Reflections of a Broken Man

Men of Courage? by StephenMac
March 1, 2009, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , , , , , ,

**Currently playing in iTunes: Breathing In A New Mentality by Underoath**

I must admit… I didn’t want to go to Men’s Convention this year… I really wanted to bludge at home. But I did go, and it was awesome: really glad I went.

I’m posting some thoughts that have been percolating in my mind in the last few days. We begin with the idea that nothing happens without a reason: God’s sovereignty is such that there such thing as a coincidence. Rather, God sets events in play that work things out for his purpose.

This is the basis for the following reflections.

The first in the chain of events was kt-rae’s awesome post on “loving your husband before you are married” or words to that effect. While I can’t love my husband, the principle is the same: as a single, I need to be “prepared” for marriage because in the idea of a “married” relationship we have what it means to be the Bride of Christ. Being a single who is cultivating the qualities for marriage is paramount to living the Christian life.

The second was Friday Chapel, where the sermon looked at Col. 3:18-21 and the ideas of family. Marriage, it was suggested, is a place that is wrongly believed to be a place of freedom: “I’m free from restraint”. Rather, marriage will involve sacrifice and sometimes pain, but it is founded deeply in love. The popularist ideal of freedom is a misnomer: genuine relationship in the marriage is found in the wife’s submission to the husband’s sacrificial love. There is no place for self-centred “freedom”, but selfless service.

The third was men’s convention, where one of the speakers made the point about a book, and suggested that even though the book talked about how to be a man of leadership in the family, it was relevant to single guys too, because the single guy may either be preparing for marriage, or even more relevant to myself, be in friendships where they can be supportive or ministering to men who are in a marriage. The content of this leadership is by example: our lives are to be such that not only will our families follow us willingly because of their trust in us, but our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours will see the life that we lead and similarly follow. The lives that men lead should be lives that are filled, not by their own courage, but by the trust in the faithfulness of God. They exhibit the courage of God.

In short, the single man needs to know how to be a married man: to learn to be a devoted Christian and to learn how to lead his own family or encourage others who have their own.

On this basis, therefore, I argue that there is no longer a place for the single/married divide. It should never have been there in the first place, but now, even more so, this issue needs to be put to rest. There is no difference, because the married and the single are now all brides of Christ, and whatever advice/encouragement/admonishment/chastisement that was relevant purely for the one is now relevant for all. This false dichotomy which has hurt and split and impacted many of my peers needs to cease.


Inner Circles and Church Politics: Against Factionalism REDUX by StephenMac
October 8, 2008, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , ,

**currently listening to “New Surrender” by Anberlin! Came in the post today! Joy upon joys**

Thanks to Jax for his comment on my previous article:

Historically, the organisation to which you refer has been one of the reasons why Sydney didn’t go the way of Melbourne. It would seem that this is dirty work but someone’s got to do it.

And the diocese is probably not the only arena in which this kind of political battle, for want of a better way of referring to it, is going on in. There’s lots of other organisations in which orthodoxy and politics have gotten mixed up. Sigh.

bishop I don’t deny the great work this org has done. I think that I am bemoaning the need for someone to do the “dirty work” in the first place. Jax also points out that in lots of other organisations outside the diocese “orthodoxy and politics have gotten mixed up”. This too I don’t deny. It is the current reality of living in a sinful world, I think, that when sinful people come together, they compete against each other for power, and as such band together in various ways to ensure that they get it. As a student of politics, I think I can make a good case for politics being the product of living in a fallen world. We find politics in more than government, we find it wherever sinful, prideful, selfish people come together and interact with each other: in business, in sport, in social groups, virtually everywhere. Politics in this very general sense is the interactions of individuals with regards to power (the ability to affect decisions).

In this way, does politics have a place in the church? On the level that the church is meant to be discordant with society, to be a light in a darkened world, should church be political? Not in the governmental sense (should church affect policy) but intrinsically? And if non-evangelicals (“them”, and already we have made a division in the body of Christ) play the realpolitik should we? Do we fight fire with fire? Where do we draw the line?

Speaking from personal experience, I have seen how politics within church has caused division. My one year on a parish council (albeit in the year we were without a permanent minister) ended with divisions within the council. With the coming of the new minister, the first thing he notices is that our church has great rifts within it. The forming of groups within the council in order to ensure the “correct” (as we saw it) running of the church led to divisions within the church.

Politics is inherently divisive, and as such, I am still reluctant to call it a necessary evil. Just because “they” play it doesn’t mean that I should! So how do we deal with this?


Inner Circles and Church Politics: Against Factionalism by StephenMac
October 2, 2008, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Reflections | Tags: , , ,

Not sure if this blog fits here, or in my politics one… we’ll see.

The Context: I heard a talk today at college about the politics within our diocese. I’m a politics student… I’m a theological student… could you think of a better mix? But as I listened, I became aware of how anti-diocesan-politics I am. The reason is twofold:

  1. Church/diocesan politics by its very nature is divisive. The concept of politics is inherently tied to competition, almost always for power. In short, politics does not cause division, but rather is symptomatic of and continues to maintain division.

    As I listened to this talk, I realised that despite the great work that one particular organisation did in maintaining orthodoxy behind the scenes, this organisation seemed to be incredibly political, and therefore incredibly divisive. The question is, where is the balance – where is the middle road between church unity, and maintaining of orthodoxy. The line of this organisation was that they were determined to  keep certain other factions out of power in order to maintain the reformed evangelical nature of the diocese. But even that is divisive… so what is the solution?

  2. When listening to this talk, I noticed the great number of names that were being dropped – archbishops, deans, principals, and so on – who were part, or had been part, of this organisation. Personally, it sounded pretty cool, to be part of an org from which the greats had hailed. Then a thought hit me… this is exactly what C.S. Lewis wrote against. Cameron writes:

    I refer to our passion to belong to some ‘inner circle’ of people that hovers temptingly beyond our reach. When gripped by this passion, to be excluded from these circles drives us slightly mad, and to enter them leaves us smugly exultant… C.S. Lewis called it ‘the quest for the Inner Ring’.
    Politics, in this sense, is divisive. It sets up an ‘in’ crowd (those who have power) and creates an outsider crowd (those without power).

I’m still unsure on how to deal with this issue. The idealist in me says: THIS SHOULD NOT BE… The realist in me says: DO IT FOR THE GOOD OF THE DIOCESE. If humanity is inextricably political, should we use all means necessary to work for orthodoxy?