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Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marriage. Show all posts

Monday, November 03, 2014

Tweaking love . . . or can you?


Love is not a commodity that can be bartered or sold to the highest bidder. Love comes free, or love does not come at all. Love is not coy, nor flirty. Love is never earned. In a word, you simply cannot quantify love. You cannot package it up, tie a bow around it and give it away, either. To think that way simply means one does not understand the true nature of love. Love is never something, but rather someone. Thus, the highest form of love is God. To know God is to know love.

Love is without fault; therefore, you can never judge love. True love is flawless. Love knows no language; yet, it is known by all. A Frenchman does not have a corner on the language of love, any more than an African Hottentot. There’s nothing erotic about love, either. Love has no gender, age or level of intelligence. Some of the most loving people on earth have Downs’s syndrome; yet they are full of love.

True love doesn’t come naturally, either; unless you are in love with God. Then, and only then does it become selfless and purposeful. Thus, love never ask, ‘What can I get?’ but rather, ‘What can I give?’

Jesus gave his all. Yet, few of us have that courage. Why is that? Now, do you want the truth? If so, here it is— it is because few of us are that committed.

I find it curiously interesting that the disciple who met Christ on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) did not recognize him until he broke bread with them. Scripture does not tell us why that was so, but the scene suggest that they must have put it all together once they had taken a good look at his hands and his nail scared wrist. Something must have clicked at that moment. It was their ‘aha’ moment. Words were not necessary. He didn’t have to say, ‘Hey, look at how much I loved you!’ In that instance, however, something spoke louder than words.

Once when visiting Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying, I noticed a little orphan following one of the nuns around. The little fellow didn’t say a word. When she stopped, he stopped. When she sat, he sat beside her, just looking at her. She never seemed annoyed at her little tag along, either. He was just there, a part of her, really. Such is the power of love. It draws like an invisible magnet, and will never let go. Love is reciprocal in that sense. The little fellow was starving for love, and when he got it, love seemed to generate new love that he could give back in return by simply looking at her, knowing she loved him.

This should be a principle that we all maintain. That is, love is a presence. A person. A response, not measured in dollars and cents, or hours donated to charity, or stuffed in an enveloped as a missionary offering. True love is the silent language of the heart which says 'I love you unconditionally just as you are.'

May God renew within each of us the gift that cannot be bought or sold— the gift of love.

I am yours for the journey, 

JimR_/

Friday, November 29, 2013

Same Sex Marriages . . .

Sometimes loving a denomination requires you to fight
In June 2002, the synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster authorized its bishop to produce a service for blessing same-sex unions, to be used in any parish of the diocese that requests it. A number of synod members walked out to protest the decision. They declared themselves out of communion with the bishop and the synod, and they appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglican primates and bishops for help.

J. I. Packer, an executive editor of Christianity Today, was one of those who walked out. Many people have asked him why. Though one part of his answer applies specifically to Anglicans, his larger argument should give guidance to any Christians troubled by developments in their church or denomination.
Why did I walk out with the others? Because this decision, taken in its context, falsifies the gospel of Christ, abandons the authority of Scripture, jeopardizes the salvation of fellow human beings, and betrays the church in its God-appointed role as the bastion and bulwark of divine truth.
My primary authority is a Bible writer named Paul. For many decades now, I have asked myself at every turn of my theological road: Would Paul be with me in this? What would he say if he were in my shoes? I have never dared to offer a view on anything that I did not have good reason to think he would endorse.
In 1 Corinthians we find the following, addressed it seems to exponents of some kind of antinomian spirituality:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (6:9-11, ESV).
To make sure we grasp what Paul is saying here, I pose some questions.
First: What is Paul talking about in this vice list? Answer: Lifestyles, regular behavior patterns, habits of mind and action. He has in view not single lapses followed by repentance, forgiveness, and greater watchfulness (with God's help) against recurrence, but ways of life in which some of his readers were set, believing that for Christians there was no harm in them.
Second: What is Paul saying about these habits? Answer: They are ways of sin that, if not repented of and forsaken, will keep people out of God's kingdom of salvation. Clearly, self-indulgence and self-service, free from self-discipline and self-denial, is the attitude they express, and a lack of moral discernment lies at their heart.
Third: What is Paul saying about homosexuality? Answer: Those who claim to be Christ's should avoid the practice of same-sex physical connection for orgasm, on the model of heterosexual intercourse. Paul's phrase, "men who practice homosexuality," covers two Greek words for the parties involved in these acts. The first, arsenokoitai, means literally "male-bedders," which seems clear enough. The second, malakoi, is used in many connections to mean "unmanly," "womanish," and "effeminate," and here refers to males matching the woman's part in physical sex.
In this context, in which Paul has used two terms for sexual misbehavior, there is really no room for doubt regarding what he has in mind. He must have known, as Christians today know, that some men are sexually drawn to men rather than women, but he is not speaking of inclinations, only of behavior, what has more recently been called acting out. His point is that Christians need to resist these urges, since acting them out cannot please God and will reveal lethal impenitence. Romans 1:26 shows that Paul would have spoken similarly about lesbian acting out if he had had reason to mention it here.
Fourth: What is Paul saying about the gospel? Answer: Those who, as lost sinners, cast themselves in genuine faith on Christ and so receive the Holy Spirit, as all Christians do (see Gal. 3:2), find transformation through the transaction. They gain cleansing of conscience (the washing of forgiveness), acceptance with God (justification), and strength to resist and not act out the particular temptations they experience (sanctification). As a preacher friend declared to his congregation, "I want you to know that I am a non-practicing adulterer." Thus he testified to receiving strength from God.
With some of the Corinthian Christians, Paul was celebrating the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in heterosexual terms; with others of the Corinthians, today's homosexuals are called to prove, live out, and celebrate the moral empowering of the Holy Spirit in homosexual terms. Another friend, well known to me for 30 years, has lived with homosexual desires all his adult life, but remains a faithful husband and father, sexually chaste, through the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the gospel. He is a model in every way. We are all sexually tempted, one way or another, yet we may all tread the path of chastity through the Spirit's enablement, and thereby please God.

