One Year Later. What I’ve Learned. Covenant.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I did not realize how long my last series would take as I had hoped to start this one around the anniversary, but it was not to be. As readers know, my wife and I recently celebrated our first anniversary and for those interested, I think I can assure you she was very pleased with how her husband treated her.

Having gone through a year now, I want to write about what all I’ve learned in yet another series. I hope this will be helpful first off to my friends who are single. If you wish to marry, I hope that what I write will be of encouragement to you and a way you can start preparing yourself. Second, I want to write it to single friends who through divorce, being widowed, or just never married and not wanting to be married, can see some more about the married life. Some might look back with fondness. Some might understand more what goes on with their married friends. Third, I want to write this for those who are currently in marriage and quite new to it like ourselves. Hopefully, my experience can ring with your experience and we can come have good discussion on this issue. (We do have a Facebook page for those wanting discussion as well) Finally, I write for those who have been married for longer and here I definitely welcome your feedback. I’m writing more from personal experience and certainly realizing I have a lot to learn.

So having said that, let’s begin.

Some of you might be surprised with the title. Did I not know marriage was a covenant beforehand? Of course I did. However, there is a way of knowing in a more abstract way as if you know facts about something, and then there is a way of knowing intimately in that you have personal experience of it. You can read and read about something like public speaking, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you do it.

Marriage is a covenant and is in that way unlike so many other agreements we make. If you don’t like your job, you can conceivably quit it and go work elsewhere. You are not obligated to work for the same company all your life. If you don’t like the school you’re at, you can go to another. If you don’t like your degree program, you can even change that. If you don’t like your roommate, you can get another. If your friends are a problem, well you see the pattern.

Not so with marriage. In marriage, you have come and bound yourself to one person and said that you will honor that person till death do you part.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a private agreement either. It’s an agreement made before God and men. In America, there have to be witnesses to every wedding. Someone else has to be able to attest that they saw these two people become husband and wife.

That seriousness needs to sink in and in marriage, it does. You come to realize what it means to have your whole life connected to this person and to have part of you revolve as it were around this person. You cannot think of yourself as a lone entity any more. There are two of you together.

Notice all the ways traditionally this is said to take place.

“For richer or poorer.”

If you and your spouse become rich, you are to remain together. Money could be a great temptation to make one person stay away as there is no need of dependence or it could be used to get away. Greed could easily enter into a relationship. The marriage could be more about earning money than about the love of the man and the woman. I’m not saying it always happens, but it could.

And for poorer? Well I assure you readers that at the time of this writing, my wife and I are definitely in the poorer state so much so that I do get very anxious often about our finances. (Keep in mind that if you support what we are doing here, you can donate to us and you can do so through Tektonics.org as a tax-deductible gift as well.)

My job that was paying me very well laid me off three months before my wedding. It was through the donations and gifts of several others that we managed to stay afloat and even have a good honeymoon. Any time I have been worried about finances, God has always come through somehow, but that does not mean that I do not worry.

It can be hard to be poor and married, especially since you want to do so much for that other person and you feel like you are failing. Money is something couples can regularly fight about. Couples should discuss money, but they should also realize where money comes from ultimately. It’s from God. This doesn’t mean to be reckless, but it means to love through the hard times despite the financial situation and when you get back in good financial standing again, learn from the previous experience.

“In sickness and in health.”

Sickness has happened often in our marriage. I will give one example. My grandmother passed away back in November of last year and I drove to Knoxville to do her funeral. It was just after Thanksgiving and we drove back and returned here to Charlotte. Shortly afterwards, we had gone to bed one night and I was reading Romans 8 to my wife, while battling a little stomach ache that had been highly persistent that evening.

She saw the light reaching under our bedroom door. I told her that I had left it on thinking she might need the light to get something to take with her medications. She told me she’d already taken them and asked me to turn the light off. Very well. I get up to do so and my stomach seems to keep acting up.

Let’s just say that when I made it back to our bedroom, I commenced to screaming, screaming at a volume the Mrs. was really unused to.

We have a good friend whose sons were groomsmen in our wedding who came over then to see me. He started pushing my stomach at which I screamed again. He insisted on taking me to the emergency room, seeing as due to a medical condition my wife can’t drive. Thus, the three of us went to the hospital and around 3:30 in the morning, we found out that I had gallstones and would have to have my gallbladder removed.

My wife was my companion throughout all of this. I was no stranger to surgery, but this time, I was scared of it. Why? “What if I don’t wake up? Who will take care of her?” Fortunately, as you can tell, I did wake up, and I have been told by numerous people that my wife’s name was the last thing I said before I went under and the first thing I said when I came out.

To make this story more interesting, we live in an apartment with a walkway to the mainland and I had to go to an appointment once, still unable to drive. Some friends came by to pick me up. It’d been snowing lately and the complex had not removed the ice from our walkway and I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was airborne and crashed down. (That happened a second time on the way to church by the way)

We’ve had the flu, we’ve had sinus infections, we’ve had rushes to the Emergency room. Everything has happened.

Keep in mind paying for all of this definitely adds to the “for poorer” part.

Sickness is a time to come together. It’s where you learn that you have to rely on the other and the idea of the glamour of marriage is not so readily seen when your spouse looks to be in absolutely terrible condition. Still, you have to stick together.

Health might seem easier, but it could be health could be a hard time as well. When you’re healthy, you don’t really realize how much you need the other person. It’s easy to take them for granted. You don’t have to do anything with them because you always have your health. Well not always.

“To love, honor, and cherish.”

These are commands. These are not options. These are also not feelings. These are actions. You are not commanded to feel. You are commanded to do. This is in fact your privilege. I plan to expand much more on aspects of these throughout this series so I’ll leave it at that for the time being.

“Till death do you part.”

And here is the covenant aspect. This is until death do you part. Marriage is final and marriage is for life. I realize there are sad circumstances where that isn’t always the case, such as abuse or infidelity, but too many people seem to want to break the knot for reasons that are not biblical.

