Book Plunge: Our Father, Abraham

What do I think of Marvin Wilson’s book published by Eerdmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It is always a temptation for some to look for Christianity outside of the Jewish heritage. It’s easy to jump straight to the Greeks. This was much more common before the holocaust took place and then we decided we needed to recover the Jewishness of Jesus. One such book looking at this is Wilson’s book which is not about just the Jewishness of Jesus, but the Jewishness of Christianity.

Wilson’s contention is that the early church did move away from the Jewishness of Christianity early on and to an extent, this would be true. After all, just a few centuries later you have a number of statements of hostility against the Jewish people being made by even church fathers. It is not long before we see the charge of Christ-killers being applied. I do consider it problematic that as far as I know, all the church fathers were non-Jews.

We do damage to ourselves when we do this and we fail to do evangelism to the Jewish people. Wilson’s goal in this book is to return us to how the Jews looked at life. This is not just about theology as theology, but it is also about how Jews looked at every area of life because all of life was about their walk with YHWH. This includes work, marriage, and education.

To begin with, Wilson gives us the history of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. This involves the way the Jews saw the world and then what happened when the Christians came along. Naturally, this includes questions about who Jesus is and His deity and what it would mean for Him to be the Messiah.

From there, he goes on to look at where the church went wrong. This includes ideas coming up that he considers foreign to a Jewish mindset, such as the idea that someone who is a priest could never marry. In this area also, the way Jews and Christians have approached marriage is quite different. Even in a musical that Wilson recommends, Fiddler on the Roof, tradition is still at the heart of everything and the idea is that the daughters of the main character will have their husbands picked for them and they will be Jewish as well.

One other difference is we tend to think rationally about our faith while Jews think more experientially.  We will have hot debates in Christianity about the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Jews thought in block logic where both were to be embraced and somehow it all worked out in the end.

I particularly appreciated the section on learning. Learning is seen as an act of worship. Some Jews might be in situations where their stomachs are empty, but their minds are to be full of the heritage that they were raised in and what we call the Old Testament and the teaching of their rabbis.

Jewish and Christian relations are something that need some more attention in the apologetics and Christian community. I only know of two apologists right off that are doing work in the area of Jewish apologetics. We disagree with Jews on many matters, but we do share a common heritage and we need to be able to use that to reach out to them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: The Flirtation Experiment

What do I think of Phylicia Masonheimer and Lisa Jacobson’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I try to read books about marriage despite being divorced. If anything, I read to get help for when my second marriage comes about, Lord willing and may He be. I read books written for wives, for husbands, and for both. This is a book written for wives.

Thinking back on it, I know authors don’t get to choose the names of their books often, but I think a better name might be The Connection Experiment. After all, when you see a book by women called The Flirtation Experiment and see fireworks on the cover going off, I suspect it’s going to be about buying outfits at Victoria’s Secret, jumping into a shower with your husband, and all manner of physical activities which is what a guy usually has in mind when he thinks about flirting.

That’s not to say the material in here is bad. It’s not. It’s really good. It just isn’t what I was expecting. So looking at the good, these are wives who have decided to invest in their husbands, which is also a plus since usually things are always assumed to be the husband’s fault when many times, it takes two.

There are thirty chapters which means you are meant to go through this book in a month’s time, sort of like a shortened version of The Respect Dare. Both women write fifteen chapters which means they go back and forth between themselves. Each chapter is built on a one-word concept and expounded on and could be read in ten minutes max.

The authors also really open up explaining about difficulties that they have had and about how they worked with their respective husbands. Sometimes, the husbands have a brief sidenote where they will write something and these were always a bonus to read. I kept hoping that there would have been one in every chapter.

All of these are built largely on forming an emotional connection with one’s spouse. Thinking about that, that will work for the men and women because the men tend to think about physical connection and when a woman feels emotionally connected, physical connection is a lot easier for them. It also helps that the women take the initiative in this since frankly, many of us guys don’t really know what to do when it comes to emotional connection.