Missing Paul's point


As one who assumes the full seriousness and sincerity of all who take part in today's debates among Christians regarding homosexuality, both in New Westminster and elsewhere, I now must ask: how can anyone miss the force of what Paul says here? There are, I think, two ways in which this happens.
One way, the easier one to deal with, is the way of special exegesis: I mean interpretations that, however possible, are artificial and not natural, but that allow one to say, "What Paul is condemning is not my sort of same-sex union." Whether a line of interpretation is artificial, so constituting misinterpretation, is, I grant, a matter of personal judgment. I do not, however, know how any reasonable person could read Robert A. J. Gagnon's 500-page book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon, 2001), and not conclude that any exegesis evading the clear meaning of Paul is evasive indeed. Nor from now on can I regard anyone as qualified to debate homosexuality who has not come to terms with Gagnon's encyclopedic examination of all the relevant passages and all the exegetical hypotheses concerning them. I have not always agreed with James Barr, but when on the dust jacket he describes Gagnon's treatise as "indispensable even for those who disagree with the author," I think he is absolutely right.
The second way, which is harder to engage, is to let experience judge the Bible. Some moderns, backed by propaganda from campaigners for homosexual equality, and with hearts possessed by the pseudo-Freudian myth that you can hardly be a healthy human without active sexual expression, feel entitled to say: "Our experience is—in other words, we feel—that gay unions are good, so the Bible's prohibitions of gay behavior must be wrong." The natural response is that the Bible is meant to judge our experience rather than the other way around, and that feelings of sexual arousal and attraction, generating a sense of huge significance and need for release in action as they do, cannot be trusted as either a path to wise living or a guide to biblical interpretation. Rhyming the point to make what in my youth was called a grook: the sweet bright fire / of sexual desire / is a dreadful liar. But more must be said than that.

Two views of the Bible


At issue here is a Grand Canyon-wide difference about the nature of the Bible and the way it conveys God's message to modern readers. Two positions challenge each other.
One is the historic Christian belief that through the prophets, the incarnate Son, the apostles, and the writers of canonical Scripture as a body, God has used human language to tell us definitively and transculturally about his ways, his works, his will, and his worship. Furthermore, this revealed truth is grasped by letting the Bible interpret itself to us from within, in the knowledge that the way into God's mind is through that of the writers. Through them, the Holy Spirit who inspired them teaches the church. Finally, one mark of sound biblical insights is that they do not run counter to anything else in the canon.
This is the position of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, and of evangelicals and other conservative Protestants. There are differences on the place of the church in the interpretive process, but all agree that the process itself is essentially as described. I call this the objectivistposition.
The second view applies to Christianity the Enlightenment's trust in human reason, along with the fashionable evolutionary assumption that the present is wiser than the past. It concludes that the world has the wisdom, and the church must play intellectual catch-up in each generation in order to survive. From this standpoint, everything in the Bible becomes relative to the church's evolving insights, which themselves are relative to society's continuing development (nothing stands still), and the Holy Spirit's teaching ministry is to help the faithful see where Bible doctrine shows the cultural limitations of the ancient world and needs adjustment in light of latter-day experience (encounters, interactions, perplexities, states of mind and emotion, and so on). Same-sex unions are one example. This view is scarcely 50 years old, though its antecedents go back much further. I call it the subjectivist position.
In the New Westminster debate, subjectivists say that what is at issue is not the authority of Scripture, but its interpretation. I do not question the sincerity of those who say this, but I have my doubts about their clear-headedness. The subjectivist way of affirming the authority of Scripture, as the source of the teaching that now needs to be adjusted, is precisely a denying of Scripture's authority from the objectivist point of view, and clarity requires us to say so. The relative authority of ancient religious expertise, now to be revamped in our post-Christian, multifaith, evolving Western world, is one view. The absolute authority of God's unchanging utterances, set before us to be learned, believed, and obeyed as the mainstream church has always done, never mind what the world thinks, is the other.
What are represented as different "interpretations" are in fact reflections of what is definitive: in the one view, the doctrinal and moral teaching of Scripture is always final for Christian people; in the other view, it never is. What is definitive for the exponents of that view is not what the Bible says, as such, but what their own minds come up with as they seek to make Bible teaching match the wisdom of the world.
Each view of biblical authority sees the other as false and disastrous, and is sure that the long-term welfare of Christianity requires that the other view be given up and left behind as quickly as possible. The continuing conflict between them, which breaks surface in the disagreement about same-sex unions, is a fight to the death, in which both sides are sure that they have the church's best interests at heart. It is most misleading, indeed crass, to call this disagreement simply a difference about interpretation, of the kind for which Anglican comprehensiveness has always sought to make room.

