Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

A foreigner in a queer world

Monday, June 29th, 2015

I’m an evangelical Christian with traditional views living in a world where the LGBT community and its values are widely accepted and affirmed in society. Marriage equality is now a thing in the USA. It’s legal. It’s only a matter of time for Australia.
Here’s how I make sense of it:

  1. I don’t expect society to reflect my values and beliefs.
    It’s only natural to want our environment to affirm our identity, but reality is that society doesn’t bend to my will. For many years and in many ways, it has reflected my views but it won’t always. I won’t always be in the majority. Coming to Australia has taught me that. Remember, the church was born into a time when Christian values were absurd. Work with it, not against it.
  2. I don’t stay silent but don’t be too loud.
    On a personal level, if you ask for my views, I’ll share it. I reason, I coerce, I plea and I discuss but I don’t force. I invite you to see my views, and if you don’t, that’s ok. We agree to disagree.
    I don’t celebrate that legal marriage now has a new definition in the USA. Here, if and when I can, I vote. Democracy allows me to represent my views and change my environment through a legitimate and unhateful process. Democracy is not perfect, nor are representatives (politicians), but it’s what we’ve got. Behind closed doors, I pray. I pray and pray and pray. And then I pray some more.
  3. I evangelise because the gospel is about Jesus Christ. And Jesus is much bigger than the legal definition of marriage.
    Love is about Christ and not just 2 people who feel something about each other and/or commit their lives together. Marriage is primarily a picture of Christ and the church, not just about love, commitment and sacrifice, etc. Those are good things but that’s not the whole picture for me. To me, love and marriage are so much more beautiful, meaningful and colourful with Christ in the picture. In fact, all of life is! The best I can do for anyone is to invite them to see things through Christ, with Christ, in Christ. In that way, I’d rather lose the battle (that we’ve never won anyway) and win the war.

In conclusion, you won’t find a rainbow on my profile picture to celebrate pride. No, I’m not holier than thou. I’m not in mourning either. I’m just going on my life as it has always been – just a foreigner passing through this strange world.

Practical implication of marriage

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:25

Consider how the husband’s love is described in theologically founded practical terms here. We are to love our wives “as Christ loved the church”; the next question comes to mind immediately: how did Christ love the church? Well, Paul tells us right here:

  • Christ gave Himself up for her
    This really requires two points – that Christ gave Himself and He gave everything up for her. This is probably the most amazing thing about God – that He had the whole world at His disposal but He chose to give Himself. The only ransom and atonement valuable and glorious enough for God. Christ life on earth and death on the cross was more than just simple giving. It was sacrificial giving on so many levels. He gave up His heaven throne and descended to be fully human, he then gave His life to equip and teach those who would listen and learn and finally in His death, He gave up all human dignity and life. All this for just one thing – the church.
  • Christ initiated the giving
    It was not a response, it was an initiation. The church didn’t nag Christ into giving Himself up or force Christ upon the cross. Instead, it was entirely His choice and His initiative generic for cymbalta. He started it, He made it happen, He completed it. Sometimes we (men) tend to take the backseat and be responders rather than initiators, thats when things go haywire. We’re built for headship in the family and we need to live up to it.

 

Held in honour

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
Hebrews 13:4

I am a happily married hetrosexual man and I am passionate about marriage. Not just my own marriage, but marriage everywhere. I hold marriage in high esteem. Marriage is to be honoured and respected. It is to be the pinnicle of human relationships because it was the first human relationship. Marriage takes priority and precedence over every other human relationship. That is why society trives on marriage.

