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Wrestling With Why

April 10, 2013

In my many years as a Christian I’ve realized that we Christians do a great job at giving people rules but an incredibly poor job at explaining why.  It’s as if the rules are an end to themselves.*  However, the rules, as explained in the New Testament, were only introduced as guide rails to help us discover the magnificent story we are all a part of that spans the entire scope of eternity.  We must understand the deeper story.  If we do not do so, as Paul says, the Law which was introduced to show us life instead becomes an instrument of death.

Herein lies the problem with the current raging debate on legalization of gay marriage.  Christians often say that gay marriage is “wrong” but they have absolutely no idea why.  Their answer is that the Bible says it’s wrong so it is.  There is some validity to that stance but continuing in that path inadvertently teaches the world that the Bible is just a set of rules written by a purposefully ambiguous God who dropped them on earth and said, “Follow these rules or else I’ll burn you!”  That God doesn’t seem very good to me.  He seems like a sadistic egomaniac by his own definitions.

I’ve written this blog in hopes of presenting the beautiful story of sex and marriage as presented through Scripture and the life of Jesus.  I’ve written this simply to explain at least some of the “why”.  I pray it is loving, regardless of your worldview.  It is not exhaustive.   I’ve made no attempt to answer questions about legislating Christian ethics.  That’s a different story for a different time.  I have also made virtually no attempt to be succinct – I believe an expensive answer is necessary for an expensive question.  In the age of Facebook sniping with people competing to get the best “gotcha” retorts I have tried to create something that approaches a kind conversation that is respectful to those around.

Love to all!

todd

There was a time before the beginning.  We call it eternity.  It’s hard to wrap your brain around.  I think the closest I ever felt to it was the first few weeks after my wedding.

I was 29 and, before Kara, I had a mountain of angst and frustration surrounding finding “the one” that had battered me for over a decade.  My past relationships left me feeling like I was unfixably broken.  And, then there was Kara.

I often explain finding Kara like this.  It was like God was leading me up a jungle filled mountain at a tremendous incline.  We hacked away at the foliage.  My legs ached from the ascent.  I kept asking God questions.  Why was it so hard?  Are we really going anywhere in the first place?  Many times I just left him and walked my own path.  And then, after following him for what seemed like forever, we took one step and were suddenly out of the foliage.  There in front of me was the most beautiful vista I had ever seen.  I thought to myself “OH-H-H-H!  Now I see!  This is why I had such a difficult path.  He was leading me to this beautiful spot!”  That spot was Kara.

Almost immediately after starting to date Kara I knew she was the girl I was going to marry.  I don’t think it works that way for everyone, but, based on my circumstances, it did for me.  Before I loved her I knew we should marry.  I had some idea because I was very in tune with God at that point in my life and I kept getting glimpses of things that I was to do in my horizon that seemed impossible for me to do alone.  Then I would say to God, “How am I supposed to do that alone?”  After starting to date Kara I thought “Now I understand!  Good plan God!”

So, Kara and I were married on February 5th, 2005.  I had waited a long time for that day.  After the ceremony, we flew down to Florida.  In Florida I had something I didn’t expect.

It was incredible, palpable peace.

Here was a peace in the rightness of the situation.  There was a peace in me that I wasn’t this broken thing that no one could love.  The addition of her added a wholeness to me.  We could sit in each other’s presence, say nothing, and I felt it was the best thing I had ever done.  Each moment was so full of love and peace that time seemed to slow down and stop.  It didn’t seem to matter what was coming next.

It’s the closest thing I’ve ever felt to eternity.

Having experienced that, I believe it’s in some small way like what was going on in eternity before the beginning.  Scripture tells us that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were living in perfect love and community with each other before time.  I suspect that the roundness I felt during that time for each second from peace and love was/is amplified infinitely for them.

