Tag Archives: Mike Mason

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Reclaiming Marriage as an Arm of God’s Justice

The state rewards a man and woman for their commitment to each other and the children they may bear. Government provides limited legal guidelines and benefits that encourage marital commitment.

But in order for marriage to become what God wants it to be, we must realize the limitations of the state to create strong marriages. That task belongs to communities of faith that can help reclaim marriage from the mess we have made of it.

‘Gay marriage’ is founded, in part, upon the failure of marriage in our day. 50% of marriages fail. The vows of both pagans and Christians hinge more upon the pursuit of personal well-being than upon a commitment to one’s spouse and one’s children.

One prayer warrior wept as we prayed for the good of marriage in California and beyond. Her pain lay in her limited exposure to that goodness–the lack of committed and whole marriages she had encountered in her 50-year-old life.

Internet porn now plays a major role in divorce. Matrimonial lawyers claim that “an excessive interest in Internet porn’’ contributed to more than half of their cases. A gay writer noted that among his generation, the institution of divorce prevailed over marriage. The cycle intensifies. Among other consequences, children of divorce are 3X more likely to replay the failure of their parents.

A wise woman and I discussed ‘gay marriage’ the other day. Amid the talk, she filled me in on two Christian families. It seems the husband of one family, and the wife of the other had cultivated an 8-year affair under everyone’s noses. They then divorced and married each other. Now they wonder why their kids have problems with what they did for ‘love’. “‘Gay marriage’ is a symptom of the failure of marriage in our land,” she said.

Yet marriage still holds power, a power that must be reclaimed through repentance. In spite of marriage being struck down in our day, it is not destroyed. Holy matrimony can still civilize and mature both men and women so that they can leave a legacy of committed love for their children. We must reclaim its power as an arm of God’s justice.

“Marriage is being asked to stand alone as a union of man and woman in which the single value of love transcends all others…The very crisis in contemporary marriage may function to bring marriage closer to into line with God’s highest purposes for it.” Mike Mason Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“O God, we see the mess we are in. Like Nehemiah, we are in disgrace as we survey the rubble of failed marriages around us. Come let us rebuild the walls, O God. We ask for grace to see our wickedness and to turn from it. As we arise, fortify the vows we have made to You and to one another. Let Your grace be greater than our failures.

Redeem our lives, O God, for the sake of love; let love be as justice to our children.”

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Otherness and Sacrifice

Opposites are designed to attract; many can attest to the powerful pull of the other’s appeal that initially drew him/her into the marital relationship.

But chemistry alone cannot sustain the covenant. In truth, the precise differences that intrigued us in the other also expose, provoke and annoy us. Mike Mason writes: “It is a shock for a couple to discover how quickly romantic love is exhausted, how little they really know and understand one another, how deeply estranged it is possible to become from the person you thought you were closest to…”

Gender duality, that quality of ‘ otherness ’ essential to marriage, requires more than physical and emotional desire to create a whole marriage.

Marriage requires a willingness to value the other because (s)he is worthy of it. The late great pope, John Paul II wrote exquisitely on the need for marital love to possess a backbone of sacrificial love. He understood well the power of both sensuality and sentimentality in human relating. And he knew that unless these powerful human drives were subordinated to a higher love accorded the spouse then the marriage would be doomed.

He writes in Love and Responsibility: “Marriage is put to the test when the sensual and emotional reactions themselves grow weaker…nothing then remains but the value of the person. Then the inner truth about the love of those concerned comes to light. If their love is a true gift of the self, it will not only survive in these dry times but will grow deeper and sink deeper roots.”

My generation was the first to discard our marriages when they did not work for us any more. We had plenty of time and money to explore rarified expressions of sensuality and romance. Our films and music and therapies catered to our consumerism but rarely encouraged any notion of sacrifice.

We refused the one true thing: valuing people more than the sensual and sentimental ‘rush’ they provide us. In contrast to our consumer-driven approach to marriage, in which the main reason to remain together seems to be what one is still ‘getting’, cultivating the discipline of giving is paramount.

I am challenged and humbled by my parents’ marriage. Just shy of 60 years together, the two 80-‘somethings’ quietly manifest a quality of love that shames me in its beauty. Sentimentality and sensuality have evolved into sacrifice. My mother serves my father, the weaker, tirelessly. He gives her what he can, out of a love and gratitude too deep for words. Their offering to each other is gold for all who know them.

I write this entry in their home, the home of my youth. I have the privilege to witness the otherwise unseen gestures of service, one to another.

And I know that beneath all my brokenness and selfishness rests a foundation laid for me through the sacrificial love of my parents for each other.

My parents’ marriage is a living witness of what Mason describes as “the single most wholehearted step most people will ever take towards a fulfillment of Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor as oneself.”

Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote Yes on Proposition 8.

“Father, we ask for the grace to give more than we get in our marriages, to cultivate a heart of sacrifice for the other. Subordinate our consumer-driven quest for heightened sensuality or emotions. Temper our love for the other with the sacrifice that manifests the truth of our love for him or her. Manifest to others Your sacrificial love through our marriages.”

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Otherness and Holiness

Gender difference is marriage; its essence is male and female together.

Without the tension of otherness, there is not wholeness, no dance between similarity and difference. The duality between male and female draws one out beyond the limits of ‘sameness’; out of our depth, we are drawn from self-centeredness into the possibility of genuine self-giving. In losing ourselves to love this other, we find a whole.

God created marriage as a metaphor: as we have seen, gender duality reveals Himself, His image on the earth.