Spiritual dangers


In addition, major spiritual issues are involved. To bless same-sex unions liturgically is to ask God to bless them and to enrich those who join in them, as is done in marriage ceremonies. This assumes that the relationship, of which the physical bond is an integral part, is intrinsically good and thus, if I may coin a word, blessable, as procreative sexual intercourse within heterosexual marriage is. About this assumption there are three things to say.
First, it entails deviation from the biblical gospel and the historic Christian creed. It distorts the doctrines of creation and sin, claiming that homosexual orientation is good since gay people are made that way, and rejecting the idea that homosexual inclinations are a spiritual disorder, one more sign and fruit of original sin in some people's moral system. It distorts the doctrines of regeneration and sanctification, calling same-sex union a Christian relationship and so affirming what the Bible would call salvation in sin rather than from it.
Second, it threatens destruction to my neighbor. The official proposal said that ministers who, like me, are unwilling to give this blessing should refer gay couples to a minister willing to give it. Would that be pastoral care? Should I not try to help gay people change their behavior, rather than to anchor them in it? Should I not try to help them to the practice of chastity, just as I try to help restless singles and divorcees to the practice of chastity? Do I not want to see them all in the kingdom of God?
Third, it involves the delusion of looking to God—actually asking him—to sanctify sin by blessing what he condemns. This is irresponsible, irreverent, indeed blasphemous, and utterly unacceptable as church policy. How could I do it?

Changing a historical tradition


Finally, a major change in Anglicanism is involved: Writing into a diocesan constitution something that Scripture, canonically interpreted, clearly and unambiguously rejects as sin. This has never been done before, and ought not to be done now.
All the written standards of post-Reformation Anglicanism have been intentionally biblical and catholic. They have been biblical in terms of the historic view of the nature and authority of Scripture. They have been catholic in terms of the historic consensus of the mainstream church.
Many individual eccentricities and variations may have been tolerated in practice. The relatively recent controversial permissions to remarry the divorced and make women presbyters arguably had biblical warrant, though minorities disputed this. In biblical and catholic terms, however, the New Westminster decision writes legitimation of sin into the diocese's constitutional standards.
It categorizes the tolerated abstainers as the awkward squad of eccentrics rather than the mainstream Anglicans that they were before. It is thus a decision that can only be justified in terms of biblical relativism, the novel notion of biblical authority that to my mind is a cuckoo in the Anglican nest and a heresy in its own right. It is a watershed decision for world Anglicanism, for it changes the nature of Anglicanism itself. It has to be reversed.
Luther's response at Worms when he was asked to recant all his writings echoes in my memory, as it has done for more than 50 years.
Unless you prove to me by Scripture and plain reason that I am wrong, I cannot and will not recant. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe [it endangers the soul]. Here I stand. There is nothing else I can do. God help me. Amen.
Conscience is that power of the mind over which we have no power, which binds us to believe what we see to be true and do what we see to be right. Captivity of conscience to the Word of God, that is, to the absolutes of God's authoritative teaching in the Bible, is integral to authentic Christianity.
More words from Luther come to mind.
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point that the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages is where the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
Was the protest in order? Was "no" the right way to vote? Did faithfulness to Christ, and faithful confession of Christ, require it? It seems so. And if so, then our task is to stand fast, watch, pray, and fight for better things: for the true authority of the Bible, for the "true truth" of the gospel, and for the salvation of gay people for whom we care.
J. I. Packer is an executive editor of Christianity Today.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Lazy busy summer time . . .

Not much happens in the church during the lazy months of summer; after all, people need their time off to rest and relax, so church attendance is dismal.

So, an occasional vacation Bible school or two is arranged with a summer camp to get the kids out of their parent’s hair. Ironically, this is about all the Bible these kids get since hockey, and gymnastics, and wrestling, or soccer . . . let’s not forget football, either . . . just about eats up all of their waking hours during the school year, including just a whole lot of time in which they could be getting their homework done.
 
Why such rush? Where are we going in such a crazy speed? Is life really that urgent?


It doesn’t stop when parents ship them off to college, either. Mom and dad keep up the hectic pace to fill in the boredom of the empty nest syndrome. Then really seem surprised when little Johnnie or cute Susie comes home and announces that they have met their significant other and have decided to move in with them to save money. No, they are not going to church while at college, either. Things are tough, you know, with all the studies and other stuff that is going on. Of course, they never get around to defining the “other stuff.”
 
Now, mind you, not all kids are like this, but surprisingly a number are. Good kids, raised in a good Christian home—but, and here is where the rub comes in, not a good Christian environment.
 
Yes, that’s right, not in a good Christian environment. Sporadic table prayers, or occasional church attendance with a home atmosphere that is permeated with a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude backed up with inconsistent discipline will not do the trick. It takes more. Much more.
 
It takes love. Sometimes tough love. But, it also takes commonsense. Sense enough to admit that as a parent you are not perfect. Sense enough to know that only prayer will bring the answer—usually, allowing God to speak to you as a parent with words of wisdom, not necessarily to slay little Johnnie or cute Susie with an on the road to Damascus event. It’s terribly hard to unscramble eggs. In fact, impossible. So, parents should not expect to reverse the head on collision that looms just ahead for the kids unless they are prepared for some major disappointments. Johnnie is just as bull headed as dad was; and Susie can be just as sassy as mom. So, we must keep it in focus that kids are only modeling behavior that they learned, primarily through osmosis. In short, parental example.
 
So, what’s the bottom line?
 
 
There is no bottom line. The game of life is already on. We Christians just need to be smart enough not to play it.
 
Sadly, however, the mania is not confined to America. It has spread around the world. Once idyllic communities of calm and serenity are now caught up in the whirl of modernity, chasing the end of an ever illusive fleeting rainbow. Some find it, only to discover that instead of a pot of gold there is nothing there but a cauldron of festering disappointment and spiritual disillusionment.
 
