“In a relationship”

Facebook has six “relationship status” options. They are: “single”, “in a relationship”, “married”, “it’s complicated”, or “in an open relationship”. MySpace (who I will not link to because I am philosophically opposed to it) offers five options: “Single”, “In a relationship”, “Married”, “Divorced”, or “Engaged.” Does anybody see any problems in these options?

I do.

I see one glaring problem. Neither of them, anywhere, offers “dating someone” as a relationship option.

I know, I know, that’s what “in a relationship” means. Right?


According to my dictionary, “relationship” has four potential meanings. Definition 1: “The condition or fact of being related; connection or association.” It just so happens that I am related, connected, or associated to many people. I am in many relationships. “In a relationship” doesn’t really do it for me. Definition 2: “The connection of people by blood or marriage; kinship” Strangely enough, I am also connected by blood or marriage to a great deal of people–at least a hundred that I know of off the top of my head. “In a relationship” just doesn’t cut it. Definition 3: “A particular kind of connection between people related to or having dealings with each other.” As Pride and Prejudice might describe it: “a particular friend.” Well, I also have at least a handful of particular friends. “In a relationship” doesn’t really fit.

In fact, the only definition of “relationship” that relationship status option refers to is the fourth and last definition: “A romantic or sexual involvement.” This is (or should be) a singular type of relationship–one that is exclusive. But that’s not what the word “relationship” in its essence implies.

The problem is, despite the fact that the word “relationship” has three definitions that allow plurality and only one that implies exclusive romantic involvement, Facebook and MySpace have affected popular culture to such a degree that one cannot say “I’m glad our relationship is restored” after an argument without people making assumptions about the kind of involvement you have with one another.

This same sort of thing happened in our church when some people decided they didn’t like “dating” and prefered “courting.” Unsure of what to call the person that if they were dating would be referred to as “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”, they resort to the term “friend” in quotation marks. Problem is, when “friend” becomes redefined as “romantic object”, where does that leave those of us who actually are involved in platonic friendships?

I see more and more broad categories used to define connections between people (since I can’t use the word “relationship” anymore) narrowed to define only romantic relationships. Apparently, in the world in which we exist, where single person households compose the largest “family” group, platonic relationships no longer exist. And perhaps that is so. With the advent of “hooking up” and “shacking up” and “friends with benefits” are there any relationships (sorry, it’s the best word for it–as long as you can figure out what it really means) that aren’t sexualized?

But it shouldn’t be so. Sure, I was made a sexual being. But I was made something much deeper than that. I was made a relational being. I was made with the capacity to give and receive love, to understand and to be understood. I was made to be in relationship–and not just in “a” relationship, but in many. I was made to be interdependent–to be helped in my weakness, and to help others in theirs. I was made to reflect God’s image–to reflect a God who is so relational that He is three persons so perfectly related that they are completely one. While sin inhibits such perfect relationship among humans, that doesn’t mean that we are not called to walk in relationship with one another.

So I rebel against the redefinition of relationship in our current world. If you want to say that you’re dating, say dating. Don’t steal perfectly good words that have a whole range of wonderful other meanings and twist them to make them mean “dating.” We need those other words to keep meaning what they do–because without them, we may lose some of our most precious, well, relationships.

As an addendum, I also have difficulties with the current use of the word “Single.” It seems to me that if “single” is used as a “relationship status” it should mean “unmarried”. A person does not cease to be “single” simply because they are dating someone. It seems to me that until a man and a woman leave father and mother and cleave to each other and become “one flesh”, they are still each “single”.

Tradition and the Generation Gap

Advice columns and other popular parenting resources may not agree about much, but on one point they are firm: Your parents are hopelessly outdated and you will disagree with them about how you should raise your child.

This idea is so firmly entrenched in the minds of popular culture, that it seems unimaginable that it was ever not this way. But, believe it or not, the “generation gap”–which is now so great and seems to be still widening at an incredible pace–once was almost imperceptible.

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, people had lots of kids. The older children observed how their parents parented–and had “hands on” training while taking care of their younger siblings. The older children married and had children of their own in their late teens or twenties. They parented their children as they had been trained–in a manner very similar to how their parents had parented.

