where religion and politics meet

Everybody has a worldview. A worldview is what you believe about life: what is true, what is false, what is right, what is wrong, what are the rules, are there any rules, what is the meaning of life, what is important, what is not.

If a worldview includes a god/God, it is called a religion. If a bunch of people have the same religion, they give it a name.

Nations have worldviews too, a prevailing way of looking at life that directs government policies and laws and that contributes significantly to the culture. Politics is the outworking of that worldview in public life.

Our country’s worldview used to be Christianity. Now we are told it is and has always been secularism, which is practical atheism. This issue divides our country, but those who disagree are divided as well on how to respond.

Our country could not have been founded as a secular nation, because a secular country could not guarantee freedom of religion. Secular values would be higher than religious ones, and they would supersede them when there was a conflict. Secularism sees religion only as your personal preferences, like your taste in food, music, or movies. It does not see religion, any religion, as being true.

But God, prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments were always important parts of our public life, including our public schools, until 1963, when the court called supreme ruled them unconstitutional, almost 200 years after our nation’s founding.

Our country also did not envision a multitude of different religions co-existing in one place, because the people, and the government, would then be divided on the basic questions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Our Constitution, which we fought a war to be able to enact, states, among other things, that our government exists for us to form a more perfect union, ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. It could not do this unless it had a clear vision of what it considers to be true, a vision shared with the vast majority of the people in this country.

I want to engage the government, the culture, and the people who live here to see life again from a Christian perspective and to show how secularism is both inadequate and just plain wrong.

Because religion deals with things like God, much of its contents is not subject to the scientific method, though the reasons why one chooses to believe in God or a particular religion certainly demand serious investigation, critical thinking, and a hunger for what is true.

Science and education used to be valuable tools in the search for truth, but science has chosen to answer the foundational questions of life without accepting the possibility of any supernatural causes, and education no longer considers the search to be necessary, possible, or worthwhile.

poligion: 1) the proper synthesis of religion and politics 2) the realization, belief, or position that politics and religion cannot be separated or compartmentalized, that a person’s religion invariably affects one’s political decisions and that political decisions invariably stem from one’s worldview, which is what a religion is.

If you are new to this site, I would encourage you to browse through the older articles. They deal with a lot of the more basic issues. Many of the newer articles are shorter responses to partiular problems.

Visit my other websites theimportanceofhealing blogspot.com where I talk about healing and my book of the same name and LarrysBibleStudies.blogspot.com where I am posting all my other Bible studies. Follow this link to my videos on youtube:


If you want to contact me, email is best: lacraig1@sbcglobal.net

Thank you.

Larry Craig

Monday, December 19, 2016

Is diversity really a strength? a response to a friend about diversity

Hi Emma
I hope you guys have a great Christmas.  Christmas is special for kids.  Yes, I guess a lot of that has to do with getting presents.  When I was a kid, Christmas permeated everything, so that the entire country felt Christmas-y for a good month and a half before Christmas.  Schools had Christmas trees and sang Christmas songs.  Even the hymns. 

I was thinking about this debate about whether parents should tell their kids about Santa Claus.  There is this video online of a pastor telling kids in a Santa Claus line that their parents were lying to them.  I think I would tell my kids that Christmas, among other things, is the season where people give gifts to people they love or those in need.  No mention of Santa Claus or emphasis on getting gifts.

Thank you for your thoughts on my comments. 

It looks like you understood me as saying that diversity created or promotes post-modernism.  You see the causes for post-modernism as “technology, philosophy, economics, our culture of busyness, the idolatry of academia, [and] materialism.”  It seems also that you see these things as contributing to apathy in the churches and among Christians in America, particularly perhaps more so among whites. 

Christianity had always been an integral part of American life.  Beginning in 1947 with a Supreme Court ruling that the government cannot aid or favor any religion, secularism as a government policy was born, though it took a while to take over.  It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the Bible and prayer were removed from public schools.  The fight over the presence of the Ten Commandments took years to play out, but the die was cast.

This created a moral vacuum in our country, and political correctness developed to fill the void.  Instead of favoring Christianity, all religions were equal.  Instead of an American culture that was taught in our schools, and Western culture that was taught in all of our colleges, all cultures became viewed as equal. 

Prior to this time, almost all immigration was from Western countries that shared our culture and that also shared the demographics of those who already lived here.  That changed in 1965.  While they said they would not change the demographics of our country, almost all immigration since then has been from non-European countries. 

