So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- Acts 1:6-8
We weren’t, actually… speaking of marriage, that is. The Scripture isn’t even about marriage, at least, not yet. For what it’s worth, however, I have been thinking about marriage – far more than I would like, to be perfectly frank. Several years ago, I was challenged to write a short book on the nature and meaning of Christian marriage, and I have skirted around the topic – searched through the Bible, done some word-usage study, read sundry theological perspectives, posted a bit of this or that from what I’ve learned. My interest has waxed and waned because the whole discussion is highly controversial. What an understatement. The subject is not so much a lightning rod as it is a guided missile with flashing coordinates. Who wants to get in the middle of that? Apparently, the time has come that I do.
Christian life and faith are less a religion than we allow. Rather, Christianity rightly understood is the revelation of all that is real and all that is true. It’s as if, in Jesus Christ, the veil is pulled back, and we are given a glimpse into the fullness the eternal and infinite reality brought into being by the creating and creative, life-giving Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinity simply is – beyond all things, imbuing all that is, the unknowable One Who is the answer to every human longing, the omnipresent One from Whom flows forth all that was and is and ever shall be, the Source of life and every good. The Holy Trinity just is.
In contrast, we humans show a marked proclivity for self-destructive arrogance and foolishness, the dark humor of which is the pride we often take in our ignorance. Would that we had the sense to agree, “What He said… yeah, let’s do that.” But, alas… we suffer from the killing plague of self-proclaimed divinity, yearning to prove we can best our Creator to our own misery – a lesson every generation learns anew. Or not. All of which brings me back to the issue of marriage.
We’ve reached the point, perhaps, when marriage itself is of less interest to most people, paling before the gaudy obsessions with the dazzling array of sexual expression and gender definition. Such fixation as that to which we are daily inundated will fade with time because the preoccupation is unique to this time and place. I am not suggesting that interest in sex will wane. Interest in sexual activities is notably constant throughout history, which is how human beings continue to be here to be interested in sex. Although… I did read an opinion piece the other day that suggested all future babies should come from labs, thereby allowing fully harvested and sterile adults the enjoyment of unrestricted sex without the messiness and bothersome complication of procreation. The surprise of the unique and unknown babe in the womb meets unconstrained lust – and loses. We are indeed an unimaginative and unadventurous people.
I think Christians need to realize that the single greatest motivation for the current sexual/gender mania is the final marginalization and wholesale rejection of Christianity in the West, especially in America. Certainly, it would be unfair of me (not to mention inaccurate) to attribute such a wish to every hawker of sexual freedom, but most of us – in one form or another – obliviously serve ourselves while contributing to those whose causes need warm bodies. Therefore, the wish of any particular individual to enjoy unfettered sexual experimentation, including self-mutilation, frequently bears little connection to the intentional cultivation of hostility toward Christianity and Christians. Instead, urged and encouraged by self-important policy wonks and trendsetters, individuals thoughtlessly pursue passions known to be destructive of our humanity.
The defeat of Christian faith has long been a project of those whose opinions of the human creature far exceed the capacities of humans. In other words, if we want to think more highly of ourselves than we merit, the first thing we must do is rid ourselves of any evidence highlighting human frailty, cruelty, and stupidity. Nothing so clearly reveals human limitations as comparison to our Creator. Equally, our flaws haunt us relentlessly in the shadow of the God-Man hanging on the Cross. If Western culture can ever completely darken the dawn of the Resurrection, then the pursuit of all things opposed to Jesus Christ and Christian life becomes much less urgent, and the “anything-but-Christian” project will pass into a historical footnote somewhere.
The problem lies in the fact that Christianity cannot be eradicated. Christians can be eradicated, and the twentieth century saw tens of millions suffer that fate, a practice that continues around the world today with scarcely a comment and minimal awareness. Regrettably, I must admit that I think we will be given the opportunity to see the persecution of Christians far more personally than we would like. Yet, Christianity itself is the revelation of reality as it is and as it is supposed to be, indeed, as it one day will be. Reality is fairly easy to abandon but nigh on impossible to escape.
Thus, it falls to we Christians to be our Lord’s witnesses in this age, the one in which we were born. The Christian witness to Jesus Christ hangs entirely upon the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, given as promised in the passage above. In the strength of the Spirit, we are Christ’s witnesses when we refuse to cave to unreality, stand firm against both subtle and blatant denials of our lowly status of creature, and live fully and joyfully according to our Creator’s purposes. It would be nice if it were easier, but sin is brutal, which makes living within the intent of our Father an extended lesson in humility (or humiliation, as the case may be). In the end, though, it’s worth it. We were formed and created by our God, and no self-aggrandizing delusion will ever enable us to be something else. He is the Potter. We are the clay. The extraordinary geniuses, mega-billionaires, and ruling despots of the day may wish to be the potter, but like each of us, they are clay, as well. Even if they do not remember that, we cannot forget it.
“You will be My witnesses…” In every generation, across every land, throughout history, Christians have borne witness to the God Who called all things into existence, nurtures and sustains the whole of creation, and ultimately, saves creation along with its tragic and careless caretakers. The time has come for us to bear witness to a world that has forgotten the wonder, the beauty, and the mystery of all that transcends this moment, this place, this passion, this death.
We begin with marriage because that is what our God revealed and, thus, what the world that rejects Him hates. Our witness to Christ through marriage will become clearer in the weeks ahead, but we will discover that blessing is waiting for us in our faithful obedience to the Gospel – the good news of the truth of Jesus Christ.
It’s time. I’ve avoided the subject long enough. Let’s think of marriage as God intended. Then, let’s speak of the creative mystery of marriage that reflects the union of the eternal and temporal. Finally, let us bear witness to the riches our Father has hidden for us in the humble acceptance of reality as He designed, created, and redeemed.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau
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