Here’s the thing about love, though.  Love, especially in community, expands.  It grows.  It creates.  People often wonder why we are here in the first place.  If God was living in a perfect infinity with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, why would he need anything else?  The answer, according to experience and wrapped up in the story told through scripture is that he didn’t.  Love just expands.  It creates.  If you are participating in it, it does that.

It’s interesting.  Before I got married I had my mind set on only two children.  I have no idea why I set that number other than that I was one of two kids.  After marrying Kara I threw that number out the window.  I realized I wanted as many kids as I could get because I found that I love Kara so much I wanted more of her in the world.  Having children expands the amount of Kara on this earth because there is always a part of her in them.  This is good for the earth, let me tell you!  That isn’t to say that I’m not satisfied with the amount of Kara I have, it’s just that more Kara is wonderful!

I can imagine that God felt this way with Jesus.  Having loved Him for so long, he wanted more Jesus.  And Jesus, in return, wanted to expand God’s goodness.  He says as much over and over again in his ministry.  He says, in paraphrase, “Hey, when you see me, you see God.  When you accept what I say you accept God.”  That means more God.

**

Have you ever thought about why there is gender in the first place?  Seriously, if you are God and create in any way you would like to, why two genders?  Why not just one?  Or why not 27?  I’m in the camp (and so is Scripture) that God made everything purposefully to testify to the great story mankind was created to participate in so I think it was purposeful.  Seriously, wouldn’t one gender have been a LOT easier?  Imagine if we could just reproduce based on thought or by eating a watermelon.  Seems easier in a sense.  But, God did not do it that way.

First, he created all things that were made through Jesus and for him (John 1, 1 Corinthians 8, Romans 11, and Colossians 1).  Then he made man.  What made man different is that he gave him his own breath as life (Genesis 2).  This is important!  God is expanding himself (or Christ) by breathing into something that didn’t have life.  When man expands with children, it is essentially expanding God (and Jesus) because he is tied to them.

By the way, he started by making only one gender!  It was just man at the beginning.  There was even some time where man and God interacted before woman came along.

Then, something fascinating happens.  Adam is naming all of the animals but then realizes “Huh, none of these are like me!”  He seems to be actually a bit bummed by the whole deal which is crazy to think about because he is living in sinless relationship with God at this point.

So, this is where it gets really good, because God makes a pronouncement that reveals the great story of eternity.  He says “It is not good for man to be alone.”  He then makes Eve.  Now, he doesn’t start with fresh dirt to form Eve.  He pulls her from Adam which illustrates something incredible.  Eve is from Adam so she is Adam but she is not the same as Adam.  As the Bible would speak, she was already inside Adam (because God pulled the raw materials from him) otherwise she would not be able to exist.  Adam exclaims poetically “This is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!” meaning “She’s like me but isn’t me!”  They become one and the term we use to describe that in modern vernacular is marriage.  It is quite an epic tale.

This gives us incredible insight to the eternity before time.  Why did God go through all the drama of leading the animals past Adam?  Why did Adam have the longing for something that was “the flesh of his flesh”?  Was it just for kicks or was God letting Adam discover aspects of the story that goes through all things?  Fortunately, we are not kept in the dark.  This marriage stuff could be mysterious!  I mean, Paul says that the thing we call marriage was a mystery through the ages and no one really knew fully what God was trying to do through it until His purposes were revealed in Christ (Ephesians 5).

Through Christ we learn that the creation of woman and the decision to become one between a man and a woman illustrated what was the intent of creation in the first place: to create a bride for Christ that was out of himself that made a mutual decision to be one for all of eternity. ** (A short list of parallels are illustrated below).  Think about it: the bible starts with a wedding and ends in Revelations with a wedding.  He endlessly talks about marriage.  And that’s the crazy big deal.  We are not just created to be servants or peons – God is making us into him and, in a sense, equal to him in a very real way by combining us with his son.  That’s just crazy.

