Tenderness Trumps Beauty!

The weekend before last, after the Superbowl loss Tom Brady the quarterback of the losing Patriots was disappointed. To be a quarterback and lose a game is like being the surgeon who loses a patient in the operation. Of course there would be the nurses, the anesthetist etc… who are responsible for success, but when it is a failure the responsibility in most cases, falls squarely on the shoulders of the surgeon. Such is the weight the quarterback feels when his team loses. If my analogy doesn’t quite fit football, blame it on my lack of understanding of the game. I don’t follow sports much. The reason I watched the Superbowl was to just experience the community part of watching the Superbowl.

There was something after the game that perked my interest. The camera focused on Tom Brady’s despondent face ans someone said, “Well, he has lost his game, but he is going home to a supermodel wife”. Then I was watching some news and there too the anchor made the same comment.

Honestly, I was a little bit pissed off with the characterization. Is that supposed to mean that guys who do not have supermodels wives can’t help but be sadder? Or does it mean having a supermodel wife is so great that even if you are total wimp, your faltering ego will find its footing on the beauty of the wife you possess?

Just to make clear, I am not belittling what Tom and his beautiful wife share. I belittle how people perceive and present it to others thus reinforcing a wrong value in marital intimacy. The moment of intimacy that Tom and his wife share is precious, and what makes is precious is not Gisele’s beauty but her tenderness and caring nature.

Unfortunately, our culture places a lot of premium on beauty. Both men and women do it, though slightly differently. Men generally want hot wives, that is all they mostly ask for. Women generally just want good husbands who are also, btw, hot and handsome!

The importance of tenderness over beauty is best said in the words of Max De Winter in the movie ‘Rebecca’. Max De Winter says, “I was told that what a man needed in a woman was beauty, brains and breeding. But now I realize that is wrong. What a man needs in a woman is sincerity, modesty and the ability to love”.

Tenderness triumphs beauty anytime… anyday!

My Valentine Meditations – On the Missing Valentine

Saint Valentine married people off and got killed for that. In a poll among young urban Americans one the questions was, ‘Do you think marriage is obsolete?’. Majority said ‘Yes’. Another question of the same poll said, ‘Do you want to get married?’ Majority said ‘Yes’. Most want to marry, but aren’t getting married. We live in a world of delayed marriages, if at all people marry. Modern times is missing its St.  Valentine.

The idea of obseletness of marriage is not a problem among just among urban elites. I was reading an article where a school teacher writes about the struggles he has in understanding the mindset and the maturity of the a few of his students who are pregnant in their teens. He discusses a bunch of questions two of which caught my attention. He asks the pregnant teen, “Do you think the father of your kid would marry you?”. The pregnant girl answers, “I don’t think so”. “Do you think your having this child will affect your future marriage?”. The girl answers, “I don’t know”. The girl sitting near by asnwers, “Nobody marries anymore, Mister”. The whole class bursts out laughing. 

Where is the St. Valentine of this age who helps those who want to get married, but don’t know why it isn’t that simple as it once used to be? Is he in hiding? Have we lost him? Has he matyred again?

I was reading another article about some controversial debates about the implementation of the new Healthcare ACT in the US. The question on the table was about whether birth-control pill had to be made freely available in College campuses as part of the Healthcare mandate. The article also had some snippets about what students in college thought about the plan. One of the girls supporting the free distribution of pills said, “I am an adult. None can stop me from having sex. The only question is whether or not I am going about it in a healthy way.”

Today, I read an article about how women in military are sexually abused by men. Last year alone there were 3200 reported cases of sexual abuse in the US Army. Most go unreported. One of the ladies said that when she complained about abuse to superiors, she was told to “things like this happen, suck it up”.

The fundemental premise in the above statements is the idea that ‘sex is a fundemental right’. The belief is that, “None can deny me my right to sex”. It is almost has the primacy of the First Amendment right. What is missing there is the idea that ‘sex is right, only when the season is right’. 

God created life to have different seasons. In one season, we are kids and then we become adults, then we become parents, then we become grandparents. Then we die. All of these seasons are held together by the ‘bonds of love’. Love has different manifestations in different seasons. If we try to mess with the appropriate manifestation of love for a season, we end up marring that season itself.

Marriage is an important season in a person’s life. When God instituted marriage he clearly defined the need for a new manifestation of love. He said, “for this reason man shall seperate from his father and mother and ‘cleave’ with his wife, and they shall be one body”. Marriage ushers in a new season which is manifested by new expressions of love in the romantic and erotic forms. As long as the romantic and erotic forms of love are expressed towards the purpose of becoming one with the spouse, the God ordained manifestation of love brings joy to the season of marriage. 

