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HOW SAME SEX MARRIAGE HURTS EVERYONE — GAY AND STRAIGHT

 

By James Wilson

 

As I drive around the city of Canberra I see kiosks presenting photos of medical professionals and first responders.  The caption reads something like, “We hold your life in our hands; why are we forbidden to hold each other’s hand?”  The kiosks advocate for adoption of same-sex marriage in Australia without holding the plebiscite promised by successive national governments.  Television commercials carry the same message.  The catch?  There is not a word coming from the other side; only one side is permitted to speak because the opposing viewpoint is deemed hurtful to gay people.

 

The drive to legalize same sex marriage is one pole of a paradox in Australia.  The other pole is the drive to suppress debate.  The people are told to let the Parliament handle the decision and avoid the hurt feelings public debate would create.  In other words, let the grownups decide this while you kids watch television.  This is not all of it by a long shot.

 

Coopers Brewery provided beer for a meeting in which two liberal MPs debated the issue.  Coopers was promptly boycotted until it came out with a public apology and endorsed same sex marriage.  IBM in Australia hired a top executive who belonged to a Christian organization.  They were pressured until the exec resigned his position.  A hotel in Sydney was threatened with violence for booking a strategy meeting paid for by a Christian pro traditional marriage group.  There is the Catholic bishop in South Australia sued for preaching a traditional marriage sermon.  Most recently a professor at Macquarrie University was discovered by same sex advocates to be on staff at a Christian research facility; the activists are demanding Dr. Stephen Chavura’s firing by the university unless he resigns the other.  This is just Australia of the past twelve months.

 

Back home in the States business persons in multiple states face criminal sanctions for declining to service gay marriages.  There were the contributors to the Proposition 8 campaign in California to define marriage as between one man and one woman; they were persecuted and in multiple cases left unemployed when their employers caved.  Pastors in Canada and Northern Europe have been prosecuted for their public expressions on marriage; these prosecutions always follow assurances no one will be persecuted once gay marriage is legalized.

 

There was the high school student in San Mateo, California, who was wrestled from the school auditorium by administrators and suspended from school for asking a question the gay activist speaker found objectionable.  I have personally received threatening mail and voicemail over the years for expressing my own views.  I have been verbally accosted – not for specific statements I made but for speaking at all in opposition to the progressive marriage agenda.  I have received the same treatment when the topic was life.

 

The issue here is not a political issue but the bullying of opposition to a political agenda.  The bullying is accompanied by Orwellian Newspeak in which the bullies successfully cast themselves as victims while their targets are called bullies and bigots for daring to disagree.  Suppression is not limited to marriage.

 

California is embroiled in court battles right now over its laws forbidding the treatment of homosexual people who want to become straight and compelling pro life ministries to recommend clients to state funded abortion services.  Businesses operate under state laws coercing them to pay for abortion-covering insurance for employees.  The activists who outed Planned Parenthood in 2016 for selling the body parts of aborted babies are facing criminal charges for exposing these crimes.  Climate change leaders are seeking to criminalize dissent in multiple cases; it was Barack Obama’s Attorney General who first went public with the recommendation.

 

How does same sex marriage hurt everyone?  Never mind the documented damage to stable heterosexual marriages in nations that have legalized; forget for a moment the longitudinal studies on children of same sex couples having two and three times the likelihood of serious psychological difficulties.  Reality is advocates of same sex marriage – and every other progressive social agenda issue – poison the atmosphere for everyone in a culture seeking to work out – and speak about – their own salvation in fear and trembling, as the Bible advocates.  Debate is suppressed and debaters persecuted around the world; there are no exceptions.

 

But how does same sex marriage hurt gays themselves – the ones who are happy with the outcome of these non-debates?  Reality is political winds always blow in differing directions over time.  In fifties America conservatives squelched debate by yelling, “Communist,” at their opponents as lustily as progressives holler, “Bigot,” at theirs today.  The sixties, seventies and eighties brought lessons learned of authentic tolerance and people were able – with bumps in the road – to respect each other enough to listen as well as speak.  In this season those lessons have been forgotten and distorted so that bullies are seen as victims and vice versa.  The polarization is worse than it ever was half a century ago.

