Posts Tagged With: Marriage

What right do we have?

An email recently came across my desk from the Australian Christian Lobby urging me to contact Bill Shorten to express my disapproval of the proposed changes to the Marriage Act which will allow people of the same sex to marry.

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Two becoming one?

I will say clearly upfront, my belief is that marriage is an institution created by God, between a man and woman  (first modelled by Adam and Eve) for life. But I have a number of problems:

1. I live in a democratic country and it now seems that a large majority of my fellow citizens no longer believe that my faith held definition is correct.  So how far should or can I go in enforcing my understanding?  This is in contrast to promoting my understanding under the banner of free speech which I believe, as a Christian, I’m responsible to do with my life and words at all times.

2. My second question bites more deeply. If we who are evangelical/Bible believing Christians have such a high view of Biblical marriage, why have we allowed it to be devalued through our own behaviours within our own Christian community? Divorce rates in the church, even though a little lower than mainstream society, are still high. Cohabitation by church goers is also on the increase. My struggle is that we are calling others to standards that we ourselves are, increasingly, failing to hold.

3. Are there other solutions to this issue which meet the requirements of both the churches and society as whole?  In many European countries marriage is a social contract which is entered into at the town hall.  This contract gives you access to government benefits and a legally recognised status. Those who are Christian then go to a church to seek the church’s blessing. If we took an approach such as this it would separate church and state and leave the church free to bless those who believe in a Christian marriage, and it would also free it from being a “sub contractor” for marriages.

Has the time come for the Christian community to take seriously the need to make the Bible’s views attractive, not through legislation, but through the winsomeness of her own lifestyle? Like the early church, our faith driven lifestyle, should encourage our neighbours to want what God has bestowed on us.

Categories: Children, Church | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

Greater Love

Photographic record of the Shrine of Remembrance, photographer unknownLast night my Literature students and I went to a performance of Shakespeare’s cross dressing comedy, ‘As You Like It’.  It explores love in many of its facets. How and why does it happen?  What does it do to us – for good or bad?  Is it different for men and women?  What external influences are involved? What about our motives? … and there are more uncomfortable questions.

But underlying all of that is the idea that love, romantic and otherwise, is an essential part of the human character. We all want to love and be loved. A life without love is empty and possibly meaningless.

And then this morning at our College’s  ANZAC  service our Senior School Captains spoke on the verse John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  This is paraphrased in the War Memorial in Melbourne – “Greater love hath no man”.

This verse must be seen in the context of Christ reflecting on his own sacrifice and then suggesting to his disciples that this sacrifice in turn become a model for their lives. Accepting Christ’s love becomes the foundation of our desire to love like he does. Love, here, is a giving of one’s self for others. It puts others first, which is no doubt the reason for its presence in the War Memorial it highlights the Aussie ideal of mateship.

There is nothing amiss with the Bard’s exploration of love. He raises excellent questions and challenges us. However, the answers are not found in his plays, but rather in the gospel. Christ’s love becomes a model for our relations – romantic and otherwise.  Christ’s love doesn’t start with our own private swooning’s, or sexual desires but for the welfare and best outcomes for the other – friend and foe alike.

Shakespeare raises tough questions but Jesus gives us even tougher answers.

Categories: christian, Christianity, community, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Amour

Recently my wife and I watched the acclaimed french film “Amour.”  The acting was stunning, the pace reflective and the themes challenging. The film introduces us to the twilight years of a loving couple, Anne and GeorgeAmour-poster-frenchs, at about the time Anne has a stroke. We then see the struggles that this stage of life introduces them to and their attempts to deal with that. 

I was amazed how much this film unsettled me. Films don’t normally eat at me so much and I began to ask why?

One reason that this film challenged me is that both my wife and I have lost our mothers in the last 5 or 6 years. It brought back painful memories. Helplessly watching people at the end of their lives is not a pleasant experience. Added to this was that it also brought back memories of difficult pastoral visits that I have made in the past. As a young (and when I reflect back, often clueless) pastor I assisted many people in these final years. Some people going with assurance and peace and others with fear and trepidation.

