Baptism: Biblical Waterboarding

Posted on August 19, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Spiritual Growth, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , |

As a person with swimming skills a step above the doggie paddle, I always had a mild heart attack anytime a friend dunked me in the pool. Even if it was 3 feet of water, panic always briefly gripped my heart. So, a few weeks ago when our church was baptizing people, I realized it’s a bit ironic I look forward to watching others get ‘dunked.’ And when you think about it, whether it’s a little sprinkle on the forehead for an infant or complete immersion, baptism is kind of a weird ritual. Why do we do it? Where did it come from?

I always assumed baptism was invented by a rugged bug-eating-camel hair-wearing Hebrew (i.e. John the Baptist) shortly before Christ’s ministry began. But you know what they say when you assume…Turns out the practice went back a bit farther than that.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a gas station bathroom? That’s the feeling the Jews had about Gentiles (anyone that isn’t Hebrew). As such, when a Gentile coverts to Judaism, they have to be made clean in a ceremony called ‘proselyte baptism.’

Enter John the Baptist. The controversial thing about John was that he wasn’t just baptizing Gentiles – he was calling out the Jews too. He claimed the Messiah was coming and that even the Jews were unworthy to receive him  (Matthew 3:1-12).  To be made clean, they needed to repent and turn to God. Think about it as reverse water-boarding: you confess the Truth and then get the water treatment.

This of course raises the question – why would Jesus, a man without sin, need to be baptized? You could write a book on that topic, but in short, Christ had to submit the Law perfectly. By being baptized he was obeying a command from God’s prophet (John the Baptist) and setting an example for us to follow.

After Jesus rose, he told his followers to go make more disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe all that Christ commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  Where as the baptisms John administered were in preparation for the Messiah, the baptism Christ commands us to do marks the beginning of a life following him. In him we are made clean and made new, not by water, but by Spirit (Matthew 3:11).Christians recognize, though we are not worthy to receive him, Christ bore our sins so that we could be made new, clean, and righteous before God which is signified through baptism.

You might be saying, “I get that baptism is important (after all it is commanded by a locust-eating man of the wilderness and God incarnate), but why do some churches dunk babies and others dunk adults? Can you go to heaven if you don’t get baptized?” In the next post, I will explain some of these differences and why my kids haven’t been baptized …yet.

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Holy Cow over a Holy Chicken

Posted on July 28, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Government, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never thought I’d write a post about Chi-fil-A. Probably because I didn’t think there was anything really to write about. Yes, I find their spicy chicken sandwich awesome. They do make the best cookies and cream milkshakes. And Chick-fil-a sauce can cure cancer. But if you wanted to know all that, you shouldn’t read about it in a blog, you should just go there and eat the food. Even if you’re gay.

That’s right, despite what you may or may not have heard, Chick-fil-A does serve homosexuals. Dan Cathy has not made it corporate policy to hate gays. Actually, I would say I eat at Chick-fil-A more than the average person (especially when I was pregnant) and I have never, ever been asked if I was in a heterosexual relationship or even if I was a Christian. That’s why it is very difficult for me to understand what in the world everyone was so upset about this week.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Dan Cathy, the President of Chick-fil-A, gave an interview to the Baptist Press in which he said he believed marriage should be between one man and one woman. In other words, a Christian man, while talking to a Christian outlet, said he believes in the Christian definition of marriage.

This is not news.

What is news is the lack of outrage that has followed. The mayors of Boston and Chicago both claimed Chick-fil-A had no place in their cities and various gay activist groups are using a lot of resources to ostracize the company in the public sphere.

In this story, there’s something that pretty much everyone can unite against. These governments are treating a private company differently because its president holds a certain religious opinion. Many activist groups are using aggressive and coercive behavior to force Chick-fil-A to change its stance – might one call this bullying? Yet the outrage is targeted at demonizing a man because he ‘hates’ gays, though the activists are the ones who want to treat him differently for having a dissenting opinion.

I fully support that private citizens have the right to boycott Chick-fil-A (just as they could boycott OPEC oil for slaughtering homosexuals in those countries), but shouldn’t we be more cautious before publicly blacklisting Dan Cathy or anyone else for holding beliefs that are different than our own? Shouldn’t a red flag go up when government is threatening any citizen for their religious beliefs? Isn’t that the Christian, or if you’re not one of those, American thing to do?