My wife and I are in this for life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As one continues down that road, they do notice several changes along the way. What are they?

Well that’s what this series is about isn’t it, so I guess you’ll have to keep reading as we go along.

But today, the point is that marriage is a covenant. Let that really sink in.

Clearing Up Grace

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Last time, I wrote on the need for the leadership of the PCUSA to repent. A faithful reader emailed me in response with some questions about what I had said about grace so I’d like to clear that up.

The first question was on what I had said about for grace to take place, there must be repentance from sin. Am I making repentance a way of earning grace? To be sure, I am speaking about salvific grace, in the grace that gives us forgiveness of sin. I do not consider repentance to be a work but rather an acknowledgment that you can do no works to earn grace but must rely solely on the blessing of the benefactor.

Do I believe confession comes first? Yes. If we say God forgives sin that is not confessed, then we might as well be universalists as that God does not require us to be in right relation with Him to enjoy His presence. However, if we are to enjoy the presence of God, we must be in right relation to Him as nothing unholy can be in His presence.

Now I did state that having grace for someone not doing something sinful would be like saying I need grace for loving my wife. There is a sense in which I need grace for loving her. I need grace in the case of common grace that I need the love of God to overcome my sinful nature. However, let us take an unforgiven non-Christian man. This man does love his wife. When he comes to Christ, does he need to say “God. Please forgive me for loving my wife.”?

No. Grace is there to forgive us when we fall short of the goal. You do not need to be forgiven for doing what God says. Forgiveness is the blessing given by God in His grace after all and He does not need to forgive a truly good act. Of course, if there is one evil act, the forgiveness of God is needed and in that case, God’s grace is needed.

Hence, when the PCUSA speaks about grace for people, if there is no sexual sin being committed, what exactly is the grace for? By the language, I do not think that they mean common grace and even if they do, exactly what about common grace is supposed to deal with sexual sin?

Finally, are grace and forgiveness interchangeable? No. They’re closely related however. Grace is a good disposition in God towards us and the result is that He grants us forgiveness. This is in the case of salvific grace of course. It does not apply in common grace as that kind of grace goes out to both believer and unbeliever.

I sincerely hope that this clears up any misconceptions anyone else might have had and keep in mind that I do want to hear such feedback from readers and if you think there’s something you’re misunderstanding or even that I’m wrong on something, by all means say so. Rest assured, I am not mocking grace, as one who hopes to give it to others and who has often received it himself from them and definitely from God.

Call For Repentance to the PCUSA

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I was planning on continuing our series on presuppositionalism, but a friend in the PCUSA has informed me about the denomination changing rules on sexual behavior. The story can be found here.

This has nothing to do with presuppositionalism also. It is no secret that presuppositionalists are Calvinists, but not all Calvinists are presuppositionalists. A number of strong critics of the method there come from the Calvinist camp. What I say is something I want Arminians and Calvinists both to agree on. I do not say this to the PCUSA for their stance on Calvinism, but for their stance on morality, a stance that all Christians should reject.

The question under concern is if sexual fidelity really matters. We should thus start by asking why it is that sexual fidelity does matter. What is sex? is it just a bodily function like any other function? Do a man and a woman get together for a first date and eat a meal, which is a bodily function, and then go back to “her place” and have sex together which is a “bodily function.”?

The two functions are quite different. For one thing, eating is a necessity to life. No one can survive and not eat. People can survive however and not engage in sex. Of course, the species as a whole would die out if we never had sex, but having sex is not essential to any particular human surviving.

Sex is what brings about babies because the family unit is the unit to raise children in for the interaction of male and female. A child learns what a man is like and what a woman is like. Naturally, there are some people who cannot do this due to one spouse divorcing them or the death of another spouse. This does not mean the children are scarred for life, but they will be benefited by finding someone of the opposite sex to be a mentor figure to them.

The act of sex is something that brings about great trust. When a husband and wife have sex, they have to have total openness with one another as nothing is held back. As a married man, it is a great joy for me to know that my wife delights in my body and that I can delight in hers as well. I love the fact that I have someone I can be totally open with. I also love the fact that I have someone I can adore.

That great trust however is based on the covenant promise we made to one another. We promised one another to be faithful and indeed we have been. Neither one of us had any sexual partners prior to marriage and the only person we have each known sexually is the other. I know her in a way no one else does and she knows me in a way no one else does.

We often think about couples who do not have that commitment. In that case, sexual intercourse can be a test to see if someone is “worthy of marriage.” There is no total trust. What we have is that we can go to sleep next to each other every night and know we’re going to be there for each other. For me, it is a great wonder still to sleep next to a woman every night and know that we’re in a covenant together.

Sex with the opposite sex also means trust in what the other person is experiencing. I cannot know what my wife is feeling physically due to my not being a woman. She cannot know what I am feeling physically due to my being a man. We just have to have the trust with one another about what we do like and trust that the other person is getting that joy.

Why is sex so different? Because it’s not just a function like any other function. It is a function based on the whole body. Every bit of my body is male and I function as a male just as my wife’s body is all female and she functions as a female. It is bodily, but it is not merely bodily.

In our day and age, many of us can be insecure with our bodies. News flash for you men out there. Looking in the mirror and flexing will not determine your masculinity. You can be built like a tank and not be what God really means by a man by virtue of lack of masculine character. I, for one, definitely do not have a strong build as I am underweight, but my wife would affirm my masculinity not because of my body, which she does love, but because of my attitude and the way I love her and treat her.

For you women, while I affirm I love my wife’s body, she is not her body and her femininity is not to be found in her body. I have nothing against my wife using make-up for instance, although I do have specific tastes there. I like her to go light and not have a color different from her natural color. However, I want it to be clear that her femininity does not lie in the make-up.

Masculinity and femininity are character traits of the soul as well. Are we men acting like men? Are women acting like women? More important than your body is your attitude. Of course, we must be careful and this brings us to another point. The danger with what is being said is that in Christianity, the body does matter and so does what you do with it.

