Archive for category Marriage and Family
Force them to listen if you have to.
You cannot be the spiritual authorities for your family if you do not accept the authority of Scripture in front of them.
It is your job to teach them about the Scriptures, not their Sunday School Teacher’s or the pastor’s.
No excuses, moms and dads. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.
The internet is a place where you can find just about anything you want. If you’re looking for someone to write an article advocating something ridiculous, you are sure to find it; but usually you will find it somewhere obscure.
Unless you’re reading Huffington Post and you want an absolutely ludicrous view on marriage. Then you have to look no further than Jennifer Nagy’s piece this week. Then you will find a bitter woman trying to argue that there be a federal law that people cannot get married before the age of twenty-five.
Steve Crowder has already taken issue with the piece at Foxnews.com but I feel that we need to address the issue as well.
People under the age of 25 are still discovering themselves; they are figuring out what is most important in their lives. They are discovering the joys (and heartache) of being in a relationship, and then the partying that often characterizes life between relationships. They are figuring out what their relationship “deal-breakers” are and who their most appropriate partners would be. While a person may be 100 percent certain that they love something — or someone — at the age of 21, by 29, they will most likely completely change their mind. Life is anything but certain.
I’m sorry. What?
Inherent in Nagy’s arguments are the problems with the way people view relationships in our culture. Nagy views love as if it is some temporary emotion, as if it is here today and gone tomorrow.
I have said it before, and I will say it again. Love is not an emotion. It is a commitment. The emotions of attraction – both mental and physical – will come and go. There is no permanence to human emotion.
That’s why love cannot be an emotion. It is a commitment – a covenant you make with another person.
Historically, marriage has been something for young people. Go ahead, trace marriage through the years and you will find that human beings have historically committed to life-long relationships at young ages. It is only in recent history (the past 100 years or so) that we have moved the age of marriage even into the 20′s.
What has changed is our attitude toward marriage. For people like Nagy, marriage is a disposable commodity rather than a lifelong commitment. She decided that she did not like her husband anymore, so she separated and then got divorced. In words she would not use, he just wasn’t working for her anymore. She does not say it, but she implies that being married was restricting what she wanted to do with her life – so she threw it away.
Divorce is easy.
“Falling out of love” is easy.
Marriage is hard. Always has been.
Nagy allows her (and probably her ex-husband’s) inability to honor the commitment she (they) made to color her attitude toward the divine institution of marriage. Watch this one:
Who knows? Maybe there are 20-year-olds that get married and stay madly in love for their whole lives. Maybe puppy love can last forever.
Could be. Maybe there is such thing as fairies and unicorns too.
I’d say the odds of 20-year-olds stating” madly in love for their whole lives” are about null. She’s right. But marriage isn’t about being “madly in love.” Never has been. Never will be.
I got married at twenty-two, when my wife was twenty-one. We almost immediately stopped being “madly in love” because we weren’t madly in love in the first place. Never have been.
“Madly in love” is a myth invented by medieval women who wanted to tease handsome French knights with the promise of “unrequited love.” Ladies and gentlemen, look it up. Learn some history. Then, file your longing for “madly in love” away in the trash bin and get to work honoring marriage above all other earthly relationships.
I don’t want to be madly in love for my whole life. I want to be faithful to the divine covenant my wife and I made. At times, my emotions have betrayed me – nearly to my doom. The same could be said for my wife. But the fact remains that we made a commitment and we honor it not because we feel we are madly in love but because of the high (highest) priority we place on the marriage covenant.
Attitudes like those reflected in Nagy’s article are complete and utter balderdash based on fictional emotions and reading too many Twilight novels. She needs to grow up.
Was I too harsh? Nah. God takes marriage pretty seriously, so I’m in good company.
A video of a North Carolina pastor was making the rounds of the internet recently. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church begins a diatribe on placing “lesbins, q-u-weers, and hom-o-sessuals” (that’s how he pronounces the words) in what amounts to concentration camps so they will die out.
The video has over a million hits on Youtube and has generated so much traffic that it crashed the congregation’s website. Needless to say, every Christian blogger has jumped in and linked to it, so I feel that I must cave to the peer pressure and post it here. (Wait, is that considered cyber-pressure?)
