The Pope between a Rock and a Hard Place

Shortly after he ascended the papal chair, Pope Benedict XVI declared that one of his goals was to re-Christianize a secular Europe. If anyone has had the know-how for the project, it is surely he. But it looks like it’s going to be a long haul. After chastising the American bishops for their irresponsible handling of sexual abuse cases among the clergy in 2008, he has to tackle the scandal here. First in Ireland, then Holland, then Austria, and now in the pope’s homeland of Germany, the storm has broken out anew. It is only a question of time when charges against clergy will be brought forward in another country. Benedict responded firmly in Ireland, and has begun to do so in Germany. The church has enacted a thorough investigation. Sexual abuse of young people is most reprehensible, as is its cover-up, the pope has declared. He is “thoroughly ashamed” of what has happened in both countries.

From the outset Benedict XVI has been a tough cop on dealing with sex offenders in the priestly office. The case against Archbishop Sean Brady of Ireland—not for sex offense, but for cover up—is particularly damning. Do not expect Benedict to encourage his tenure in office. Though some want to pin blame on the pope himself for knowingly keeping sinning priests in office, finding hard evidence for that charge is unlikely.

2423 reads

Book Review - 7 Reasons Why God Created Marriage

Image of Seven Reasons Why God Created Marriage
by James Ford Jr. Jr.
Lift Every Voice 2009
Paperback 240

In The Seven Reasons God Created Marriage,  James Ford, senior pastor of Christ Bible Church in Chicago, aims to provide a blueprint for couples, especially those contemplating marriage. Pastor Ford brings a rich background of pastoral experience and marriage and family counseling to the writer’s table. He teaches that couples must understand why God created marriage before they can have the joy at home that God intended. He writes, “To be specific, marriage was created for the partners to share the following with each other: the pattern of the Trinity, partnership, perfecting, procreation, pleasure, purity, and the picture of Christ” (p. 16). It is upon these seven reasons that the book is structured.

Foundationally, Ford wants the reader to understand that following the pattern of the Trinity in the home is the key reason for marriage. He repeatedly explains how fulfilling one of these seven purposes fulfills God’s larger purpose of picturing the Trinity in marriage. For example, on the subject of procreation Ford states, “My point is, as the leader of your home, God helps us to prosper when we do it His way; but it’s up to every individual to allow Him to be your leader. If you follow the blueprint of the Trinity that is laid out for you, you and your family will be blessed of the Lord, living in peace and prosperity” (p. 132).

Ford redirects the reader to this foundational reason for marriage in similar ways in every chapter. He ends the book by presenting the other foundational reason for marriage—picturing Christ—then explains how this final reason completes God’s desire for marriage.

2766 reads

Divorced Couple Litigates over Child's Religion

She’s Jewish. He’s Catholic.
“After the surprise [Roman Catholic ] baptism, Rebecca got a Circuit Court judge to take the unusual step of temporarily barring Joseph from exposing their child to any religion other than Judaism on the grounds it could cause ‘irreparable harm.’ But Joseph defied the order by taking his daughter to Mass—with a television news crew in tow.”

475 reads

19 Brides and Grooms, 19 Cakes, One Ceremony

Pastor’s challenge yields mass nuptials

[The Pastor ] challenged singles in the audience who are living together but not married. He invited them to meet with him after church to discuss honoring God by getting married. He said the church and volunteers would pay all expenses – which he said totaled just under $10,000, about $500 per couple. Forty couples responded; 19 completed counseling and will marry Sunday.

4677 reads

Book Review - Just How Married Do You Want to Be?

Paperback, 178 pages
IVP Books (September 2008)
ISBN-10: 0830833935
ISBN-13: 978-0830833931

Jim and Sarah Sumner knew from the start of their relationship that they were an unlikely match. A former male stripper and the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School were just not meant to be together—or so many people thought. But twelve years (and many counseling sessions) later, Jim and Sarah are still married, minister beside each other, and have recently released a book together. Just How Married Do You Want to Be? is the theology and story of how they’re overcoming massive differences to become one in Christ.

As the subtitle, “Practicing Oneness in Marriage,” suggests, their book aims to move beyond the classic stereotypes that characterize most Christian marriages. Instead of discussing gender roles within marriage, the Sumners focus on the biblical concept of “one flesh” union and its resulting implications. This approach allows them to attempt a middle road between the complementarian/egalitarian debate that has been raging in broader evangelicalism.

Theological Shift

Because the Sumners are attempting to establish what they term a “new paradigm,” a significant portion of the book is given to a theological overview of the concept of headship, especially as it is expressed in the head/body metaphor of Ephesians 5:22-33. In these chapters, they contribute an interesting, if somewhat novel, perspective to the current discussion. Rather than emphasizing hierarchy, the Sumners argue that the headship imagery of Ephesians 5 is primarily teaching the intrinsic “oneness” of a married couple.

3804 reads

"Recovery of a biblical understanding of marriage and family is itself a witness to the gospel and to the grace and mercy of God in giving humanity these good gifts."

Al Mohler evaluates God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Kostenberger & Jones.

380 reads

Marital Loyalty

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections. It appears here verbatim.

The following caption in Sunday’s newspaper caught my attention: Old-fashioned, long-lasting marriage is suddenly trendy. In the article that followed, Baltimore Sun columnist, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, presented evidence of a trend toward marital commitment among pop-culture icons.

Tan noted, for instance, that actor Brad Pitt was voted “2000’s Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine. Indicating a shift in cultural perspective, Pitt attained this distinction not as an eligible bachelor but as newly-wed to Jennifer Aniston. One of Pitt’s female co-stars expressed the new perspective this way: “There’s something gorgeous about his commitment” (Star Tribune, January 21, 2001).

Beyond the popular scene (which seems to change with each wind that blows), there is mounting evidence of a broad-scale interest in marriage. Sociologists are discovering in their research what popular authors are beginning to declare in writing: marriage commitment is on the rise.

980 reads