Since 9/11, Muslims have probably been the single dominant group of immigrants.  Since they come from so many different countries, this doesn’t get noticed much, because they all get grouped under ‘other.’

But I digress. 

Post-modernism, with its rejection of absolute truth, moral authority, divine revelation, all basic tenets of Christianity, spawned the idea that diversity is good, a strength.  A lot of people were expressing discomfort with seeing growing numbers of people very different from them, and political leaders needed to calm them down and offered this as their paternalistic wisdom. 
So post-modernism came as a result of secularization, which came as a result of Supreme Court rulings, which frankly had no precedents or case histories.  

I had heard years ago that Obama was deporting a lot of immigrants.  Then I read that the government changed its definition of deportation.  The government has a practice of using statistics to say things they’re not really saying.  Just like unemployment statistics don’t include the record number of people who are no longer in the work force and inflation statistics don’t include a lot of things that people regularly use, so deportation numbers have been expanded to include people who are turned away at the border as well. 

Which by the way has practically dropped down to zero, it seems.  Our southern border is being flooded with people who have been coached to say that they are refugees, and the government then whisks them to cities throughout the country.

As for diversity, certainly all people are created in God’s image, and heaven will be filled with people from every country, race, and language.   Meanwhile, back here on earth, we have around 200 countries in the world.  Many of them, like Iraq, should be divided into more countries.  There you have Kurds, Sunni Muslims, and Shia Muslims, who don’t get along to the point that they only live together to avoid a war to separate them.  There used to be a sizable Assyrian Christian population there, but since the death of Hussein who kept the peace, that group has pretty much disappeared through killing and emigration. 

Why do I mention this?  Countries developed as people of like minds and like cultures formed governments to work for their common interests.  We used to have an American culture based on the principles of Western Civilization, our unique Constitution, and Christian values as taught in the Bible and the Ten Commandments. 

Secularism and post-modernism are not just content with living in an alternate universe with Christianity.  It wants to do away with it.  If it can keep it confined to the four walls of a building on weekends, that would work.  When we are talking about our government leaders attempting to diversify our nation, we are not talking about bringing in Christians from all countries of the world, but as much as possible non-Christian groups to make any attempts of normalizing Christianity again impossible. 

Diversity weakens and divides a nation when there is no underlying common value system, moral code, worldview, and loyalties.  Language is important too.  Being an American used to mean a lot more than simply the fact that a person lives here or was born here. 

You mention the importance of having “a leader providing guidance of how to honor and respect each other.”  The Church has that; our schools and society used to have that, but now the highest values of our country are not love your neighbor but tolerate him.  Which means little more than ignore them.  

You mention that Americans kill each other far more than a terrorist does.  That’s because there are way more Americans than terrorists here, and we spend billions of dollars a year tracking over a million people on terror watchlists and over 1,000 open terror investigations at any one time to see that more don’t’ take place.

Why in the world should a country have to do that?  We didn’t used to have that problem.  And we didn’t used to have all those killings either.

The problem frankly is Islam.  Not radical Islam, but Islam itself.  The way to tell is that there are about 50 majority Muslim countries in the world today.  The only ones a Christian or Jew would feel relatively safe in are those run by strong secular rulers, like kings or dictators.  Once the religious Muslims take over, persecution is strong against Jews and Christians.  Bringing Muslims into our country may not cause immediate problems, but it will create all kinds of problems for our kids, grandkids, and their kids and grandkids.  You can watch thousands of videos coming out of Europe that show where we will be in a few years.  If we were winning them to Christ, that would be one thing.  But they are changing Western life far more than we are changing them.

This is probably far more than you were hoping for in response.  You will always be my friend.

solving the financial crisis in Illinois: a letter in response to a newspaper opinion column

Thank you for giving us some background on the fiscal crisis in Illinois.   I would like to add one little detail that will explain a lot about what is happening.

Democrats have two long range goals here that residents need to be aware of.

Democrats want the 5% state income tax made permanent, and they want a progressive state income tax.  They are quite willing and perhaps eager to have our state debt balloon to the point that even the strongest opponents of these measures will have to concede that these measures are necessary. 

The easiest way to solve our problems is to change the State Constitution, saying that pensions can be reduced and ideally tied to actual contributions and not to promised contributions.  But nobody will talk about it: not newspapers, broadcast media, politicians.  I can write letters to the editor, but those letters never get printed.

