Marriage: It’s not all about you

Standard

It’s time for a long-overdo post addressing a controversial, relevant topic.  Marriage, specifically, homosexual marriage.  The recent Supreme Court decision over SCOTUS stated that a homosexual marriage recognized in one state must be recognized in all states.  In this post, I will not address the unconstitutional nature of this decision (violates the 9th and 10th amendment, in summary: individual Constitutional State laws cannot be overridden by the Federal government, and all rights not given to the Federal government are reserved for the individual States), and instead address the issue of marriage itself.

I am approaching this topic with a bias (for all you skeptics who like to make comments about bias), I am a Christian who believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, but I am going to use as much logic as possible and examples, historical and Biblical, in this post.

I realize that the title of my post will immediately cause one to be defensive of their motives for getting married, for who gets married with selfish motives?  According to many many people, Christian or not, marriage is a partnership, right?  This is true, marriage is a partnership, but it is a special and sacred partnership.

The history of marriage starts with the Creation of the world.  God, the Creator, desired to create an organism (for lack of a better term) in his image, one who could create, have emotion, have intellect, and desire relationships.  Therefore, he created man, “in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” (Genesis 1:27).  Instead of speaking this new creature into existence, as he had for everything else, God got down in the dirt, and formed man from the dust, breathing life into his nostrils, (Genesis 2:7).  God then placed man in a beautiful garden and gave him the special job of naming all the animals and cultivating the garden (Genesis 2:8, 15, 19).

This man, God named Adam.  At this point, God had not created woman, because God wanted Adam to learn something.  As Adam was naming the animals, he noticed that they came in pairs, male and female.  He also noticed that there was not another creature like him, no creature fit to work with him, (Genesis 2:20).

Why had God not given Adam a partner?  God wanted Adam to realize that he needed a partner, to desire a relationship.  “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man,” (Genesis 2:21-22).  When God brings the woman to Adam, Adam is amazed and full of joy at this perfect partner.  Adam and his wife, Eve, enjoy the first marriage, completely without shame or dishonesty, (Genesis 2:23, 25).

A few observations from this passage.  First, relationships, especially marriage, are necessary for a society to thrive.  Adam and Eve worked together in the garden, and would eventually parent children that would marry and have their own families and populate the earth.  Secondly, Eve, the woman, was created from Adam’s rib, symbolizing her status as Adam’s partner and equal.  Eve was not created from Adam’s head, symbolizing dominance, or foot, symbolizing servitude, but from his side, a very carefully planned action by the Creator.  Finally, God did not make another man for Adam, but a woman.  This is significant in two ways. One, that God’s creation was not complete with a man, but with man and woman, woman is necessary.  Two, that though Adam and Eve were created equally, they were created with different roles and functions which compliment each other.

God created marriage for several good reasons.  Marriage was created for the procreation of children and the pleasure of the married couple.  Marriage was created to secure the family.  there are several reasons why marriage was created, but the most important reason is that it reflects the Unity of the Trinity, and this is why marriage is sacred.

Our culture has believed many lies about marriage and the family, but the biggest one is this, that marriage is about being happy.  While happiness should come with marriage, it should not be the focus of the marriage.  This sounds completely crazy in our world, but it is true.  Making happiness the focus of the marriage will ruin the marriage.

Two hard truths for me to accept as a romantically minded girl who grew up watching Disney movies were that there is not “One” out there for me and that romance is not everything.  One does not have to feel that special spark to marry someone, and there is not one person alone who can give one the perfect feeling.  While this principle seems super unromantic and boring, it actually helps marriages last.

Why does the principle of “no one true love” make marriages last?  Because feelings change.  One could feel the “spark” from another person and think that because he/she felt that it means that he/she is supposed to be with that person.  All cares are tossed to the wind, and the romantic relationship begins.  The couple lives happily ever after, right?  Wrong.  What happens when that romantic feelings fades, or one partner lets the other down?  Does that mean that he/she is not the “one” and that its time to end the marriage and move on?  That is what Hollywood would have us believe.  However, this is just not realistic.  A couple that can work through the hard days will have a better relationship afterward.  Yes, there are circumstances when one partner is abusing the other, but could that be because the relationship was initially based on a “spark” instead of on something more foundational, like trust?

That is my reasoning why feeling romantic about another person does not justify marrying them, no matter how “in love” one is.  True love is demonstrated by sacrifice, its not just a feeling.  The idea of getting married for love is actually a very modern one, and not a completely perfect idea.

