Marriage is Not Hard

Maybe Jenni and I are just weird, and maybe we’re naïve, since we’ve only been married 10 years, but we feel like marriage isn’t hard. WeddingMarriage is not tough. Life is tough. Life stinks sometimes. It can be excruciatingly painful and hard, but marriage is one of the best systems for dealing with the difficulty life presents. Having someone to talk to, to lean on, to reach out to, to serve, to help, to confide in, to love, to cry with, to hold, makes life manageable.

Even the genuine differences of opinion, and different views on various topics aren’t difficult in marriage. Pride and selfishness are hard, and cause problems, but pride isn’t marriage, and selfishness isn’t marriage. Those things hurt marriage, damaging our best system for dealing with the difficulties of life.

Life is hard. Sin is hard. Pride and selfishness are hard, with or without marriage. Marriage is not hard.

What I’m talking about is less intended as a statement of “fact,” and more of a statement of perspective. And while words alone do nothing to dramatically change the day to day experiences of life in an extremely challenging and cruel world, a change in the way we see the world around us can. What I’m promoting is a paradigm shift: an entirely different way of viewing marriage.

I see marriage as a perfect ideal. Marriage is selfless, kind, generous, loving, patient, empowering, binding, synergistic, and even exalting. Marriage is something that goes well beyond the simple addition of two individuals entering a life-long partnership. It’s the essence that takes that initial partnership and turns it into the germinating seeds of divine companionship. Marriage, as an institution, ordained of God, is perfect. It lifts, it deepens, and it expands. It has no flaws, and it always pulls people together.

People, on the other hand, are flawed. People are imperfect. People are emotionally, mentally, intellectually, and physically unstable in countless ways. We’re mortals living on a very, very mortal world. Life on this earth is intended to be hard. It’s intended to be infuriatingly challenging, almost to the point of impossible, for one simple reason. We are the direct offspring of God. No simple life would suffice to teach embryonic deities the essential lessons to become all that our Father intends us to be. Life, in all its stages, was never intended to be easy.

God sends us here because He knows what we have the power to become. He has given us the tools necessary to become like He is. There’s a reason that the family is central to God’s plan. It’s not just a way of keeping us organized. It’s not just a way of saving us from loneliness. Marriage is an exalting organization. It’s an endowment of power, the very seed of exaltation. There’s a reason that the sealing covenant is called the covenant of exaltation. Marriage, most especially temple marriage, actually begins that process.

And yet, in all of this, we’re still imperfect, flawed, mortal beings. But we’re learning. We’re growing. We’re failing (a LOT), and if we’re taking the right approach, we’re learning from our failures and becoming better. That process is hard. It’s really hard. But it’s not the exalting powers and gifts given by God that make it so hard. It’s the imperfect, flawed, mortal parts of ourselves that make it hard.

I don’t deny that life as a married person is hard. Life as an anything is hard. But marriage itself—that ennobling, binding, wondrous blessing that strengthens us as a couple and as a family to endure the crosses of life—is not hard. It’s wonderful, liberating, and joyful.

The problems arrive when I act against my marriage. When I am selfish, when I am prideful, when I forget to exercise the power God has bestowed upon me in order to bless, strengthen, and love my wife, I am being a problem. And at those times, I need to change. I can’t act against what I know is right without hurting my marriage, and marriage is the very embodiment of everything I know to be right.

That’s why I can never blame marriage for any of life’s problems. Marriage lifts. Sin pulls down. Marriage exalts. Pride and selfishness damn.

When I find that I’m not measuring up, I don’t blame my marriage, and I don’t blame my wife. I try hard not to allow myself to get too discouraged with myself, either. And the simple way to avoid discouragement is to change—to humble myself, apologize, and change my behavior. I know I won’t be perfect in this life, but the journey is so empowering and ennobling that I can’t give it up, I can’t stop. And I certainly won’t ever throw away one of the best tools available for making that happen for both me and my wife. We’re in this for the long run. We’re in it forever. It’s not eternity or bust, it’s just eternity.

And we’re going to make it work, together.

Why I Still Don’t Support Gay Marriage

Of all the entries I’ve done on this site, I think none have evoked such differing opinions as Why I Do Not Support Gay Marriage. I wasn’t surprised, especially since I posted it in the middle of the whole prop 8 campaign. New comments pop up every once in a while, and the most recent came up this morning. Actually, the commenter posted three comments. You’ll have to view the original post to see his comments, since they’re too long to post on this entry, but they can be read at http://blog.chashathaway.com/why-i-do-not-support-gay-marriage/

Anyway, I thought I’d blog my response to his comments. I’m glad conversation is taking place on the subject. It needs to be addressed.