You want to do some good for Illinois?  Start a campaign to change the State Constitution.  Nothing is more important for our state at this time.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Another Look at the Parable of the Sower

They call this the parable of the sower, but it isn’t really about the sower.  It isn’t even about the seed that he sows.  It’s about the kinds of soil that the seed is sown upon; or, as Jesus explains, it’s actually about the people who hear about God and the 4 basic ways that they might respond to God’s Word when they hear it. 

The parable is one of the better-known parables, and Jesus even gives us the explanation of the parable, telling us what everything means.  But He also leaves a lot of questions unanswered, questions that nobody is asking.  Maybe Jesus didn’t answer the questions, because every society in every generation has to answer those questions in their own way.  But if we are serious about reaching the world for Christ, and particularly our neighbors and the country we live in, then we need to answer these questions.

But first we should look at the parable itself.

The parable is found 3 times in the Bible, in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  These are called the synoptic gospels, because they all present the life and teaching of Jesus in a similar fashion.  But they each have a different emphasis and their own unique perspectives.  So, while much of the gospels cover the same stories, they are not redundant but complement each other.  And when included in each gospel, they present a more fully formed and well-rounded picture of Jesus and His teaching.

I find it interesting, for example, that when the parable mentions the work of the devil in keeping people from responding positively toward God, each gospel refers to him by a different term.  In Matthew’s Gospel, he refers to the devil as “the evil one.” Mark calls him Satan, which means ‘adversary, and Luke uses the word devil.  The Greek word there is dia/boloj, diabolos, from which we get the word ‘diabolical.  The basic meaning of the word is ‘slanderer.’  Slander is “the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation.”  I don’t think we should consider the slander here to what the devil says about the person necessarily, but what he says about the Word or message.

So Matthew emphasized the devil’s nature, Mark his work, and Luke his methods.

But let’s look at the parable itself.  We’ll use Matthew’s account as a base line:

Matthew 13:1–23 (NASB95)  1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. 3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 “He who has ears, let him hear.”  . . . 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

But then Jesus explains what this all means:

In the first case, the seed fell along the road.  This is where people walk, so the ground is firm, and the seed is unable to go below the surface.  It can’t take root, and it is soon eaten by the birds. 

Matthew notes that these people don’t understand the Word.  Luke adds that the seed was trampled on by those on the road.  The Word is sown on people’s hearts, but the ground is hard and it doesn’t really penetrate.  The devil then comes and takes it away.  It’s gone, leaving no permanent impact.  Mark says that this happens immediately.  People hear the Word of God. and it’s like you’re speaking a foreign language.  Jesus says that this is the work of the devil. 

Jesus didn’t merely say that some people won’t accept the message, but that there are spiritual forces that immediately are at work and who remove the Word so that it has no effect on their lives.
The ground is firm, so the seed can’t penetrate, and the devil comes and takes away the Word.  He takes away the Word, but that doesn’t explain why the ground was hard and impenetrable in the first place.

The second group of people actually accept the Word.  These are those where the Word is sown on rocky soil. 

The three accounts all note that this person receives the Word with joy, Matthew and Mark add that this response is immediate.  But the Word has no root in this person.  They believe for a time (Luke), but then they stop.  Matthew and Mark say the person was offended, or stumbled, or got angry.  Luke says they fell away.

The reasons for this short-lived spiritual life are tribulation (lit. pressure) and persecution (lit. being pursued).  Luke calls it ‘a time of trial (or, test, temptation).

In the third case, the seed is sown on thorny soil.  The Word is choked out.  In Matthew and Mark, it’s cares (anxiety) of the age and the deceitfulness of wealth.  Mark adds the desires for the rest of the things.  Luke describes it as worries, riches, and pleasures of life.

The last group receives the Word and bears fruit.  Matthew adds that they understand the Word.  Remember he was the only one who noted that in the first group, the people didn’t understand the Word before the devil was able to snatch it away.  Matthew and Mark describe this fruit bearing as 30, 60, hundred-fold.  Luke just notes that they hold fast to the Word and bear fruit with endurance, or perseverance.

The question needs to be asked why the people responded the way that they did.  Why are some people like well-worn paths where the ground is hard and impenetrable to the seed of the Word of God?  Why are some people’s lives full of rocks, and what are these rocks?  Why are some people’s lives full of thorns and thistles, and what does that represent?  And why are other people’s lives like well-watered, fertile, broken-up soil where seed can easily take root and grow?

