43 Things I Love About My Wife Gloria

USYesterday, was our 43rd wedding anniversary. Some of you were there (Lancaster, PA; June 26, 1971) and are still alive! As a tribute to my wife, Gloria, I wrote this and want to share it with you.

G od-lover, great (wonderful) grandma, giver, glad to help others, grateful when people help her, good cook, genuine servant, gold and diamonds are not important, glued to her marriage until death do us part.

L oves her husband and kids and is loved by them, longs for meaningful conversation, loves to take back roads and explore, loses things but they usually turn up, likes to stay up late but not get up early, lavish prayers said daily on behalf of her kids and grandkids, laughs at her husband’s jokes (most of them).

O utdoor girl, overseas in Africa is where she has wanted to serve, overlooks her husband’s faults, opens her home to the stranger and refugee, open-handed to those in need, oppressed by the computer.

R ank means nothing, raspberry lover (especially black raspberry pie), reads good books (especially about missions), redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, regularly reflects on God’s Word, rather not do housework, really rather be hiking or kayaking, regrets living so far away from her dad.

I nterested in just about everything having to do with her kids and grandkids, intelligent, ibuprofen-free, incurious about sports (except baseball), inflexible in her convictions.

A lways faithful, asks a few questions, an accomplished pianist and marimbist, appreciates working together on anything, always likes apple butter, an amazing ESL teacher, age has enhanced her beauty, a woman who fears the Lord.

Happy 43rd my dear. May our sacred journey continue; may God continue to make our marriage a blessing to others and our love for each other more a refection of His love.

Is it “luv” or is it love?

BTS - Boy In LuvWhen I was high school, I remember having a “crush” on a girl. She was a cheerleader (from an opposing team) whom I met after a football game we had just played. I was all grubby and muddy in my uniform and as I was walking off the field she came up to me and told me what a great game I had played. We had mutual friends that went to her church and just seemed to have a lot in common, including our faith. She got my attention; she was so cute and she was talking with me! Now, I was not a shaker and mover when it came to women, but I also wasn’t stupid. I got her number and told her I would call her so we could “finish our conversation.” Not bad, heh?

She was all I could think about; I couldn’t eat, sleep, and time seemed to stand still until we could talk again on the phone. (Yes, we did have phones in my day, but they were attached to the wall.) Man, I was in love! It was a match made in heaven! I found my “soul mate!” OK all you counselors out there; was it love? It was real, but it was really a classic case of infatuation or what I call “luv” (pronounced “loove,” that’s what the word sounds like in country and western songs). It was a neurological condition that was totally involuntary (BLAM), difficult to control, and temporary. I will spare you the details of how things played out, although I bet you are dying to hear. Suffice it to say it did not last. Thank God that we have not been made to sustain that level of luv for very long because the whole world would grind to a halt, everyone would starve, and no one would be able to sleep.

My brain would not allow me to process any information other than trying figure out how I could be with her and how I could keep other guys away from her. When the fog of luv lifted, my brain was able to evaluate her as a person (and vice versa) and to see who she really was. I often hear people say after a break up, “S/He wasn’t the girl/guy I thought they were.” Those are the words are true and spoken either when you come out of denial or out of the coma of luv.

Gary Thomas in his terrific book “The Sacred Search” says that the nature of infatuation is the very reason we need to wait (he says at least two years) to get to know someone before we marry them. We need to overcome the desire to look for a “soul mate” by a search for a “sole mate.” He says, “A sole mate is someone who walks out with us (the “sole” of a shoe) the biblical command to seek first the kingdom of God. This is all about the shoe-leather application of biblical love… This isn’t a love based on feelings; it’s based on sacrifice (John 15:13). The Bible calls men to act like martyrs toward their wives, laying down their own lives on their wives’ behalf (Eph 5:25). Titus says that older women should train younger women how to love their husbands (Titus 2:4)… Martyrdom on behalf of your wife? Being trained… to love your husband? These passages alone are enough to tell us that within marriage, love is not an emotion; it’s a policy and a commitment that we choose to keep in the harshest of circumstances.”

Using an image borrowed from CS Lewis: luv may be the explosion that starts the engine of marriage, but biblical love is the fuel that keeps the marriage running so that it accomplishes something for the Kingdom of God.

Maybe being in love isn’t enough…

Bing in loveI do lots of marriage and pre-marriage counselling, as well as being a blessed veteran of 43 years of marriage. One of the startling observations that I have made is that our culture has blindly accepted the notion that romantic love and sexual chemistry is the major measure of selecting a mate. We feel something “special” for one another, we seem to be happy, we are pretty compatible; so let’s get married.

I was struck by an illustration I read of a pastor counselling a woman who was in a serious relationship with a man, but was wondering if she should break it off. She had been married twice before and thought that this was the guy. She told the pastor that her man was being unfaithful to her and emotionally abusive; the same traits evidenced by her previous husbands. “So why are you still in this relationship?” the pastor asked. Are you ready for this? She said, “Because I’m in love with him. I genuinely and deeply love him.” What would you say to her?

Here is what the pastor said: “Were you in love with your first husband?” She replied, “Yes, and I was devastated when he cheated on me and left.” The pastor continued, “Were you in love with your second husband?” She said, “Yes, it was different, I think, because he fed some ego needs, but of course, I was in love with him.” Then the pastor gently said, “Maybe feeling like you’re in love with someone isn’t enough of a reason for you to get married. Maybe you need to set the bar higher and find something more.” And then he said, “Just because you’re ‘in love’ with someone doesn’t mean you should seriously consider marrying them.”