Now, you might be asking me how I feel about the things that Pastor Worley had to say. First, I need to say that this kind of rhetoric is nothing new to me. I grew up going to revival meetings where the “Sodomites” we’re ruining our nation. I remember one memorable preacher who said, “The flamers will be flaming alright – when they’re burning in HHHEEEEEEELLLL!!!!!” (It is hard to get the flavor of the rebel yell that was that last bit, but you get the idea.)
Others like Erik Raymond have written effectively about the warning flags and cautions for us, and I don’t need to repeat it. And I have written before on the subject of the Church and homosexuality, so I won’t retread that road either.
Rather than going over things already addressed, I want to contemplate what I think may be the hidden source of rhetoric like this – and that is fear.
Fear? Yeah. When I watch this guy railing, I cannot help but think that he is harboring a hidden, probably even subconscious fear that he might be “one of them.” He is so busy condemning and diatribing (and where exactly in the Scriptures are we told that building electrified fences to keep undesirables contained?) that he never stops to think about what he is saying. I cannot help but think that his fear drives this craziness.
How does that work? Think about it. If you were to admit that despite knowing the sin in which a homosexual is living you are called to love that homosexual, that would make you a homosexual lover, wouldn’t it? Who loves homosexuals? OTHER HOMOSEXUALS. Do you see? You have to run the opposite direction as fast as you can to prove that you are not a homosexual.
I call this the Gays-Are-Gross Factor.
This is craziness. I cannot tell you how many gay, lesbian and “other” acquaintances and friends I have had over the years. I remember one young man telling me over AOL Instant Messenger (remember that?) that he was gay, and when I acknowledged it without any kind of anger, he was genuinely surprised. Recently, someone I know decided that they were homosexual. (I say “decided” because the person in question is in a “am I?” kind of stage.)
Do I agree with their lifestyle? No, I do not.
And just to be clear, I believe someone can actually be born homosexual. We are all sinners by nature – born into sin. It is written into our DNA, and if you can be born a liar then you can also be born gay. The choice is not to be gay or straight, but rather is whether we will live in what God calls sin or we will accept his righteousness as our own and seek his grace to be conformed to Christ’s image.
We, as followers of Christ need to overcome our fear. We need to find renewed confidence in the grace of Christ, just as the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians, “such were some of you.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Fear says that I could be like “one of them” so run away.
Faith says I am reborn in God’s grace and his grace overcomes all sin.
Instead of fear, we should acknowledge sin while extending grace. Not a one of my gay or lesbian friends is unclear about my position on the subject. But then again, none of my friends living in adultery, fornication, substance abuse, complacency (read sloth) or gluttony are any less aware of my view on those sins as well. I don’t need to be violent or outrageously vocal to make my position any clearer.
Jesus spent his life surrounded by those who did not embrace his teachings. He made his position clear, but he still extended grace. He still loved, even the unlovable and reprehensible. And at the point of repeating myself from other posts, the ones he found most reprehensible were the religious elites – not the whores or lepers or Gentile sinners.
If I have one prayer for the Church in the coming age, it is that we will recognize our own fears and the extremes they take us to. I pray that we would find the voice of gracious strength and that we would become the manifestation of Christ’s truth and grace, held in tension for the world to see.
Not everyone will agree with me, and that’s ok. There are some readers who might even take this article as defending homosexuality – so be it.
I believe God’s grace is greater than man’s outrage. I would rather entrust my gay/lesbian friends to God’s grace than to rely on my own railing and rhetoric.
As parents, we have a biblical mandate to care for the education of our children. Prior to the 19th century, this was assumed. Normal parents generally trained their children in whatever trade they did themselves or apprenticed their children to someone else who needed ready hands. “Book learning” such as it existed was reserved for an elite few.
Our biblical mandate is to teach our children about God and the story we find ourselves in.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, ESV)
What is it that Israel was commanded to teach their children here? The following verses (chapters 6-8 really) contain a basic narrative of the covenant YHWH made with first Abraham and then ultimately with the whole people. This narrative was supposed to be at the core of their world view as they entered the Promised Land.