I believe that human beings are basically the same across all cultures and across all generations, yet a complete answer will be unique to every culture and generation.  A culture establishes a basic norm for thinking, a common worldview that underlies all the discussions and decisions that people make.

And what makes a culture?

We can offer a list of things from family to music to media, but there is one creator of culture that has become so dominant today that any attempts to try to counteract it might well be met with the full force of the law.  Most influences of culture have been voluntary and unorganized.  Nobody said you had to listen to the Beatles or Bob Dylan, but they are nothing compared to the real shaper of culture in our time.

And that is government.

There are three strains of thinking today that dominate in our culture that are not only encouraged by government, they are driven by it and compel your compliance.
These strains of thinking I would call secularism, entitle-ism, and hedonism.

Secularism is the thinking that religion can and should be separated from public life.  A religion purports to describe reality, what is true and false, what is right and wrong, and how life is to be lived.  Secularism declares that religion is personal, like your taste in music or food, and that society must be run, or governed, by a system devoid of anything that has anything to do with God, or religion.

After a few generations of this kind of thinking, now when God is introduced into public discourse, you might as well be talking about aliens from outer space, because not only is it considered unknowable (unprovable), it is irrelevant.  It has no bearing on real life.  Everything is and can be explained without it, and everything that is said about it is just your opinion. 

If our society is and was meant to be secular, as we are often told, then religion is not only unnecessary to life but unrelated, unconnected, and finally inappropriate.

In our society, secularism has risen through a complete misunderstanding, intentional and unintentional, of our First Amendment.  You can’t understand the First Amendment if you don’t know the early history of our country.  If you don’t know what practices were considered consistent with the First Amendment back then. you are not going to be able to understand what our Founders meant by it.

The First Amendment cannot guarantee free exercise of religion unless religion and its values are consistent with the highest values of our country.  If we were meant to be a secular nation, then secular values would be higher than religious ones, and freedom of religion could not be promised.