One amusing part I found was in one of Phylicia’s chapters where she thought God was telling her He wanted her to play video games with her husband, so they played some Mario Party. I know I would be thrilled to marry a woman who wanted to play games with me. I remember hearing a story of a husband who really wanted his wife to go hunting with him and so one day she agreed and they went and sat in the same place all day and absolutely nothing happened. No game came out at all to shoot at.

How did the husband take it? He left saying it was awesome. I can guarantee you then that wife never said, “This is stupid! It’s a waste of time! We could be doing something else!” She just sat there quietly the whole time and he treasured that silent time with her as she participated in his hobby.

And yes, I do realize this needs to be a two-way street, but this is a book for wives so I’m mainly talking to them.

Every marriage can always have room for improvement. I recommend this one for the women out there. Get it and see how it works for you. Husbands can also look through and say what would and would not appeal to them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth.)

Of Marriages And Diets

Is this a valid reason to abandon marriage? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I was writing yesterday’s blogpost, I had a number of people tag me on Facebook and ask “What do you think of this?” and this was the very picture I was writing about. Today, I’d like to tackle another one that has been making the rounds. It’s another one that sadly convinces me those on the left in this debate really don’t bother to listen to what their opponents say.

First off, the opening claim is just false. Even if you are a skeptic, it should be easy to accept that a redefined marriage of two men or two women is against someone else’s religion is a fact. That doesn’t say anything about the emotional state of the person who holds that religion. The anger is already imposed. (This happens all too often as those of us who are conservative are often accused of having hate towards the other side.)

I don’t go to bed at night steaming about homosexual couples. The issue matters to me, but I have many other things to think about. It’s on the other side unfortunately that if we are told we don’t agree, well here come the hounds out to shut down our businesses and demand our freedom to operate be taken away.

That’s only the start of the problem.

The majority of the real argumentation on the right is not going “The Bible says X, therefore Y should be forbidden.” Most of us are making arguments based on the nature of marriage and a natural law understanding of marriage. Yes. I am sure Pastor Bob down at the local Southern Baptist Church is getting up in the pulpit screaming about what the Bible says and doesn’t have a clue about these natural law arguments, but note I stated the real argumentation. I am not against the Bible, but if one side doesn’t believe it, it has no authority for them, at least in the sense that it doesn’t change their thinking.

Ultimately, when I have seen this debated online, it comes down to what a marriage is. It has always before been understood as two adults of the opposite sex coming together in a union generally with the goal of bringing about and raising children. Now we are told that it doesn’t matter what two consenting adults do.

But why should this be the case?

First off, consider the case of Armin Meiwes. He was a cannibal who was convicted for eating someone. Here’s the relevant part. This person wanted to be eaten. He fully consented to everything. Thus, we have an action between two consenting adults. To make this wrong, you will need another qualifier then. Two consenting adults is not sufficient.

Second, what exactly is an adult? In Biblical times, as was much of the world back then, as soon as the kids hit puberty, it was time to marry them off to someone else. Teenagers in the past would be forming families. Today, having a relationship with a teenager can get you hit with a statutory rape charge. There is nothing magical about the age of 18 that makes someone an adult. We’ve all known adults well over 18 who are essentially children and we’ve all known children younger than 18 who have been forced through circumstances to grow up early and practically function as adults. Also, consider how many children who commit crimes can be tried as adults.

Consent is also not good enough. This is supposed to protect it from applying to children as well, but we constantly make children do things without their consent that is for their good. They go to school, do chores, go to bed, eat healthy, and get vaccinations and medical treatment they don’t like, without their consent. Loving parents who genuinely love their children do this.

Third, we might as well ask about the number two. Why should marriage be limited to two people? The Mormons held to polygamy for some time and were brought before the government for that one. If we are removing the requirement that the people be of the opposite sex, it would be far easier to remove the number. Not only that, there is a much greater historical basis for polygamy than for the redefinition of marriage.

