Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Good News?

So in light of the fact that there are many lies being fed to us about sex, some people may be thinking: well there goes my chance at a happy marriage then"...or "well I can't be a Christian if I've had sex before marriage".

NOT SO!!!!!

There is very good news for those of us who have had sex before marriage, and who may be worried about what that may mean for their current (or future) marriage.  The good news is that as Christians we belive in total redemption.

A common error in Christian circles is to regard sexuality as somehow less fallen than the rest of our being.  This is seen through the use of sexual codewords such as "purity" or "innocence" which are misleading terms at best.  The effect is that sexual transgressions become a higher moral failing and are seen as a barrier to true faith and redemption.  This is not the case.  Sexual sin is no more sinful than greed or murder or disrespecting your parents.

The promise of Jesus is the redemption of soul and body.  Which means that as Christians our sexual sin as redeemed as all other sin.  And we are given the pattern for godly sexuality which puts love ahead of sexual gratification.

The effect of Jesus' work on the Cross for our sexual sins?  It is as if they never happened.  It is as if you never had that one night stand that you can't help remembering.  It is as if you and your fiancee never slept together "just this one time...since we're getting married anyway".  It is as if you never went home with that guy after a few too many drinks with the girls.  It is as if you and your boyfriend haven't lived together for 3 years before the wedding.  It never happened.  In the eyes of God, you are a virgin again.  In the eys of God, your marriage has a fighting chance because Jesus is at its centre pulling you together towards God.

What does that mean for William and Kate?  It means that if they belive that Jesus is the Lord of their lives, their marriage has a fighting chance.  It means that their wedding night is a true wedding night. I pray that it is truly the case.

Damned Lies and Statistics!!

I think I am a very strange person.  No.  I know I am a strange person.  I am a monarchist and I was not excited about the Royal Wedding.  No I take that back... I was marginally excited about it.  It was great to see our future King finally get married to the girl he loves.

But as I was watching, I was wondering.  And I was hoping the statistics are not against them.  The statistics that for couples who live together before they get married, 75% end up divorced.   

I watched and prayed that they would learn from the mistakes of so many who "try before they buy".  I prayed that God would protect their marriage, especially given that it is going to be such a public one.

It is one of the lies of modern life.  That living together before you get married gives the relationship a better chance of working.   It is the same lie that having sex before you get married will make your married sex-life better...or stop you from making a mistake...or something...  

The whole concept of "trying before you buy" has to be the biggest relationship lie there is.  It encourages people to sleep around, comparing the sexual prowess of their various partners, and getting married based on the brilliance of the sex lives they share.  It encourages people to start their married lives together in a spirit of deceit "of course you are the best darling...the very best"...but in the back of their minds there is always that niggling thought..."maybe I didn't truly find the best..."

The lie that society is swallowing hook line and sinker is that the heart of your whole relationship is sex.  If you base your relationship solely on sex, as soon as the sex is bad/difficult/non-existent, the relationship suffers and a partner starts looking for a way out.

Good sex is not a right.  It is something that you learn together with your partner (ideally your first partner) and grow into as your marriage matures and as you share lives together.  Any married couple who begin their married life as virgins (and yes it does happen) will tell you that sex in marriage is a learned skill.  Not something that is all sky-rockets and lightening bolts on the first night.  It can (and often does) take years to grow into a healthy pattern of relating sexually.  

There is a difference between thinking that sex is an innate skill, and seeing it as an investment made between two people for the long term.  If you start out married life with that sense of deception, that niggling comparison in the back of your head, then of course you will never be satisfied sexually by your marriage partner.  It is easy to see why people who live together before they get married have such high divorce rates.  No matter how good their intentions towards each other, the little voice in the back of the head is always saying "maybe I could have down better"...

So when I say I was not hugely excited about the Royal Wedding, it's true.  But I am still less excited about the statistical likelihood of a Royal Divorce...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Money...the root of all kinds of evil?

It's ok people...I have not fallen off the face of the earth.  I have just been either lacking inspiration, or too inspired by very controversial topics...I have decided to lead with my chin tonight and broach a sensitive topic: Technology as a commodity and the money we use to consume it.

Caveat: I have one laptop, and one mobile phone (not a smart phone) and am married to someone who also has a mobile phone (not a smart phone), we have one television (old style)... 

I have noticed a disturbing trend over the past 15 years or so...or to be more specific, since the iPod was first released.  I was going to an affluent church in an affluent area, and suddenly everybody (hyperbole alert) had an iPod.  To be fair, not everyone had an iPod, but a fair number of people did.  The service I was a part of at this church was a consistent underperformer in the area of voluntary giving as was evidenced by the relatively frequent appeals to the parishoners for greater generosity (with graphs and everything...).  I could never understand how we could afford to buy an iPod, but not give substantially more to the church.

Fast forward a few years and the trend continues at many churches.  Many people have become consumers of the smartphone and tablet phenomenon (let the reader understand).  People will happily shell out several hundred dollars for a tablet/smartphone, but may not be as generous in their voluntary giving at church.

It disturbs me that christians appear to be amongst the first to take up any new and fashionable technology.  I am disturbed even more when ministry families may have multiple laptops/desktops and tablets and smartphones.  Is this a wise use of the money entrusted to them/us by our parishoners?

I realise that quite often such purchases are assisted by grants which expire if they are not taken advantage of.  But I am also aware that many many of our parishoners are not in a position to afford many of these things, and seeing us taking advantage of such new technologies may lead them to critisise our choices when it comes to how we spend the money they entrust to us.  They may look at us and think "why should I scrimp and penny pinch just so they can lead the good life?"  We are not flush with cash by any means but the outsider, or unbeliever would never know that to look at us.

I wonder whether it is wise for us to always be the first to get the next new thing.  Whether it might not be better to be seen to be living a more frugal lifestyle, having the necessities rather than the expensive luxuries?  Might these luxuries lead people to think that if you become a christian, then God will bless you materially? (whether or not he chooses to) Would it not be a better witness to those less fortunate than ourselves if we forgoe thse new technologies for the sake of the gospel and the lost rather than flaunting them?

I am aware that these may be controversial sentiments, but let me know what you you think Jesus would approve of our stewardship of his good gifts to us?