For example, prayer and Bible use were a part of public education from the time of the Pilgrims in the early 1600s and continued continuously until 1962, almost 350 years after the first public schools were formed in our land.  And now they are found to be unconstitutional??????
The First Congress had Bibles printed to be used in the public schools, and the First Congress declared a national Day of Prayer as one of its first acts.  The Ten Commandments were prominently displayed in schools, courts, government buildings, and on government property for most of our nation’s history, but only in the last few decades has this practice been found unconstitutional. 
Some may say that the culture changed the laws, but these were court decisions made by a majority of nine people who were not elected to represent us and who we are essentially powerless to resist or remove from office.  And what a court changes today becomes the new normal tomorrow. 
Four years ago, almost nobody openly endorsed gay marriage.  President Obama came out in support of it, and within a year or two, the Supreme Court made it the law of the land.  That didn’t change too many people’s minds, but children from the earliest ages in public schools today will be taught that homosexuality is normal, healthy, and just as good as heterosexuality. 
And the Church will be seen as bigots, haters, and stuck in the ancient past of superstition, the flat earth, and the myth of Adam and Eve.
But back to the parable.
Secularism produces a people steeped in naturalism.  There is no God behind the curtain that governs in our lives.  We have a government instead to protect us.  And things happen because, well, they just happen.  Any talk of a God or religion is just superstition, or a carryover from an unenlightened, primitive past.  We know better now.
People with a secular worldview see no need for God or even a reason for God.  We’re born, we live, and we die.  There’s nothing more to see here.  When you talk to people about God, it is as if you were trying to sell them insurance coverage for an outer space invasion.  They are like a well-worn path where the ground is hard, and seed is not able to penetrate it.
The second strain of thought promoted by government is entitle-ism, or entitlement.  We may laugh when schools have multiple valedictorians, and when every athlete gets a participation trophy, but they are not kidding. 
If God has no place in our public life, then neither does the Ten Commandments. The Commandments didn’t address school grades or sports directly, but it does teach responsibility for one’s actions and accountability.   So when religion teaches that people are responsible for their actions, this means then that some people make good choices while other people make bad choices.
So to set religion aside, we must also set aside any idea of judgment or accountability.  Those are inherently religious ideas, and we can’t promote religion. 
Secularism then had to develop its own moral code, and we call it political correctness, which basically teaches tolerance, equality, fairness, and diversity, which includes multiculturalism, the equality of all cultures and societies.  To say that one culture or society is better than another assumes some outside point of reference, a higher authority, and then we are back to God.
Since religion involves accountability and standards of behavior, all this must be rejected as well.  So the worst offense now is to offend somebody, as it would show one’s attempt to assert some form of moral superiority over someone else.  Discrimination would be another form of this, and one must aim for the most diverse outcomes in order to prove that it has not taken place. 
In a politically correct society, there should be no winners, because that would mean that somebody lost.  We are all winners.  We are all equal.  Believing that people are equal in this current sense means that any differences in people’s status must be the fault of the society and not the individual.  So society is divided into oppressors and the oppressed, and society must focus on elevating the oppressed peoples, who just happen to be everyone of color or female in gender.
There is no One who judges people.  And there is no One up in the sky who takes care of people.  That function is now that of the government.  So where the first Bill of Rights listed some of the things that people could do without government interference, rights now become things that people are entitled to by the government.  Or, in other words, things that people are to be given at the expense of other people. 
Back to the parable. 
The second kind of soil describes people who believe in this God talk for a while.  After all, God has a wonderful plan for your life.  But these people are easily offended.  The Christian life is hard, if you are really serious about it. 
But a secular life is meant to be a smooth safe life.  The government is responsible to see that everything is taken care of including your emotional and mental wellbeing.  People are to be protected from inconvenience and intolerance, and certainly they have the right not to be offended.  
Christians are the last people in a secular society to be defended from abuse, and people today have a right not to be hurt.  Unless, of course, you are a Christian, because then you actually deserve it.  It’s your religion that teaches intolerance and judgment. 
The parable talks about tribulation and persecution that causes these people to be offended.  The basic ideas of these two words are pressure and pursuit.  Tribulations can be any kinds of pressure, and persecution can apply to any kinds of challenge to your faith by a disagreeing society. 
So we have a society that is emotionally pampered, sensitive to any criticism, and unwilling to challenge the accepted thinking of the age.  These traits don’t contribute to longevity in a person’s new Christian walk. So people who are like rocky soil expect things to go easier than they usually are, and they are not ones to stick things out when things get rough.
The third strain of thinking I called hedonism.  Essentially hedonism is the thinking that life is meant to be enjoyed.  What feels good and tastes good are pleasures that should not be denied.  How can something that brings pleasure be wrong or be restricted in ways that seem arbitrary at best? 
The moral code of secularism doesn’t address moral issues beyond those basic principles of tolerance, etc.; and since all cultures are equal and God and religion are just relics of an unenlightened past, we as a society will not and cannot judge you on your lifestyle.  We have no grounds to reject it or question it. 
But take it a step further.  This is a view of life that puts all value on what can be seen, felt, experienced with the senses.  There is nothing more beyond this.  Life is to be lived in the here and now, because there is nothing else. 
Luke summarized the thorny ground as cares, wealth, and pleasures of life.   The same people that will pursue pleasure, or comfort and security, as their priority are the same people prone to cares and the pursuit of wealth.  The same God who is not there to judge them is also not there to be trusted to take care of them. 
This third type of person is entirely engaged in a life that finds its highest meaning and value in the things of this life.  That chokes the word, because the things they can feel and see are more real to them than things they cannot see or directly feel. 
All three of these soils, these kinds of people, these ways of viewing life are promoted, even codified, by a secular government.  They are part of our public educational system from the earliest ages, and government is seeking to get your kids at an even earlier age through pre-K education and child care. 
Almost all new laws and court decisions are based on these kinds of thinking, and the government will encourage and force these ways of life through the courts and law enforcement. 
Think of government as a huge dump truck that covers the land of our country with rocks that make any growth of life from the Word of God more difficult than it need be.
Christians today often talk about persecution and how it is good for the Church.  It wakes believers up, and the Church gets serious and starts growing.  They look at China, but they don’t look at the Middle East.  The Church is growing rapidly in China under persecution., but the Church is being pushed to extinction in the Middle East through persecution. 
The Church is growing in China in spite of persecution and not because of it.  Chinese Christians believe in miracles and see them regularly in their evangelistic efforts, and Christians here don’t.  But that’s another article. 
The fact is that we had a Christian country for hundreds of years before and after we officially became a nation.  But gradually government, through our courts and our laws, slowly changed the rules by which our nation ran, and every generation started out with a new normal, a new baseline on who we are and were as a nation. 
A lot of Christians don’t value or even accept the idea today of a Christian nation, because they see that as only the outward trappings of religion but not the true commitment of born again individuals. 
But they forget the parable.
Those outward trappings, like prayer and Bible in school, public manger scenes, the Ten Commandments posted prominently, even just being able to say Merry Christmas, all work to normalize the idea that there is a God to whom we are accountable, that God is real, and that Christianity and the Bible are true.   
Christians pray for and give to help small tribes in remote jungles, but they live in a nation of over 300 million people who are becoming increasingly impervious to the gospel, because they live in a country that marginalizes it, and Christians think it is wrong to challenge that.
Christians keep thinking they are living in Bible days when they had kings and rulers and Caesars.  We have representatives.  If we think they aren’t doing a good job of promoting and protecting our values, then we have the right and responsibility to remove and replace them.  And we may have to be the ones taking their jobs, because we can’t wait for someone else to come along to do this better job.
But we need to see that winning the world is not just presenting the gospel one on one to individuals.  The entire political and cultural system affects how the people will respond to it.  We may talk about the power of the Holy Spirit as making that irrelevant, but don’t forget, it was Jesus who told us this parable.  It was Jesus who told us about these different kinds of people, and we won’t be successful in our attempts to reach the people of our country if we don’t know and understand the dynamics affecting how they think. 
Challenging this whole concept of a secular society may sound like we are trusting in politics to save us when we are praying for a revival, but challenging a society at its very root might be the very way necessary to start this revival.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sex, Marriage, and Living Together

