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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Did William Carey choose wisely?

Did William Carey choose wisely?

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8 comments:

crisp family said...

No he did not. Neither did John Wesley or George Whitefield or Aurelius Augustine for that matter. Church history is littered with the stories of 'great' men (and yes, it is men not women in almost all of these cases) whose calling came before their family commitments. In at least some of these cases they may have been better off being eunuchs for the Kingdom of God - or so it seems to me.

Robin Parry said...

St Paul himself would likely agree with you if 1 Cor 7 gives any clues. Not to be married frees you up for such service in a way that being married does not allow. So (implied?) if you are married then don't do that kind of stuff (unless you are called as a couple to serve in such ways as a couple)

David Reimer said...

I'm not sure which biographies were read by the author of the article linked-to: the only one I've read is Samuel Carey Pearce's bio, and while it might have underplayed this aspect, it at least was not concealed!

OTOH ... John Bunyan's Pilgrim ran off leaving wife and kids behind.... Hmmm...

And then there's Jesus [all below from ESV]:

[Matthew 10] 34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

[Mark 3] 31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you." 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."

[Luke 14] 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."

And where did Peter leave Mrs. Peter when he went off, traipsing around after Jesus for ... however long it was!?

Thoughts, Robin?

Robin Parry said...

David

Thanks. I do think that Paul in 1 Cor 7 suggests that married people have a calling (which they should remain in) which can place limitations on the mode of service they can offer in terms of mission.

Peter's wife went with him in his later apostolic trips so there was no wife 'left behind' (1 Cor 9:5). I imagine that when he was going around with Jesus it was all fairly local stuff with regular pit stops at HQ (or perhaps she went about with him then - there were certainly women who went around with the group). But then, what do I know? I was not there.

Jesus did speak about how the kingdom of God is the priority and that family takes second place.

How that plays out in this case is a tad tricky.
I have no doubt that he felt that God had called him and God must be obeyed whatever the cost to himself and others. But the 'and others' is the cause for pondering here. It is one thing for William Carey to take up his own cross and follow, but in this case he thrust a cross upon his wife and kids. That is not necessarily in the same league.

I'm not exactly sure what I think about that. I do not wish to water down Jesus' challenge.

Yet the NT commands husbands to love their wives in a sacrificial way (Eph 5)and it is not at all clear to me that Carey did that (except in so far as he sacrificed her!).

David Reimer said...

Thanks for the further thoughts, Robin. This one has been rumbling in the back of my "mind"!

About Carey: are we convinced that, had William opted to stay in England, Mrs. Carey would have retained her sanity? Or perhaps that is one of the imponderables in this situation....

Meanwhile, I wonder if we struggle enough with the relational (let alone material!) sacrifices that the gospel calls Christians to. Surely Jesus' words are more than simply rhetorical, as you also suggest. I wonder, too, how Paul would relate 1 Cor 7:29-31 (cited below for convenience) with the passage you cited from Eph 5:25-28.

Maybe William Carey should have read Pilgrim's Progress one more time....

--
[1 Cor 7] "29 This is what I mean, [brethren]: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away."

Robin Parry said...

David

Well we cannot know what would have happened to Carey's wife in other circumstances although it is reasonable to believe that her mental health would not have been so bad (or at all bad).

You are right on the gospel challenge. And perhaps we are meant to wrestle with that Q and not to find it easy.

on 1 Cor 7. Well - we'd need someone already up on the text to answer that. I am not sure and I don't have the time to look into it. That'll teach me to start building a castle I don't have the time to complete. :-)

But it is a good Q. I did briefly wonder about it yesterday. Perhaps others can help.

Peace

Anonymous said...

Yes God’s will is to preach salvation among the nations but this does not trump God’s will and desire for the home, modeled and imaged by Christ’s relationship to the church. (Ephesians 5:32)

There are too many verses that state otherwise:

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8 (Context is widows but the principle remains)

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:25-28 (As a Christian husband, was William loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her by dragging her against her will to India to subsequently go insane and to neglect his children?)

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (Were William’s children exasperate? Not sure, but it sounded like it)

crisp family said...

I'm with Anonymous on this. Yes, Christ has some hard sayings about following him. But this has to be weighed against other things in the whole testimony of Scripture. If one has a family, one has responsibilities - Scripture makes that plain. Perhaps if one is called to the sort of 'apostolic' ministry of a Wesley, Whitefield or Carey, one should seriously weigh St Paul's words, as Robin suggests. Some people are just called to do this sort of work, and to do it wholly committed to God, without being responsible for a family as well.