 

The pendulum will shift again – it always does.  If we fail to create a public square where all views can be heard without persecution the next backlash will be harsher than the fifties ever thought of being.

 

Rage – on either side – courts disaster for all.  The only viable solution is seeking the courage to stop bullies cold – wherever they come from and however they justify their excesses.  That courage must include the humility to recognize that there but for grace go I – I can so easily become the monster I despise given – not the provocation but – the power to become such.

 

Frankly I know of no way to address the twin poles of this paradox than the way of repentance and dependence on the one God Who – as His Bible says again and again – understands that all have sinned and fallen short of His glory but Who came in the flesh that all might have life and that abundantly.  For those who are understandably skeptical of how individualized spiritual transformation can lead to transforming this world so bent on war, turning concepts of evil and good upside down, and hatred of those who accept this crucified God as Lord – I can only suggest trying it.  Everything else has failed and is failing miserably.

 

What have we got to lose but the culture of death to which we are addicted?

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at praynorthstate@gmail.com

THE CASE FOR CHRIST

 

By James Wilson

 

Lee Strobel was an award winning investigative reporter and legal affairs editor for the Chicago Tribune – with a Studies in Law Masters Degree from Yale University – in 1980 when his wife made a decision that rocked his world.  She experienced a life shattering crisis and discovered Jesus Christ in it.  She asked Him to become her Lord.  Her husband said, in effect, “Hang on; we are lifelong atheists.  You changed; I have not.  And I am not okay with my new wife.”  Desperate to resolve the impasse he launched a full-on investigation of the claims of Christianity and its Head.  The book – and movie – describing that investigation is titled The Case for Christ.

 

I read the book a long time ago.  I saw the film a little while ago and found it seriously moving in a most personal context for me.

 

Everybody brings personal history and personality along every time they experience something important; I am no exception.  This story opens with Strobel’s daughter choking on a candy ball and nearly dying.  Apparently there was no Heimlich maneuver in 1980 but a nurse in the restaurant – contrary to her plans for the evening – dislodged the candy from the girl’s throat and told her mom Jesus sent her.  My daughter was eleven or so when she choked on some food; I knew and applied the Heimlich in time to save her life.  What I had in common with Leslie Strobel was the conviction both cases were examples of God’s intervention, also known as miracles.  The conviction is borne not of a need for simplistic answers – at least in my case – but from my lifelong experience that there simply are no coincidences.  There are God-incidences.

 

Lee Strobel the investigative reporter was not convinced – and therein lies the tale.  He interviewed more than a dozen scholars from multiple disciplines, asking them to account for their belief on the one hand and the many objections raised by critics of faith on the other.  As one example, he consults a famous psychotherapist (who is agnostic) on the theory more than five hundred witnesses to the Resurrection were corporately hypnotized; she told him frankly it was impossible.  When he countered that famous hypnotists often put rooms full of people under, she reminded him this could not be done when their lives are at stake; the instinct for self-preservation is too strong.  Asking a Bible scholar about possible copying errors he was treated to a quick course in textual criticism.  Reality is we have some four times as many copies – whole or parts – of the New Testament alone than its nearest competitor in ancient literature – and nobody seriously questions the competitor.  The New Testament pieces are without variance with many written within thirty years of the events.  Other copied documents – such as Homer’s Iliad – date centuries after their original composition.

 

Strobel comes to believe and receive what his wife has espoused – no mystery there as we know the end going in – but the film does a masterful job of dramatizing his very real heart struggle – accompanied by very dysfunctional behavior – and the strain it places on his loved ones.  Some believers will ask why he has such a hard time believing the hard evidence presented while some pre-believers will ask why everybody does not believe if the evidence is so compelling.

 

The film does not say this, though it is readable between the lines, but to believe or not believe is not an intellectual problem.  Unlike belief in gravity, or the relationship between fuel in the tank and your car moving along the road, belief in God as both Creator and Lord – not to mention Savior – requires accountability.  Yet the very essence of human estrangement from God is locked into our history of refusing accountability as it begins in the Garden of Eden.  Some resist more, and more often than others, but until we choose surrender – an act of the will – we will be unable to appreciate what ought to be plain to our minds.

