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Posts Tagged ‘children’

christian children in palestine

When I look at the photos of children in the Middle East, I wonder:
What if we knew we had one year left of Christian freedom in this country?
What would we most want our children and grandchildren to know…

iraqi christian children

…and what would we be willing to do about it?

 

 

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candle lightTwo thousand fourteen years ago, God came into this sin-tainted world so that Light would shine in the darkness.

But, today, the darkness seems so oppressive.  Will it overwhelm the Light?”

Sexual immorality abounds. Sensuality is an idol. Girls assume that it’s “normal” to be sexually intimate with boys. Planned Parenthood uses the book Fifty Shades of Gray to explain to 15-year-old girls why sadistic and masochistic sex is “okay” if the girl “gives permission.” Pedophilia is on the rise. Sodomy is tolerated as just another expression of “love.” Marriage is assaulted not just by advocates of same-sex “marriage,” but by adultery, cohabitation, no-fault divorce. Children grow up in homes with their mommy and her boyfriend. Grandchildren see their grandparents “shacking up.”

The darkness seems so oppressive… will it overwhelm the Light?  No!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5).

But aren’t we living in times more dark than any other? Isn’t darkness more oppressive and evil more ominous than ever before? No!

Alvin Schmidt, the author of How Christianity Changed the World, explains that from early on, Christians have found themselves in cultures that, indeed, “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator,” and because of this, “God gave them over to shameful lusts” (Romans 1:25-26). This is how St. Paul described the Greco-Roman society of his day.

Schmidt writes, “By the first and second centuries after Christ, undefiled sexual intercourse, along with marital faithfulness, had essentially disappeared. Not only were adultery and fornication common, but people engaged in all sorts of sexual methods, many of them obscene.”

He continues, “Roman marriages had greatly deteriorated; they had become a ‘loose and voluntary compact [and] religious and civil rites were no longer essential.’ Marriage was ‘detested as a disagreeable necessity.’ Since people had become obsessed with sex, marital unions were very short-lived.” The Latin Church father, Tertullian, “noted that male/female sex relations had become sadistic and masochistic . . . Heterosexual love had turned into a type of sport.” Prostitution, incest, and mutilation were not uncommon.

The world at that time seemed very, very dark. Overwhelmingly dark.

But, writes Schmidt, “into this immoral sexual environment came the Christians with a radically different sexual ethic and lifestyle . . . [W]hen God instituted marriage at the time of creation, He told Adam and Eve that the sex act made a husband and wife one flesh (Gen. 2:24). The one flesh concept required the married couple to be totally faithful to each other.” Schmidt points to a second-century document that describes how the early Christians differed from the pagan Romans by confining their sexual behavior to married life. The document reads: “They [Christians] marry as do all; they beget children . . . They have a common table, but not a common bed” (Epistle to Diognetus).

One would think that the darkness of the Roman culture was so oppressive that Christians would shrink away and take their Light with them.  But, no!

Schmidt writes that “Galen, a Greek physician of the second century, was impressed with the upright sexual behavior of Christians. He said they were ‘so far advanced in self-discipline and . . . intense desire to attain moral excellence that they are in no way inferior to true philosophers.’”

The Christian doctrine and practice of marriage was “so powerful,” writes Schmidt, that historian Edward Gibbon says, “The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians.”

The dignity of marriage was restored! And there’s more! Schmidt writes, “The dignity and sanctity of marriage that Christianity brought to Roman culture were mostly due to the early Christian women. They appreciated the dignity and worth that Christ’s teachings accorded them” (prior to Jesus’ earthly ministry, women were too often held in low esteem). Women, “more so than men, understood the seriousness of their biological role as bearers of children in God’s created order. Thus, the wedding rite, the precursor to the fulfillment of that role, needed to be conducted with solemnity and reverence.”

Lest we think this is mere speculation on the part of Schmidt or any other historian, here’s what the pagan Libanius said about the dedication of Christian wives and mothers of that time: “What women these Christians have!”

It is no different today.  A woman who sees herself in the Light of Christ can also see her relationships, choices, and behaviors in that same Light.  As she begins to see the seriousness of her biological role as a bearer of children in God’s created order, she can also help her boyfriend, fiancé, or husband understand this, too.  As she contrasts passionate eros love with patient and virtuous agape love (1 Corinthians 13), she can positively influence not only the man in her life but her children and grandchildren.