The younger children in the big family didn’t have little siblings to practice on–but their older siblings lived nearby with their own children. So the younger children of the first generation grew up observing how their older brothers and sisters parented–and helping their older siblings with their young nieces and nephews. The younger children of the first generation learned the same parenting techniques their own parents had used for them, only this time at the hand of their older siblings. Thus parenting practices were transmitted from generation to generation.

Compare that to today, when most of the experience young adults have had with children is from doing a bit of babysitting while they were teens. When they start their own families, the only experience they have is from babysitting someone else’s children–which anyone could tell you is a far cry from parenting one’s own. With no other frame of reference, these young parents rely on the advice of their peers, or of the “experts” for developing their parenting techniques. Thus every generation reinvents the wheel–learning from scratch how to raise their children, making up the rules as they go along, certain of nothing except the “conventional wisdom” that their parents’ parenting was necessarily wrong.

Another area in which I have noted the generation gap is weddings. Have you ever noticed that every generation has its own “traditional wedding”? –And that somehow each generation’s “traditional wedding” looks completely different than that of the preceding generation?

Most people today only start attending wedding or being involved in weddings when their peers marry. Their peer’s weddings and those that they have seen in movies or in bridal magazines are what inform their knowledge of wedding “traditions.” As such, nothing remains “traditional” unless it is profitable to the wedding industry.

As the older child of one of the older children of a large family, I grew up going to weddings–the weddings of my aunts and uncles. I learned what a “traditional” wedding looks like for my family. And let me tell you one thing–it doesn’t look a thing like what passes as a “traditional” wedding today. Sure there’s a white dress and a church ceremony–but that’s where the commonality ends.

In my family, a traditional wedding means a church ceremony–generally using a liturgy. It means everyone in the family has a part to play–although “bridesmaid” and “groomsman” may not be the part. While the closest sibling or best friend may stand up for the bride or groom, the real “wedding party” consists of the cake cutters, the gift carriers, the flower pinner, the guest book attendant, the punch pourers, and on. Each member of the family has a corsage or boutonniere identifying them as part of the party. The whole family takes pictures together before the ceremony–even though that means the groom sees the bride before the ceremony.

A traditional wedding in my family means a reception directly following the ceremony, in the church fellowship hall. The meal is set up buffet-style and consists of trays of bread, deli meats and cheeses, and other fixings that people can make their own sandwiches from, salads made by the aunts, and cake and punch, homemade cream cheese mints and nuts.

A traditional wedding in my family means that the men (my uncles and any of the groomsmen) gather together the children to go out and decorate the car.

The generation gap has grown as people have fewer and fewer children and wait longer and longer before getting married. Without siblings with which to interact, they learn to rely on their age-segregated peer group. Then, when they start making these monumental life choices, they rely upon their peers and the “experts” to inform their decisions. It’s too late for the parents to transmit their wisdom. Since the children have never seen, learned, nor practiced this wisdom, it all seems hopelessly outdated. The new tradition has become no tradition–starting over with each new generation instead.

I, for one, intend to break with the new-fangled tradition: I’m going to do it like my parents did. ‘Cause I’ve seen how they did it–and it works pretty well!

I finally read it

I’ve been dreading the thought of reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle since I first heard about it in a food science class many years ago. I knew that it was propaganda and that it was instrumental in the passage of the first Pure Food Law.

I dreaded it even more when I heard Upton Sinclair described in concert with Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. Carson’s book was instrumental in the banning of DDT–a move that may have saved some baby birds, but has also reversed the decline of malaria in Africa. For those who don’t know, malaria kills over one million people per year, and is a leading cause of death among children worldwide. So I’m not too into Melody Carson–and Sinclair seemed guilty by association.

However, The Jungle is in Eiseley Library AND it’s in The Book of Great Books, so I knew I would have to read it sometime. That time came about a week ago, when I was searching for a new novel to read and wanted to read one from The Book of Great Books–but didn’t have time to go to the library.

I was therefore forced to choose from among my own library of titles–which left me to decide between Crime and Punishment, Paradise Lost, or The Jungle. I chose The Jungle as the least intimidating of the three. And so I began.

