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    Morning over the bay



    September 1, 2011
    • Nora Duran

      This a very timely and relevant book that you have written. The rampant incidents of divorce, separation, and infidelity in marriage are outright violations of the sacredness of the sacrament. "What God has put together, let no one cast asunder." I look forward to the rest of the book. Thank you and God bless.

    In this book we find a message needed today in every part of the world. To be pure, to remain pure, can only come at a price, the price of knowing God and of loving him enough to do his will. He will always give us the strength we need to keep purity as something beautiful for God. Purity is the fruit of prayer. If families pray together they will remain in unity and purity, and love each other as God loves each one of them. A pure heart is a carrier of God’s love, and where there is love, there is unity, joy, and peace. Let us pray. God bless you. M. Teresa, MC

    Everywhere today, people are searching for lasting and meaningful relationships. The myth of free love continues to be taken for granted by millions, and a new generation of young men and women has accepted the belief that sexual freedom is the key to fulfillment. But as desperately as people want to believe in the sexual revolution of the last few decades, it is clear to many of them that something has gone terribly wrong. Instead of bringing freedom, “sexual liberation” has left countless wounded and isolated souls. As we face the great anguish around us, it is more important than ever for all of us, young and old, to consider the direction of our lives and ask ourselves where we are headed.

    The twenty-first century heralds the loss of the clear teachings of the New Testament on marriage and the relationship of the sexes. We have turned against God and rebelled against his order of creation, and we have justified our rebellion with human arguments. We have ignored the words of Jesus and scorned the voice of the Spirit. But we have found neither freedom nor fulfillment.

    As a pastor I have counseled many people over the years, both single and married. For many of them, the sexual sphere is not an area of joy but one of frustration, confusion, and even despair. People look for unity of heart and soul with one another, but they are so blinded by the notion of romantic love that their deepest longings remain obscured. They may know that sexual union in marriage is a gift from God; that it should be the most intimate and rewarding relationship a man and a woman can share. But they wonder why it has become the source of such loneliness and pain for them and for so many others.

    I am no social scientist. But if the findings of recent studies have made anything clear it is this: the fallout caused by our culture’s acceptance of casual sex is socially devastating. More than half of all marriages in the United States fail. Almost forty percent of America’s children live in different houses than their biological fathers. Poverty, violent crime, delinquency, promiscuity, pornography, alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness, and suicide are all rooted in the breakdown of the family and the erosion of the marriage bond.

    At the same time, those who save sexual activity until marriage (though their numbers are dwindling) are far less likely to have an affair or divorce, and those who commit themselves to one lifelong partner lead happier lives.1

    While current trends point to continuing decay, there are encouraging signs that people are willing to call into question the thrills of cheap sex and the seeming ease of uncommitted love. There is an increased yearning among young people to find genuine relationships and to build secure homes, giving renewed hope that a two-parent family is still possible.

    Again and again I have seen that when people are willing to surrender their lives to Jesus, they are able to find a way out of their unhappiness. Once people have the courage and humility to heed his call to repent – to turn completely around – he can bring them lasting freedom and happiness.

    Jesus brings true revolution. He is the original source of love, because he is Love itself. His teaching is neither a matter of prudishness nor of permissiveness: he offers his followers an entirely different way. He brings a purity that liberates us from sin and leads to the possibility of a completely new life.

    There is very little in today’s culture that nurtures or protects the new life that Jesus wants to give us. People talk about the importance of meaningful relationships, of committed marriages and wholesome family life, but how many of us know what to do to make these values a concrete reality? Many of us are tempted to blame society for the influences that corrupt us. But what about us so-called Christians? How many of us are ready to stop watching television and take a hard look at our own marriages and relationships and our personal lives? How many of us actually support those around us in the daily struggle for purity? How many of us stick out our necks to confront the sin in each other’s lives? How many of us are really accountable?

    There is tremendous pain among those who claim to be followers of Christ: broken families, battered wives, neglected and abused children, and sinful relationships. Yet instead of an outcry, there is indifference. When will we wake up and realize that our apathy is destroying us?

    More than ever, we need to come back to an understanding of the church as a living body of committed members who share life in practical deeds of love. But we must start with ourselves first and then see where we can encourage those around us. We need to know our youth well enough to be able to guide them as they seek relationships and lifetime commitments; we need to provide ongoing support for the marriages around us; we need to work for healing when our brothers or sisters stumble or fall – and accept their help when we ourselves have fallen.

    Most of all, we must show the world that the unique teachings of Jesus and his apostles are the only answer to the spirit of our time. That is why I have written this book. I am neither a biblical scholar nor a professional therapist, and I am fully aware that most of what I have written is completely contrary to popular wisdom. But I do feel the urgent need to share my certainty that Jesus’ call to a life of love, purity, honesty, and commitment is our only hope.

    This is not only a personal book – it comes out of the life of the church community I serve, and everything in it reflects the concerns and experiences of its members. My hope is that all of us – all men and women of our time – might stop to reconsider God’s purpose for sex and marriage.

    Sadly, too many people today have simply given up on the possibility of a pure life. They have bought into the myth of sexual “liberation” and tried to live with its disappointments, and when their relationships fall apart, they explain away their failures. They fail to see what a tremendous gift purity is.

    All the same, I believe that deep in every heart there is a yearning for unclouded relationships and for a love that lasts. It takes courage and self-discipline to really live a different way, but it is possible. Wherever there is a faithful church – a community of people who are committed to living in genuine and honest relationships – there is help and hope for every person and every marriage. May this book give each reader that faith.

    Johann Christoph Arnold

    For a readable summary of current findings on the effects of non-marital sex, read The Ring Makes All the Difference: The Hidden Consequences of Cohabitation and the Strong Benefits of Marriage, by Glenn T. Stanton (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011).

    a couple strolls toward an orange sunset
    Contributed By JohannChristophArnold Johann Christoph Arnold

    A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, education, and end-of-life issues, Arnold was a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities.

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