Understanding this helps us understand other things!  It gives us new insight into why a God who could heap up a pile of dirt and breathe in it any time he wanted to create another human would instead choose to say to man “be fruitful and multiply”.   God chose to let us in on reproduction through sex between a man and a woman (and he tells us his way is that two people make a commitment forever to each other before they participate in that sex).  The love and oneness of that person creates, with God’s help, another person.  God is showing us that love expands.  He is showing us his desire to expand his son through his son. The child is a result of a very exciting act amongst its parents of both taking charge and surrendering that feels amazing.  These things were created to give us a real world shadow of the eternal truth to come.  They give us a way to participate in the story and feel its goodness (and also see how it can go wrong).  But, again, they are a shadow of what’s to come.

**

So, we’ve now finally gotten to sex and marriage.  First of all, loving someone is always always ok!  Can two men or two women love each other deeply and still participate in the purposes of time and space with God?  Certainly!  Scripture is filled with people of the same sex who have tremendous love for each other!  Ruth and Naomi.  Jonathon and David.  Not only did these people love each other, they had specific and special commitment to each other.  The issue is not love or commitment.  The issue is sex and what the specific commitment of marriage is.  As both of them were created to illustrate a story, participating in sex and marriage outside of furthering that story misses the fuller, richer meanings that they are meant to display to us.

So, the commitment that we describe as marriage is meant to display that joining together in forever commitment of two things that are not each other but are each other.  Differing genders illustrate Christ and man becoming one through commitment.  The differing genders is essential because the same gender could never illustrate the thing it was created to illustrate in fullness.  Marriage was created to tell this story.  What if Christ just did the things described but with another Christ created out of thin air rather than man?  What if man simply decided to not be Godly and just committed to itself and called it the same things?  Certainly they could do these things, but they are not the same thing.  Marriage is not an arbitrary definition meant to keep people out of it as punishment.  It is simply a description of a thing that illustrates what God is doing with humanity and Jesus.  If it didn’t illustrate those things than it there wouldn’t be a point for it.

For example, I could create a painting and call it “Fred”.  You could create a painting in the style of Fred, following Fred’s instructions, meant to show how good Fred is to the world and call it “Fredding”.  Someone else could come and paint in a different style ignoring the instructions of Fred (who has said that method is as important to understand the original Fred as the finished product itself) and want to call it Fredding.  It could be called Fredding, but it wouldn’t be about Fred.  Furthermore, it would make it curious why someone would want to call the new style painting Fredding in the first place to those who were already Fredding.  The people who do the original Fredding may keep quiet when it happens but it would surely fuzzify the rich, deep meaning of the original Fred that they are hoping their Fredding illustrates.

**

God has things to say about sex.  This is not just about same gender sex.  He desires sex to tell the story he wants told by us using it in a controlled way.  Sex was created to illustrate a metaphysical story.  If sex isn’t used to understand that metaphysical story then it misses the point of why sex was created in the first place.

There are many feelings that feel “natural” to humans.  I myself have many sexual desires that I have to sift through.  My goal in this is not to go ahead with them because they feel natural or earthly, I want to use sex in an eternal way so as to participate in this amazing story we’re in and understand him better!  Scripture teaches all over the place that sin has corrupted our impulses and if we are not careful we will discard our heavenly freedom and become a slave to whatever we feel at the moment.  So, through the use of sex, we can either expand the eternal in our life or shrink to the temporal.  In fact, the purposes of marriage and sex and a whole lot of other things are to give us clues to the eternal that is hidden by the proliferation of sin.  God was wise and made his invisible qualities visible through creation (Romans 1).

There are a couple things to be found in contemplating this.  By targeting one person alone for sex through commitment, we are honoring that person specially.  We are giving up current pleasure now for better pleasure later.  We are not polluting our mind with other lovers.  Seeing this gives us beautiful insight to how Jesus feels, waiting at the end of it all in his bridegrooms clothes, for his bride to arrive.  He gave out of himself to create his bride, he pursued her, he showered her with gifts, and he even died for her.  He is intensely in love with her!  Imagine if you were watching your future bride (or groom) meander their way to you in no particular hurry giving themselves up to anyone who provides a cheap thrill along the way.  It would tear you apart.  How would you feel, still loving them despite that, if they simply chose death instead of you?