The Jungle

I discovered, much to my surprise, that I really enjoyed reading it. It is propaganda to be sure, but interesting and well-written. While the descriptions of the meat packing plants are graphic and stomach-turning, they are largely accurate–some of the gore still exists, others of it doesn’t. Meat packing has never, and will never, be a pretty sight–but the completely unsanitary conditions described in The Jungle no longer exist (thanks in part to the public outcry The Jungle produced!)

What got me, however, about this novel was the response to it. Sinclair wrote of the public response to his book: “I aimed at the public’s heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

I can’t understand how the only response of the public to this book could have been outcry over meat packing. Sure there were plenty of problems with the meat industry that needed to be dealt with–but what about the real problem, the social problem, described in Sinclair’s book? How could someone read that book without getting up into arms over the social injustices occurring? How could they not be moved to advocate for workplace safety and overcoming the mob bosses and improving conditions for emigrants?

Many of the social conditions that Sinclair described still exist-in the packing industry and elsewhere. Hispanic immigrants (some legal, some illegal aliens) largely staff Nebraska’s meat packing plants–plants where work is hard, boring, and dangerous. Production continues to be “sped up” to the point of being incredibly dangerous. Methamphetamine use has become an enormous problem among packers. Meth allows them to stay awake and calm despite the difficult life they live–but it also kills them.

Immigrants still struggle to find housing, transportation, and food without running into unscrupulous lenders. These individuals are rarely lazy– they are working as hard as they can to pay off enormous interests on low quality homes in awful neighborhoods. They want to keep their families safe; they want to contribute to society; they want to become American citizens–but often, they find that our world is ready to swindle them into bondage.

Of course, Sinclair’s solution–socialism–is not my preferred solution. And perhaps that’s why fewer people took note of the problem. Maybe they were so turned off by Sinclair’s heavy handed application of socialism that they ignored the problems he was attempting to solve. But the problems still exist–and if we are to continue to be a great nation, we must choose to see our problems and work towards solving them.

Do you know any immigrants? Have you educated yourself concerning their plight? What are you doing to help?

You can help by finding some immigrants and becoming their friends. Help them learn English. Offer to read through the fine print with them before they sign away their lives. Tutor their children. Drive them to work or help them arrange carpools and babysitting. Help them learn our laws–ones that they must obey and ones that serve to protect them. You can make a difference.

I’m trying to decide whether I’m excited to receive my economic stimulus payment

I received a letter today from the IRS announcing that I would soon be receiving my economic stimulus payment. I checked my bank account and discovered that it had been deposited last week. I was really hoping I wouldn’t get it–so that I wouldn’t have to decide what I thought about it.

I think it’s a great idea in one sense–and an awful one in another. I am all about putting money back in the hands of the people–and spreading it out over a lot of people at that. The economic stimulus package does that. It’s a better plan than an alternative that might have the government artificially interfering with the economy. In general,my thought is that the closer we can get to a free market, the better off our market will be. Better that the money (and thereby the control) be in the hands of the people than in the hands of the government.

The problem is–it’s even better that the money be in the hands of the people that earned it. And that’s not me. I didn’t pay taxes last year. I earned money. I filed taxes. But I didn’t pay taxes. So the money that just got placed into my bank account? It came from somebody who paid taxes–likely someone who needs it as much or more than I do. It came from somebody who was working for a wage they didn’t get to keep. I kept all my wages.

It’s not fair, it’s not just. It’s government as Robin Hood–stealing from the “rich” and giving to the “poor.” Except that I’m much richer than many of the “rich”. I make enough to live comfortably–to give, to satisfy my needs and many of my desires. I have very little debt–which makes me pretty rich among Americans. If I don’t have enough money, one person goes hungry. If someone else doesn’t have enough, an entire family may go hungry. But I qualify, on the basis of an income bracket and a semi-random lottery, to receive $300 that someone else worked for and was forced to hand over to the government.

But what can I do? I can’t right the injustice. It was deposited into my bank account. I can’t just rip it up as I might have been able to with a paper check. I can’t return it. And I don’t want to. After all, better that the money be in the hands of the people than in the hands of the government. It’s just that it doesn’t belong in my hands. I already earned my money–and I got to keep it all.

