Marriage is God's Design

Recently, while watching the news, I learned of a Catholic priest who's currently in hot water for being involved in a heterosexual relationship. The steamy photos of him lying on the beach with his "secret" love, and ultimately agreeing to public interviews, reminded me of the imperfections of man-made laws in the Church. Cautiously, I was glad to hear that this man-of-the-cloth, who presumably has dedicated his life of servanthood to the Lord, is choosing to own up to his "impropriety." If a blind study was done, many might be surprised at the number of priests who have fathered children through the years. Or maybe adult reasoning would prevent them from being shocked. On hearing of this tabloid-style news, I was reminded instantly of the book of Genesis, and God putting Adam to sleep, for the deliberate purpose of creating Eve; simply because He, in His infinite wisdom, knew that it would not be good for man to be alone (2:20-25). On the other hand, in the New Testament, (1Corinthians 7:1) Paul stated that he believed it was better to be single and celibate than to marry, because this state potentially frees one to be focused on the desires of God and not the cares of (hu-) man. He is quick to admonish, though, that it is far better to marry than to burn with adulterous passion for another. In some instances, being responsible for self is a lot easier than being responsible for another plus children. But we must be reminded, that we weren't put on this planet for the easiest path; but with God's plan and purpose aligning our lives foremost. Most times, this pursuit includes taking the journey with someone. For most adults this would be a spouse. And so, back to the topic at hand, the priest caught in this quandary reminds me of an ongoing view I have, that the Catholic Church should either rewrite its statutes or have a separate branch on the vine (denomination) for "liberal" Catholics. Blatantly overruling God by forcing one to deny natural urges in a proper context (marriage) can never be a good thing. I'd much rather have a healthy, heterosexual male priest who chooses a spouse (for life); and honors God by procreating, than one who stands in the pulpit preaching the Holy Word, knowing in his conscience, he has harmed one of God's precious little children. Sadly, pedophilia is a dirty little secret in too many churches of all denominations. If just one church is guilty of shielding this predatory perpetrator, that's one too many! And so, if in the beginning, God ordained marriage as a good thing, and totally natural, as an obvious attempt to circumvent adulterous behaviors, then it must be for the good of mankind! A man should not be denied his innate calling to be a minister of God's Word; nor should he have to deny his innate desire to have a normal heterosexual relationship with his spouse. He should not be denied children, when God's Word explicitly says, "Happy is the man who has a quiver full." The Catholic Church has a lot of positives. Unfortunately its negatives are so skewed that it casts an ominous, dark cloud that can't be ignored. Because churches are managed by humans, none are perfect. But a Church should NEVER be allowed to overrule God's Divine Order. And sadly, that's exactly what occurs when one is allowed to rewrite or redesign God's original plan. I'm obviously for heterosexual priests having the right to marry, if God has called them to this ministry. I support this view, even if it ultimately requires them to walk away from the priesthood. But, if I'm not mistaken, priests make vows to stay celibate before God; just as a couple takes marriage vows. There is a covenant involved; which gets complicated. Because I am not God; thus, certainly in no position to judge, I think the far more honorable thing to do would be to denounce man's position on this matter and honor God by praying to do whatever it takes to make right, this apparent wrong. This is perhaps a primary reason why the Catholic Church is always faced with a dire shortage of priests. I'm certain there are many gifted men who are called by God to preach; but are stymied at the thought of not being able to take a wife and have children. Unfortunately this leaves a gaping hole for Sodom and Gomorrah-types to be ordained. According to God's Word, homosexuality and even moreso, causing harm to His innocent and vulnerable children, are far greater abominations to Him; than a man who comes to his senses and realizes that obedience to God's Word is far more important than a law orchestrated by man. So to the priest on the beach, it's time to make a decision. It's obvious that you've failed at being perfect before God. Join the crowd of souls who in our best efforts fall short. That's why as Christians, we are sinners saved by the grace of Jesus' dying on the Cross. There comes a time in everyone's life when they realize that wrong, no matter how right it seems, will ever be so. It's at that point of recognition that steps have to be made toward the direction of the right path. From the beginning, God gave man natural urges. He even made a woman, with interests, so that these urges could be filled. To remain a priest, and superficially honor man's laws, and stay in the closet, or worse yet openly on the beach, is a greater disservice to the Christian walk; than admitting that in one's humanness, he failed God, by taking a vow that God probably never intended him to make. The Bible talks about a handful of people who have no desires for sex. They are extremwly rare, and actually have the name of enochs. On behalf of all males who are Catholic and feeling a call to the priesthood; while simultaneously hearing a call to marriage; the most noble thing to do would be obey the latter; and resolve to becoming a church deacon while starting a crusade for the laws from Rome to be more aligned with God's Word. For too long, the priesthood has been a "safe" place for persons with unhealthy sexual issues to flock to. I haven't kept up with this particular story; but, I'm hoping and praying that the priest involved in this latest affair will do the right thing. Only he knows in his spirit what God has breathed in him to do. Thank God for forgiveness and the Holy Spirit! There's a lot more shame in living a lie before God; than admitting your mistake and moving forward. And in closing, on behalf of the majority of priests and nuns who are honoring their vows, Praise GOD! And on behalf of those who after years of service realize that in their wholeness they have need of a spouse; and courageously make the difficult task of walking away to pursue that life, Godspeed. The bottom line is: God gave man His most compatible design when He made woman. And man should never be denied anything God has called good!

