Everyone has a voice, and a choice to use it well, use it poorly, or not to use it at all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rethinking Valentines Day

First, let it be known that I consider myself to be a romantic. This does NOT mean I am particularly good at creating romance, it just means I deeply appreciate romance. Romance has to do with the things which evoke emotions of love - things like heroism, beauty, bravery, faithfulness, self-sacrifice. Emotion and love are, at their core, good. Of course, they can be (and often are) misused, misunderstood, and allowed to run wild, but the fact is that God is Love, and He has created us to appreciate it, feel it, do it.
I say this because the point of what I am about to write is not that romance is bad. Romance is good, but Valentine's day can be bad for true romance. Here's why:
  1. Valentine's day is often the catalyst which encourages spineless, gutless, boys to make commitments they can't keep and promises they can't back up. It can encourage young Tom to ask Suzie out, when in fact he should be focusing on getting his life together so he can provide for a family and set an example for his wife. It can encourage Sam to propose to Anne before he is able to provide for a wife, spiritually lead a wife, lay down his life for a wife. Tom, Sam, listen: don't allow the culture around you to dictate what you do, and when you do it. Make a decision based on wisdom, not on what day of the year it is.
  2. Valentine's day can confine romance to one day of the year. The mindset could be: "at Christmas I think about God, on Labor day I think about family, on Valentine's day I think about romance". Forget that - God, family, and romance are worth more than one day's thought in a year! Romance should be natural and free, not forced into a box or confined into one day.  Of course doing romantic things on Valentine's day is not inherently wrong - confining romance to only one day a year most certainly is.
  3. Valentine's day can be a hard day for single girls. A very mature, secure girl or woman may not be negatively affected - but the immature, insecure girls who are so common today could see Valentine's day as highlighting their singleness. A different way to put it is that Valentine's day defines people only two ways: those who have a sweetheart, and those who do not. There is nothing inherently wrong with being single, but that is not the way many people see it. A positive way for all unmarried folks to celebrate valentine's day is to take time to pray for their future spouse. Hang a "reserved for future occupant" sign on your emotions.
  4. Valentine's day can elevate romantic love to the status of a god. "Today is the day where we focus on romance and treat it as the most important thing in the world." Doing this is like making the taste of beef the most important thing in the world. The taste of beef is not bad, but it certainly is not the true focus of the universe. Pretending that it is, pretending that romance is (even for a day) is ridiculous, idolatrous, and an insult to the Author of Romance.
Now, the real issue is not Valentine's day. The real issue is that men don't know how to be men, and women don't know how to be women. We've been fed a pack of lies about what it means to be either. We've been fed a pack of lies about what it means to be romantic. The man who treats his lady with condescension and disrespect all year, then buys a dozen roses and chocolates on Valentine's day, is not romantic. He is a hyena, a jackal, a no good low down horse thieving snake. I have a place in the woods where I bury men like him. Not really. But such evil is certainly deserving of punishment.

My brothers, don't be that man, the man-who-is-a-boy. Do not take the sacred intimacy - emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy- of marriage and put it somewhere it does not belong. Do not use cheap romance like a fishing lure to hook a girl. Can you not see the despair in the eyes of so many girls and women today - those who are looking for a good man, a man of true character? That despair is so common today, in part, because you have given the women you have known nothing greater to hope for.

Ladies, demand a real man, and do not settle for the man-who-is-a-boy. He is so common today, in part, because you have lowered your standards and pretended to be satisfied with him.

This is not to say that all those who celebrate Valentine's day will burn in the fires of Hell. The point is, there is a much better way to celebrate Romance than the way the world does. When you've tasted Ale-8, you don't want swamp water. After eating fresh blueberries, you're not truly satisfied with frozen. We who have experienced the love and romance of God have the capacity and the duty to do romance much differently and better than the world does. A few key passages which outline this kind of romance can be found in Ephesians 5, 1st Corinthians 7 and 13, and the Song of Songs.

This is a call for true Romance! Settle for nothing less.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Introduction to "Reliability of the Bible" Series

I grew up hearing the Bible. I remember being deeply impacted by the Jesus film - the Bible in video form. As soon as I could read, I read the Bible.  I read it because I loved the stories, and because many trustworthy people said it was the inspired Word of God, and therefore totally true.  You don't get much that is totally true in this life, so I figured I should go for it.

In the past few years, my reasons for belief have changed. I live my life for God because He has given me belief, convicted me of sin, and brought me to repentance. He has opened my eyes to the truth of His existence. He has provided ample support for my faith in Him. Now my life is a constant search to find out more about God, who He is, how He works, how I can live according to his plan.

A key part of that search is the Bible. For years I have read it as an insider. Each time I opened it, I assumed it was true. The basis for this assumption was primarily the testimony of my parents. Over the years they have given me excellent reasons to believe what they say, but my mind demands that I find things out for myself. For the past few years I have done my best to take a new look at the Bible - as through the eyes of someone who never read it before. I want to find out what is said in the Bible, and if it is totally true. I urge you to do the same - take a new look at the Bible.

Our search will (hopefully) lead us to one of two possible conclusions:
1. The Bible is full of inaccuracies and falsehoods, and contradicts sources of truth outside of the Bible, and itself. God is not speaking through the Bible, and so it is not reasonable to believe what the Bible says.
2. The Bible is totally true. It agrees with history, science, and itself.  It is reasonable to believe what the Bible says.

There are three criteria we will look at to determine which of these two is the case:

1. Accurate/Inaccurate Transmission. Has the Bible been accurately transmitted to us from its original form?
2. Internal and External Accuracy: Does the Bible agree with what we know to be true? Does the Bible agree with itself?
3. Miracles and Prophesy: Are miracles possible, has Biblical prophesy been fulfilled?

If I were to do an exhaustive work on these things, it would be several volumes of very large books. That is not my intent. I will provide a readable summary of what I find, and point you to large books (and other sources) that you can read if you wish.

As I research these things, I hope you'll follow along with a critical mind. I encourage you to comment to mention things I may have forgotten or points I forgot to make.

NOTE: I will link Bible references to an online Bible - click them to read the verse online. For example: John 8:32