 

There is nothing compelling about belief in God – our God is too committed to our freedom to force us even with a compelling argument.  And – by the way – there is nothing sufficient about belief in God in the sense of intellectual assent to His existence –even in all His Biblical majesty.  The kind of belief He wants – and requires – is that of relationship.  As a man once said, He does not want us on His side but rather by His side.

 

The good news is deciding for relationship with Him is no more difficult than deciding He is real.

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at praynorthstate@gmail.com

THE SHACK AND GOD’S BIG HEART

 

By James Wilson

 

I will never forget the first time I taught Vacation Bible School.  I had the high school class and two of the girls were dropped off daily to keep them out of trouble.  They had neither relationship nor interest in Jesus, but there they were.  One day we closed our eyes and asked Jesus to show Himself in the context of a story from John’s Gospel.  I asked Holy Spirit to guard the exercise so only God would be present.

 

When the kids opened their eye I invited them to share.  The two fish-out-of-water girls were ecstatic.  One said she had seen Jesus – not in the robes and crown she had read about once but in T-shirt and levis – they talked like a couple of regular people and she had never known He was so wonderful.  The other said He showed up and cuddled her just the way she needed Him – crown and rich robes – like the King she dreamed of knowing.  Both girls asked Jesus into their hearts and I baptized them a couple weeks later.

 

The point?  Jesus is Who He is, the Scriptures tell us infallibly just Who He is, but He is able and willing to approach us in whatever facilitates relationship.  This is the same Lord who moves St. Paul to be all things to all men if only some might be saved.

 

The Shack opens in Australia May 25.  Critics hail it as faithful to the book I have read twice and I cannot wait to see it in Canberra.  This film is potentially the most important asset to evangelizing pre-believers and discipling believers since The Passion of the Christ.  I speak with full awareness of the plethora of faith building films emerging from Hollywood the past two years.  The list includes the God’s Not Dead films, Risen, and Miracles from Heaven and others.  If it does nothing else the story told in The Shack displays this divine flexibility in loving.

 

The story centers on Mack, a man incapacitated by grief – and guilt – over the kidnap and murder of his daughter.  He receives a post card inviting him to meet God in the woodland shack where she died.  Skeptical but with nothing to lose except his despair, he goes.  The rest is an incredible testament to God’s love or a walk down a New Age fantasy, depending on your point of view.  Incredible testament gets my vote.

 

The Shack is the most controversial faith film since Passion.  Critics pasted Mel Gibson for adding extra-biblical scenes like the women cleaning the blood from paving stones – which in no way contradicts scripture and is in fact a Jewish custom.  The Shack is shelled for a good many more departures from scripture except…examination of the Biblical record shows no real departures from it.

 

I was myself taken aback when Papa – the Father – first appears as a comfortably built middle aged black woman.  Yet she explains He is still Papa at the same time He states the Father is neither male nor female.  This is as the Bible depicts the Father – Abba, Father, and He are relational rather than gender terms.

 

Some detractors are upset that Papa displays nail scars in His own wrists.  “No,” they cry, “that’s patripassionism!”  If the story held the wrong idea Abba joined His Son on the Cross it would be problematic.  But wait – the Biblical Paul had those marks on his wrists and feet; St. Francis and others had them too.  If they can receive these wounds I guess we can lighten up on Papa in a parable about the high octane of redemption.

 

Another adventure I’ll never forget is the time Abba came into the car with me as I drove.  In the vision I saw only His bare-bones rib cage and His beating heart too big for His chest.  He said, “You think it strange my heart is too large for my body while yours fits nicely inside.  But my heart is not too large; yours is too small.  Seek me to enlarge your heart and that of my Church; don’t fret about being vulnerable to injury when your heart is uncontained.  My strength is released in vulnerability.”

 

If we need a metaphor those ribs are not the Word of God; they are the doctrines we weave around the Word to make it comprehensible – contained.  If God presents Himself to us – through art or circumstance – consistent with the Word without being coterminous with the words, let us rejoice instead of a defending perimeter what needs no defending.  There is a world hungry and thirsty for the real life offered by Jesus.  He says those who are not against us for us and with us.

 

Enjoy the movie.  Bring your friends – believers or pre-believers.  Amen.