Well, Lord, injustice or not, I have received this money. Help me to use it in a way that would bring honor to Your name.

On Singleness as a Calling

The month has arrived and, as usual, I am well on my way to becoming in a high dudgeon over something or the other.

The month, of course, is February–or in Z-360 speak–the “love month.” And as usually happens, coverage of the “love issue” isn’t as comprehensive or balanced as I think it ought to be.

For instance, what compels happily married people to declare to a group of single teenagers that God has the perfect mate out there for them? Says who? Where do you find a promise of a mate in Scripture? I’ve never found one. And sorry, but I don’t think the “desires of your heart” can be taken as a definitive promise of a spouse. It’s just not there. Statements like that do little except create disillusioned single adults who think that somehow God is holding out on them.

But bringing that up only creates another morass of indignation within me. For the response to my assertion will be–“I’m sorry, that statement is not correct. God does call some people to never marry.” Talk about opening another can of worms!

I do believe that God does call some people to never marry–to remain celibate. But more than that, I believe that God calls many people–all people, in fact–to be single for at least a portion of their life. And I believe that this call of singleness should be regarded highly, as a call in and of itself.

Singleness is not a waiting room for marriage–a place where every event brings you closer to the blessed appointment. Instead, singleness is a calling in its own right–even if it is followed by marriage! Take the example of my former pastor as an illustration. Pastor Rodney Hinrichs received a call from God to become a pastor many years ago. He went to seminary and pastored in a number of locations before coming to Lincoln, NE, where he pastored Rejoice in the Lord Church–the church I grew up in. When I was still in my pre-teens, Pastor Rodney and his wife Malinda felt a call of God into the mission field. They took on that call and Rodney stepped down as Pastor of Rejoice. Currently, they minister in Africa, India, and around the world.

Now tell me, was Rodney not called to be a pastor, since he was called into missions later? Did he not hear God clearly when he heard the call to pastoring? After all, that wasn’t the calling he ended up with. To say that Rodney was not called to be a pastor just because God later called him out of the pastorate and into missions is preposterous. Likewise, to say that singleness is not a calling unless it is lifelong is preposterous. Just because God may call a person out of singleness into marriage does not mean that they were not called to singleness in the first place.

Some of you may now be thinking that I’m going off the deep end–making a mountain out of a molehill. Surely it’s not that big of an issue whether singleness (even for only a period of time) is seen as a calling or not.

I contend that it is a big issue. It is a big issue because it effects our view of and value for the vast and growing single population within the church. If, in general, people are called either to be single for the rest of their lives or to be married, the singles can be one of two things–either they are “lifers” or they are “waiting”. The “lifers” we view with awe–How on earth could they do such a thing?–while the “waiting” we regard with pity–How sad that they haven’t found anyone yet. In both scenarios, these men and women are defined by their lack of a mate.

The “lifers”, having ruled out marriage as their calling in life, are now free to pursue what their real calling and place might be–without regard to marital status. They may explore what profession, what ministry they fit into–the purpose for which God has called them to singleness.

The “waiting”, on the other hand, have only one charge–anticipation and preparation for the day when their status will change. These single persons are given one singular mission–finding a mate. Little thought is given to ascertaining the purpose for which they are single. Instead, their current single state is seen only as a speed-bump or a detour on the path to marriage. So rather than seeking God for His will today in their singleness, the “waiting” population seeks to prepare themselves for the possibility of a mate, and to pursue the procurement of a mate. And when the mate does not materialize, the “waiting” are forgotten, discarded, an unhappy reminder that sometimes God’s plan doesn’t always fit the fairy tales we’ve created.

Why is it so important that we begin to see singleness as a calling–even if it is not a permanent one? Because until we see singleness as a precious, although perhaps seasonal calling, we will continue to marginalize the precious single people in our midst. Until we see singleness as a gift from God–even for those who eventually end up married, we will continue to waste precious years of our lives–years that could have been productive, but were lost, pining for a different calling.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

I have serious issues with people whose blogs don’t have any method to their madness. I abhor blogs that are little more than “I did this and then I did this.” It’s like, “That’s wonderful, but do you really not have anything better to say?” And then there are the people who jump from topic to topic. I want to scream, “Focus! If you’d stay on topic maybe I could actually think about what you’re trying to say. As it is, you’re giving me a headache.” Consider this an apology. I’m going to do what I’ve always hated. This post will be disjointed and unfocused. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.