It is true that the darkness of sin and evil is oppressive.  Marriage is under assault and weakened by every form of sexual idolatry.  But the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  God is faithful to use men and women who trust the Light to make a difference one person, one family, one neighborhood at a time.  Sometimes, as happened in Rome, even seemingly hopeless and depraved cultures begin to look with favor on wives and mothers, husbands and fathers.

Darkness is oppressive, but the Light cannot be overcome.  And in that Light, the dignity of marriage and family can slowly be restored.

I believe it.

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My book coverWithout fanfare or ceremony, the deed is done!  I have just completed nearly two years of writing a book.

On May 2, 2014, it was officially published and made available on Amazon.  There is enough left in my well of words to say “thank you” to an extraordinarily patient and helpful support team.  You know who you are.

The title of the book is The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  It is not the book I dreamed of writing.  It is the book I was compelled to write after thirty years of working with and listening to parents and the children they care about.

The book is 250 pages with over 230 footnotes.  No, I’m not in graduate school, but yes, this is my thesis. It is a dissertation that covers more than the controversial subject of sex education.  It explains how humanists bestowed a mistaken identity upon our children and why, nearly a half century later, Christians still nod their approval.  Yet, everywhere I go, I hear people ask, “Why are children sexualized?” The fact that a book like this hasn’t already been written tells me that too many of us have been deceived about our identity.

Christians live in a foreign land.  We are called to be uncommon, but have accepted the common ways of our neighbors.  We have let the unbelievers identify us.

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity is a “catechism” for parents, pastors, teachers, those struggling with sexual temptations, and everyone who is concerned about the sexualization of children.

For fifty years, Christians and non-Christians alike have been taught to believe that “children are sexual from birth”.  Nowhere in Scripture does God describe children this way.  The phrase was coined by a humanist named Alfred Kinsey who believed infants and children can enjoy and benefit from early sexual activity.  His social science was wrong, but his research was widely accepted.  Our nation and even the Church were set on a dangerous course.  By accepting Kinsey’s data and the expertise of other like-minded humanists, the Church played a role in bestowing a mistaken identity, compromising purity for multiple generations, and ultimately putting human lives at risk.

A false identity has both temporal and eternal ramifications.  With painstaking care, I have attempted to explain why the Church can no longer participate in a tragically flawed social experiment and going beyond diagnosis, I propose a hopeful, radical and thoroughly biblical remedy.

There is no personal delight in pointing out error.  I have persevered with this project because I am motivated by love for my own children and grandchildren and by love for God’s Word.  For the sake of all children, I believe that Christians need to know the origin of sex education, then ask:

  • What fellowship has light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)?
  • Upon what foundation have we built?
  • Young or old, single or married, who does God say that I am and what does this mean?

For the sake of generational holiness and purity, it is my prayer that we encourage honest and kind dialogue.  The 107 questions and answers I offer in my book are a good place to start.

Curious?  Please visit Our Identity Matters to learn more.

The book may be ordered from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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students walking to schoolThere is a lot of concern today about bullying.  I remember being bullied when I was in elementary and middle school.  Most of my friends were bullied in one way or another, too.

But bullying has become a political buzzword used by people with a view of children, marriage, family, education, law, and society that opposes God.

In Minnesota, pastors are rallying to speak against a potential “anti-bullying” bill currently under consideration. A close friend of mine is part of this group of men who not only stand upon the wall but, after sounding the alarm, come down to enter the fray.  My friend is a former missionary to Brazil.  He recognizes spiritual warfare.  He serves today as a missionary to former Soviet-occupied countries in Eastern Europe and Russia.  He is aware of manipulative tactics.  My friend knows how societies can collapse upon themselves when evil is not resisted.

What follows is a portion of the letter being sent to pastors in Minnesota.  Would you please take a moment to read it?  I know it matters to me.  Why?  Because my younger son and daughter live in Minnesota with their young family.  Because many young friends of mine have children in the Minnesota public schools.  And because the state now facing an “anti-bullying” law is neither the first nor the last.  Here’s the letter:

We are accustomed to a culture that has historically supported morality and ethics that have flowed out of our Judeo-Christian heritage.  As we are painfully aware these values are crumbling fast. Perhaps out of some discomfort or habit or fear of upsetting some of our members we have remained silent regarding these issues.  Our silence is now being construed as condoning these issues and of having our young students indoctrinated with yet another destructive immorality.

On the morning of January 30, 2014, a group of pastors will gather to become more educated about the “anti-bullying” bill that will come before our legislators in February of 2014. This educational opportunity is designed for our clergy to get first hand knowledge about a proposed law that will directly and profoundly affect our church members as well as our teachers and administrators in both public and private schools.