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at praynorthstate@gmail.com

RESULTS BASED CONSENSUS TRUMPS RELIGIOUS DOGMA

 

By James Wilson

 

Research has been ongoing and on-publishing since at least 2002.  New Scientist reported in April 2008 that young male monkeys living in a wild environment preferred toys such as trucks and wheels while females of the same age – three to four months – preferred dolls.  These studies were led by Kim Wallen of Emory University.  Gerianne Alexander of Texas A & M found similar results with captive rhesus monkeys in 2012; chimpanzees living wild in Uganda showed similar behavior patterns in a fourteen year study led by Rick Wrangham of Harvard University and reported in National Geographic in 2010.  The same fruit occurred in studies of macaques in 2014 per the BBC.

 

There is no such thing as a scientific consensus on any issue – climate change and its causation or the origin of gender identity – in terms of unified opinion.  The relative impact of nature versus nurture in gender identity is debated, though studies cited above occurred in children far too young to have been socialized into their preferences.  Yet these studies present unitary findings.  In short, there is a scientific consensus – in experimental results – on the innate presence of gender identity inasmuch as there are no contradictory studies.

 

Contrast this phenomenon with growing-toward-consensus among educational professionals in Australia and America – as two examples – that gender biased reading materials damage boys and girls and must be removed from primary school classrooms.  The numbers holding this position are growing without a shred of evidence to back it.  It takes authority from the Ph. D. following the names of those who agree.  I know no better example of the distinction between the discipline of science and the religion of scientism.

 

The one is characterized by repeatable experimentation on testable hypotheses, evidence demanding a verdict yet declining conclusion until evidence can be stockpiled.  The other depends on repeatable dogma and intimidation of those who defy current orthodoxy.

 

Please understand me; we brought much of the political correctness movement on ourselves.  All the snide comments down the decades about women drivers, denying women the right to vote and even to inherit, expecting them to work only in professions that did not threaten men – when they were allowed to work – are chickens coming home to roost.  Even today women tend to be paid less than men for the same work, and this  fails to acknowledge the demeaning and deadly discrimination against women that is so characteristic of Islamic and other cultures with no Christianized background.  The Church has been neither outspoken nor forceful in bringing about gender justice.  But throwing out the baby with the bathwater in the name of pseudo science boasting no more backing than the opinions of self-styled experts is no solution.

 

How did women from Condoleeza Rice to Susan Rice to Nikki Haley become national security advisers, state governors, UN ambassadors and heads of major corporations if the very toys they were given in school conspired against them?  How did Madame Curie revolutionize medicine way back in the nineteenth century?  How did Michele Bachman, Sarah Palin, and Hillary Clinton manage to run for president?  How did a housewife like Betsy DeVos help found an international corporate giant and then become Secretary of Education under supposed male chauvinist Donald Trump?

 

If we would help girls – and for that matter boys – to become all they are created to become, let us exercise the gift God gave us called scientific method.  It is not so difficult.  We need only make real policy of confronting stereotypes in the classroom instead of eliminating them – and thus eliminating the stimulus to overcome.  Cinderella and Snow White – from the old fairy tales – were both victims of gender bias waiting for their princes-charming to come for them.  Yet Cinderella won a kingdom and Snow White whipped seven dwarves into shape.  When the full truth is revealed – instead of suppressed for fear of hurting feelings – victims become viceroys of achievement.  That is the hypothesis to be tested.

 

Experiment.  Let authentic science trump weeping sentiment.

 

The God Who speaks through the Bible claims to work all things together for good in those who love Him and serve Him – that’s everybody.  He says all things will be revealed to those who hang with Him – that’s everything.  And finally He claims to perfect His strength – His ability to bless and care for – in our weakness.  But it all presupposes His first claim – that not we but He is the author of all that is.  When we set out to discover rather than re-invent to suit our wounds we are setting out on a road to freedom and leaving our addictions behind.

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at praynorthstate@gmail.com

PSEUDO SCIENCE AND THE ELECTION OF 2016

 

By James Wilson

 

The novice nun knelt before her Mother Superior in her third year as an apprentice.  She had joined a convent so strict the novices were only allowed to speak during their annual review with the head of the order and then only a maximum of three words.  In her first review – asked how she liked abbey life – she answered, “Food bad.”  In her second year she responded, “Bed hard.”  In this third go-round she said, “I quit.”  The Mother Superior replied, “Well, I’m not surprised.  All you’ve done since you came here is complain and complain and complain.”

