Love Wins.

In writing this piece, I know I will disappoint, frustrate and anger many people. Still, I hope you find compassion and love here. I am not writing for those who agree with me, I already know your thoughts, but for those who disagree. You’re probably busy celebrating right now – a sensible response, but maybe you’ll take the time to reflect with me.

Today marks a historic day for the United States of America. Today, our Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, voted to forbid states from banning same-sex marriage. It is a rare treat to be a part of memorable history. We know our children’s children will learn this date in school. The implications of our actions will be felt long after we are gone. Today, we belong to something greater than ourselves.

We know the Court’s function is to uphold and represent the original intentions of the Constitution. But how can you uphold an intent that was never conceived? The justices have the unenviable task of wading these waters on a regular basis, and not just with regard to same-sex marriage. Like everyone, they are subject to their cultural, historical, educational, familial and other biases. The decision today is, in my opinion, more a reflection of modern culture than an attempt to uphold historical intentions. Popular opinion is a fickle mistress and today she and I disagree.

In reviewing several articles already circulating in the news, one line has struck me again and again. Justice Kennedy, in his majority opinion, stated: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family,” he wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

I agree wholeheartedly with his statement. No union is more profound than marriage. Marriage is the embodiment of the highest ideals. In marital union, two people become something greater than once they were – they become one. Justice Kennedy, we agree.

My question is, however, why? What is so fundamental in marriage, what is the essence, that makes marriage so unique? Why is marriage different than dating?

I cannot fully answer this question myself with a checklist or simple solution. Marriage is a mystery. It is a mysterious reflection of a greater union between Christ and His Bride, the Church. Just like a statue is a reflection of the great man (or woman) who once lived, so marriage is unique because it represents something greater than itself. We don’t remember the statue, we remember who the statue represents.

Marriage is given to us by our Creator and as such, is defined by Him alone. Despite the appearance otherwise, no individual, court, or state can define marriage. In restricting marriage to one man and one woman we represent greater diversity. In marriage we see the full reflection of God – male and female – created in His image.

By limiting marriage to Biblical standards, we are not trying to limit fundamental rights or attempt to crush anyone’s identity. I know that sounds like foolishness, but bear with me. Yes, to those who desire to marry a member of the same sex, I would restrict your freedom. However, all of us operate under some level of restrictions. No parent would argue it is beneficial to place no limits on your child’s desires – even genuine heartfelt desires. However, by maintaining the Biblical view of marriage we continue to affirm the dignity of all, male and female. We affirm each of us is necessary to reflect the full image of God. We teach ourselves that we are not defined solely by our sexual identity. Or any other identity, for that matter. We have an identity that is supreme above all – we are image bearers of God. This identity is not dependent upon our actions, the courts, our desires, or ourselves. It is given to us by virtue of our Creator without any merit on our part.

When we find ourselves frustrated by the limitations on us as created beings, we remember the God who limited his ultimate freedom and restricted himself to become a son of man, a human in all our limitations, to rescue us from our greatest need. We were condemned to death and we have been given a chance for new life through his death on the cross to pay for our sins and his resurrection and defeat of death.

To come back to the initial question, why is marriage unique? What is its essence? Marriage is unique because God made it unique. In unfathomable love, God created a way for traitors, haters, murderers, liars, and bigots to be made right. In doing so, He gave nothing less than Himself. His commitment is demonstrated in part through the mysterious union of a man and a woman coming together in a unique way through which they become greater than themselves.

The essence of marriage is the unwavering, unfaltering, unending commitment of God to his people reflected in the unwavering, unfaltering, unending commitment of one man and one woman to each other through marriage.

Today, our nation disagrees. The beauty of being an American is we can disagree. Those of us who are disappointed must remember our hope lies not in the American court system or with any human power, be they just or unjust, but in the God who will one day make all things right – love will win.

To the Girl Who’s Never Been Kissed…

I'm the good looking diva on the far left.

I’m the good looking diva on the far left.

Dear Friend,

I’m writing to you because we share something in common – neither one of us has ever been kissed, but don’t tell anyone, OK? 😉

You’re probably wondering how you got here. You’re 15 and freaking out because there is obviously something wrong with you (there’s not). All of your friends have already kissed – and some have done more – and you awkwardly avoid eye contact during “Never Have I Ever…”

You’re 20 and most days you think you’re normal until you realize you’re halfway through college and you still haven’t kissed anyone. Some of your friends are talking about engagements (especially if you’re in the Southern United States) and you’re just enjoying life where you are. Should you be freaking out???

You’re 25 and your friends are having babies, oh the babies! You’ve moved from wedding showers to baby showers with nary a first kiss. You know all about stretch marks, epidurals, and bumby seats.

Be encouraged, dear friend, you are not alone! Before we go any farther, I want you to know this is not a just-wait-your-first-kiss-will-be-worth-it post; mostly because I don’t know. But this is a post to encourage you, because I’m still waiting, just like you.

I do know it is worth it, though. What is this “it,” you ask? Life. And more specifically, your purpose in life. I don’t know you or your situation, but I know you’re worth more than a sloppy teenage kiss or a drunken frat kiss. I know decisions made in desperation rarely lead to happy endings.

On a good day you are confident, sure of your decision, and not going to take crap from anyone. But then, there are those days when you question your decision, your self, and if someone will ever love you like that.

On those days, we have to remind ourselves that we are created in the image of God. You bear a sacred mark of the divine in every part of your body, lips included. Your life has more meaning than marriage, kids, work, and school. Even if you never walked, talked, kissed, or laughed again you are loved and you have value. Your friend – the one who was in the car accident, who is now paralyzed and will never walk again – has just as much value and worth as you because you are both image bearers. You already know this, but sometimes it helps to be reminded. You are more than the functions of your body, more than the sum of your actions, more than your physical contributions to society.

