Words from a Father

Husband of One, Father of Four

Tag: free will

484. Comfortable Distance

Impropriety can masquerade in friendly clothes. Be friendly to your spouse’s friends, but keep a safe, appropriate distance, and always tell your spouse of any advances by another. It may feel awkward for a moment, but it is never something to hide. Your loyalty is always first to your spouse.

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482. Essay: Valuable Forgiveness

When someone hurts you, forgiveness is the only way forward. Not primarily for them, but for yourself.

The depth of the hurt correlates to the level of value given to the relationship and the amount of expectation the individuals have. The closer the relationship and higher the expectation, the deeper the hurt. This makes restoring the relationship that much more meaningful and necessary, and therefore difficult.

Any repentance and forgiveness that was quick, easy, or painless shows the shallow level of relationship and its low expectations. A repentance and forgiveness worthy of the relationship is costly and not easy at all, but it is worth it.

Don’t confuse the desire for a repaired relationship with the amount of time it takes to bring it about. The two are related, but not dependent. It may seem to happen quickly in some circumstances and slowly in others, without regard for the desire. I have a feeling that it takes longer than we initially realize; we can see it clearer when we look back upon the process. The important thing is to keep moving forward as much as it is up to you.

I’ve written a bit more about conceptual thoughts on forgiveness in this prior essay:

https://jfjudah.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/362-axiomatic-things/

478: Quote: John Wesley on Vice

“Vice does not lose its character by becoming fashionable.”

—John Wesley

475. Quote: Your Dad on Humor and Restraint

“Humor in entertainment allows people to simultaneously show repulsion and acceptance in a socially acceptable way. If we laugh, even nervously, and see our neighbor laughing also, we convince ourselves that we are not all that bad; we are average. In this way humor is subversive to social and moral responsibility because we judge ourselves by ourselves. This subjective standard is the weakest of all barometers since it changes with the times and is not subject to any scrutiny, except a cultural backlash advocating higher morals. Sadly, history shows that those requesting higher moral standards are quickly silenced in the name of free expression. And that is perhaps the greatest irony: those advocating free expression work hardest to silence those expressing a desire for social self-restraint.”

—Your Dad, from an essay on the misrepresentation of women in media

474. Essay: Clearer Lines

For my drawing class I opted to draw the skeletons and the marble and plastic models rather than the nude model. I was prepared and more than willing to deal with the mockery and questions inevitably hurled my way from those steeped in a culture that no longer understands the concepts of restraint, dignity, and art. Here’s why.

Restraint

I believe it’s important to have boundaries for what you will and will not do. More important is knowing why you make those choices. For me, I don’t need to know intimately about any other woman than my wife. In fact, I doubt seriously that any marriage has been bettered by knowing more about another of the opposite gender than about their spouse. That’s how marriages are ended, not strengthened.

Dignity

I believe humans have immeasurable worth, both as individuals and as a distinct category of being.

Art

I believe art should reveal us to ourselves and invite us into the greater concepts to which we aspire: love, justice, mercy, truth, wonder, peace, selflessness. The greatest instances in the arts do not abandon us in the story at the height of displaying our selfishness, violence, or sensuality. They do not pursue those things for their sake alone, but neither do they erase all ambiguity, irony, and subtlety.

It takes precisely no talent to show a murder or nudity, but significantly more to hint at it without ever showing it in frame. (This is also how mystery and drama are well incorporated.) Even a cursory survey of seminal works reveals how the arts’ great pursuit is for the true, the good, and the beautiful.

I did not draw the nude model because that aspect of the assignment — the nudity itself — failed on multiple levels: it would not have brought me closer to truth, goodness, and beauty; it would not have revealed me to myself or invited me to “the aspirational perfections”; it would not have dignified the model, the medium, or myself; it would have short circuited my pursuit of artistic excellence; and it would have violated the boundaries and freedoms I now enjoy.

Clearer Lines

G.K. Chesterton said, “Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” I would add that whenever art and morality intersect, those lines should be even clearer.

469. Better

Better to restrain for a time than regret for all time.

468. Liberty Through Restraint

What’s been seen can’t be unseen. What’s been done can’t be undone. They are only accompanied by shame, doubt, guilt, regret, and the like.

In this, restraint is the highest liberation you can know.

466. Without Reservation

Love and serve your spouse without reservation. Anything less will be sensed and resented.

463. Don’t Answer

Son, never answer any question that begins with, “If you were on a deserted island and you knew you’d never see me again . . .”

It is always a trap.

In fact, never answer hypothetical questions.

462. Essay: Sacrifice and Relationship

We all long for things such as love and belonging, peace, joy, to make an impact, and even to live forever. The blunt person might say this is a good description of heaven. But to be with God in heaven requires two things according to Christianity: sacrifice for our sin and relationship with Him while we live — in that order. Sacrifice for wrongdoing is a common theme running through every ancient culture and still permeating our own.

Since we have all done wrong, we can only offer a sacrifice for our own individual sin; my sacrifice for my sin and you for yours. But once I sacrifice myself for my sin, I cannot live and be in relationship with God, which is the second requirement. This is the classic catch-22, like what we see in “The Gift of the Magi”. There is not enough money for a gift, so the giver sells the thing most precious to them to obtain the gift. Only after do they find out that the complement to the gift was destroyed in the process. It’s like selling all the salt to gain only the pepper.

If a sacrifice must be given first and the relationship formed second, then the solution seems logical. If a perfect human — perfect in the ultimate sense: perfect inception, perfect qualities, and perfect life — were to offer themself as a sacrifice, an imperfect human would benefit.

If this human were actually more than a human — eternal instead of temporal, all-powerful instead of weak — then their sacrifice would extend not just to one human, but to all of imperfect humanity. The acceptable sacrifice of one perfect human would be an umbrella of mercy covering every person who has ever lived.

No wonder that, amidst a chapter about the sacrifice of Jesus on the crucifixion tree, the speaker exclaims, “His banner over me was love” (Song 2:1–4).

Through Jesus the demand for justice is fully satisfied so that we may embark on being fully satisfied in relationship with God.

When we look now at the two requirements to be with God in heaven, it seems it was all a ruse. God did what we could not do in order to give us what we wanted all along: heaven. God the Son took on our debt of sacrifice so we could take on the joy of relationship.

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