 

Of course the joke is the poor novice has spoken a mere six words in three years.  That is nowhere near enough to convey nuance, meaning, or relevance to the big picture.  One might as well say since all guns are weapons all weapons must be guns.  Mother Superior reaches a conclusion without context and that – as they say – is that.

 

The same joke is playing out with increasingly desperate progressive efforts to render Donald Trump illegitimate by playing Mother Superior.  First we get the fictionalized Russian connection.  Food bad. Then we hear speculation there is some way to invite past American presidents to certify he is mentally unstable and thus invoke a ludicrous interpretation of the 25th Amendment.  Bed hard.  Lately it is one indictment after another of the American people themselves.  I quit.  Senator Elizabeth Warren claims Hillary lost because she is a woman – even though she won the popular vote as tallied.  Now self-styled elite academics are citing studies purporting to show it is racist backlash that put Donald Trump in the Oval Office.  Backlash against whom?  Obama was not running and Hillary is white.

 

Roger Petersen writes ethnic conflict often follows change of status for a power elite tribe.  The tribe losing power wants to retain or regain it and they attack the new power group.  He cites studies from Chad to Lebanon and phenomena such as the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s in the Balkans.  He notes anti-immigrant movements worldwide and the rise of Trump-like candidates for office.  He adds that Hillary Clinton lost because of white working class angst over the economy.  Many of his facts are factual, but they do not connect to one another or to presenting worldwide political dynamics.

 

There has indeed been ethnic conflict in the nations he mentions – and many more besides.  Racism is surging in many nations – if it ever declined.  Yet USA Today reports Trump did as well with educated whites as with Joe Six Pack.  He did a lot better with minorities than anyone expected.  Meanwhile, Clinton failed to carry many jurisdictions in which jobs surged.  And by the way, any anti-immigrant movement in the US is demonstrably fueled by crime and threatened terrorism, not lost jobs.

 

Militant Islam has been attacking Americans for more than two centuries; attacks stepped up in the wake of American support for modern Israel – another nation of immigrants – unlike so-called Palestinians, who are not immigrants.  With respect to the American (illegal) immigration issue, Mexico has never gotten over losing the Mexican American War – they attacked to break a treaty – and her government has openly undermined American border integrity for a half century.  In other words, the people Petersen labels as aggressors/privileged-who-lost-their-privileges were themselves under attack long before 2016’s election.

 

Petersen’s conclusions amount to adding two plus two and getting – not five, but – seven or eight.  He later argues that in strong and stable nations the sore losers resort to legal rather than revolutionary means to recover privilege.  How is that relevant or even demonstrably analogous?

 

Progressives have enjoyed eight years of privilege until the rest of us threw them out of power – as our constitution provides – in an election.  They have thrown a six months’ temper tantrum of obstruction, lies, and violence – all failing.  Illegal immigration has fallen by two thirds, jobs and the stock market are growing, the administration is pulling back from over-regulating everything from local schools to healthcare to subsidizing the harvesting of baby body parts.  The UN has been put on notice their bullying days are over – and they are responding in a healthy way.  The Keystone Pipeline – with its promise of twenty thousand jobs – has been released for building as other steps are in process to lead to American energy independence.  The Supreme Court is again at full strength and climate change alarmists are being called to prove their assertions with their own money.

 

For those Americans – like me – who think we have been in exile in our own land since Ronald Reagan left office, let us remember God’s word to Israel in Zechariah 8.  The Jews were returning to a homeland they did not recognize for the destruction that engulfed her.  God told them to let their hands be strong as they were about to be blessed themselves and become an unprecedented blessing to their neighbors.  He said all they really need do is treat one another with kindness, fairness, and honesty.

 

I don’t know that we are on the brink of a golden age.  I don’t know if we have it left in us to treat one another – enemies as well as friends and losers as well as winners – with kindness, fair play and honesty.  I do know the power elite of the last years have done nothing of the sort and I can see we are off to a good start reversing course.  I don’t need pseudo science to tell me what to hate and why to hate it – the time for hating is past.  Real science – grounded in observation and measurement coupled with conclusions based on all the relevant data – tells me this is no time to quit the order.