The other thing found in this is that new life is created through consummation.  This is a massively important illustration!  It shows us that love grows!  It expands!  It creates new wonderful things!  Although it can have some meaning (and positive meaning at that) sex through the same gender cannot participate in this deeper eternal story of sex in the same capacity.  Souls do not have gender although we are placed in bodies that do.  Just as we are all placed in different bodies that have different strengths and weaknesses, God has done this purposefully so that we use that form in whatever way to participate and enlighten ourselves with that eternal story.  I am close to multiple people that only exist because one of their parents chose to marry despite attraction to the same sex.  I know they are glad that their parent made that decision and I know many other who have been influenced through those people and are very glad they exist.  Now those people are in themselves a beautiful story of the eternal Christ being expanded because of the depthless love of God.

**

In the end, God has not placed us here to marry.  He has not placed us here for sex or for any temporal pleasure.  These are just shadows of the real thing.  I often hear things like “Why wouldn’t God want me to be with the person if I like or am attracted to them so much?”  It’s not about God not wanting you to feel some good things.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  He wants the absolute best!  Good is sometimes the enemy of the best.  And, he has unbelievable love and peace in fullness through eternity in purpose for you!  Some things you do only capture a small part of the good.  He wants you to have the fullness.  He doesn’t want you messing yourself up settling for a few moments of positive when you could have an eternity of it.

God created marriage and sex to tell a story that is metaphysical.  It is to help us feel and understand things that transcend time in a way that doesn’t destroy free will.  Losing any part of that story or expanding it into something that it isn’t obscures God, which is bad for everyone.

I hope and pray this is a positive thing for all reading it.  I hope it gives you some things to chew on.  Much of it is very lofty and it takes mediation to grasp even a part of it!  I pray that you do so.  Love to all,

todd

*I know people think that outside of Christ.  As one of our friends said when we started a bible study “Oh!  This is a bunch of stories.  I thought it was just thousands of pages of rules!”

** There are a ton of parallels.  I’ve included just a few here if you want to poke through it.  A great resource for a fuller explanation is From Eternity to Here by Frank Viola.  That book changed my life!

Just a few parallels …

–        The Bible starts with the creation of a woman and a marriage in the first two chapters and ends with the wedding of Christ and his church, who was created from Him..

–        God pulls Eve out of Adam’s side.  The church is pulled out of Christ.  A spear was stuck in Jesus’ side after he was dead showing the blood and water which now cleanses us and makes faith possible.

–        She is Adam but she is not him.  We as Christians are Christ (we are his body and are covered by Him essentially making us look like him to God) but are not him.

–        Eve essentially existed inside of Adam before she was pulled out.  Ephesians 1 says we were chosen in Him before the creation of the world.  This means the church existed in Jesus before it was pulled out

–        Jesus first miracle was producing wine for a wedding in Cana.  He tells his mother that is not yet “his time” to do that.  Choosing to do a first miracle at a wedding and his wording reveal  his eternal purpose

–        Jesus often used weddings in parables and refers quite often to bridegrooms and their expectations

–        Jesus is the embodiment of essentially the reverse of our existence.  We were flesh first and God breathed life into us.  He was life first that placed himself into flesh.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2013 10:56 pm

    I love this a whole lot. I laughed through it, i said wow through it, i nodded at it, because you have an amazing brain and heart but you also hold giant authority in your words. thanks.

  2. April 11, 2013 11:21 pm

    Reblogged this on donteattrash and commented:
    I love Todd. I love how he thinks and lives. And i wish i lived with him because i want to do life a lot like him. This blog reads like the way i believe in words i haven’t found yet.

  3. April 12, 2013 12:39 am

    I added this post as a resource under my post about adultery and homosexuality.

  4. April 12, 2013 12:58 am

    I agree with donteattrash!

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