There are two basic ways to approach life as in how to live it:  On the one hand, Christians believe that God created the world and everything in it, and then He gave to humans the instruction manual on how it works.  The other view believes that there is no instruction manual, because either there was no God in the first place, or God is not the kind of thing that has a relationship with people.  That’s just vain human thinking.  But either way, the result is the same.  We are on our own. 

So essentially, we make up the rules as we go along.  Society may gradually develop some rules, but it has no real authority to impose it on you unless it wants to punish people who don’t comply.

Because I find human life, and life in general, too incredible to account for by chance and accident, I have to believe there had to be a creator.  Does this Creator love his creation and did he provide for us an instruction manual to tell us how this works? 

The only thing in life that we have that could pass as such an instruction manual is the Bible, and for reasons well beyond the scope of this article, I believe it to be God’s Word to us telling us how life works.

When God first created human beings, the Bible says that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”  [Genesis 1:27] It took two distinct sexes to fulfill the image of God. 

Why would that be?  From what I have read in human psychology, human traits seem to come in pairs.  Now this is my thinking about the matter.  The Bible doesn’t go into detail here.  

It seems that for every strength, there is a corresponding weakness.  Think of justice and mercy.  If a person is strong on justice, he is probably weak on mercy, and a person strong in mercy is usually weaker on justice.  If you were to make a list of your strengths and weaknesses, you could probably link each one to its opposite. 

Psychologists used to think of the different sexes as having different basic temperaments, but current psychological thinking often dismisses this as stereotypical thinking, social constructs, and sexism.  To them, differences imply a hierarchy of values, and to the politically correct, equality is one of the foundations for modern morality.  This doesn’t mean that the modern view is correct or more accurate.  I believe modern science is influenced more today by the presuppositions brought to the investigation of things than by the facts uncovered by the investigations.

I see the joining of a man and a woman forming something that could not exist on its own.  The marriage is intended to form and complete the personality of each person in order for each of them to become more like God.
Genesis 1:28   And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

God tells the first people to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.  A lot of people challenge this thinking, saying that the earth is already full, and its resources are limited.  Actually, no.  It looks full in certain places, because people tend to live in one place, because they have learned to be dependent on others for jobs and their needs for food and shelter.  If there is a lack of food today, it is only in parts of the world, and this is generally due more to political issues than that of resources.  But that is an issue for another article.

The Bible assumes that marriage will have children, and teaches that children are a blessing from God [Psalm 127 3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.]

I would contend that raising children contributes to the forming of our characters in ways that can’t be duplicated by other means, even the raising of other people’s children, like orphans. 
God is always in the business of trying to reveal Himself to us.  Having children is one of the best ways to do this, and He gives us two chances to get it right.

Hopefully a person learns what unconditional love is from one’s parents.  A love that is both tender and firm, that does what is best for us even though it may hurt for a time.  A love that seeks our benefit above all else.