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at praynorthstate@gmail.com

THE SOUND OF MUSIC AND THE MUSIC OF SACRIFICE

 

By James Wilson

 

I don’t like movie musicals – except one.  I am crazy about The Sound of Music.  Released in 1965 most of the critics put it down as mindless fluff.  Everything worked out for the best because love won out and the Nazis who took over Austria and forced the Von Trapps to leave weren’t competently evil.  The public went over the moon – however – and Music became (adjusted for inflation) the first film to pass 1939’s Gone With the Wind as the top grossing film of all time.  It maintains the number three spot today.  Truth is, there was something wonderful about the story – a highly fictionalized account of historical events – and that something was the music of sacrifice.

 

There was real sacrifice on the part of actors and actresses involved in the filming.  Peggy Woods was a musical and acting legend of stage and screen before being Oscar nominated for her role as the Mother Abbess.  Her real-life sacrifice connects with the iconic future of her song, Climb Every Mountain.  Nearing seventy, she knew her voice could no longer do justice to such a soaring vocal challenge.  She requested her vocals be dubbed so the song would lose nothing of its power.  For a star of her renown to let go such an opportunity is major league; she did it because she loved.

 

The story itself is one episode after another of opportunities for sacrifice grounded in love of God people.  Maria leaves the Von Trapp family home when she realizes she – and aspiring nun – is falling in love with her employer; she leaves the spiritual safety of the abbey when her superior counsels her to test what may be an unanticipated calling from God.  And of course she leaves the abbey the first time in response to the need of children she has never met.  At every turn she makes a sacrifice of what she (thinks she) wants for the sake of service to God.

 

Maria is not the only sacrificial lamb.  Captain Von Trapp spent the years following his wife’s death walling himself off from even his children.  He abandons his self-imposed exile for the sake of those children and dares to love again after.  He and his family flee Austria for their protection and to avoid serving the Nazis.  The nuns – unable to flee – risk their lives to help Maria and company get away.

 

The fictional Max Detweiler is an unprincipled and self-absorbed impresario who enters the children in the Salzburg Folk Festival after the captain specifically forbids it – absent on his honeymoon when Max pulls the strings.  Yet God – Who promises to work all things together for good in those who love Him, and the Von Trapps clearly qualify – arranges their escape through their involuntary participation in the festival.  The film’s last scene of the family cresting the mountain to reach freedom in Switzerland frames a magnificent symbol of the fruit of repentance – re-focus on God at every opportunity – which is the wonder of the story.

 

The real history is different but equivalent.  The family does not climb a literal mountain; they board a train for Italy.  Georg and Maria were married a dozen years before the Nazi crisis.  Georg asked her to marry him for the sake of his children and she relates she was furious with God on her wedding day for demanding she give up her monastic calling.  Yet the courage to leave their country is as real as it gets and they made a great sacrifice for his children.  Maria declares in her autobiography that she came to love her husband as she never had loved before or since.  In the real events God carries out His promise to work all things together as surely as in the fictional portrayal.

 

The critics raged at a portrayal of life in which, “I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don’t feel…sooooo baaaad!”  Yet the world God created is grounded in sacrifice.  It doesn’t look that way since the Fall but there are still vestiges of original purpose visible in nature.  No species of animal could reproduce without one or both parents sacrificing their lives so the children might live – from salamanders to salmon.  Our very immune systems are geared for sacrifice; white blood cells – independently alive – converge on the site of injury or infection and attack the infesting germs like kamikazes.  The cells die but you and I live in their sacrifice.  For that matter, each of us human beings is product of a collision between a sperm and egg each of whom sacrificed its life so a new one of us could result.

 

The Sound of Music is a lavishly staged yet improbable salute to this reality of creation.  We enjoy it because it is well acted, produced, and directed.  But it moves our hearts because it mirrors God in our world.

 

The essence of this Godly reality is found in yet another seemingly sentimental moment.  Georg and Maria are discussing their wedding plans in the garden gazebo when asks her if there is anyone he should approach to request her hand.  They break into big smiles and agree they must ask the children.  In so doing they give a nod to the innocence of which Jesus said, “Of such is the Kingdom of God,” but they also sacrifice their adult power-of-prerogative for the sake of seeking privilege.  This is precisely what the God Who says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” is doing.