For thousands of years of history, marriages were arranged.  In many pagan cultures, these were not good arrangements for the wife, who was often much younger than her husband, and usually one of several wives.  In cultures such as Mesopotamia, the husband could send his wife away just with the charge of adultery.  A man could accuse his wife of adultery, and even if the charge was false, the woman was executed.  This was a tragedy, but it was not because the marriages were arranged, but because the people who practiced this were immoral, and evil.

The ancient Hebrews also practiced arranged marriage.  However, because of the laws of Yahweh, the God of the Bible, these marriages lasted much longer and were much happier than many in other cultures.  The eighth commandment states, “You shall not commit adultery,” (Exodus 20:14), but in the Hebrew law, if a man or woman committed adultery, unlike in other cultures where typically just the wives were punished, both the proven adulterer and adulteress were put to death.  All other sexual immorality was also punished by death.  This is because God considers marriage sacred.

In the New Testament, Jesus points again to marriage as God created it, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.  Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate,” (John 10:5-9).  In this verse, Jesus talks about how special marriage is by saying that a marriage is a man and his wife becoming one flesh, and that a marriage should not be separated.

Finally, I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is special and Biblical because it reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church, (Ephesians 5:22-33).  This passage also describes the roles of the husband and wife in correlation to the Church and Christ.  The best marriages have Christ at the center, with the husband and wife serving each other, praying for each other, and sacrificing for each other.

On side note, although marriage is not for everyone, God commands that everyone who remains unmarried remain celibate.  In fact, the apostle Paul preferred to be single, because he believed that he could do more ministry that way. (1 Corinthians 7:25-40).

In conclusion, I believe that according to the scriptures, the only true marriage is that between a husband and a wife.  Marriage is a sacred covenant and should not be entered into lightly.  Romance is not everything, although it is part of the pleasure of marriage.  All in all, the unity of the marital relationship is something created by God to reflect the unity of the Trinity, thus it is sad to see it lose its value in divorces, adulteries, and other sexual immorality.  However, there is always healing for the broken, so even if a person has had a broken sexual past, he or she can find redemption at the cross, with Jesus’ sacrifice of love for all.  That is the greatest example of love in history, and it was done for every person who ever lived or will live.  That day, love won.

Advertisements

A Day of Ultimates

Standard

The most intense twenty-four hour period in history.  To many in the Roman empire at that time, it was just an ordinary Thursday and Friday.  To the Jews that day it was one of many celebrations of the Passover.  To the world and history, it was the day of ultimate salvation.

A man, ultimately humble, yet ultimately powerful.  A simple carpenter from Nazareth who was the Son of God.  Fully God and fully man.  Tempted, yet without sin.  This was Jesus, the Christ.  “No form or majesty that we should look at him,” yet his name shall be called, “Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father,” “Emmanuel,” meaning “God with us.”

Jesus’ disciples did not know what was going to happen after that Passover meal, though they had been told by Jesus himself many times.  Their teacher, whom they respected above all men, got up from their feast and served them by washing their feet.  It was a day that they would never forget.

Then Jesus took them to the Mount of Olives to pray.  This was leading up to the moment of destiny, told about since the beginning of time, “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  However, Jesus still prayed that the cup be taken from him.  When the mob came to arrest him, Jesus could have called down a legion of angels to slay them, but he did not.  This was the moment where the ultimate predestined event met the ultimate act of freewill.

With Jesus’ crucifixion, the cross, which was the ultimate symbol of torture, punishment, and death, became the ultimate symbol of grace, freedom, and life.  The perfect man, completely without sin, bore the punishment for the sins of the world.

In that moment, irreconcilable paradoxes were reconciled.  The greatest measure of God’s wrath, and the greatest measure of God’s love were poured out.  Wrath and grace were poured out on those undeserving of it.  No moment was more terrible, and no moment was more beautiful.

In that hour, the Trinity was broken, the Son cut off from the father, and man was restored to his Creator.  On that Passover day, a day on which the Jews remembered that they were set apart by God, the door of salvation swung open wide to the whole of humanity.  The curtain was torn.

Jesus cry, “It is finished,” was the ultimate cry of surrender, and the ultimate cry of victory.  He died, and in his physical death, man was saved from eternal death.  The world mourned and the sky grew dark, and all was still.  The earth held it’s breath as its savior, for the glory set before him, endured the cross, despising its shame, and died.

But the story wasn’t over….Sunday was coming.

Junior Year

Standard

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on this blog, a real, thought-provoking blog post.  This one, while it might not be thought-provoking, is at the least, an update, an explanation, a window into my life.