But then that doesn’t always work, so we get a second chance when we have our own children.  Hopefully and generally we find ourselves loving these beings with a love we hadn’t thought possible.  We would easily give up everything for the sake of our children. 

Now the trick is to extrapolate this love onto God, recognizing that His love for us is at least as much as ours for our children or our parents for us.  Sometimes our parents fail us, and we fail our children, but we call that broken families, because we know what the family is supposed to look like. 

Families are also the place where we learn what love is in other ways.  It is more than this intense love for another human being, but it pushes us to develop this love in loving sacrificial service to someone else.  Feelings of love just aren’t enough when speaking of love.

The Bible says later: “For this cause a man shall leave his mother and his father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  [Genesis 2:24]

In another place in the Bible [I Corinthians 6], this theme is explained a bit for those who may have missed its significance the first time.  A man who has sex with a prostitute becomes one flesh, or one body, with her.  So sex is how the two become one.

In thinking about this, I am inclined to think that this union is the result of the emission of a life-generating fluid into the body of another person, that this is when and how this mystical connection and union is formed. 

But then I think about all the modern forms of contraception that either block or kill the living parts of this fluid, and I wonder how this affects that.

And then I think about a phenomenon I have seen over and over again in my life.  A girl will have her first full sexual experience, and she is changed.  This man could be and often is a complete jerk, but she is in love.  But more than just being in love, she is hooked.   Everybody else sees and knows that this guy is a jerk, but she will have none of this.  Unless or until this person completely rejects or hurts her, she will hold on to this person as long as she can, and I wonder if she can ever really let him go.

After this first encounter, if this person is no longer a part of her life, sex can almost lose any really special meaning for this woman.  First date, second date, it’s more than a hug, it’s not given away cheaply, at least a dinner or two first, but then often it can be there for the asking.  Just ask nicely or maybe wait until she has had a few drinks.

But something else happens here.  Our whole culture has separated sex from marriage.  Without the instruction manual, without a God in our lives who has the plan for how this is all supposed to work and who expects us to live according to that plan, we are left with a human experience, clearly the most pleasurable one we can have apart perhaps from certain drugs, we are left with what we want to make of it, what we want to do with it.

Apart from a God who we can’t see, can’t touch physically, don’t hear audibly, we find these impulses and desires, and we look for answers on what to do with them.  But who can tell us what is right or wrong, good or bad, wise or foolish here?  It’s our life, we want to do it, and who’s to say what we should or shouldn’t do?

But what is marriage all about anyway?  Is it just the vehicle for having children? 

This shouldn’t require a lot of Bible verses to help us here.  The fact is that people get married and divorced all the time.  We used to make it a lot harder to get divorced in the past, because we valued marriage more in the past.  We knew the value of the family in raising children, even when marriages were struggling. 

Marriage is clearly about a lot more than having sex.  In talking with some single friends about marriage, I identified about six subjects that I suggested two people need to talk about and resolve before they should think about getting married: religion, sex, children, money, values (what is important to you), and how you spend your free time.  You can add other things as well. 

I suggest not getting involved with someone too early in your life.  Say, for example, after you and your partner have been long involved sexually and emotionally, you decide that you want to be a rock star.  So now you want to travel for months at a time, and your wife wants you home every night with her and the kids.  There’s going to be a problem here.  You usually don’t know what you are going to do with your life when you’re young.  Even if you do, you don’t know if you actually will end up doing that either. 

But what does this all have to do with sex?

Sex is meant to unite people on a spiritual and emotional level.  I contend that we don’t understand all that that entails.  We can’t see the spirit world.  Something happens when people have sex.  Oh, it can be stifled.  It can be dulled.  I heard a pornstar talking about how she felt when she saw her boyfriend holding hands with somebody else.  Sex had become recreation and casual, and something else had become the sign of bonding and commitment.

So, yes, I would say that getting married is part of the program.  I believe that God’s plan for human beings is to get married with very few exceptions.  The Apostle Paul thought he was an exception.  I believe it is an essential part of becoming all that God intends for us to become.  God created a man in the Garden of Eden where he had complete access to and fellowship with God in a perfect world, and then God says that it is not good for the man to be alone.  If man in a perfect state in a perfect world needed a wife, how much more today?