NOTE: Since the initial draft of this article, a study out of Ireland has revealed more heinous acts done "behind the scenes" by persons who should be among the most trusted, in a place that should be among the safest on earth.


Wedding Bell Blues Across America

Weddings can be expensive; emphasis on can. The good thing is that the amount of money spent on a wedding is a choice that the two primary people involved should make. The primary individuals being referred to here are the prospective bride and groom. Everyone else must remember that they have had, or will have, their day. I've noted in previous writings that I have several twenty-something daughters. Only one of them is by birth; the others are young women who have crossed my path on this journey called life. Recently, one of those daughters got married. She and her, now husband, took the horse by the reins and helped organize a beautiful wedding. Seemingly, it went off without a hitch; with so many memorable photos to enjoy for decades to come. They're currently celebrating two months of wedded bliss. How wonderful if all weddings could be so "hassle-free." I really do think they can be if adult children would remember that's what they are; adults. I know how difficult it is to feel like an adult, when your deepest desire is to honor God by feigning childhood, and obeying the wishes of your parents. No one ever told me this when I was a twenty-something; but, there comes a time when your loyalty to your parents has to be trumped by your loyalty to God. No one ever voiced to me that by law, a parent's legal rights end at 18, and children can not be effective adults. Had I heard these words, perhaps some of my adult decisions would have been bolder. Too often 20-somethings wage an internal war with what God is leading them to do, and what their well-meaning parents deem best for them to do. As a parent, I foretold my children that at age 18 the decisions they made would be their own. That did not mean that I would stop giving sage advice. But it did mean that on receipt of this advice, the final decisions would be their own; and, any consequences, good or bad, would be theirs to own as well. I wasn't shy about telling them that the consequences of their decisions could haunt or bless them for life. There's another wedding on the horizon. That makes me beam. This daughter's prospective husband reminds me of a glove that fits a hand perfectly. They're one of those couples that are so similar in presence, that you just know they're meant to be. Before I had the opportunity to meet her, now fiancee, all the mijas were in one accord on how perfect a couple these two were. Honestly, I wasn't sold. All I'd heard was that they had been dating for nearly four years and there was no ring, no date, no proposal. In my heart, I knew this was a young woman who wanted to do the right thing and wanted to be a Godly wife. And, all I knew, too, was that there was a breakdown in my understanding of why it wasn't happening. I do believe Father God orchestrates things Divinely. One hot summer day last year, I saw this daughter with a guy. It must have been the heat; but, I didn't put two and two together that this was her beau. When she introduced him, I did something I don't readily do. I actually got surprised that two people could look so made for each other; eerily, almost as though they were siblings! It's not that I've never known this from other life experiences, it's just that some people really stand together. I did what most mothers who have a future son interested in marrying their daughter would do. I gave him the third degree, as respectively as I could. Before I could give my blessing, I had to hear his spirit. What I heard, ultimately gave me peace. I left the conversation knowing that this guy was either real, or a really good impostor. Within a few short months of that conversation, he did the class-act of hiring a horse and carriage and proposing on bended knee with one of the most beautiful engagement rings you could imagine. All smiles abounded and hearts pounded as another wedding was imminent. It was a rejoiceful moment! The date was set, plans were being made; and then, a life roadblock. I don't have all the details; but, it seems that in all their eagerness to wed, outside forces are complicating what should be pleasantly memorable. This is an example of why I strongly advise my birth children, that in the event things start to get complicated, after the blessings have been given, it's probably time to make plans to elope on a beautiful island and honeymoon while there. If I were still twenty-something, the very instant complications began robbing me of my peace, I'd opt for the simplest plan. It's clear, the enemy sometimes uses well-intentioned people, who love us deeply, to deter God's plans. Sometimes the glass gets crystal clear. In life, simplicity, when others are involved, is most often best. Because when God says it's time; it's time. Once the date is set, it shouldn't be broken. After all, this is a pre-covenant date. Every time you change that date, you're changing what you've agreed to before God. It's almost like taking for granted that He's okay with your decision to change the date. The truth is, the primary factors in a marriage are the husband, wife and God. Everything else is secondary. God obviously foresaw that being a problem, as He even included in Genesis, a clause that a (hu-) man should leave his mother and father and CLEAVE to his wife. That specifically leaves mommy and daddy out of the picture. One has to remember that parents were once twenty-somethings having to make their own plans. Often times that included defying their parents. The first wedding date was set for June 2009. Hooray!!!!! Then, I sadly learned that it had been pushed back to January 2010. I'm not fond of things being postponed. But, I was glad to know it didn't directly relate to the couple having cold feet. And even sadder, the latest date has been changed once again; this time tentatively, to March, because that's when it's most convenient for others. I shrug my shoulders. Under most circumstances, it's only two months. How cool that would be if that were the official date and etched in stone as the anniversary date for many years to come. But, oh, that's right, the official date was June. That's a few weeks away. Hmmmmmmm.....sounds like a plan in the making. Oh, sorry, I digress. I'm not really 20-something! I'm going to end here. June or November, what will it matter in the big scheme of life? (I know, I didn't mention November has been factored into the cards as well.) The bottom line is that in the end, all will still love you when the hoopla of the elopement/honeymoon is past. And there's ALWAYS time to plan a great big shindig, and wedding, if parents want to present the bride and groom to the world. I'm not fond of secrets; but, in this case, who has to know before March anyway? What young people have to remember is that it's more important to be right with God than it is to be right with people, even if those people happen to be your mother and father. On behalf of all who didn't marry first loves because of life obstacles; grab the bull of life by the horns, and with much love, much happiness and much gusto run this race of life together. It's said that life is short. But living it without the one God ordained for you to live it with, makes it so much longer. I'm wondering what that June date was? And I'm wondering too if it has special sentimental meaning to the relationship? I don't know. But I do know that it's not good to keep God waiting.


