Eugene Cho

marriage – the greatest synergy

As we’re studying through Colossians, I decided to take some time to ‘park’ around Colossians 3:1-17.  Because of life circumstances in the life of our church, I thought it would be appropriate to engage in a topical series (six week) entitled, “God’s Ethics of Intimacy and Sex.”  Of the 400 adults at Quest, I would guess that about 70-75% are single. Every year, we have at least a dozen weddings.   This past week, I even learned that we’ll be having our first Interbay and Quest marriage.  This couple took the ‘church merger’ way too literally.  :)  Like any community, we have seen our share of both incredibly beautiful and broken stories in relationships.  And so, I hope these sermons have been both appropriate and helpful to our church community.  I’ve discovered that when you’re speaking to a larger group, you can afford to be brutally honest.  I’ve sensed that brutal honestly lends itself to a deeper understanding and experience of God’s irrational mercy and grace.

All six sermons can be accessed on the Quest website.  Yesterday, I very much enjoyed teaching about intimacy and sex in the context of marriage.  Over 80% of women preferred (according to a survey conducted in a Dear Abby poll) a good conversation on a couch rather than sex with the man they loved.  For men, ‘lack of sex’ is cited as the single biggest factor in the breakdown of their marriage.  This = tension.  Both women and men long for intimacy and when they’re unable to have those needs met (whatever they might be), it’s possible and at times, likely, for our ‘beauty’ to submerge and our ‘depravity’ to emerge.  I don’t say this to justify the choices that people make but statistics indicating that 53% of all folks will have an affair at one point in their lifetime is gutwrenchingly painful.

As my wife and I celebrate 10 years of marriage, we look forward to gathering with other folks at our church to renew our vows.   The worst thing that the church can do is to beautify ‘marriage’ in such a way that it isolates anyone and everyone whose marriage isn’t perfect.   Umm…that would be everyone.  So, everyone has to go around pretending how perfect their marriage is when in fact, we all know that it simply isn’t perfect.  One person said it pretty accurately:  marriage is the closest thing to heaven and the closest thing to hell…

I’m tempted to regurgitate my sermon here but I’ll just share this one thought that sprung up on me yesterday.  Marriage, as God intended, is the greatest synergy God has ever created.  When a man and woman, leave their parents, and embark on the journey of being “one” as husband and wife, imagine all that can be created not only for the the joy and pleasure of the two but for the glory of God.

mcquilkin2.jpgI recently discovered Mr. Robertson McQuilkin’s resignation speech from 1990. Each time I listen to it, it resonates deeply.  He was the president of Columbia International University in SC when his wife, Muriel, was struggling with Alzheimer’s.  He felt it both necessary and a privilege to take care of his wife.

In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in joy as well as in sorrow, in successes and failures, in prosperity and in adversity. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.”

Filed under: church, family, marriage, ministry, quest church

9 Responses

  1. I’ll check it out. Thanks for the link.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Eugene,

    A ‘Dear Abbey’ poll? Really??? :-):-):-) I’m teasing you a little, but on the serious side, I’m not sure that’s the best way to get at the reality of the subject. If you say 80% of women just want to talk on the couch, it makes it sound like women are not really interested in sex. It puts them back in the virgin/whore dilemma where nice wives just like to sit and talk. If it were based in some actual research, it would be one thing, but this is a Dear Abbey poll. Trust me, women like sex too.

    Lauren Winner’s book has a great holistic take on this, as do others.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Eugene….I mean, how would you like it if I said, “Korean men aren’t very sexual/they dont enjoy sex very much…they’d rather sit and talk”?

  4. e cho says:

    jennifer: you and your family were missed this past sunday. i wished you could have listened to the whole sermon. although it is possible you would have disliked it even more. i’m not sure but i poked at the dear abby poll, explained that sex doesn’t = the totality of intimacy, and that these statistics were dangerous because the generalizations that it portrays. as i shared on sunday, i’m certain that women enjoy sex and that men also enjoy converations. my hope was to convey the importance of the converage of intimacy: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, creational (stewardship), relational, recreational (play & laugh) and of course, physical.

    i’m sorry you’ve taken offense at the post. i’ll need to be more careful…
    and yes, i’ve heard incredible things about lauren winner’s book and am in the process of contacting her peeps to see if she’ll come and speak at quest – likely next year.

    and no, i don’t believe in pepetuating the virgin/whore dilemma.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Eugene,

    Thank you. I really appreciate your response here.

    I promise I’m not trying to just be picky:-) Part of the reason I’m drawn to Quest is because its a group where so many people are talking about the issues of racism, sexism, etc….so, when sexist things like that are said, it stings even more.

    I appreciate your heart and leadership!

  6. Samantha says:

    Eugene,
    I just want to thank you for the messages the past six weeks. Your personal honesty and ‘brutal honesty’ has been very refreshing and helpful. I look forward to the Q/A on the 26th.

  7. angela says:

    FWIW, I thought the sermon was incredible. I appreciated your comment about eat, sleep, laugh, pray, and talk as simple things that couples can do to build intimacy.

  8. cp says:

    pe,

    what a refreshing series on marriage for the last 6 weeks…Thanks!!! i’ve been arguing with my wife the last couple of days and been feeling pretty crappy…but the video of McQuilkin’s speech was of great help. it really stung my heart. i need to go home, say that i’m sorry and give a big hug to my wife now…=)

  9. cp says:

    ooops, in the above post, i meant to say “series on intimacy and sex”…=)

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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

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Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
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Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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