Sven,

I understand what you are saying, and I don’t expect you to simply believe what I’ve said. I’m not making a political argument, though the gay marriage issue has become quite political. I am making a spiritual statement – sharing what I believe, and why I believe it. I do not believe gay marriage is right, and I believe that those who engage in homosexual behavior will one day come to regret it, whether in this life or the next. I don’t say this to convince you, but simply to tell you why I feel the way I do.

I also understand why you would say that I can believe what I want and that I should let others believe as they want. That makes sense. But from my point of view, watching a person take a glass of water which I know to be poisoned will still prompt me to act, even if the person doesn’t know me and believes they are acting in complete safety. Nor do I expect the person to automatically believe me that there really is poison in the water – especially if they are terribly thirsty.

If I were to believe what I do, and not speak out, I would be a hypocrite. Incidentally, I am just as concerned about the problems in straight marriages. The divorce rates reflect a great deal of trouble in the world. I am not one who would want divorce to be unavailable, but some of the problems that are leading to divorce are serious, and can’t be lightly ignored. Adultery, abuse, pornography, and cruelty are all major problems, and will lead to regret just as surely as homosexuality.

You are right in saying that living the law of Moses is no longer expected of us. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law and gave us a higher law. But even with the few verses in the New Testament that speak out against homosexuality, the real source of what God wants of us today comes through modern revelation, given to living prophets, and confirmed in the hearts of individuals world-wide. Again, I don’t expect everyone who reads this to automatically believe what I’m saying, but I know that God speaks to living prophets, and the prophets have made it unmistakeably clear that homosexuality is wrong, and that marriage can only be right if it is between a man and a woman.

The prophets are not putting words in Gods mouth. God has commanded His living prophets to teach these things. I am sharing what the prophets have said, and what I know to be true. I realize that many people will be offended by what I say. That’s okay. But I can’t let it go unsaid. I can’t stop people from drinking poison, but I’ll do all I can to warn them. I will also vote to keep the poison illegal, but ultimately people have their own choices.

It’s okay that we disagree on the issue. I understand your point of view, and I hope you can understand mine.

– Chas

Revolutionizing the Course of the Universe

This story took place a short time before Jenni and I were married.

Revolutionize

It was a very dull day at Deseret Book as I leaned against the counter, chin in hands, waiting for something to happen. One of my co-workers stood only a few feet away, bored as I was.

“So,” I said, trying to break the monotony, “What should I do to revolutionize the course of the world today?”

He thought a moment. “Got any bombs? You could always blow up an important building somewhere.”

“That’s true. But I don’t have any bombs. Besides, that’s a bad thing, and there are plenty of bad things going on all the time. I need to find something good to do.”

“That’s true,” he replied. Then we both fell back into silence.

I began thinking more about our conversation. What could one do to revolutionize the course of the world? What about the universe? Could one person effect the destiny of the universe?

There have been many people who have changed the course of life on this planet; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. George Washington led a revolutionary war that led to the foundation of what might be considered the most powerful nation in world history. But did those things change the destiny of the universe?

It occurred to me that the person who best fit that description would have to be Jesus Christ. Not only did he save the destiny of every person who would ever live, but He provided a way for us to become like His Father.

Now there’s a new approach to the question. If I have potential to become like my Father in Heaven, then certainly I have power to effect the destiny of the universe.
So I guess the next question would have to be, what can I do today to best effect that progress? Of course, a response as broad as “live the gospel” wasn’t really a sufficient, since I had been striving to do that my whole life.

Then I realized that I was in the process of beginning one of the major aspects of the perfecting process. I was about to get married in the temple. I decided that maybe the best thing I could do to work toward that goal would be to strengthen my relationship with Jenni. How could I do that? That question is easy. I could be kind and loving to her.

I looked around the store. Everything was quiet, normal, ordinary. Customers came in and left. Employees straightened bookshelves or stood patiently waiting for something to happen. I had a date with Jenni scheduled for that night. I decided that tonight I would change the course of the universe – I would show love and kindness towards her.

How to Revolutionize the Course of the Universe

talltab1It was a very dull day at at the bookstore as I leaned against the counter, chin in hands, waiting for something to happen.  One of my coworkers stood only a few feet away, bored as I was.
talltab1“So,” I said, trying to break the monotony, “What should I do to revolutionize the course of the world today?”
talltab1He thought a moment.  “Got any bombs?  You could always blow up an important building somewhere.”
talltab1“That’s true.  But I don’t have any bombs.  Besides, that’s a bad thing, and there are plenty of bad things going on all the time.  I need to find something good to do.”
talltab1“That’s true,” he replied.  Then we both fell back into silence.