NOW on Education: Should Teachers Receive Merit Pay?

To coin a cliche too-often used by politicians and the mega-rich, the majority of "Teachers Are Underpaid." I put emphasis on the majority. Having two adult children, I am eternally grateful to the teachers who fulfilled their passion by doing the job they were "called" to do. I don't believe that efficacious teaching is something one can do for the long haul if they don't possess a spiritual bent towards the cause. Teaching is truly a ministry. Either you possess the gift and couldn't imagine doing anything else or you're trying to do something in your own strength which soon wanes. I am certain this explains the high turnover rate for teachers. People who have the brainpower to do the work and pass the state exams for certification aren't necessarily wired to do this daunting task day in and day out for decades. There is a very critically weak link in the hiring qualifications for who gets a contract and who doesn't. I have observed the fervor and patience of some long-term substitute teachers who were able to maintain a classroom better than some tenured teachers; and, would find myself feeling sympathy because of her inability to pass an exam required by the state; thus denying her the salary and benefits of a contract teacher. Many a day, while writing a math problem on the board for 7-year-olds, I'd inwardly ask myself why someone would need a license to teach something as simple as 2+2=4. Of course, the higher the grade level, the more difficult the curriculum. But I really don't think the hiring specs for placing five-star teachers should necessarily start with a four-year degree and state boards. Teaching is an on-the-job process that books and lectures just can't deliver. Too often, book knowledge doesn't translate once thrown into the swim-or-sink pond of the classroom. I think the teachers should be tested on their knowledge base for the grade-level they are interested in teaching. I think instead of a sit-down interview with a person in human resources, and the false formalities that this process entails, a prospective teacher should be required to go into the interview prepared to teach a lesson to a group of adults who emulate things that children in a classroom would normally do. Or perhaps someone could design a virtual classroom for them to contain. Four years of college and state-boards do not give a clear picture of one's patience and fortitude. Too many teachers show up with a silent code of ethics, commonly called the 5th and 20th. It's these same teachers who use restroom breaks for the children as a reason to stand in the hall for 20 minutes, twice in the morning and again in the afternoon, to hold frivolous conversations while the students "go to the restroom." In the 80 minutes spent with these breaks, an entire reading and spelling lesson could have been completed. Yes, children need restroom breaks; but, it should not be a time of waste, no pun intended. Today, thousands of teachers flooded into school buildings. Far too many of them showed up with an agenda whose main goal was not making the world a better place for the youth entrusted to them. Effective teaching is a very serious responsibility. The end result does not rest with an end-of-year mastery exam for learners; but, the judgment of a Power far greater than principals and district leaders. I have seen firsthand what merit pay does to a staff. It turns otherwise sane people into vipers. I'd hate to think money could do that to a person; but, merit pay too often feels like "back-room" deals organized in the wee-hours of the morning when most teachers who value family over money miss out. I've seen where the most pay went to teachers with vanguard-type students; because, their students often did exceptionally well on exams. I'm encouraged that the current Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is aware that No Child Left Behind, left behind a whole lot more than just children. Indeed, I suspect there were 50 states with 50 different goal posts. I believe all teachers should be paid a base salary. I think the starting salary for large, inner-city schools, should be $50K. I think too, that one's merit should be determined personally by parents and students who know first hand what a teacher is doing for the betterment of the cause. I think the "fat cats' " hands need to be removed from the pot. Fat cats are those people who show up early to have coffee with the principal to apprise them of "the word on the street (hallway)." Admittedly