One could say only character matters, but character is often expressed bodily. I realize for instance that I have not treated my body right for several years based on an attitude problem. That is my own fault. That does not have to define me however and I am working on changing that.

God came to redeem a world of matter however and matter is good. The Son took on a body and rose in a body because the body is good. We are not angels. We are meant to be unities of body and soul. Male attitudes need to be functioning with male bodies and the same with females.

It would have been good of the PCUSA to have provided actual Scripture to justify sexual immorality. Sexual morality has always been something important to Christians. It is not just a physical action, while it is that. It is a powerful joining together of two bodies meant to mirror Christ and the church and I would add the greatest physical pleasure we can have on Earth meant to remind us of the great love in the Holy Trinity.

When sexual behavior is seen as something that does not matter, we are getting to the point of the incarnation not mattering and the body not mattering. God came to redeem a fallen world and that is a material world. If he says sexuality matters, then we need to know it matters.

But what about grace? Oh I’m all for grace! However, for there to be grace there must be repentance from sin. For there to be repentance, there must be confession. For there to be confession, there has to be awareness. One must have a moral standard of sexuality to be aware of sexual sin. Destroy the concept of sexual sin and there is no grace there. It would be like saying I need God’s grace FOR loving my wife as I ought. I can say I need His grace to do that as a fallen human being, but I certainly do not need forgiveness for that which is no sin.

In closing, I call on the PCUSA to change this policy. Continue with the historic Christian church in affirming not just orthodoxy in belief, but orthopraxy in lifestyle.

On Devotion

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Our look at romance in America has been interesting. For those who are reading this at the blog, I invite you to come to Deeper Waters at TheologyWeb where a discussion is going on around this topic. Tonight, I’d like to look at devotion, and that would be devotion in marriage.

One major prayer I pray for my relationship with my wife is to be more devoted every day to her well-being. A month or two ago, I had some Mormons visit us and during the conversation, we talked about covenants and promises. Whenever this came up, I’d indicate my ring and let them know that I take promises very seriously.

Saying “I do” is a huge promise. Incidentally, whenever you become a Christian, it is essentially what you are saying to Christ. The call to believe in Christ is really a marriage call. Of course, we must be careful to not read in to the text modern ideas of marriage. The Bible has nothing in mind of many young single women who say they’re in love with Jesus and that Jesus is their husband. (I mention the women since it would be a bit awkward for the men to call Jesus their husband)

These ideas can often be based on emotional highs. Some people are more wired that way. I just want to make sure such people also have those emotions grounded on a firm reality. Our faith does not need to be a shallow faith and while it is good to have zeal, remember that Paul said we need zeal according to knowledge. Christianity is not meant to be just a high for people.

The rest of us who aren’t like that do differ in our Christian walk. For instance, I saw an atheist recently say the reason I was posting on an atheist blog in argument was because I’m on a mission to let others have the peace and joy of salvation that I have. Well, if you’re talking about an emotional experience, no. I do not have strong emotions over my salvation. If you’re talking about an internal awareness that I am at peace with God and He loves me, then yes.

We must remember in our Christian walk as well that it is not our choice to serve God. It is our duty. We are to do this and that is irrespective of our mood. I recall in the past, and I’m sure there will be some in the future, days when I would get up in the morning and I would be angry with my God on how my life was going, but I would get on the computer and serve Him anyway. My service was required of me regardless of my feelings at the time.

Why not in our marriages as well?

Now I’m largely going to be speaking to the men, though sometimes to the women as well, but I hope the women will pay attention to what I say and draw the necessary parallels.

We men can often once we get married fail to keep chasing our bride. It is easy to take them for granted at that point. While in the past, we’d make every move we could to sweep our brides off our feet, there are some marriages where I fear that that goal has gone away. The bride has been caught. Now we can relax.

Instead, make it a point to romance your wife every day. I often tell people that my wife has made me a master of one-handed driving. When we’re driving down the road, I have a hand on the wheel, but my other hand is locked in hers and hers in mine. It’s a great bonding experience when driving. Every now and then, I’ll have to move away to check directions on my phone, but when done, it’s back to normal.

Of course, before we even get in the car, I will open the car door for her and get her in. Even if someone else is driving the car, I do this anyway. When we get to our destination, I do the same thing. I recently was visiting some friends of mine and as I was leaving, their parents were leaving after me. I saw their Dad do this and I was quite impressed.

Be willing to take the lower place for your wife if need be. Right now, my wife is sick, and I ask your prayers for her recovery. Because she could still give the sickness to me, our doctor suggested we might avoid the same bed for the time being. Therefore, I am taking the position of sleeping on the couch. She wasn’t too keen on this for awhile, but I did state that it was a man thing. As a man, I just can’t make my wife sleep on a couch while I get a bed.

Remember that also women. Always let your men be men.

There have been times when something has happened that it would be easy to get angry over. Before getting angry, ask yourself what it would accomplish. Is your wife feeling guilty enough over this behavior already? Don’t make it worse then. You can express disappointment at something, but that’s no reason to get angry. Let it go. Give her the love you can rather than say something you can’t ever take back. I can gladly say that having it be 13 weeks today, my wife and I have yet to have an argument or fight. Disagreements? Yes. Arguments? No. When we have a disagreement, we sit down quietly and talk things out.

Men. Be ready first also to look for deficiencies in yourself. C.S. Lewis said that we’re all hard to live with, and he was right. Before you begin to think critically of your spouse, I recommend you look and see if it could be a deficit in you first that needs to be dealt with. What is your attitude to what is going on? Why is it that way? Could it be you that has the problem?

Ironically, one experience I had I described in a sermon I gave at my church on holiness and marriage. I spoke on how on a recent night, I had been upset internally with my wife over something thinking I was in the right. At night after going to bed, I was awake still analyzing the situation and then realized I was in the wrong and she was right. When she woke up for a bit that night, I told her what I’d found out in my pondering and asked her forgiveness admitting I was sorry for it all. She gave it, although she still says she was wanting to get back to sleep as well. What I told the congregation was that I wanted to be sure I had peace with my wife before going to bed that night.