You are more than the functions of your body, more than the sum of your actions, more than your physical contributions to society.

So take heart! Life rarely turns out like we expect it, but that’s the beautiful part. The pain, the scars, the disappointment, the unexpected happy endings all remind us we are not in control. I hope this brings you comfort. You don’t have to fret, scheme, worry about life because there is a holy, powerful, gentle, kind, and just God working for His glory, which means your benefit – even in pain and disappointment.

I hope you have your first kiss and I hope it’s worth the wait. I hope you know the deep rest and satisfaction of being known and still loved. More importantly though, I hope you find satisfaction, first and always, in knowing you are already known and loved.

I hope your time of waiting is worth it.

 

 

24 Things to Do Instead of Getting Married Before You’re 24, a response

Get lost in a city where you don't speak the language.

Get lost in a city where you don’t speak the language.

I recently read this article titled, “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23”. Normally, I don’t read these as they are usually written in an in-your-face-I-can-do-what-I-want tone. For whatever reason, I read this article, perhaps because I am 24 and not married and I was curious as to why 23 was the magic number. Unfortunately, the article is pretty much the same, lame advice for twenty-somethings, written by twenty-somethings whose sum total of advice is “17. Eat a Jar of Nutella is one sitting.” I didn’t think much about it until I saw at least 3 people repost it on Facebook.

I don’t know about you, but if the highlight of my life (outside of marriage???) before I’m 23 is to eat a jar of Nutella or “22. Be selfish” then I think marriage to anyone sounds pretty good.

My goal for life as a single or married should not be “22. Be selfish,” “2. Find your ‘thing’,” or “10. Cut your hair.” If any of those are my goals for an hour, day, or a year then my life is going to be very empty. However, the emptiness is not because I don’t have anyone to “cuddle and talk about my feelings” or “18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places.” With or without a partner, my life has greater meaning than this entire list.

I am created to worship. I will worship, whether I worship marriage, a boyfriend, Nutella, or the Creator of the Universe is up to me. Instead of purposing myself to “16. Watch GiRLS. Over and over again” maybe the secret to happiness with or without someone is to die to myself. Over and over again. Maybe instead of “11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face.” I can sponsor 2 orphaned children so they’re not separated from their families. Instead of “20. Hangout naked in front of a window.” I can hang out for an hour a week mentoring an at-risk child.

I think this author has a point that some people get married because it’s the thing to do, societal expectations, or whatever crazy reason:

It is a way for young people to hide behind a significant other instead of dealing with life’s highs and lows on their own. It’s a safety blanket. It’s an admission that the world is just too big and scary to deal with it on your own; thus, you now have someone that is legally obligated to support you till one of you dies or files for divorce.

Yes, the world is big and scary. Yes, it is nice to have someone to share your dreams, fears, and life. Yes, it is wrong to get married only because you’re afraid of being single. But the (opposite?) healthy response is not to become an expert on all things GIRLS or to belittle those who choose to marry young – their journey will be different, but no less in need of purpose than the person who remains single. Married or single, we all need a life of purpose outside of ourselves.

The crux of the argument centers on the idea that “you owe it to yourself”…to find yourself, make out with a stranger, not ruin the sanctity of marriage by marrying young, to do whatever you want because you want to do it. I don’t know where we got the idea that we owe ourselves anything. We literally did nothing to be on this earth. For the first years of our lives we were completely helpless. In fact, we’re still pretty helpless and dependent on others for life or even just to breathe. Case in point, let’s all give a shout-out to the Ozone for remaining in tact (mostly) so we don’t fry to death today. Also, does anyone else get annoyed with constantly reminding your heart to keep beating? I mean, really, 100,000 beats per day – too bad our hearts don’t beat without us thinking about it. Oh wait.

Instead of finding ourselves, thinking that “Millennials deserve the opportunity to develop ourselves, alone,” perhaps we should think and develop outside of ourselves and ponder deep questions – like who created us and this world we live in. What privilege do we have that we can take time to find ourselves while 12 year old girls in Afghanistan are being forced to marry middle age men and find themselves enduring a lifetime of abuse and suffering?

I understand the impulse to have fun, enjoy life while free of many responsibilities that occur in a relationship, but fun can and should be had after marriage too. Responsibility can and should occur in all of life. Unfortunately, you cannot compare a lifetime covenant of marriage to “13. Accomplish a Pintrerest project.” You can, however, live a fulfilling, purposeful, fun life in any stage of life.

Instead, I propose my own list of 24 Things to do Instead of Getting Married by 24…

1. Sponsor a Child for a year

2. Read at least 3 NY Times articles every week

3. Take your parents out for a fancy (non-fast food) meal

4. Work hard at a job – any job

5. Travel to a new country

6. Travel to a new state

7. Read a classical fiction novel

8. Teach someone a new skill you have already mastered

9. Learn a new skill

10. Learn a new language

11. Pay off debt

12. Read the Bible in a year

13. Be selfless

14. Join a sports league, art club, orchestra, whatever you’re interested in.

15. Write a letter to a friend

16. Learn how to properly set a table

17. Stop taking bathroom selfies

18. Vote – local, state, or national election

19. Embark on a goal that will take at least 10 years to accomplish

20. Hand write a thank-you note

21. Buy a nice dress or tux/suit for weddings and funerals

22. Re-read a favorite book

23. Spend a day in the mountains alone

and last, but not least…

24. Make a friend and share a jar of Nutella with them – one sitting or otherwise