I feel like I have not written anything in forever, but it’s only been a little over a month.  I was so diligent to keep up last year, but this year, my blog has fallen from its priority spot.  Life has had other plans.  My energy for writing is mostly taken by work and school.  Because I tend to work in the mornings and do my homework in the afternoons, I have time in the evenings, but use it to be with my family or friends. (Confession: I do sometimes waste time on the internet, more often than I’d like.)

I did not realize how crazy this year would get.  This school semester, I have had to start thinking about college and life after school!  There are so many big decisions for such a small person to make.  I have so many more responsibilities that I have to take care of.  Looking at schools, studying, filling out scholarship applications, it’s hard sometimes.

What is the point of this post?  To vent? To ramble and make it look like I actually have something of substance to say?  Maybe, but I like to think that I’m offering up a tiny slice of the pressure, emotions, and business I’ve felt this year, and it’s not even March.

Speaking of March, the business has yet to come.  My first school dance, the junior prom, my biggest dance recital of the year, a big test, and the Latin Convention (I’m a nerd, yes) all happen in March.  I’m honestly looking forward to all of it, but to keep from getting overwhelmed, I’m taking it one step at a time.  One step at time.

Reflections on 2014

Standard

I know that this post is a little late since it’s already January 2, 2015, but I thought I should write it anyway as the new year is still young and the past year is fresh in my mind.

Two-thousand fourteen was a big year for me, as I started my junior year of highschool, got my first job, my drivers licence, and my first car.  There was some tragedy, some good, and a lot of grace.  My overall experience this past year can be summarized pretty well by two songs.

First, “Keep Making Me,” by Sidewalk Prophets, summarizes my growth in my relationship with God this year.  There are several convicting lines in this song which can definitely relate to me this year.

“I want to run to you with heart wide open

Make me broken”

Though I did not have any huge breakdown in my life this year, I have had mini struggles with feeling like my life does not matter.  I also mourned the loss of a friend this spring, and saw those close to him brought closer to God.  This was the first of many events this past spring and summer which changed my outlook on life.  The second huge struggle I had this summer was when one of my best friends was diagnosed with cancer.  This friend loves the Lord so much and has always been healthy and active like any other teenager.  I could not believe it when I learned he had cancer, and I remember crying out to God that day for strength for my friend and for trust.

God has been so gracious and faithful, my friend has gone through months of chemo, and now his cancer is mostly gone! Praise be to God!  The greatest part of this trial was watching many of my friends, including my brother, grow in their faith.

Make me empty, so I can be filled. 

‘Cuz I’m still holding onto my will.

And I’m completed, when you  are with me. 

Make me empty.”

Confronted this summer with the prospect of choosing a college major, school, and future job, I was scared.  I know it is only my junior year, but it’s a time to start thinking about life’s big decisions.  I had no idea what I wanted to do as a future career, other than being a wife and mother.  I was worried about the load of homework I would have to face this year, as I’d heard junior year is the toughest in work load.  I also had to start thinking about a part-time job, so that I could start saving for college.  All of these piled up on my mind this summer, making me pray a lot.  Always having been so confident, I was definitely emptied and humbled.  God has been so gracious to me in so many ways concerning these issues, and now I have some direction.

Make me lonely, so I can be yours,

‘Til I want no one more than you, Lord.”

Being a very relationship-focused person, I have always valued my friends above a lot of other things.  There were times throughout this year where certain circumstances made me feel less included than usual, or isolated.  This was not done by my friends purposely, but was more of an emotional projection.  I like to go deep in my closest friendships, and when I felt I had lost some of that depth with a few of my friendships, it made me break down several times.  This is a struggle that I have trouble sharing, and have always had trouble sharing.  I guess it reveals that I’m more insecure than people might think.

One particular day, I was crying as I wrote in my journal about the possibility of losing friendships to time after high-school, when the realization hit me that I would never lose my relationship with God, and that one relationship would only grow deeper, even after times of distance from God.  My relationship with God is a treasure laid up in heaven, as well as all the other Christ-focused friendships on earth.  Even if those friendships are not forever, they will benefit me so much more than any other relationship, no matter how long it lasts.

The second song that could summarize my life this year is “Overwhelmed,” by Big Daddy Weave.  There have been so many ways I have seen God’s power and grace  this year, that I truly have been overwhelmed.  These include my friend’s healing from cancer, getting my first job (!), finding a general career path for my future, bonding within my class at school, getting a (free!) car, and looking at Creation.  I have been blessed beyond measure, and often forget that or take it for granted.