What I didn’t tell them, was it was that very night before that that had happened.

If you must get angry about something however, find something substantial. Right now, the new atheists are wanting to destroy religion. Get angry and then get educated so you can deal with them. Muslims are wanting to build a mosque at 9/11. Homosexual activists are wanting to totally redefine marriage.

Or heck, be real gutsy. Look in the mirror and get angry at your own sins for a change.

Be willing to help your wife out. Fellow men. It won’t kill you to do some housework. Be there to help your wife with the laundry and the dishes. In fact, I’d recommend learning some about cooking so you could cook something special for her every now and then. (I’m still working on that, although we did cook pizza together tonight)

Make sure when you do this, you’re not doing it for ulterior motives either. We all know what we men want of course, but that is also your wife’s choice and that choice is to be honored. The reason you are to do housework or bring home a gift or anything of that sort is because you love your wife and you want to show her how much she means to you.

Make sure you’re giving her what she wants also. Women. For you, I can stress that a husband can like a clean home and a good meal, but because those are fixed, he’s not going to be celebrating entirely. He’ll be appreciative, but if you are a housewife, it is also what he is used to seeing when he gets home every day. Do something special for him that is what he’d want and not what you’d want. Fix a romantic dinner. Get a movie that he’ll like. Put on a really nice outfit that you know he’ll really enjoy.

We men need to do the same. My wife and I were recently at the apologetics conference. It might surprise some of you, but my wife is not really into apologetics. However, she does support her husband in this field and wants him to be the best that he can be. Thus, she was willing to go with me and join me. If I’m traveling for ministry purposes and she’s available, she’d want to go as well to join and support me.

On the other hand, my wife loves anime and so if I wanted to do likewise with her, then we’d be on our way to an anime convention. Now there are some things there that I think I’d enjoy, but overall, that convention would be for her. What is important, or should be important to me, is that she is enjoying herself.

Also, pray and read Scripture. This is a nightly ritual for my wife and I. We end our nights with Scripture and prayer. One question we ask each other before going to bed is “How may I pray for you tonight?” It is not much of a shock to each of us that our prayers are consistently about how we want to be better for one another.

Remember every day to get up and love your wife. For me, it is my joy to get to take care of the woman I’ve chosen to pledge my life to. As I believe I’ve said, my in-laws know that while I am using calm and peaceable, if anyone ever dared to harm my wife, they would find a fierce side of me that they weren’t expecting.

Devotion takes work also, but it’s worth it. Talk to married men and women and learn from them. Read good books on the topic. If you were wanting to do well in school, you’d read material for the course and learn the topic. Why is it that we don’t do the same when it comes to marriage? Some aspects can come naturally, but some do take work.

And I close with what someone recently said at a marriage talk we attended together, the best way to be a better husband or wife is to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ.

Holiness will always improve your marriage.

On Lust

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, we’re going to continue what I was discussing a bit about dating yesterday with a look at lust.

Part of this comes from reading an atheist giving a testimony of what he struggled with growing up in church. For him, it was anathema to think about sex. He was told not to do it. We all know what happens. It’s the same thing that would happen if I told you not to think about a pink elephant for five minutes.

Honestly, I resonate with a story like this. I can understand it. I grew up somewhat legalistic. I was very sheltered. I still have a highly sensitive conscience. It is good to be moral, but sometimes we can overdo things. The intention of the Pharisees was good, but they overdid it.

The church has not been good with its attitude towards sex. All we’ve told young people numerous times is “Do not! Do not! Do not!” Now I believe the “do nots” are important. However, what is important is also why we observe the “do nots” as well as giving some “dos.”

Also, we need to watch how this is being presented. At a church I once attended, we had an event called the Silver Ring Thing. I kid you not. The pastor who spoke was boring me to no end. It is a shame if you can speak about the topic of sex and end up having your congregation be bored.

What was also ironic was he was giving reasons for not having sex before marriage. He was saying the reasons for having sex would be selfish reasons, and I agree. He did say in contrast to “Think of what you would say to your future spouse” or “You could get pregnant” or “You could get a disease.”

Maybe it was just me, but those were also selfish reasons to me also.

Nothing about what the nature of sexuality is. Nothing about what the nature of marriage is. There was no theological content to it. Instead, there was only applicational content. I’m not against application, but application needs to rest on something stronger and this atheist was obviously just given application without a background of sexual thought.

So let’s talk about lust then. First off, it is not “thinking about sex.” On the contrary, I think young people should be thinking about sex. God created it and it is something that falls into Philippians 4:8. I think my single friends should look forward to making love to their future spouse.

Second, it is also not admiration. You should have the right to admire someone of the opposite sex who is attractive. If the problem of lust is admiration, then you’d better never go on a date because I guarantee you you will be admiring that person who is sitting across from you. (By the way guys, don’t make a movie the first date. With a movie, you stare at the screen and don’t interact. Get a date where you interact. My wife and I went to an aquarium on our first date for instance)

Third, that person was also made beautiful for a reason. God made the aspects of the human body to be desired and to be appreciated. Go read the Song of Songs some time and look at how the body is emphasized. I get tired of Christians saying it’s an allegory. You could find some parallels with Christ and the church of course, but could it be the main reason for this was to celebrate the joy of marriage and the beauty of sexuality? Would it be that hard to read that in the text?

Of course, some of you are thinking I am giving a free pass. I’m saying anything goes in your thought life, and I’m not. I see lust as excessive desire. This is desire that cannot contain itself. When you start objectifying that person and treating them as just an object, you are guilty of lust.

This is also the problem with pornography. Pornography tells you to view women as simply objects of desire. (The reverse for women who struggle with porn of course) I would remind men that that girl in that picture is someone’s daughter. That is someone special. For Christians, that is someone who bears the image of God.

