The Meaning of Marriage… Licenses.

A few weeks ago, my fiance Amanda and I got our wedding license. We’re getting married on October 18. Of all the surprises in that process, though, the biggest was me breaking down crying in the middle of this Chester County Courthouse office while signing papers. It took me a little bit to figure out why I was so emotional, and what was going on inside of me. But here it is. 

First and foremost, I love this woman. I’ve known this. But (especially if you know some of my story) it was so powerful and surreal to see another human being willingly and joyfully sign on the dotted line to actually spend their life with me.

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“Rick & Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage” by Rick Burgess & Bill Bussey [REVIEW]

There are absolutely no surprises in this book, Rick and Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage by Rick Burgess & Bill Bussey. Look at the cover. Read the description. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself.

In short, if you’re the middle-‘Murica, somewhat Christian-y, suburban white person this is geared towards (who’s likely the exclusive group that reads this kind of Christian bookstore fodder), you’ll probably enjoy it. But not because you will learn anything. Not because you will grow. Not because there’s anything of substance or depth here. Just dad jokes and dad stories about how gosh-darn knuckleheaded these guys are, how hot their wives are, and how (gasp!) marriage is hard and requires communication and love. 

Along the way to those profound insights are the kind of conservative cultural Christian Evangelical tropes one expects from silly books like this. “Culture” is evil and bad and waiting to suck the Jesus out of you. Women should submit to their husbands and husbands should lead their families (“but not because we’re misogynists! We’re the first tell you our wives are far more capable than we are! It’s just because the Bible says!”). Keep God at the center of your life. Try to eat and be healthy, but also make fun of how obese you are. 

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How Christians can read Old Testament horror | Genesis 34.25-31

On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. And the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”
Genesis 34:25-31

On one hand, I am glad that the story does not leave itself as a justification of this woman’s rape as long as the individuals were circumcised (as the verses before this segment seemed to suggest–it was a ploy to trick the rapists into being in pain). On the other hand, the other women in the story, the wives of the men killed, are not treated much better (although admittedly, it doesn’t seem like Jacob’s sons rape them like Dinah was raped).

Okay, so what can Christians pull from this story? Mainly, we should be shocked that these people are “the circumcised”. These are the covenantal people. They have the covenant of God carved into their bodies. And yet, they receive the full judgement of God. They did not escape judgement. In fact, they perhaps received a harsher one than most other people in the Old Testament. I don’t think ancient Israelites would have taken circumcision so lightly as to just chuckle at that having been a deceitful turn that the sons of Jacob did. Rather I think they would have taken it very seriously that this people were a circumcised people that God’s people destroyed.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

When morning came, it was Leah | Genesis 29:25

When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”
Genesis 29.25

I can’t remember who told me, nor can I remember what pastor they were quoting (I think it was Tim Keller), but this verse is a pretty powerful one. We all go into marriage thinking we are marrying a “Rachel”, but in the morning, it is always a “Leah”.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

You marry a family | Genesis 29.13-14

When Laban heard the news about his sister’s son Jacob, he ran to meet him; he embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

Genesis 29.13-14

Well isn’t this interesting? Rachel’s father says the same the marital vows to Jacob that Adam said to Eve. It just goes to show you that marrying one person is, quite literally, marrying their family. This is what covenant is. Think of the implications for church life as well. When someone joins the church they’re joining the entire family. This is why it is so deeply flawed to see Baptism as one’s individual “public declaration”. It is the marital vows of God and his family toward us that bring us into the family.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Two of my best friends got engaged this weekend. This is a very good thing.


[Appropriately, this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is the topic “Companionable“. I could think of no better picture to post and story to tell than this.]

That there is a picture of David and Elizabeth Jane. (They’re in the process of converting to the Orthodox family of the Church, where the ring is on the right hand.)

David here is my oldest friend. Being bad at keeping friends that don’t live near me, this means that our friendship is about five-and-a-half years old. Not a crazy long time, I know. But for what we lack on the front-end duration of our friendship, we definitely make up for it in our desire to stay friends for decades to come.

We’ve seen each other through spiritual darkness, relational pain, and dramatic theological changes. He’s an amazing drywaller, photographer, writer, farmer (as of recently), and general human being.

And he got engaged to an incredible woman this weekend.
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“Sleeping Alone”: for all those hurting in their singleness…

My good (online) friend Lore Ferguson (for whose site I recently guest-posted) just had an old post of her’s published on the site The High Calling. It’s called “Sleeping Alone” and it’s some of her meditations on the sustaining life of God in her singleness.

And wow, is it amazing. It’s raw, honest, unflinching, and gracious. Read it right now and then come back here. Here’s an excerpt:

Singleness is a beautiful thing and when I take account of the past decade I see a faithfulness to its beauty in my life in a way that only comes from grace, but I also see a succession of tiny funerals every step of the way. A cemetery full of them. Adventures I have had alone. Mornings I have woken alone. Moments I have reveled in alone. Each one bringing joy in its experience and mourning in its completion.