Our modern society is trying to reengineer the manifestations of love and decouple it from its appropriate season so that people will have the individualistic RIGHT to gratify themselves with any form of love they want anytime with anyone.  The lines between the seasons of adulthoood and marriage gets blurred because people try to enjoy the marital manifestation of love before marriage. When the lines get blurred so much, eventually the season itslef finds no reason for existence. We are left with, “Nobody marries anymore, Mister”. 

Premature experience of profound love forms can be very detrimental to love itself. In the movie ‘Blue Valentine’, the wife says that she has been sexually active since 13 had more than 25 partners. Still carrying the baggage from her old relationships, she is not able to enjoy sex with her husband. She is unable to make the transcition from ‘lusting sex’ to ‘loving sex’. In the movie, this inability of hers becomes the breaking point of an already strained marriage. 

Marriage, kids and a stable family is the basis for any civilization to thrive. A civilization that does not have thriving marriages will die. The root cause of this predicament is the unwillingness to submit to Truth. The Truth as God instituted is for different life seasons to be coupled with appropriate manifestations of love. God joined sex with marriage. Let man not separate what God has joined, for if he does will end up destroying both of what he seperated. As the author of the book ‘Unhooked’ says, “we delay love to enjoy sex and end up losing both”. 

St. Valentine stood by God’s Truth to multiply and be fruitful. He supposedly stood against the edict of a selfish tyrant to the point of death. Our civilization needs, many who imbibing the spirit of St. Valentine will stand up for Truth of God and take a stand against their own selfish desire for gratification. God’s Truth sets us free to experience life in ‘all of its fullness’ that spans across life’s seasons, bonded in love. Sacrificing God’s Truth in the altar of self-indulgence is the problem of the missing Valentine. 

Valentine Meditations: Valentine Culture and Western Civilization

So this is another Feb 14th, I am reading C.S.Lewis’ ‘Four Loves’, again, trying to get wrap my mind around the idea of love – an honorable thing to do (I guess) on the day which venerates love. I am also working on writing something about Valentines day – my valentine meditations…

Valentine’s day is predominantly a celebration of the affluent. Having lived both in the east and the west, in my experience, Valentine’s day is celebrated with fun and frolic in the affluent west and in pockets of the eastern hemisphere where affluence is pursued as the chief aim of life. In also think that in any society where the ‘social standard’ of affluence is high, the pursuit of affluence is often accompanied by an advent of a prolonged singlehood, delayed marriages and ultimately, fewer children. Affluence is not the enemy of marriages. The modern western society’s high standards for affluence and the mind-numbing pursuit of the high standards causes within the heart of man a dilemma in choosing between a high single lifestyle of freedom and luxury or a shared lower standard of family living characterized by commitment and sacrifice.

By the standards of the western society, unless one is relatively rich, to be married and to have children has become akin to being burdened by a much lesser standard of living, so most singles who are forced to pursue affluent standards by the society have no option other than to wait until they are (college) debt free and rich enough to enjoy an affluent married life. In most cases, this does not necessarily mean that singles are alone until they are married. Most end up with the compromise of living with make-shift mates and celebrating valentine’s day.  Valentine’s day in much of the affluent world appears to have morphed into a celebration for the singles, to celebrate it with their make-shift mates and still remain single.

This ‘valentine culture’ that pursues society’s standard for ‘individual affluence’ at the cost of marriage, children and family will undermine the very foundation of the western civilization. This may not be the straw that breaks the back of the western civilization, it is most likely the rottenness that is eating it from within. G.K. Chesterton said, ‘There are many ways a civilization can fall, there is only one way it can stand. The western civilization is now testing the angles’. I live in an apartment complex in mid-town Houston which has nearly 200 apartments and I hardly see any kids. Whereas in India in an apartment complex of the same size, occupied by similar demographic age group, I would be constantly and pleasantly disturbed by the sound of screaming kids.

A column in the Wall Street Journal said that to bring down the western civilization, the Islamic Jihadists need not really risk attempting another 9/11. They can just sit in their caves and continue to have as many children as they can and then wait for the western world to fall under its own weight. The western civilization as we see it, will eventually fall because this generation of westerners aren’t getting married neither are they having enough children. Without children, no civilization can exist. The theory is that when the western world falls because there aren’t enough children to prop it up, the children of Middle eastern world will, by default, inherit the world of tomorrow.

