From a Stanley Hauerwas lecture at Wheaton College on the Sermon on the Mount [10MB MP3]:
When he called his society together, Jesus gave its members a new way of life to live. He gave them a new way to deal with offenders: by forgiving them. He gave them a new way to deal with violence: by suffering. He gave them a new way to deal with money: by sharing it. He gave them a new way to deal with a corrupt society: by building a new order, not smashing the old. He gave them a new pattern of relationship between men and women, between parent and child, between master and slave, and which was made concrete – a radical vision of what it means to be a human person. He gave them a new attitude toward the state and toward the enemy nation.
The most extraordinary thing that early Christians did that distinguished them from the Jews was that you didn’t have to marry. … You may think that was because they had negative attitudes about sex – they may have had negative attitudes about sex, but that’s not why they didn’t marry. The reason they didn’t have to marry was because you don’t have to have have to have a child to be a Christian. Because we’re an apocalyptic sect that grows by witness and conversion. Just about everytime Christians make a fetish of the family, you can be sure they don’t believe in God anymore. They don’t want to witness to anyone about the truth of the Gospel, they just want to make sure their kids grow up thinking that they don’t have an alternative other than to go to the Reformed Church. Singleness is the absolute correlative of the fact that the Church is an evangelising body that grows by witness and conversion. Beacuse one generation God could call every Christian to the life of singleness, and yet we believe that God would create the Church anew, through witness and conversion. Think about what kind of practice that kind of community must embody. So any community capable of sustaining singleness as a way of life, must also be a community of trust made possible by speaking the truth to one another. That is, Matthew 5:33.
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