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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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False Justice

‘Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.’ (Is. 59: 14, 15)

Obama’s ‘gay marriage’ commitment is hypocritical and an affront to true justice.

He vows ‘gay marriage’ then jets to Hollywood where a band of celebrities who mock marriage give the president $15 million for championing ‘gay marriage’. (Do Clooney, Pitt, etc. hope that same-sex couples will be more monogamous than they have been?)

Or perhaps these celebs and their president know what ‘married’ gay sex columnist Dan Savage does. He implores all couples to follow the tendency of gay couples to honor infidelity in their marriages as a way of spicing up the boredom of monogamy. ‘Gay marriage’ redefines monogamy as tolerating the other’s ‘scratching the itch with whomever one is with’.

No worries: Savage insists that his recently adopted son isn’t impacted at all by his ‘open marriage’. Who knew?

Apparently not Obama. The president cites several gay couples he knows as nice people. So nice people are cause for gutting marriage of fidelity and the potential for wholeness and creativity that can only be achieved heterosexually?

Admittedly, such wholeness goes unrealized for many couples who make a mess of marriage. Yet only man and woman together can create children and grant them a fighting chance to emulate their whole-enough example.

Claiming the justice of ‘marriage equality’ for gays, Obama actually puts children at risk by exposing them to a skewed ‘marital’ model of gender and boundaries.

But what about the claim of justice for ‘gay’ people’?

Here Obama stumbles the hardest. ‘Gay marriage’ is a false and cruel solution to the real brokenness that underlies same-sex attraction.

Same-sex attraction stems out of gender disintegration, not wholeness; a man’s same gender longings are not at core sexual but reveal a failure to come into whole-enough manhood. (The issues are similar for women with some variation.)

We recognize this disintegration when we see it. The majority of us cringe when we witness two men or two women at the altar vowing sexual and spiritual unity. We know it is wrong: not because we are Pharisees or homophobes but because we know in our depths that something is skewed. We know that something is not whole about homosexual unions.

What then is true justice for gays? The mercy that calls them to admit that they have a problem, the same way that people with other sexual and relational problems seek help.

I just returned from a meeting with a group of men coming out of same-sex attraction. Each is learning to accept his manhood and that of other men non-sexually, and if married, to be a faithful and attentive spouse for his wife. Just like all men should.

Real justice names a problem and resolves it. ‘Gay marriage’ promises a resolution but cannot deliver it. Same-gendered persons can never find sexual wholeness in each other. They never could and never will.

We have been tendered a pack of lies. Activists and their Obama-like supporters have turned real justice on its ear by making the real brokenness of homosexuality our brokenness for not giving them ‘marriage.’

President Obama, you have been deceived and are now deceiving millions with your stand on ‘gay marriage’. Your justice for gays is as cruel as death. In legitimizing gender disintegration, you raise a false standard for the vulnerable. And you mislead children who look to you as to what they should become. They deserve better.

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He is Risen

Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 6

This is the sixth post of my Holy Week Meditations for 2012. Please click here for the archive list of posts as they become available.

Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 6

Mary Magdalene wept and lingered at the Cross. The Man who had become her life died. His death rocked the earth, split the temple, and broke her heart. The tears of repentance and gratitude with which she had washed His feet became a flood of grief. She watered His nail-split feet. Apart from Him, she could do nothing. She had nothing; His life was hers. She filled the void with tears.

He had founded a new life in her. Now grief grounded her, kept her near Him. When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus transferred Jesus’ body to a tomb, she followed Him there. Did the myrrh and aloes with which they embalmed Him remind her of the perfume with which she had so boldly baptized Him unto His death a few days earlier?

Lingering gives one time to remember, to allow the life that has passed to speak once more. Perhaps Mary recalled His words:

‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. A woman giving birth has pain, but when the baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a baby has been born into the world. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again…’ (Jn 16: 20-22)

She wept and lingered at the empty tomb. She remembered. Deeper than her grief was her trust in the One who promised to return. How? When? Who can know? Grief kept her from racing away, from returning to the old life, from despair. Grief grounded her and freed her to linger. The Spirit broods over those who wait and remember and weep. Sometimes hope can be conceived only in broken, still ground.

‘Even in darkness, light shines for the upright.’ (PS 112:4)

Perhaps Mary recalled these words:

‘I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His Word, I put my hope. More than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchman wait for the morning.’ (PS 130: 5, 6)

‘Who have I but You? Earth has nothing I desire but You. My flesh and heart may fail, but You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.’ (PS 73: 25, 26)

The other disciples went home, confused, disoriented, worn out. Mary Magdalene waited. She lingered and wept at the tomb for hours, hours became a day then another. She was poured out, like when she first washed His feet with her tears, or when He cleansed her with a mighty deliverance, or when she broke open the perfume on His head. She remembered Him being poured out on the Cross, the flood of blood and water. He gave everything to her. She remembered.

She was His—where else would she go? She waited alone at the empty tomb, an empty vessel whose hope lay only in a few words. But those words were His. She recounted them and they sustained her. Trust sweetened her grief. She waited.

