Archives For Marriage

You & Me Forever Cover - Francis & Lisa ChanOn August 26, you’ll get to read another powerful book from Francis Chan.

Francis has been hinting at writing a book about marriage for years now, but other important projects have taken priority. But now the wait is (almost) over. Francis and Lisa have been working together on this book, entitled You & Me Forever, and it will finally be available at the end of August.

 

The Premise

Francis and Lisa will tell you that there are many good books on marriage available. If you’re anywhere near the “marriage arena,” chances are you’ve read at least a couple. While You & Me Forever isn’t going to replace the best marriage books out there, it does offer a unique approach—an approach I’ve never seen before. Honestly, I wish this book had been available when I was preparing for marriage, and I plan to use it when I do premarital counseling with engaged couples.

The unique approach is evident from the first pages, when Francis says:

“Even now, I am working to make sure that my family is set up for the future. When most people make that statement, they are talking about financial security for their last few years on earth. When I say it, I’m referring to the millions of years that come after that.”

You & Me Forever is all about viewing marriage in light of eternity. With chapter titles like “Marriage Isn’t that Great” and “Don’t Waste Your Marriage,” the emphasis is on how marriage fits within God’s overarching plan, how marriage displays God’s glory, and how marriage functions as a part of God’s mission for us on earth.

What you won’t find here is a handbook of communication principles, advice to strengthen your sex life, or guidelines for handling finances. It’s not that these things are not important, but Francis and Lisa have written a different type of book—partially because that book has been written many times over, and partially because they wanted to write a book about marriage that didn’t focus on marriage.

To be sure, every chapter is about marriage. But Francis and Lisa insist on every page that while marriage is good—wonderful, even—it’s not ultimate. Our marriage-mania can easily push us to idolize marriage, idolize our spouses, idolize our kids.

You & Me Forever provides an excellent model for thinking deeply about marriage while always subordinating marriage to its proper place in relation to the God who made it and the mission he has given us.

What you will find in this book is a high view of God, a genuine delight in God’s gift of marriage, a passion to work on our marriages for the sake of God and his mission, practical stories that show the beauty and tragedy of marriage, and a call to put God first in everything—which is the only way any of us will survive marriage in the first place, let alone glorify God in it.

 

The Format

Francis and Lisa wrote this book together. In every chapter, the bulk of the material is written from Francis’ perspective (that is, the first person pronouns refer to Francis) and then Lisa adds a section to each chapter from her perspective. At times Lisa’s sections are nearly as long as Francis’, at other times it’s significantly shorter. But even the material that Francis wrote from his perspective was a team effort. Both are great writers, and the combination of their voices adds strength to the book.

Francis and Lisa ChanAnother interesting feature of this book is that Francis and Lisa want to use the book as a donation tool. So 100% of the net proceeds will fund a variety of important charities. As has always been the case, Francis is not looking to get rich off of his books (though he certainly could)—he just wants the book to be used for God’s glory at every possible level.

 

Where to Get It

You will be able to get a copy of the book at regular book outlets and at youandmeforever.org. Once the book releases, there will also be videos corresponding to the each chapter that you’ll be able to access for free at that web address. A workbook is also in the works that will facilitate group discussion and premarital counseling.

A big thank you to Francis and Lisa for continuing to follow the Lord and for sharing their insights in such a gospel-centered way.

 

You and Me Forever – Francis & Lisa Chan (Trailer) from Marcus Hung on Vimeo.

In my previous post, I asked the question: Should Chris and Pat get married? As we’ll see, I don’t think they should.

In the debate about homosexuality, those in favor of same-sex marriage often appeal to several virtues that justify a marriage regardless of the gender of the two partners. For holding-handsinstance: if a couple is committed to faithfulness and mutual love, if they abstain from sex until they are married, if they are both committed to Christ and desire to follow him, then they should get married.

After all, there’s nothing destructive in such a relationship. There’s no harm to themselves (one could even say they are harming themselves by not pursuing marriage), nor would their marriage cause any harm on other people.

To get more specific, one could say that sex between two men is potentially harmful to themselves. Without getting into the details, some studies show that male-male sex is biologically harmful. But: Chris and Pat are not two men. In fact, the sex that Chris and Pat will enjoy after they are marriage are the same acts that heterosexual couples engage in.

If the biblical standard for marriage is mutual love and sacrifice, commitment and Christ-like faithfulness, and pre-marital purity; and if sin is determined primarily in terms of whether it breeds destruction upon the ones committing the act or upon others—then I see no reason why Chris and Pat should not get married.

And to give a few more details: Pat is 28 and Chris is 26, and neither have been married before. And no, Chris is not the name of Pat’s sheep.

