Thursday, August 15, 2013

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VI, Issue IX

Marriage Wins in the Big Picture

A 'Best of THYMEs' Feature...

"In terms of their social orientations, journalists are clearly more influenced by the post- 1960s "new morality." Few attend church or synagogue." -- Donald Lazere, American Media and Mass Culture: Left Perspectives.

It is not surprising then that the 'other' weekly news magazine last week stated that traditional marriage has Already Lost [click to read]. This week they're looking at Latino Influence in the Church [click to read] and The Rise of Evangélicos [click to read]. Journalist Elizabeth Dias has discovered a growing interest in Faith among the Latino community. She writes: "What I discovered signaled a Latino Reformation. Both churches were doubling in size every few years. Many of the congregants were Catholic converts, and even more may have been undocumented. All were fervent believers—they sang with hands high, danced during worship, and often brought their own tambourines and flags to Sunday services. They were charismatic and believed in miracles. They told me their stories over tamales and café con leche—how they converted, how G-d healed their physical illnesses, and how their churches became refuges from hunger and homelessness. To the mainstream American culture, and even other white evangelical churches, they were invisible. But they were hiding in plain sight."

"I offer the single most politically incorrect statement a modern American — indeed a modern Westerner, period — can make: I first look to the Bible for moral guidance and for wisdom." -- Dennis Prager [click to read].

The post 1960's culture declared marriage 'obsolete' thirty years ago. Certainly there are trends toward cohabitation, easy divorce and out-of-wedlock parenting (and a new set of societal costs as a result), but marriage as an institution is still a strong force in our society. Mark Steyn [click to read] has a pretty straightforward picture of what is really happening here. Steyn writes: "Gay marriage? It came up at dinner Down Under this time last year, and the prominent Aussie politician on my right said matter-of-factly, "It's not about expanding marriage, it's about destroying marriage."

Steyn's article is worth pondering. The case of Elane Photography [click to read] and the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association [click to read] bear out Steyn's argument. These cases are not about freedom to marry, but about imposing a civil morality, or civil legality [1.] upon people of faith. In the first case, a photographer is sued for not photographing a same-sex ceremony for reasons of faith [2.]. In the second, a Methodist organization does not allow their facility to be used for a same-sex ceremony for the same reason. Ultimately this is about First Amendment protected religious freedom. Most of us would not deny a person the right to live with whoever they choose, and civil and contract law allow for the sharing of property. Most of us also acknowledge that this country was built upon religious liberty as well as individual freedom.

Marriage has come under attack in times past. Claudius II, Emperor of Rome issued an edict prohibiting marriage for his troops, seeing family life as a 'distraction' to them. A priest named Valentine [3.] performed secret marriages anyway. He was beheaded on February 14, 270. People still give their wives cards on that date, and soldiers still get married. For people of Faith, marriage is more than a human institution. In Ephesians 5:25-32, Paul states:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

Thus marriage is, for the person of faith, a picture of the relationship of the believer with his G-d. The sacrifice and fidelity of a traditional relationship are essential to this picture. Marriage as an institution survived Claudius. Today, the challenge is to build our own marriages upon the challenge of Ephesians 5. The marriage that models relationship of humanity to G-d is impossible to codify. Those precious couples who's lives actually reflect this, (and I greatly admire them), create a transcendent work of art that no law can snuff out.

It is for this reason that I see great hope for the institution. Are not the stories we remember the stories of love that is steadfast and triumphant in the face of overwhelming challenge. G-d in His wisdom has made that a picture of the Relationship of Redemption!

Revelation 19:6-9 speaks of the time when people of all nations are joined in communion with G-d:

"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord G-d omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of G-d."

In Isaiah 60 [4.] and in Revelation 21 Believers look to a New Heaven and a New Earth where a Heavenly Jerusalem descends to join the Earth. Here is a Kingdom that needs no temple, needs no sun to light it, for G-d Himself is the force that illuminates it! [5.]

"And I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from G-d out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of G-d is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and G-d himself shall be with them, and be their G-d." -- Revelation 21:1-3

West_web East_web
Journey to Jesus, a mural depicting the nations coming to Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth described in Revelation 21. Mural by Kristina Elaine Riley and Bob Kirchman

Journey to Jesus [click to view larger images].

"Our Christian hope is that we're going to live with Christ in a new Earth, where there is not only no more death, but where life is what it was always meant to be." -- Timothy Keller.

The hope of Heaven.

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