My favorite kind of guy is the kind who’s obviously in a relationship with someone–who doesn’t happen to be currently present. Everyone knows that he’s dating someone and he knows that everyone knows that he’s dating someone. It makes things so much less awkward. It’s clear that he’s dating someone else, so no one needs to conjecture that you’re interested in him because you hang around him. And she’s not there to act jealous and clingy.

I think I must be really flirty–or that maybe I give off “I like you” vibes even when I don’t necessarily “like” someone. I like eye contact. I enjoy talking to people. I like to hear people’s stories. I like to laugh. My eyebrows do weird things when I’m conversing. I’m not necessarily flirting or “in like” with someone. I just do that.

It always cracks me up when in the middle of a perfectly good conversation, a guy breaks off with a worried crease in his forehead and starts telling me about his girlfriend. And I think, “That’s wonderful, but what does she have to do with this conversation? I’m really not trying to hit on you. Seriously.” And then there are those that I can have good times with for awhile and then suddenly they’re gone and don’t talk to me and avoid eye contact forever afterward. And I think, “You’re okay. Believe it or not, looking at me will not somehow make you susceptible to my wiles. I don’t like you like that.”

So that’s why attached guys whose girlfriends aren’t around are my favorite. I can ask them to dance without fearing that they’ll think I’m interested. I can make eye contact and laugh when they say something that amuses me without feeling like I’m being considered a flirt. I can treat them like brothers without feeling that my actions will be misconstrued as thinking of them as something more than brothers.

I have a bag of onions in my car. They’ve been there for almost a month. Maybe someday I’ll clean them out. Maybe. It’s amazing the sorts of things I can accumulate. I have the case an AOL trial CD came in sitting on my desk. I threw the trial CD away promptly. But I kept the case. Why? I don’t know. I never really thought about it.

I can’t get warm. Barn Dance was marvelous but it froze me through. I’ve been home at least an hour and my thermostat is set to 76 degrees. And my feet are still frozen, my arms have goosebumps, and my legs are a ghastly shade of purple. Or maybe that’s just because of the dust. My snot was black. Disgusting. I should shower, get all the dust off of me. But I’m too tired. I’m weighing it in my mind. Maybe. Maybe Not. Can’t decide. Never can. I will by tomorrow morning.

Josh read one of my favorite quotes in his testimony today. “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity is seriously one of the best books in the world. I should review it here sometime soon. Why is it that as much as we have seen that no experience in this world can satisfy our longing, we still think that it’s just because we haven’t done the right thing yet? Solomon said it was all meaningless, chasing after the wind, but we say, “I haven’t tried everything yet. Give me a while to try everything before I admit that You’re the answer to my longing.”

I cut myself twice yesterday while trying to cut out cards to use for Scripture memory. My medieval herb cutting scissors from Sweden are great, but probably not the best for cutting five layers of cardstock. My little wounds got dust in them and they hurt now. When will I stop hurting myself? I’m always burning myself while cooking, cutting myself instead of the croissant, and accidentally banging myself against objects I knew were present all along. Maybe I have a subconscious death wish or self-mutilation fantasy. I think that’s a bunch of baloney. I think it has more to do with my being scatterbrained and a bit clumsy.

Speaking of clumsy, you should have seen my group for the second set of square dancing tonight. My first group was getting along well–I was the one who made the most mistakes–and everyone else danced swimmingly (I’ve always wanted to use that word.) But that second set. We sort of threw together a group of people–coerced some into joining us, I think. And we were BAD (with all caps.) But we had a blast. And that’s what it’s about right? Not looking good or following the rules or whatever. I dance for fun. I always have. When it ceases to be fun and becomes work, I will quit dancing. Which I kind of doubt will happen in this lifetime–and as we all know, we will have glorified bodies in the next and won’t have to worry about the curse of toil–so Dance On, Baby!