Society needs marriage to be held in high honour. This isn’t just for the good of the religious bunch, but for the good of all. When society sees marriage as something costly, important and precious, society does something good for itself. The fact is that marriage represents and produces many good benefits – the merging of resources, safety and security for women, the possibility of reproduction, protection and gender role modeling for children, etc.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Mark 10:4-9

In Mark 10, Jesus defends marriage against a teaching that is threatening to devalue marriage – divorce. It was a big deal in those days because there was a big debate going on between two Jewish schools of thought about whether divorce was lawful/permitted. Divorce is the nemesis of marriage, it is anti marriage and divorce is still a big deal today, it hurts the people involved and their children. To Jesus, the problem of divorce wasn’t whether it was lawful or not. It had to do with the design of marriage. 

This is what Jesus says of marriage:

  • God’s creation of distinct male and female designs (biologically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) form the basis for marriage (Mark 10:6).
  • Marriage is the forming of one flesh (Mark 10:8) – as Adam aptly proclaimed over Eve, “bones of my bones, flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23).
  • This new flesh is to the exclusion of others, even previous family (Mark 10:7).
  • Marriage is the work (a gift) of God. Since it is God who joins together, then only God can pull apart – by death (Mark 10:9; Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:7).

In answering the question, Jesus showed that it wasn’t a matter of whether divorce was allowed, it was a matter of how marriage was designed. Divorce was never a part of that design, it was a later concession because of man’s sinfulness. It still is a concession, it was never a part of plan. God’s feelings towards broken marriages is not neutral, it is grief. It is sadness.

Notice that Jesus didn’t compromise or side line marriage. Jesus honoured marriage. He held marriage in high esteem, as something precious and important. He did it by reiterating and upholding God’s design for marriage, the what, how and why of the design. Let me rephrase that and say it again: Jesus honoured God’s design and definition of marriage.

Marriage, means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
Marriage Act 1961 (Australia)

Why should we uphold the Marriage Act in Australia as it stands? Because it upholds God’s design for marriage, which is good for all of society. Laws are for the good of society – to protect society and individuals within society. Why should we stand against marriage equality or homosexual marriage? The fact is that homosexual marriage is an oxymoron. Marriage requires the union of distinctly different things (specifically gender and sexual orientation), homo means same. And more importantly, it threatens to dishonour marriage.

If you are a Christian and wondering what you should do in the face of the call for Marriage Equality, here’s the answer to your question: do what Jesus did. He met their brokenness with truth and grace. He didn’t compromise, nor did he condemn. There are more practical things that we can all do which I’ll blog in the coming days.

Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

6 March 2012

Committee Secretary
Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Australia

 

Dear Committee,

RE: Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010

I wish to make my views about the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 known. I believe that this move toward marriage equality is fundamentally flawed. Same sex couples do not have the right to be married and I argue that this is not because they are discriminated against. To allow same sex marriage is to disadvantage our children.

Marriage is by definition a voluntary union between a man and a woman. This definition was present in multiple ancient civilisations and is still relevant today. The reason for this definition is obvious – it is biological. The union of a man and woman is able to produce children by completely natural means. I am a Christian and I am a Creationist. I believe that God created man and woman and the design of procreation between a man and woman is intentional. God defines a union to be between a man and a woman and He called it Marriage. It is fundamentally a God defined term – something that we should not seek to redefine.

If I was an Evolutionist, this bill would be just as flawed. Procreation is one the most basic functions in any life form. All plants and animals are able to procreate and the ones that cannot or will not become extinct rather quickly. Such a move to redefine marriage is against evolution. It does not inhibit our ability to procreate but it redefines a family unit to be a unit that cannot procreate biologically. Indeed, a family unit is not defined by its ability to procreate, but it certainly is a basic function. Same sex marriage is against progress, in fact, it is evolutionary regression.

Please excuse my crude analogy but I feel that it describes the situation very well. Trying to change the definition of marriage can be likened to changing the definition of a female toilet. Female toilets were designed to be used by females. We are not discriminating against men for not wanting them in female toilets. We are not discriminating against men for not having a urinal in female toilets. It is simply by definition and design a female toilet. It is possible for men to use a female toilet, but should they? Absolutely not. We can very quickly see that it is not a matter of rights or discrimination. In the same way, we are not discriminating against same sex couples; we are simply upholding the definition and design of marriage.