However, the most confronting aspect of the film was the reminder of my my own mortality. My wife and I maybe relatively healthy now but there is no guarantee as to how long this will last. One of us is going to look into a coffin to say goodbye to the other.  So the questions arise, how will I react as the carer or the one being cared for? How gracious and patient and forgiving will I be? My track record hasn’t always been that good.

The saddest aspect of the film was that faith and hope were largely absent. There was love and dedication and certainly a hint of Christ-likeness in their attitude toward each other but there was no future or eternity in view. So as unsettled as the film made me, the biggest reminder for me is to continue to stay focussed on Christ. My life here is a pilgrimage and not the destination.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

A Skyped Voice

A Skyped voice,
An Apple Message,
An Instagram photo
or even
a good old email,
is no replacement
for eyes meeting,
a tender touch
and a warm hug.

Categories: Poem, poetry, Reflections, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Three Times Thirteen

May 11th, Our 39th Wedding Anniversary …
and I remembered!

Three times thirteenph9
has no ‘bad luck’ attached
but rather,
showers of providence.
God’s provision and care,
His ‘third strand’
of presence, love
and grace
that kept us
through thick and thin,
sickness and health,
poverty and well …

I joke
that marriage is an institution.
This institution
I am grateful to have entered
with my own free will,
sound mind,
and no regrets.

May we share more,
memories,
experiences,
walks
and the odd game of “Ticket to Ride”
in the time ahead that
God gives.

Categories: Family, Poem, poetry, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Nervous Vows

Nervous vows,
promises to love,
all those years ago
mumbled in the bluestone church
grew
rapidly . . . and sporadically,
fluently . . . and uneasily,
depending
on the season or mood,
circumstance or storm.

ph9But since time has wandered
its unfathomable path,
the ties are strong,
the love stronger
and the understanding
solid – most times.

The children
came
and then went
on their own time bound journey.

But we,
we are still here,
warm in our history
of gathered affection.

Categories: Family, Poem, poetry, Reflections | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

The Pressure Points in Marriage

A recently married person asked me the other day what the pressure points were in our 38+ years of married life. Things have been so calm for a number of years ( apart from a moment on an Italian motorway), I had to think. Yes, there had been times when we had to work hard to love each other. Or as an old Dutchman once said, “I never, absolutely never, ever thought of divorce – it never entered my mind, never, … but murder, quite a few times.”

For every couple those pressure points will be different. Their personalities, character traits and circumstances will mean unique pressures on their marriage. Here are some that I struggled with.

1. Having a large family, money and unemployment were issues on occasions. In my early 30s I was studying and working part-time jobs. We had three young children. Money and time were scarce. As a husband and father I had to ensure there was time for my wife and children. In the balancing act that didn’t always happen the way it should. The consequences were tensions and anger. Sadly, while studying Christology I was not always Christ like!

2. Working in people intensive vocations like teaching and the pastoral ministry, this has sometimes led to the family coming second best. Being a “people pleaser” I had the ironic tendency to neglect the people closest to me. On one occasion my wife phoned to tell me that someone needed to speak to me. At the appointed time, she marched in. Before I could protest, my wife reminded me that if it had been anyone else I would have dropped everything and listened. So I listened, and she told me a story of a husband who was never available for his wife and kids and worked all hours. Now if I get too involved in work she says, “Can I make an appointment?” I get the message. Happily, that has occurred less frequently in more recent times. I do learn – slowly.

3. Another area of tension has been immaturity and selfishness- usually mine. This is when we want to get our own way on the issue. Sometimes the issue even slides into the background and it becomes a power struggle between two human beings. Unedifying to all concerned and especially to any children who happen to be watching.

The solutions nearly sound cliched – prayer and devotions. Committing time to each other and communication, communication and communication. Having regular set parts of the day where  you find time to talk together is crucial. I know it is easier said than done but it is so important.

Sometimes is it is good to remind yourselves what brought you together in the first place: The faith, shared values, interests and passions. Also the older I get I realise that there is one special person with whom I share so many memories – memories that only the two of us share. That is precious and worth protecting.

Most of all we share a journey with God. He is the third strand (Eccl 4:12). If there were times when we were weak, we had to rely on Him even more. So even when we let each other down He has never let us down.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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