Porn is wrong because it treats a human being as just an object. Now to an extent, we do utilize human beings at times. If you bought something at a store today, you had to have a human being likely check you out. Still, that human being was serving a functional role, but if you treated them as just that role, you’d demean them.

Well guys, if you want to show a girl you’re devoted to her and she can trust you with herself, that’s a great way to do that. It’s called marriage. I would like you women to think about the alternative. Picture a man saying to you “Dearest. I love you. I want you to take all your clothes off for me, make yourself entirely vulnerable to me, and let me enjoy you. I just don’t think I want to make a lifelong commitment to you.”

No Romeo would say that with their lips, but several do with their actions.

To those who think they’re struggling with lust, I would say, lighten up. God gave you hormones for a reason. It doesn’t mean you have to get married and you’re under no obligation to get married. If you really want this gift of sex however, then the Bible only has one option for you. Marriage. It’s also a great option. (90 days today!)

If you really need someone to talk to, find a good group of guys that you can talk to about sex. Make them Christian men of course. Having others share your struggle is excellent. If you are struggling with porn, I have been told that the ministry of xxxchurch.com is one of the best you can go to.

Also, really think about sex. Don’t just think about “doing it”, but what it really is. What is the meaning behind this action? Why is it the way it is? What can this tell you about God? Yes. Sex can tell you about God. An excellent look on this can be found at www.peterkreeft.com with his talk of “Is There Sex In Heaven?” (I confess to listening to that one more than once.)

And if you’re a Christian and really struggling, remember the grace of God is there. It’s a battle, but he can help you overcome sexual addictions.

Above all, remember to honor people of the opposite sex in your life. Do that, and you will not lust after them, but rather desire them appropriately and love them.

We shall continue tomorrow.

The Dating Subculture

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Tonight, I’d like to write something for a friend of mine who seems to have had some bad luck in the area of romance lately and as I discussed this with him, he asked me to write some problems on how our American culture approaches this.

One of the first things we noted together is that we place emphasis on feelings way too much. Feelings come and feelings go. For me and my wife, my main attribute that I have for her is devotion. That doesn’t deny feelings and those can be powerful when they come. Right now, she’s not feeling well and I have to keep my distance for my own health, but we had a moment where we did get close enough to stare into one another’s eyes. It was quite a touching moment.

When I talk to my in-laws, I can do nothing but express my devotion to their daughter over and over. They’ve said that usually I’m mild and easy-going, but if someone was to come after her in some way, that this Crouching Tiger would quickly turn into a Hidden Dragon.

It’s the truth. When I’m with her, I’m guarding her like a hawk and making sure no one mistreats her. The only disagreement we ever really have that we can’t resolve is the one about if we are in a dangerous situation, who will be the one to get hurt for who. Neither one of us wants to see the other get hurt at all.

What I’ve learned is best summed up in what a counselor friend told me. Emotions follow motions. Why should this be a surprise? We do it in our Christian walk every day. We don’t feel like doing something that we know Scripture commands us to do but once we do it, we end up feeling pretty good about things. The example he has given is working out at the gym. Getting the motivation to get there is hard, but once you get there, it’s easy.

When I am in class, I will often think back to how I want to go home and see my wife and I call her during the class break. As it stands, she’s sick right now and being a man to respect her as she doesn’t want me to get it and the doctor even approved of this, I’m sleeping on the couch for the time being. It was hard last night because my main desire was that I wanted to be with my wife.

Don’t look to your feelings first then. Instead, look to reality. The question I ask of my wife is if she helps me grow in personal holiness and if I help her do the same. I think others would say I do that for her and I do not want to be the one who comes and says this of her, though she would definitely say it.

For her with me however, my desire has greatly increased to be holy. I have seen ways of thinking in myself that need to change. As I was driving today, I had a green light and as I was going across, I had someone pull right out in front of me in my lane. Bothered a bit? Yeah. I wasn’t angry however. The old me before my wife came along would have been angry and I’d have been ranting about it the rest of the day.

I used to worry a lot more about my apologetics as well. I believe that is because in the past, that was where I got most of my validation and I could not accept an error then. Now, I get my validation as well from my wife and because of that, if I make a mistake in this field, I make a mistake.

Even after my bachelor party as I was walking with some friends back to our cars, I told them “Guys. Work on personal holiness now.” Just a few weeks ago at my church, I did a sermon on marriage and holiness. I emphasized how we need to return to the idea of holiness and what it means and maybe marriage will become a respectable institution again. Friends. If the world is clamoring for homosexual marriage now, that’s our fault. We dropped the ball on marriage and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

My own pastor after the wedding met with my wife and I to tell me how I’d changed since meeting her, something he’d been reluctant to share. He wanted to wait until the time. He told me I was more other-focused than I’d ever been before. I wasn’t spending time in my own world.

In fact, a friend of mine who attends church with me and happened to be my best man told me that the day after our wedding, a Sunday, my pastor referred to me in the sermon. My pastor had offered to pray with me at the wedding ten minutes before I walked down the aisle and asked how he could pray for me. My prayer was that I wanted to be more holy.

I don’t say this to lift up myself. I say this to lift up my wife. I say this to show the effect that she has had on me.

Also, love every day is a choice and that choice gets easier as time goes on. I make it a point with my wife for instance to not get angry. There are times she’s done things that she’d say I could have justifiably got angry with her over. I just pause and realize that wouldn’t do any good. She’s beating herself up enough. I’m not going to add to it. That doesn’t mean I can’t get firm at times. This isn’t done in hate or anger though. I will sometimes just tell her the way things are and that’s for her good. I always end by affirming my love for her and begin the same way. If I don’t, I at least hope I do.

I can even remember one time when my wife and I had an event and it doesn’t need to be said what it was, but I was upset and hurt and wondering why my wife could think the way she did. How could she not agree with my reasoning? It was around 10 at night that I was in bed going over this while she was asleep and then realized what we all knew I would.

I was wrong. She was right.

