Knee and Tsunami

Sherry and I celebrated our 43rd anniversary in very subdued way. We’d planned a trip to Bend to hang out for a time for just us, but that all fell through. Sherry was just in her second day home from the hospital following her second knee replacement. We thought we’d have at least six weeks notice, but there was a cancellation so we took it. That meant a quick change of schedule and arranging for the surgery. We wondered if their surgical gowns would be green since it was St. Patrick’s Day. But all was ordinary. Surgery went well and the pain management was excellent so Sherry came home in good spirits, though the expectation of many weeks of painful recovery is never a good prospect. She has her first physical therapy appointment today and we are looking forward to getting her bruising assessed. There’s a lot more this time and it concerns us.

I had cataract surgery a couple of weeks before Sherry’s surgery. They poked a hole in my cornea, blasted the old cloudy lens with ultrasound, sucked it out, put in a new carefully built plastic lens, smoothed everything out and were done in 8 minutes. Amazing. Now I see very clearly, so much so that I can see the ‘”brown tone” in my other eye which also has a cataract, the doctor says.

Only a few years ago neither of these could have happened and in much of the world they still can’t happen. I just don’t know what to make of that. The advances in health care are astounding but very expensive so it goes with riches. the problems with justice plague my mind, but I have no idea what do about it.

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami also hit close to home. My friend Shigeru and Atsuko Suzuki live there as does the family of one of Donn and Susan’s foreign exchange students. I’ve read John Piper saying the decisive cause is the hand of God (article here) and incline to David Bentley Hart saying this is the work of the enemy whom Jesus came to destroy (article here). In his book, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, Piper says “the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering. The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the great display of the glory of God’s grace that ever was, or ever could be.” I fully agree that the eternal Son of God entered into our suffering, taking its worst to display the glory of His grace and bring us His joy. But I can’t see in Bible that being the reason for suffering. The statement in Bible is that He came to condemn the prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), to destroy the last enemy, death (1 Cor. 15:26; 54-56). I’m more with Hart, believing “For while Christ takes the suffering of his creatures up into his own, it is not because he or they had need of suffering, but because he would not abandon his creatures to the grave. And while we know that the victory over evil and death has been won, we know also that it is a victory yet to come, and that creation therefore, as Paul says, groans in expectation of the glory that will one day be revealed. Until then, the world remains a place of struggle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, life and death; and, in such a world, our portion is charity.” On that point we all agree: Evil is evil and the Christian response is to help. 

Sexual Behavior in America

A new report just came out from the Centers for Disease Control (Report here) and once again confirms the biblical view of sexuality. Russ Douthat has a summary in his NY Times op ed here. Most important is that people who follow a biblical view of sexuality are the most happy folk. Douthat says that another study confirms this:

. . . two sociologists, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, in their recent book, “Premarital Sex in America.” Their research, which looks at sexual behavior among contemporary young adults, finds a significant correlation between sexual restraint and emotional well-being, between monogamy and happiness — and between promiscuity and depression.

This correlation is much stronger for women than for men. Female emotional well-being seems to be tightly bound to sexual stability — which may help explain why overall female happiness has actually drifted downward since the sexual revolution.

Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.

The point isn’t that we should aspire to some Arcadia of perfect chastity. Rather, it’s that a high sexual ideal can shape how quickly and casually people pair off, even when they aren’t living up to its exacting demands. The ultimate goal is a sexual culture that makes it easier for young people to achieve romantic happiness — by encouraging them to wait a little longer, choose more carefully and judge their sex lives against a strong moral standard.

The other thing from the study is that American sexual behavior is actually improving: In 2002 22 percent of Americans ages 15-24 were virgin. But in 2008 that number rose to 28%. That’s still a depressingly small number, but it is an encouraging direction.

So the church has a lot of work to do.