What is being asked is what marriage is and what is the purpose of it. It is not just a union for the happiness of two adults. It is a nation building institution in the sense that these people are the ones capable of bringing about the next generation. The state has all reason to want to promote that as it kind of needs new people to survive. Hypothetically, imagine how much damage we could do to China and Russia if we could launch a biological attack somehow over those entire nations that would sterilize everyone in those nations.

And if marriage is about the continuing of the species, then the state has an interest in promoting the type of union that can do that job. The state has no interest in promoting a same-sex couple as they can never do that. Marriage is not to be meant about the affirming of the people involved, but why the people are coming together in the first place.

Now suppose someone says “Well, Christians can really say that these are the reasons, but we know the real reason is what the Bible says!” Let’s suppose 100% that that’s true for the sake of argument. That doesn’t change the fact that the natural law based arguments are on the table. Those still have to be addressed.

Suppose someone makes a powerful argument to me for atheism and I don’t know how to answer it. It does not work to say, “You only make that argument because you want to be free to live your life sexually however you want.” That could even be 100% true. I am sure there are Christians who hold to Christianity just for the benefits they want to receive and I am sure there are some atheists who hold to atheism because of the sexual freedom.

The argument still has to be addressed.

This meme is not addressing any real arguments. It is not even making one. It is just pointing to motives and trying to read emotions into the other side.

It’s a shame so much has to be written to deal with something because so many do take it seriously.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Abstinence and the Virgin Birth (Which I do affirm)

Is there a problem with holding to abstinence and the virgin birth (Which I do affirm)? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This one has been going around Facebook a bit and as the main virgin birth guy (Which I do affirm), I figure I should be the one to address it. Looking at this, I do wonder what the main contention is. As is the problem with memes, it’s rarely clear.

So let’s consider if it’s a moral objection. Can you believe in the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and still believe in practicing abstinence? Yes. You recognize that this is a miracle that has taken place and that Mary herself did nothing wrong in this case.

By the way, along those lines, all Christians know that there are other forms of birth control. What we do know also is that when practiced, abstinence is the only one that is 100% effective. For most of the world today, it’s just incredible to think of a person going through life without having sex. The premise of a movie like the 40 Year-Old Virgin is meant to be obvious.

So let’s go the more likely route. It’s meant to poke fun at us for believing in something that is unscientific. After all, this involves a miracle and don’t we know that those never happen.

At this, I think even the most hardened skeptic would not want to try to take on the burden that there has never been a miracle in history and have to demonstrate this. How could you even begin to do that? What is more likely to be argued is that we do not have sufficient evidence to believe that a miracle has taken place in history.

Thus, we get to the first problem. There is really no way to establish that a miracle has never taken place in history so why should it be treated with incredulity that a miracle has taken place. I actually call this the argument from incredulity. The problem is it only works if you accept a worldview at the start that says miracles never happen.

Imagine if I made a similar argument.

Christians: We know Christianity is true.

Atheist: How?

Christian: Because Jesus rose from the dead.

Atheist: And how do we know that?

Christian: Because Christianity is true.

If you take at the start that a naturalistic philosophy is true and a miracle has never taken place, then obviously, a virgin birth, which I do affirm, has never taken place. However, that is the very claim under question. Has a miracle ever taken place?

If you affirm the existing of God and have reasons for believing in such, then you have a basis for believing that a miracle has taken place or at least could take place. If someone wants to mock that because atheism is true or some version of metaphysics that denies miracles, then they need to establish that. Whatever your worldview, it does not work to go to the other side and say “Your position is laughable because it disagrees with my position.”

In the end, I see no reason you cannot both affirm the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and consistently practice abstinence. Issues about birth control can be debated among ourselves. This is just more of the type of argument from incredulity that works on those with the mindset already of materialism, but not much of anyone else. It has strong rhetorical pull, but nothing logical behind it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Moving On In

What’s life like in the Big Easy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Hello again, Deeper Waters readers. I’m now living in New Orleans and enjoying the city. My apartment should be ready tomorrow so for the time being, I am staying at the Providence Guest House, which is a hotel across the street from the seminary.

