Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Oh the Humanity! I Mean, Animality!

It's been awhile since I entered one of Lennie's symposiums at Cross Blogging. But this week's was too good to pass up. Seems someone at the London Zoo thought it would be a good idea to create a display demonstrating that we humans are just another group o'primates. While absurd on its face, the exhibit does raise a striking point about the divergence of worldviews between those who believe God created humanity and those who believe mankind is an accident of nature. This difference is what I'll discuss when I answer Lennie's questions.

Is man a plague species?
Hmmm. I think this depends on how one defines "plague species." My assumption (though I could be wrong) is that those of a naturalistic worldview would mean by this phrase that mankind is responsible for all manner of ills that befall the natural world. They are 100% correct, although not in the manner they think. Our sin does impact the natural world - the earth is cursed because we rebelled against God. I just don't think that's what the zoo was contemplating when labeling us as a "plague species."

Is man just another primate?
Unequivocally not. We were created in God's image. As I discussed in my series on the environment, we are above all other creatures. As such, we have a greater responsibility to care for the earth. If we're just run of the mill primates, then I'd think the naturalists are in quite the conundrum. We would then have no more responsibility to care for the earth than our fellow primates (and other animals) who are in it for themselves. "Survival of the fittest" is the mantra du jour if we are not above other creatures, not "care for the earth."

Is man superior to other animals?
In many ways, yes. We can be morally superior, though I'd argue that one who is sinning is (at least momentarily) morally inferior to a morally neutral animal. Animals have physical abilities that some of us may find superior to those we have. But we are absolutely spiritually superior, which I'd also argue is the most important thing. We are created in God's image, and He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die on our behalf, so that our rebellion and self-earned debt would be forgiven if we accept His grace. He didn't do that for animals - He did that for us. Our superiority, though, is not cause for arrogance or abuse. He cares for the sparrows too, and we are responsible to care for them as well.

Again, the naturalistic worldview would argue we aren't special. If that's true, we have no special obligation to practice conservation. I prefer having that responsibility myself.

What do you believe mansĂ‚’ relationship to animals is or should be?
I addressed this in my series on the environment, here. We are to be stewards of all creation, treating animals humanely and compassionately. After all, God provides for them; we should take that as prima facie evidence of our need to do the same.

The naturalist would have you believe we are no better, albeit possibly worse, than other animals. This is supposed to lead one to buy the "we're all in this together" philosophy of conservationism. In truth, it does the opposite. If I'm no better than a lion, what obligation do I have to save animals when the lion hunts and kills. If I'm not superior to the mosquito, why should I not be satisfied being a parasite of other creatures? What gives us our moral duty to care for nature is that we are made in the image of a God who cares for nature. If we are nothing more than animals, the only obligation that exists is of self-propagationn and survival. That is regardless of what we do to other creatures.

God bless!

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/30 Edition

That time of the week again...time to see what's interesting out there on the 'net. Turns out the answer is plenty.
...

Christian Carnival is at Crossroads this week. Entries due tonight, midnight.
...

Congrats to Dadmanly (and also to Gladmanly) for reaching one year of blogging excellence! May God bless the endeavor as long as it continues.
...

Another place to submit writing is the weekly Cross Blogging symposium which this week tackles humans in the zoo.
...

Fellow MOBster Questions and Answers posts some beautiful pictures from an area not too far from here.
...

As my regular readers know (er, should that be, as my regular reader knows?) I am fascinated by all things meteorology, especially when it comes to severe weather. In all my studies, training and hobbyist-surveys of severe weather documentation, I'd have to agree with Nick Queen that the hurricane warning on Katrina was as chilling as it gets. Reminder: Pray for this. And as you are able, give to this - or similar agencies.
...

I missed Kristen while she and family moved, but she appears to be back with a vengeance. Excellent post on our friendship with God.
...

For those affected by Katrina, we're praying for you.

God bless!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Hunches

In his book "The Dilbert Future" Scott Adams plays amateur futurist. In general, I prefer when he mocks corporate America, but one thing about his futurist/philosophy stuff intrigued me. In chapter 14, Adams writes that "[t]he theory of evolution will be scientifically debunked in your lifetime." Okay then. Interesting thought. His point is that science will change how it looks at things (rather than changing the things at which it looks) and evolution won't really fit the new perceptual paradigm. I'm not going to get into whether his argument is correct in this blog, but I do want to jump off from his thought on evolution being debunked.

I have a few hunches of my own, and I'm in the mood to play amateur futurist. I can't point to anything other than gut feel, but I want to get them down "on paper" to see if any of these come true down the line. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section, or play along on your own blog. Perhaps there are some budding futurists among us...we'll see who's hunches end up right down the line.

Remember, this is about fun, not wagering. I'm not betting for or against any of these predictions! (If this starts a meme, I apologize in advance...I didn't see that coming!)

(Switch on "In the Year 2000" music from Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

  1. I have a hunch that in 20 years, people will wonder what all the global warming worries were about when the problem then will be the global cooling forecasts (which means that once again, something from the '70s will be rearing its ugly head.)

  2. I have a hunch that "evolution" (colloquially defined) theory will be radically altered by new discoveries in the next 10 years. While similar to Adams' prediction, I don't feel that evolution will be debunked. I just think that the theory is about to undergo some serious shifts. This will be good news for science textbook writers, who will have the chance to introduce all sorts of new errors into textbooks.

  3. I have a hunch the NYT will be bought out by a conservative interest, meaning the Strib publishers will need to receive their two-days-late/ill-thought-out opinions from a new source.

  4. I have a hunch my fantasy football team in Nick's league will finish third this year. I have too many Vikings to win it.

  5. I have a hunch Alice's course load will convince me not to go to law school as I'd kind of like to play with my kids on occasion.