I still firmly believe that this problem like so many can be fixed with a little Chick-Fil-A sauce, which is why I’ll be supporting the company on August 1st. Not just because I agree with Dan Cathy (my readers already know how I feel about that topic), but because I also support the right for people to express their beliefs without coercive backlash from the most ‘tolerant’ in society. How about you?

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Who Do You Have A Friend In?

Posted on July 15, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cover of "Toy Story: An Original Walt Dis...

Cover via Amazon

My nearly 2-year-old son has fallen in love with  “Toy Story.” I’m thankful that the kid has good taste, considering I’ll probably be watching it a lot over the next few years. There’s great characters, an original story line, (clean) adult humor, and pretty catchy tunes. I’ve actually had “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” in my head for the better part of a week now, which got me thinking, who should I have a friend in?

Friends are interesting creatures. The meaning of the word ‘friend’ has always been somewhat ambiguous. There’s your ‘friends’ that you’re friendly with but don’t really know too well. Then there’s the ‘just friends,’ which is usually someone of the opposite sex that you want to be more than friends with. Or the ‘friend’ that sat three rows behind you in Anthropology and you didn’t even know their name until they ‘friended’ you on Facebook. And then there’s the people that genuinely enrich your life.  All of these people are defined as ‘friends.’

But what does a biblical friendship look like? How do we know who we should be friendly with and who should be our companions in life?

We intrinsically know that friends are people you enjoy spending time with and usually share something in common with, like a love of a sports team or where you went to school together. The books of Amos echoes this: “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3). Yet, Amos takes our basic understanding of friendship to the next level by suggesting friends need to have their destination and the way they are getting there in common.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I don’t think Amos meant my girlfriend and I need to agree on how we get to frozen yogurt shop, though that’s also important. Friends communicate and agree on where they want to go in life and equally important, how they plan to get there.

Most people don’t give too much consideration to where they want to be or how they are getting there. But Christians have a friendly tour guide and road map, which give us direction. Christ himself laid out who his BFFs were when he said, “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).

While part of me wants to pretend a friend is someone who does whatever I command, I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus meant here. Instead, his words lead me to believe a true friend is someone who is doing will of our Father, someone who confides in and knows Him. I realized, a friend is someone who brings you closer to your final destination, being with God.

Look at some of the best examples of friendship in the Bible: David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naoami, Elisha and Elija, Balaam and his donkey. In each of them, both parties knew they wanted to follow God by obeying his words. Through assassination attempts, deaths of loved ones, and other life trials, these friendships endured because these people (and animal) weren’t focussed on pleasing themselves or even the other person. Rather, they were focussed on God.

This may sound like a simple concept, not too many of us are friends with murderers. But it can be difficult to sever relationships, platonic or romantic, with people who drive us from God rather than bring us closer to Him. We might even be tempted to think God ‘placed them in our lives.’ But verses like 2 Corinthians 6:14 and 1 John 2:15 lead me to question if God would want me to confide in someone who doesn’t agree on my life’s route or destination.

I’m blessed to have the friends who will ensure I check myself befo’ I wreck myself  (Proverbs 27:17). It’s my prayer that you’ll take the time to reflect on the relationships you surround yourself with to ensure they are drawing you closer to your destination. Hopefully, these are the people who will be with you from now to infinity and beyond.

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A Straight Answer on Gay Marriage

Posted on May 20, 2012. Filed under: Culture, Government | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Whenever I don’t know what to write about next, I look at the cover of Newsweek. This time, the magazine is depicting President Obama with a rainbow halo and the words, “The First Gay President,” fueling yet another debate over gay marriage.

Yes,  I’m one of the politically incorrect Christians that thinks being gay is a sin. It’s not because I’m a bigot or because I’m mad the gay community has hijacked and monopolized the rainbow, rather it’s because Scripture tells me it is. There’s the Old Testament verses like Lev 18:22 or Paul’s writings that lay it all out (1 Cor 6:9, Romans 1:26-27), but many in the Church disregard these because ‘Jesus didn’t say it.’ Yet, Christ did define marriage as a man and a woman thereby negating homosexuality, polygamy, or anything else  (Matt 19:4-9, Mark 10:3-12). To me, there’s no question that Christians should be opposed to gay marriage within the Church. The question I struggle with is: should Christians deny those outside the Church?

