Tuesday, November 15, 2011

God has allowed me to see and do some genuinely awesome and very cool things in the years that I have followed Christ.  I thought about Simeon in Luke’s Gospel, a fascinating character in the Christmas drama.  We are told, “At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah.” (Luke 2:25,26)  In other words, “Simeon, you’re going to see some pretty amazing things in your lifetime!”  I could compile a long list of things, some big, some small, but all are part of the wonderful tapestry of the adventure of doing God’s will.  Recently, in the last number of years, my “ministry portfolio” has expanded to include marrying the children of the people (parents) I married 20-30 years ago.  It really is something special.  It has an almost sacred quality to it, and I try to oblige whenever it is possible, especially since the ones asking and desiring this are the new generation!

Last week was supposed to be a “luxury week” for me.  I was going to have plenty of time to read, re-order and re-fill the wells of inspiration in preparation for renewing my preaching responsibilities on November 20th.  Well, it didn’t quite work out that way at all.  I don’t know where the time went, but it went by very quickly!  But, one thing on my calendar that was a “must” was marrying Claressa Ford and Jordan Suiter Sunday morning, November 13th.  Especially, given the fact that Claressa is an Rn and has been a part of the medical side of my “Team Victory” for many months, I wasn’t going to let a little thing like an amputation keep me from being there.

As I was sitting on the platform before the service, her grandmother came up to me and brought me a picture.  This was another one of my treasures because it was the picture of me and Dave and Mariah Ford in 1984 when I was privileged to marry them.  I’m not a picture person, as many know, so this is the “customary” (lol) one picture of the bride and groom with Pastor Warner after the wedding!  So, as part of the service that day, we quickly scanned the picture so we could project it on the large screen in the church.  Why?  I wanted to illustrate and set things in context about the awesome power of heritage taking place that day.  It is rare that the same pastor who married your parents, the same church setting and worship of Christ, becomes the place where you as a younger person enter in to your marriage covenant!  There was such a glorious realization of the power of Jesus Christ as the foundation of marriage and the source of LONGEVITY.  As you’ve heard me say so many times, “If you lose longevity, you lose blessing.”  Trust me, there was heaps of blessing tangibly present in Sunday’s service.

OK, I could probably be accused of “piling on” here, but I couldn’t help but think of the contrast between what we were part of Sunday, and Kim Kardashian’s seeming mockery of marriage.  After a whirlwind romance with Kris Humphries, who she met on October 31, 2010 (that’s Halloween, folks) they were married on July 28, 2011.  The marriage lasted an incredibly long 72 days when Kim filed for divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.”  Excuse me if I’m a bit cynical or turn a bit sarcastic about all this.  Irreconcilable after 72 days?  You haven’t even had time to decide what side of the bathroom belongs to each spouse, the color of your sheets, or even some of the cooking responsibilities.  I’m sure there was a huge effort made on her part to make this relationship work.  In a statement she released on her website, she said that she married for love and it just didn’t “turn out to be the fairytale” she wanted.  Dear Kim, that is simply because “theatrics” and a fairy-tale mentality never does match the true reality of what makes marriage work.  You can just imagine the plethora of jokes and tweets about this fiasco.  There is actual a hashtag that’s gone viral #ThingsLongerThanKim’sMarriage.  Even the author Salman Rushdie tweeted his once-only, never-to-be-repeated “kim #kardashian limerick” by writing
“The marriage of poor kim #kardashian / was krushed like a kar in a krashian. / her kris kried, not fair! /why kan’t I keep my share? / But kardashian fell klean outa fashion.”
Well, Kim has actually hired a famous L.A. attorney, Marty Singer, to do public relations damage control for her (i.e. he’s the same attorney who worked with Charlie Sheen and Arnold Schwarzenneger, which is all you really need to know).  The reason for hiring the attorney was to manage the “PR fall out,” especially the allegation by her former publicist, Jonathan Jaxson, saying that her wedding to Kris Humphries was a sham from the start.  Others have piped in on the subject.  Mona Elyafi: Kim Kardashian Divorce Makes a Mockery of Marriage wrote, “They say that allowing same-sex marriage would make a mockery of the institution of marriage.  Really?  Then what do you call a celebrity who utilizes her notoriety to deliver and exorbitantly lavish wedding production as a money-making publicity stunt?”  Lisa Coffey: Kim & Kris Krash & Burn: What Went Wrong says, “Was it telling that Kim appeared solo on the cover of People magazine, beaming about her ‘dream wedding?’ Is it a coincidence that Kim filed divorce papers the day before her mother’s book hits stores?”  I’m sorry, I don’t know Kim Kardashian anymore than what you read in the tabloids, but celebrity or not, a complete and total narcissist does not make for a good marriage partner!

So, please, repeat after me, OK, slowly if you need to, “until death do us part!”  You cannot parse away the fact that successful and fulfilling monogamy calls for and is undergirded by longevity and commitment, not feelings and emotions, or your idea of a “fairy tale.”  Jordan and Claressa, like their parents almost three decades ago, did not spend $$ millions on their marriage ceremony.  They had something better: knowledge of what marriage is all about, and the “covenant glue” in Christ that makes it work. 

Someone sent me an article about lawmakers (a bit of a joke to call them that) in Mexico City that are considering a two-year marriage arrangement.  Let me just quote from the news article
“Mexico City lawmakers want to help newlyweds avoid the hassle of divorce by giving them an easy exit strategy:  temporary marriage licenses.  The minimum marriage contract would be for two years and could be renewed if the couple stays happy.  The contracts would include provisions on how children and property would be handled if the couple splits.  Leftists in the city’s assembly (no different from leftists in our own government) - who have already riled conservatives by legalizing gay marriage – proposed a reform (what they should’ve said was deform) to the civil code this week that would allow couples to decide on the length of their commitment, opting out of a lifetime.  ‘The proposal is, when the two-year period is up, if the relationships is not stable or harmonious, the contract simply ends.”  
Leonal Luna, the Mexico City assemblyman who co-authored the bill says the proposed law is gaining support and he expects a vote by the end of this year.  “You wouldn’t have to go through the tortuous process of divorce,” he declared.  One of his supporters, the mayor of Mexico City, has also announced that he would soon step down in order to run for President.  Oh, that’s just grand; can you say hope and change?!

Folks, man without God can be incredibly absurd.  I think of Romans 1 and the fruit of failing to acknowledge God and His ways that says, “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness...as a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.” (Romans 1:18;21,22) Dear ones, all of man’s “better ideas” about the meaning of life, morals and marriage tends to the irresponsible and the immoral. 

It also contradicts the very nature of marriage which is put on display in Christ’s love for the church.  Paul’s description of marriage is one of the most profound and definitely challenging blueprints you’ll ever find, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:25-33) I know this can be a sensitive subject, especially to those who’ve experienced a marriage failure, often through no fault or desire of their own, but, he sets the bar very high where it needs to be.  This is why to glibly claim “irreconcilable differences” is to insult both the character and love of Jesus Christ for His church. 

Since they say a picture worth a thousand words, I’d like you to feast your eyes on these two pictures.  Take a good look, and give God the glory!

Dave and Mariah Ford 1984 Jordan and Claressa Suiter 2011

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