  6. Finally, I have a hunch I will be very sentimental next Tuesday when my eldest daughter starts Kindergarten. Time goes by too quickly...before you know it, she'll be graduating, dating (that sound was my heart, stopping), marrying (that sound was my brain exploding)...and we'll know how good a futurist I turned out to be.



God bless!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/25 Edition

Congratulations to Dave and Tricia, winners of the August (and august) Challies.com giveaway. To those who tied for 3rd in this particular contest of random draw, look for future contest announcements next month.
...

Good question. I remember well the days of my own childhood, playing outside long past dark on a nigh-daily basis. Our girls, naturalist mother and all that, spend a great deal of time outdoors. Better to have them enjoying nature than turning into inanimate absorbers of television.
...

Good news of the small 'g' type (except that I started a sentence with "good" so I had to capitalize it...) Anyhoo, anyone looking for a soon-to-graduate MBA who should also own a PMP certification, please let me know. Unless you live in someplace where there's no snow in the winter. That just ain't right.
...

Christian Carnival is up at Wallo World. Again, lots of entries. There are a couple that stick out so far (and I haven't read 'em all, so if I don't list yours I'm sure it's because I haven't read it yet):

  • JivinJehoshaphat touches on a few pet peeves of mine all in one blog post: Bill Maher's uninformed stereotypes & generalizations of faithful folks, double standards in elevating one's agnosticism above faith, and incoherence of thought in regards to what faith really is. Nice efficiency!

  • (Hmmm...wonder if I've put this item far enough away from the one on kids being outdoors that nobody will notice it's about television.) Thoughts on the Christian Life talks about one of my favorite television shows, The Amazing Race, and how it's similar to the Christian life. I think it safe to say I'm a recovering television junky, and we're finding less available via the medium than we used to. Like I said above, better to enjoy other things than be a couch potato. But there are a couple of shows we do like, and the Amazing Race is one of them - and not just because my wife and I would love to be on the show.



God bless!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/23 Edition

Ah, the joys of Mondays. Kids left for the grandparents' house for a few days, Northrn 'burbs wife grilled steak and chicken for dinner, and watched The Stepford Wives (early review - not bad, not great) while mashing our grapes for this year's batch o'wine (early review - a tad acidic this year, leading me to believe fermentation will be tougher to manage, but the harvest was abundant.) Not to mention the perfect weather, and the "for no reason" gift N'b wife gave me (DVD of The Rookie - best baseball movie since Field of Dreams.) Makes me wonder why Mondays get such a bad rap.

Enough about me (oh, and did I mention I completed Econ yesterday by submitting my final? One more class down, three to go until the MBA is complete.) On to the interesting bits I found online lo these past few days.
...

Fellow MOBster Doug Bass at Apprehension is hanging up the keyboard. Too bad, and he'll be missed. God bless and God speed in your future endeavors Doug, and hope to catch you at Keegan's one of these Thursdays anyway.
...

Northern 'burbs blog is, and always shall be, a porn-free site, but this week's Cross Blogging symposium asks whether the Internet should remain a porn-free-domain zone.
...

Rants are fun. So fun that mil-blogger Dadmanly is trying out a weekly feature centered on good rants. (BTW, I'd also recommend both the Dadmanly blog in general, but also his other blog, Gladmanly.)
...

Hugh is going to have a Blog of the Week? Hmmmm...interesting. Verrrrry interesting. Figures he'd be at the forefront of tying radio to blogging and cross-marketing the two yet again.
...

If only we saw more of this in the news and had less of this nonsense. Note - I'm NOT criticizing CNN et al for covering Robertson's inanity. Robertson said something that I find dispicable and sripturally untenable. He should be called to account for it. If he's going to claim to speak for Christians (which he kinda does) then we need to point out when he's left the commune so to speak. This was an idiotic thing to say. His comments put into stark relieve what I'd rather see more high-profile Christian leaders doing (like what Rick Warren is doing in Africa.) I'm praying for both men - and both need it.
...

Rumor has it that Christian Carnival is at Wallo World this week. Get dem dere entries in by midnight tonight.
...

How surprised am I by this? Not very. Not at all. I'm sure the reason is that in Wisconsin, drinking is a way of life. Or, in this case, a way of almost losing a life - key quote: "We saw stuff flying and basically buried our heads," said Peaslee, who was cooking steaks when somebody shouted to get in the basement. He said some guys grabbed their beers as they raced down the stairs.

"They thought it might be their last one," he said. "They wanted to have one in hand
." Running away from a tornado...stopping to grab your beer. In that environment, U-W Madison had no chance to avoid being the top partying school.
...

I'll be updating the blogroll today to add some new blogs I've found interesting enought to visit frequently. Check 'em out.

God bless!

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Modern Babel

So I'm reading Genesis 11. Fascinating stuff, especially the first half of the chapter. Okay, only the first part of the chapter - the 2nd half is all lineage. But the first 8 verses tell a now-famous story of God confusing the language of a group of people:

Genesis 11:1-8 (NIV):
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.


Men decided to build themselves a tower, to make a name for themselves, to replace God. Extreme hubris, thinking they could take God's place - that was the sin of babel. God didn't cotton to this, and stepped in to show them their folly. Nobody can take God's place.

We didn't learn our lesson. While not a perfect match to the Babel story of Gen. 11, our modern love of all things science is leading us down an eerily similar path. As it was with the Babel tower builders, the tools we use are not bad. Bricks, and mortar are morally neutral. So is science. Bricks and mortar have been used to great effect, and to great aid. So has science. I don't by any stretch mean to diminish or denigrate the useful application of the tools.