When Paul wrote to the nascent church in Corinth, it was common for the Greeks to have homosexual partners, which Paul opposed. Yet, when he called for the Greek disciples to abstain from sexual immorality, he also told them it was not his place to judge those outside the Church:

“It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you” (1 Cor 5:12-13).

Paul is telling us that we should not focus our scorn on the non-believers, but rather that we should ensure those claiming to be Christ-followers are practicing what they preach. Isn’t that the biggest complaint about Christians today – that we are hypocrites? How can we use force (i.e. government) to define ‘holy’ marriage, when the Church elects gay bishops, covers-ups the molestation of  children, ignores pornography, adultery, cohabitation and maintains the same divorce rate as non-Christians?

Christians should be more concerned with spreading the Gospel than legislating their will onto others (something we certainly wouldn’t want them doing to us).  Christianity was able to spread throughout the Roman Empire, including carnal Corinth, and eventually transform it because early Christians focused on love, not law.  If we focus more on being lights for the world, maybe the sanctity of marriage along with the rest of our culture could be saved. After all, it’s God that gives marriage its value, not government.

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Apologetics I: The Cosmo-logical Argument

Posted on May 6, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Cosmopolitan (cocktail)

Cosmopolitan (cocktail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my readers recently posed a question to me: “How do we know there is a God”? There’s a lot of ways to answer this question, and lots of people smarter than me have written many leather-bound books doing so. But my reader didn’t ask them, so here is my response. I’ll begin by first looking at the ‘cosmological argument’ – cliff notes version.

The ‘cosmological argument’ basically says that something had to make the cosmos (as in the universe, drinks included). All of the ‘stuff’ in the universe didn’t just appear. This argument is based on the ‘Law of Causality’: every effect has a cause. Let’s say I have one more ‘follower’ because my charm finally wooed someone to subscribe to my blog. The effect is that I have one more follower; the cause was my charm….obviously.

Not too hard of a concept to grasp right? Simply take any object in the universe and ask, ‘where did it come from?’ until you find the root cause. For example, every girl loves cosmopolitans. It’s a fact. They are a smooth and sweet with just a hint of sour that makes for a wonderful pink cocktail that any girl (and honest guy) loves to drink. But where do cosmos come from? Vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice and triple sec, obviously. But where did those come from? Well, the vodka came from water, fermented potatoes, and Russian tears. Cranberry juice comes from cranberries, lime juice from limes, and triple sec from distilled orange peels. But where did they come from? So, the potatoes grew from tubers under the ground…and on and on we could go.

Ultimately, this question points to an origin that must exist outside the universe and time in order to have created everything. Aristotle referred to this something as the Prime Mover, First Cause or Uncaused Cause (’cause it caused everything else). This ‘something’ must have always existed and always will exist. It must simply be by virtue of being itself. Christians call this something God (Ex 3:14).

Skeptics reject this argument a few ways. First, they say it actually violates the Law of Causality because the ‘something’ must also have come from something.  Basically saying that ‘if God made everything, then who/what made God?’ But remember, the Law of Causality states that every effect must have a cause, but God is not an effect, and therefore needs no cause.  After all, God’s name in Hebrew literally means “I am, who I am.” He was not created, He just is.

Some people claim that the universe ‘created itself.’ So, given enough nothing (no atoms, no light, no energy…nothing) and then add more nothing and enough time …and more time, you will eventually get something. Given a bajillion years of nothing and time, you’ll get more and more stuff until finally, you have our universe.  I thought Redi’s maggots and the Law of Conservation of Energy put this one to rest, but apparently not.

The Law of Non-Contradition says that A cannot be A and non-A at the same time (for example, an apple cannot be an apple and not an apple at the same time). By definition, in order to be created, brought into being, there must be a creator or one who brings into being. If the universe created itself, it would have to have exist before it didn’t exist. Yet, it cannot exist and not exist at the same time. We can toss out this argument. And Christians are the one’s working on blind faith?

So, in the end, we all need to recognize and give thanks to the Creator of the universe…and more importantly, cosmos.

