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Archive for August, 2008

Wonders will never cease….

I was watching Weekend Sunrise this morning and an academic-sounding guy came on advertising his new book, The Marriage Benefit – the surprising rewards of staying together.  Now, the average bookstore is littered with a plethora of relationship-help literature, endorsing all kinds of voguey ideas from non-marriage and the sexual revolution, to psycho-analytical theories of ‘compatibility’, to the ‘open-marriage’ idea, which in my book takes the cake (well, the whole cake shop really) for sheer ridiculousness and stupidity. With these in mind, I was fairly unexcited when yet another ‘PhD’  came on the telly espousing the latest ‘ground breaking’ strategy for ‘greater happiness and fulfillment’ in marriage.

 Yet, despite the odds, this guy still managed to astound me with his theory.

His take on marriage is that we should be focusing not on how our relationship makes us happier, but how we can make the relationship better, if we work on our unrealistic expectations and improve communication. ‘So often’, he says ‘people focus on what’s wrong about their partner’, instead of looking at how they can improve themselves’. He argues there are great benefits to staying together as a couple and that people should ‘get real’ about working on their relationship and growing as a couple.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It strikes me as fairly amazing that after years of (failed) sexual revolution paraphernalia and ideas, the denouncing of Biblical marriage as hopelessly antiquated and the celebration of ‘free and easy’ sexuality that we are only now discovering that the ‘old fashioned’, Biblical view of marriage actually does work! After 40 odd years of serialized relationships and the deconstruction of the nuclear family unit, much to the detriment of our increasingly fragmented society, people have come full circle in realizing a ‘me-first’ approach to sexuality and relationships isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Who would’ve thought God’s way would make sense after all!

Friends, this is no coincidence – after all, God created marriage to be a monogamous, lifelong union of male and female working alongside each other to serve God in his ‘garden’ – in Genesis 2, God creates a ‘suitable helper’ (Gen 2:18,) for Adam in Eve: ‘for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh’ (Gen 2:24).

Marriage is not about ‘our needs or desires’ (as the author rightly points out!) or satisfying some glorified romantic ideal (which really only exists in the movies). By holding fast to these unrealistic expectations our society has suffered greatly, leaving many people with a sense of disappointment and bitterness about their relationships and prompting some to seek out other partners who inevitably fail to satisfy and the cycle continues.

Marriage is primarily about serving God.  Christopher Ash sums up the point in his book ‘Married for God’ as ‘sex in the service of God’ – sex referring to not just the physical nature of the relationship, but in fellowship, discipleship, friendship, fun and faithfulness. And if we reject this notion of marriage we reject its very essence and what it was created for.

An afterthought:

Incidentally, it is very important to remember that marriage is also about grace. We do (and will) get it wrong frustratingly often, but we must continue to pray, seek guidance from God’s word (and the grace of our spouse!) and trust that he will continue to sanctify us in the image of Christ.

So there is hope for me yet Keags 😛

 

 

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Has prime time viewing reached a new pinnacle?

Sadly, no. Apparently it has taken a sharp nosedive in recent days – away from the dizzying heights of those beloved 60s and 70s (and 80s and 90s) British comedies we all know and love – you know the ones I’m talking about, Faulty Towers, Blackadder, not to mention the entire Monty Python series, which, strangely enough, featured most of the blokes from the former.

John Cleese, we salute you and your quick-witted comrades for many years of quality programming.

Hmm…I’m digressing. Where was I?

Ah yes, 21st century prime time. The more swearing, tears, flesh and guns you can cram into one program the better. You can never take yourself too seriously (or your clothes off fast enough), and having the BMI of a Marasmic Ethiopian orphan is guaranteed to get you a role – unless it’s a reality program, in which case the bigger and more obnoxious you are, the more likely you’ll score your 15 minutes of fame.

Interestingly, the one that tops my ‘worst reality TV show ever’ contains none of the aforementioned ingredients for quality viewing (except perhaps tears). I’m talking about that new psychic program, on channel 7 (at least I’m fairly sure it was channel 7, it was hosted by Andrew Daddo, and channel 7 is fairly notorious for blatant acts of TV nepotism).

It’s called ‘The One’ and describes itself as ‘the search for Australia’s most gifted psychic’. The psychics are presented with a series of challenges, such as finding a lost child in the bush and communicating with deceased loved ones and they are evaluated by a panel of judges for their speed and accuracy.

Seriously people, have we really become that desperate for entertainment? Why not just put on Faulty Towers re-runs? – it may not get the ratings but we’ll all have a thorough, stiff-collared, proper English good time. Just ‘don’t mention the war!

Ok, ok, enough about John Cleese.

The problem with this kind of entertainment is, as interesting it may be to the average Aussie Joe, it’s actually very deceiving and dangerous.

In fact the Bible is unequivocal when it comes to the ‘paranormal’:

‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God’. (Lev 19:31)

And:

‘Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you’ (Deut 18:10-12).

In Israel, divination, mediums and the occult are all associated with paganism and ungodliness, and are condemned as detestable practices as they represent a reliance on and devotion to things of the spiritual world which are not from God.

And so it is today. There is a power in these practices, due to the reality of the spiritual world  – but it is a limited power that stands in opposition to the truth of Christ and the limitless power of God. He who places his faith and trust in the occult is deceived and wrenched away from the gospel of the Lord Jesus, and stands to reject the things of God.

As Christians we need to pray for those caught up in these evil practices, and be bold in proclaiming the gospel of salvation and freedom in Christ. In Christ we are freed from the chains of sin and from slavery to the devil’s schemes – and are no longer condemned to live a perilous existence in a world ruled by an unloving ‘spirit realm’ that requires constant appeasement and that is ultimately indifferent to human suffering.

On the contrary, our God has a unique understanding of human suffering, having experienced every hurt and pain a human can know. He mourns with us in our grief and loves us so overwhelmingly as to willingly suffer death for our wretched human souls. Surely this God is far greater than the mute spirits of psychics and mediums, whose apathy and powerlessness is cold comfort to those who are suffering.

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