Overall, the biggest lesson I learned over 2014 was to trust God, that those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame. This theme started at the beginning of this year, but really was made clear to me early this summer, through a short passage in Isaiah 17,

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.

He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when the heat comes, for its leaves remain green, 

And is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

            –Jeremiah 17:7-8

Here is quite a lengthy summary of my year, but it hits all the most important points.  It’s amazing what can happen over one year and the places I went with my life that I’d never imagined I would.

Clearing the Christmas Stage

Standard

Right now much of the world is celebrating advent, especially in the United States, even if the people don’t know it. Advent, coming from the Latin word meaning “to come to,” is a season of waiting. Specifically, waiting for the coming of Christ. It is the season leading up to Christmas, a time of preparation.

As I write this, I am taking a break from doing my homework, part of my crazy, busy life. I have not posted a blog in a while, especially since I started my first job. This, on top of all my other activities and school, makes my life really busy. Isn’t everyone super busy during this time?

My new favorite song is “Clear the Stage,” by Jimmy Needham. The first line of the song is, “Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze if that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols.” This line references the typical Sunday setup for “worship.” All the extra stuff is great, but it’s worthless, even an idol, if it distracts from its true purpose, to usher people into worship. The same could be said of the business in preparation for Christmas.

Christmas is the season of giving, hence all the rush for the endless list of Christmas presents and groceries for Christmas meals. What most of us forget, however, is how Christmas became the season of giving. It started with God, who gave his only son to ransom men from death. He did not come as he should have, a king demanding worship, but as a tiny baby, born to a poor Jewish girl of Nazareth. More than that, he was born in a stable, among the animals, and his first visitors were shepherds, the lowliest of all working men.

With all our shopping lists, planning, and parties, do we take time to stop and prepare our hearts for the savior? Jesus came two thousand years ago, yes, but during advent, Christians and everyone else should be preparing themselves for his second coming, when he will come as a triumphant king.

Can we each take a moment and reflect on God’s many gifts?  Can we remember that night when the most high God came into the world in the form of a helpless infant?  True, December 25 is not Jesus’ actual birthday, but it is the date on which we choose to celebrate it.

Can we replace our Martha attitude of crazy business in preparation for a holiday with a Mary Magdalene- like spirit which is content to sit for a while at the feet of our Savior, listening to His word?

I believe that the best thing I can do this Christmas season is to take some time to spend in quiet reflection over my Bible, journal, even this blog, and think about what God did.  I hope you take some time this season to clear what can become idols of business and stress out of your heart and replace them with the peace of the Savior, Jesus Christ as we wait to celebrate His coming.

Merry Christmas!

To the Real Men

Standard

I was talking with one of my friends recently, and I realized, when she was telling me about some of the boys at her school, how blessed I am.  I have grown up surrounded by men of character, who love the Lord and others.  This post is for you, to recognize you and thank you.  My life would be so different without you, and I do not always realize that fact.

Thank you first to my daddy, who has always treated me like a princess.  You taught me to love God and what a man of God looks like.

Thank you to my brother, who works to grow in his relationship with Christ and encourage his friends to do so.  Thanks for showing me how other young men should treat me.

Thank you to my gradfathers, who have always freely given me their love, time, and energy.  You all demonstrate unconditional love.

Thank you to other male relatives, cousins, uncles, and others who have always treated me with love and kindness.  You have made a difference in my life.  To my young cousins: look to these older men who have walked with the Lord as an example for you.

Also, thank you to my many awesome guy friends.  I don’t always express how much I appreciate you.  Thanks for:

-Treating me with respect

-Letting me hangout with you guys

-Buying me food when I don’t have money or just because you’re that cool

-Helping me with bags, backpacks, etc, that I can’t carry

-Lending me a jacket/coat/sweatshirt when I need one

-Letting me beat you at any sports/games or at least letting me play

-Swingdancing with me even if you really want to dance with Hannah 😉

-Loving God

I would also like to thank all the men who serve at my church. Pastors, elders, deacons, volunteers, and even those who participate in corporate worship.  Thank you for loving the Lord.

Finally, to all the fahters (and mothers) who have raised such great men.  You did it right, good job.

You godly men are a blessing and a rarity.  You have had such a great impact on my life even if you don’t know it.  Our world needs more men like you.  Thank you.

I Made It

Standard

This is my happy birthday to my blog post. I have actually written enough on this blog to make it last one year. I’m very proud of myself, because I never thought I could make a hobby last this long. Am I the only one? I’m sure there are others out there who have difficulty finishing things that they’ve taken up.
Sewing projects, knitting projects, book ideas, and many other things have been half-way completed, or less, never to be finished.
So here is my tribute to my blog. Happy first birthday!