But marriage involves a lot more than having sex.  Like I told one friend of mine, after you have sex, you have to talk to each other.  People have sex, and even if sex has lost that emotional bonding felt with first love, there is still a sense of unity and a bond of persons.  But then in real life, there are all those other issues that two people need to be in harmony on if they are to have a marriage: agreeing on religion, sex (how often, how important, how done, etc.), children (how many, how to raise). money (save, spend, mine or ours), values (eating right, exercise, what you live for), would you rather go out with the guys or come home every night.

These are all issues that should be cleared up before getting married.  In the past, these might have been less of an issue, because there were more clearly defined roles in marriage.  People got married younger, and they were more adaptable when they were younger. 

But then I believe sex screws up your mind. 

You feel the bond and the love, but these other issues won’t go away.  The attraction, the feelings, the love, and the desire for sex generally will long precede any discussions about how you divide your money, whether you want a joint checking and savings account or whether your money should remain totally separate.  So using your head, you might think that there are so many potential irreconcilable differences, but you are in love, and you can make it.  If you knew all these things before you got involved with this person, you wouldn’t have gotten involved with them in the first place. 

Think of it like speed dating or finding love on the internet.  You meet all these people or see all these pictures of attractive people.  You could feel chemistry and desire sex with almost all of them given the right circumstances.  But instead, everyone lists their interests and you immediately eliminate 95% of them from consideration.  But if you knew them from work and didn’t know all these things ahead of time, you might long ago already have had sex with them and bonded before you even got so far as knowing all their interests.

Half the marriages today end in divorce, and I doubt any of them thought they would have ended up that way when they started.  And you really don’t want to put your kids through a divorce.  Trust me on that one.

Children are the furthest thing from your mind when you’re thinking about sex, but even with so much precaution and modern technology, people are often surprised to learn that a child is forthcoming.  Oh, you could destroy it, but then you may find yourself wondering in ten, twenty years what that child would have been like.  Some people seem able to live with that, but many aren’t.  And I’m not sure you will know which you would be until long after you are able to do anything about it.

Today more than ever people are living together without being married.  You get some of the benefits of being married without actually being married. 

People usually live together, because they aren’t sure if this is the person they should marry, and they think this will help them make that decision.  Or they just don’t have a reason not to.  The problem is that though it looks a lot like marriage, it lacks two of the most important elements of marriage, so it won’t give you all the information you are looking for.  This is probably why more people who lived together before they get married get divorced than those who don’t. 

People living together don’t have the commitment that is necessary to make a marriage work.  That’s one reason why they didn’t get married in the first place.  They won’t be trying as hard now to make it work.  And because there is no commitment, people generally cannot and will not fully be themselves.  It’s a little like you’re still dating.  You’re still trying to make a good impression.  People living together know that they don’t have to stay in this relationship.  It need only be temporary.  It’s like that test drive on that new car you want.  If you find something you don’t like, you don’t have to keep it.

When people choose to live together, they are forming a half marriage.  They are investing their lives in something that is just as likely to fail as to succeed.  And their experience together won’t really help them to know which it is going to be.  They run the risk of having children which will bind them together though they may not be the person they should be binding themselves to. 

The fact of living together will make it harder for them to know what they should do and to do it.  Their lives will become so enmeshed and tangled that trying to separate them later on may seem to be more trouble than it is worth.  And the time they spend living together will take a huge part of their life that take a huge price. 

Learn the things you need to learn about each other before taking the step.  Talk through these deep issues.  Marriage is more the gritty day to day stuff than intense feelings of passion.  Pretend you’re on a speed date, and see if you would make it past the first round.  Make internet profiles, and see if this person is someone that you would contact. 

The younger generation is far more casual about sex than older generations.  Take a survey.  Ask the young men you know if they would rather marry a virgin or somebody who has already had maybe some of their friends.  It seems most would rather marry a virgin, but they have no problem being somebody’s first in order to satisfy their craving for it.

So, contrary to the casual nature of sex as seen on television and in movies, sex is the tool God uses to join two people together for life to create and form the next generation.  This union is not just for creating and forming the next generation though, but it also forms our own lives and increases our own enjoyment of it.   

The pressure from society can be immense to just do what you feel like and any call for restraint or ‘traditional’ thinking can seem strange.  But any time you try to bring God’s perspective on anything in life, you can expect that it will often stretch our thinking and ask us to trust Him where we might want to have different thoughts.  That’s just the nature of humans and God looking at the same issues.