I do not kid you in saying that I stayed up until midnight until she woke up as I had been pacing around looking for some wisdom on the topic to deal with until I could talk to her. When she woke up, I talked to her and told her how I saw things anew and apologized and asked her forgiveness. She gave it, although she does say she probably just wanted to go back to sleep. When I gave my sermon on holiness, I referred to that and said that it was a recent night that that happened.

The reality was, it was the very night before that that had happened.

Love is a choice and anger is a choice. Disagreements will come, and how you handle them determines everything. My wife and I are still devoted to prayer and Scripture, though we haven’t been able to as much since she’s been sick lately. (And please people, do pray for my wife’s recovery)

Our culture instead thinks too much on what the other person can do for me. We should instead be thinking about what we can do for the other person. When we look at ourselves too much, we will become more prideful. I make it a point to look to my wife and before I could criticize on anything, I would want to see if the deficiency lies with me first. Is this a lack of holiness on my part? I will give her the benefit of the doubt, something a friend of mine noted. He said that whatever she does, I will bend over backwards to try to understand where she’s coming from.

I would say I am more devoted now to my wife than I ever have been before and ten years from now, I will look back and think “Psssh! I thought I was devoted then?! That can’t compare to now!”

Our dating culture I believe will work best when we stop looking for the truth of a good relationship within ourselves and look for it from the outside. By all means, seek the counsel of wise Christians, which I did. I talked to a number of people before I proposed to my wife, and some of them had a very hard time keeping it a secret. I also had good friends, like my best man, who knew where this was going very early on and the advice of several who saw this was and is a match made in Heaven.

My wife helps me grow as an apologist, as a man, and most importantly, as a disciple of Jesus Christ. To her, I am grateful and I give my love.

To My Wife On Her Birthday

Hello everyone and welcome to Deeper Waters. I know I said that we’d continue looking at Providence, but I think today, I’ll write something to my wife. Now I am keeping her name secret, but on Theologyweb, she goes by the name of Toodles. Today, she celebrates her birthday and I wish to celebrate it with her.

A year ago Princess, you were not even a blip on the radar. I knew nothing of your existence. It was only when that mutual friend of ours told me about you and I got in touch with you and saw who you are and realized that you’re an Aspie like I am and that no one could bring as much happiness as you can.

So our adventure together really began in September. I came to see you for the first time in October. Come December 24th of last year, you had a ring on your finger and we were preparing to walk down the aisle as you did agree that you want to spend the rest of your life with me.

For me, it began the quest of holiness and right now, I tell friends in the apologetics field about how important that holiness is. It is so easy to spend all our time in apologetics in only the intellectual arena. We don’t really let the doctrine of God influence us like we should. We keep thinking the ideas will change us, but in many ways they don’t.

I knew a lot of the ways I needed to change long before you showed up. However, once you showed up, I started making it a higher priority than ever before. I started looking at the ways I treat other people in my mind and the ways I treat myself and saw that too often, I am very self-focused.

Hence, how my pastor told you that one change that’s come along in my life since you came is that I’m more other-focused. What matters more to me now is how you feel about something and what you think. I am secondary. I find that I have had an entire priority shift.

You caused me to look inside myself and see the inner darkness I have had for so long. I can freely admit that I am a fallen and imperfect man now. I can freely admit the natural tendency I see in me to sin, and I seek all the more to make it be more and more my natural tendency to choose love.

It has been a journey of seventeen days today. We’ve been through a lot together, but in the end, we’re always together. You stand by my side and I stand by yours. I’ve had to adjust in many ways, but it’s all been a good adjustment. You’ve helped me face fears I never thought I could. I have seen your heart, and I have prayed that I will have a heart more like yours.

I have also seen the stern side of you. I saw it tonight in how you helped with some friends of ours in facing something in their life, and I was pleased with what I saw. You have a growing commitment to godliness. You’re working on growing more in that area, and I’m standing beside you.

While I’ve been quick to think some things obviously true, you have also helped me watch what I say. I realize more and more that I could be wrong in many areas and how my arguments can come across to many people. You have an outlook that sees many things that I’ve missed.

I am certain I have grown much since I have known you and I am growing more and more. You have been God’s instrument in grace to help free me from what sins I have been caught in and help me embrace life as God intended for me to embrace it.

You are the most important person in my life, and I love you dearly. Happy Birthday Princess. Thank you for being my wife.

On Marriage

Last night, I was a bit enigmatic in how I stated the blog would continue in the near future, and I was that way for a reason. Indeed, all we do is for a reason even if we do not know the reason at that time. The truth is, a lot of my prayer requests have been centered on one area in particular. This blog is not about me. That’s why I try to make it a point to not give personal details about my life. This time, I’m going to make another exception because I will be away for awhile and I want my readers to know why.

As it turns out, this Saturday, the Deeper Waters blogger is tying the knot.

That’s right. I’m getting married and I will be away on a honeymoon. For those concerned, I proposed to my wife while I had a good and steady job that I was sure would last, but this economy hasn’t been good for us. I got laid off nearly three months ago and I’m still looking and being disabled, I do have an organization helping me to find a job. Meanwhile, the people of God have been generous and that has enabled me to be able to pay for a honeymoon. Some people gave us money so we could specifically have one. We are learning in this hard time to rely more on each other and we know we will get through somehow. God has always provided for us and we see his hand at work in bringing us together.

I will not tell my wife’s name on here, but I will say she is a wonderful lady growing in godliness every day and I am growing in that way for her too. Hence, I’m going to write about marriage and some thoughts that I’ve had. My wife deserves simply the best and I look at myself and want to be the best for her. It’s been said that marriage brings out the best in people, but it also brings out the worst. I see in myself many attitudes and characteristics that need to be fixed.

Today I told a friend that if he plans to get married, start working on personal holiness now. I wish I had been doing this years ago. It was no big deal then, but now it is one. It takes something special like a great girl sometimes to wake us up to that reality.