I live in a great area of the city where most everything I need is even within walking distance. Need groceries? Walk to Wal-Mart? Need medicine? Walk to Walgreens. There are also several fast food restaurants and a cafe and I don’t need to drive a bit to get to them.

I don’t mind driving and I can like it, but I also like saving gas and there are other benefits of walking, such as my cashwalk app and such as playing Pokemon Go with my fellow students. Speaking of them, I haven’t got to meet too many of them yet. There is a student orientation this week and I hope to get to interact with them there.

The weather is a bit erratic here. It’s not uncommon to have the windshield wipers on for a sudden rain that only lasts a couple of minutes and then it’s all clear again. I was just out walking and felt some drops of rain, but no panic. I figured it wouldn’t last long and thus far, my prediction has shown to be true.

Shiro is having a hard time adjusting. Last night was the first night ever that he didn’t wake me up in the middle of the night and keep me up with constant crying. I really feel sorry for my little kitty. His whole world has been turned upside down.

I have also been to a new church where I hope to be a pastor intern. I understand this church is disability friendly and I can at least say at this point they are friendly. I was welcomed with open arms and already members of the church are going to be working to help me move things into my new apartment. After all, I only have a small hybrid car and I have a steel rod on my spine so I can’t lift a lot.

While here though, I also do think that the society around here definitely needs the gospel. I have been praying to be able to do something to change this city for Christ. The saying here at NOBTS is to prepare here and serve anywhere, because you can find most any belief persuasion somewhere in this city. It would be wonderful to see New Orleans transformed into a major Christian city and who is to say that it cannot happen?

Some of you might want to send packages or something my way as well. Remember that if you want to help the ministry out financially since I am working on education and I want to get the podcast up again, my patreon is below and any help you can give is greatly appreciated. If you are reading this elsewhere, please go to my website itself to find the link. Also, if someone wants to send a package of some sort, please send to the following address:

Nick Peters
3939 Gentilly Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70126

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Moving On Out

What big change is coming? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am not going to be posting next week. Why is that? Because of the city in that picture. That is New Orleans, Louisiana. That is where I am going.

I have not said much about this aside from recently on Facebook, but it has been in the works and a few friends have known. One thing I decided shortly after my divorce was in moving on, I needed to finish goals I never had. That meant getting my Master’s and eventually going on to get a Ph.D.

I’m a member of a Southern Baptist Church and in talking to my pastor, he said that if I went to a Southern Baptist Seminary, I could cut 40-50% off of my tuition. I asked him to send me a list of such seminaries. One named stood out to me immediately. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

I had been there once before for a Defend the Faith conference and I did enjoy the city. I had many friends there, including Bob Stewart who I contacted immediately. He told me that I could do the program online from my parents’ house, but I would honestly finish the degree faster if I moved to New Orleans and did it on campus.

My Divorcecare leader and his wife came up to talk to my parents about it since my mother especially is concerned, as many mothers are. Still, it was enough to get them to realize this is what I need to do. My own personal mentor says that this is definitely the right path for me to take.

Today will be my last day at the Wal-Mart. This is a big move I am making and I won’t deny, I am awfully scared many times. I am putting a lot on the line. I do have likely a position as an intern for a pastor which could cover my tuition as well and give me a little bit more money each week. I also could be working at the campus post office part-time, but it is minimum wage.

I just know I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and recovering from my divorce has been hard and it has been hard to be passionate for something, but many times, I think about the salvation of New Orleans. Something I told Dr. Stewart when I visited in January was that I had two thoughts at one time. There’s no reason God can’t save New Orleans and there’s no reason He can’t use me to do it.

My pastor told me the anxiety is normal and many people who told me about making big changes in their lives have said the same thing. I get that it is normal and in some ways healthy, but it sure isn’t pleasant. I will likely have to stay at the guest place across the street from the seminary for a few days until the apartment is ready and my main concern with that is Shiro, will he be fine in a new place like that until we move into a regular one and then he has to make the switch again? It has to be this week though because my Divorcecare leader and his wife are going down there with my Dad and I to get me situated and they have a station wagon that can carry several boxes as well. My Dad and I will likely split up the driving between the two of us.