Facebook is evil. My brother is on Facebook at his high school. He doesn’t have any friends yet. That’s sad. But then there are only twenty three people from his entire school on Facebook. I guess that’s justified. Facebook helps me remember names. But I have one person who I have no clue who she is or how she got on my list of Facebook friends. Mostly I know my Facebook friends okay in real life. But sometimes real life and Facebook get blurred. I sometimes wonder after adding somebody immediately after meeting them what our friendship in real time would have been like if we hadn’t been friends on Facebook. Would I even recognize them if I saw them? Or would I reintroduce myself–as I am sometimes in the habit of doing?

I like best when someone else adds me as their friend. It makes me feel special. I got invited to a party just a while ago! That made me feel really wanted. Of course, it was an invitation to the Barn Dance and was probably sent to everybody in the Navigators group, but still. Some days you just want to be wanted and even a Facebook party invitation makes you feel great.

Maybe I’m sick and that’s why I’m so cold. I definitely look flushed, but my heat is now set to 80 degrees and I’m freezing. I have a thermometer in my health aide kit, but I’m not sure if I want to use it. I can never figure out if I should list myself as a contact when I use supplies. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac (which, by the way, is particular segment of the abdomen in anatomical language.) Actually, I don’t think I’m as much a hypochondriac as I just wish I could have an excuse to get off the merry-go-round for a while and take some real rest. But I’m usually thwarted–until the day comes when I really can’t afford to break down. And then, break down is so much less comfortable than the “tune-up” kind of rest. Break down tends to be miserable, tune up is just peaceful.

I hate nasty notes. I don’t see why people can’t just go to each other nicely and fight out their disagreements like civilized folks. Choose your weapon, ten paces, and all that jazz. Instead they pick at each others’ eyes with anonymous notes of unparalleled venom. People should think before they write. If you want to hurt someone, at least let them know who their enemy is. Anonymous notes are the cowards way out–unless they say something like “I like you a lot and want to marry you someday.” Obviously, when it comes to love, cowardice is a relative term. The tendency of a lover is to foolhardiness, so any reticence is considered sense.

I should go down and write tomorrow’s menu on the board. Yogurt for breakfast. I don’t feel like cooking. I never do after Thursday. I hope that this cooking weariness will go away once I have my own home. If not, that might really stink. Even though I just prepared it despite my lethargy, I still don’t want to eat anything that I myself have cooked by the time Friday rolls around. It’s like my internal clock yells, “Friday night. Go out. Go out. You should not be eating at home. It’s a Friday night. It’s the night you go out. Go out.” And suddenly, Valentino’s across the way starts smelling awfully good–even though I just finished making my favorite egg drop soup. And I start dreaming of Lazlo’s artichoke dip even though I just finished making bread. It had better get better, or else I will be a poor, poor woman. Even with my most frugal cooking, I don’t think any budget can sustain two days of dining out per week “just because I’m tired of cooking.” No siree!

Anyway, sorry again about the rambling. No one should have to put up with that–and hopefully you haven’t–in which case you probably aren’t hearing my apology, having listened to my warning at the beginning. Just a sec. Why am I writing this apology? It’s basically pointless. So, this post wasn’t so much about anyone else. It was an entirely selfish post. It’s cathartic to not organize your thoughts. I didn’t know that until now. But hopefully I can find some other way to do it so I don’t scare my readers away.

Thing I want to put on my website eventually:
–Review of Mere Christianity
–Recipe for Egg Flower Soup
–Ephesians book study–so far, SOOOOOO super good!
–a dictionary of my own personal (marvelous) definitions like worldview: the basic framework of beliefs that defines how a person views the world. That was beautiful–even succinct. (I don’t know that that’s a word that has ever been used in reference to me before.)

Wow! I just don’t know how to shut up, do I? Here I go again. Honestly, forgive the grammar and the writing style and the everything else of this, because it seriously stinks. And if you actually read this entire post, drop me an email at my webmaster account b3master@menterz.com Then I’ll know to give you a cookie for being a true friend–who listens to even the most inane of my ventings.