Many of us were bullied when we were in grade school, middle school and high school. It really didn’t matter if you were tall or short, fat or skinny. Whether you did or did not wear glasses or braces it really didn’t matter. If you were shy or nerdy, pimple faced or buck teethed you were a target for the bully. Most everyone growing up, for one of these reasons or another, was occasionally harassed, intimidated and in other words bullied.

Today, the word bully is the newest political buzzword. Daily, our teachers and school administrators are bombarded with a barrage of a variety of bulling accusations. A new “anti-bullying” bill has already been written and will most likely be brought before our legislators in February of 2014. However, this bill is NOT about stopping bullying. In this legislation it intentionally excludes traditional bullying and only protects those students who are LGBT (an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). This proposed “anti-bullying” legislation does little to address the universal problem of bullying. Rather, it is disguised as a protection for your child but in reality is just more pressure from the homosexual community pushing their agenda on our culture. You can go to this website and watch a video that will help you better understand what this bill is really about. http://mnchildprotectionleague.com/activist-central/

I have seen the pictures and held the book, It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robbie H. Harris and Michael Emberley, proposed as a part of a curriculum for K-12. You can find it on amazon.com. It has cartoon pictures of grade school children masturbating, naked pictures of young boys and girls, a couple having sex. Why should a 3rd grade boy or girl be exposed to this pornographic material? A pastor would be dismissed if this material were found on his computer.  Yet, Governor Mark Dayton has already agreed to sign House File 826 (HF 826), the proposed “anti-bullying” legislation. Why? Could it be that his real intention is to redefine bullying and to “transform” our educational system? 

Minnesota law already requires schools to implement anti-bullying policies and we have several laws in place to protect every child in our schools. Teachers do not need    another law to follow. Our teachers already have enough to do in the classroom. This bill will only serve to handcuff teachers more and to pit our parents and students against our teachers. What’s more frightening is that this is all done in secret as the parents are not to be informed when their child has been pulled out of the classroom and disciplined for bulling another student. Can this really be true? Yes. I read the proposed bill and that is exactly what it says.

I’m not a citizen of Minnesota.  I suppose I could say that what happens in Minnesota stays in Minnesota.  But I know better, don’t you?

So, I am speaking up… not against people but against ungodly ideas.  Followers of Christ are not called to change the world, but we are called to resist evil and choose life.  The impact is generational.

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parents standing w childrenGod entrusts children to parents.

Parents are called by God to guard the innocence of childhood.  This is a serious challenge in today’s society.  From early on, boys and girls are surrounded by the visual images and messages of a highly sexualized culture.  The Christian parent may feel overwhelmed by their role.  But parents today—as always—are equipped for the job.  The Word of God is sufficient.  The Bible provides all that is needed to help boys and girls respect themselves and others, understand why male and female are not the same but complementarily different, resist temptation, and protect human life from the moment of conception.  When sin and failure occur, the Bible points the way to forgiveness and hope in Jesus Christ.

One topic that perhaps most intimidates and even confuses parents is sex and sexuality.  Sex education sounds like a good idea, especially if it is taught in a Christian environment; however, the origin of sex education is not biblical.  It is founded on a humanistic and secular theory.

A zoologist and follower of Charles Darwin by the name of Alfred Kinsey concluded that children are “sexual from birth” and can enjoy and benefit from early sexual activity.  He believed that society should reflect his “science” by altering its moral codes.  Thirty years of study by researchers such as Judith A. Reisman, PhD., prove that Kinsey’s research was built on sexual experiments by known pedophiles on children ages five-months to 14 years.  The research was both fraudulous and criminal; nevertheless, it accomplished what it intended.  By the 1960s, Kinsey and his followers were recognized as the “experts” on matters of “sexuality.”  Kinsey associates and students opened the doors of SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and partnered with Planned Parenthood to aggressively make their way into schools and churches.  Pro-homosexual and pedophilia groups were emboldened.  Over the next fifty years, moral codes based largely on the biblical worldview were dangerously compromised.  Never before had anyone considered a child to be “sexual” in the way that Kinsey meant, but today children are sexualized not only by the media but in sex education, health or “family living” classrooms.  The innocence of children is stripped away in classrooms where boys and girls together learn about their bodies, what their parents do in the bedroom and what it means to live a “sexual” life.

God Calls Us to Holy Living.

God does not call His children to be “sexual.”  He calls His children—of all ages— to be holy.  Therefore, the Bible does not educate in sex, but instructs in purity.