But the attitude with which these tools can be used may be quite evil. Bricks and mortar were used to build a tower in a vain attempt to replace God. Science is now being used in what will be a vain attempt to replace God. God gives life - we tell God we don't need Him by using test tubes to create babies and clones. God created each of us uniquely, gifted in different ways. We use genetic engineering to make designer offspring. God takes life, yet we decide that we can decide to take the life of another via euthenasia or abortion. God raises up the humble, yet we determine in our pride that we don't need God, and will someday defeat all illness.

Science is a wonderful gift, but we take it too far. Instead of using it to discover the glory of God's handiwork, we use it to attempt to replace Him. Instead of marveling at God's creativity, and enjoying the proper use of intellectual gifts, we rationalize how we can decide life and death matters. Instead of using it to help people live better lives, and cure illness, we use it to persuade people that God isn't there - or that we no longer need His services.

Making someone well is not a sin. Thinking our ability to do so is independent of God, well that is a sin.

I fear for our future if this pride continues unabated. As the husband of a scientist (and a computer scientist my own self) I appreciate the gift of intellectual inquiry in pursuit of truth. As a servant of a jealous God, I am appalled at the misuse of this good thing God has given us. At the original tower of Babel, God scattered a people. With our current prideful misuse of science to determine life and death questions not given to us I fear the penalty may be much, much worse.

Our motives need some attention. We can't let the technology get ahead of the ethics, and we need to return a sense of "why" (as opposed to "how") to scientific inquiry. God's patience is awesome, but as those building the tower found out, He doesn't choose to make it infinite.

God bless!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Marriage: I Sum Up

Marriage. So much to say about it that a, what, three week series didn't scratch the surface. I didn't even get into some of the more controversial topics, like how marriage roles should be "assigned," or the Biblical reasons for avoiding legalized gay marriage. But then, any social construct in place within every culture going back millenia is sure to be complex with all sorts of rabbit trails to pursue.

So I'm sure I'll post more on marriage over time. There's simply too much material for it not to crop up occassionally. I mean, I've already done a series on husbands fer cryin' out loud, so I guess this is my 2nd marriage-related series in the past few months.

But before I move on to other things (just so I can come back to marriage at some level in the future) I thought I'd summarize where we've been. Marriage is a God-created institution, the oldest relationship type (according to scripture) we have. It is a special and Biblically privileged relationship designed for a few purposes:

It is not something into which we should enter out of concern for legal rights, nor something that should be sought because of what society gives us. Nor is it strictly about love.

Rather, it is to fulfill God's plan for continuing society through procreation, and to demonstrate His love and blessings to us in another wonderful way. It is meant to be permanent in a way our culture cannot seem to grasp. This is to our societal detriment.

This is not to say that those who are not married should feel left out of God's will. Paul even said that some are called to the blessings found in remaining single. But for the continuance of our species on earth, marriage is necessary. Sin introduced death, which means we need to work harder to fulfill God's first command to us. Fortunately, in God's sovereign, omniscient providence, He ordained a plan for that: marriage.

God bless!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/18 Edition

Catez is soliciting more posts on Darfur. The original Darfur collection is a don't-miss. I'm grateful the blogosphere can help us keep our focus on problems even after the MSM has shifted attention to the scandal of the day.
...

Congrats to Kristen & Ryan for getting moved in (and for Kristen's job.) Missed ya sister, and hope to see updates as you get settled in. PTL for the good news!
...

Christian Carnival is up at all kinds of time.... It's organized around quotes, which makes it fun - especially when one of the quotes around the section holding my entry on marriage is from C.S. Lewis. Early fave's include:


...


God bless!

Marriage: The Myths

There are a number of myths about marriage vis a vis the Bible that I would like to address before I sum up this series. Some of these are more prevelant than others, but I've encountered all of them recently. All of them lead to confusion in society about what marriage is, which leads to confusion about "why" it is. If we can eliminate the confusion by dispelling the myths, there will be less strife.

Myth: - Marriage can be separated into legal and religious components
Actuality: - As I talked about Tuesday, marriage isn't about legal anything. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that if the state conferred nothing that could be construed as a benefit on married couples, I'd be perfectly fine with that. My marriage has nothing to do with tax rates, living wills or estate matters. If the government just did away w/marriage laws and made everyone formally document all these matters, that'd be fine with me. Why? Because marriage was created by God for one man and one woman for the purposes I outlined way back in the beginning of this series. God did not create marriage so Mrs. Northern 'burbs and I could pay less in taxes, or visit each other in the hospital.

Myth: - Marriage should only last while we're "in love."
Actuality: - So called starter marriages are growing in number. Biblically speaking, though, and excepting cases of adultery, marriages are for life. They are not dependent on feelings - which are quite fleeting. Marriage is a commitment, not something you "feel like doing."

Myth: - Religion has no effect on the frequency of marital problems or divorce.
Actuality: - Well, depending on how you look at it, this can be partially true. Faith doesn't completely shield anyone from marital problems, infidelity, abuse or divorce. However, the general understanding that Christians divorce at the same rate as other demographic groups is actually misleading. Nominal Christians (those who call themselves Christian) do divorce at similar rates, if not slightly higher, to those of the general population - much to the delight of militant anti-Christians. However, those who are regular church attenders divorce at a rate much lower than the general population. This is intuitively easy to follow. The more seriously you take your faith, the more it will impact your life. While I will fully admit my sampling here is too small to be statistically significant, of the divorced couples I know, all but one couple fell into a nominal Christian demographic, and rarely were any of these people in church (the other couple was made up of two Evangelicals of the conservative ilk, where she attended regularly and he attended rarely.)

These three key myths Americans hold about marriage need to be dispelled. If we recognize that marriage is something God designed for certain purposes, is based on commitment instead of feelings, and is blessed when both spouses share a dedication to faith, marriage in this culture would be in a much better place.

