Polyamory: The Next Frontier

 Ryan T. Anderson has written a new article on polyamory entitled, “How the Media Are Promoting Polyamory. The New ‘Marriage Equality’?”

In it, he describes the recent push for marriage equality for polygamists that actually began before the Supreme Court ruling. Turns out it was the plan all along:

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, Professor Judith Stacey of New York University expressed hope that redefining marriage would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours,” leading some to “question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek . . . small group marriages.”
In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than three hundred “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates called for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners.

Shocker. 

Once marriage is taken and “undefined”, there can be no stop signs and nothing will be out of bounds. 

Don’t let anyone ever fool you again…there really are no limits to Pandora’s Box. 

On My Parent’s 60th Wedding Anniversary

MomAndDad

60 years ago today, Martha Gartee and Charles Price stood side-by-side and exchanged wedding vows.  They promised to love and to cherish each other for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health until death parts them.  Sadly, those words are still popular in weddings today, but not so much in marriage.  For my parents, though, it meant something on that day.  It meant that whatever lay ahead, no matter how tough it may get, they would work through it together.  That was their goal and that’s exactly what they have done.

On this day, sixty years ago, no one could have known how much those vows would be tested just a short 16 months later as they were forced to say goodbye to a baby they never got a chance to really know.  At just 6 weeks old, these still newlyweds, living alone hundreds of miles from home serving in the military, had to deal with a tragedy no parent of any age should ever have to deal with.  Yet, barely into their twenties, they did…and they did it together.

Where many marriages fall apart during such deep tragedy, this one got stronger.  By God’s grace, they came to understand the need to press in closer to each other where too many couples drift apart.  No, life would never be the same.  In many ways, the loss of 1955 defined them, determining how they would deal with each other and the three other children they would later come to have.  Through it all, though, they never lost the love they have had for each other and the commitment to stick it out…for better or for worse.

In all of this, my parent’s marriage has taught me many things and has demonstrated what marriage can look like.  It’s not perfect, as no marriage is.  They have their moments of disagreement and, thankfully, they allowed us to witness that which also gave us the opportunity to see what it means to confess wrongs and ask for and receive forgiveness…bedrock for a successful marriage.   Though imperfect, my parent’s marriage is solid and that is saying a lot in a world where marriage is not only optional among young adults who choose more often to live together with no real commitment, and where divorce is as common as indigestion, but where the very definition of marriage is being fundamentally transformed into anything conceivable under the sun.

My parents have taught me what it means to suffer deeply but to come out on the other side strong.  No one ever knows what will come their way in life, yet it is possible to not only get through it together, but through God-given strength and persistence, we can even grow stronger and closer as a result.  Through that strength, I have seen what it means to be one with your spouse.  Mom and Dad have always shown a unified front with us kids.  If you failed to get permission from one of them, there was no use in going to the other in hopes of getting a more favorable answer.  The first question was always, “What did your mother say?”  or “What did daddy say?”.  If they ever disagreed with each other on the answer given by the other one, I didn’t know about it.  There was always a singular voice.  I’ve come to appreciate just how important that is in raising children; in providing them a solid foundation knowing that mom and dad are always going to stand together…even if, at the moment, you really didn’t want them to!

My parents have also taught me what it means to keep a promise.  They have demonstrated that marriage is hard work, but it is not impossible.  Because of the example that my parents set and because of the grace of God, my wife and I determined before we said “I do” that divorce was not an option.  Seeing my parents keep that commitment has given us a living example that, though it sometimes seems impossible to fulfill (and at times we didn’t really want to fulfill as the mountains appeared insurmountable), we have forged ahead and continued working at this gift God has given us…and experienced the blessings that come through the struggle now twenty years later!

So today, on this 60th anniversary of the day my parents said “I do” and have chosen to say it every day since, I say “thank you“.  Thank you for loving your kids through it all without condition, for setting an example worthy of following and for never quitting on the commitment you made to each other all those years ago.  Happy anniversary!

I love you.

Faux Federalism

cpThere is an interesting article in the Christian Post entitled, “The Faux Federalism Argument Against DOMA”. In it, Dr. John C. Eastman, Professor of Law & Community Service at the Chapman University School of Law, argues that the principles being used to attack the merits of the Defense of Marriage Act is a clear misunderstanding of federalism.