I am one of those people who believes that based on textual evidence, Deuteronomy is a revivalist text from the time of Josiah and not written at the time of Moses. [insert hisses from hyper literalists here] That is why it is called Deuteronomy, Greek for “second law” or “repeated law.” It is the second iteration of the Mosaic Torah, a revival of the law and a return to its values and core beliefs.
The failure of the people of Israel and Judah had been that they had abandoned their core beliefs. They had not understood the covenant that YHWH had created between himself and them. As a result, Israel had been destroyed and Judah had become a client state first of the Assyrians, then the Egyptians and ultimately (under Josiah’s sons) of Babylon. In order to restore order and righteousness before YHWH, the Deuteronomist calls the people to do what they had not done – to teach the subsequent generations the LAW OF YHWH.
Why do I bring all of this up?
In recent weeks, I have made a radical 180° change on the subject of education choices for our daughter. She has been in public schools for kindergarten and 1-2 grades, but this 2nd grade year has been a real trial for us.
Ariel has been taught to honor those in authority over her, so she has always been a very respectful and obedient little girl. This year, her teacher told her that she could not talk about God or the Bible in school. This was a difficult thing to obey because she has always spoken freely about faith and the Scriptures. Ariel loves the Bible and loves Jesus as only a child can.
Besides the anxiety of now having to deal with conversation in two spheres and worrying about when it is appropriate to speak her mind, Ariel now also has to deal with Nichole being sick, having cancer and going through treatment. It is an awful lot for her little mind to handle, as smart as she is.
One snowy afternoon, Ariel and I were making a snow fort and I asked her if she would like to go to Christian school. She asked me, “Like a school full of Christians?” I told her, yes. She asked, “Would I be allowed to talk about God there?” When I replied that she would, her face lit up and it was like a giant weight had been removed.
I realized that Ariel is seven years old. She is no supposed to have to decide between the sacred and the secular (a division she never learned) and which authority to please. Her responsibility should be to her mom and dad – period. And we, as her parents, need to have her educated in a manner that emphasizes our values.
Christian school is not the answer for everyone. Many kids grow up in the public education system with no problems. Ariel’s own unique personality was a determiner in considering other options. Home school is simply not an option for her. She needs the social construct. She needs the structure and companionship. But she does not need to sort out her world view at seven years old.
So, now we are trying to figure out how to make the finances work. The school she would go to has reasonable tuition costs, but we have never budgeted for such a thing so any money is a lot of money. But providentially, we have a loan maturing this summer and the monthly payment is roughly the same as the payment for Ariel’s schooling. God is good.
We’ve been tightening our belts and watching our funds a little closer, cutting out by frivolities and trying to save as much as we can.
This Friday, we are going to visit the school. I got wrangled into teaching chapel (not my favorite thing to do) and Nichole has a half day so she will be able to visit in the afternoon. Things are coming together.
The most important thing I want my readers to draw from this is actually two important things.
1. Never hold a position so tightly that the Holy Spirit can’t change your mind. My bias against many Christian schools is well-founded in Scripture and experience, but it is by no means universal.
2. There is no universal rule on which school your kids should attend. Decide based on how God has made him or her and the best way for them to grow in your shared faith.
I have been remiss in my task of reviewing Mark and Grace Driscoll’s book Real Marriage. I apologize for not getting the sections of the review out, but I have had a lot going on lately.
Last night, I finished up reading the book and I think I am missing something. Everyone was talking about how controversial the chapter “Can We ______?” was because it addressed sexual matters openly.
Maybe I am just hardened from my years of ministry, but I did not find the content of that chapter all that controversial. The Driscolls discuss some sexual behaviors and whether couples are free to indulge in them. For the most part, they drew what I consider a normal line. They wrote things I have thought were common sense.
Now, I am aware that there are a lot of camps in Christianity that behave as if sex is an awful thing you should be embarrassed about. I guess I am just so distant from those groups that I forget the exist from time to time.
