May 2012


Mawage - from the movie Princess Bride

If you’ve never seen the comedy, The Princess Bride, my humor here will escape you. It’s from the classic wedding scene in an elaborate medieval cathedral where all eyes are on the sober-faced Impressive Clergyman as he’s about to begin the ceremony. You expect his voice to ring out like the Almighty Himself.

Instead, he sounds as if he took a few hits from a helium balloon. And he has a speech impediment. So his first word, “Mawage,” in that wimpy voice is laugh-out-loud funny, and the rest of his spiel goes downhill-silly from there.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think marriage is a seriously wonderful thing. I’ve been married for thirty-two years to a great guy who somehow puts up with me.

In my last post, I mentioned the debate over same-sex marriage and that it’s actually multiple issues—the purpose of marriage being one of them. So this week, I thought I’d make some observations on that.

Why did God create marriage?

Sex or begetting children isn’t the primary reason, although that’s included in marriage. But Adam and Eve didn’t have to be married to beget children. Also, I may be wrong, but I think if God wanted to make sex outside of marriage impossible, He would have designed the sexual response to work only in married couples, much the way adrenaline or sweat kicks in only when the body needs those.

So it seems to me that those who say same-sex marriage is wrong because it violates the purpose of creating children have overlooked something bigger.

The fact that Adam and Eve are male and female is also not the reason for marriage. Rather, the biblically stated reason is that Eve is already part of Adam. She was separated out from him, from his rib.

‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Gen. 2:23-24)

The very word “woman” is derived from the word “man” in both English and Hebrew. Adam is therefore instructed to re-unite with what came from him, and Eve is instructed to re-unite with her origin. Together, they make a complete whole.

In the same way, we were all separated out from God as distinct, but we also go back to God. Jesus said the very same thing regarding himself. “I came from the Father and am going back to the Father.” (Jhn. 16:28) Since Jesus is the first-fruit of multitudes to follow, it applies to us as well.

Thus, God created marriage as a story, a prophecy of togetherness. Humanity as a whole—that is, Jews and Gentiles—reunites with God in agape love the way Adam and Eve reunite. Marital sex simply mirrors this larger spiritual concept of being one in spirit and purpose with Him.

But you don’t have to be married to be part of it; you can be single and not miss out.

(See also my earlier post, Do We Know What God is Joining Together (or Why)? )

What are your thoughts on mawage?

 

Wedding Supper of the LambI wrote last week about the working definitions of pride and love as they relate to getting beyond the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Coincidentally, a debate reignited when North Carolina passed a ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions, which provides a handy scenario in which to apply and practice last week’s subject.

Whenever I struggle with complex issues like this, I can only go back to the basics: Love God with all my heart, mind, strength, and soul; and love my neighbor as myself. No command is more important than these—according to Jesus, anyway.

If God had singled out sexual immorality as the greatest sin, and homosexuality as the worst possible sexual immorality, we’d have a different situation. But God spoke at least as much against violence, for example, or defrauding one’s neighbor as He did about same-sex issues.

Think, Consider, and Ask

Therefore, when deciding where I stand, I consider what’s most important to God. I also contemplate how I’d feel if I couldn’t marry who I’m in love with—say, a violent person or one who embezzles from his company. With my mind and heart willing to consider compassion, I ask myself some questions and invite God to join me in my thoughts.

Does one type of sin disqualify people for marriage while others don’t? What about my own sins; and which ones? If I’m not following the top two commands, does that sin disqualify me from heterosexual marriage? I think most Christians would say No. (more…)

Man with log in eyeBen Franklin said, “The proud hate pride—in others.” Most of us understand pride as stubbornness, egotism, or boastfulness; and, as a Church, we’re quick to condemn all the pride in the world. At least we’re trying to be humble, so Ben’s statement doesn’t apply to us, right?

I like the following definition because, to me, it’s a real eye opener: Pride is the pre-disposition to insist on having your way. And everyone does that, some more than others, especially in the religious arena.

By contrast, love is the pre-disposition to not insist on having your way. C. S. Lewis noted, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” Paul’s famous line that love doesn’t envy, doesn’t boast, and isn’t proud (1Cor. 13:4) thus makes perfect sense.

Paul didn’t mean romantic love (eros), since romantic love does these very well. Poets and songwriters like to say that eros is noble and all about the other person, but it’s actually rather insistent on having its way. (Just watch what happens when marriage or romantic relationships go bad and egos are so terribly wounded.)

Paul was talking about agape love, the opposite of pride. Agape is precisely the great “beyond” that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, and the life to the full that Jesus offers to those who repent (change). (more…)

St. Augustine arguing with donatists.

St. Augustine arguing with donatists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do Christian leaders and laypeople alike suffer moral collapses that rival the rest of the world? Why do we often remain powerless, confused, belligerent, stressed out, or discouraged? Why are we so quick to shrug and say, “Well, we do live in a fallen world” as if God left us with no means or responsibility to change?

The reasons are numerous and complex, but we can simplify one of them: We’ve overlooked Jesus’ warning about the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.

Academic, political, military, or religious debate and conflict nearly always begin in the higher institutions of learning or upper echelons of society. By the time it filters down to ordinary folk, we’re confused and torn in different directions. Far from anything new, it was this way in Old and New Testament times, and in every time period since.

Tangled

A fairly recent example is from the early part of last century. In a backlash against the emerging Modernist school of thought, a large segment of the Protestant leadership in America declared Five Fundamentals to be essential to Christian faith. Accordingly, to be a Christian and thus saved, a person must check off all five items on a mental checklist, i.e., “believe”:

1.) The inerrancy of Scripture. 2.) The virgin birth of Jesus. 3.) Jesus’ death as atonement. 4.) Jesus’ bodily resurrection. 5.) The historical fact of his miracles. Prestigious seminaries debated this for years, so it was hardly a unified view, and still isn’t; but proponents came to be known as Fundamentalists.

Oddly, nothing of morality, conformation, Christ-likeness, or the at-hand kingdom of heaven made the list of essentials for well-being and eternal new life. Neither did the two fundamentals that Christ himself gave: Love God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul; and love your neighbor as yourself. (more…)

La bildo estas kopiita de wikipedia:en. La ori...

The four forces on an aircraft: lift, weight, drag and thrust. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aerodynamics 101 says that when thrust overcomes drag, and lift overcomes weight, even a brick will fly. So it is with spiritual dynamics, as measurable as any physical science.

“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isa. 40:31) New life is about joy in the midst of sadness, confidence in the midst of chaos, soaring in the midst of difficulty.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom. 12:2)

This is the beginning of repentance, the turning point where spiritual thrust and lift begin to overcome drag and weight to transform, or re-form, the entire person (soul). I wish I had known this decades ago! I’ll assume that others would like to know, too.

Re-Think

Let’s start with a good definition of faith/belief and see how that relates to body and behavior. Faith is more than acceptance or awareness; it’s confidence, certainty, even of things we don’t see with physical eyes. That’s because vision is rooted in ideas and images. This becomes action because faith always acts—good or bad—as if something were true. To put faith in Jesus means to put confidence in his ability, availability, and willingness to show us the Way to life.

Faith and belief are thus born in the mind/thought/emotion soul-ring of personhood. “Faith comes by hearing,” and, in modern times, by reading as well. The door that Christ knocks upon is the door of the mind, which we open to him. The mind’s eye catches his vision of life in the kingdom of heaven among us, for without that vision, no one can repent. (more…)