A huge part of the ‘unsophisticated’ east though hasn’t fallen prey to this Valentine culture. I read an article which said that the ‘Commission for promotion of virtues and prevention of vice’ in Saudi Arabia, (no, this is not a joke there is indeed a commission by that name in the Saudi) has banned any form of celebration of the valentine’s day. This may sound retarded, but I think, the middle eastern Clerics have the prescience that allowing any form of valentine culture of the affluent west to become the norm in their culture would rob defeat from the jaws of victory they are eagerly and patiently waiting for. In fact, Islam is the fastest growing religion, not through propagation of its ideals, but through procreation by its followers.

The Church is not silent either, it too is fighting against this decadence. I went to a Church for a Valentine’s day special event. A special speaker was flown in from 1000 miles afar and interestingly, the theme of the message was “How to stay single and find wholeness (in God)”. But there wasn’t even a cursory mention of getting married or raising families. Perhaps I am ignorant, but I really do not know why one’s pursuit of one’s sense of wholeness in God has anything to do with ones marital status. The message of Evangelical Christianity to singles appears to be that singles should behave, be patient, be blessed and wait for the marriage ‘calling’. The gist of the Christian message, I think, isn’t that different from what I get from TV series ‘Friends’. ‘Friends’ tells singles to be single, confused and cool until something happens and you find yourself getting married. The Church tells singles be single, blessed and cool until you have the ‘calling’. The Church is right fighting against the idea of having make-shift mates, but it appear to not be fighting against the root cause, neither is it giving a solution to the problem.

God commanded man to be fruitful and multiply. The modern society that dictates man to pursues personal affluence does not understand what this command from God means. Modern man is caught in a dilemma. One part of the modern man wants to be free and affluent. Another part of man wants to be married and have kids and a family. Modern man, without the Bible, does not have the framework to reconcile this dilemma that is gnawing from deep within him. This generation that addicted to affluence, tarries on in anguished confusion about marriage and raising families seeks its solace in the valentine culture of make-shift mates.

The pre-modern society had a sense of community and traditions which helped man get married and then helped him stay married. The place held by community and traditions in the previous generation is empty now. The Church, in most cases, instead of stepping into this lacuna and helping the modern man have a Biblical and culturally relevant understanding of being fruitful and multiplying, is, I think, overreacting (against the make-shit mate culture) and asking singles to find wholeness in singlehood first and then think about marriage as a special ‘calling’.

If the historical St. Valentine did what history says he did, he did not invent boxed chocolates wrapped with ribbons or red roses, neither did he ask them to wait for some special ‘calling’ or for the right opportunity or compromise with make-shift mates. He appears to have done exactly what the Christians needed to do. He stepped into a lacuna created by the ‘social standards’ of that day and helped singles get married. He supposedly paid a very heavy cost for it. No wonder he made himself the most venerated Saint of all time across all nations irrespective of religion or race or creed that the Muslim Clerics need not have a decree that no Muslim should celebrate St. Paul’s day but has a decree that none should celebrate St. Valentine’s day.

The Church (of today) I think has a great opportunity to speak into this anguished culture unable to reconcile the dilemma between society’s standard for ‘personal affluence’ and the yearning in the human heart for ‘family life’. Christianity has to reverse the damage done by this valentine culture by speaking INTO the valentine culture, in a language they understand as Paul did at Athens. If Christians cannot make themselves relevant to the plight of this culture, historians of tomorrow may observe that Christianity, which by subjugating the authority of kings to the ‘law from above’, gave mankind the basis to the creating the democratic golden era of western civilization, couldn’t save it from the decadence that had set in.

Valentine Meditations

“Blessed are the single, for they shall find True love”

 After 4 months of living in Houston, and repeated attempts to getting a motorcycle being unsuccessful, I have become crazy the my freedom is being limited by my not being able to find a quicker means of commuting about than commuting on a bicycle. Today, I came to know that a guy had a motorcycle for sale. I called him and asked if I could go over and see his motorcycle. I could feel the exasperation in his voice when he said, “Today is Valentine’s Day and I am going to my girl friends house”. And I said, “Oh, I am sorry I didn’t realize that today is Valentine’s Day”.  It was then I started on my valentine meditations.

Popular history states that Valentine’s Day is a lovers’ celebration of the sacrifice that St. Valentine did in order to get to lovers married against the law. I wonder why St. Valentine isn’t given as much importance in how valentine’s day is celebrated. This day is not about St. Valentine but about lovers. Lovers are so lost in each other that they fail to acknowledge the person who sacrificed himself to bring lovers together and make this day of celeberation possible. St. Valentine is moved out of the equation of Valentine celebrations.

