Heart of the Matter

Down through the years my pastors have embedded a couple pithy phrases into my mind. One of them is “Keep the main thing the main thing”. Another is “The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart”.

What is that main thing? What is this ‘matter of the heart’ that they were always speaking of?

I don’t know about you but I was raised to understand that God’s love for the human race was the main thing.

Growing up I was also taught that God is our Heavenly Father, Our  King, our Savior, our Good Shepherd, our Healer, Deliverer, Redeemer and various additional wonderful things. However, scripture insists that we really don’t understand the insane depth of His love for us until we see him as a Lovesick Bridegroom.

Bridegroom?!

Yes indeed! As Pastor Timothy Keller makes it plain in his sermon on the book of Hosea (click here to listen), we don’t really grasp God’s love for us until we start seeing its spousal aspect.

In five simple words: God wants to marry us!


He doesn’t want just any relationship, he wants the most intimate relationship. For some of us this seems odd and unnerving.

Yet we hear over and again from Old Testament Prophets like Hosea, Jeremiah and Isaiah this very theme. One could assume that growing up in a devout Jewish home before the time of Christ meant that one was familiar with this spousal analogy of God’s love.

Then in the New Testament, Jesus turns the water into wine at the wedding feast of a friend (note: supplying wine at a Jewish wedding is the role of the bridegroom, not the guest), the letter to the Ephesians declares the mega-mystery of marriage being a symbol of the union between Christ and the Church and finally the Book of Revelation unveils the future marriage supper of the Lamb of God with his Bride the Church.

Well that is just a bit too much for some of us as survivors of an era where intimate matters are rarely brought up in a spiritual context. We often respond by putting such scriptures on our back burner to simmer a while.

Yet I believe this very matter is actually the heart of the gospel and this farmer is not alone in that sentiment. I seem to be with a host of Christians from every stripe that are becoming reacquainted with the spousal metaphor as the crowning and overarching scriptural symbol of our relationship with God. [See **NOTE** Below]

When one puts on the spousal lens scripture ‘pops’ with a joyful and life giving vibrancy. It ushers one into the original song of love that God is singing to humanity. It is a song that is actually a marriage proposal and our creator gently sings it to us every day and respectfully waits for our response.

It is the heart of the matter and it is a matter of the heart.

The question is: Will we say yes to His marriage proposal?

Will we say yes a million times over, moment by moment, day by day?

This framing of the gospel message breathes through everything we do, body and soul, on the farm. It is the good news that sees marital love and the life giving spousal embrace as the perfect sign of God’s love for us. This gospel is boldly inscribed into our bodies as male and female on purpose. Our creator doesn't want us to miss it.

I find that as I carry this mind blowing and life changing good news to my dear brothers and sisters in jail and/or recovery their eyes shine with joy. So do mine.

It is the joy of a person who at last catches a glimpse of God's infinite and intimate love for them...  of someone who just accepted a wedding proposal from the one they love and trust the most.

Putting the Spousal Metaphor back on the front
burner where it belongs can help us restore proper balance
to the Gospel message as it was originally understood.
That is why we make this a front burner metaphor on the farm. It guides all we do here. Our bodies as male and female tell a story of God’s love… there truly is a theology of our bodies.

Our very own Photon Farms board members have been invited to understand this core truth of scripture ever deeper in their personal lives. Perhaps you would like to join them in this as well. If so, below are some podcast episodes and books to read or listen to that will light your way. 

Remember, if you cannot afford some of the selections below, education in this good news is part of the mission of Photon Farms. Money should never be a factor in accessing the life changing messages of God's love for us. Simply send a message to Farmer Fred in the form at the right (full web version only) and he will do his best to get these selections to you.

[**NOTE**  Please understand, no one is saying that the spousal imagery in scripture is the only way to understand our relationship with God. Far from it. In fact any one metaphor will eventually fail to encompass the depth and breadth of our relationship both personally and collectively with The Infinite. The complexity of our relationship with God necessitates multiple metaphors, stories, word pictures and parables and even then we will only just be scratching the surface.

Nevertheless, this recent move to restore the spousal metaphor back to its proper scriptural emphasis is most welcome in these troubled times where the very definitions of what it means to be married, human, male and female are called into question. (Abigail Favale's treatise on this is most elucidating!) Perhaps if the spousal nature of God's love were not put on the back burner for so many centuries, we might all have a better framework from which to interact with the current cultural debates on gender and anthropology. We have some catch up work to do here.]


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Start Here For A Quick Overview of the spousal aspects of God's love for us.


This Sermon by Dr. Keller is an
excellent and short intro to the
centrality of the spousal aspects
of God's love for us.
Dr. Timothy Keller's Sermon on Hosea: click to listen

The prophet Hosea tells us about the coming Messiah by using the metaphor of his own marriage. In this sermon, we will see that: 1) Our relationship with God is like a marriage; 2) Our relationship with God is like a bad marriage; 3) How God healed his marriage and what it cost him.