God bless!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Marriage: The Chatter

As I'm hoping to wrap up this series this week with a short chat on marriage myths (and a summary - ending it right on Friday) I thought I'd better point out what some other folks are saying, or blogging, about marriage. So, withouth further ado, here's some chatter from the 'sphere about my favorite human relationship.

The Adam Smith Institute's blog chimes in with a short post asking why government has a role in marriage in the first place.

World Magazine blog posted some information last fall on marriage statistics. As usual with World, the comments are interesting, and in this case have more to do with the way World got the information than the information itself.

The Happy Husband's entire blog is about marriage, and includes posts linking to other marriage posts on a weekly basis.

Dr. Mohler talks about something I mentioned earlier in the series: cohabitation raises the risks of marital problems.

Marriages Restored is a blog "about Redemption and Restoration Following Infidelity in Marriage." Knowing many couples who've suffered through infidelity, yet recoverd, I think there are too few of these types of blogs around.

There are many more. Googling "marriage" and "blog" provides over 4.5 million results. I can't recommend all of them, but if you're interested in marriage and for some reason my series alone doesn't do it for you (he says, knowing he left much, much, much stuff left unsaid and unaddressed) there's more out there. If you have favorite posts on the topic, please let me know in the comments below.

God bless!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Marriage: What it ain't

So yesterday I touched on a few things that marrige is. Today I'd like to touch on a few things that marriage isn't, especially in regards to our culture today. Very often, the trouble that people run into with their marriages is due to a fundamental misunderstanding about what marriage is not (at least from a Biblical perspective.) Likewise, many of the debates we have in society about marriage have the same problem. So let's see a few of the (many) things that marriage isn't.

Marriage isn't love. Sure, spouses are supposed to love each other - but we're supposed to love our enemies and neighbors too, and those relationships aren't marriage. Cultures over time have preferred arranged marriages that have worked quite well - and there is certainly no Biblical mandate to marry someone with whom you've fallen in love. Now of course love can exist, and ideally does exist, within a marriage: but it isn't a prerequisite. This is especially true when we're talking about romantic love. Passion cools, at times, which tempts people to bail on their marriages thinking they're no longer in love. In reality, the love that keeps people in marriage is a chosen love; "I choose to love you" and remain married to you, even if it's hard work. When this commitment is missed, people mistake a lack of passionate love for a lack of a marriage, and seek to disolve the relationship.

Marriage isn't a ceremony, or a set of legal rights or privileges. Adam and Eve had no legal rights and privileges, and didn't undergo any ceremony (of which we know) - yet they were married as much as my wife and I are married. In today's world, people want the protections and benefits of marriage - but marriage isn't a means to the ends of legal anything. Society encourages marriage by offering some form of incentive to marry, but marriage itself isn't the benefits. If society didn't offer the benefits, marriage would still exist. Focusing on what society gives you because you are married is missing the boat. This is what's led to our current debate on gay marriage - the idea that marriage is about rights and privileged. It's not.

Finally, marriage isn't something to "test drive" a time or two before doing the "'til death do us part" thing. There's been a recent interest in "starter marriages." As I mentioned yesterday, marriage is for life. Society today does not take marriage seriously, and for this it's easy to blame the Hollywood image in which celebrities marry and divorce with regularity. (I'm sure there are Hollywood couples who have long-lasting marriages - but their marriages aren't celebrated to the same extent that failed marriages are splashed everywhere.) I'm not sure how much of an influence the media has on this, but our culture definitely does not promote the serious nature, commitment and responsibility of marriage. You can't become one with your spouse and casually discard the relationship without pain. God took marriage seriously enough to institute it the moment Adam and Eve were first together. We should too.

I'm sure there are other misconceptions about marriage in our culture, but I've already pushed the limits of verbosity in this post. Let me know if you have more, or if you disagree with those I've posted.

God bless!

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/16 Edition

I'm thinking this is going to be an "as regular as I can make it" Tuesday/Thursday thing. You've been warned.
...

Congrats to La Shawn Barber! I'm a loooooooong way from a million unique visitors if Sitemeter is to be believed. Well done.
...

Speaking of milestones, congratulations also go out to Mark Lee for two years of blogging. His blog has a nice new look too. Makes me think I need to get on moving away from this blogger template...
...

For those who've never been to St. Paul or the Minnesota State Capital, Wayne at Questions and Answers posted some recent photos he took of our state's capital building and vicinity.
...

The Cross Blogging symposium this week is on education responsibility. Have kids who are, or will soon be, in school (like I do)? Check it out...
...

Tim Challies has his August giveaway up. Enter early!
...

Christian Carnival is at all kinds of time... this week. Entries due midnight tonight.
...

I think this hybrid news is way cool. Just need the automakers to sign up...

God bless!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Catching up...

I was intending to have my post on Galatians up on Friday, and apologize to those who checked in wondering where it was (I really have to stop planning my blog entries in public - reminds me of the joke: want to make God laugh? tell Him your plans.) A work situation has been building, and these past few days have been a bit filled as I shifted priorities around on the fly.

For reasons that should be apparent to anyone with much exposure to blogging I don't blog about my job (I'll confess to being a project manager - it's up to you to guess where, and I'm not telling here.) Plus, I have a non-disclosure clause in my code of conduct that doesn't permit me to speak about the company without getting all sorts of permission. I'm just not into the hassles. But sometimes that work will interfere with my "real life" schedule, which oddly enough does include my blogging. Hopefully I'll be able to regain some sanity here in the next week and I do promise I'll get my Galatians challenge posted.

'Til next time, God bless!

Marriage: What it is

As I mentioned Thursday I'm continuing my series on marriage today by talking a bit about what it is.