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Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditations, 2

This is the second post of my Holy Week Meditations for 2012. Please click here for the archive list of posts as they become available.

Intimate Authority: Holy Week Meditation, 2

Luke 7: 36-50 introduces us to Mary Magdalene. Mercy drew her out of fear and shame, and compelled her to offer herself to Him. Jesus embodied that Mercy for a prostitute. Imagine that: a kind, strong, handsome man who only wanted her good, nothing from her but her dignity. And a holy man who did not fear her and the entanglement of desires she lay at His feet.

She wept and lingered there. His Mercy was magnetic, a good match for her courage in abiding there as the Pharisee looked on aghast. She demonstrated from the start the transformation of intimacy: abundant Mercy provoking a wholehearted response.

Weeping and lingering. What else better defines intimate reliance upon another but weeping and lingering? Love alone provokes tears for another; love alone compels us to wait, to abide, to linger. These simple expressions of intimacy—tears and lingering—are the basis for Mary’s authority.

In Christ, this woman of many men recognized the Real Thing—the Source of unfailing love. Perhaps some of us have experienced times where Mercy drew us out and compelled us to pour out our broken hearts before Him. Mercy primed us, the dam broke, and we arose from the puddle grateful and slightly embarrassed.

The challenge? Walking out the ‘encounter.’ A weepy interlude based on recognizing the Christ must become ongoing reliance upon Him. Divine romance is easy; marriage is hard. Long after the chemical charge, we wake up in a lonely bed and must make the daily effort to probe the unseen Reality of Christ-with-us.

Mary helps us here. Soon after her encounter with the Luke 7 account, we become aware that Magdalene was among a small group of women who accompanied the disciples and Jesus as He traveled from one town to another; according to Scripture, these women provided for the Kingdom band with their own funds. (Lk 8: 1-3)

In other words, she followed Him. Her surrender to Him was ongoing and included her time, her money, and what we can assume were ongoing gestures of care. Matthew describes Mary and her band of Jesus’ supporters as those who followed Him in order ‘to care for His needs.’ (Matt. 27:55)

Caring for Jesus’ needs. How do we do that today? Certainly by spending time with Him, taking in His Words, exhaling ours, giving Him the treasure of our time. And by advancing His rule and reign by offering ourselves to those we love most, which must include the lost and least if we are to care for those He loves most.

We can assume that Mary’s intimacy with Jesus involved both prayerful lingering before Him, and weeping with those who weep. His Kingdom became hers; she immersed herself in His world. Mary Magdalene embodied the words of St. Faustina Kowalska: ‘The more I have known You Jesus, the more I desire You.’

This is the bond He loves, a bond He vows not to break, an intimacy with us that surpasses whatever kingdom He called us out of. Dylan was right: ‘You gotta serve somebody’, be it a pimp, a fantasy, or your own defended self.

Like Mary, let’s seek and serve Jesus. Let us depend on Him. He offers us Mercy, His beauty, unseen but more real and true than any of His creations. Truly He is worthy of our surrender, a life yielded to His.

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birthday

No More Angels?

As I begin my 54th year (my birthday was January 13th), I am aware of a tendency to lock into familiar ways and to resist what is peculiar, untested by my experience.

Wisdom? Nah…More likely the hardening of the arteries, the closing of the womb, that menopausal tendency in both men and women to rebuff angels and resist the new life they announce.

I pray for the simple, elastic faith of Mary, Jesus’ mother; I marvel at her response to angel Gabriel. His announcement that she will become the mother of God troubles her, but she believes it. All she wants to know is: ‘How will this come about?’ She trusts God, even though it means yielding to Him at the most personal and vulnerable manner conceivable (pun intended).

I relate more to Zechariah who was also visited by Gabriel. The old man’s response to becoming a father so late in life? Prove it to me! ‘How can I know this?’ Time had clogged his heart valves, gave him a spiritual vasectomy. We know from scripture that religious disciplines and duties had kept Zechariah righteous. Such rituals may have also made him rigid, controlling, suspect of dreams and angels and heavenly babies leaping in wombs and saving the earth.

Religion did not necessarily incline him to new life; you could say that its rules gagged him, rendered him mute, unable to grant God a humble ‘yes’, let alone a song of praise for His sovereign control!

I take note, and consider who will define me more as I age—Mary or Zechariah? Both were afraid of an unfathomable future, but while the old man wanted proof, Mary surrendered, in fear and trembling, trusting that God was good, His will fruitful regardless of its cost.

God is patient and merciful to those like me whose hearts and wombs bear the normal scars of age—unhealed wounds, losses yet to grieve, disappointments that tempt one to unbelief.

It is a new year. Let us pray together on my 54th in the spirit of Isaiah 54, that our youth would be renewed, a marvel of elastic, expectant faith.

“‘Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of she who has a husband,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen the stakes’…For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is His Name–the Holy One is Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. ” (Is 54:1,2,5)

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