Tag Archives: Marriage

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Fourth of 7 Prayers for Marriage: The Gift of Gender Difference

Gender DifferenceProperly defined, marriage hinges upon gender difference. A wedding counts only when the angular awkward guy in the tux kisses the woman in white, a vision of curves and hidden complexity. Once the two have crossed the threshold, there is no turning back. They are united irrevocably in the mystery of two becoming one.

Gender difference is at the center of such wholeness. Becoming a whole sexual gift to another depends on that difference. Theologian John Mark Miravelli says it best: a gift ceases to be a whole gift if in fact I already possess what the other is offering me. In other words, a same gender friend can only mirror back to me what I already have; (s)he offers me  only a variation of what I possess. However blessed, same-gender gifts cannot approximate the offering of gender complements.

There may be good reasons why one attempts such unity with the same gender. Perhaps experiences with the opposite gender were unsatisfying, even abusive; it could be that a particular friendship generated heat and feelings of falling in love. None of that changes the truth: two of the same cannot a whole make. That is evident in the inability to reproduce life.

It is also evident in the failure of same-gender friends to balance each other out. Two grooms doom a ‘marriage’ from the start. The attempt at ‘normal’ is undermined by the absence of woman’s civilizing instinct. She insists that sex answer to relationship, not just new sensual thrills. Dan Savage, gay ‘married’ and sex columnist, makes my point precisely. He wants us to follow his example of an ‘open marriage’ where we spice things up with fresh partners. Fallen guy stuff squared, without the feminine antidote.

Two brides can readily devolve into bridezillas. I read with sorrow the emerging legal battles between now hostile ‘mama-bears’ fighting over the cubs they adopted in more peaceful times. Simply put, one woman’s attachment need is too great for another woman to bear. Like loose wires lashing out, these needs and longings require the grounding of a masculine complement. That is evident in all of life, whether two brides in battle or dueling mother/daughters without Dad. We need man and we need woman.

Marriage requires male and female. The design of our bodies and our souls directs us to the other. It can be an arduous journey for some. My own suggests that. It took a river of grace and no small effort for me to emerge out of same-gender infatuation and into my own intact masculinity. Reconciled to the truth of my design, I began to offer my own angular, awkward self to its lovely complement. Now I am free to offer another what she does not possess. And I can welcome what I actually need and desire from her.

‘Father, we thank you for how you designed marriage. It is self-evident. Forgive us for losing the truth that marital intimacy requires ‘otherness’; free us to become the gifts we are, and to behold the gifts we need in this other. We pray for the Supreme Court to uphold CA’s right to define marriage as intrinsically male/female; may our victory with Prop. 8 prevail for the good of all. We pray also for lead attorney Chuck Cooper as he prepares to make this case for marriage on March 26th. Bless him, his family, and his service on behalf of the just and worthy cause of protecting marriage.’

 

 

 

 

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Third of Seven Prayers for Marriage: Honoring a Champion

‘In order for God’s image to shine radiantly in him, man must first receive the purification whereby the divine Sculptor frees him from that dross that conceals the authentic figure of his being.’ Pope Emeritus Benedict

Pope Benedict XVI leads his last Angelus as pope at VaticanI miss him already. Pope Emeritus Benedict was for this new Catholic my first pope, a genuine father whose advocacy for purity and marriage lit my path as the world descended into deep darkness.

Obama is the CEO of this delusion. The President now insists that the US Supreme Court strike down Prop. 8—the decision of CA citizens to uphold the proper definition of marriage. He asserts that the whole nation should be subject to ‘what he and his administration believe about marriage.’

Believe indeed. Obamas’ delusional beliefs make him the first US President to celebrate the desecration of God’s image in ‘gay marriage.’ Big-money America rallied right behind Obama; 100 of our biggest companies just filed similar briefs with the Supreme Court, urging the nine justices to redefine marriage for the country.

A near frenzy for ‘gay marriage’ is palpable in our land, as if its truth is a foregone conclusion. France and Britain vie with the USA to make national ‘gay marriage’ decisions. The west descends into a moral winter.

A couple months back, cast down by this delusion while the church capitulated in the name of ‘grace,’ I picked up a copy of Pope Benedict’s Christmas message. In his last most important speech to the world, he reiterated the key truth that human beings possess a nature granted them by God—humanity as male and female—and thus any effort to alter that truth in a gay or transgender identity, or in a ‘gay marriage,’ destroys at core ‘the essence of the human creation.’

Benedict grasped the fundamental truth that we are not our own, and that something as profound and sacred as gender and sexual identity cannot be ‘recreated’ by the creature in an image that seems right to him or her. Whether we like it or not, whether we are Christian or not, we must answer to God for what we do with our body. Benedict spoke the truth in love. He foresaw the clamoring for ‘gay rights’ as a false demand for justice that imperils the true natures of those enslaved by such demands.