However, I don’t believe they should get married. No way. And neither do you. Because the biblical standard for marital union goes beyond pre-marital purity, consensual love, and undying faithfulness. The Bible gives additional qualifications for a valid marriage, and sometimes the Bible doesn’t give explicit reasons why. There’s some truth to the old school belief that God’s rules are right because they are God’s rules; sometimes He explains why, and sometimes He doesn’t. Just ask Job.

So why shouldn’t Chris and Pat get married?

Because Chris and Pat are brother and sister.

No, I’m not equating same-sex marriage to incest. The point of the analogy is to show that the logic often used to justify same-sex marriages can equally be used to justify sibling marriages. Consensuality. Mutual love. Purity before marriage. And since they can’t have kids, there’s no harm done to anyone else (i.e. the whole genetic mutation thing). There’s nothing visibly destructive about Chris and Pat’s marriage.

We could also add that sibling incest, as far as I know, is only forbidden by Old Testament law, in Leviticus 18 for example. But—so the argument goes—Christians don’t obey all sorts of patlaws in Leviticus. Why should we uphold the incest laws? (1 Cor 5, by the way, doesn’t prohibit sibling marriages.)

This certainly doesn’t solve the debate about same-sex marriages. No way. There are too many other factors and many more passages to consider. But if “the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one’s spouse in a relationship of mutual self-giving, which doesn’t not exclude same-sex couples” (Vines, God and the Gay Christian, 146), then it shouldn’t exclude sibling couples either.

Without revealing the gender, relationship, race, or age of this couple, I wanted to see if you think they should get married.

Chris is in love with Pat. They are both believers. They love Jesus and follow Him whole-heartily. Chris and Pat have been dating for 2 years and now they want to get married. They aren’t physically intimate, since they gay-men-holding-handsbelieve that sex and all sexual activity is not within God’s will unless two people are married. Chris and Pat love each other. They are committed to a life of faithfulness, consensual love, and Christ-honoring service. They both want to exalt Christ in their marriage and tell many people about Him. They want their future marriage to glorify Jesus and showcase His love for the world.

But there are two problems. First, most forms of traditional Christianity don’t think they should get married, believing that such a marriage would be an abomination. Second, they are infertile. In fact, both Chris and Pat are unable to have kids for biological reasons and yet they still love each other. However, some Christians in the church believe that their inability to have kids has disqualified them from getting married. But Chris and Pat love each other. And they believe that their mutual love and faithfulness qualifies them for marriage. After all, they are roughly the same age and are incredibly compatible. They don’t have the “gift of celibacy” and even though other believers don’t think their marriage is within the will of God, they believe that their mutual love, commitment, and Christ-exalting love for each other validates their marriage. And so, this summer, Chris and Pat plan on getting married. After all, their marriage will harm no one, not even themselves. If it’s not destructive, then how could it be sin?

So, do you think that Chris and Pat should get married?

Wedding RingsI’m not bragging when I say this. My wife didn’t want to get married growing up. At least, she tells me that she didn’t want to get married too early. She wanted to wait. She wanted to put it off. She didn’t want to be the stereotypical “Ring by Spring” getting her “M.Rs.” from her Bible college. But she became a stereotype and married me the week after she graduated.

What happened? Well, I came into the picture. I met her when she was 18, we started dating right as she turned 20, and we were married when she was 22. Early as the birds come these days.

My wife wasn’t into “commitment.” She didn’t want to be “tied down.” Like any normal person she didn’t want to end up like some “boring old married couple.” All people talk about are the downsides of being married: what you have to give up, what you can’t do anymore, what you do “for fun.” That wasn’t enticing.

She didn’t want to get married for a very smart reason: the sacrifice wasn’t worth what she got out of it. She had a fear of commitment, but it was totally legit. She was afraid to commit to something she didn’t know, to someone she had no feelings for yet, and it was going to cost her everything.

When we tell people about entering a relationship with Jesus they’re reasonably squeamish. It doesn’t sound fun. It doesn’t sound inviting. It doesn’t sound worth it. Why? Well it’s the same reason my wife didn’t want to get married. She didn’t like the idea of sacrificing her independence and freedom. She didn’t like the idea of changing. She didn’t like the idea of becoming “boring.”

What got my wife over the hump? What convinced her to get married so young? Well (cough, cough), I did. She didn’t fall in love with commitment. She didn’t fall in love with changing who she is. She didn’t fall in love with becoming a boring old married couple. She fell in love with me and all that came with it, especially the last part.