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How to Handle the Truth

Posted on April 29, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

A few weeks ago, I posted a survey requesting feedback on what readers wanted to see more about. I was a little surprised that some requested apologetic-related topics. Since my blog is tailored to a Christian audience, this response indicates one of three things: 1. some of you are just as nerdy as me 2. some of you are not Christians but are curious why I am or 3. some of you don’t know how to correctly cast a vote. Regardless of the reason, I’m going to be spending the next few posts focusing on apologetics, which is a fancy way of saying, “defending Christianity”.

But first, in case you aren’t automatticly interested in this topic, I want to explain why all of us should have some basic foundation in apologetics. Today, many Christians might be tempted to leave the brainy stuff to the ministers and theologians, but I disagree (as you might have guessed from this post ). In fact, as Christians, we’re actually commanded to be able to defend our faith in Christ on our own.

Here’s what the Bible says, “So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats…And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:14-15). First, we have to be ready to explain and defend the faith. Secondly, ‘threats’ implies that inquiries may not always be from an open-minded people.

The Church has always been under attack from outsiders. In the early days of the Church, Jews accused other converted Jews of heresy while the Romans claimed Christians were, among other things, cannibals (both crimes punishable by death). In many parts of the world, preaching about Christ will still cost you your life.  Here, attacks come from atheists and agnostics that claim Christians are ‘anti-science’ or are fools acting on ‘blind faith.’  What’s sad is that these attacks have become so powerful that even some Christians doubt the legitimacy and authenticity of the Bible. Many of my peers who ‘grew up Christian’ are now turning away from it’s teachings because they are ‘logically oriented’ or find more comfort in moral relativism.    .

The Bible explains that faith is both logical and emotional (after all, God gave us a heart and a brain).  When Paul went to the Jews to defend his conversion, he tried to reason with them using prophecy, Scripture, and witness testimony (Acts 17:2-319:8, 28:23-24). Flip through his Epistles (those “other” books in the New Testament) and you’ll see he did the same thing with the Romans and Greeks.

Granted, logic isn’t going to win over every mind, or even most (Paul was ultimately martyred). But being able to articulate our beliefs, grounded in reason, will do a few things. First, it will help grow your personal relationship with Christ. Just like getting to know different characteristics and qualities of a significant other deepens your feelings for them, so too does understanding how God makes Himself apparent to all who want to know Him (Romans 1:20). And after all, how can you love someone you don’t know?

Understanding apologetics also develops confidence to answer questions from inquiring co-workers, children, spouses, friends and the most hostile skeptics on Facebook alike. I’m guilty of avoiding conversations with people I know aren’t going to be receptive to the Gospel out of fear of what they will say or counter with. And despite what I may pretend, I don’t know everything. Yet, Christians aren’t called to act out of fear (1 Cor 16:14). Instead, we should be destroying the notion of ‘blind faith’ by giving light to false and illogical secular claims (Mat 5:16).

Ultimately, we want to get to a point where we illustrate the Christian faith is perfectly logical and show that it is actually illogical to reject Christ. But in the end, only the Holy Spirit can bring someone to him. This isn’t an argumentative escapism, I only mean that despite your (and my) best efforts, some will choose the illogical route. It’s at this point when you stand up and point your finger in their face and scream “You can’t handle the truth!” Seriously though, people will exchange truth for lies, and they have the free will to do so and we must love them anyways (Romans 1:21-25).

Over the next few posts, I’m asking readers to provide feedback (questions or comments), so I can address specific inquiries. I’ll try to build my posts around them. And if the posts suck, my apologies.

PS – Sorry for missing last week. I had a baby.

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Cafeteria Christianity Part II: You Can’t Have Your Pudding If You Don’t Eat Your Meat

Posted on March 9, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , |

Last week, I claimed Christians unnecessarily treat the Bible as a type of ‘mystery meat.’ In doing so, I wanted to encourage Christians to know we can trust in it’s authority.

But I’ve also noticed the Church treats the Bible itself as a buffet. We often skip over the vegetable scriptures that aren’t so pleasing to the pallet, no matter how nutritious, and go straight for the soft-serve machine.  We are happy to take bites of the Psalms sprinkled with Proverbs.  If we eat anything with substance, it’s almost always the Gospels.  The Old Testament and the letters of Paul give us acid reflux (especially Leviticus).  I mean, if we are only going to eat out once a week (or just Christmas and Easter), might as well indulge on a nice Christian ‘meal’ complete with all our favorite goodies, rather than that other stuff.

