Not a Sheep to Another Man’s Ideas/Conclusions

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Merriam Webster dictionary describes contrarian as “a person who takes a contrary position or attitude; specifically :  an investor who buys shares of stock when most others are selling and sells when others are buying” (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contrarian).

One of the most important lessons I learned in college – contrary to what was taught in high school – was to consider an author’s conclusion carefully and then, reach my own.  This maxim has become all the more crystallized throughout the years as I have encountered different situations.

One can disagree for the sake of being disagreeable, or as an honest way to get at the truth.  We have often heard it said that to be a Christian is to be like a salmon, swimming upstream on the river of mainstream ideas.

To be a Christian, to a degree is to be a contrarian.  However, I believe that there is an element to which this idea applies to the river of Christian ideas nowadays.  There are few Christian figures that get my “benefit of the doubt”.  More accurately, there are quite a few Christian figures that I trust instinctively due to their testimony throughout the years (more than likely, you will see their writings referenced in this blog).

Nevertheless, we are all human.  We are all susceptible to selfishness and to manipulation, even of God’s Word for our own benefit (I still remember the well-known and well-liked preacher who stated from the pulpit his desire for society to be ruled by kings as in the Old Testament.  However, he stated that preachers should be the ones to rule not just the church, but society at large.  How convenient!) Churches nowadays are not immune to the same temptation that befall politicians the world over.  If laws are necessary for companies and government agencies to guard against abuses like cronyism, it is because, truly “the heart is deceitfully wicked”.  It is also a wonder that the same measures do not exist in the modern American church.  Many leaders, unfortunately, have fallen to these temptations.  That is why I believe it is important to consider everything in the light of Scripture.

I am by no means a Bible scholar.  Though it is my strong desire to do so someday, I have yet to attend formal Bible education.  For the time being, the only “thing that is needful” for me is what the Bible describes: to sit at the Master’s feet and ask Him to teach me His Word by His Spirit.

That is what this blog will attempt to address whenever a spiritual subject is addressed.  Even well-held Christian notions have to be examined in the light of Scripture.  God’s Word is inerrant.  We are not.  My aim is not so much to teach, as it is to learn.  I am a long way from becoming “like the Bereans” during Paul’s time.  I need discipline and to organize my time better in order to maximize the time I devote to studying the Bible.  However, I have learned not to take anyone’s conclusions and make them my own.  Quite the contrary.

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My contrarian streak stems from a conversation I had with my father at age seven while we waited for Mass to start.  As I sat there, restless, I turned to my dad and stated: “Daddy, I have a question”.  I am sure, by this point, my exasperated father was used to my constant probings on every subject imaginable, but this time it turned out differently.  “Go ahead”, he said somewhat dismissively.  “Daddy, doesn’t the Bible say we are not to bow down to images?”  To which he responded: “That’s right, the Ten Commandments say so”.  His answer to my follow-up question completely changed my view of my father up until that point and of every person in authority since, regardless of their title.  “So if the Bible says ‘not to bow down to images’, what are all these images doing in ‘God’s house’ daddy?”  My dad was stumped.  Thankfully, he did not attempt to answer.  Instead, he left the question hanging in the air allowing the silence to serve as his answer.  And as he did so, I realized: “He doesn’t know!”  How many of today’s religious leaders are like my father and honestly “don’t know” why they worship as they do?  The apostle Paul described the reason and purpose of his life when he wrote “That I may know [Christ] and the power of His resurrection…” (Phil. 3:10).

Let me state here that I do not yet know Him as Paul knew Him when he wrote those words.  But there is a part of me that desires to.  I am thankful for pastors, teachers and ministry leaders who have devoted their gifts to the edification of the Body of Christ.  They deserve honor and respect.  However, this does not mean that I automatically buy anything anyone is selling.  I am thankful for God’s Spirit who does what Jesus said He would do:

1. Remind us of what Jesus taught; and

2. Lead us into all truth (John 16:13).

Why I don’t want to marry my best friend.