Church, we need to wake up. Church, we must wake up. We have no choice. Love demands it. The love that took God all the way from Heaven to the Cross. This is the answer. The only answer. Yes, more than ever Christ is the answer.
 
Christ is the answer for the family, the neighborhood, the city, and to an ever increasing concentric circle of peoples around the globe.
 
Thank you for helping us to make our ministry more than just a calling, or a burden for the lost. Thank you for making the Great Commission a reality in and through our lives.


Yours For A Greater End Time Harvest,
P.S. Continue to pray for our ministry in the former Soviet Union and in Southern Asia. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Does The Bible Say About Homosexuality?

Statement/Question: 'Jesus never condemned homosexuality. So, why do you?

Answer: "Well, technically speaking Jesus said he did not come to condemn, but to give life. Jesus himself said,
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)
However, to say that Jesus did not address the homosexual issue is simply not true.

Jesus said, "[that] from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Mark 10:6)


Jesus in this instance points out our biological differences: that is, male and female. Furthermore, he says that a man should cleave to his wife (female). Nowhere does Jesus mention cleaving to someone of the same sex, or that we were created anything but male and female. One’s psyche or sexual preference is not mentioned.

Anti-Homosexuality Related Scriptures

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.  (Leviticus 18:22)

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."  Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, "No, my friends.  Don't do this wicked thing."  (Genesis 19:5-7)

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  (Romans 1:26)

In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  (Romans 1:27)

Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.  (Romans 1:27)

The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it.  Woe to them!  They have brought disaster upon themselves.  (Isaiah 3:9)

We should also keep in focus some other Scriptural comments on sins in general:

For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths.  (Proverbs 5:21)

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.  (1 John 3:6)

Some say they are born gay. Is this true? And if they are born that way is that a sin?

First of all, in response to the question: "Is it a sin to be born and found yourself gay?"

Apparently, some think it is possible, or you would not be asking the question. However, in all honesty, since I am not gay, nor do I have any desire to be gay, I cannot put myself in anyone's shoe that is gay. I have some gay friends; however, I have never really discussed their feelings or why they chose to be gay.

I do know, however, that the Bible says in Genesis 1:26,27,31:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

So, there are a couple of observations that can be made here.

  • One, we are created with Godlike qualities (in His image), so in my opinion that is a high standard.
  • Secondly, God created male and female, and after it was all done, the Scripture says, “God saw all he had made and it was very good.”

From that I gather, God felt that making male and female was good. Now, following that, we are all aware that the Old Testament laws were totally against homosexuality in any form. And, that brings us to the New Testament. The New Testament is also very strongly opposed to homosexuality. Romans chapter one is a good example. Now, I know that some say, “Well, the Bible also condoned slavery, and we don’t practice slavery anymore, so how can we just take the Bible or some preacher’s word on what is right and wrong as far as anything goes(?).”

However, without going into great detail, the New Testament, in my opinion, never condoned slavery. As a matter of fact, in the letter to Philemon, verses 12—16,  Paul says that he is sending a runaway slave by the name of Onesimus back to his owner, Philemon, with these words:

“I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.”
To me, this gesture by the Apostle indicates his true feelings. Firstly, he was against slavery, but totally committed to a nonviolent approach for the abolition of this practice. In other words, as with any morality, it must be voluntary; whether through consent or fear of the law. Goodness originates in the heart, not from a judge’s bench. Furthermore, in this case, a minority of Christians would have been decimated had they taken to arms. Paul did the best he could under the circumstances.

Now, as far as slavery in the Old Testament, we could save ourselves a lot of time arguing about this if we would just substitute the word “bondservant” in place of the word “slave” in most cases. Benjamin Franklin was an indentured servant (i.e., a bond-servant) but he was certainly not a slave in the typical fashion of the practice. There is much more that I could say about this, but since this article is about homosexuality and not slavery, I shall leave that for another time.

So, in conclusion, let me say, to excuse homosexuality activity off as that was the way one was born is certainly at odds with scripture, and, in my opinion, biology. Now, that does not take away the desire, or the complications, I realize. Just to say that something is a sin is not enough. The homosexual must break the hold that sin has on them, and fully commit themselves to Jesus and accept his offer of salvation.

Politically, should gays have the same rights as heterosexuals? I am not a Constitutional lawyer, so I really cannot argue that. However, I personally feel the Scripture is absolutely against homosexual marriages. How that translates into public polity in our egalitarian society is yet to be seen. So, unless our Supreme Court rules otherwise, we are pretty much left up with what our individual States decide on the matter. Right now, every State that has allowed the issue to come up for a vote has come out clearly on the side of the traditional stance of one man to one woman.   

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Has Sex Gone Viral In America?

Has Sex Gone Viral?


I don’t know, but are people more sexually charged than they were say, when I was a young man?

Great day in the morning, it seems that almost everyday some well known figure is accused of sexual harassment. Well, I should be quick to add, not only accused, but in far too many incidences the accusations are actually proven.

Today it is Herman Cain’s 15 minutes of fame. Tomorrow, who knows?

Then there are the cases involving school teachers. Now, we are not just talking about testosteroned charged football coaches talking trash in front of innocent little cheerleaders—no, not on you life—we’re talking about genders of both sexes, male and female. And, they are not just talking trash, they are actually bedding up with students, some as young as 13 and 14 years of age.

Excuse me, but what brought this perversion on?