I’m definitely guilty of this selective reading. I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it up until a few years ago. That was when I realized that I had been a Christian for about a decade, but I didn’t really have a ‘well-balanced’ understanding of what the Word of God actually said. Instead, I had been spending my whole time at my personal dessert tray. As a result, my walk with Christ could have been described as a series ‘sugar highs’ followed by crashes. Surely, this couldn’t be healthy way of spiritual living.

Why do we treat the Bible as a buffet rather than a well-balanced specialty-made meal?

I used to think it was because I didn’t understand how to read it, that it was just over my head because I didn’t go to seminary. Or perhaps it was because it was written for a different culture, one that looked very different than modern America, therefore not applicable. Better yet, it was itself written by men who were fallible. After all, God figured out how to organically store 20 gigabytes of information inside a nucleus that is 6 microns (or .000006 meters) in diameter, but surely writing a book correctly was too hard for Him.

Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” I was picking and choosing the verses I lived by. I thought I had better ideas about right, wrong, and how to live life than the Creator of the universe. Talk about pride.

I recently heard my pastor say that we try to filter the Bible through our cultural world-view rather than filtering our cultural world-view through the Bible. I don’t think that this is something new, especially considering Paul wrote Hebrews almost 2,000 years ago. When God gave the Israelites the Law, He did so to set them apart from other nations. Living according to the Bible will only cause inter-relational problems, not solve them (Luke 12:51-53). When Jesus came to fulfill the Law, his teachings were so counter-cultural they crucified him for it. Like I’ve said before, people don’t crucify Mr. Rogers.

“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). Thankfully, we don’t live in Iran where following Christ will get you killed, but it will undoubtedly bring ridicule, even from others who claim they are Christians. The lives of the “the few” should include fighting creatures that shame Tolkien villains. They should also look different than the lives of those around us who are not living for Christ. If not, we’re probably doing it wrong (Mat 7:13).

Here was the sobering thought that changed me: what about my life defines me as a Christian? My life didn’t look any different than those around me. People could only have assumed I was a Christian because I wore a cross around my neck, gave presents to people in December, and attended church. I was a Christian 2% of the year, applying 2% of the Bible. I knew I wasn’t “doing it right,” but it just wasn’t convenient for me to do anything about it, especially in college! But Jesus didn’t say, “if you love me, keep my commands when when it works for you, when they align with your views and your culture, and when it won’t cost you anything” (compare to John 14:15).

So, now I am trying to do it “right”. Do I still fail? Hourly (minutely just sounds weird). Has it cost me anything? Sadly, yes. But my understanding of Scripture and Christ has exploded (in the good way), my life has been blessed ten-fold, and my heart has aligned closer to God, rather than to the world. I’ve grown more as a Christian in the past 3 years than I did in the ten before that.

I encourage all 3 of you reading this to remember God revealed Himself to us as in a well-balance, high-protein, low-carb meal made especially for us rather than a Golden Corral special for $9.99. As tempting as it is, don’t skip right to your specialized dessert tray and ignore the nutrition God knew we would need. After all,  if you are really ‘in Christ’, how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

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If We Only Had a Brain

Posted on February 5, 2012. Filed under: Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Last week, I tried to illustrate that I was guilty of putting faith in something I knew very little about. But I’m not so sure that (my lack of) thinking is reserved for the secular world alone. Do Christians today focus too much on how we feel?  Do we rely too much on heart-felt experiences to guide our ‘faith’? Are we just trying to bypass the mind and  fulfill the emotional needs of our hearts?

Obviously, the heart is important because we generally won’t do something we feel is wrong (Proverbs 4:23). But scripture also warns us of the importance of using our head.

Some might be familiar with the Shema, probably the most important prayer in Judaism, which is found in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut 6:4-9). This was the prayer that baby Jesus probably said when he went to bed. While it’s content is enough for another post, it is important to note that the Lord calls the Hebrews to continually think about His words or as He said, “bind them on your foreheads” (some took this a little too literal). God tells us that we should contemplate His words each day and use it, not our feelings, to purposefully guiding our actions.