The inherent value of marriage is not only in its commitment, more importantly it is in it’s make up. A marriage is made up of a man and a woman, and there is inherent value in that for children. Children have the right to learn in a biologically diverse environment, from both a father and a mother. Men are often naturally more masculine and women are naturally more feminine. This shows in our bodies, our minds, our actions, our habits – our whole lives. These are distinct differences that have its biological roots in our hormones. This is not traditional thinking; this is natural and normal thinking. Children have the right to grow up with the knowledge of such a distinction and to form their identity from this understanding.

A child that does not have such an environment to grow up in is disadvantaged. This is not to say that they cannot rise above the situation and grow to be people who contribute greatly to society, but they have the best chance of doing so in a correctly defined family unit. To favour same sex marriage is to oppose the rights of children.

I have friends who are gay and I do not treat them any differently. They are friends whom I work with and live with, have drinks with, laugh and cry with. I do not hate gay people or gay couples. I want to see them enjoy life as much as any other couple does, but never at the expense of other’s rights. That is why we should take care of our natural environment. The environment, though not an entity of its own, has the right to be protected for our future generations. Marriage, although not an entity of its own, has the right to protect and maintain its definition.

I hope that you will consider the points I have made regarding the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010. Marriage by definition excludes same sex couples and this is not discrimination. Keeping the current definition of marriage gives the best possible environment for our future generations and protects their rights. I firmly believe that such a bill should never be passed.

 

Sincerely,

Dennis Tng

Matrimony

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Marriage is a strange and wonderous thing. It is a lifetime committment to another person whom you will be responsible to have moral sexual relations with. Yes, that is right. Outside of marriage, sex is immoral. It is as simple as that. Marriage is a passport to have sex. Not just to have sex, but to have mind-blowing sex. Marriage makes you responsible for your partner’s sexual satisfaction.

Question is where in the bible does it specifically state all that? The word(s) used for sexual immorality, πορνεία (greek: porneia) and זָנָה (hebrew: zanah), is unclear. It could mean anything from bestiality, incest, adultery, fornication, prostitution to lesbian/gay sex. The main idea of course is illicit sexual intercourse, but what does it mean when? There is a specific list in Leviticus 18, but there are also tons of other instructions that we don’t follow in there. We could get into a huge debate about the meaning of greek/hebrew words, but that is far from helpful.

Well, lets go all the way to the beginning.

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Matthew 19:6

In Genesis 2:24, we are told that when a man commits himself to a woman (his wife), they are one flesh. In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus affirms this and adds on to it saying it is God who joins husband and wife together. Marriage is as relevant in the New Testament as it is in the Old Testament.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
Hebrews 13:4

Exodus 2:14 is as clear as it can be “You shall not commit adultery.” The word used for adultery here is נָאַף (hebrew: naaph), which directly translates to adultery. If that wasn’t clear enough, in verse 17 it says “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife”. And if that isn’t clear enough, see Hebrews 13:4 – the word used for adulterer is μοιχεία (greek: moicheia), which is the greek version of naaph. Without a doubt, sex is only permissible within the boundaries of marriage. That is pretty clear.

“Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband.”
1 Corinthians 7:1-2

Now, what about sex before marriage? Those verses pertain to people who are already married. Well, 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 pertain to both the single and married. The gnostic belief that everything of the body/flesh is bad and the spirit is good has seeped into the church and the Corinthians wrote to Paul about this matter saying that “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” They thought that sex was wrong, because it was pleasuring the flesh! They had swung the other way and thought that ALL sexual activity was immoral.

Paul replies, saying that the cure for sexual immorality is to get married and have sex with each other, instead of not having sex at all or having illicit sex. Verses 3 – 6 gives us the idea that sex is to satisfy the sexual desires and it is our “duty“. BUT only within a marriage. Marriage feeds sexual desires and allows people who are married to each other to have sex without sinning. (Note that Paul’s reply starts with a “but”. Meaning, he agreed in part with what they said, and the reason for this is found in verses 7 and 25 – 35.)