 

Human beings are wired to celebrate joy but they also seem to be wired to forget the cause of the joy. Consequently, after quite a while, forgetting the cause of the joy makes the joy that is celeberated into something other than what it was meant to be and then they would never be able to enjoy the joy that originally was. If St. Valentine would be come back to life today, I think he would most likely be flabbergasted by the things that are celeberated, which he has become the cause of.

 

The ultimate cause of all causes is the uncaused Cause of all. The ultimate cause of love is the ultimate Valentine the One who first envisioned in his uncaused mind the possibility of human love and then when  on to create with all his powers of creativity, a place for man in the cosmos. Then He went one step further to create man and woman as lovers of each other. Every time love is celebrated leaving the ultimate cause of love the ultimate Valentine, the ultimate Lover out of the equation of celebration of love, the love that is celebrated becomes something else.

 

The other day in MSNBC there was a new clip about a company which offered discrete dating services for married people. The CEO of the company was interviewed and asked to justify the moral legitimacy of the services his company was giving. He said, “we have always been evolving, in the previous era we redefined the idea of arranged marriages and now we are redefining the idea of monogamy in marriages.” When the creator and the caue of love is left out of the equation of love, love becomes something else.

 

Christian singles who are still single and wait would do much better for themselves if they found true love in the ultimate Valentine before they go about trying to find love in their life partners. It is not surprising to me that in the Bible, God should use the bridal analogy to relate with human beings more often than the father-child analogy. Unless they learn to love God as the Groom they would never be able to involve God in the equation of love with their spouses. Only when Christian singles learn to love God as the Groom, would they be able to experience what true love is and would be better able to love their life partners much better than they could have had they not loved God as the Groom. Loving God as the Groom can best happen in single life. Blessed are the single for they shall find true love.  

My Meditations on Valentine’s Day ;)

As I was writing my journal today early morning about 2:30 am, I realized that it was already Valentine’s day and it got me a wee bit too romantic in my journal. Nevertheless, being a proud single guy I just wanted to share with all a few sober thoughts.

With the media creating some much hype sensualizing Valentine’s day and the society getting increasingly prejudiced by the media, to the post modern ‘progressive’ man to be single on Valentine’s day has become an abomination. To him/her being still single is to be outside the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ and destined to for extinction in a ‘progressive’ world.

In the animal kingdom to be unpaired is to be undesirable or unworthy of genetic propagation, the kind that is inferior that he/she is unworthy of life itself. And man living in the post modern world with a ‘progressive’ naturalistic worldview has no reason why this truth of the animal kingdom should not be applied to human race as well, after all man is a social animal say the science text books.

It’s a pity that the ‘progressive’ man is actually progressing (as per his worldview it is not regressing but still progressing) back to ape-hood, with regard to the quintessential essence of his innate ‘nature’.

To such an apeman, there is no pride in ‘character’ there is no pride in singleness. To be proud about character or singleness as against following the throng and always be in a relationship, is relegated as archaic morality which is soon to be extinct.

So in the young man’s or woman’s life to pair up is a face saving act, whether it is with the right person or not is immaterial. The only concern is about whether or not they are in a relationship. And to be unpaired on the Valentine’s day is consequently an abomination.

If Christ were to come into this setup, I think He would have said…

‘Blessed are those who are single,
For they shall find true love’

Love unlike instinct is not driven by feelings but by a commitment. Commitment comes with patience and prudence in dealing with relationship. Unless there is respect for singleness, there would never be enough maturity for commitment. By jumping headlong into relationships one takes the route to never ever finding true love in life.

It’s better to be single than to be with the wrong person. To be single may not be heaven, but to be with the wrong person is most certainly hell. Its better to be and embodiment of strength in singleness than to spinelessly enter into a wrong relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship and thereby be accepted by the ‘progressive’ throng.

So the Valentine ’s Day, I would like to encourage all Christian singles to cherish their strength of character in singleness and build on it without feeling inferior or inadequate. They should rather be proud about flaunting their strength in singleness and the opportunity that singleness gives to mature and eventually find the one true love for which they are being fashioned. I would also urge them to prayerfully submit themselves and their yet-to-be-known future spouses to God.

All young Christians who are already paired-up need to re-evaluate their love for God. Before they go to beaches or restaurants or movies with each other to enjoy Valentine’s Day, they should first go to a nearby Church as a symbolic act, submit to God inviting him to be the love of their lives and the unseen host through all of their Valentine’s Day celebrations and their ensuing committed life together.

To all the paired-up ones… ‘Enjoy the Valentine’s Day with your mate submitting to the One True Valentine’

To all the singles… ‘Enjoy the Independence day as your freedom may soon be consumed in love’ 🙂

May His Blessings Abound,
Emmu.