Well, if you listen closely to what the perpetrators are saying, usually they blame it on an abusive childhood, or a manic depressive disorder, or some other nonsense. Reminds me of the day when Flip Wilson in character as Geraldine used to say, “The Devil made me do it!” At least he didn’t blame his parents or genetics.

Flip, however, was also wrong. It wasn’t the Devil, it was Flip that made him do it.

James wrote a long time ago:

A man must not say when he is tempted, “God is tempting me.” For God has no dealings with evil, and does not himself tempt anyone. No, a man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own inward desires, which can be enormously attractive. His own desire takes hold of him, and that produces sin. And sin in the long run means death—make no mistake about that, brothers of mine! (James 1: 13-16) (J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

Now, let me get quickly to the real issue here. One’s sexuality may be the by-produce of many contributing factors—hormone levels, learned behavior, cultural mores, and a host of other causes; however, in the final analysis individuals hold the lasting responsibility. Unchecked lust is a disaster in wait. Garbage in, garbage out is still a fact. In the words of Scripture, “For as [a man or woman] thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov. 23:7)

Hope you didn’t miss the words “thinks in his heart” because these words are very important. Thinking governs us and in turn society. Flip through any secular magazine, look at a preponderance of advertisements and it is obvious what inspires the average consumer to take a closer look at the product—in a word, sex. Sex sells. Why? The blunt answer is, because modern society's mind is in the gutter.

Hinduism’s Kuma Satra pales in the face of all the trash portrayed in our media where homosexuality, transvestism, transgenderism, polygamous marriages (the list goes on and on) are promoted as an acceptable alternate lifestyle. Morality is no longer an absolute, you can just pick and choose which style you think fits best.

Let’s face it, modern society’s thoughts are all wonky. Why? Because people's hearts are all wrong.

Cases in point. You can’t smoke on television, but you can fornicate. You can’t use the “n” word (and you shouldn’t); but you can defame the name of God. You can’t blow up Brooklyn Bridge (and you shouldn’t); but you can write a book on how you can. Parents can’t stop a minor daughter from getting an abortion, but she generally needs permission to get her ears pierced.

Want more? How about locking up people for smoking pot, unless they bought it at the local pharmacy? Show me any logic in any of that and I will eat my hat.

No wonder our kids are confused.

Do the ungodly have a Constitutional right to pursue that lifestyle? Sure they do, if we can protect the innocent. However, there is where the rub comes in—you can't. So, the question is mute, as far as I am concerned.

So, what am I saying? Simply this: until individuals in society change society by first changing their hearts, we are in for some rough sledding ahead as a nation and as a community of Christians.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are you a "lover" or just a "love bug"?

Fortunately, the Bible gives us a lengthy description of love. It says in 1 Cor 13:4-8 that—

Love is patient:

Love doesn’t throw a tantrum fit when you are late for an appointment and she is still trying to find the mate to the one that she is hobbling around the house on!

Love is kind:

Love doesn’t chew her out when she sideswipes the mail box with your brand new car! She feels bad enough; why make her feel even worse?

It is not jealous:

Love doesn’t get all huffy when she spends more time with the kids than she does with you. Or chats with her sister over the phone while you putter around waiting for her to bring some real excitement into your life.

Love is not pompous:

In other words, you don’t strut around thinking “boy is she lucky that she got such a fine fellow as me!”

Love is not inflated:

Now, I’ve done a lot of thinking about just what this means, and I have come to the conclusion that it means among many things that love does not parade your wife around as some kind of trophy . . . she is not a trophy wife. Inevitably, all trophy wives end up disappointing and even embarrassing their spouses in public at times. That goes for trophy husbands, too! So, not matter how goofy he or she acts, just remember that that may be something to work on behind closed doors when you get home; but when it is all said and done, they are still your husband or wife for life because you love them! Period!

Love is not rude:

And, since love is not rude, just remember that when and if you bark at her, especially in public, it is only a reflection of your nasty behavior.

Love does not seek its own interests:

It has always amazed me how many guys get away with buying boats, and 4 wheelers, motorcycles and red pickup trucks; and still insisting that mama work from 9 to 5, come home clean dirty kids faces, cook dinner, and . . . need I go any farther?

Illus: How well I remember, once on mother’s day, we had a couple over and we had a good meal with ice cream and pie and all the trimmings. So, when it came time to clean up the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher I said, “I am going to volunteer Mr. DoDo here— the lady’s husband— to help me clean up the table and you ladies go sit in the living room and relax. Well, you guessed it. Mr. DoDo would not budge. Even though I repeated the invitation several times as well as did his wife. No, he was the one that retired to a cushy chair and proceeded to read a magazine. Finally the girls chipped in and we finished the job. And, by the way, that is when I named him Mr. DoDo.

Love is not quick-tempered, [nor does] it brood over injury, [nor] does rejoice over wrongdoing [In other words, it doesn’t get a smile on its face when it gets one over on her or him].

It bears all things— puts up with everything.

Love believes all things— yes, she is always telling you the truth, unless circumstances prove differently!

Love, the Bible also says in these verses, hopes all things— in other words; love believes that she will improve with time.

And if she doesn’t, love, the Bible says, endures all things.

Then Paul ends this beautiful passage by saying— Love never fails. (1 Cor 13:4-8)

And, may I assure you that if you live up to these expectations your marriage will never fail either. So, the success or failure of this marriage depends on you as an individual. Make it your task to make it work.

So, although, it is extremely important to marry the right person, it is more important to be the right person. Learn to love. Make that you primary responsibility!

Now, in closing, I would like to give you 4 reasons most people experience misery in their marriage.

