On Friday, I caught part of an MPR program on defining sexual assault. A legal specialist from a Scandinavian country was being interviewed on how do you define sexual assault. Was your victim intoxicated? How did you win consent? Is it a look in the eyes, or some gesture that can prove consent?
It was a murky arena, because it had no morality. Sex outside of marriage is, after all, adultery. The Bible makes clear sex is for marriage. It is to show physically the commitment you have already made with your heart.
Casual sex, consented or not, is meaningless. It binds no-one. Because it has no context. Marriage is the moral framework for sexual intercourse. "A man shall leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Sexual intercourse, sign and seal of a committed, powerful relationship entered into and declaring love. It is God-given. It is promised before chosen witnesses in a "wed-ding." "Until death do us part," the promise says. "I will keep myself only unto you." 'My body enters your body as a sign of my pledged love to you - forever.'
So sex outside of marriage, not promising anything, irresponsible, is SIN. It is not God-given or God-blessed.
Living together is stealing from the real thing. It is nothing like marriage. It is not promised, not sacred. It is defiance of the holy.
The finer points of sexual assault, as something to be proven in a court of law, are meaningless. They are without standard, without gift, without consent - God's consent.
In a society suddenly holding forth about truth, it is truthless. False. We as a society, as a generation, must go back to the beginning to uncover sex's foundation in love as God's gift. The rest is false. Brokenness. Intimate acts defying God. Intimate acts desecrating and defiling and despoiling other human beings, who are children of God. People who are human because they are God-given. Invading them, insulting them, stealing their inmost selves from them doesn't break the law of the land, it breaks the law of God.
Let's get it straight, people. Let's understand it as God-followers, as Jesus-lovers - AND PUT IT TO RIGHTS.. Let us declare what, by faith, we know, and help all we care about, to understand, and see the truth about this most intimate and decent thing.
I am a student of American history. It was my major at Harvard. Even in Union Seminary I studied American church history. I am, in my heart, a Pilgrim. I descend spiritually from John Robinson, pastor to the Pilgrims, and William Bradford, fifty years the Governor of Plimoth Plantation, the first settlement of the people of the Congregational Way, in the New World.
I am amazed at the genius of their spiritual way, and what they understood a Christian Congregation to be - a people "gathered" by the Holy Spirit, covenanting to live together in the "Ways of the Lord, known and to be made known" to them. They were ready to follow the unseen leadership of the Lord of Love, heard in the voices of their fellow pilgrims within the fellowship as they were gathered in church meeting.
They sought to live by a high doctrine of the Holy Spirit. They gave America its great vision of life together. They envisioned their churches as companies of love, bound by Jesus' love for all people, moving together under a unanimity that Jesus gave them by showing them their common caring for each other.
I believe that is still a viable vision for life together. Their Mayflower Compact spelled out the principles of life together in a democratic society.
It is a vision in peril today, as more and more people grow up without knowledge of our history, without a sense of our mutual obligation to each other, without the individual sense of responsibility for the whole.
Instead, we appear to have descended into a self-centeredness that too easily expects everyone to watch out for us, to shower us with rights and privileges to be paid for by others. Jesus' theme of giving our lives away, taking up the cross, and gaining life through the very act of giving it away - becomes the operating principle of our unique and magnanimous society.
I urge us in this troubled and tense time, to look again at the "faith of our fathers living still" - and by our own lives, give new life and new strength to the working out of that vision.
We have something wonderful America needs from the The People of the Pilgrims.
On a May morning, days before Mother's Day, I arrived at my favorite Starbucks in all the world, the drive-through on Gus Young Lane, Edina, stressed and distracted. I was in big trouble.
I had raced down Highway 100, from the lab at Park Nicollet Clinic where I had managed to get my quite important blood test. I should have known there would be angels along the way when I was called in by a sweet young Somali woman, who smiled at me and showed me to her blood station chair, saying, "You are my guest today." She gave me her name and asked mine. Seeing me struggling to unbutton my shirt cuff, she said, "Here, I'll do that," and minutes later buttoned it up again.
I needed that, for I had realized I had left home, in our senior residence in a flurry of hurry, leaving both my wallet and cell phone behind.
"What was I to do?" was all I could think of. I had agreed to meet at 10:30 Laury my assistant and friend of many years in our reconciliation work in Africa and Minnesota.
It was 10:15 as I left the clinic. I was on track. I would not be late. But, I had no money, no credit card, no license. Starbucks was to be my interlude for our exchange of letters and important papers, and then early lunch across the street with a Rotary friend and encourager, a publisher of business magazines in New York and Minnesota.
