“Defending Marriage and Religious Liberty in Perilous Times”

By Annemarieke Ryskamp (guest blogger)

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From left to right: Richard Ryskamp, Annemarieke Ryskamp, Jordan Lorence, Brian Najapfour

 

On October 16, 2013 my husband (Richard) and I along with our pastor (Brian Najapfour) attended a meeting hosted by Michigan Family Forum. Given the ongoing discussions on marriage and religious freedom, the theme of the meeting was very relevant— “Defending Marriage and Religious Liberty in Perilous Times.” The guest speaker was Mr. Jordan Lorence, senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom. Mr. Lorence is known for his passion to defend religious liberty, sanctity of life, and marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

An expert in First Amendment right and marriage litigation, Mr. Lorence explained the troubling effects of the legal redefinition of the family. For instance, he told the story about the photographer Elaine Huguenin who was sued by a lesbian couple for refusing to photograph their same-sex commitment ceremony. Elaine declined to take pictures because she believed that the ceremony would only promote the practice of same-sex marriage—a practice that she thinks is wrong.

The lesbian couple wanted Elaine to tolerate them in their practice, but they were unwilling to tolerate the exercise of her religious belief. Also, why did they single out Elaine and demand her to take pictures of their ceremony? She was not the only photographer in their area. There were other photographers who would gladly take pictures of same-sex commitment ceremonies. Where was the respect here on the part of this couple for Elaine’s religious conviction? Mr. Lorence rightly observed that madness was a strong factor behind this couple’s decision to sue Elaine. Those who reject the Bible are simply mad at those who uphold it. This attitude should not surprise Christians at all. Haters of Jesus Christ will also hate and even persecute those who follow Christ. But Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

Nevertheless, while the legal redefinition of the family has caused difficulties among Christ’s followers, it has also produced positive outcomes. First, it has challenged Christians to study and defend their views that are under attack. Those who were once lax are now forced to know what they really believe and why they really hold to their belief. Second, it has brought Christians closer together. In fact, the people who attended the meeting came from various Christian backgrounds. Yet, these Christians of different persuasions work together for the advancement of the biblical principles of marriage.

At the end of the meeting the speaker entertained some questions. When asked what Christians could do in response to persecutions, he admonished everybody to be courageous in the Lord. We need to be willing to step forward and fight for the biblical principles of marriage.

Dear reader, will you join us in defending marriage as defined by God? Satan is actively seeking to destroy our marriages. He knows that once a marriage is destroyed, it will also affect our church, community, and ultimately our country.

 

Note: A member of Dutton United Reformed Church, Annemarieke Ryskamp is wife to Richard and mother to their two sons (Sam & Tom). She would like to acknowledge Pastor Najapfour’s editorial help for this post.

Alliance Defending Freedom Marriage Michigan Family Forum Uncategorized

Two Important Ingredients for a Happy and Holy Marriage

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22)

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25)

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph. 5:33)

 

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The first wedding that I officiated in the U.S.

If you love cooking, you will agree with me that in order to prepare a delicious meal, you need to have: first, the proper recipe, and second, the essential ingredients listed in that recipe. Likewise, if you want to have a happy and holy marriage, you need to have: first, the right recipe. A recipe is a set of instructions for making and preparing a dish. In the case of marriage, your recipe is nothing but the Word of God. The Bible will instruct you what to do and what to have in order to experience a pleasant and pious marriage. God in His Word will tell you the necessary ingredients for a glad and godly marriage.

Now what are those essential ingredients for a happy and holy marriage? For the sake of time, I will only give you two (one for the husband and one for the wife) ingredients which I believe are extremely vital, so much so that without these two elements, your marriage will collapse.

Two Important Ingredients for a Happy and Holy Marriage: Love & Respect

1. LOVE

The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Note that the word “love” in this verse is present active imperative. This means that you, husband, must keep loving your wife. Don’t stop showing her your affection. You are divinely commanded to continue loving your wife. And in the above verse Paul tells us the manner by which we must love our own wives: “as Christ loved the church.”