Unloving? Not at all. As the leader of the largest expression of Christ’s body on earth, Benedict took ‘love’ and rightfully elevated it to something splendid and stern. His first encyclical as pope was entitled ‘God is Love.’ Here he joins eros, or sexual love, with sacrificial love (agape). He points out beautifully that Jesus’ sacrificial love makes holy our passions, and motivates us to build others up, rather than use them for our own desires and needs. He summoned both singles and marrieds to their truest, most fruitful potential.

Following his call to love well, we can leave a legacy of dignity for those we influence. He championed that dignity based on the will of Father and the mission of Mother Church. Our now Emeritus Pope taught us how to burn bright as sexual beings, made in the divine image. May we honor his leadership by standing firm for marriage and purity in this icy hour.

‘Father, we thank you for Pope Emeritus Benedict. We are grateful for his leadership and ask that we might convey that gratitude actively in our prayers and actions on behalf of marriage. We pray for each one made in Your image. Like Benedict, we champion the dignity of all; we ask that You would move on the hearts of decision-makers around the world who are posed to define what it means to be human. We pray in particular for our Supreme Court, especially Justices Kennedy and Breyer whose votes are most in question. We pray that these Supreme Court justices would rule with justice and discernment to protect marriage. We ask for God’s blessing upon each one and upon their families.’

 

 

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Lent Devotion 3: True Worship

‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ (Matt. 6: 21)

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A few years ago, my teenage son told me that the largest evangelical church in our city was winning over many of his friends. His concern? Those new converts continued in sexual immorality as the church ‘did not make a big deal about premarital sex.’ Later I read one of the pastor’s books in which he conveyed quietly that Christians had to become ‘gay–affirming’ if they wanted to be relevant to a new era.

Last month that pastor presided over President Obama’s inaugural prayer breakfast. Barack’s first pastoral choice had been cut at the last minute when it was discovered that he had a ‘homosexuality, sin, and healing’ sermon in his preaching history.

What we worship will be reflected in our sexual ethics. Such was the case for the
Church at Pergamos, the third church Jesus addressed in Revelation (2: 12-17).

Pergamos was the Washington DC of Asia; its name allegedly means ‘married to power.’ Any citizen of Pergamos would have been surrounded by smart focused people aspiring to go places with people a little more important than they were. Power and false worship, or idolatry, go hand-in-hand. We give our hearts to what matters most to us. Social significance mattered to the Pergamons.

Pergamos led the way in worshipping false gods in the form of people. For example, the city was the first to build temples to the Roman ‘king’ Caesar Augustus. Devotion to Caesar and other deified humans often resulted in sexual immorality. One might ‘bond’ with a human mediator and so aspire to the power of the idol itself. Moral compromise became a stepping stone to power

It was costly to be a Christian in Pergamos. That’s why Jesus came with a two-edged sword in His words to wake up the church there the threat of false worship. That’s why He addressed the church in that city as dwelling among ‘Satan’s throne.’ (v.13) And that’s why He encourages them strongly to keep holding fast to His Name, even to the point of death. The church at Pergamos is the only one of the seven known to have had a martyr, namely Antipas.

But idolatry is a powerful hook, even to devout Christians. Jesus knew they were being seduced by false teachers into false worship. Skewed spiritual and sexual practices resulted. The Pergamons did not renounce Jesus; they just incorporated devotion to the sensual gods into their worship of Jesus (2K 17: 41).

St. Peter alerts us to this brand of idolaters known as Balaamites (1P 2: 13-22) when he speaks of greedy ones whose ‘eyes are full of adultery,’ ‘who seduce the unstable,’ and ‘who entice people just escaping from those living in error. Promising them freedom, [these false prophets] are slaves to depravity.’

Jesus does not seek reconciliation with the Balaamites; He is jealous for His Church and insists that the saints at Pergamos renounce all vestiges of this idolatry. He does not mince words: ‘I hate such a mixture! Repent! Remove what is true from the false!’ In other words, you should worship no other gods but Me!’

Let’s not relegate the compromise at Pergamos to the ancient world. The striving for power continues; that mixture of skewed spirituality and sexuality is growing like leaven in the church today. Might we offer ourselves wholly and only to Him, forsaking popularity for the promise Jesus gave the Pergamons?

He promised ‘hidden manna’ and a ‘white stone’ for all who forsake sexy idols. (Rev. 2: 17) Hungry, we eat the bread of Heaven and worship the One who gave all to make us His own; humbled as a stranger in a strange land, we journey to the City of God, our heart’s true home.

‘He who offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies Me, and to him who goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.’ (PS 50: 23)

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Second of 7 Prayers for Marriage: We Fight for the Common Good

‘You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’  – (IS 58: 11b)

Marriage_Image (small)Marriage and democracy share a particular golden thread: both are designed for the common good. That means people should benefit, not suffer, from its impact.

One sees this clearly in a good marriage. A man and woman, united in body and spirit, regenerate life in the form of children. Yet procreation is only the beginning. The wholeness of two complementary beings, committed for life, provides a stabilizing influence for all who intersect with them.