Last week, Mark and Grace appeared on The View – that bastion of wisdom and clear thinking (sarcasm) – and I thought Mark summarized things better in five minutes than he could have in this book. When one of the women on the show asked Mark about a particular sexual practice, he said, “I’m not going to put on a striped shirt and blow a whistle for you in your bedroom. That’s between you and your husband.”
That summarizes my view on sexual practices, I think. I am not ashamed of the fact that the Scriptures teach that sex is reserved for the monogamous, heterosexual relationship we call marriage. In that relationship, do whatever keeps that relationship sexually and spiritually (I think in marriage, they’re the same thing, but I digress) engaged. Don’t draw others into that relationship (even in print or on film), but whatever takes you and your spouse deeper into your physical commitment and fulfillment – embrace it.
If you want more details, well – you’re out of luck.
So, while I agreed with the Driscolls, I did not understand why the book was controversial. Is it a good book? Sure, parts of it are ok. It was badly edited, but the content was mostly good. Is it revolutionary? I don’t think it was. It certainly wasn’t for me. But it might be a good tool for those who are struggling with the questions they address and don’t have the biblical literacy to study the Scriptures themselves without a starting point.
You know, for a book on “biblical marriage” there isn’t a lot of Biblical exegesis in here.
The Driscolls do eventually get to the Scriptures when talking about marriage as a covenant instead of as a contract, and I thought that section of this chapter was decent.
Only three chapters in and it is fairly obvious just how inconsistently this book was edited. Some chapters are obviously refined. Others are just plain poorly handled. This chapter sadly falls into the latter category.
It was very uneven, beginning with a strange set of “caricatures” dealing with poor models of manhood. It was more in keeping with something Bill Hybels might have written in the early 80′s than something I would expect from Driscoll in the year 2012. I think it was intended to be humorous.
I felt that the chapter tripped around the edges of being powerful but never got there. While the Driscolls wrote a lot about covenants, they did not really set it in terms of relationship. I would have liked to have seen them draw the parallel of Jesus’ submission to the Father because of their relationship to the submissive relationship of marriage partners.
Thus far, this is the weakest chapter of the book simply because it should have been (and with some editing could have been) so much more than it is. And what is it? It is a weak self help chapter with a little pseudo humor thrown in. That’s my take anyway.
I am on to chapter 2 of Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together. Sorry it took me so long to get the second chapter out, but I have had a few other things going on that have kept me busy.
This second chapter develops the idea of marriage beginning as a friendship. This is an interesting theme that, despite the Driscolls’ insistence that it appeared in none of the books they read on marriage, I have seen in just about anything I have read on the topic. (No doubt, this is a curious inconsistency which I can only attribute to reading different books on the subject.)
Mark develops the story of Martin Luther and Katherine von Bora’s marriage as a prime example of marriage trumping attraction, and given what I know about Katherine, I would have to say you could not have picked a better illustration. Katherine was, to put it charitably, not a looker.
Over time, Martin and Katherine seem to have developed a bond grounded more in their shared interests and their own peculiarities than on physical attraction. Given that they had six children (two lived to adulthood), one can assume that the couple got past their physical differences and found happiness.
Personally, I feel that Driscoll is right on about the necessity of having friendship with your spouse, and he develops a theme that people forget too easily in this world of easy-out relationships. He writes:
…true friendship involves conflict and hard discussions as God reveals sin and repentance, and reconciliation takes place.
This declaration is beneficial not just in marriage but in all relationships. I have any number of friends who, over the years, have found some kind of small fault or slight on my part and abandoned the relationship. The most recent trend seems to be to declare their intention by “unfriending” me on Facebook. This is rather childish, if you ask me, but it is grounded in a fundamental misunderstanding of friendship.
Driscoll hits the nail on the head. Friendship must involve those hard discussions. My friendship with my wife has had to incorporate some very difficult conversations, about our pasts, our present and our future. At times, we have screamed until we wept; and more times than we care to remember, we have sat across from one another with no words left. Because we bare our souls to one another, our souls are able to entwine more closely. We find the Spirit of God healing the wounds by knitting us together.