I'll bet 20 - no, maybe even 10 - years ago, this post would have been seen as superfluous. Filler material consisting entirely of the obvious. But oh, how quickly times have changed. Up until recently, the only debate centered around how soon after getting divorced or widowed a single mom needed to get married "for the good of her kids." Now the discussion has focused on what exactly marriage is, and how to fairly enable more people to enjoy the benefits, rewards and privileges of marriage.

All of this, though, has pushed the definition of marriage back into the fore of our societal conscience. What we thought was settled over centuries, nay millenia, of civilization (with few exceptions - which I'll address over this series' concluding week) is now an area of uncertainty.

Marriage has traditionally been a permanent, formally committed relationship between a man and woman of legal age, generally established in a public ceremony or ritual, and often - if not usually - for the purposes of raising children. But that is a cultural definition, and I'm sure there would be slightly different variants in different cultures.

On some areas, we have almost universal agreement - at least historically - about what marriage is: a relationship between adults of the opposite sex for the purpose of family. But in some areas, agreement is less comprehensive. Some cultures allowed for polygamy. Some define the legal age for marriage differently from the way we do here, and in few cases are the actual marriage ceremonies consistent across cultures. Even here in the U.S. we have multiple ways of making this commitment to each other.

In general, I think that some variety in the way cultures define marriage is fine. But I also think there are some absolute foundational truths about marriage that need to be present in order for a relationship to be called, truly, a marriage. First, for a relationship to be called a "marriage" the participants must be one man and one woman. There is no debating this from a Biblical perspective, though for those holding a non-Biblical view this argument will understandably not carry weight. The Bible's first few chapters set this forth unambiguously: Gen. 2:24 -For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. Marriage is one man cleaving to one woman. Nothing in scripture condones any other form of the marital relationship.

Second, marriage is "permanent" - that is, until "death do us part." There are very few circumstances in which divorce is scripturally permissible. In fact, Jesus only names one: adultery. Even here, though, Jesus' words indicate this is a pattern of adultery. One time cheating doesn't an excuse for adultery make - it is the unrepentant rejection of the commitment by one partner that allows for divorce. But even here God would prefer the marriage stay together. (Notice too that Jesus reiterates the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman in another address on this topic.) Divorce isn't allowed for such things as philosophical or religious differences. It's a real commitment, marriage, and it means "for life." It doesn't mean "until I'm bored with you."

A third component of marriage is that it is for the purposes I covered earlier in this series, especially childbearing (although there is still marriage for childless couples.) I won't rehash those posts here, but marriage is the sole relationship designed for each of these purposes.

Finally, marriage is a true union. As noted in Genesis, the two become one. Marriage is where one plus one equals one; where a man and a woman become united in spirit, body and purpose. It is not a companionship thing, it's not a fun thing (though indeed, you can have both within a marriage.) It's a unity thing. Something miraculous occurs within the marriage relationship that brings two people together in a way that no other relationship can. My wife was my best friend even before we got married - but something happened when we got married that made us even closer than that.

So if these are some of the things marriage is (and I'm sure I left something out) then there are probably some things that marriage isn't. I'll start there tomorrow.

God bless!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Marriage: Series Checkpoint

Interesting. I moved through the last purposes of marriage as planned, then realized I had not thought about what comes next. That's the risk of blogging sans a syllabus or agenda.

So...brainstorming "out blog" here, there are definitely some questions left unanswered by this series. First, although we have an idea of why marriage exists, we haven't discussed what it is. That seems a silly thing, almost, but nowadays defining marriage is a controversial activity. Ergo, I'll start on that next Monday.

Second, we haven't discussed what marriage isn't. Again, seems like a silly thing: if we know what marriage is, we by default know that everything else belongs to the set "not marriage." However, there are some cultural ties we put on marriage that aren't necessarily...well, let's put it this way. If I were to posit that marriage is not about falling in love and romance, I'd probably get some agreement and quite a bit of flack. That's the kind of thing we'll talk about after item #1.

Finally, we haven't talked about some marriage myths, which goes along with the last point. That will be the topic with which I close the series, hopefully at the end of next week. However: I rather like this topic, and as I near anniversary #12 (Oct. 16 - mark your calendars now) I'm more intrigued about discussing it. Soooo...if you have any questions you'd like me to answer (well, in theory someone could be interested in my thoughts on something) post them in the comments section and it just may be that I extend the series.

In the meantime, I'll be taking a one day break in the series tomorrow to post for Adrian's Galatians challenge. And now I'm going to pop some corn and watch the rest of Pirates of the Caribbean with my wife. Her team just won their softball doubleheader tonight, and she's all about chillin'.

God bless!

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/11 Edition

Christian Carnival is up at ...In the Outer.... So far I haven't found one that discusses C.S. Lewis, but there are some good posts nonetheless. In the spirit of my series on marriage, early favorites include:


...

Welcome back to Mr. Dumpling! I, for one, look forward to reading his stuff again.
...

Thanks to Corey at City Pages for naming northern 'burbs blog as its blog of the day. I humbly express my gratitude for the honor!
...

This article, by talks about something that would be of interest to those who enjoyed my series on the environment. It's not just conservative Christians who have concern about how we treat creatures - it's conservatives at large. Remember: stay educated about environmental concerns. Even if you think PETA's (not this PETA or this PETA) gone over the edge, that is no reason to disavow an interest in all things natural.
...

I'm still contemplating (around other responsibilities and commitments) how to word my entry to Adrian's Galatians challenge. I'd expect something within the next few days, probably as a break in the marriage series.

God bless!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The purposes of Marriage: Part V - A few More

Yesterday I started talking about some of what I consider to be secondary purposes for marriage, although marriage as a "type" representing the church's relationship to Jesus is a bigger deal than most secondary purposes. Today I'd like to conclude the portion of this series on marriage by covering a few more "secondary" purposes the Bible describes for marriage.