It’s Not About Who You Are

Standard

After reading part of Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, I was bothered by this phrase which I hear so often in the world around me, “God loves you for who you are.”  While I understand why people say this, I disagree with the wording of this phrase.  If God truly loved us for who we are, He wouldn’t love us at all, since we betrayed and rebelled against Him.  Furthermore, if God loved us for who we are, then sin would be no big deal.  By saying that God loves someone for who that person is, one is saying that God’s love is conditional.  All three of these things are false, therefore, God does not love us for who we are.

God created man in His image, and He created man perfectly.  God loves His creation, and man is included in that love.  God loves man because He created man.  At that point in time, man, Adam and Eve, had a perfect, whole relationship with God.  Nothing came between the first two people and God, they completely loved, trusted, and shared with one another.

Sadly, this perfect world ended with the entrance of sin.  When God created man, He gave man the ability to choose to love Him.  Adam and Eve chose to sin.  Sin is rebellion against God.  God hates sin because it is everything that He is not, evil, twisted, and deadly.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were no longer able to experience God’s perfect love.  God had to force Adam and Eve out of the garden, because a holy and perfect God cannot be near sin.

Every human being since Adam and Eve has sinned, we are all sinners.  People are defined by their actions.  All one has to do to look into another man’s heart is to observe his actions.  Thus, anyone who sins can be defined as a sinner.  Because God is holy and we are sinners, He could have and should have destroyed us.  However, God is a loving, and merciful God.

God did not want the story of the world to end with the destruction of man, so He provided a way of restoration in the sacrifice of Christ.  Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God loves us, not for who we are, but because of who He is.  He is love, as 1 John 4:8 points out, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God loves man unconditionally because it is a part of His very nature.

Finally, if God loved us for who we are, i.e. what we do, then there would be no reason for anyone to repent of his sin.  God, because he is holy, hates sin.  God judges sin, because sin is fundamentally evil.  Over and over in history, individuals and nations have fallen because of their sin.  Sin is a problem.  Thankfully, God has provided us a way to turn from our sin and back to Him.

In conclusion, we should praise God that He does not love us for who we are, that He does not treat us as we deserve.  Thus, I think that we should amend, “God loves you for who you are,” to a much more beautiful statement, “God loves you because of who He is.”

Pre-break Vacation

Standard

This past weekend, I went to Michigan with seven of my best friends.  It was a great time of friendship building, as well as fellowship.

One of my friends recently turned sixteen, and for his birthday, he wanted to go to a beach on Lake Michigan.  He couldn’t figure out a weekend that all his friends could go, so it never got planned.  Because his mom wanted him to have an awesome birthday, she planned him a surprise party.  On Saturday morning, me and five of my other friends went to this friends house and surprised him.  We drove up to Michigan in my friends big, green van.

It was a road trip like any others with a bunch of teenagers, full of singing, laughing, and teasing.  We arrived at the beach around noon.  After eating lunch, we changed into our swimsuits and tested the water.  It was cold.  Not unheated pool cold, just melted snow cold.  Numb your body cold.  Needless to say, those who splashed others were not looked upon with favor.  Despite the cold, we did have fun.  We didn’t stay in the water long.  We went to the volleyball nets and played nuke’em, a fun game which I would basically describe as volleyball for those who can’t play volleyball.

After a while, we decided to explore the town and find an ice cream shop.  Thus, we walked through the town and found a charming little place with delicious ice cream.  Most of us being teenagers without jobs, only three of us got ice cream.  I got pumpkin pie ice cream, which I shared with one of the girls.  We took selfies like any normal teenagers outside the shop while we waited for one of the guys to buy ice cream.

Before dinner, we decided to go out on this long pier and take pictures.  We walked out onto the pier until we could take pictures with a light house and the rippling water in the background.  The birthday boy got pictures with everyone, we took a couple great group photos, and a few other pictures.  That was a lot of fun.  My favorite picture was one of all the guys doing superman poses in the light of setting sun.

After dinner, we got to see one of the most beautiful sunsets I have seen this year.  The colors started out pink gold and faded to purples and reds.  The sun was beautifully reflected in the calm waters of the lake.  I actually have a picture of one of the stages of the sunset, which is pictured above.

Overall, it was a great time to slow down and enjoy the life that we have been given.  I loved being with my friends, and I loved contributing to an amazing surprise for a good friend.  I’m glad for those days, they are truly a blessing from the Lord.  One of the greatest gifts God has given man is friendship.  This was a great way to enjoy this gift.