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Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

1. John Piper’s theses.  My favorite is #5.  Wonderfully explained in “Why is John Piper on the Planet?

2. The reason why I love the climate change/global warming debate: The forecasts are always a changin’.

-A commentary on the most recent and past UK Met Office press releases (and their inability to remain accurate) from Climate Science: Roger Pielke Sr. Research Group News

3. Some better responses (than mine) to Newsweek’s recent cover story:

-Robert Gagnon’s “More than “Mutual Joy“, JT’s summary and link.

-Dr. Al Mohler “Turning the Bible on it’s head

4. A few 2008 books of the year lists.

Amazon’s Best of 2008.

-Reviewer Tim Challies’ Top 8 of 2008.

The New York Times

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I am responding here to the recent Newsweek article Our Mutual Joy, which I believe is propped up by some pretty faulty arguments. However, I am not going to argue here for or against same-sex marriages, but am merely going to answer one of the questions in the article and hopefully explain how the beginning argument against the Bible as a how-to script crumbles under a better understanding of the interpretation of scripture.

Here is the first paragraph of the article:

Let’s try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel-all these fathers and heroes were polygamists. The New Testament model of marriage is hardly better. Jesus himself was single and preached an indifference to earthly attachments-especially family. The apostle Paul (also single) regarded marriage as an act of last resort for those unable to contain their animal lust. “It is better to marry than to burn with passion,” says the apostle, in one of the most lukewarm endorsements of a treasured institution ever uttered. Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple-who likely woke up on their wedding day harboring some optimistic and newfangled ideas about gender equality and romantic love-turn to the Bible as a how-to script?

Of course not, yet the religious opponents of gay marriage would have it be so.

My sincere answer to that question would be “absolutely.” First, I am currently in a contemporary heterosexual marriage. I was married a little over 6 months ago and my wife and I are quite happy together and optimistic about spending the rest of our lives together. Secondly, we are Christians. We believe Jesus when he said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). We daily try to follow Him and align and re-align our lives around His teachings. We are far from perfect, but know that Christ is our perfection and we can trust in His supremacy over the entire world and His sufficiency to meet our needs. Therefore, we actually do turn to the Bible as a how-to script.

But how do we do that when, as the author points out later on in the article, “the Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it’s impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours”?

First, I think it is important to share from Ephesians 5 what Paul said about our model of marriage. Then, based upon that knowledge I can then hopefully answer from both the Old Testament and New Testament on why my wife and I use the Bible as a how-to script. In Ephesians 5, Paul teaches how Christ’s sacrifice to His people is a model of how husbands are to love and lay down their lives to their wives. So if Christ, who is God the Son (as taught in the Bible) is my example of how I need to treat my wife, how could I not treat the Bible, which in its entirety is God’s revelation of Himself to us, as my absolutely only how-to script for marriage?

So if the Bible contains the revelation of who God is, and the greatest model for marriage was God in the flesh, then I should ultimately do what I can to understand the Bible, thus understand God. It is precisely this issue of interpretation and understanding where the authors argument that no contemporary heterosexual married couple could use the Bible as a how-to script.

When most Christians say the Bible is infallible, what they mean is that the Bible is true in what it teaches. And what it teaches is shown in many different literary styles such as narratives, parables, poetry, and letters. Narrative form is the style used in the majority of the Bible. Narratives do not primarily exist to teach history but to teach theology, or something about who God is. They are not stories written for us to merely try and follow the example and details of the person involved. (Some stories may give good examples to follow but should only be done so if the example of the person is congruent with it’s greater teaching.)

The intent of the authors was to communicate something to the reader about God through these people’s lives. So instead of us looking at the story of Abraham and going out and sleeping with another woman whenever our wife does not conceive, we should see that what the story is actually teaching. What this story is teaching, along with many other stories in Genesis, is that God is faithful to His promises and He chooses to work through and bless imperfect people. Just because the Bible tells stories about polygamists (Abraham), adulterers (David), and liars (Jacob), does not automatically mean that the writers reject or accept these decisions/lifestyles. They were using these historical instances to teach their readers something about who God is.

As for the “New Testament model” that the author refers to, I’ve already given a great example from Ephesians 5 on marriage, but I also want to comment on the authors interpretation of Paul’s “lukewarm endorsement” of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. First, if the verse quoted and the rest of chapter is read fully and in context with what Paul is writing to the people of Corinth, it can clearly be seen that Paul is not laying out his entire theology of marriage and divorce, but is trying to encourage these people to follow and trust God in their current situations. Those that are currently married, model to the rest of the world the commitment and love of Christ to the church. Those that are single, use that time for full devotion to God’s purposes.

Also, what marriage could survive without heeding the New Testament teachings on putting on “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians)? Or not listening to Ephesians 4:32 on forgiveness?  Teachings on grace, forgiveness, and sacrifice are littered throughout the entire New Testament.   What successful marriage, or even friendship, does not involve these daily practices?

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