The Mystery and the Masterpiece - Why?
Years ago in Indianapolis there was a flashy and provocative businessman who owned several gun stores. He wore diamond rings and had a big toothy smile. The conclusion of his television commercials would always feature him winking, flashing that big smile at the camera, and saying, "I don't wanna make any money, folks. I just love to sell guns!"
Well, whatever you think of guns, I didn't write The Mystery and the Masterpiece with a desire for financial gain. I truly believe that I came to a greater understanding of something controversial that has been causing great division and loud arguments in both the Church and the culture. I came to understand something in a way I had never understood it before. I believe I have a way to communicate something that I have not heard communicated very well, if at all, in my own personal experience. And I wanted to communicate this and help others communicate it in a non-argumentative style.
I am an imperfect follower of Christ. I was taught and still believe that marriage is a sacred institution that can only happen between one man and one woman, and sexual relations are to take place only within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman. However, my view of marriage has drastically changed in the last few years!
I want to be very clear: The Mystery and the Masterpiece is not intended to be anti-anything or anti-anyone. The book was birthed from a desire to explain a viewpoint that I think has not been explained very well.
There has been a great conflict in society at large, as well as among those who call themselves Christians, about marriage and sexuality. The idea that people are going to have sex with anyone they want to any time they want to has been accepted for at least a couple of generations now. Can’t marriage be between two men or two women? Why shouldn’t those who practice homosexuality be given the rights of marriage? Isn’t it bigotry to deny them such a basic right?
Many people on all sides of the debate know what the Bible says about marriage. However, I believe much teaching in the Church regarding marriage has fallen woefully short of why the Bible limits marriage to being between a man and woman, and why the Bible limits sexual activity to being between a man and woman in the covenant of marriage, and why God intends for marriage to last “until death us do part”.
I became and remain very disturbed by the tone of the conversations. I believe, first and foremost, that Jesus’ desire for His followers is to help others understand how great their lives can be when following Him. Only the Holy Spirit can convince people of their need of Jesus (John 16), yet God uses the followers of Jesus to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and to play a part in helping others begin a real relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If a follower of Christ makes an argument that convinces people to change their minds about a certain point of view, yet they don’t really share the love of Jesus, then they have come short of the ultimate goal. If the Christian presents an argument without showing love they are not really doing what they are supposed to be doing. A follower of Jesus is not called to change the political landscape and viewpoints of their culture. They are called to love people, speak the truth to people with love, and introduce them to Jesus. If enough people accept that, then the viewpoint of the culture will follow.
Many followers of Christ are great at showing love and tolerance for all people. But in their desire to love they avoid speaking about difficult subjects, so they don’t speak the truth. Others speak the truth very strongly, but they are not speaking the truth in love. Neither one of these failures will help people to follow Jesus. In fact, these failures could drive more people away.
How can we “speak the truth in love” as Paul tells us to do in Ephesians 4:15?
Let us be clear on this as well: God does not hate anyone. God truly does love everyone and hates no one!
In the midst of the cultural controversy, and in a desire to not neglect speaking the truth, yet do so in love, I began to develop what some might call a theology of sex. This is not new. I’m not the first one to come up with these thoughts. In fact, the ideas presented in the book are as old as time. I just believe that there are very few who have been presenting them in the way I do in The Mystery and the Masterpiece. As I’ve taught in different places I’ve been asked to add my thoughts to the conversation in writing.
I began to think about how I could sit down for a cup of coffee with someone who has a very different viewpoint and lifestyle than me, and present what the Bible says about sexuality, with our conversation being filled with cordiality and love as opposed to argument and contention. For example, in a conversation with someone who practices the homosexual lifestyle and desires to be married to their partner, what would I say that would be different than, “Because the Bible says so!”? The same would apply to a conversation with a person who has sex before marriage with no restraint. That is certainly a common lifestyle in our time. The thoughts I had while thinking about this expanded my view of God’s overall purpose of sexuality for our lives and how any sexual activity outside of the Biblical view of sexuality within marriage between a man and a woman causes us to miss something powerful that God gave us when He gave us the gift of sex. There is a message from God that we are missing! I thought a great deal about how to share these ideas in love. How could I say why the Bible says what it says … could that be done in a way that did not contribute to the hatred and animosity that seems to grow when people discuss these issues? This led me to examine for myself why the Bible says what it says. As I studied this I not only saw a fresh light that might help me in the conversation, but the end result was that it helped my own marriage as well. As I studied what the Bible has to say about marriage and about sexual practice and compared it with my own experience, I found that there was help for me. I needed help. I was coming up short in many ways. I was not the best husband I could be for my wife. That’s not how the study started, but that’s a benefit that I received. I hope that you will receive this benefit as well.
So, as the gun salesman said, "I don't wanna make any money, folks," but regardless of your current viewpoint on the issue of marriage, I do hope you will read The Mystery and the Masterpiece. I hope it will help you to possibly see some aspects of the issue you have never seen before. And I hope you will see that it was written with a desire to "speak the truth in love"