are routinely shamed as oppressors. Men used to know that a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. Today men ask whose child is it?
The church has also contributed to an existential orientation through the teaching of a pessimistic eschatology. The drumbeat of despair is regularly heard. How often the message of hope is occluded by the more vocal message of the rise of evil and the weakness of the faith to provide a serious opposition. The attitude is “Why polish brass on a sinking ship? The best we can do is wait for the rapture and take as many with us as we can.” This is a far cry from those who took dominion and polished the brass and built the ship. Christendom started out with just twelve disciples and successfully grew and overtook the juggernaut of paganism. But the disciples were not existentialists, they had a hope and a future orientation. As part of the bride of Christ they gave their lives to help give birth to the church. All but John died as martyrs in the preservation of that hope, and John only escaped the martyrdom by a miraculous preservation. Because of them, I have an adoption into the household of faith and the family of our Lord. The Church used to believe that the light banishes the darkness and the Kingdom of Christ has come.
Jesus had a very different outlook than we see today. He sacrificed for the future of others, but not for just strangers, for His bride, His family. On this Good Friday I remember that by sin death entered the world, and by death it was defeated. It is a paradox that life is secured by death. This is why in Ephesians 5:25 husbands are called to imitate Christ by transcending self and giving their life for their wife’s. Faith has a future to live for and die for. It welcomes children and prepares them to be the next link in the chain, to carry on where our lives leave off, to continue a bloodline and a testimony of the faithfulness of Christ, not just in His death, but in His sovereign rule.