The first of these purposes is that marriage is a vehicle through which people receive blessings. This is hardly the only way, and this is not to say that those who cannot or do not marry are not blessed in other ways by God. There are certainly many blessings God provides apart from marriage. Hebrews 11 is a testament to people who were blessed for their faith, for instance.

But marriage is a relationship in which people are blessed. Solomon was big into this idea, saying, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD" (Prov. 18:22 - NIV). He especially found that a wife of noble character was worth more than jewels, and that life with a spouse is to be enjoyed. While Solomon's words are written, obviously, from the husband's point of view, I've heard numerous wives call their marriages sources of blessing too.

A second "secondary purpose" is related to the purpose of completion I discussed Monday. This purpose is to help each other, especially in regards to parenting and the ministry. I've talked about parenting, but our spouses help us in ministry, just as Aquila helped Priscilla, and I'm sure, vice versa.

A final purpose is related to completion as well. God gave us our spouses for companionship. Not only did God create Eve so that Adam would be complete, but He created Eve so that Adam would no longer be alone: "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." (Gen. 2:18a). Humans are social creatures, and need other humans. Our spouses help us avoid loneliness.

One caveat to all this discussion about purposes is that not every marriage exhibits these purposes. Spouses that are abusive do not "complete" a partner, and will often drive their partner to loneliness. Likewise spouses that are unfaithful abuse the place of sex, and those who abuse children miss completely the purpose of parenting. This is a sad reality, but it is reality because of sin. The good of marriage that God has created is too often tainted by sin, and God's purposes are rejected by those to whom He has given this wonderful relationship model. When we turn our backs on sin, and seek His purposes, our marriages will once again start realizing the fruit of His purposes. That is my prayer for all of us.

God bless!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The purposes of Marriage: Part IV - Archetype

I think that so far, we've touched on the 3 main purposes of marriage, from a Biblical point of view: procreation and parenting, sex, completion. There are, though, a couple of other "minor" purposes for marriage that I'd like to cover before moving on. The first of these is that marriage is a sort of archetype for the church's relationship with Christ.

This is mentioned in scripture in a few places. In Ephesians 5, Paul writes that "29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."[b] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church." The context of becoming one body, from Genesis 2 that we talked about yesterday, is changed here by Paul. Instead of man and woman becoming one body in marriage, the church and Christ become (via the profound mystery) one. This happens, like with human marriage, to complete us. We will be complete when we become "married" to Jesus.

So what does this marriage look like? Well, like the metaphor it is. We won't have a minister asking if we "take this Savior." Besides the fact that, well, believers have already said that particular "I do," marriage as we know it is not a Heavenly concern.

The scriptural metaphor is similar in purpose to yesterday's topic: completion. We will be completed through our "marriage" to Jesus, and this completion is promised to come in the day of Christ Jesus - i.e. when we are with Him forever. The completion that comes from marrying here on earth presents a glimpse of the completeness we'll have in eternity.

There are other passages that talk about the church being the bride of Christ: 2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19, and Matthew 22 to name a few.

God loves us, and loves us enough to send His own son to redeem us from our own sinful choices. He also loves us enough to provide, here on earth, a glimpse into eternity by giving us mates who complete us: not perfectly so, as only God can do that. But we understand a little of what Heaven will be like when we understand that God has provided for experiences that, in a finite world, allow us a preview of forever.

God bless!

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/9 Edition

Christian Carnival entries are due midnight EST tonight, so get 'em in. It will be hosted at ...In the Outer... this week.
...

Hmmmm...unlike in high school, I'm not sure where I belong in this list of blog groups. I'll let you, the reader, decide...just be kind:) (H/T: Allthings2all.)
...

Do you have an opinion on ID? No, not on whether kids should be carded, or a national driver's license. About recent comments by our President regarding Intelligent Design. Feel free to head over to Cross Blogging's symposium this week to discuss.
...

World Magazine's blog and Hugh Hewitt's blog have both undergone recent blog-lifts. The new looks appeal to me - and the content is quite good too.
...

Doug at Apprehension points us 'Sotan bloggers (i.e. MOBsters) to more Minnesota blogger lists. I'm always up for shameless promotion...
...

This article by Wade Horn touches on a subject you may have noticed being played up around here lately: marriage. The POV is from a governmental/fiscal conversvative perspective, not a per se Christian one, but the reading (and linked report on the "State of Marriage") is certainly interesting.

Speaking of marriage, another post should be out tonight, God willing.

God bless!

Monday, August 08, 2005

The purposes of Marriage: Part III - Completion

Apparently Friday's post on sex started a side conversation over at Evangelical Update. E.U. hostess Alice seems to think we evangelicals are quite proud of our marital sexual relations. Head on over and take part in the conversation, while I address the third major purpose of marriage here: completion.

The saying goes, "no man is an island." A book talks about how "it takes a village" (or, if you prefer Senator Santorum's version, "it takes a family.") People are made in God's image, and God is a God of relationship. The Creator recognized this (as you'd expect) and remedied Adam's short-lived bachelorhood right away:

"Genesis 2:19-22: 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man." (NIV)


Adam had nobody to whom he could relate; God was far above Adam, though they could commune and have a relationship. The animals were below Adam, at least insofar as the ability to relate - their relationship was master/servant. So God created a helpmate, a soulmate, a, well, mate. Eve was Adam's complement - most notably a physical complement, a necessary state for procreation (cf purpose #1 of marriage.) Adam took this well, committing himself to her saying,

"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man." (Gen. 2:23 - NIV)


Adam had his complement, "flesh of his flesh," his literal other half. In fact, this purpose for marriage, completion, is immediately declared in scripture as the reason for marriage: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24 - NIV). One flesh, one being. Just as God is three persons in one being, so in a way are husband and wife 2 persons in one being. Marriage transforms a relationship so that two become one: parts become a whole.

