Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On marriage

I've been giving a great deal of thought lately to the institution of marriage. A lot of things are to blame for this... My own fairly recent divorce and my subsequent longing for companionship chief among them. This has been long overdue, though. After a year of deftly avoiding the emotional fallout of the end of my marriage, it's time to figure out what lessons were learned, cowboy up and take the pain, and then move on.

I have shined the aforementioned light of Christ into my life, and it has thrown my various shortcomings into sharp relief. With a painful clarity, I can look back on my life and see all the stupid things I've ever done to mess it up. It's a good thing, though. Acknowledging one's shortcomings is the first step toward eliminating them (which, perhaps, is why I've quit smoking and lost 40 pounds in the last two months).

There seems to be a great deal of discussion (and frequently, controversy) over the role of a woman in a marriage. But what I've heard very little of is discussion over the man's role in a marriage. Marriage is, after all, a two way street. So many people seem to be concerned over what the Bible says about wives without giving equal weight to what it says about husbands:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.
(Eph 5:25-31 NASB)

We are to love our wives as Christ loves the church. As Greg Laurie says, that's a tall order. Think of the suffering that Christ endured because of his love for us. We are to love our wives like that.

It is with a great deal of regret that I look back on my life with Sunny and I know that I didn't love her like that. Don't get me wrong, I cherished her, and loved her more than life itself, but how can I say with a straight face that I loved her as Christ loves the church? I should have taken care of her, I should have protected her, I should have made her feel like she would always be safe in my arms, but I didn't. My failings as a husband are now abundantly clear to me. But that's what the light is for, isn't it?

I need time. Time to grow as a person, and more importantly, to grow in Christ. The Lord is working in me, and I know He has a plan for me. Whether that plan includes another marriage, well, I guess I'll find out. I do long for someone to share my life with. I harbor dreams of a future filled with love, happiness, and children. In those dreams, the woman's face never quite comes into focus. Whoever she is, I hope she knows that as long as I draw breath, I will take care of her, I will protect her, I will hold her in my arms and never let her go. I will love her as Christ loves the church, and we will be one flesh.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Link with the Past

A few days ago I drove down to San Diego with my church. The San Diego Natural History Museum was displaying the Dead Sea Scrolls, for what appears to be the last time outside of Israel. I had to take the opportunity to see them before they were gone for good.

On top of that, it was really an outstanding opportunity for fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I developed much closer relationships with some very faithful Christians, and that can only be a good thing. I also had a couple of good talks with Pastor Fred about my walk with the Lord. Overall, it was an incredibly enlightening couple of days.

To be honest, though I was very interested in seeing the scrolls, I thought I would be approaching this in an almost academic sense. It was a chance to see how the people who wrote them lived, and what they believed. The theologist in me was excited.

But I was unprepared for the emotional impact that the exhibit would have on me.

The way the exhibit was organized, we first walked through a gallery of photos of the Holy Land. Next to each photo was information documenting the subject of each photo. I learned quite a bit about Israel this way. Then the exhibit turned to scale models of Qumran, and replicas of the jars the scrolls were found in. There was a full size replica of the tents that the people who excavated Qumran lived in as they worked in the desert. And then there were videos documenting the preservation efforts of the scrolls.

This is where I started losing it.

Just seeing them on video was overwhelming. I was almost dreading seeing the scrolls in person. I'd probably fall to my knees and start blubbering like a baby.

But I bravely soldiered on and moved to the next portion of the exhibit. This part was beyond cool. The area where the scrolls themselves were on display was down in the basement of the museum. The entrance to the area was a replica of the cave the scrolls were found in. Like I said, beyond cool.

Walking past the entrance, we entered the gallery where the scrolls themselves were on display. Only I didn't see them yet. First, more information on the lives of the people that we believe wrote the scrolls. They were a highly orthodox sect of Jews that segregated themselves from the mainstream Jewish population. I got to see how they lived. I saw some of their personal belongings. Their combs, their phylacteries, their cups and plates, and even their money. The upswell of emotion was growing within me. These were people who literally gave up everything they owned, and everything they were, to fellowship with the Lord. They devoted their lives to Him. I almost felt a certain kinship with them.

And then I saw the first scroll. It was an awesome sight. The parchment was brown, cracked, very damaged, but the writing on it was as clear as if it had been written yesterday. I think that's what really got me. These words were being written down on this paper when my Lord and Saviour was walking the earth in human form, I thought. What an amazing thought. The people that wrote these scrolls wrote them under the same skies that saw our Lord Jesus Christ die on the cross. Wow. What else can you say to that? Just, wow.

The whole experience was faith affirming. I'm reminded that, during the time in my life when I was not living as a Christian, one of my "arguments" against Christianity was that the Bible had been translated so many times that it was unlikely that it still said the same things it used to say. Kind of like when you play "telephone" at a party when you're a kid. The message is always wrong when it gets to the other end of the line.

And here are these documents, written 2000 years ago, long before the Bible was translated into anything other than its original Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. And they say exactly the same things. The Word of God. Unchanging and eternal. Praise the Lord.