To be honest, if all someone told me about marriage was what I’d have to give up and change about myself, I also wouldn’t want to get married. After ten years, I can look back and laugh at the person I’ve become. I used to save Carl’s Jr. chicken sandwiches under the seat of my van so I’d have a snack after class; now I don’t eat fast food and instead we are gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free. Sound fun!? I used to be independent, carefree, and able to accomplish tasks efficiently. Now, I have four other people to get on the ball before we make a move toward any task.

But I love my life. My wife loves marriage. We love the commitment. We love being together. Because we love each other.

As we invite people into relationship with Christ we need to consider where they’re coming from. If you know Jesus you know how freeing and peaceful it is to be “married.” The sacrifice isn’t a drag. It’s not a boring departure from your youthful self. It’s perfect peace. But your friends don’t know what he’s like. All they see is “going to church,” “giving money away,” and “doing boring church stuff.” That’s a sacrifice that doesn’t make sense unless you love the person you’re doing it with (Jesus) and the one you’re doing it for (Jesus).

When Peter, Paul, Priscilla, and Phoebe shared the gospel with people, I’m convinced that they told stories about from the Gospels (the biographies of Jesus). They shared stories about what Jesus is like. They told stories of miracles and radical forgiveness and insane boldness and liberating justice.

It’s like when I first met my wife and she told me stories about herself and I told her stories about myself. I wanted her to get an idea of who I am before she took the biggest step of all (which for us was the first date [marriage was a slam dunk after that]).

People don’t want to commit to being Christians unless it’s worth it to them to enter the relationship. They have a legitimate fear of commitment. Who would want to commit to someone they don’t know when it’s going to cost them everything? They have to like Jesus before they’ll want to marry him. We can’t just tell them “You can have a relationship with God” because they don’t know what God is like. “What if I don’t like God?” they might be thinking.

God is an unknown to them so an offer to sacrifice everything for him comes up short in their logic. It sounds like this, “Hey, do you want to get married? If you get married it’s forever. You will have to give up your rec league teams and your nights with friends and going to the beach. You’ll go to bed early and wake up next to the same person every day. But I’m not going to tell you who you’re going to marry, you just have to commit today, forever, and be ready to change everything about who you are and what you like to do!”

For the “Gospel” to come across to someone as “good news” they have to know the person they’re entering a relationship with.

So, get familiar with Jesus. Learn some stories about his life. Meditate on what it has meant for you to be in relationship with him. And then when you go out and talk to your friends and family about Christ, tell them stories about him like you’d tell stories of your favorite friends.

Love Is Never Lonely

Mark Beuving —  February 14, 2013 — Leave a comment

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4–8)

Everything that Paul says about love here requires multiple people. Towards whom is love patient? To whom is it kind? Whom does it bear with, believe, hope, and endure?

Holding HandsLove is always directed. Love that sits in one person’s heart and never directs itself toward anyone or anything is not love at all. The heart can sit in isolation and experience emotions like happiness, warmth, or satisfaction. But love does not exist apart from some object toward which it is directed.

My love for my wife is exactly that—love-for-my-wife. It’s not as though I have a store of love in my heart, like some sort of substance which I can choose to dispense here or there as the occasion requires. Love comes with the object. My wife and I stand together, and the love we share is manifested in the patience and kindness we show toward one another, it can be seen in the absence of irritability and resentment between us.

Love that sits alone and focuses on self is not love. For this reason, love is never lonely. You can feel longing for an absent loved one, but you can’t experience the pain of a love that has no beloved—there’s no such thing.

A major problem in the church is our equation of love with romance. The result is that Christians feel pressure to find “the one” they love—their soul mate, their spouse. I am pro-marriage, but I am against the notion that we can begin with a vague sense of love toward “the one” and then sift through all of the candidates until we find him or her. Love requires an object. You can’t love a hypothetical person.

This can also cause us to devote all of our “love”(pseudo-love, really) towards a non-existent object rather than directing it toward the people we interact with every day. We can get so caught up in finding someone to love romantically that we fail to love the people that God has placed in our lives, even as we feel the sting of the “love” we think we feel towards the lover who does not exist.

Because love is always directed, we are only loveless when we have isolated ourselves from people. With each person comes the potential for love. We thrive as human beings not when we have romance, but when we have love. And love is as near as the person next to you. This may include romance, but it doesn’t have to. It has nothing to do with the lovability of the person; it has everything to do with the choice to love.

God first created a solitary man, then declared that it was not good for this one man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). So he created a woman—a wife, yes, but a companion above all. Another human being. An object for his love. Someone to bear with, someone to show patience and kindness.

Love is never lonely. It is as near as the next person to walk through the door. “Let brotherly love continue,” urges the author of Hebrews (13:1). The choice to love will never leave us lonely, because love is always directed.

Happy Valentine’s Day!