Life is meant to be shared and marriage is not the only way to share life, I know this, but the mystery of two flesh becoming one is a mingling that cannot be known by me, with my bed all to myself, 400 thread count sheets, open window, and quiet morning. And I mourn this.

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The Best Wedding Scripture Reading Ever (Marriage Blessings, Andrew & Laura!)

One of my dearest friends got married two weeks ago. He had originally asked me to do this Scripture Reading at the wedding. But unfortunately, the drive from Philly to Newark, Ohio is a long one, and many variables can make for much delay, and indeed, this is what happened. Anyway, to add to the pain of this loss, this particular set of Scriptures that I was going to have the honor of reading just happens to be the best set of Scripture readings I’ve ever encountered for a wedding. No Song of Solomon or 1 Corinthians 13 here; just a proper and exegetically sound exploration of the sweeping story of God’s relationship with his own Bride, the Church. Therefore, I felt compelled to share these verses with you today.

Andrew and Laura, I pray that this feeble attempt at publicly participating in the celebration of your union communicates the love and grace of our Lord to your hearts.  May it bless you.

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An Amazingly Thoughtful Discussion on Gay Marriage

Thanks to David Sessions, the editor of Patrol Magazine for bringing this all to our attention.

Now, I have remained in the closet for much of this discussion (forgive the pun), though I have spoken of this in-person with others, with varying reactions. For a myriad of reasons, it’s generally wiser to controvert into a half-empty coffee cup or beer pint than it is to do so on the web. But nevertheless, this is a charged issue that demands response, both public and private, from those that have (hopefully) given it deep and communal thought, allowing both time and others to help refine and nuance one’s opinions. I hope I may be so bold as to include myself in those numbers.


For now, I’m still figuring it out, and discussions like the one I want to bring to your attention today both clarify and confuse the issue for me.  I find myself agreeing with each article you will find below; a similar reaction Sessions has eloquently articulated in his Patrol article.  I appreciate his public candor and can easily relate.

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On Christian Books & Marriage (and a great 48-hour book sale)

trippI’m not married.  I don’t even see it on the imminent horizon for myself. But it’s something I’ve waited for, have tried to prepare myself for, and have written my fair share of poetry about throughout the years (here’s a sampling of my passion for it, my confusion about it, my fears about it, and my desire for it).  The Westminster Bookstore is having a 48 hour sale ending at 3pm on Friday, April 16th.

There are two books that this sale affects, but there are three books I’m mainly talking about in this post, so don’t stop reading until I get to the third.  The main book being promoted in this sale here is Paul Tripp‘s new book, What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage.  The second book is not a new one, but it is one of WTSbooks’ “favorite books on marriage”, and that is John Piper‘s This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.

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John Piper on Porn, Wives, & Marriage

I try not to bash pastors that I know have good intentions.  Those pastors that have demonstrated a desire to be biblically sound and pastorally sensitive, usually get the benefit of the doubt from me, even when I don’t think they are at the moment being biblically sound and pastorally sensitive.  I also know that well-known pastors probably get far more useless and inane criticism from young twenty-somethings that think they know everything (myself included, far more often than I’d like to admit).  But this went a bit too far.  Tonight, John Piper put up the following tweet:


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“On Fuel & Family, and the Costs Thereof” (a poem)

The cell burns from within the pocket
As the needle caresses the crimson “E.”
Justice questioned of the Almighty God
Over inevitability.

Car slows down, it’s time again
To press the speed dial “8;”
Re-bridging two worlds, renewing the scab-
Mom thinks all too late.

The red of the nylon vivid in hue
Tied to the basement rafter;
The blue of the note written on the washer
Heralding the hereafter;

The white of the face of dear old dad
Before kicking the chair from under him;
The brown of the sheriff ,came just in time,
To ring the bell and blunder him.

The images haunt the every thought
As gas necessitates the call
$2, $2.07, $2.75, $3
Causes this one to fall

Back to memories of screams and fights,
Of baseball bats and tears.
OPEC forces one still a child
To confront his darkest years

First once a month, then once a week,
Now once every couple of days.
Mileage doesn’t mean so much
anymore. . . .

Crude incites cruel making distance hit home

The sins of the father.
All he’s good at – selfish ways.
Never really seeking the God of this earth
The only thing to save him.

Laying down a family at the altar of his god:
His excuse, his past, his illness, his, his his
Never hers
When she’s deserved it all.

One desires not to talk about it, one never does. Living away, detached from the reality, still hurting.

Pain. Pain. Pain. Tears of pain, fulfilling a role one never meant to fulfill:
surrogate husband to a broken mother.

Making a man of the child but still hurting her in the process.
Just . . . don’t . . . know . . .

Satisfaction and faith in Almighty God
Restores order to it all.
My only real Daddy in this entire world,
No matter “what” I have to call.

One strange paradox defining my world:
Joy, satisfaction, abundant life!!
Amidst all the pain of family hurt –
The constant signs of strife.

Provision not the source of belief,
Rather a recent application.
The value I hold, for my Lord, my God;
Mirrors the gas price of this nation. . .

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