Though he had invited me, I had wanted to host him. Now, I realized I had no means to do that. Worse, I had no way to pay for coffee for either Laury or me.
I entered Starbucks with nothing but stress etched across my face. Suddenly, I was greeted by name from baristas behind the counter. All friends of mine.
Without my saying a word, before I knew it, there was Sandy, under her working baseball cap, now on my side of the counter, saying, "Arthur, I am buying your coffee." She turned to the cash register saying, "a solo macchiato for Arthur." Her smart phone was already in hand to pay for it!
"Oh Sandy," I said, "Is there a phone here I could use to call my wife for help?" "Of course there is," she said, "Use mine. Here." I perched on a stool by the wall and tried to reach Molly, unsuccessfully.
But, there again was Sandy saying, "Here are my two friends. We're moving so you can have your favorite seat in the back." We shook hands all around. Doors opening. I could hardly believe it.
Laury comes. We did our quick business. "You know, Arthur," she said, "you could cross the street early to the restaurant, and make arrangements before Burt arrives, for you to cover your lunch bill and pay tomorrow. You're a good customer, whom they know. They would do it."
Good idea, I thought, I'll try it.
But, in the parking lot I could see my friend was already there, just ahead of me, going in.
Just inside, we spied each other, embraced, and began the reunion of old friends which he had initiated a week or two before.
Stories were exchanged. Thanks given for friendship. All would be well. Clearly, he was hosting me. Who pays would be no issue. We lapsed into an hour or so of brotherly conversation by two 88-year-old guys who loved each other, and talked on about life, old age, things that change, getting along with aches and pains. The world, and ourselves in it.
As our order came, I said, "Burt, you know I pray for people. Could I pray for us?" Suddenly from him: "Of course you can. You've always meant a lot to me." We hold on to each other in prayer. Then ate and talked. All was well. Angels had come. My day was in Other Hands.
Amazing. The sweet technician at the lab. Welcoming me, helping me. And, at the heart of it, Sandy at Starbucks, my friend, caring for me.
It was not the first time. I should have known. Everything turned around. Everything worked out. God came. In these beautiful servants of His.
He's helping me learn, while there's still time.
A pointed, and poignant article from the internet, and a precious picture of a little boy named Alfie Evans, came to me recently. It was written by a Jesuit priest. It was full of irony, and underneath, a deep moral anger.
It was about the story of the young Catholic couple in Liverpool, England, who fought with every means they had, to take their little boy, with a life-threatening disease, away from the doctors of Liverpool, and to another country to have a last desperate attempt to save his life.
But the British Health System and the British government both conspired against Alfie and his family, virtually imprisoning him in the Liverpool Hospital, preventing this child from medical care in Italy or America, or dying at home with his parents.
The Rev. James Schall SJ, who long had taught political science at Georgetown University, used Burt Bacharach's song, "What's It All About, Alfie?" to put the questions to the world of the strange moral twist that has finally given governments, not parents, the authority to decide the value of a simple human life. The priest reminds us that governments were established to uphold and protect human life, not to judge its worth.
The priest protests that "human life is worthy in itself." Little Alfie was already alive. His parents were claiming the right to fight to preserve his life. As the priest said, "Parents, doctors, health systems, judges, and governments are at his service, not vice versa. Governments were established to secure human life."
He makes the point that neither the Queen nor Prime Minister Theresa May visited the child. The Queen, he said, was bound by law, and chose not to break it. Although, in England, a land of the State Church, she is Head of the Church.
It is a strange case, and one that is starkly dramatic. Most of us would insist that every human life is sacred, and that surely the parents, acting on their Christian faith and their love for their child, has every right to try to preserve his life. But the priest reminds us that in England, the "1931 Lambeth Conference that justified for the first time contraception, a decision that led logically to abortion, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia" made it "all right to kill millions of failed contraceptions," and gradually and easily to take human life in a variety of ways.
The fact is, we fear to even speak of these further implications. We have justified certain kinds of life-taking. In losing, against all these forces, the Christian pastor says that - just as with Jesus' death, they will win. He means that the drama of Alfie's short life and death "did sort things out for many who otherwise pay little attention to the lethal meaning of many of our laws and customs."
Christians do not all agree about these deep and delicate issues. But clearly Alfie's life makes very evident that the moral code intended in our western society has been broken, and, at the very least, calls us to our knees to pray for the redeeming of our understanding and commitment to God's great gift to us, of very life itself.
[This is based on an internet article at https://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/aflie-evans-and-the-value-of-a-single-human-life... 4/30/2018]
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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