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So throughout the years I have read my fair share of relationship books.  Elisabeth Elliot? Big fan.  Joshua Harris? Classic.  But the true inspiration of this post is the predominance of single and formerly single women’s writings on the topic of relationships.  Quite honestly, I am sick and tired of reading about female “experts” on male behavior by virtue of having married one member of the species.  As a sociologist I do not hate to break it to you: a one-person sample is by no means quantitatively significant.  While you may have special insight to your man, that does not mean you have special insight to all of us men.

At this point, many are probably thinking: “What does a single guy know about marriage?” or “He’s possibly just bitter about relationships”.  Gotcha!  As to the first point, let me just say that you are right.  Notice that I will not be making overarching observations, but rather limited ones.  Also, let us not forget that the apostle Paul – who by all accounts was single during his ministry – is the single (double entendre intended) foremost expositor on the issue of marriage in the Bible.  No, I am not comparing myself to Paul in any sense other than to point out that biblically, you cannot just dismiss one man’s observations on the topic of marriage just because he does not personally participate in it.  As to the second objection, well…the jury’s still out on that one.

Today I will be addressing one of our society’s “sacred cows”:

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(Yup, this idea is so ingrained into our collective psyche that it was very easy to find a picture to perfectly frame my argument).

Let me begin by stating my theory that this is an entirely female perspective/expectation on the relationship that spouses must have on wedding day.  Only heaven knows the countless “girl’s night outs” that are filled with conversations revolving around this issue.  By the same token, let me say unequivocally that I have yet to hear a dude make this statement to his buds outside of earshot of his wife.  After all, he would be expected to agree with her if he wants to avoid the doghouse.

Here is my perspective:

Throughout my entire life, the women I meet are immediately categorized as either friend (meaning I am not attracted to her), foe or potential interest (meaning I am attracted to her) which defaults to “friend” status if she is not interested in me.  Lest you think me completely shallow, allow me to provide an example:  During my college years, I was best friends with a very intelligent Colombian woman.  Let’s call her Claudia.  Claudia was funny, proud of her heritage, confident, witty, had a heart for her community and made me feel real comfortable around her. Also, we managed to usually talk for hours on end about a myriad of subjects.  We usually went out dancing in groups, we drank, we partied, etc., etc. Unbeknownst to me, because of our friendship (I know better now), she developed a secret crush on me (though she never showed her cards in college).  Another thing that made us good friends was her uncanny ability to be very open and honest with me.  To wit, one night, during our marathon talk fests, she admitted to being a virgin and having the desire to remain so until marriage.  At the time, I was an agnostic (read: atheist) twenty-something, but I still could not help but respect her decision.  One night, shortly after graduation, while talking on the phone, she revealed her feelings for me.  But that was not all!  Remember that promise she had made to herself?  Well, the years of liberal university education had finally burst through her defenses and she revealed that she was now ready to experience all the carnal pleasures available to her.  The kicker?  She further revealed that she had chosen me to do the honors.  I was shocked!  I literally did not know what to say.  By this point, I had already made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ and would not have compromised my love for Him for a night of passion with her.  However, to be completely honest, her proposition was not even tempting for two reasons.  First, I was not attracted to her “in that way”.  Second, by that point,  she had been solidly planted in my mind’s “friend zone” and like Abraham explained to the rich man who requested a drop of water from Lazarus’ finger “No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’” (Luke 19:26, NLT)

Herein lies yet another difference in the male and female psyche: Whereas there are countless examples where women initially considered the person they eventually married “just a friend”, the same cannot be said of men, at least not in terms of frequency.  Is it because the notion of marrying your best friend is more romantic and therefore more accepted by our society’s female population?