If anything also gives me anxiety, it’s money. Now I have a sizable portion in the bank because I have been saving up money from my job. I really don’t spend a lot, though while with my parents I have been covering my own bills. Also, Shiro is a non-negotiable with me. I will only stay a place that allows him. He’s an older cat and I’m the only person he really trusts and I’m not going to abandon him again, especially after the fact that my ex did just that.

Friends. Please do what you can to help out. Here is a list of all the things I will have to provide for and I do need your support.

Rent.
Electricity.
Internet.
Cell phone service.
Gas.
Health insurance.
Auto insurance.
Groceries and day-to-day supplies.
Care for Shiro.
Books for research.
Medications and Doctor Visits.
Traveling expenses, especially to see family on Christmas as I plan on flying back for such events and for other conferences like Evangelical Theological Society.
My own personal tithes to my new church and any charitable giving of my own I choose to do.
Unless I get it all covered, tuition.

I can assure anyone I try to be as frugal as possible. I regularly go to apps on my phone to get the best deals at places like restaurants. When I am grocery shopping, I go and check out the clearance sections immediately. I don’t want to make a dishonest penny. I do programs that are free to try to earn free gift cards also for places like Amazon. My entertainment expenses are also slow and one such as Audible is also educational for me.

Please be praying for me and please be a regular donor. This site includes at the bottom of every post how to be a donor through Patreon. Please do consider it. Every donation gives me more hope and encouragement. I have been praying at night for God to provide as I take this step even if I don’t know where every dollar to provide for me will come from. Please consider becoming one of those suppliers to help me on the journey. I also hope that if enough comes in, that i can start the Deeper Waters Podcast once more which I have missed greatly.

Thank you and I hope to write to you the week after next with good news.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Remembering the Sacred

Is nothing sacred? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about recognizing marriage as a sacred calling. As I wrote out those words, I thought about that. What is the sacred in our society? Do we have a place for it anymore?

In his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Trueman writes about first, second, and third world cultures. First-world cultures put the ideas on how we should live on notions of fate or the gods. They’re not built on anything ultimate in a sense, but they are great and outside of us and we ought to follow them. The gods say it so whatever their reasons, you must obey.

Second-world cultures are those that do base the ideas in one transcendent God who can to some extent be known. Christianity presents such a culture. It’s not just “The God says so” which would be sufficient in itself, but also here is why the God says so and here are the reasons and God can enforce His rules.

Third-world cultures are like what America is in now. Everything is rooted in the secular. There is nothing outside of ourselves that morality is grounded in. It is all built on secularism.

What that also means is nothing outside enforces us. We have to enforce it. That also means there is no longer anything transcendent and lasting. Ultimately, it is moral relativism, but there is a who says going on in this culture. Who says? Whoever is in charge says. That’s who.

Consider our recent Supreme Court scenarios. Under this kind of ideology, the voice of the people is in some ways the voice of God. If the Court says abortion is allowable, then that is that. The case has spoken. The court is closed. Likewise if it says it’s going to stay out of it. Whatever side you take, I hope the problem is apparent. It’s the saying that a government that is big enough to give you rights is also big enough to take them away.

That’s why in America, our founding document is a second-world document. It roots our rights in a creator. The government doesn’t give us these rights. It recognizes these rights. It also cannot take away these rights.

However, if we remove that, then the only way to enforce the powers of the third-world and whoever is in charge is, well, power. Force will have to be used. The more secular a culture is, the more likely it will use this kind of force to control its citizens.

In looking at marriage also, we have lost the sacred. Marriage used to be a sacred calling where the two made a commitment. Now we have cheapened most everything about marriage. In the past, it would have been that if a man wanted to see a woman in all of her glory, he really needed to work a lot and prove he was a man and show the girl he was worth marrying and he would be treated on their wedding night, and hopefully, she would be as well.

