Posts tagged ‘definition’

May 8, 2012

Marriage Debate

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lel4nd/6168801346/

I don’t usually blog about stuff that is controversial or things that people can possibly disagree with me on, but today I am going to. In my neighbor state of North Carolina they are voting on an amendment to the state constitution that will make marriage between a man and a woman the only legal and recognized form of marriage. It has been very interesting to listen to the talk about this issue. Some people get all freaked out about it and the arguments are often to the point of being ridiculous and even funny. My favorite is the one that says, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. How silly is that? We all know that Steve was not created until after Jesus walked on water.
I figure that sometime between now and the end of the week I will get asked what my opinion is about this, so I am jumping ahead of the game and putting out my blog before I am even asked.
My opinion is just that, an opinion. I am not the final authority, although I should be. Things would just be so much easier if everyone agreed with me. My opinion is not really an opinion but rather a question. What has been the definition of marriage for as long as there have been marriages? Merrian-Webster Dictionary has given this definition for as long as it has been in print: the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. There is a 2nd definition that includes same-sex marriage, but it was added within the last 30 years or so. There was a time when no one would ever think of marriage any other way. For thousands of years that is what marriage was. If two people lived together, as lovers, that did not mean they were married. In some states there was a provision under the law called common law marriage, so that people who shared an estate for many years had certain rights, but it was not an official marriage to those people. Why do we need to change the definition? Perhaps there should be another descriptive word for same-sex couples who legally or ceremonially join as a couple.
If we change the definition of marriage because someone doesn’t like what it means, where do you draw the line? The definition of a word that is as old as marriage should not offend people. It was never meant to. I don’t like the word bald meaning no hair, so I think I want it to mean I have hair. Change the definition and I am still bald.
The real argument is not about a definition, but about civil rights afforded to two people who live together. Why not just change that law instead of the definition of the institution of marriage? I could care less if that happens. But we all know that it goes deeper than that. Marriage is something that most people relate to a religious argument. The only religion that I have personal knowledge of and its teaching about marriage is Christianity and from what I understand, it too describes marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Many of the laws in most civilized countries have a religious foundation, including murder and stealing. But many laws have no religious bearing what so ever. Traffic laws for instance have nothing to do with a religious teaching at all. They are made by man for man (and women).
My point is this. If people of the same-sex want to be legally equal in the benefits and rights given to a couple of opposite sex, then make a law to give those rights. Don’t change the meaning of marriage. It has meant one thing for far longer than this modern argument has been going on. Our country has a system in place to help those who are overlooked, by-passed, or even purposefully mistreated. Legislators can amend constitutions and correct injustice, but it doesn’t have to be done by changing a definition. We did not change the definition of slavery to free those who were wronged, we changed the law. A slave is still someone who is owned and controlled by another human.
So that is my blog on the controversial subject being voted on in my neighboring state. Remember that I said that it would be better if everyone agreed with me. Don’t make things difficult, just agree. And by agree, I mean, think like me, act like me, be like me. Later I may try to come up with a word that we can use for same-sex unions that I like. Until then, I will only use marriage to describe a man and a woman, legally able to file taxes as married people. Don’t be hatin’; its my blog.

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November 8, 2011

Faith and Doubt

by pastortimfowler

If only it were easy to have great faith and never doubt. I was asked to blog about these so let’s see how it goes. First let me give a non-biblical definition of the two words. from our old friend, Webster’s.
Faith- a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
Doubt- a : to lack confidence in : distrust <find myself doubting him even when I know that he is honest — H. L. Mencken> b : to consider unlikely <I doubt if I can go>
Humans are sinful creatures by nature and sin causes a separation from God. That in turn causes a trust issue, or our faith is challenged and doubt kicks in. When humans look at something or someone, it is very easy for us to pick out their faults. If you put a small dot in the middle of a sheet of white paper and ask people what they see, they will automatically be focus on the small dot and not pay any attention to the large amount of unblemished paper. We look at our kids report cards and see a “C” when the rest of the grades are “A’s” and “B’s”. We look at our spouse not putting the lid on the toothpaste but overlook the years of providing for the family. So keeping in stride with that, we want to look at God and see flaws because things aren’t going our way, and we forget that there are no flaws in God. We are flawed, due to sin.
It is hard to trust someone who thinks that they are better than you. We want to “show them”. But God does not think that He is better than us, He is better than us. He made us and knows us and most importantly, He loves us. There is nothing that He asks us to do that will not be the best for us, even if we don’t understand it. That is where faith and doubt collide.
Doubt is that lack of confidence in God. The “I don’t understand” factor. Doubt says “me” when faith says “God”. We often doubt things that we are new at or are learning about. A child doubts that he can read a book, but loving parents encourage and help the child to overcome doubt with confidence. A teen doubts that they will pass the driver’s license test, but loving parents encourage and teach. Soon we are reading without thinking about it and driving while texting. We now have turned our doubts into faith.
Faith is not some mystical characteristic that only Moses and Jesus had. Faith is trust. The more you do what God says and see that the outcome is what He promised, the more our faith is built. I learned to ride a bike when I was 4 years old. For a while, I doubted my ability to not crash. As years went by and crashes did happen, I had more and more faith in my ability to avoid the crashes. Last year I got a bike and decided to ride it. I had not been on a bike for years, but my faith in my ability to ride was there because I had ridden a bike so many times before.
Like everything else that we do in life, our Christian faith must be something that grows with experience. We must start out with the basics and we must learn to trust God and resist allowing our doubts to scare us away from ever trusting Him. I could have easily never ridden a bike again after my first crash. Doubt could have said that I would never ride without getting hurt. But encouragement from those who had ridden kept me moving towards my faith in the bike. That is the important thing about church and being around other believers who are more mature and will encourage us when we have those moments of doubt. Having someone there to point us back to the fact that God loves us and has our best interest at heart is a major factor in building our faith. Faith never starts out strong in anything that we do. For some reason we freak out when our Christian faith waivers. But we shouldn’t.
God loves us unconditionally. He is our Father in Heaven and is very patient with our doubts and fears. He has given us His word that He will never leave us and never disown us. Having faith in that is a great place to gain confidence. God knows that we are sinful. He allowed Jesus to take our penalty for us so that we could have His forgiveness and unfailing love.
Our first battle with faith and doubt is all about salvation. When you are confident in your salvation, you can begin to be confident in other things of God. That is why God made salvation simple and totally of His doing, not our own. That way our doubts don’t screw it up. Never forget this verse when it comes to faith:

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.
Be patient as your faith grows and before you know it, you will be doing whatever God asks, no doubt. I am not sure if this will make as much sense to you as it did to me, but my old pastor told me this: Doubt your doubts, not your beliefs.