I believe that Claudia’s example is instructive to my topic: In her eyes, what better person to become intimate with for the first time than someone she had already developed a strong friendship with?  In my eyes, however, quite the opposite was true.  Precisely because we were good friends, I did not wish to complicate and risk our friendship.  If you have seen the movie Friends With Benefits, you know what I am referring to.

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I cannot speak for all men, but as for me, as I stated earlier, I am either not attracted to a woman (which means we can become great friends) or I am attracted to a woman and my goal is to exit the dreaded “friend zone” ASAP.

I can also attest to instances where even though I am attracted to someone, our personalities did not mesh (or timing was not right) thereby rendering the attraction null and void.

I think I understand women’s desire to “marry their best friend” given their higher threshold for nurturing relationships.  I also do not doubt that your spouse becomes your best friend over time, as you both experience and conquer different obstacles together.  But seemingly everyone marrying their best friend at the time of their wedding?  Seriously?  Ask yourself, what beaming young bride has not said those words to her friends?  Now, ask the same of question of men, and all you will hear is the sound of crickets chirping in the night.

Again, I am attempting to explain why that notion sounds so foreign to my male ears.  Marrying my best friend would be the equivalent of marrying my sister (Ew, gross!), because that is exactly what female friends become in my eyes.  In my mind, they morph into not just my spiritual, but also my natural sisters.

Do I look forward to becoming best friends with my future wife someday?  Sure, the concept is not completely foreign to me.  But again, I consider that as something that develops over time and certainly not a requirement for the marriage ceremony.

Whereas women seemingly want to be married to their best friend, young men the world over are on a continual quest to escape the dreaded “friend zone”.  Think about it, a groom escapes the “friend zone” in order to become a husband, but in doing so he becomes the bride’s “best friend”?  Weird.  Meanwhile, men seek to become “more than friends” with the young lady that has captured their hearts.

What is your take on this?

Are you married to your “best friend”?  If so, I would love to hear from you.

Just please know this:  Of course, saying that you are married to your best friend is like hindsight.  It’s 20/20.  It is what is expected.  It is the married person’s equivalent of your parents saying: “I love all my kids equally”.  If you grew up with siblings who were your parents’ favorites, you know that it is not a true statement.

To conclude, on my wedding night, I would not want to be met with my sister.  I would like to be met with my bride.

 

 

Introduction (more like “Disclosure Statement”).

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  With the plethora of reading material available in the blogosphere, I would like to provide a perspective not often heard from or even inquired.  I am not looking to blow up like Stuff Christians Like or other similar Christian sites already available.  I am not quite that funny.

To start, let me just state that the writings that follow are ONE man’s perspective on culture, relationships, society, politics and really, whatever strike my fancy.  Oh, and I happen to be Christian, so there may be even a Bible reference here and there or the occasional Bible study.  I also graduated with a degree in Sociology.  It was the subject that successfully captured my inquisitive nature in college.  In a sense, I have been trained to make observations, to notice trends, to study the behavior of large groups and subcultures, to research and to ponder on the significance of what I observe in the world around me.  Like journalists, there is no “hallowed ground”, no area a sociologists considers “taboo” not to study.  In fact, it is precisely those places that holds the most curiosity for people like me.  Translation: I will make perhaps uncomfortable observations about the church (myself included).

Since I am uncharacteristically releasing these stream of thoughts through my Facebook family, most of you will be familiar with the initial, seemingly random thoughts that I share on my status updates.  However, this blog represents the perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper into some of those topics.

Having said all this, let me make one guarantee:  You will disagree with some, if not most of the things I will state on this forum.  This is after all my perspective on the topics that are tackled and I do not expect other people to experience life through my eyes.  Nevertheless, I am not the type of person who shies away from controversy or debate.  I attended law school, and one of the lessons I learned during my short time there is that probing questions have an uncanny way to get at the truth.  My purpose is to get at the heart of an issue.  Debate helps to synthesize my own thoughts and ideas about the topic at hand.

I welcome you as you take this journey with me.