Proponents claims that DOMA is unconstitutional because it usurps authority over issues rightly carried out on the state level rather than the federal.  Eastman states that the federal government has always maintained certain jurisdiction in what are largely state issues within the bounds of federalism and with good reason.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

The arguments reflect a serious misunderstanding of federalism, as a simple analogy will demonstrate. Property law, too, is a core function of state governments. But every year, millions of Americans deduct from their income taxes mortgage interest paid on their primary residence. Suppose Massachusetts were to redefine “residence” to include “automobile.” Under the faux federalism argument being urged to the Court, any Massachusetts citizen would thereby be able to deduct from their federal income taxes the interest on their automobile loan, and the federal government would have no power to define “residence” for federal purposes as it had always been understood, lest it intrude on that core state power. Such a conclusion is absurd.

Clarifying the purpose and extent of DOMA:

DOMA does not force states to accept the federal definition of marriage. That would indeed run afoul of federalism principles. But it does prevent any single state from forcing its definition on the federal government (Section 3), or on any other state (Section 2). That allows each state to chart its own path, as federalism requires, but it does not allow any state to chart a path for the rest of the country. That is federalism as it should be.

Read the entire article here:

At The Gathering, we are in the middle of a series on Covenant.  One of the basic covenantal institutions in life is marriage.

If you are married or think you ever will be and hope you’ll never be divorced, this is a very important short, 5 minute video for you to watch.  Timothy Keller, John Piper and D.A. Carson talk of the importance of emphasizing covenant for a healthy marriage.

The Cohabitational Effect

Yesterday, I taught on Letting Marriage Be Held in Honor from Hebrews 13:4.  If you want to hear that message, visit our audio page here.

One area I didn’t cover I want to talk a little about here because it deals with one of the most prevalent practices in modern Western culture: Cohabitating.

OK, just turned a large segment of the population away right there.  That’s cool. For the two of your who do choose to finish reading this, I do want to say that I’m not approaching this from a moralistic perspective or even, necessarily, a biblical one right now.  I want to share some scientific info that you should at least have so that you can make informed decisions in your “present” that are going to inevitably affect your future.

This past week, I read an article that raised the question of the benefits of cohabitating before (or instead of) marriage.  The author raised a very valid question: If we think it is beneficial to try out all types of merchandise before we make a commitment (e.g. cars, computers, clothes, etc), wouldn’t it make even more sense to “test drive” a relationship prior to making something as important as a life commitment? 

OK, Biblical instructions aside on why that’s a bad idea (and there are a lot on the subject), I think that makes sense.  Yeah, I said it…it makes sense.  It seems pretty logical, at least if you’re hoping to stay with that individual for the rest of your life.  I get why many young adults would see that.  One problem: it doesn’t appear to hold up to statistical evidence to the contrary.

Glenn T. Stanton, the author of the article, Cohabitation & divorce — there is a correlation, points out that there is a “Grand Canyon sized chasm between what many young adults believe and the proven reality of their experience.”  He points out that there is “a massive body of robust, diverse and conclusive scientific research on this question that leaves no doubt about whether cohabitating is helpful to marriage.” 

Here is a sampling of what sociologists from the Universities of Chicago and Michigan (two leading schools of Sociology) report in an excerpt from Stanton’s article:

[T]he “expectation of a positive relationship between cohabitation and marital stability … has been shattered in recent years by studies conducted in several Western countries, including Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and the United States.”

Their data indicates that people with cohabiting experience who marry have a 50 to 80 percent higher likelihood of divorcing than married couples who never cohabited. A Canadian sociologist explains:

“Contrary to conventional wisdom that living together before marriage will screen out poor matches and therefore improve subsequent marital stability, there is considerable empirical evidence demonstrating that premarital cohabitation is associated with lowered marital stability.”

Stanton goes on to say that “if couples wanted to substantially increase their likelihood of divorcing, there are few things they could do to so efficiently guarantee such an outcome than live together before marriage. In fact, this is such a consistent finding in the social science research that scholars have coined a term for it: “the cohabitational effect.”

It makes sense, really, and those of us who have been married for any real length of time can vouch for the logic.  The article explains it like this: 

This finding has become a truism partly because the process of cohabiting itself is shown to influence couples to learn to communicate, negotiate and settle differences in ways that are less healthy and honest than do couples who didn’t cohabit before marriage. This is probably because without a clearly defined relationship, the cohabiting couple can learn to be more controlling and manipulative with each other. And this leads to relational resentment and mistrust.

