Restraint or Enabling?

Without the integrity of the game, what do you have? A bunch of big, strong, angry men who have reached their breaking point. Jackie MacMullan, ESPN Boston

Last night, the Patriots lost to the Ravens. Make no mistake – the Patriots lost that game. They had a couple crucial errors in pass coverage that allowed the Ravens to be in position to win by a single point.

But the officiating reached a new low, and I hope the replacement referees had body armor and armed guards when they left M&T Bank Stadium last night. At one point, the crowd was actually chanting expletives at the refs. This was not individual fans. It was 70,000 very angry and frustrated (and intoxicated) fans standing from their seats to insult the men in striped shirts.

The players, the coaches and the fans are seething. They have reached a boiling point while the NFL and the real officials continue to try to negotiate a contract. If the NFL does not do something soon, we are going to start seeing players turning on the replacement officials. Remember that these are, as Jackie MacMullan put it, “big, strong, angry men.”

How much is too much? When does restraint in the face of injustice become enabling the injustice? When do we say enough is enough and start turning off our televisions? When we will stop showing up at the games?

I love football. It is a game I have loved to watch for decades. But after last week, I am not sure I will watch it next weekend. Why sacrifice time on a game that is losing its meaning and rhythm because of a contract debate and scab workers who clearly don’t care or understand what they are trying to do?

Who am I kidding? I will continue to watch because I love the game. I will continue to scream at the mess the NFL has become, but I am powerless to change it. My beloved sport is about to slip over a precipice and become a caricature of its former self, and I will probably just take it.

And then, I began to think about the apathy in my own life. What kind of craziness, injustice and abuse do I allow to take place around me while I sit there? How callous have I become that I just take what comes at me without a retort or response?

It is easy to become a mute observer, an enabler to those who would abuse others in the name of restraint.

This is what Jesus accused the Pharisees of in Luke 11:42 –

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

In the name of “not judging”, we often allow sin to go on around us. We enable those who are hurting others for fear of being considered a meddler.

Sometimes, I find myself in this position. Do you?

Maybe it is the fear of being stereotyped as a puritanical jerk who everyone has to be careful around. Maybe it is a longing to be a part of a group, even if that group does things that privately you do not think are appropriate. Maybe it is an underlying insecurity or inability to address the issue.

There are many things we should stay silent about, but there are some we need to raise a protest about. It is not enough for us to maintain personal righteousness. Sometimes we need to call others to follow the way of righteousness as well.

This is an unpopular statement, and yet it is at the core of the the New Testament. The apostles Paul, Peter, James, Jude and John wrote a healthy chunk of the New Testament and the bulk of their encouragement is a call to righteous actions – charity, stewardship, responsibility, edifying communication, decency, order, respect, obedience, submission.

There is a time for restraint and patience. There is also a time to do something to effect change.

I hope the NFL fans will rise up and do something for the love of the game.

I pray the church if Jesus Christ will rise up and do something for the love of the Lord and his love for his people.

Really? The Most Ludicrous Thing I’ve Read Recently.

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.

Nagy argues:

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.

Pretty Cool

I found this interesting site called wordle where you can make graphics out of sets of words. I added our church to it, and this is what I got. It basically randomizes the list of words you give it and then spits out a graphic based on the number of times words appear.

I think it’s pretty cool.

You know what would be cooler? If we saw Christ’s transforming power touching the lives of people every day and we could see this list getting so big that the names were too small to see!

Let’s be the church; let’s see Jesus transform lives; let’s live to love.