According to Erwin Lutzer these 4 reasons are:

1. Unrealistic expectations: Some people think marriage will make them happy.

2. The myth of greener grass: Many are on the slippery slope of "What if…?"

Illustration: Lutzer tells a joke about a visit to a mental institution where two different people are beating their heads against the padded walls—one in misery because he didn't win Linda's love, the other in misery because he did

3. A misunderstanding of the role of conflict: Incompatibility is precisely how we grow.

Illustration: When I was teaching Marriage and Family in the university, I always made it a point to ask the students if their parents ever squabbled, or disagreed openly with one another. Most of the students confessed that they had seen their parents quarrel. One day, a girl from a family of 8, raised her hand and said, “Never!” “Wow!” I said, before I thought. “That’s not a good sign!” Of course, she wanted to know ‘why’. I said, “Because they are not communicating.” 5 years later, unfortunately, the couple divorced, but it did not surprise me. Communication is the key to any good marriage, and is the Bible way of “speaking the truth in love!” (Ephesians 4:15)

4. A failure to distinguish between human love and divine love.



Jesus gives two important statements on love from the Sermon on the Mount.

Statement one: If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?

Human love depends on the person who is loved. We tend to love people who are beautiful and/or have great personality.

Statement two: Love your enemies.

Divine love is based on the lover, so it can love even enemies.

Illustration: A couple asks a pastor to approve their divorce, because there's no feeling left. The pastor tells the husband to love his wife as Christ loved. He says, "I can't do that." The pastor says to love her as he'd love himself. He says he can't. The pastor says, "The Bible says love your enemies. Begin there."

Illustration: A wife tells a lawyer she wants a divorce, and wants to hurt her husband in the process. The lawyer suggests being kind and speaking well of her husband for three months, then drop the bomb, because that'll hurt even more. She follows the lawyer's advice…and the marriage is saved.

When people are hard to love, it's an opportunity for us to grow in Christ. And, this leads me to my favorite verse in Scripture— that is, Romans 8:28

Now, lastly, remember to keep it in focus that the Holy Spirit is the best resource for loving the unlovable.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Some more reflections on growing older . . .


Some more reflections on growing older, and a few other things thrown in for good measure . . .

I've come to the conclusion that friends are friends. You know it almost the minute you meet them. You say to your self, "Now, there is someone I really like."— and you know that they feel the same. So, I don’t waste a lot of time “cultivating” friends. They’re either friends, or they are not friends. I believe in being nice to people, however. But, I do not expect everyone to be my buddy.

Another thing I noticed. I don’t step on bugs as much as I used to when I was a kid. I couldn’t create a little lady bug, or a grasshopper if I wanted to—so, I just admire them. I also marvel at God’s awesomeness in all of His handiwork.

Something else, too. I don’t need to be progressive to be contemporary. Show me a progressive Christian and I show you one that is setting himself up for a good doze of heresy. The Bible is the Bible, and according to the Bible, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)

So, I don’t feel compelled to support the liberal agenda, or play tootsies with others that seem to be hellbent on destroying America. No, I am not an old curmudgeon, either. I just have reached certain conclusions. Now, if you don’t agree. Fine. That is your privilege. But, please give me the same liberty as you demand. Okay?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Same-sex Marriages

Gay marriages are in the news these days. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat who has championed same-sex marriage in the state since taking office in January, held a party in New York City and promised to help push for same-sex couples to be allowed to marry in other states. "Passing this law not only completes the promise that we made to the people of the state during the campaign; it's going to make a real difference in people's lives,"

Mr. Cuomo told reporters at the Dream Downtown Hotel near the meatpacking district, where he hosted a reception for lawmakers and gay rights advocates. "And I don't think this is just about gay people who now choose to get married," the governor added. "This is a statement that we should all feel good about."

A city official married the first couple in New York City to wed under the state's new law allowing same-sex marriage Sunday. Phyllis Siegal, 76, and Connie Kopelov, 84, were married in a chapel at the city clerk's office as a crowd of onlookers cheered.

The two, of New York, have been together for 23 years. Kopelov left the clerk's office in a wheelchair, but used a walker to approach reporters. "Your cheers are wonderful," Siegal told well-wishers outside the office.

She told reporters the experience was "just so amazing. It's the only way I can describe it."

Surprisingly, very few Christians understand or can defend the Biblical stance on this issue.

Many have asked what my position is on the subject. So, perhaps, a blog is the best place to deal with it.
First of all both Old and New Testaments are adamantly opposed to sexual activity between people of the same sex. The scriptures explicitly forbid it.

For starters, just read Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."

And, of course, the New Testament follows though on this theme culminating with Jude 5-7 which reads: "Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day - just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire."

Of course, advocates of same sex marriages are well aware to these verses of scripture, but through a series of contorted hermeneutical maneuvers manage to illogically circumvent these obvious proscriptions. Perhaps, the most ridiculous one is to somehow tie heterosexual marriages with the ancient practice of slavery as an example on how we must change our position on same sex marriages to keep up with the times.

Well, for one thing, marriage between the opposite sexes is not slavery-nor is it, archaic. Furthermore, Jesus recognized the marriage as consummated when the opposite sexes were joined together. To put it bluntly, the puzzle just does not fit in same sex marriages.

Read it for yourself: "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,' and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Matt. 19:4-6

Finally, even reason itself dictates against the practice. It simply is not natural.

I know that some argue that gays are just born that way; but I maintain that the same line of reasoning and argument could be used to condone pedophilia.

Friday, November 19, 2010

These old folks really loved each other . . .