Further studies showed that between married couples who cohabitated compared with those who did not, those who had lived together experienced a greater likelihood of “aggression and negative interactions and were more likely to face divorce” while those who had not cohabitated experienced more “overtly positive interactions and…more positive communications.”

Now, all of this can be followed up with one pastoral point (since, after all, I am one of those guys): It makes sense that if God created man and woman, as the Bible says He did, and if He gave guidelines as to how things should function (much like any other set of instructions), doesn’t it make sense that things are probably not going to work out very well if those instructions are not followed?  Doesn’t it seem reasonable that God may choose not to watch over and take care of those relationships that snub their noses at Him and His guidelines? 

Honestly, I don’t have to argue this point. Just look around. Evidence is everywhere.  Check the divorce rates; the abortion rates; the depression, suicides, substance abuse and on and on.  Are there examples of Christians who mess things up?  Absolutely.  The reality is there are a bunch of messed up people inside and outside of the church (which is why we all need a Savior), but that doesn’t discount the fact that there are millions of couples who’ve followed the instructions, taken God at His Word, and are living very happy married lives with less grief, less heart-ache, less guilt and less frustration.  Heck, many of the people who fill up churches are there because they made some of these same mistakes and are trying to overcome the consequences of their pasts while charting a new course for their futures.

Alright, so let me wrap up by making one thing as clear here as I can: This post is in no way an effort to call for a moral clean-up in order to “take America back!”  This is just one dude’s effort to point out how personally destructive our choices can be and ask you to just consider that maybe, just maybe, choosing to “feed the need” now is going to bring a whole world of hurt in the future.

You can’t afford to get this wrong.

The Fight for Purity

                

Purity is something that we battle for all of our lives.  If we’re not battling for it, we’ve already given up on the idea.  For a Christ-follower, purity is not an option, it is a command; an expectation; a requirement.  Purity goes hand-in-hand with holiness, which we are called to be since Christ is holy.  Makes sense really: Christ lives within His followers. Holiness and unholiness don’t mix. Something cannot be both pure and impure at the same time. You are one or you are the other. 

Therefore, the battle must be waged.  It’s not easy. It’s often not fun.  It is, however, a matter of life or death.  I would say ask any one of several who have lost the battle, but most of them are dead now.  Amy Winehouse is one of the most recent examples.  It starts by giving in a bit and in small areas, usually, then the enemy completely overwhelms.  Listen to hints of the progression towards destruction from Winehouse’s own mother (source): 

In an interview in 2008, her mother Janis said she would be unsurprised if her daughter died before her time.

She said: ‘I’ve known for a long time that my daughter has problems. 

‘But seeing it on screen rammed it home. I realise my daughter could be dead within the year. We’re watching her kill herself, slowly.

‘I’ve already come to terms with her dead. I’ve steeled myself to ask her what ground she wants to be buried in, which cemetery.

‘Because the drugs will get her if she stays on this road.

‘I look at Heath Ledger and Britney. She’s on their path. It’s like watching a car crash – this person throwing all these gifts away.’

How bad does it have to be for one to come to terms with a child’s death before it ever happens because you know it’s inevitable?  If we give up the spiritual battle of purity in our lives (and you’re fooled if you think it isn’t spiritual), then you given in to all that is destructive. 

Old married guys (just like singles) have to deal with it, too.  Everyday, married couples have to wrestle with issues of purity: our thoughts, our practices and our habits.  We are called to purity in all aspects of our lives all the time.  It’s a fight.

I just read a really good, article on this struggle and some great advice on how to deal with it.  Read this excerpt (and then read the entire post):

Trisha and I have spent more time apart this summer than we have at any time since our separation five and a half years ago. I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t brought up questions and concerns and conversations. I’ve been free from pornography for almost six years. It no longer has a grip on my heart. But neither of us are stupid either. I’m one choice away from compromising my integrity; my relationship with God; my marriage; my boys. I know that.

 There’s a lot of honesty in there.  Honesty is where it all begins.  Being honest with ourselves, our weaknesses and our failures.  Being honest with God regarding our need for Him.  Then understanding that this is going to be a lifelone fight for our lives and for our families.  

It is hard…very hard, but it is worth the fight.  

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