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Time for Another Revolution - by Johann Christoph Arnold


By Johann Christoph Arnold

Recently, I was asked to hold the funeral of a close friend and
83-year-old colleague, Glenn. The end of a life is always a sobering
thing, but in Glenn 's case, it was a privilege to bury him. As we sang
the old spiritual "There is a Balm in Gilead," his widow, Marlys, bent
over his open casket, took his hands in hers, and kissed him goodbye.
Six hundred people were in the room , and there was not a dry eye. But
it was not just because we were watching a farewell. Here was a couple
who had promised to remain true to each other through joys and sorrow,
"until death parts you." And because of this faithfulness, their
marriage had lasted more than half a century.

A marriage like Glenn and Marlys's is a rare thing in our time, when
most people seem to fear the very idea of commitment. As a culture, we
are obsessed with romance and sex, and focus on them almost endlessly.
Sex permeates entertainment, sports, and even politics. For Christians
and non-Christians alike, it has taken the place of God.

All the more it was encouraging to read, the week before Valentine's
Day, about a "Day of Purity," on which students across the country
planned to wear white T-shirts to school in order to promote the idea of
saving sex for marriage. As Melissa, a 17-year-old who took part in the
event, explained, "The way sex is talked about, it's so casual...it's
like going to McDonald's." Critics said the teens were "self-righteous"
and accused the organizers of having a "bigoted agenda." Others, like my
community, the Bruderhof, applaud the teens for their courage, and feel
that such a movement needs every bit of support that it can get.

Sex as God created it is the foundation of human society. It has been,
ever since he created Adam and Eve, blessed them, and told them to be
fruitful an d multiply. Sex is also God's greatest gift to us. More than
a mere mechanic al act, it encompasses the entire person physically,
emotionally, and spiritually. In sex alone, soul and body become truly
one. Entered with reverence, it is the highest and deepest expression of
love, and can transform a person on every level. No wonder Jesus said,
"For this reason a man will leave hi s father and mother and be united
to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer
two, but one."

Unfortunately, very few people are able to see sex in such a deep and
wonderful way, because we have turned away from God's plan for it. This
turning away began in Eden, with Adam and Eve's disobedience, which
polluted their innocence and made them ashamed of their nakedness. Its
fruits are guilt, lust, violence, pride and greed, and every other evil
that plagues humankind today.

The serpent of rebellion is still whispering today, trying to convince
people that God's word is not true. Just as Adam and Eve, they try to
find freedom and happiness on their own terms, especially in the sexual
sphere. But as sincere as many of these people are in looking for
happiness that they deserve, they will never find it, because they are
going against God's order.

Meanwhile, sex becomes more and more degraded and cheap, as shown by new
headlines every week: Paris Hilton's video, Janet Jackson's stunt at the
Super Bowl, Beyonce's copycat act a few weeks later, and continual
rumors about Kerry and other presidential candidates. People pretend to
be shocked by these things, but our children see right through it. In
the end they get the mess age that sex is a joke: you can always have
your fun and get away with what you want.

If only we grasped how such a twisted view can traumatize a soul for a
lifetime. It leads to broken relationships, crime, emotional
instability, and eve n suicide. How different our world would be if we
saw that every man and woman is created in the image of God. Then we
would have reverence for each per son's sexual being, and see it as a
mystery that only a marriage partner should unlock. Like Moses, who took
off his sandals before the burning bush, we would instinctively know:
this is holy ground.

We are all weak human beings, and we all disobey God. But it is never
too late for us to turn around. Once we do, we can put sex back in its
proper place--marriage--and perhaps restore some sanity to our crazed
and corrupt culture. Deep down it is this that every person longs for,
even if millions have been misled and are confused: the beauty and
stability of God's original order, and the peace of heart and mind that
comes from embracing it.

On Valentine's Day, a young couple I know named David and Alissa
celebrated their wedding. David is 26 and has a life-threatening heart
condition that grew suddenly worse during their engagement. Dave is
scheduled for open-heart surgery in a few weeks, and between now and
then, anything could happen.

Given such an uncertain future, many people might break off a
relationship. But this young couple saw their situation as a call to
greater love and faithfulness, and decided to commit themselves to each
other "until death parts."

A day before their wedding I spoke to David and Alissa and reminded them
that only God knows how long they will have each other. One day, whether
soon o r in years, it will be their turn to say goodbye to one another
as Marlys did to Glenn. But it does not matter, I told them, whether
their marriage is long or short-if David lives for another week, or
another fifty years. What does matter is their commitment to each other,
and the fact that they have ma de it before God, and for eternity. In
his eyes, a day is like a thousand years, and if that day is lived for
God, who knows how much can be achieved?

We need to appreciate people like David and Alissa, Glenn and Marlys,
and the teens who organized a "Day of Purity." We need to thank God for
their example with respect to sex and marriage, and let our own lives
reflect the same commitment and faithfulness. Most important, we need to
believe that others are looking for these things too, and that, with
enough courage and convict ion, we can start a revolution.

Johann Christoph Arnold is the author of ten books and pastor at the
Woodcrest Bruderhof.

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