 

Of course the world is not really this way at this time.  But it was meant to be, created to be, and will be again when the King comes to claim the restoration He won on the Cross.  Our job – and our joy – is to prepare our hearts by practicing His.

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at praynorthstate@gmail.com

GOD AND DIVORCE — Part 4: MAVERICK AND THE CULTIVATION OF HEARTS OF FLESH

 

By James Wilson

 

Sam Maverick was a father of Texas independence.  He fought at the Alamo and survived the battle only because he volunteered for riskier courier duty during the siege.  He signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, serving in her government during republican days and later when she became one of the United States.  We get the term, maverick, from his deserved reputation for coming and going as needed, stubbornly independent thinking and acting, and refusal to be branded as this or that.  His was a servant heart, but he followed his vision wherever it led.

 

Authentic mavericks are as prophetic as they are unpredictable; they operate with integrity but adhering to the spirit of protocol without bowing to the baal of policy and procedure.  This season is a maverick season, but what – we may ask – does that mean and what – as well – have mavericks to do with marriage, much less divorce?

 

Maverick integrity is not contrary to law, yet by answering to the spirit rather than the letter it transcends law.  Galatians 5 lists the fruit of the Holy Spirit and contends against such fruit there is no law, as in no law by which to hold persons accountable for their behavior.  By evidencing the fruit of the Spirit they have already manifested commitment to a higher-than-legal standard.  Thus Jesus exhorts His followers to observe the Sabbath but not at the expense of showing mercy to the hurting.  He says even His legalistic enemies acknowledge feeding livestock and pulling injured servants from wells into which they have fallen on the Sabbath.

 

Just so, Sam Maverick and his friends broke Mexican law when the president of Mexico became a dictator; they broke it to forge an independent nation.  At the same time – when they captured the dictator in battle – they suppressed their natural and fleshly urge for revenge by instead negotiating a peace treaty and releasing him after he signed it.  They fulfilled law by serving its Spirit.  I claim we are in a Maverick season because the Lord has so obviously called His people to engage with the whole of scripture – the parts about mercy and the parts about justice along with the parts about just putting God and neighbor first.  We live in such a season because God clearly expects us to engage the fullness of His Spirit – the dimension of signs and wonders alongside unrestrained worship alongside the leading into all truth.  We wrestle with and navigate this season because our King so definitively requires us to sacrifice our sacred cows – the man-made rules followed by out-of-context rules followed by the comfortable sense we are so blessed not to be ordinary sinners – like the Luke 18 tax collector, for instance.

 

Reality is all have fallen short of God’s glory.  What has this to do with marriage and divorce?  All have opportunity and obligation at this time to engage in radical trust of the Source of law, grace, and certainly glory.  It is time to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling as we enter this last great season before our Lord’s return in His glory.  Those of us who are married need to re-focus our attention on the Author of all covenants, beginning with the marriage covenant, asking Him repeatedly if we are actually in a covenant of mutual submission and sacrifice or just claiming its name.  If we are divorced we need to acknowledge that our failure – while real and consequential – is no more final than the death of Lazarus if we submit our failure to Him.  And we who have made no commitment at all despite His call to be in commitment and covenant (I do not mean those few who are called to singleness) need to repent of our refusal and take the plunge we have avoided like the plague when it is simply the fulfillment of our humanity.

 

In whatever state we make our re-commitment let us remember the human laws governing these relationships have been bent out of all recognizable shape.  This acknowledgement gives us no license to live as we please or our appetites direct.  On the contrary, our opportunity and obligation is to seek resurrection of what we were given by God in the beginning.  It means we depend on Him to shape and empower us even as we satisfy all righteousness by complying with human laws wherever we can with dignity and integrity.  Choosing in this way is a repeatable act – to be repeated each time we fall short – and the repetition itself leads to the cultivation of hearts of flesh where once there lived only hearts of stone.

 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships and The Holy Spirit and the End Times, and Kingdom in Pursuit – available at local bookstores or by e-mailing him at praynorthstate@gmail.com