In the Old Testament, we have the story of Amnon and Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-19). Tamar was Amnon’s half-sister and he was in love with her. Tamar however was heavily protected because she was beautiful and a virgin. She would had hordes of men after her. So he devises a plan with the help of Jonadab and executes it, forcing himself onto Tamar.

Tamar called what he did a “wicked thing” that would make him a “wicked fool“. In that conversation, she offered a solution to Amnon. She said “Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you“. Her godly solution to his sexual desire is to marry! (Note that in those days, marrying your half-sister was quite acceptable.)

Without going into endless debates about the meaning of porneia, it is clear that God’s plan is that sex is permissible only within marriage and marriage is the solution for our sexual passions. That is great news isn’t it! We should all go around finding the most beautiful/sexy/luscious partner to marry and have a whole lot of sex. Hmmm but not quite.

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body (each one of you should know how to take a wife for himself) in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.”
1 Thessalonians 4:3-6

Drawing close parallels with 1 Corinthians 7:2, John Piper concludes that “each of you should learn to control your own body” is better translated as “each one of you should know how to take a wife for himself“. In verse 4, Paul admonishes that men should not satisfy their sexual desires through immoral means – fornication/prostitutes/adultery/seducing other men’s fiances or wives, but to take their own wives.

He goes even further to say that we should do so “in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.” In other words, marriage is not just to satisfy your sexual desires as pagans make it out to be. Marriage is so much more! Our sexual passions need to conform to Him, and our marriages need to be more than just a passport for sex.

The truth is, God’s purpose for marriage is so much bigger than what we make it out to be:
Partnership – Genesis 2:18
Pleasure – Proverbs 5:18-19
Purity – 1 Corinthians 7:2
Picture of Christ and the church – Ephesians 5:22-33 (v32)

It also comes with responsibilities, to name a few:
Provision – 1 Timothy 5:8
Procreation – Genesis 1:28
Sexual fulfillment – 1 Corinthians 7:3, 5
Love and respect – Ephesians 5:22-33 (v33)

Well, to my single friends, I say happy hunting. To my married friends I say, enjoy!

Triple threat

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

The question to ask when entering any evangalical meeting is: What is on sale?

We had an interested discussion in cell the other day about what the salvation call is or how it should be. Most of the salvation calls that I have heard consist only of the nice toppings on top. Jesus gives you EVERYTHING. All good, no bad. I guess it is only normal that when selling a product, you mask any negative features and magnify the positive ones.

In the words of totally crazy-as Westboro Baptist Church leader, Margie Phelps:
“Every institution in this country not only teaches sin in word and deed but is proud of it and teaches you to be proud of it and sticks your face up into God’s face demanding that He bless you in spite of it. Now that is the condition of this nation.”
(http://www.rutherford.org/oldspeak/articles/interviews/oldspeak-phelps.html)

Margie isn’t entirely right, but sometimes our altar calls really sound like that. Are we misrepresenting the gospel in our salvation calls? Maybe we need to add a disclaimer: true salvation and accepting grace leads to intentional transformation by loving Him and loving the things that He loves. Much like selling any drug/medication, should we not give a list of known side effects.

Jesus – Contains effective sin-killing and salvation-giving agent.
Use on blind, lost, broken and hungry people to effectively restore to abundant and whole life.
Directions: Apply generously over all areas of life (and beyond) everyday all day.
Known Side effects: Loss of self, loss of sinful habits, intentional discipleship leading to life transformation.
If symptoms persist, continue using and apply God’s grace.
For external and internal use.

No no, grace isn’t cheap. It is just as expensive for the giver as it is the receiver.