I'd hate for a teacher with tenure to lose the only job they'd ever known; but, I'd hate it even more so for the child who had to deal with a teacher who thought more of Neiman Marcus than them. I'm certain, based on observation, that most tenured teachers would have no trouble regaining their jobs, if Duncan opted to do an across-the-board turnaround process for the 95K schools in crisis. Things desperately need turning around in a lot of schools. I'm saddened that the stories "on the street" are so grim that few students fresh out of college want to take on this task. Perhaps the student-loan payoff incentive isn't strong enough to convince them to sign up. Sadly, they'd rather do a non-service type gig for less pay, than be responsible for 20+ beautiful faces and minds every day. It's a new day. There's a new hope for better schools across America. I really think charter schools are a positive move; but, I think they should be geared more so towards the non-traditional learner whose discipline issues might get in the way of their learning. That's a whole new conversation. On a final note, merit pay should not be decided by teachers and administrators; but instead, by the individuals who observe firsthand the difference a teacher has made in the life of their child. There's no greater honor than to hear a parent sing the accolades of a teacher who truly cares about children.


Giving In Anonymity Comes With Eternal Blessings

Recently, while listening to NPR news, I heard that several schools of higher learning had received millions of dollars from an anonymous source. I thought for a brief time who or why one would choose to give so generously without self-glorification. Instantly, I was reminded of God's Word admonishing in Matthew 6:1, that people who are quick to tell of what they've done for, or given to others, have already received their reward. And those who give without spotlights glaring, will receive their reward from Him, and an even greater eternal reward in heaven. As I listened to the news piece it was noted that several of the university Presidents were concerned that the money might have a "dirty" underpinning. My first reaction was, 'Why should it really matter?' considering the cause to which it is being gifted. Perhaps it might be from someone paying penance for "slave-harboring" ancestors who mistreated their servants generations earlier. Or maybe this offering, designated specifically for minorities and/or women, was an effort to help level the playing field of imbalanced opportunities for minorities and females. Or even less-exciting, maybe it was just a mega-rich person needing a tax write-off. I couldn't help but query later in the day which schools received the gifts. I smiled as the alma mater of one of my childhood friends had received a very generous donation. Because the bearer of these gifts is choosing anonymity, I really don't think we should put a taint on their choice of humility to the degree of questioning whether or not it should be dispersed to needy recipients. America is in a recession; and the majority of students do have a need. Understandably, if it were being offered by someone whose moral compass pointed in directions against the grain of an institution; and the giver wanted to draw media-frenzied attention to their deed, I could see the cause for alarm most clearly. But this rare case of an unheralded endeavor, is symbolic that there's still hope for this maniacally ego-hungry world. The people who receive of this gift will do well to thank the donor by offering many prayers of thanksgiving to GOD; for Him stirring the heart of another to do something so beneficial, and without fanfare. Who Knows who's behind these mysterious contributions? But, let us remember, that more importantly than the who, we should not risk becoming idolatrous by losing focus on the ultimate Gifter being God. We shouldn't waste too much precious time or energy trying to find the fleshly body that made the contributions. We should; instead, simply honor the ONE who makes all things possible. If we were to know the who, we might become like Baal-worshippers, and begin idolizing their every move, with the paparazzi nauseatingly chasing them; blah,blah, blah. In closing, congratulations to the universities who received the donations. Don't let the plans for disbursement be tainted by the mysterious motive in which these gifts were given. Congrats, too, for those blessed to receive this honor. Thank the donor(s) by striving to make an "A+" in every course!