Purity is not prudish.  It is prudent.  Purity is not Victorian and antiquated.  It is God’s plan for children and adults whether married or single.

Purity focuses on our identity as redeemed sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus.  God says, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).  We are “vessel[s] for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:21).  Daily remembering our Baptism, we see ourselves not as “sexual beings” captive to instinct and desires, but as heirs of the promise and clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Galatians 3:27-29).

Purity is about more than abstinence.  Abstinence says, “No, I can’t be sexually intimate right now.”  But purity says, “Yes, I can be the male or female God created me to be right now.”  Instruction in purity begins with an explanation of biblical manhood and womanhood.  It draws attention to the many ways that male and female, of any age and married or single, can work, worship and serve together without a hint of sensuality.

Purity is about God’s design and order for life.  It is also about mystery and modesty.  God’s Word says, “Do not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (Song of Songs 3:5b).  This is why purity must be nurtured in a special garden tucked safely behind a protective fence.  That fence is the boundary of home.  God entrusts the training of children to their parents.  Children trust parents.  The Church supports parents by equipping them with God’s Word of Law and Gospel, the catechism, and models for instruction.

Purity is nurtured in an environment where modesty is preserved.  This is not a classroom where boys and girls together learn about sex or sexuality.  It is nearly impossible to train in purity when intimate topics are discussed between boys and girls in a common and casual manner.  Why?  Because holy people and the behavior God expects from them are not common but, rather, uncommon.

Modesty emphasizes the importance of the sexual organs (which God placed out of view and behind hair, 1 Corinthians 12:23) reserved for the special and honorable use within marriage.  Rather than trying to remove embarrassment (a natural protection from God in a sinful world), adults should do everything they can to maintain modesty.  A father can best explain to his daughter that there is mystery in more clothing rather than less, and that a girl’s behavior can raise—or lower—a boy’s standard of thinking and behavior.  A father can encourage his son to guard a woman’s virtue and lead him away from the “temptress” (Proverbs 7).

Purity grows from the truth of Genesis.  The first man and woman were created in a complementary but different way, each with a unique and vital role.  Purity understands that a man is a good steward (Genesis 2:15) and defender of life (Genesis 16-17) who takes a stand against evil.  The man is to lead, not as lord and master, but as one who goes first to make sure the path is safe.  Purity understands that a woman, as a “helper” (Genesis 2:18) and a “rib” or “pillar” (Psalm 144:12b), is strong and supportive, yet vulnerable to abuse.  Purity understands that a woman, as the bearer of life, has the most at stake; therefore, it places her within protective, yet pleasant boundaries.

These boundaries are drawn by God to respect the physical and psychological differences between male and female.  Woe to those who attempt to erase these boundaries by pretending that boys and girls are “the same”.  Woe to the adults who remove the protective covering of modesty and desensitize children.  Woe to the adults who dangle the carrot of joyful marital union in front of children but then tell them to “wait” for marriage after graduating college and securing a job.

God Gives a Model to Parents.

God has given all parents and grandparents a model for the instruction of purity in Titus 2:3-8. Older men are to mentor younger men by being examples of sobriety, dignity, self-control, sound faith, agape love, and steadfastness.  In addition, older men are to model the sacrificial love of Jesus (Ephesians 5:25).  This love is shown today by men who defend the honor of women, rescue children from abortion, and guard the door of homes.  For a young man, it means treating all girls as he wants his sister, mother, grandmother, and someday-wife to be treated.

Older women are to mentor younger women by being examples of goodness, self-control, purity, homemaking, kindness, and respectfulness for God’s orderly design in marriage.  In addition, older women can contrast the “temptress” with the holy woman who calls attention not to self but God (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4).

If there is no father present or involved, mothers can point both sons and daughters to their Heavenly Father who is very present and involved in the lives of His children.  Timothy was raised to purity of faith and behavior by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).

Parents can be confident in raising sons and daughters to a life of purity.  They need not be intimidated by the world—or by their own past.  Sins that have been confessed to God are forgiven and forgotten.  Parents can show children the way to the Cross every time a wrong choice is made.  Parents, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can help sons and daughters resist the temptations of a self-focused and sensual world.

It is an awesome thing to know that the God who calls us to holiness also saves us when we are not.    Even when all seems lost to sinful people, we can reclaim our purity in Jesus.

Jesus Christ came to live among us.  He experienced human emotions and feelings.  He knows our weakness.  But for our own sakes, He calls us to lives of purity.  Purity does not seek its own way.  It models biblical manhood and womanhood.  It raises standards for behavior and encourages self-control.  Purity guards body, mind and soul.  It lays a foundation for friendship, marriage and family.

