Marriage: It’s not all about you

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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.

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A Day of Ultimates

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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.

Reflections on 2014

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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.

Nature and Grace

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Philosophy sounds boring, but is a very deep profession.  The truth is, everyone is a philosopher to some degree.  Have you ever thought about why you think?  Have you ever considered how you think?  This is called epistemology.  Many philosophers have taken up this study.  They study whether or not there is a supernatural realm and whether or not we can find it.

 Thomas Aquinas described the world as having two realms, the concrete and abstract, the upper story and lower story.  Contained in the upper story is all things unseen, love, grace, God, heaven.  Within the lower story are things like man, earth, and nature.  The upper story is the supernatural and illogical, and the lower story the rational and material.  Basically, man can fully understand the lower story but is unable to comprehend the upper story.  Thus, it is easy to see how man would either obsess completely over the supernatural, or focus only on the material.

There are different views people interpret the material and supernatural realms through, and these views were introduced by philosophers such as Herodotus, Parmenides, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle.

Herodotus thought that nature was constantly changing, and thus almost impossible to understand.  The truth of nature in his view was not objective, but changed constantly.

Parmenides, on the other hand, believed that nature was fixed, but that our senses could not get truth from nature.  Instead, man must rely on reason to discover truth.

Socrates was another case altogether, for he completely dissected the process of thought until he arrived at the conclusion that he really knew nothing.  His method involved questioning of oneself and one’s beliefs.

Then comes Plato, who was a student of Socrates.  He believed that the world had a layer which could be perceived by the senses, and a layer that could only be perceived by reason, a world of universals.

Aristotle was one of the first to believe that the world of universals is one that man can know.  By studying nature, particulars, one can find truth, universals.

Finally, Aquinas organized the universals and particulars into the upper and lower stories of the world.  He divided the lower story into cognitive and empirical thought.  Cognitive thought is that which man has always had, intuition.  The knowledge of sin, instincts, and law is cognitive thought.  Empirical thought is that which is taught through education and experience, such as how to read and write.

The upper story could not be found through empirical or cognitive thought but through revelation, revelation by God.  This reveals to man the things of heaven, the things which “the angels wish to look into.”

During the Platonic period, man was focused completely upon the things of the upper story, or the things of grace.  Man and nature were almost completely disregarded as unimportant, while God and grace were the only things reflected beautifully in architecture and art.  This all changed during the Renaissance, when nature was incorporated into art and architecture.  Eventually, nature was held above grace, impacting theology and philosophy.  Philosophy was no longer based on revelation, but became based on the thought of man.

The Reformation finally brought the balance of nature and grace that the world had been wanting.  The beauty of nature was still incorporated, but grace was the overlying theme.

That is my overview on the history of epistemology and the “upper story” and “lower story.”  I hope you learned something new!