Now? Nope. All you have to do is browse the internet for a few seconds and look at porn. If anything diminishes a human being, it is pornography, both the viewed and the viewer diminish one another in this. Internet pornography is one of the most destructive forces in our world today. It is a cheapening of the good gift of humanity and sexuality and turns women especially into objects to be consumed. If women truly wanted to fight the patriarchy, they would take a stand against internet pornography, abortion, and anything else that makes a man give them anything less than a lifetime commitment.

It’s honestly hard to think of anything our world holds as sacred. In a sense, we treat sexuality like the highest good, making it an aspect of your highest identity and if you haven’t had sex, there’s something wrong with you. How else is just a movie title like The Forty Year-old Virgin possible? At the same time, we treat it as simply a recreational activity and say casual sex is no big deal. It’s hard to think of how you can have it both ways. In a Christian worldview, you understand that sex is an aspect of something much bigger. It is indeed part of your identity, in that you are male or female and nothing can ever change that, and as an activity, it is an intimate one that is reserved for the most intimate of relationships.

One aspect of saving our culture is going to have to be the recovery of the sacred. Right now, we live in a culture of power plays and whoever is in charge has the power to enforce what they want and it will shift back and forth constantly as long as we have nothing outside of ourselves to ground it in. Hear this. You cannot be a true moral reformer if you hold to third-world principles of morality. It takes a second-worlder who says “No. This is something greater than us regardless of what the culture says.” You cannot stand up against slavery, Nazism, or any other evil and be a part of a third-world culture truly for you are just going with what you want for whatever reason and as soon as the other side gets more power, they can change that immediately and what standard can be pointed to beyond men to say “This is wrong.”?

Right now, our culture is on a suicide path. Those of us who are Christians and see the danger should be raising the warning alarms and crying out that something must change. We must be the Ezekiel watchman or else God will hold us accountable for not speaking up. When men forget God, what happens is chaos and some men become god for their culture. Nietzsche recognized this and lamented it knowing it would lead to chaos. He was indeed right. Nietzsche recognized the seriousness of the idea of the death of God and would think most atheists today are gutless embarrassments.

The rest of us. Stand strong. Everyday, build up the sacred in your own life and demonstrate it to the world. Remember Lewis also said that outside of the sacrament (And he said this as a Protestant) the most holy sight you see will be your neighbor. It all starts with how you treat him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Moments of Sadness

When does sadness hit in a divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I can only speak for myself in this as different people have different emotional experiences, but I can say with the divorce that when the news hit, I was devastated, as you can imagine. When I had to leave my apartment and go back to my parents’ house, it was hard to hold it together. I was thankful I had a friend come by as well who was able to be with me and had also been divorced.

For the most part nowadays, I do okay, but there are still times of sadness. It can hit me and momentarily I want to weep a little bit and maybe have some light sniffles, but then I move on. Sadness doesn’t dominate, but it is always hanging in the background waiting. Fortunately, when I’m at home, for the most part, I am okay. Sometimes I’m not. It’s usually when I’m doing day-to-day things like getting a shower or brushing my teeth or getting into bed.

And yes, sleeping at night is definitely different. I used to share it with someone else. As I live here, I even sleep in a bed that when we visited, we slept in together. Now it’s just me alone. I also wonder if I will always be rejected at that point. That’s for another post.

Being at work is one of the worst places for me to be. My mind is not challenged at all and a crowd can be one of the loneliest places in the world. When my mind has nothing to keep me occupied, then I am prone to do things like introspect and to dwell on the past and neither is a good thing to do. It doesn’t help that a lot of other people say and do things that remind me of my ex.

When I am filling out an online survey for whatever reason and I am asked my marital status, I always wish they could skip that question. I have to hit every time that I am divorced. I despise it. I have always wanted to succeed at whatever I do and it’s hard to not look at this divorce as a personal failure. Yes. She was the one who left, but could I have done anything different to change that?