Realize you have the right to be gloriously imperfect as well. We all have the desire to be perfect to some extent, but we won’t be this side of eternity. A friend of mine in counseling told me he has a friend who counsels a lot of Seminary students. All of them believe in total depravity and all of them seem surprised when they find out they’re totally depraved. You are. You are a fallen and sinful human being and while I am not Calvinist, I do agree that your natural inclination, and mine of course, is to sin. Realize you are a work in progress.

You also will see a distance away off in the future you want to reach. It can be hard when you look at the huge distance. Know that Scripture says God will get you there by his power in Christ. When it’s hard, look for the signposts you’re on the right way by seeing how much you’ve changed.

For your spouse, choose your battles wisely. There are some fights that will happen inevitably. Some arguments however are not worth it. Do you really want to argue over something tiny? Are there not times that you should just let things go with your spouse?

When you get a criticism from your spouse, even if it is said in anger, always take some time to consider it. Sure. Maybe your spouse was extreme, but there could be some truth to it. Really take some time to look. Don’t immediately jump to being defensive. Be glad your spouse points out things in private before someone can embarrass you with them in public.

Always keep these two things in mind. Your spouse loves you and they would never do anything that would maliciously intentionally hurt you. Then in whatever it is your spouse does, go back and look at the action in that light and see if you can see it differently.

Always be ready to tell your spouse you love them. Even in the midst of a disagreement, I still stop and tell my lady that I love her. It’s good when you are having those times to be able to stop and say “First point. I love you.” Once you have that, everything else will be easier.

If you are a man, realize that your wife doesn’t always want you to fix her problems. Sometimes, she just wants you to listen. I do that often with my wife where she will call me and be upset about something. My first goal is to try to fix it and then I stop and realize she just needs someone to be there. I can tell her I don’t have any magic words to make the pain go away, but your wife won’t want that. She’ll just want you at that time and to know she has a place of security.

Seek wisdom of others. We are actively talking to people who have been married some for a long time and some a short time. They have things that they can teach you. It is foolish to think you will go in knowing everything in advance. You can learn from experiences, preferably other peoples’.

Pray together. I cannot tell you enough how important this is. We have a tradition of calling each other every night and saying “How may I pray for you tonight?” and sharing our prayer requests. When you pray together, that makes it even more special as you get to see your spouse’s heart and your spouse gets to see yours and you realize you are growing closer to Christ together.

Love and adore your spouse always. Men. Make it a point to avoid desiring other women. I think in our culture the female faces a lot as she gets this idea of beauty thrown at her and television and movies don’t help. I think men do their wives a huge disservice when they make a big deal of a lady they see on TV or in the movies. Now if you’re with a friend and he introduces you to his girlfriend or wife, there’s nothing wrong with saying he’s got a pretty lady, but remember also that your wife is to be the desire of your eyes.

Also, follow the biblical principles. They’re there for a reason. A man is called to lead his wife, but if he is to be the king of his castle, he is to treat his lady like a queen. A wife is not an object and even in marriage, you can treat your wife as an object, such as one who is there simply to fulfill your sexual desires.

And speaking of sexuality, I am saying this as a virgin at this moment, but keep in mind that sexuality is not merely designed to fulfill your pleasures. It’s also about showing your spouse how much they mean to you. I believe sexuality is the closest form of love to the Trinity on Earth. The union where the two become one is meant to be a shadow representing the love that takes place in the Trinity. The shadow’s not a bad thing however! Don’t think I’m putting down the shadow! In fact, I’m exalting it. I’m saying this is what God gave married couples to reveal what union with Himself is like.

Always remember that sex is to be something special, but it is also something sacred and you are to honor your spouse sexually. You can dishonor your spouse sexually without ever having an affair. It can be the constant admiration of others, or the treating your spouse like an object.

Accept your spouse as Christ has accepted you. If you are tempted to be critical, remember there is plenty of yourself that someone could be critical of. If you are tempted to be angry, remember there is much about you that God can deal with you for and chooses not to. If you are attempted to discourage her, remember that you are to lift one another up in Christlikeness.

So dear readers, I will be away then for a time and I do not have any definite time I will be back. My wife will be wanting me to keep up ministry however, but this is not the end.

And to my future wife, I thank you for just coming into my life and as you rightly correct me, you did not turn my world upside-down. You turned it right-side up. You got me to stop looking at myself all the time and look at you and look at my God all the more. You have made me see more and more that any fear I have in my life can be overcome. You have changed my views on so much. I do not know how it was I actually thought about anything in the past before you came along and I thank God that he brought you into my life to shape me into the man I am becoming.

To my Princess, as I call you, I love you. It will not be long before we are husband and wife and I look forward to spending the rest of my life adoring you, loving you, honoring you, taking care of you, and helping you be the woman God made you to be and that you are becoming more and more everyday.

Though I just said it, I have to say again before I go, I love you.

And dear readers, we shall continue sometime in the future. Pray for us on this journey.

And once again Princess, I love you.

“But We’re Married In God’s Eyes.”

I’m taking a break from the Trinity blog series to write for a friend of mine who told me his pastor is wanting some information on cohabitation. I’m hoping that he’s wanting to speak from the pulpit on the topic to which I say “Excellent!” The church has been silent on the topic of sex way too often in the pulpit. Christianity has a view of what sexuality is and if we don’t give our young people especially a view of sexuality, we can be sure that they will get it from somewhere else. Everyone has to believe something about sex. The question is if it will be something true or not.

I will be addressing cohabitation especially. This has become prevalent and while I used to think it was mainly around the young, I’ve found some in the older generation getting divorced and before remarrying, they’re living together.

Also, there are a lot of statistics out there on the topic. I recommend the reader wanting to see statistics needs to go to organizations like the Ruth Institute, ran by my friend Jennifer Roback Morse. Also, I recommend her book “Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love In A Hook-Up World.” (I had a job in the secular field when I read that book. It’s amazing how many people take an interest in what you’re reading when they see that you’re reading about sex.)

I instead wish to tackle this from a moral field. I believe the statistics are good, but those are for people who know them far better. It’s my stance that the argument is wrong even if we don’t have the statistics on it and that is the position I will come at this from. Is what is being advocated immoral?