A Tribute to Mothers: Past, Present & Future

It's May. It's the month when mothers are "officially" honored for their efforts, large and small. God makes it clear in Deuteronomy that parents should be honored. He doesn't distinguish between good parents and not-so-good parents. He simply admonishes that they should be honored. To honor someone is to recognize them for the good they do. Sadly, some adult "children" have to dig very deep into their souls to lift their parents. I am very fortunate to have been blessed with parents, who no matter the imperfections, did everything they could to keep our family intact. But it's May. And Mother's Day is on the horizon. Before I write any further I'd like to make an aside to the last post, "Sex-Ed Is Not So Much TALK As It Is Modeled." I inferred that my mother was wrong in her statement that "good girls don't." Sometimes in my maturity I still hold on to the immaturity of my youth. That's not really attractive. As a mother of two adult children, I now know fully well, exactly what she meant when she made that statement. In essence she was "nail-on-the-head" right! Good girls, meaning girls who honor God; don't dis-honor Him by breaking His command by indulging in "dead-end" sex before marriage. I know there are a lot of naysayers who're ready to defend their behavior; but it's a few days before Mother's Day and I must stay focused on the theme. My mother crossed over into the eternal realm over a decade ago. I was fortunate to know her pricelessness. The best advice she gave me as an adult was, "A mother can no longer be the first to cry when her child gets sick." This treasured wisdom came on the heels of me crying when my infant son had colic. I kept those words close to my heart as the normal progression of bumps and bruises occurred throughout the years. Admittedly, the time my daughter broke her arm after falling off her brother's bike, left me futilely fighting the tears. But the advice she had given years earlier was right on. If I wanted them to be strong and brave, then it began with me. My mother was the mother she was, thanks to her mother, and her mother's mother, generations removed. I remember taking the time to hand-write a weekly letter to my maternal grandmother. I wish I could remember how my 8-year-old words came together in longhand; but, that was eons before MS-Word and computers. My awareness of my paternal grandmother was actually stronger after her crossing over, than on this side. But that's a discussion for a whole other blog. In a few short days, young children will offer handmade gifts; and adult children will wreck the budget, trying to tag a price onto something priceless: how much they love and treasure their mom. On my calendar, above the Mother's Day imprint, I've written the words "Everyday is." For me that is very true. I don't have to think very deeply to know how blessed I am to have two children who are independent; and, on the big scale of life have never given me any real burdens as they grew. Of course, all glory for this goes to God, and certainly not them or me. Yes, Mother's Day is a few short days away. My perfect day will be spent doing what I'd ordinarily do on this day. My favorite gifts will be made from the inborn giftedness given them by the Gifter. My daughter has an artist's hands. My son has a gift for music design. But as the day approaches, I can only give thanks to my Maker, Father God, for blessing me with the experience; and for allowing the journey, in hindsight, to be a relatively smooth one. To all the mothers of the world, Happy Mother's Day. Assure your children that the best gift they can give can't be bought: their unconditional and non-judgmental love for you. May you spend your day the way that gives you peace, without preconceived expectations that most likely will disappoint. So clink, clink: Let us raise our glasses of cheer for a toast to motherhood and mothers: past, present and future!