Love and life

I’ve been reflecting on my years of dating. It’s strangely familiar yet so far away. Growing old really has a strange effect on you. Here’s what I thought of those years and how I made sense of myself:

Looking back at the years I spent chasing skirts, I cannot say that any of those years were wasted. I’ve laughed and cried and made a huge mess of things, but I value every minute of it. Every single time I put myself out, I have loved. Taking a broader view of love as more than an expression, emotion or character. It is an experience (1 John 4:16). If you haven’t loved, you haven’t lived. It’s an old saying but it sounds a bit like a bible verse we are familiar with isn’t it? (“If I have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Cor 13:2)

Keeping away

Honestly, I could not keep away from girls. I get lonely when I don’t have the companionship I desire. Is that a bad thing? No. It means I am not gifted with the gift of singlehood. It means I was built for community and relationships. But I am aware of the effects of this desire. I would not allow myself to be overwhelmed with it. I would not let my life be ruled by it. I cannot say that I’ve done very well there.

The times that I really began to devote myself to seeking God’s word was when I was at my loneliest – in NS. When I had to stay in camp, with nothing else to do. No girlfriend, no computer, no television. I started studying my bible and reading authors like C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. Was I still lonely? Hell yeah. It sure didn’t take me long to find another skirt to chase. Life is about relationships and I just cannot keep away from them! I only thank God that He redeems even my dumbest decisions.

Slippery slope

I remember the first time I held a girl’s hand (I’m not talking about group prayer), it was a huge rush of sensations. The first kiss was strangely pleasurable. Physical intimacy is like a slippery slope. There is no way of climbing back up, all I can do is slide slower. Much like eating a packet of M&Ms during a lecture – how long can you keep away from the open packet before finishing it all up? The chocolate needs to hold up until I get out of the lecture. The longer the lecture, the longer between each M&M. More time to get to the end of the packet, more effort needed to hold off. A man only has that much strength before he gives way. That being said, I believe in short dating and early marriages. Maybe because I am a person that speaks in intimacy.

“The right girl at the wrong time is still the wrong girl.” – Doc John

Few statements make more sense to me when it comes to dating and marriage. If I meet a nice woman after I’m married, it’s the wrong woman – turn away. If I meet a woman 5 years before I’m ready to be married, it’s the wrong woman – turn away. That being said, no one defines the right time other than me. I don’t want to slide on the slippery slope for 5 years! Might be ok for some, but not for me.

My decisions have not always been about what makes sense or what I believe. Wisdom is not knowing what to do, it is having the experience and ability to carry out what you know. I’ve made some pretty bad decisions with and without knowledge. I am only thankful that Christ redeems and restores.

Love will keep us alive

Call me idealistic or whatever you want to call me. There are a million things about the future which are unknown at any one point in time. But I believe that future is what I make of it. If I believe that love will keep us alive, it darn well will. I didn’t care if I didn’t have a job yet or if I won’t be earning much. If the person I was dating was willing to walk with me, we’ll walk and we’ll be happy. Of course, I’m not irresponsible and I don’t intend to be a bum. There are a million unknowns in life, but if we’re willing to work it out, it’ll work out. Some call it stupidity, I call it adaptability and commitment.

If it means, going through multiple phrases in life through dating and marriage, then that’ll do. If things change, things change, but we stay together. Many people talk about preempting problems and differences. I think that is wise. I also think it is wise to understand that not everything can be foreseen, that commitment and flexibility is needed.

Now that my dating years are over, I am thankful that my lovely wife-to-be accepts me for who I am, where I have been and who I will become. I am blessed to have Sara walking beside me. Come rain or come sunshine, we will walk on.

I have been feeling excited and nervous about getting married (although I already legally am, I’m just feeling it more). It marks a big change. It means no more choosing which girl is the best one. It means I am responsible for providing. It means one day, I will have little creatures running around my house calling me “Dad”. It means a whole lot of things, and all of which have so far been unfamiliar to me.

I realised that I need to make (new) sense of my past, present and future in a totally different way and I need to do so very quickly. God grant me perspective.