The objection I’ve been told about is “But we’re married in God’s eyes.” What does that mean? Does that mean you believe it is true you’re married? I can understand the case that when a person has sex with someone of the opposite sex, that that constitutes as their entering into a covenant with them. However, consider that the case is so that it is true you are married.

Well why not make it official then? If it’s true you are married, what would be so bad about making it a public declaration?

Some people might not want a big and fancy service. Okay. Go to a courthouse with just a few people and get it done. If you’re willing enough to be completely naked with someone of the opposite sex and interact with them on the most intimate level possible, then surely you ought to be able to trust them enough to commit your life to them. (And in today’s age of STDs, you already have.)

Now someone might say that you wouldn’t drive a car without taking it for a test run. Agreed. I wouldn’t. But I have a question for such couples. Which one of you is the driver and which one is the car? A car is not a person. If I reject a car, it will not suffer hurt feelings. It will not need counseling. It will not wander the world aimlessly looking for drivers to fill a void in its existence. It will not bring me over to the next driver it meets.

We can’t say the same thing about persons. Persons shouldn’t be put up for a test in the most intimate area of life. That doesn’t allow either to enjoy the full measure of what is supposed to be marriage if neither one is committed enough to the other to make it official and say that they will never leave or forsake.

Let’s face it after all. Divorce is one of the big problems we have. If some people are going with cohabitation, it could also be because we haven’t shown marriage as it should be and made divorce so prevalent, especially this idea of no-fault divorce. The whole idea just trivializes marriage.

If marriage is to be honored again, it will need to be seen as something that is honored. How can you say the institute of marriage is so wonderful if you’re willing to have it broken apart at any moment. Couples need to learn this when they plan to marry. “DIVORCE IS NOT AN OPTION!”

We also need to return to a view of sex that’s true. We deny it of its roles by turning it into merely an act of pleasure. Now it should be that, but shouldn’t it be more? Sex can do something nothing else can do after all. It can produce a new human life.

I’m not Catholic, but I do appreciate their stance on birth control. I also have found that a book has been released by some Catholic authors with the idea of a prayer to say before sex. I think that’s an excellent suggestion. I have a goal of marrying someday and before the first time just thanking God for the gift that we’re about to partake of from him and ask him to bless our sex lives together.

We don’t see sex as sacred. As a result, we don’t see marriage as sacred. We also don’t see sex as sacred because we don’t see ourselves as sacred. We are more than animals. We are not meant to be just objects of sexual pleasure for someone. We are persons. We are to act like persons.

The only force that’s going to change this also is the church. The church needs to return to a good and pure view of marriage and sexuality. Some people might think “Well stuff like that shouldn’t be talked about at church?” Why not. The world doesn’t hesitate to get its message out. Which one do you think our children are seeing more? Heck. Which one do you think you’re seeing more? When you see sexual messages, do you get the message of something great and holy, or of something that’s a pleasure ride that has no consequences whatsoever?

Your answer should be sufficient to tell me why this needs to be talked about.

Did California Get It Wrong?

I’m going to take a break again tonight based on a news story I saw earlier today. The story can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/opinion/27wed2.html?_r=2

The first statement is that the CA Supreme Court got it terribly wrong.

No. What was terribly wrong was that the case was even brought to the Supreme Court. While this isn’t a political blog, since this is more about morality, I am bringing this up, but some politics will be necessary. When the people have a free election and vote on something, it is not up to the courts to make a ruling on it. If it is not agreed, there can be another election another time. If the CA Supreme Court had ruled against the people, it would have been rendering all voting useless. We would no longer have a Republic.

Our writer next says that upholding Prop 8 was unfair to homosexual people. How? Homosexuals have the same rights as everyone else. They can marry anyone they want of the opposite sex. “Well we want to marry someone of the same sex.” Then you want different rights. I don’t have the right to marry someone of the same sex. Also, if marriage is a right, then I say bring forward my girl! I’ve been patient for a long time and I’m single!

No. Marriage is a privilege. It is a gift. 

Our writer next says that homosexuals can be targeted as a minority. Upon what basis? You could fill in any group this way. Accountants are a minority. Left-handed people are a minority. People who are bald are a minority. Is there any real basis for saying homosexuals are?

It’s because they have a different lifestyle? So do several other people. Why should a lifestyle that seeks a relationship of an erotic nature with the same sex be different?  With something like race or being male or female, that is inherent to the person. To make the case, someone would first have to show that homosexuality is inherent to the person. Sorry, but it hasn’t been done.

Even if a genetic link was shown, what would that prove? Would it prove that homosexual actions are moral? No more than showing a genetic link to alcoholism would show that alcoholism is moral. You have to look at the action itself. 

The writer also speaks of fundamental values enshrined in the California Constitution. Could our writer please go to the California Constitution and show where the founders of the state wished to include a fundamental value that homosexuals ought to be allowed to marry one another? I’m sure that’s what was on their mind when they wrote out their constitution after all.

The dissenting vote said  “discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality”. It’s quite the opposite. Attempting to change the social fabric of society based on a suspect classification is the problem. There is also no denial of equality. The debate is not about the nature of persons. It’s not being asked if people who are homosexual are fully human. (If it is, it shouldn’t be.) It’s asking if homosexual union is a legitimate lifestyle right alongside heterosexual marriage. Are those two equal? The answer is no in every sense of the word. 

The writer is confident that California is a temporary setback. California is not known for being a bastion of conservatism however and yet, it ruled in favor of a highly conservative value while all the way electing an incredibly liberal president. Our writer mentions Iowa as an example. If anyone wants to know the truth about Iowa however, I recommend this article from the Ruth Institute:

http://ruthinstitute.org/articles/howIowaHappened.html

Our writer sees it as a temporary setback as I said. I hope he’s wrong. It’s my hope a fire will be lit under America to uphold true marriage and morality. I do not believe our society can last if we lose this battle. I ask America to wake up and take a stand now. Your children are counting on you.