Purity anticipates a future of hope.

(Available in brochure format #LFL903T from http://www.cph.org)

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pilgrimsWould you be a Pilgrim for your children or grandchildren?  Would you risk your life for their future?  Many of us believe that the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom.  This is only partly true.  “They also came,” writes Chuck Colson, “because their teenagers were giving them fits.”

Here’s some background.  The Church of England was the established church in 1608.  If a Christian objected to aspects of the “official church,” they were labeled a Separatist and sometimes thrown into prison for worshipping “in their own way.”  A group of those Separatists escaped to Holland in 1608 because they were determined to worship as they believed they should.  William Bradford, age seventeen, was among them.  In his journal, Bradford noted how desperate the Separatists were becoming, not because they couldn’t worship as they wanted, but because it was difficult to make a living.  Labor was grueling and some of the Separatists actually preferred prison in England to liberty in Holland.

It was not, however, the backbreaking work that motivated this group of Christians to leave Holland and set out for America.  It was their children.  Many of the young people who had moved with families from England to Holland were losing their faith.  They were influenced by a licentious culture.  They were lured by evil examples.  They were turning away from their parents and living wayward lives.  The Christians who had escaped from England to Holland now realized it was time to plan a dangerous journey — for the sake of their sons and daughters.

Parents have always had to take a stand against evil in the battle for the souls of their children.  In the case of the Pilgrims, staying in Holland meant watching their children be tempted away from God by saloons, prostitutes and sensual living.  These parents, with their children’s eternal future in view, needed to act.

Perhaps you have thought about becoming a Pilgrim.  Perhaps, because your children are giving you fits, you have entertained the notion of packing them up and moving to a “safe” place away from it all.  But where is such a place?  For a while, the Pilgrims found new land where they could instruct their children in the way of the Lord.  But soon enough, their children’s children were also tempted and giving their parents fits.  That’s how it is with sinful people in a sinful world.

So what is a parent to do?  We may not be able to escape the culture, but we can certainly equip our children for living in it without being of it.  This requires training… training that begins in the home.  Our own as well as theirs.

This Thanksgiving, we can do what the Pilgrims did.  We can look at our children in light of their eternal destiny.  We can be willing to do the hard things that godly parents have always had to do.  We can be faithful… not trusting in ourselves, but holding fast to the Word of Life.

(With appreciation to Chuck Colson
and his devotional How Now Shall We Live, 2004)

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The following excellent post is from THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT.  It’s worth the time and thought of any young woman who is contemplating marriage.

It Matters Whom You Marry

My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.

So to all the young, unmarried Christian girls out there, listen up: who you marry matters. You might think that the way he treats you isn’t so bad. It’s not going to get better after the wedding. You might think that he’ll change. It’s possible, but most don’t. You might think that you’ll be able to minister to him and help him. Possibly, but if you can’t now, you won’t then, and you will be at risk yourself. A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues.

Unless someone married is very frank with you, you can’t understand how much a husband will impact your entire life. Next to salvation there is no other long term event that will change so many areas of your life so deeply. Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living.

1. It will impact you spiritually. If the guy is not a believer, you can stop right there. You have no business yoking a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one, even if he seems open to change. Christ has bought you with a price and it is not an option to give away that blood bought heart to someone who doesn’t know and love your Lord. It will cripple your spiritual development, open up a host of temptations, stifle your prayer life, make regular church going difficult, and cause massive parenting conflict if you have children.

If the guy is a believer, is he a strong one? Will he lead you in prayer, Bible reading, family devotions, and public worship? Or will you be on your own? Is he going to make spiritual growth a priority or do other things come first? Is he going to ask you how it’s going with your soul so he can help you grow in holiness and love for Christ, or will he leave that to your pastor? Is he going to lead the children in this, or will you have to spearhead that? In church, is he going to help the kids sit well, pray, find the hymn, or will you be the one pointing out what is happening next and helping the family keep up? Many women have married spiritually immature men, thinking that it wasn’t a big issue, or that the man would change, and they were wrong. They bear the scars.

The health of your eternity is at stake. Think carefully.