I recall the generous love that both Annette’s parents and my own released to the neighborhood and greater community: they embodied the truth that marriage is a common good. A whole marriage is a gift that keeps on giving. It bears fruit continuously and offers that fruit instinctively. God designed marriage that way.

Redefining marriage to include same-gender friendships tampers with marriage. Obviously, such friendships cannot be inclined to new life. But beyond that, tinkering with the definition of the most fruitful and stabilizing relationship that civilization has ever known weakens it.

‘Gay marriage’ mutates the DNA of marriage. It insists that gender wholeness is no longer male and female: in marriage, in parenting, in social influence. ‘Gay marriage’ means that subsequent generations will be born into a world where the culture has ascribed equal value to sexualized same-sex friendship as to whole heterosexual union.

Marriage is for the common good. Redefining marriage isn’t. To say that an apple must take on the characteristics of an orange mean that it loses its ‘appleness’; it loses its savor as an apple. I don’t want to mess with apple. And our government, if it is really looking out for the common good, should not mess with it either.

Instead of redefining marriage, we need to reclaim marriage from its many robbers. Divorce, addiction, infidelity, and abuse are our real enemies. Let’s fight right. Let’s contend for marriage by refusing its redefinition and agreeing with the God who made marriage a common good. He desires generous love to flow from one man committed to one woman for the sake of all who encounter them.

‘Father, we thank You for designing marriage as a gift for all. Bring to mind those unions that most impacted us for the good: those men and women who submitted to each other out of reverence for You. Thank You for the generous love we received from them. We have benefitted from this common good! We contend in this hour for the proper definition of marriage and the common good it upholds.

As the Supreme Court hears the case for Proposition 8 on March 26th, we ask that CA and the majority of states in the USA would be allowed to define marriage as they have already chosen: one man committed to one woman.

We pray especially this week for Chuck Cooper, the attorney who will defend marriage (via Prop. 8) before the Supreme Court. We pray for wisdom, protection and divine wisdom as he prepares to speak truth before the High Court. We ask God for Your blessing upon him, his family, and his service on behalf of the just and worthy cause of protecting marriage.’

 

 

 

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First of 7 Prayers for Marriage: Why We Fight

prayer15 years ago, I rolled up my sleeves and fought as never before for the true definition of marriage. Why? Not because I am a good political animal. In truth, I am a terrible one: neither a faithful Democrat nor Republican.

Maybe I fought because I believe that marriage belongs to God. He ordained it as the relationship that civilizes our sexuality, makes it truly creative and reminds us to be responsible for the kids we create from it. Marriage matters to God because every one of His human creations is impacted by it.

And maybe I fought for marriage because I was sick and tired of the will of the people being overturned by the courts in my home-state of CA. Prop. 8 arose in response to one such court ruling and so we at DSM mobilized in teaching and prayer to support it. Against all odds, CA citizens went to the polls and we won! God told us (really) that we would and I did not believe Him. I am used to playing on Heaven’s winning team that loses most battles on earth.

We did win. But our victory was struck down by a gay activist judge who deemed the true definition of marriage unconstitutional, a slight to gay couples. Prop. 8 has been in the docks ever since. Until now. On Tuesday of Holy Week, March 26th, the highest court in the land will hear both sides of the Prop. 8 fight and will make a decision by June.

Let’s pray together for this. I know, fighting for the true definition of marriage is probably the least popular cause around. Social conservatives seem embarrassed by it and more concerned about the economy while liberals tag anyone not celebrating ‘gay marriage’ a ‘hater.’ Even many of my good Living Waters friends cannot stand our making defining marriage such a big issue. But I cannot help it.

If you really believe that God designed us for good, then any legislation or court order that normalizes what disfigures humanity is evil. To be sure, no court can mandate the spirituality that transforms us but it can restrain what deforms us. Redefining marriage damages the main relationship God has chosen to dignify the gender and sexuality of His human creation.

Don’t worry if you don’t like politics. Join the club. Just pray with us every week from now to Holy Week. I will offer a weekly prayer. Might you pray it daily?

‘Father, in the Name of Your Son and through Your Spirit, we offer You the truth of Your good creation. Thank You for the beauty of man and woman together. We exist due to such beauty! Alleluia! Forgive us for rendering to Caesar what is actually Yours. You ordained marriage and we hurt ourselves to not fight for its proper definition. In particular, we ask for unusual favor and blessing upon the legal team—the Alliance Defending Freedom—surrounding Prop. 8. Attorney Andrew Pugno authored the Proposition and from the start has functioned as the General Counsel for the campaign. We pray (in the words ADF gave us to pray) ‘{for Andrew’s} wisdom, protection, and joy in persevering for marriage, as well as for God’s blessing upon him, his family, and his service on behalf of the just and worthy cause of protecting marriage.’

Amen

 

 

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