Men and women are complementary. God created us that way, and not just for the obvious physical reasons. In general (and yes, I'm aware of exceptions), men and women think differently, act differently and reason differently. Analytical types need emotional types for balance, and dreamers need realists for practical survival. God created marriage as a way to unite complementary people, physically, emotionally, intellectually and motivationally. Our differences, when brought together, make two equal one. Viva la différence.

God bless!

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Purposes of Marriage: Part II - Sex

Yesterday I started talking about the purposes of marriage by touching on the idea that the ideal context for childbearing and child raising is within a family headed by married parents. There is more I could say, most of it controversial nowadays, about the desireability of having a man and woman, married to each other, heading up the family: how the complementary nature of each gender adds to the child's "well-roundedness," how children raised in single-family homes tend to do worse in many social measures than those raised in two parent homes, etc. But I'd rather move on to the next topic (if you want to discuss the child-raising aspects of marriage, and the ideal, please do! Comments and email are welcome.)

That next purpose of marriage is: Sex.

And no, this isn't an attempt to drive traffic to the blog (though the combination of controversial statements about differences in gender and sex seems to attract search engine notice.) No, providing a place in which sexual relations are appropriate and safe is a major purpose of marriage.

First the disclaimer. As an evangelical, I probably belong to a class seen by some as rather prudish and anti-sex. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bible itself describes passion and sex as pleasurable and desireable for both men and women (Song of Solomon.) Since most Christians I know have children, I don't think that most Christians really are anti-sex. Even the Apostle Paul's position on sex is often misrepresented. (He wasn't anti-sex, but was a single man completely focused on evangelism. It wasn't that he was anti-sex, but that he was all for people focusing on God - even above good things like sex.)

So I will stipulate sex is good, pleasurable, desireable and Biblically blessed.

But. Only in the right context is sex all it can and should be. God created marriage to be the sole outlet for sexual relations. Any sex outside the marriage relationship is adultery - something not only disallowed in the Ten Commandments, but also condemned by Jesus. Even when sex outside marriage is "only mental" it is considered adultery! Sex before marriage is therefore as wrong as infidelity within a marriage. This is why Paul says that those who cannot control themselves should get married. If sex before marriage was okay, this comment by Paul wouldn't have been necessary - there would have been no problem with "burning" if premarital relations were okay.

There are many reasons sex outside of marriage is not all Hollywood makes it out to be. Increased risk of STDs and unplanned pregnancies; lack of formal commitment leads to broken relationships and higher risk of emotional abuse; studies showing that cohabitating (ergo sleeping together) couples divorce at rates higher than those who don't cohabitate - God's rules against adultery are there for good reason. Sex within marriage, assuming fidelity, not only provides for emotional and spiritual intimacy (not to mention pleasure and enjoyment of one's spouse), but it also provides for protection. Sex outside of marriage, as with all sin, increases risk of harm to health, emotions, spirituality and life.

So yes, the Bible is pro-sex. God's first command in fact relies on sex. But there is a place for it, one that protects both spouses and allows them to capture intimacy with each other. That place is marriage.

With that, I'll move on to the weekend. Again, comments are very welcome.

Have a good weekend, and God bless!

Trippin' 'Round the 'Sphere - 8/5 Edition

Been a while since I took a trip, so buckle up and let's see what's interesting of late.

Christian Carnival is up at Dunmoose the Ageless. I count something akin to 45-50 entries. Early favorites include:


...

In a post timely for my series on marriage (the topic tonight? sex. Coming back? Thought you might), Dr. Mohler posts on the sad state of wedding commitments starting with lousy vows. Promises are serious and we're starting to water ours down even further in regards to marriage. Ugh.
...

My favorite Brit, Adrian Warnock offers up a new challenge involving Galatians. This'll be something I tackle in the near future, God willing. I'm a PK (Pastor's Kid/Preacher's Kid) so this should be something I can handle, but when "should" meets "reality" I often find things like this difficult. Let me know if you take up the challenge.
...

Ooooooh...Cross Blogging has a rather fun symposium this week. Combining the intrigue and mystery of Revelation with modern technology - would you have a computer chip implanted inside you? Very Left-Behindish.

Enjoy these posts...and have a great weekend!

God bless!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Purposes of Marriage: Part I - Children

Quick: What's the first commandment God gave Adam & Eve? If your first thought had something to do with the fruit of certain trees, you're probably not alone, and you're close, but that's not quite it.

The first commandment God gave the couple was to be fruitful and multiply. This came before any discussion about ruling over creation or not eating specific fruits. As noted in yesterday's post, marriage has been around, per the Bible, since the beginning of recorded history. Since we're going back that far in recognizing the place of marriage, we may as well start there in talking about the many purposes of marriage. The first one is for procreation, the continuance of humanity.

Now, it seems obvious that unless God was going to create ex nihilo each individual person, we would need to be procreative creatures in order to grow our species. And it also seems reasonable that childbearing and child rearing would need to be done in a context that created the ideal mix of protection, education, sustenance and social tutoring. For this purpose, God created marriage as a covenant relationship in which children could best (ideally) be raised.

Of course there are exceptions. Many single parents have done quite well in raising children. I'd argue, though, that those exceptions are greatly outnumbered by others as evidenced by the disproportionate number of young men and women who (a) come from single-parent homes, and (b) run into serious trouble. The ideal is that children be raised in a two-parent home, with the parents committed to each other through marriage. The existence of exceptions does not disprove the notion that the ideal is childbearing and child raising within a family headed by married parents. (And yes, the parents should be married to each other.)

