The Labor of Love

A wonderful thought (or two) about how romantic love shouldn’t inform our friendships.

Spiritual Friendship

Imagine a man who quits his job and moves across the country for the woman he loves. This act is either incredibly beautiful or incredibly stupid. One critical fact makes the difference: how she responds.

“Love at first sight” only works for those who have not learned the labors of love. For how can one love another when he does not yet know how to love the other? The greatest love is less like a disembodied hook-up and more like one striking image from John Green’s The Fault in our Stars (the tragically funny book, which I saw as a movie and laughed when I wasn’t supposed to—sorry, fellow movie-goers!). The protagonist reflects, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

A love which is truly for the other is a slow love, because it is a patient love. It does not demand…

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From Sex to Sexual Politics: The Problem with Gay Marriage

A thoughtful look at historical matters in a very charged debate.

Spiritual Friendship

Last year, Joseph Bottum wrote an essay for Commonweal entitled, “The Things We Share: A Catholic’s Case for Same-Sex Marriage.” With a title like this coming from the pen of a former editor of First Things, Bottum’s article was almost certain to generate voluminous commentary. And it did.

One year later, the commentary continues, with the most recent issue of Commonweal including responses to Bottum’s thesis from two high-profile Catholic journalists. Ross Douthat—a columnist for the New York Timescriticizes Bottum for going too far. Douthat argues that if Catholics “are to continue contending in the American public square,” then “there is no honest way for the church to avoid stating its position on what the legal definition of marriage ought to be.” Jamie L. Manson, on the other hand, thinks that Bottum does not go far enough. She argues that gay couples should…

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Scruffy Hospitality

Hospitality is so important… So why is it so difficult and how much does it mean to single people in our lives and churches?

Spiritual Friendship

I always like seeing this emphasis in discussions of hospitality:

After seven years of marriage, my wife and I have welcomed numerous friends into our home. Once we decide to host friends for an evening, we usually kick into get ready mode, a fast and furious sprint in the days and hours before our friends arrive. We divide and conquer the to-do list: select a menu, complete grocery shopping, mow the lawn, sweep the floors, run the vacuum, clean the playroom, wipe the bird crap off our lawn chairs (we have lots of trees), set the table, clean the playroom (again), and somehow, someway, pray all that happens before the doorbell rings.

Over the years, that to-do list has prepared us for hosting company, but it has also prevented us from welcoming friends in our home. Unwritten Southern rules of offering hospitality with excellence have affected how often we invite…

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Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship

I’m a worship leader in my local church and I agree that worship leaders need to help their congregations sing with confidence and point them to Jesus. The church as ‘concert hall’ is problematic at best and soul-killing at worst.

Worthily Magnify

1 Last week I spent a couple of days attending the National Worship Leader Conference , hosted by Worship Leader Magazine , featuring many well-known speakers and worship leaders. The conference was held about 15 minutes down the road from me, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m glad I went.

I met some new people, heard some thought-provoking teaching, enjoyed some good meals and conversations with worship leader friends, and experienced in-person some of the modern worship trends that are becoming the norm in evangelicalism. It was eye-opening in many ways.

Over the last few days I’ve been processing some of what I saw and heard.

Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote…

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The Problem with “Same Sex Attraction”

This is an especially helpful distinction.

Spiritual Friendship

One view, which has many defenders among Christians who believe that homosexual acts are sinful, is that the term “same-sex attraction” is the clearest and most precise term for describing the experience of those who are, from time to time, tempted to commit homosexual acts.

However, the distinction between carnal and spiritual friendship makes clear that there are different ways of desiring union with a person of the same sex, some of which are virtuous and some of which are vicious. Unfortunately, the term “same sex attraction” introduces unnecessary confusion by lumping all of these desires in under one category.

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What are we asking older Christians to do?

I was once a part of a group for men who talked about their same-sex attraction experiences week by week. It wasn’t an ex-gay group; it was a group where we could talk candidly about our wives (most of the men were married) or our temptations or attractions or broader life-issues. It was very helpful for me in that season of my life, before I was more forthcoming about my attractions to people in general.

The face-off…

There was a bit of age divide in the group. Most of the under-40 set were unmarried (there was one exception to this that I can remember) and most of the over-40 set were married (there were one or two exceptions to this). The over-40 set never wanted to be referred to as “gay Christians.” The under-40 set (especially the under-30 set, of which I was a part) had no trouble whatsoever with the title “gay Christian;” for us, it was saying “We’re same-sex attracted and we love Jesus.” To the older guys, it was tantamount to bringing everything that would fall under the heading of “biblical sexuality” into question and to being two steps away from finding a boyfriend and giving up on Church.

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A Person Synonymous with Controversy

In this article at the Spiritual Friendship blog, one bisexual student at a Christian liberal arts college describes what it is like for him to follow traditional, biblical sexual ethics.

One snippet:

Online, I was discovering there were gay celibate Christians who believed the Church could really “Be the church for the homosexual Christian” (as one of the first articles I read by Wesley Hill said). “Why did we never hear this?” I wondered. My short-lived mission to bring such dialogue to my campus began.

I was not always noble in my attitude. I fluctuated between the most genuine heart-felt concern and, at my worst, self-righteous indignation at the community around me. I felt trapped and in the one place I thought that such dialogue, about being gay and chaste, about spiritual friendship, could occur! If there was any good to a Christian education, I thought, it was that it cared for the whole person: their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual self. And I did not feel fed: I was starving.

Thinking or Loving?


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Liturgies aim our love to different ends precisely by training our hearts through our bodies. (James K. A Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, pg. 25)

Several years ago (2008ish, I think) my parents and I embarked on a small group at the church that we were attending at the time which was working its way through The Truth Project, a curriculum designed by Focus on the Family for use in churches to expose adults (primarily) to worldview issues and good teaching on a Christian worldview. The strength of such curriculum is that, as thinking beings, we need to think consciously about how we think and what we accept uncritically.

The problem with such programs (and yes, I saw most if not all of the DVDs and participated in maybe half of the discussions in the group–so I’m speaking from some measure of experience) is that they don’t aim at the heart. Christianity is reduced to a worldview in abstraction.

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Fair and Sensible?

It’s the day after Christmas. The new phone case I got from my brother is on my phone, the new peacoat and scarf I got from my mom & dad are on the back of my chair, the new book on the music of hymns which a mentor and friend gave me is on my shelf and I’m making good progress on a book about the Eucharist.

What does it mean to be reasonable? Google’s definition says,

(of a person) having sound judgment; fair and sensible.

That seems fairly straightforward…”fair and sensible.”

What happens when someone you know holds the opinion that they are, in fact, reasonable–when in truth, they are not? Is it loving to confront them? How often? To simply navigate the situation so that the fewest people are hurt?

What happens when the person accuses you of upsetting the way things are due to the fact that you’ve sought advice and/or counseling about them in the past? How does one love that person well?

Put on your happy face. Now.

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