To me, Valentine’s Day has little to do with candy hearts, roses, and romantic dinners. It especially has no relation to the hook-up culture of today. Valentine’s Day is about true love, the kind of love my parents demonstrated for 70 years.
True Love Survives Real Life
Seventy-three years ago, my father proposed to my mother on February 14th. Their wedding a little over a year later had to be small, because Dad’s mother had passed away a few weeks before.
- Their first boy was born with a cleft palate. Surgeries left him partially deaf for a time. Their second boy was premature and stayed in an incubator five weeks.
- Dad lost his right hand in an explosion at work. With phosphorus burns in his eyes, face, and arms, he told Mom, “Don’t worry. What’s a hand in this world? God has something better in store for us.”
- Just after Daddy’s accident, the second child, who had poor eyesight from the incubator, dropped a glass milk bottle and almost severed his right hand from his arm.
- Their third child was permanently brain-injured at age 1 by a doctor who used radium to remove a birthmark on his head.
All this happened before their seventh anniversary, but they faced each trial together with faith in their Lord Jesus.
Later, Mom and Dad had three girls and then another boy and girl – eight children in all. It was a little rough financially at times, but Mom was a budget wizard. She and Dad always gave to God first. They also were very generous with extended family and with the poor. Often they would ask us to give up something so they could help those in need. They taught us to think of others first.
When I was sixteen and the youngest was just six, we had a house fire. It set the family back financially for several years. As usual, my parents handled their troubles with faith, prayer, and unity.
True Love Perseveres
Dad and Mom celebrated 25 years, 40 years, and then 50 years together. In 2010 and 2012, they lost their eldest son and youngest daughter. Dad had been ill with cancer and dementia for several years, but he understood their loss.
Mom was Daddy’s primary caregiver. Though Dad got confused about most things, he was always clear about his faith. He still had a sense of humor. And he never forgot that he loved Mom. He could still sing, though not always on key. So Mom and Dad continued their long bedtime tradition. Each night, they sang love songs to each other and love songs to their Savior before they kissed good night.
Daddy passed away two years ago, 37 days before their 70th anniversary. After that, Mom often slept holding his photo, longing for the day when she could go home to heaven to be with God and see her husband again.
Our mom left us early this month, expressing her deep love for her Savior and for each of us. When she was about to be taken to a hospice facility, she asked hopefully, “Am I going to see my husband?” My sister responded, “Yes, Mom, you are.” Those were Mom’s last words to any of us. Now she and Dad are together again, praising their Lord in death as they did in life.
“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.” Marriage is about commitment – to God and to one’s spouse. That’s how my parents lived. And that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.
By Guest Blogger Poppy Smith
On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Like the Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, this ruling brought joy and celebration to some, and deep disappointment to others across the nation.
God’s Supreme Ruling
In the beginning, God created male and female (Genesis 2:20-25). This is His design for the well-being of both sexes and for children, giving them the love, guidance, and protection of both a mother and a father. Now God’s ruling has been overthrown by five justices in a case presented by the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender) community and their supporters.
The Supreme Court’s Ruling
In an article on the Supreme Court ruling, Justice Kennedy, who wrote on behalf of the five judges who found a constitutional right to marry, said:
“It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”
Chief Justice John Roberts argues that the decision “creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution.”
Justice Alito also dissented, saying: “By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas.”
To read the full article, which covers many aspects of how this law will affect those who hold traditional views of marriage, click here.
Writing in 2014 about sin and homosexual behavior, Jonathan Parnell, lead pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis said:
Some would like to see this whole issue of homosexuality divided into two camps: those who celebrate it and those who hate it. Both of these groups exist in our society. There are the growing numbers, under great societal pressure, who praise homosexuality. We might call them the left. And there are people who hate homosexuality, with the most bigoted rationale and apart from any Christian concern. We might call them the right.
The current debate is plagued by this binary lens. Those on the left try to lump everyone who disagrees with them into that right side. If you don’t support, you hate. Meanwhile, those on the right see compromise and spinelessness in anyone who doesn’t get red-faced and militant. If you don’t hate, you support.
But true followers of Christ will walk neither path. We have something to say that no one else is saying, or can say.
Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under the societal pressure. We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong” and “I love you.” We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved. We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross — the same words that God spoke us — “You’re wrong, and you’re loved” (emphasis editor’s).
The legal ramifications of how this new law affects Christians and Christian institutions will unfold in time. But how should you and I respond—to family members, colleagues, friends, and others who celebrate this ruling?
Here are some thoughts:
- Remember John 3:16. God so loved the world—that’s everyone. It does not exclude certain sinners. Without this amazing truth, none of us would be embraced and saved from judgement.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and see if there’s hatred, disgust, or an urge to put down or exhibit anything of the flesh towards those celebrating this ruling (Galatians 5:19-21). We live with the tension of hating sin (hopefully, in ourselves as well as others) but also loving those Christ died for. We desperately need to have hearts filled with God’s perspective and attitude towards the lost.
- Choose to guard your words. Jesus said, “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.” When we hear ourselves saying things whether in private or public that we know are not from God’s heart, let’s commit to repenting right then and asking for grace and love instead of a judgmental spirit.
I feel as strongly about this issue as most believers who want God’s Supreme Law to be honored. But let’s not forget: As Christians, our response is going to be watched by many. I need to pray for a response that shines with God’s love to a lost and confused world—do you?
Will you pray with me?
Without your Holy Spirit filling me, I can do nothing that honors You. Keep me from doing harm, or being a stumbling block to those who need You so desperately. Work in me the right heart, the right perspective, and the right words and attitudes. Along with all my Brothers and Sisters, may we not only be salt and light in our world, may we also be living ambassadors. Enable us to point to the forgiving, transforming, and grace-filled God who changes lives and blesses those who seek Him. Amen
© Poppy Smith
Poppy Smith is British, married to an American, and has lived in many countries. A former Bible Study Fellowship teaching leader with a Masters in Spiritual Formation, she is a multi-published author who speaks widely, challenging women to make their lives count by looking at their choices, attitudes, and relationship with God.
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