What happens when we just ignore the Bible (or remain ignorant on its content)? The New Testament warns that if we do not “retain the knowledge of God,” we become corrupt, and give into our sinful nature (Romans 1:28). Eventually, our character becomes schizophrenic as we preach one lifestyle and live another (James 1:8). This is probably one reason why the world has negative opinions about us, sometimes we’re hypocrites.

Paul wrote, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:4-5). Here, Paul wasn’t warning that our heart would deceive us, but that our mind would fall under attack from deceivers (which are inside the Church as well). Christians are  called to fight false arguments that keep us from God. While some arguments might be obvious, the majority of them aren’t. The lies we give into are the ones we are either are not aware of because they are subtle or they are the ones we want to believe (Proverbs 22:3Romans 16:17-18).

So, how do we defend ourselves in the battle of wits? Certainly not by shutting off our mind. God wants us to use our heads as He commanded us to do so (Deut 6:8). He doesn’t want us to become the stereotypical ‘blind-faith’ Christian that feels our way through life, which as we see inevitably leads us to sin. Instead, we are called to renewed our mind (wow, that would be a good name for a blog…) and become purposeful about how we think (Romans 12:2).

Inevitably, this all means Christians have to spend time reading, learning about, studying, and memorizing scriptures. We can’t claim to love God if we don’t take the time to know Him and what He is telling us. It’s His words, not our heart, that will show us His perfect will (Matt 15:19). After all, as a famous scarecrow once said, if your “head’s all full of stuff in’, your heart’s all full of pain.”

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Marriage Expectations

Posted on September 10, 2011. Filed under: Culture, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Jane Austen

Image via Wikipedia

A reader recently recommended a topic for me to address: what to expect in marriage. Entire blogs and books are dedicated to this topic, but those usually unnecessarily beat up on men. I’ll try to make this one different.

Marriage in one verse: It is good for a man not to marry ( 1 Cor 7:1). There – done. I write that in jest but in all seriousness, I believe Paul wrote that because marriage is hard, but especially so if you are a Christian.

Why do people get married? Because we fall in love? Because we find someone we just cannot live without? Someone who makes our heart skip a beat and looks really good in a dress. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons my husband married me was so he would never have to unload the dishwasher. But as much as he loves this perk, we know that as Christians (and Jews) we are called to marry to become holy. It is an institution that God, not a priest, a judge, or Jane Austen created in which man and wife become one in spirit and in body (Mat 19:4-6).

And here lies the problem. From the onset, we are reminded that contrary to everything our culture tells us about marriage, it is not about us – it’s about Him. While men and women look for any reason under the sun to break this bond from ‘falling out of love’ to ‘I deserve better,’ the only reason Christ defines as acceptable for divorce is adultery (Mat 19:9).  After hearing this, the disciples conclude that it’s better for people not to marry all together (Mat 19:10), which may be where Paul was coming from too.

Humans, but especially Americans, are into themselves. It’s all about me. Sometimes that works well for us. It created a society focused on individual rights, the freest nation in the history of the world. It created a market place full of products to meet even the most obscure individual desires – the shake weight, really? But in a marriage, this attitude is destructive. We’ve all heard the statistics that about half of marriages end in divorce, even among Christians. But of those that don’t end in divorce, how many marriages would you actually call ‘happy,’ even less ‘holy’?

In Malachi, God reminds us that we are all tempted to break faith with our spouse, even while we are still married (Mal 2:14-16).  Break faith – what does that mean? Maybe ‘forgetting’ list of things she wants you to do around the house. Perhaps convincing yourself that you ‘deserve’ a husband who will ‘want’ to (insert chore/task here).

Breaking the faith, I believe, means feeding that self-centered desire we have to get our way and make ourselves happy. Keeping faith with ourselves rather than our spouse. Forgetting, or worse ignoring, the fact that God has united us with one individual to make us happy, holy, and whole.

So, what to expect in marriage? Expect to learn what real love is, to be awed, and gain insight into our Lord. But expect to find challenges, especially when your expectations are focused on yourself. Jane Austen may have written some ‘lovely’ books about the perfect love, but she had no idea what she was talking about. After all, she was never married.

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