2. It will impact you emotionally. Is the guy you’re thinking of going to encourage you, love you, be kind to you, and seek to understand you, or will he want to go out with the guys when you’re having a hard night? Will he listen when you are struggling with something or will he be preoccupied with a video game? Is he going to be annoyed when you cry or will he get you Kleenex and give you a hug? Is he going to going to understand that you are probably more tender than he is, more sensitive to issues and comments, or is he regularly going to run rough shod over your feelings? One woman was struggling to breastfeed her new baby, believing that that was the best thing for her, but it was very difficult. Instead of giving support and encouragement, the husband would make mooing sounds whenever he saw his wife working at it. We have to get rid of princess complexes, but we do have emotional needs. Any guy who is uncaring about your feelings and self esteem is selfish and should be left alone.

Be careful – a husband can cripple or foster emotional health.

3. It will impact you physically. Is the guy you’re with going to provide for your basic needs? Will he be able to shelter, clothe and feed you? At one point in our marriage, I was worried that there was no employment opportunity. My husband assured me that he would work at McDonalds, dig ditches, clean up roadkill – whatever it took to provide for the family, regardless of his gifts and training. That’s the kind of attitude you want. A man who doesn’t provide for his household is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). You might have to help ease the financial burden, but unless your husband is disabled or there is another unusual circumstance, you shouldn’t have to carry it yourself.

Will the man you are with care for your body or abuse it? If he gives you little smacks, kicks, etc. when you’re dating, get away. It’s almost guaranteed that he will abuse you after marriage, and stats show that’s especially true when you are pregnant. Is he going to care for and protect your body or will he hurt it? There are women in churches across America who thought it was no big deal to have little (sort of friendly) punches or slaps from their boyfriends, but who are covering up the bruises from their husbands.

Will the man you are with care for you sexually? Is he going to honour the marriage bed in physical and mental faithfulness to you or will he flirt, feed his porn addiction, or even leave you for another woman? You can’t always predict these issues, but if the seeds or practices are already there, watch out. I recently saw a newly married couple and the husband was flirting openly with another woman. Unless something drastic happens, that marriage is headed for disaster.

Is he going to be tender and gentle to you in bed? An unbelieving co-worker once told my sister that after her first sexual encounter, she had trouble walking for a few days because her boyfriend was so rough. In other words, he wasn’t selfless enough to care for the body of the woman he said he loved.

Watch out. Your body needs care and protection.

4. It will impact you mentally. Is the man that you’re thinking of going to be a source of worry or will he help you deal with your worries? Is he going to encourage your intellectual development, or will he neglect it? Is he going to value your opinions and listen to what you are thinking, or will he disregard your thoughts? Is he going to help you manage stress so that your mind is not burdened that way, or is he going to let you struggle through issues alone? Is he going to care for you and be thoughtful of you if you are experiencing mental strain, or will he ignore it? I know of a woman who could handle pregnancy and child birth very well physically but postpartum depression took a huge toll on her mind. The husband overlooked it, continuing to have more children, until his wife ended up in a mental institution.

You might think that the intellectual or mental side of a marriage is small. It’s bigger than you think. Consider it seriously.

5. It will impact you relationally. How’s your relationship with your mother? Your dad? Do you love them? Does your boyfriend? Fast forward ten years: you tell your husband that your mother is coming for the weekend. Is he excited? Disappointed? Angry? Making snide jokes with his friends? Of course, a husband should come first in your priority of relationships, as you both leave father and mother and cleave to one another. But parents are still a big part of the picture. Whatever negative feelings he has about your parents now will probably be amplified after marriage. Your marriage will either strengthen or damage – even destroy – your relationship with your parents. The people who know you best and love you most right now could be cut out of the picture by a husband who hates them.

It’s the same with sisters and friends. Will they be welcomed, at reasonable times, in your home? Will the guy who you’re with encourage healthy relationships with other women, or will he be jealous of normal, biblical friendships? Will he help you mentor younger women and be thankful when older women mentor you, or will he belittle that?

Don’t sacrifice many good relationships for the sake of one guy who can’t value the people who love you.

So how will your boyfriend do after the vows? Because this is just a sampling of the ways that a husband can bless or curse his wife. The effects are far reaching, long lasting, and either wonderful or difficult. True, there are no perfect men out there. But there are great ones. And it’s better to be single for life than to marry someone who will make your life a burden. Singleness can be great. Marriage to the wrong person is a nightmare. I’ve been in a church parking lot where the pastor had to call the police to protect a wife from a husband who was trying to stop her from worshiping and being with her family. It’s ugly. Don’t be so desperate to get married that your marriage is a grief. If you are in an unhappy marriage, there are ways to get help. But if you’re not married, don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t marry someone whose leadership you can’t follow. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love you as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ.

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