talltab1I began thinking more about our conversation.  What could one do to revolutionize the course of the world?  What about the universe?  Could one person effect the destiny of the universe?
talltab1There have been many people who have changed the course of life on this planet; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  George Washington led a revolutionary war that led to the foundation of what might be considered the most powerful nation in world history.  But did those things change the destiny of the universe?
talltab1It occurred to me that the person who best fit that description would have to be Jesus Christ.  Not only did he save the destiny of every person who would ever live, but He provided a way for us to become like His Father.
talltab1Now there’s a new approach to the question.  If I have potential to become like my Father in Heaven, then certainly I have power to effect the destiny of the universe.
So I guess the next question would have to be, what can I do today to best effect that progress?  Of course, a response as broad as “live the gospel” wasn’t really a sufficient, since I had been striving to do that my whole life.
talltab1Then I realized that I was in the process of beginning one of the major aspects of the perfecting process.  I was about to get married in the temple.  I decided that maybe the best thing I could do to work toward that goal would be to strengthen my relationship with Jenni.  How could I do that?  That question is easy.  I could be kind and loving to her.
talltab1I looked around the store.  Everything was quiet, normal, ordinary.  Customers came in and left.  Employees straightened bookshelves or stood patiently waiting for something to happen.  I had a date with Jenni scheduled for that night.  I decided that tonight I would change the course of the universe – I would show love and kindness towards her.

Jenniology – The Meaning Behind the Music

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Jenniology – The Meaning Behind the Music

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Tab 2 It took me awhile to decide what to study in college.  I had a lot of interests, and narrowing it down was difficult.  By the time it was time to sign up for school, I had it down to either music or genealogy.  I loved studying family history, and I thought it would be cool to go into a profession where I could help others with theirs.  But ultimately I knew I was more passionate about music.  Besides, I spent a lot more time practicing and thinking about music than I did genealogy, so I decided on music.
tabIt wasn’t until I had been going to college for a few years that I realized what I really wanted to have as my life study.  With only a few credits needed to get my Associates degree in music, I met Jenni.  She was the sweetest and prettiest girl I had ever met.  After a year of bumpy on and off dating, I asked her to marry me – the best choice I could have made.  It was then that I pledged myself to the study of Jenniology.
tabWe have been married since October 6, 2004, and I love her now more than EVER.  She is AMAZING!!!!  I am now a full time Jenniologist, and I am learning more every day.  Here are a few random Jenniology facts that I have learned already:

Tab 2Jenni loves candy – especially fruity candy, like Sprees and Bottlecaps.
Tab 2Jenni’s hair curls in a water fight.
Tab 2Jenni’s laugh makes any bad day great.
Tab 2Jenni has taught me that full-time motherhood is the best career possible.
Tab 2There’s nothing in the world like cuddling up to a sleepy Jenni.
Tab 2Eternal family is worth any price.  In fact, it’s worth every price.

Tab 2And she’s teaching me more all the time.  I love her, I love her, I love her!!!  Thanks, Jenni, for being who you are and letting me be your most dedicated student!

Read the meaning behind the music for more of Chas’s original pieces

The Chronic Distraction

I was deeply impressed with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf‘s talk this evening in the priesthood session of the Church’s general conference about not getting distracted by less important things.  It got me thinking about how easily I get distracted from quality family time.

Why is that so stinkin’ easy to do?!  Why is it so easy to push my kids away so I can check my Facebook?  I tell myself it will only be for five minutes, but it never works out that way – and it has nothing to do with Facebook itself.  It’s me.  And if the distraction is not Facebook, it’s the piano, or email, or the garden, or even the dishes.  Sure, those are all good things – things that I should take advantage of.  But must I use the most quality family hours to do them?

I suppose everyone struggles with stuff like that.  That’s why I think it’s SO good to get these reminders once in a while.  Usually the things the church leaders encourage us to do are simply things that our conscience has been trying to get us to do for a long time.  The reminder simply brings it back to our immediate attention – oh, yeah, my family really IS more important to me than the computer.  Oh, yeah, my relationship with my Heavenly Father really IS more important to me than preparing a time-consuming meal.

Then I tell Heavenly Father about my mistake, and how I’ll do better, and I expect Him to say something like, “Duh, dude!  Hulllloooo!”  But instead He just smiles and gives me a hug.  If there’s anything that will solidify a re-dedication, it’s that.

He always does know what works best.  Always.

the-chronic-distraction

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Making Moments – Getting Married Yet

Making Moments – Getting Married Yet

While eating Lunch, me and Lunch Bucket talked.