This sermon was preached by Dr. Timothy Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on December 2, 2007. Series: Jesus of the Prophets. Scripture: Hosea 3:1-5; 11:4-11.





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Dr. West's Book for Evangelicals is easy to listen to and a great introduction!


A great Introduction that one can
listen to or read. Very easy to grasp
and understand. Dr. West has a gift!
Our Bodies Tell God's Story
by Dr. Christopher West

Bestselling author, cultural commentator, and popular theologian Christopher West is one of the world's most recognized teachers of John Paul II's Theology of the Body. He specializes in making this teaching accessible to all Christians, with particular attention to evangelicals. As West explains, from beginning to end the Bible tells a story of marriage. It begins with the marriage of man and woman in an earthly paradise and ends with the marriage of Christ and the church in an eternal paradise.

In our post-sexual-revolution world, we need to remember that our bodies tell a divine story and proclaim the gospel itself. As male and female and in the call to become "one flesh," our bodies reveal a "great mystery" that mirrors Christ's love for the church (Eph. 5:31-32). This book provides a redemptive rather than repressive approach to sexual purity, explores the true meaning of sex and marriage, and offers a compelling vision of what it means to be created male and female. Foreword by Eric Metaxas.


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Farmer Fred loves this book so much he recorded it so he can listen to it over and over!


Dr. West makes it enjoyable to 
learn with many fun pop culture
references. A joy to read.
Fill These Hearts
by Dr. Christopher West

The bestselling author, speaker, and teacher of John Paul II's Theology of the Body explores the yearning we all have for God and each other.

Fill These Hearts is a book about desire. Not trivial wants or superficial cravings, but the most vital powers of body and soul, sexuality and spirituality, that haunt us and compel us on our search for something. Weaving life-altering lessons together from classical and contemporary art, pop music, movies, and the Christian mystical tradition, popular theologian Christopher West explores the ancient but largely forgotten idea that the restless, erotic yearnings we feel in both our bodies and our spirits reveal the cry of our hearts for God. Along the way, West blows the lid off the idea of Christianity as a repressive, anti-sex religion by demonstrating that Christ came to stretch and inflame our desire for love and union to the point of infinity.



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Best deep dive into a Jewish Understanding of God's spousal love for us.


by Dr. Brant Pitre
Farmer Fred says: "Put on your 
swim suit and take a deep dive, 
you won't regret it! I just keep 
listening to this book over and
over!"

To be sure, most Christians are familiar with the apostle Paul’s teaching that Christ is the ‘Bridegroom’ and the Church is the ‘Bride’. But what does this really mean? And what would ever possess Paul to compare the death of Christ to the love of a husband for his wife? If you would have been at the Crucifixion, with Jesus hanging there dying, is that how you would have described it? How could a first-century Jew like Paul, who knew how brutal Roman crucifixions were, have ever compared the execution of Jesus to a wedding? And why does he refer to this as the “great mystery” (Ephesians 5:32)?

As Pitre shows, the key to unlocking this mystery can be found by going back to Jewish Scripture and tradition and seeing the entire history of salvation, from Mount Sinai to Mount Calvary, as a divine love story between Creator and creature, between God and Israel, between Christ and his bride—a story that comes to its climax on the wood of a Roman cross.

In the pages of Jesus the Bridegroom, dozens of familiar passages in the Bible—the Exodus, the Song of Songs, the Wedding at Cana, the Woman at the Well, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and even the Second Coming at the End of Time—are suddenly transformed before our eyes. Indeed, when seen in the light of Jewish Scripture and tradition, the life of Christ is nothing less than the greatest love story ever told.


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A constant source of hope and love, a steady diet on the farm.


Farmer Fred is a faithful listener of this show
and loves it! It helps him breath the Heart of
the Gospel in his day to day life. We cannot
recommend this highly enough for anyone
who wants to soak in more TOB.
The Ask Christopher West Show

hosted by Wendy West

Since the early 90's, author and speaker Christopher West has devoted his life to spreading John Paul II's revolutionary teaching on human life, love, and sexuality: The Theology of the Body. His beloved wife Wendy, mother of their five children, has served as his confidante, friend, and support through these long years of ministry. In this podcast, Christopher and Wendy combine their wisdom to tackle the toughest questions dealing with vocation, sexuality, marriage, and the Catholic faith.

Support the mission of Christopher and Theology of the Body Institute by becoming a Patron! Join our Patron Community at TOBPatron.com (http://tobpatron.com/). [FYI Farmer Fred is a happy Patron and has one of his questions answered on a podcast!]



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Where Farmer Fred goes to School and you can too!



Theology of the Body Institute

Farmer Fred is a student here and dreams of someday finishing his Master's Degree in these studies. Even if it never happens, he is dedicated to crawling his way toward that goal until his last breath.

It is also a dream to start planting some scholarship trees on the farm for folks that would love to attend at least a course or two at the institute (online or in person). If you want to help make that possible, reach out to Farmer Fred in the message box to the right.








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