Continuation of the species, and providing the ideal context for raising children is the first purpose of marriage. Does this mean that couples who cannot or do not intend to have children should be kept from marrying? While I know some would argue that they should, I'm not ready to go that far. There are, after all, more purposes in marriage. I'm also not ready to say that using contraception is a sin, although I do believe that intentional childlesness does go against God's plan. We were designed, men and women, in complementary fashion for procreative purpoases. A married couple who chooses not to have children misses out on one of God's greatest blessings.

For this reason, too, marriage should not be entered into lightly. The call to raising children is a hard calling at times. We are to be available whether rising or heading off to bed. We are to avoid exasperating our kids when they so often exasperate us. We are to instill discipline in them - something which is often painful, even to the point of proving true the cliche that it hurts us more than it hurts them. Children disappear on us, as even Jesus did, scaring us to death. They disobey, need to be fed, clothed and taught. But oh is it worth it. The greatest blessing I have, short of my Savior and my wife (not the same person, btw) is the privilege of fathering two wonderful daughters. The hard days are worth it; the blessings are real. And parenting is one of the absolute most important things I do. I can't imagine a better place for me to do that than in the confines of marriage, as God designed: complementary people, created to bring children into the world and raise the next generation together.

Tomorrow: The next purpose. Not so much a secret, as I'm hoping you'll come back to find out tomorrow!

God bless!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Marriage and History

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen. 2:24 - NIV).

For, oh, all of recorded history, men and women have entered into a covenant relationship, usually for purposes of procreation, and often out of a motivation of love. The Bible records this institution from the earliest of times, even before the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.

The story goes like this. God had just finished creating the earth, and all that was in it. He had placed someone created in His image over all earthly creation, and this someone was Adam. But Adam was lonely - there were no creatures like him, nobody to talk with, to play with, to work with, to have relationship with. So God created Eve.

My guess is that when Adam saw Eve, his thoughts were akin to, "whoa baby! Now that's what I'm talking about!" Adam had no reason to feel alone as the only human being. He had a companion, a helpmate. Adam was now complete. And really, that's one of the primary purposes of marriage (more will be discussed as the series progresses.)

God gave Eve to Adam as his wife on day 1. Marriage is as old as history itself. Every culture has had, in one form or another, recognized a special place for a marriage relationship. Ceremonies and legalities have differed, as have the priorities placed on different purposes of marriage. Some cultures have deemed marriage only for procreation, others as a means to pass along inheritances in an orderly fashion, and yet others as a primary method to control sexual promiscuity. No matter the structure, priority, position or constitution of marriage, history bears out that marriage is one of the foundational structures of human society. The Bible indicates this, both in describing the "first marriage" so early in Genesis, and by discussing marriage throughout both testaments.

Marriage is important. It's foundational, and key and needs to be understood with clarity. History has shown us many different purposes for marriage, some good and some, eh, not so much. History has also shown us different marriage structures, again some good and some harmful. Current debates on marriage are well served to include discussion of past marriage types and cultural approaches. The most important source of information on marriage, though, is the Bible itself. God created marriage when He created Adam and Eve, then told them to "be fruitful and multiply". From whom would it be better to learn than the creator of marriage Himself?

I will be taking a Biblical perspective throughout this series, but I hope that doesn't make me predictable - except to those who have a true understanding of what the Bible says about marriage (because that would mean I have a true understanding too, which is my goal in all things.) Please correct, admonish and question in a civil spirit; I know this topic can get heated at times, and I hope to approach things in a civil manner, even when certain topics are tough. As always, feedback is welcome and encouraged.

God bless!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Marriage: A Glance at the World's Oldest Relationship

I have a friend who once asked me to write a Bible study about marriage for her, as she was relatively new to the realm of reading scripture, and wanted to know what God said about this most important human relationship (save, of course, the relationship between a person and God.) Over the past few years, too, it seems as if the debate about what relationships constitute a marriage has dramatically increased in volatility, rancor and gamesmanship. I'm approaching my 12th wedding anniversary, and recently attended my first wedding ceremony where God was not mentioned at all (ironically, this happened at a nominally Christian - albeit univeralist - service, when every JP ceremony I've seen did include prayer.) I am raising two young daughters who dream of the day they'll "marry their prince." (Not coincidentally, I have nightmares about the day they'll bring home "the bum who is sooooo not worthy of my precious child.")

For all these reasons, and more, I've been thinking much lately on the oldest form of human relationship. In this series I hope to "think out loud" about marriage, its purposes and structures, its history and place. And I hope that it will be interactive, as I find the best blog material is often in the comments, not the posts themselves.

Starting tomorrow I'll kick off the meat of the series, by touching on the origin of marriage. Aside from that, I don't have a real agenda or syllabus; I'm making this up as I go, so to speak.

Until then - God bless!

I'm back!

Okay, I wasn't gone that long, but still...

Finished my crash course in PMP prep, so now I have about a month of study until the exam. The Econ work is still progressing, with the class due to finish about a week before I take the PMP exam. So, like all things, my studies are converging towards a state of hectic-ness.

In addition, we just got back from a week camping/visiting relatives (the latter in Chicago). (I don't publicize when I'm travelling in advance because, well, I'm not big on the idea of a stranger knowing when there'll be nobody home. Same paranoia is present in my out of office messages.) From this experience I've realized that wireless connectivity at a campground is a truly marvelous thing. As much as I love wilderness camping, there's something nifty about the ability to get partially away when the wilderness isn't quite appropriate.

On the other hand, returning to hundreds of email messages that need attention...

Now that I have a reprieve, I'll be starting another series. I think a while back I'd mentioned that I would be discussing marriage, and now is as good a time as any (with anniversary #12 coming up in October.) So, let it hereby be known that the marriage series from the Northern 'burbs will begin this week.

In the meantime, I'll also be catching up on the goings-on I missed over the past week. I'm a bit behind in my blog-surfing and news (apparently some stuff happened while I was away ignoring the world) so forgive me if I get to you a bit late.

God bless!