You cannot assume you are friends with your spouse. You must take the time necessary to build that friendship, to know when and where certain things are appropriate, to know each other’s boundaries.
Of course, then Driscoll descends to one of my least favorite mnemonic devices, acrostic, to drive home the point. I shall reproduce the acronym without comment because I loathe devices like this like a snail loathes salt and a Yankees fan loathes the Red Sox:
F – Fruitful
R – Reciprocal
I – Intimate
E – Enjoyable
N – Needed
D – Devoted
S – Sanctifying
I have no problem with Driscoll’s point. I just don’t like acronyms and acrostics.
Let’s close with the closing line, written by both Mark and Grace:
also found that by always working on our friendship, the rest of marriage seems to sort itself out in time. So we would commend to you the goal of devoting the rest of your life to being a better friend to your spouse.
(As an aside: I would heartily agree, although I would also recommend that you develop one other, confidential and trusting relationship with a godly friend of your own gender – someone who can encourage you in your relationship to your spouse as well as be an outlet for you. This can be your pastor, a friend, a mentor or a peer. What is important is that they are going to encourage you by letting you vent and then giving godly advice that will strengthen your friendship with your wife.)
Mark Driscoll can be an arrogant chauvinist. He has admitted that freely, so I don’t think I am revealing anything he has not addressed himself.
When I finally went ahead and downloaded the controversial book Real Marriage, which he wrote with his wife Grace, it was not with the best of intentions. In fact, it was because he had given an interview with Justin Brierley in which Driscoll behaved himself like the animal Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
It takes a lot for me to pick up a book by Driscoll these days. I would like to say his behavior in the Brierley interview was unusual, but it isn’t. He can be a real jerk sometimes, and I was afraid that this book on marriage would be more of the same.
That being said, the book is #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, and everyone in the blogosphere is buzzing about it – both good and bad. So, I laid down my $8 and bought the Kindle version of the book. (Bless you, Amazon, for saving me $14!)
Reading the first chapter, I encountered something I did not expect. First of all, Driscoll openly confesses to his chauvinism and anger issues. He calls his behavior sin, which further surprised me since in other books I have read from him, he justified his behavior.
What really caught me was that he was treading over years he covered in Confessions of a Reformissional Rev and exposing the pain that was going on in his heart during those years. A lot of his bombast and arrogance was tied to a deep, secret problem in his relationship with his wife Grace.
It is never easy to be in the public eye and have deep, emotional, sexual sin causing your spirit to twitch. Driscoll was very much in the public eye – by choice – while his private world was a disaster, despite appearances. And even his explanations that he provided in Confessions were false because he was hiding the real problems – perhaps even from himself.
I expected bombast and arrogance. What I encountered was the honest dialogue from Mark and Grace about their failings and sexual frustrations. It surprised me. It caught me off guard, and I had to put down a lot of the preconceived fears I had about the book.
I’ll let you know tomorrow if I feel the same way after reading chapter 2.
As the news media has told you repeatedly, we had a pretty nasty snow storm on Sunday. It is the first time it has snowed in October in my memory, and it was pretty awful. At the low point on Sunday morning, nearly 87% of Public Service of New Hampshire customers were out of power. By Wednesday evening, there were 450+ crews of utility workers from as far away as Tennessee and Quebec working on the lines, but even with that, there were over 54,000 customers without electricity by the time we went to bed.
With the power out, we had to find a place to stay. Nichole and I were going away for the night anyway, but when we got back on Monday we knew there would be no power. Then on Tuesday, Nichole was going in for her thyroid removal surgery. We got home from our getaway and started shuffling our family around.
Ariel spent time with four different people during the next couple of days while Nichole and I went to the hospital. It was a long couple of days. (Let me just say that our congregation is awesome and people have provided generously for our family during this time.)
Finally, this afternoon I brought Nichole home from the hospital – well, not quite home. We were still without power, so after she was released from the hospital, we went to another family’s home.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, we will be comfy at home. PSNH is working on streets close to our home, but we are trying not to set our expectations too high. Either way, Ariel will finally have school, so I will be driving to Merrimack early in the morning to drop her off.