Humanity as male and female also conveys a glimpse of God’s holiness. He employs marriage—the encounter between two distinct parts–as a metaphor for how He encounters us as ‘Other.’ God is holy, meaning He is ‘other’ than us. He created us in His image but He stands over and beyond us as the Creator of that image. In our human duality as male and female, we represent Him in part.

But He does not allow us to reduce Him to that earthly image. He is God—as transcendent and beyond comprehension as He has revealed Himself to us in Christ.

Gender duality is one way He has made Himself known to us. He teaches us of holiness through the glorious mystery of man for woman, woman for man.

Mike Mason writes: “Both marriage and faith in God deal in the most direct way imaginable with the phenomenon of otherness in our lives. Both God and spouse encounter us as one who is like us, resembling us in image, but not us.”

God the uncreated made us in His image, not the other way around. Perhaps that is why authentic faith is so costly. Mason continues: “…God is not an idol, a human invention, not an extension or projection of ourselves. True religion begins with a profound acquiescence to the truth: there is one God, and I am not He!”

Marriage is but a pale image of the awesome otherness between the Creator and the created. Marital partners are both created flawed beings. Nevertheless, their union is the image God has chosen to teach humanity about holiness in human relating.

As we uphold and honor the good of ‘the other’, we manifest a glimpse of the ‘Other.’ We grow in holiness through God’s command to treat this other as a gift distinct from ourselves, created only in His image, not one that always seems right to us.
Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Father, forgive us for the way we have tried to conform You to the image that seems right to us. And forgive us for the way we have tried to conform the other gender to our own image of them. As You are holy, make us holy in faith and marriage.”

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Otherness and Intimacy

To honor marriage is to honor the distinctions of male and female, and how the two combine to form a whole. The one discovers its need in relation to the other—‘I do not possess what the other offers’, and one’s unique gift—‘I possess something the other needs.’

Gender complementarity is crucial to a marriage being able to ease the aloneness of both parties. It is precisely the other’s difference that satisfies the ache of the solitary heart. The mystery of the other draws one out of familiarity and into another reality. Gender differences provoke exploration and yield the rich discovery that the other rounds one out. At physical and psychological levels, one finds grounding and a covering that composes a whole.

Karl Barth writes: “Were Eve only like him, his mirror image, a numerical multiplication, she would not confront him as another…as such, the aloneness of neither would be eased.”

Frustrating at times? Of course. In the face of the ‘foreigner’, we are tempted to judge the other as less than human, our own familiar ways of knowing and being as superior. But gratefully, God did not create the other in our image but in His own.

Mike Mason writes: “Marriage seems to specialize at times in radically deemphasizing the similarities between partners and wildly exaggerating the points of difference. But that is so that a couple may come to know one another at the deepest level—‘bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.’

Becoming one flesh is a journey of discovery. We discover a beauty and wisdom and strength unknown to us; in that difference, the other has unique power to fortify and to console us. (S)he encounters us as the other, imparting to us what we may never have experienced but what we need.

Mason refers to marriage in a term used for the trinity—a hypostatic union, meaning that distinct properties (male and female) combine to form one new identity. He says: “Marriage is not about sameness but about oneness, which is less characterized by similarities than by difference…That oneness is not a skill to be mastered but a phenomenon to be marveled at with increasing humility and gratitude.”

To honor marriage, we must reclaim the inner meaning of God’s image: man for woman, woman for man. Together, the two create a whole that satisfies the aloneness of each. Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Thank You God for Your design. You said that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18), and You made a way for the gap to be closed. Give us grace to behold and to honor the other’s difference. Ease our aloneness through him or her.”

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Marriage: The Most Important Relationship on Earth

Every human being is deeply and persistently impacted by the relationship shared by his or her parents.

Most had parents who were married; the man and woman who created the child made a decision to not only join bodies but lives. Invoking both the authority of the state and God, most parents committed to a permanent and faithful relationship.

Marriage is the most influential and creative unit on earth; it is the building block of human civilization. One may be secondarily impacted by numerous institutions. None will leave its mark more profoundly than who father was for mother, and who mother was for father.

That’s why every culture recognizes marriage and elevates it over all other erotic unions. We are wise to do so. Marriage provides the best chance humanity has to provide the boundaries for men and women to create a stable and loving context for the fruit of their union—a child, the beginning of every human being on the planet.

Mike Mason writes in his excellent book The Mystery of Marriage:
“A good marriage is the closest thing on earth to the realization of a practical, enduring, and loving coexistence between people. It is a sign of love, patience, and forgiveness that is unknown in other spheres of life…Marriage is the test case, the leading edge of love in the world…Good marriage is the foundation of society.” (p. 86)

We honor every human being on the planet by fighting for marriage. That fight can occur on many fronts including the political. That means ensuring that the state and its laws do everything possible to recognize and support marriage. The state should protect marriage: it is the foundation of the family, the unit most responsible for producing solid citizens.

Marriage, defined universally and historically as one man for one woman, pledged to permanence and fidelity, is under fire. Gay activists and their sympathizers are seeking to make it their own. That alters the DNA of the most important relationship on earth. In shifting the boundary lines for holy matrimony, same-sex ‘marriage’ looses confusion and deception into the foundation of real marriage and thus into our civilization.

For the sake of everyone, let us make every effort to reclaim the powerful good of marriage. Yes, the institution is battered. Struck down by myriad opponents, including the California Supreme Court who in May legalized gay ‘marriage’, we who have ears to hear and eyes to see have an opportunity to defend her and honor her. We do so for the good of all. California, vote YES on Proposition 8. Honor Marriage for the Good of All.

“O God, give us sight. Show us Your vision for marriage. Free us for hindsight–the long view behind us of traditional marriage. Free us also for foresight–the millions yet to come who will be powerfully impacted by their experience of marriage.”

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