This you have gotta hear.

This old fellar really loves Mama. Danny & Annie Brooklynites Danny, an OTB clerk, and Annie, a nurse, remember their life together—from their first date to Danny's final days with terminal cancer. This remarkable couple personifies the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of every day people if we take the time to listen. Originally an animation in two parts, here you'll see a special version that combines both parts of their story. Just click onto Danny & Annie

Sunday, November 07, 2010

One Final Word, Hopefully, About Polygamy.


When God created Adam, then formed Eve from his DNA as the first woman as a helpmate for him, God pronounced it very good. (Genesis 1: 31) Jesus continues the theme in Matthew 19: 4-6, and says,

“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

He then further clarifies his position with,

“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Now, my question is, “If God had not intended for man to practice monogamy, why then did Jesus add, ‘and [he that] marries another woman commits adultery.’”

The only logical reason is that he was already married, and to marry another woman would be to commit adultery—otherwise, it would not have been adultery. If the polygamous were right, marrying a hundred more wives would not constitute adultery. Just what part of “marries another woman” do the polygamous not get?

Now, furthermore and without going into great detail, since I have already dealt with the issue ad nausea, the usage of New Testament Greek in each of the 8 cases that the word is used in the New Testament clearly indicates the singular—at least the consensus of Greek scholars are committed to that translation of the use of the word μιᾶς as singular, meaning ‘one’ in the context of all 8 instances that the word in that form is used in the New Testament.[1]

So, when Paul continues the theme with his restrictions on plural marriages in his list of qualifications for elders and bishops in 1 Timothy 1: 1-13 and Titus 1: 1-9; why would we consider any other meaning than ‘one’?

1 Timothy 3:2 δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι, μις γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, νηφάλιον σώφρονα κόσμιον φιλόξενον διδακτικόν—which, in English reads: The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching. Note, this is the same word, why make an exception?

Titus 1:6 εἴ τίς ἐστιν ἀνέγκλητος, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἀνήρ, τέκνα ἔχων πιστά, μὴ ἐν κατηγορίᾳ ἀσωτίας ἢ ἀνυπότακτα—which in English reads: “[I]f anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior.” Note, this is the same word, why make an exception?

Let's look at some other examples:

"But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband." - 1 Corinthians 7:2-3 NASB (Contextually, a plurality is not suggested here.)

1 Corinthians chapter 7 discusses marriage and it is always in the context of "wife" (singular) and "husband" (singular). It does not make sense for the singular words to be used, if it is possible to have more than one wife. If it were acceptable to God to have more than one wife, then the word "wives" would have to have been used here. The wording of 1 Corinthians chapter 7 completely excludes the possibility of polygamy, in my opinion—unless, one applies a strange new hermeneutics.

Ephesians chapter 5 (verses 22-33) discuss marriage. Here again we do see the plural "wives" used. However, it is used because Paul is writing to the overall category of husbands and wives.

"Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord." - Ephesians 5:22 NASB

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her," - Ephesians 5:25 NASB

Notice that in verse 23 his message becomes more personal:

"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body." - Ephesians 5:23 NASB

Then I pointed out:

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride [the church] has made herself [not themselves] ready." - Revelation 19:7 NASB

Friend, since none of these indicates a plurality—unless you use an Old Testament polygamous paradigm as your hermeneutical tool. I choose to accept the contextual and New Testament linguistic approach.

Again, since in my opinion, the overwhelming use of the Greek points in the solid direction of monogamy and since we can easily deduct this from the context of the other examples, why should we make the only other exception that of relating to wives? It just does not make sense to me, otherwise.

In times past—as I have mention previously, God winked at such practices but he now calls all men to repentance.

Now, for a brief historical survey, it should be noted that polygamy as a part of Jewish the lifestyle had largely fallen out of practice during New Testament times, due largely some feel because it was proscribed by Roman law. However, it took until the year 1000 CE for the practice to be officially banned in a synod called by Rabbeinu Gershom.

Furthermore, polygamy among Christians in general never gained any significant traction. Christian theologians have bickered among themselves over the issue for centuries; although, polygamous marriages were virtually unheard of in the primitive church or for the first two centuries thereafter—the exception being, of course, that of a polygamous convert who embraced Christianity.

Ideally, it can be argued that monogamy is not only Biblical, but also as the Catholic Church has declared: 

"[P]olygamy is not in accord with the moral law. [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."[2]

If any man is contentious, all I can say, as Paul said, is that we have no other such custom, neither do the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11: 16




[1] As pointed out, the indelible use of the word in the following instance is a prime example of how the word applies in each of these circumstances:

Luke 14:18 καὶ ἤρξαντο ἀπὸ μιᾶς πάντες παραιτεῖσθαι. ὁ πρῶτος εἶπεν αὐτῷ• ἀγρὸν ἠγόρασα καὶ ἔχω ἀνάγκην ἐξελθὼν ἰδεῖν αὐτόν• ἐρωτῶ σε, ἔχε με παρῃτημένον.

They all as one began to make excuses. "The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.’…” Note: “I have bought one field, only—not two or three, only one …”

Luke 17:34 λέγω ὑμῖν, ταύτῃ τῇ νυκτὶ ἔσονται δύο ἐπὶ κλίνης μιᾶς, ὁ εἷς παραλημφθήσεται καὶ ὁ ἕτερος ἀφεθήσεται•

I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed. The one will be taken, and the other will be left. Note: “two in one bed, one taken, one left”

Luke 22:59 καὶ διαστάσης ὡσεὶ ὥρας μιᾶς ἄλλος τις διϊσχυρίζετο λέγων• ἐπ' ἀληθείας καὶ οὗτος μετ' αὐτοῦ ἦν, καὶ γὰρ Γαλιλαῖός ἐστιν.