“Hey Lunch Bucket, What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I can marry a boy.  A boy can marry a girl!  A boy can marry me.  I’m a little bigger.”
“Which boy are you going to marry?  What is his name?”
Either she didn’t know, or she didn’t want to tell me, because she evaded the question.  So finally I asked, “Why do people get married?”
“Grandma boy.”
“Grandma boy?”
“A Boy is not Grandma.”
“That’s true.”
For a few minutes we talked about me and Jenni getting married.  She seemed to accept that okay, until she said, “But Momma’s not married yet.”
“Momma is married.  She’s married to Baba.”
“Momma’s not married yet!”
“But Momma and Baba got married in the temple,” I reminded her, “and then we had you, Lunch Bucket.  If Momma wasn’t married to me, she wouldn’t have had Lunch Bucket.”
“Momma’s not married yet.  She’s wearing a pants and shirt.”
“Oh,” I replied, “you mean she’s not wearing a wedding dress.  Yeah, she’s not wearing one now.  But she wore one when we got married.”
“And Grandma is in a wedding dress.”
“Yeah, Grandma wore a wedding dress when she got married, just like Momma did.”
“Yeah.”
“And you’re going to get married someday, too, huh?”
“But not yet.”
“Yeah, when you’re big like Momma, huh?”
“Yeah.  But Momma’s not married yet.”
Oh, well.  I guess she’s just going to think marriage and wedding dresses are the same thing for a while.

Making Moments: Questionarriage

Questionarriage

I’ve been ignoring all the marriage questionnaires on Facebook for awhile, but then Jenni and I decided it might make a good Valentines podcast, so we collected a few such questionnaires and recorded ourselves answering the questions on them for our family podcast, which is at http://popcornandpodcasting.blogspot.com/

You can also find it on iTunes if you search the podcasts for “Popcorn and Podcasting.”

Why I Do Not Support Gay Marriage

This life is not the beginning of our existence, and death is not the end of it. In fact, this life is a very short part of our eternal existence.

It is an eternal principle that family consists of a man and a woman with their children. It is also an eternal principle that every man has always been a man, and every woman has always been a woman. Likewise, every man will always be a man, and every woman will always be a woman.

The few occasions where there is a physical defect in which a baby is born with either no sexual organs or both male and female organs does not change the eternal identity of that child, which includes his or her gender.

Gender is part of our eternal identity, and according to eternal principles, marriage is to be between a man and a woman. No other combination is a marriage in the eternal sense, and therefore no other combination can last forever. No matter what the government decrees, that eternal principle will not change.

For those who live a life in accordance with eternal principles, a simple mortal marriage is the seed that grows into an eternal marriage in the next life. No other seed will grow into an eternal marriage. There is no way for it to happen. Just as a pebble planted and watered cannot grow, a marriage between two people of the same gender cannot grow into an eternal marriage, and will end with death.

The sad part about this is that those who are in such marriages do not realize that the end result of their choice is only suffering. Part of that suffering will come when they realize that what they once thought of as an inborn orientation was only a mortal challenge that ends with death.

Many people think their tendencies are part of their identity, and ever will be. They think their attraction to their own gender is part of who they are.

Certainly such tendencies have a great impact on them. Certainly they lead to almost unbearable longings that seem like they can only be relieved by either sin or death. Certainly this is a trial that can seem insurmountable.

But this life is not intended to be easy. Our trials are intended to help us realize the extent of our potential. We will never know how strong we are until we face our biggest challenges and overcome them.

The agency and choices of the individual are stronger than life itself with ALL its inherent challenges.

Someone who faces the trial of same gender attraction faces a difficult trial – perhaps even comparable to the trials faced by someone who is quadriplegic, or someone who has lost every person that they ever cared for, or someone living on the streets with mental illness.

Gratefully, God has provided that all of these people, by living faithful to His commandments and enduring their trials well, can in the next life receive every blessing denied them in this short life. For those who are truly faithful to God, these blessings will be accompanied by more and greater blessings than they can now imagine. There is no suffering in this life that will not be well compensated for in the next life if we are simply willing to follow the commandments of God.

Some feel that God will accept them the way that they are, and that He will love them and bless them with all the blessings He has to offer regardless of who they marry. But God doesn’t break His own laws. He teaches the eternal, unchanging principles, and allows His children to choose whether or not to follow them. He even allows them the freedom of choice whether or not to believe them. But He does not remove the eternal consequences of those choices.

To anyone, anywhere that is in a same gender relationship, I plead with you: consider the eternal nature of life. Consider that the way you see things now is not the way you will always see things. The way you feel now is not the way you’ll always feel. You may have tendencies and attraction towards people of your gender. You do not have to act on those feelings. Know that in time, if only in the next life, those feelings will pass, and if you have followed the Lord’s commandments, the true and eternal nature of attraction will return to you. That may seem impossible to you now, but it’s true. Your power of choice is stronger than your tendencies.

I am not suggesting that you marry someone of the opposite gender in hopes that you will someday be attracted to them. I am suggesting that you stay close to the Lord and He will be with you. If you stay close to Him, He will guide you and give you all the help you need.

If my desire to save people from suffering can be called intolerant, so be it. If it is bigotry to make an effort to establish laws that the same people will someday be grateful for, I guess I’m a bigot. But I won’t just look the other way while people hurt themselves. And in this case, those who try to redefine marriage may also be hurting generations to come.

Read the follow up entry on this topic