Things do get better over time, but I know divorce really affects you for a lifetime. My own DivorceCare leader who was divorced many years ago and is now very happily remarried says that every now and then he still uncovers an old wound that needs to heal. I had often said that it would be easier to lose my entire library than to lose her. Now I see that that was true.

Now I realize some people do say I am better off and that could be right, but that doesn’t change the fact that it still does hurt. Still, I write because I sincerely hope that just one thing I say could help someone else, and there are people who do contact me and thank me for these writings and that’s always beneficial. Not only that, but it’s healing for me as I get to let it out. I sincerely don’t want to see anyone walk down this road if it can be avoided. I do realize sometimes divorce is necessary, such as in the case of abuse, but even then it is a tragedy that a promise got to that point.

Build up your marriage today. Our church talks about the danger and evil of redefining marriage. That really started with no-fault divorce and removing the idea of a promise easily. If we want to change the way marriage is treated, we need to change the way we treat it and live it out as a sacred calling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Truth or Happiness

Do we want to live true lives or happy lives? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about reading James Rebel Jamias’s book, which I did enjoy, and one idea that stuck with me on there was something that I have recently concluded. Our culture consists of people who care about happiness more than they care about truth. Aristotle began his Metaphysics by saying all men by nature desire to know. Today, the modern equivalent would say that all men by nature desire to feel.

We can all relate to this on some level. There have been times all of us have had something that we want to avoid being true because of the pain that we will feel, a state we call denial. My first major encounter with death was a sunday school teacher who I had a close relationship with. To this day, I can still remember being at the church for his funeral service and thinking, “This still has to be a joke. He’s going to jump up and tell everyone the truth soon. He has to.”

Sometimes, this can even be lethal. How many people have avoided going to a doctor because they think they might have a condition and they don’t want to hear that they have it? In reality, they do and it goes untreated and it becomes something untreatable and fatal when if it had been caught early, it could have been treated.

This also has severe moral consequences. With marriage, which I have been writing on, how many people are entering into marriage and doing so because the goal is that marriage is meant to make them happy? It is all about them. Now don’t get me wrong on something. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be happy and there is nothing wrong with wanting a good for yourself in marriage, but it’s not just about you.

Hence, too often when the feeling fades, which it will, we think the marriage has faded and it’s time to move on. It’s not about a greater commitment to something beyond ourselves. Instead, it’s about what is expedient for us at the moment. When divorce is too easy an option, it is the option that will most often be chosen.

In many of the daily lives of people today, it’s not often asked “What is the good thing to do here?” Instead, we are asking what will bring us the most happiness at the moment. When was the last time you heard someone talking seriously about virtue?

Is our Christian community any different in the West? Hardly. If anything, most of our emphasis seems to be on how we feel in our relationship to God. If we feel good, yay! Christianity is true and God is real and we want to worship and praise! If we don’t, then Christianity could be false and God might not exist, but if He does exist, He hates us, and why bother with worship and praise?

In reality, a Christian life is supposed to have all of these. You are not meant to be happy in all of your Christian walk. Jesus wasn’t and it’s the height of arrogance to think we should have something that Jesus never did. Jesus was sad sometimes. Jesus was also happy, but if we look at Isaiah 53, Jesus was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.

This is not to say bad feelings and emotions don’t matter. It’s not to say that for chronic problems you shouldn’t consider therapy and possibly in addition medication. With my divorce, I have both going on. Definitely if you are experiencing strong suicidal feelings, get help right away.

One great hope for our culture is when we all strive to be people of truth. In our religious debates, it’s easy to claim the other side is going with emotions. There are emotional benefits to each side. If you’re a Christian, you can claim you will get to live forever and that you will see loved ones and never die and spend eternity in a place of joy and happiness. I think even a lot of atheists would like for something like that to be true.

On the other hand, a Christian can say an atheist has reasons for them to not want God to be real. One big reason could be a life of sexual liberty in that you get to pursue sexual happiness and do what you want in that area. Another could be one doesn’t want to live under the authority of God. One could also not want to believe in something the rest of their social group will consider foolish. There are many more on both sides we can think of.