This episode was found in a book I have been reading; “The Sacred Search” by Gary Thomas. This is a great book for those who are single and seriously thinking about marriage someday, or soon. Thomas finishes this section by asking us to consider that “romantic attraction, as wonderful and as emotionally intoxicating as it can be, can actually lead you astray as much as it can help you. I’m not talking it down; ‘connecting’ with someone at that level is a wonderful thing. Enjoy it, revel in it, even write a song about it if you want, but don’t bet your life on it.”

This is solid counsel. I have observed many couples who had the “chemistry,” but had issues that everyone could see. Yet, because they “felt” so intensely about each other they were blind to these issues and were willing to risk a future generation on their romantic attraction. Perhaps this is what is meant by the saying “love is blind”.

By the way, next week I would like to share what I think should be the basis for deciding to get married. Stay tuned…

“Plural Marriage” the new normal?

plural marriageNew Mexico has now become the 17th state to recognize same-sex “marriage.” The dominoes are falling. Most of us knew this would happen, but many people did not recognize the other unintended doors of social change that might open as well.

Several months ago I wrote an article on “serial marriage” after seeing a program about a man living with two women. Only one was his legal wife, but he considered the other woman his “wife” as well. I had asked on what basis our society could deny the right of this man to marry both women if it has already crossed the line of redefining marriage. I suggested that there will be other attempts to press for individual rights in this area now that marriage has fallen from its created design between a man and a woman (see the words of Jesus in Matt 19:4, 5).

Yesterday, in the Chicago Tribune, there was an article titled Utah ‘plural marriage’ wins round in court. “Advocates for so-called plural marriages are applauding a ruling by a US District Court judge (who else?) that struck down key segments of Utah’s (where else?) anti-polygamy law, saying they violated constitutional rights to privacy and religious freedom.” The headline is a little misleading and we have to dig deeper to understand the significance of this decision. The ruling preserved the law against bigamy—being officially married to more than one spouse at the same time. However, the ruling claimed that the presence of additional “unofficial wives” in the same family should be recognized as “religious cohabitation.”

“Proponents say that polygamist cohabitation among fundamentalist Mormons traditionally involves one marriage certificate; and additional wives represent religion-based relationships that are protected under the Constitution. They say the judge’s ruling has preserved laws against bigamy, which involves more than one marriage license.” Essentially the judge ruled against the language of the Utah law that says, “or cohabits with another person.” Advocates have also said that “the judge’s ruling grants polygamists the same legal standing as same-sex couples.”

What we see here is a road to social and moral change that has been traveled before. A movement starts small merely advocating to be recognized; it appeals to legal and constitutional rights; it cries out for respect and dignity; it argues that the government should stay out of the business of defining “family”; it presents its case in the media (the TV reality series on TLC “Sister Wives”; and generally there will be some type of persecution of the movement that becomes a rallying-point (the Mormons have plenty of examples from the assassination of Joseph Smith to the “banishment” of Brigham Young); it appeals to the “civil rights” given to other minorities; and the movement usually finds its initial success in the courts, not with the electorate (e.g. Massachusetts became the first state to recognize gay marriage because of a 5-4 decision of the State Supreme Court).

There is one more ingredient for social change; an idea must have time to develop and trickle down to a new and more tolerant generation. (It should be noted that there are Christian polygamist groups who base their beliefs on the Bible, but they will always remain on the fringe and will never travel “the road” of social change.)

“He who stands for nothing will fall for everything.” The quote is attributed to GK Chesterton from a line in one of his Father Brown Mysteries. In a culture where truth is redefined as “truthiness” and conviction is regarded as bigotry, this quote sounds terribly intolerant. Nonetheless, mark my word; the dominoes will keep falling as our society continues to implode. The late Francis Schaeffer said that he no longer prayed for God to bless America, but for God to have mercy upon America. “Let your steadfast love be upon us, O Lord, even as we hope in you” (Ps 33:22).

There’s Nothing Like a Really Good Quote

I love quotes. They are so cogent and memorable,
and sometimes they are even true. On the radio I heard someone say, “I have found the secret to longevity- don’t die.” I also like the quote attributed to Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” How about this one by David Letterman? “USA Today has come out with a new survey- apparently, three out of every four people make up 75% of the population.” Here is a new philosophy of life that I hope to experiment with this remaining summer and fall: “When the path ahead of you is uphill, surrounded by rough spots, hazards and obstacles; use a pitching wedge.” Continue reading “There’s Nothing Like a Really Good Quote”

Cohabitation: the Cart before the Horse

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce. As Christians we would disagree with that assessment and with the whole idea of cohabitation because it puts the cart of sexual intimacy before the horse of commitment. Our assessment is based upon the nature of marriage as designed by God and revealed in the Scripture. Not that it matters to our faith, but research indicates that the conventional “wisdom” of our culture is contradicted by experience.  “Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not,” so says Clinical Psychologist Meg Jay in an April 14, 2012 article in the New York Times. She mentions that most cohabiting couples get there more Continue reading “Cohabitation: the Cart before the Horse”