After about one hour passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, "Truly this man also was with him, for he is a Galilean!"
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “About an hour …”

Acts 24:21 ἢ περὶ μιᾶς ταύτης φωνῆς ἧς ἐκέκραξα ἐν αὐτοῖς ἑστὼς ὅτι περὶ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν ἐγὼ κρίνομαι σήμερον ἐφ' ὑμῶν.

“[U]nless it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, 'Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged before you today!'"
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “I am being judged for one thing only — not two or three, only one!”

Hebrews 12:16 μή τις πόρνος ἢ βέβηλος ὡς Ἠσαῦ, ὃς ἀντὶ βρώσεως μιᾶς ἀπέδετο τὰ πρωτοτόκια ἑαυτοῦ.

[Le]st there be any sexually immoral person, or profane person, like  Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal. "Note: “One meal” not two.
[2]  Catholic Cathechism, para. 2387 April 05, 2009, Vatican website


Friday, October 29, 2010

Monogamy In A New Testament Context

My dear friend, please don’t confuse the issue with the genitive—that’s not the point; the translation and context is, however. So, I have gone over some of what I have written you and hopefully improve the clarity.
 
As I said, there are 8 occurrences of the word μιᾶς in the New Testament. Here they are with their meanings (pay particular attention to the context of each):
 
Luke 14:18 καὶ ρξαντοπ μις πάντες παραιτεσθαι. πρτος επεν ατγρν γόρασα κα χω νάγκην ξελθν δεν ατόν• ρωτ σε, χε με παρτημένον.
 
They all as one began to make excuses. "The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.'
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “I have bought one field, only—not two or three, only one …”
 
Luke 17:34 λέγω ὑμν, ταύτ τ νυκτ σονται δύο π κλίνης μις, ες παραλημφθήσεται κα τερος φεθήσεται•
 
I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed. The one will be taken, and the other will be left.
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “two in one bed, one taken, one left”
 
Luke 22:59 καὶ διαστάσης σε ρας μις λλος τις διϊσχυρίζετο λέγων• π' ληθείας κα οτος μετ' ατο ν, κα γρ Γαλιλαός στιν.
 
After about one hour passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, "Truly this man also was with him, for he is a Galilean!"
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “About an hour …”
Acts 24:21 ἢ περ μις ταύτης φωνς ς κέκραξα ν ατος στς τι περ ναστάσεως νεκρν γ κρίνομαι σήμερον φ' μν.
 
“[U]nless it is for this one thing that I cried standing among them, 'Concerning the resurrection of the dead I am being judged before you today!'"
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “I am being judged for one thing only — not two or three, only one!”
 
Hebrews 12:16 μή τις πόρνος ἢ βέβηλος ς σα, ς ντ βρώσεως μις πέδετο τ πρωτοτόκια αυτο.
 
[Le]st there be any sexually immoral person, or profane person, like
Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal.
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “One meal” not two
1 Timothy 3:2 δεῖ ον τν πίσκοπον νεπίλημπτον εναι, μις γυναικς νδρα, νηφάλιον σώφρονα κόσμιον φιλόξενον διδακτικόν,
 
The overseer therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, modest, hospitable, good at teaching;
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “Same word, why the exception?”
 
Titus 1:6 εἴ τίς στιν νέγκλητος, μιᾶς γυναικς νήρ, τέκνα χων πιστά, μ ν κατηγορί σωτίας νυπότακτα.
 
if anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, who are not accused of loose or unruly behavior.
Adjective: Genitive Singular Feminine
"Note: “Same word, why the exception?”
 
Let's look at some other examples:
 
"But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband." - 1 Corinthians 7:2-3 NASB (Contextually, a plurality is not suggested here.)
 
1 Corinthians chapter 7 discusses marriage and it is always in the context of "wife" (singular) and "husband" (singular). It does not make sense for the singular words to be used, if it is possible to have more than one wife. If it were acceptable to God to have more than one wife, then the word "wives" would have to have been used here. The wording of 1 Corinthians chapter 7 completely excludes the possibility of polygamy, in my opinion—unless, one applies a strange new hermeneutics.
 
Ephesians chapter 5 (verses 22-33) discuss marriage. Here again we do see the plural "wives" used. However, it is used because Paul is writing to the overall category of husbands and wives.
 
"Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord." - Ephesians 5:22 NASB
 
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her," - Ephesians 5:25 NASB
 
Notice that in verse 23 his message becomes more personal:
 
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body." - Ephesians 5:23 NASB
Then I pointed out:
 
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride [the church] has made herself [not themselves] ready." - Revelation 19:7 NASB
 
Friend, since none of these indicates a plurality—unless you choose use an Old Testament polygamous paradigm as your hermeneutical tool. I choose to accept the contextual and New Testament linguistical approach.
 
Again, since in my opinion, the overwhelming use of the Greek points in the solid direction of monogamy and since we can easily deduct this from the context of the other examples, why should we make the only other exception that of relating to wives? It just does not make sense to me. Friend, in times past, God winked at such practices (my words here, not Jesus’ because I know that he was addressing the issue of divorce here) but he now calls all men to repentance.
 
May God bless you,
             
Jim

P.S. And as far as I can determine, the use of the μία form is just as singular, no matter how you slice it as it regards marriage.