By the way, this love between Christ and us is so amazing, because this love is between the infinite Son of God and finite sinful creatures. It is not surprising to see a love between God the Father and God the Son (between two infinite, immortal, holy, perfect divine beings). Also, it is not astonishing to witness a love between a husband and a wife—between two mortal, imperfect human beings. But to behold a love between God and human beings—between the infinite God and finite creatures—between a holy God and corrupt people—is so breathtaking.

Let me illustrate my point. If my wife comes to me right now and tells me that she loves me, I will not be surprised at all. Why? Because I know she loves me. Every day I hear the words “I love you.” But, if she tells me that she loves spiders, my mind will be blown away because I know she dislikes spiders very much. For my wife spiders are ugly/unattractive creatures. Could you imagine then if one day my wife says to me, “I will take spiders into our bedroom. I will take care of them. I will feed them. The truth is I will give my life for them.” If I hear these words, I will be extremely shocked.

Now when you hear the words of out text—“Christ loved the church,” are you not amazed? Does it not cause you to wonder that God the Son would love sinners such as we are? Dear child of God, we are worse than spiders. Isaac Watts, considered to be the Father of English Hymnody, uses the term worm to describe himself in relation to his Saviour:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
[originally, For such a worm as I?]

Here the hymn writer is so stunned that Jesus would actually die for a worm as he is. This hymn tells a love story between the altogether lovely Savior and unlovable and unlovely Isaac Watts. Charles Spurgeon calls this love that exists between beautiful Jesus and ugly sinners “the miracle of miracles.” Speaking to his fellow believers, Paul writes, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This divine love is indeed inconceivable! Let this love overwhelm us and cause us to praise and thank our Lord Jesus Christ for what He has done for us at Calvary. Again, husbands, we are divinely commanded to love our own wives with this kind of love with which Christ loved us. Now what kind of love is this?

 

(To be continued)   

Love Marriage

An Interview with Joel R. Beeke about his book Friends and Lovers: Cultivating Companionship and Intimacy in Marriage. Cruciform Press, 2012, 96 pp., paperback.

Thank you so much for your willingness to be interviewed about your book that is filled with godly wisdom. As a newly married husband, I read this volume with great profit. I especially liked the biblical, pastoral, practical, honest, and balanced tone of your book.

Here are some of my questions for you about your work:

  1. Can you please briefly explain why friendship and sexual intimacy are “two key ingredients in a vital marriage” (p. 8)?

From the beginning God designed marriage to be a bond of personal and sexual unity. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Cleaving (or clinging) expresses the commitment or bond of a shared life. One flesh expresses sexual intimacy. It is interesting that the desires of women tend to major on the bond of friendship, and the desires of men on the sexual bond. In reality we need both to make a vibrant marriage. There is something inexpressibly beautiful about making love with your spouse as your best friend, and sharing life with your lover.

 

  1. You say that “[f]ew books on marriage include even one chapter on friendship” (p. 13). Why do you think this is so?    

That’s a hard question to answer with certainty. Perhaps part of the reason is that we have become a culture obsessed with skills, but awkward about relationships. There are lots of books about how to find your dream mate, how to communicate well, how to make love well, how to avoid tragedy well, etc. But as a culture North Americans don’t seem to know how to “be together” well.

Another factor may be the negative influence of communications media. We have traded real friendships for superficial forms of intimacy flashing on screens both large and small. Social media allow people to network and share information at an unprecedented rate. These are useful tools for work and business. But they are no substitute to eating dinner together every night, talking about what’s going on in your hearts and lives, reading and discussing the Bible, and praying hand-in-hand in the presence of the living triune God.

 

To continue reading the interview, click here

Note: Friends and Lovers can be obtained from Reformation Heritage Books for the discount price of $7.00 plus postage.

Interview Marriage Piety Puritan