My Bible study on Thursday digressed a bit to discuss the concept of free will vs. predestination. One of the girls mentioned a shirt a friend had seen. On the front, it read: “Calvinism: This shirt chose me.” The back read: “Armenianism: I chose this shirt.” I laughed when I heard it, but as I’ve reflected on the thought since that point, I realize how very Armenian that shirt is–and how much I abhor it for that reason.

The essential problem with the shirt is that in its analogy God:me::shirt:me. This is an inherently wrong analogy. For if I were to compare my power to God’s, I would say that it is almost equal to the shirt’s power over me. So in fact, the analogy would more accurately be as follows: God:me::me:shirt. I am as God to the shirt. It is infinitely less wise than I, it is infinitely less capable of choice than I. In the same way, we are infinitely less wise and powerful than God is.

And therein lies my argument with Armenianism in its many forms. Armenianism places man in the place of God. I control my destiny. I choose where I will go. In essence, salvation becomes less about God’s work of saving, but my act of choosing. It cheapens the grace of God, makes light of His justice, and spits on the cross.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means a classic Calvinist. If you look at the spectra of thought concerning predestination, you will see that five point Calvinism occupies a very narrow band at the far right of the spectra. The entire rest of the spectra falls under the category “Armenian.” I lie a hair’s breadth from the Calvinist viewpoint.

When I look at the Scriptures, I cannot countenance the thought that predestination is really just a fancy word for “knowing beforehand what we would choose.” If that were so, why would Romans 8:29 make a point to say “For those He foreknew, He also predestined”? If the two were the same, Paul would have no reason to say also. The Bible is clear on the choice of God in matters of salvation. The Scripture talks of us being chosen, predestined, set apart for good works that God prepared in advance for us to do. All of these speak of the sovereignty of God in choosing us.

On the other hand, I cannot easily dismiss the call of God to personal decision in Scripture. From Joshua “Choose this day whom you will serve” to Mark 16:16, “whoever believes…will be saved.” John 20:31 states that “these things were written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ…and that believing you may have life in His name.” I Corinthians 1:22 says that God was pleased to save those who believe. When the jailer asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved, they told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:30) Romans 10:19 states that by believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Personal decision is important.

I like to think of it like this: You are quickly dying of a disease. There is only one cure for this disease–a total heart transplant. The problem is that this operation is prohibitively expensive. It requires that someone else offer a still living heart (thus dying). It requires a physician skilled enough to perform the delicate surgery. It requires a good deal of money to prepare the operation room for both patients, to take care of the burial of the heart donor, to get everything in place. There is absolutely no way that you could pay for this surgery, and there’s no one around whose heart would match–they all have the same disease you do. And even if there was someone who had a heart that was free of this disease–they would have to die in order to give you this transplant. No one would do such a thing. And the surgeon? There is only one surgeon in the world capable of undertaking this surgery–you’d think your chances of getting in are nil.

Now imagine that one day, as you were dying of this dread disease, a man called you on the phone. He said, “I know that you have this horrible disease and that you are dying of it. There’s no way for you to recover. Well, it just so happens that my heart is a perfect fit for you, and my Father is the only surgeon capable of doing this type of heart transplant. I’ve fallen in love with you, and I want to give you my heart. My father, seeing how much I love you, is willing to do the surgery for free. He has a 100% success rate. All you have to do is accept my heart and we’ll fly right out and get the surgery taken care of.”

The question is: who saved who? It would be foolish to say that you were saved because you said yes to the man and his surgeon father. No, you were saved because this man offered you his heart, and because his father performed the surgery. There was no way that anything you could have done could have even come close to saving you. You were saved because that man looked out over the sea of humanity that was dying of this disease, saw you, and loved you enough to offer you his heart. You were saved because the man’s father loved his son and loved you enough to perform the surgery for free. Your only part to play was that of a desperate person clinging to his only hope.

Ephesians 2:8-10 sums up my view of predestination. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God’s part: saving us in His marvelous grace by the work of Christ on the cross; giving us the faith to believe Him; creating us for good works; preparing the way for us to fulfill our purpose. Our part: to have faith in God unto salvation and to walk in the works He has prepare us to do.