Also, in both groups, there are sadly people who don’t really care about truth and don’t want it. These are people who only read what agrees with them and base their arguments for their position on how they feel about something. The first question we should ask about Christianity is not if it makes us feel good or if we like it or if it’s beneficial to society. The first question we should ask is “Is it true?” If it is, then we should believe it even if all the other questions are answered no. If it isn’t true, then we shouldn’t believe it even if all the other questions are answered yes.

It is my hope that we can begin working more on a truth quest instead. Our emotional quests are more often centered on looking within and finding something for ourselves. When we look for truth, we are looking for something outside of ourselves and what we can submit to and ultimately, what we can live our lives based on.

It’s up to you which you choose.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thinking About Your Ex

How do you think about your ex in divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Had we lasted, yesterday would have been our 12th anniversary. As I have said, I think about this every day. Divorce leaves a big hole in your life and intense pain. Some have said divorce is worse than death, and it makes sense because divorce is a kind of murder in a sense. If the two become one flesh, then what happens if one of the two leaves? It is as if a person, the unified two, has died. Being widowed is a natural death. Being divorced wrongfully would be like murder in that sense.

So how do you handle it? What happens when you think about them, as you inevitably will?

I have a therapist that I talk to on a weekly basis and some time every week he will ask me if I have heard anything about her. We will talk some about how we think she’s doing and our hopes for her.

It is easy to be angry at what she did. I could even easily say that is justified. I was wronged and I was accused of something horrible that there is no basis for. However, I must remember that anger is towards the actions. It is not towards her.

You could say I could be angry at her, and no doubt, I sometimes am, but what good does it do me? I do in some sense know I want some justice. I want it to be shown sometime that I am innocent, but at the same time, I am careful about even that. It can be easy to think about standing before the throne and hearing that I was wronged, but at the same time, I hesitate to think about that because I wonder about judgment on her.

Habakkuk prayed that in wrath, remember mercy.

I honestly pray every night for my ex. I pray for her blessing in life and for her to find joy. I pray for God to become a great reality to her. I don’t want ill for her and any time I see that rising up in me, I give it to the Lord. I realize that temptation is there, but I am not God and I know I have my own sins to be accounted for.

Keep in mind I am not claiming I was a perfect husband, but I will deny that I was an abusive one. To this day, when people tell me that I loved her intensely, I always remind them that it’s not past tense. If anything, it’s a powerful reminder of the love of God.

How can you have love towards someone who has hurt you more than anyone else ever has and wronged you more than anyone else ever has? The same way that God does towards us. (No. I am not claiming we hurt God, but it is analogous.) If God loves me despite everything I have done, then how can I not show love towards her? I can’t do that in in-person actions of course, but I can in my own attitude towards her. I can watch how I speak about her to others.

One thing I have stressed repeatedly is the last thing I want someone to do is to go after her. If anyone does that, they are not doing me any favors. You don’t make things better for me by hurting her.

I also have at the same time refused to let her rejection of me control my life. It hurts and it hurts every single day, but I choose to get up and live and not stay defeated. Sure, I notice some changes, like I am more hesitant to trust people and rejection stings all the more now, but that is stuff that I have to work on myself.

I also realize some of you will struggle much more with this. Some of you have exes who did a much more serious wrong to you than mine did. Some of you have children who might have suffered at the hands of an ex and some of you might need restraining orders even against exes. I am not claiming it is easy. I am saying that holding on to hostility won’t make it better.

The focus I have now is realizing that God forgives me and loves me so I ought to have that mindset towards others. It does no good to hold on to pain and hurt towards another. That can require a lot of time and therapy to get there, but I think if we are working on that, God honors the process and knows our goal.

I have no reason to delight in the thought of her suffering. That would show nothing about her, but it would show a lot about me. She is someone Jesus Christ loves and died for and I should try to treat her in my own heart the same way.

It’s a struggle and I do seek your prayers in this as I work on it more and more and recover more and more from what has happened.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)