Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

women & health careGod created woman to be a helper (Hebrew: ezer).  God knew man would not be complete without woman to help him remember and trust God’s Word, be a good steward of all that God has made, and build a culture of life.

In a fallen world, however, woman is challenged by Satan, sin and her own doubting nature.  But there is hope in Jesus Christ!  And, because of Jesus Christ, there are countless opportunities for each ezerwoman to make a positive difference in her home, church and community.  Where can ezerwoman begin?  By making use of a resource I call Ezer’s Handbook.  Let’s begin with opportunity #1 —


The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down (Proverbs 14:1).

Build on The Word.  The Word is Wisdom.  It is unchanging Truth.  The Word provides everything a man or woman needs for living in today’s world, meeting today’s challenges, and mentoring generations.  Paraphrased Bibles are fine for personal reading, but don’t count on them for accuracy.  Highly recommended is The Lutheran Study Bible (ESV).  The commentaries offer historical and archeological evidence as well as Greek and Hebrew origins of words.

Prepare for the Battle of Worldviews on Sex and Sexuality.  Begin with the Bible study Men, Women and Relationships: Building a Culture of Life Across Generations.  This twelve-lesson study is appropriate for men and women who are single or married.  Although the world tells us that men and women are the same, no different from one another and both just “sexual beings from birth”, God tells us we are far more than that.  (This Bible study with leader’s guide may be ordered from Concordia Publishing House #LFL901BS or by calling 888-364-LIFE.)

Be Equipped with Resources.  Married or single, a woman has a sphere of influence that leads others to–or away from–God.  How are you mentoring biblical womanhood in your home?  From your office?  At school?  In the your church and community?  You will find resources for mentoring biblical womanhood at Titus 2 for Life and The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Be Careful Who You Let Shape Your Worldview.  Ideas of sex, sexuality, love, relationships, marriage, motherhood, morality, clothing, behavior and life in general are mentored in one way or another by every newspaper, magazine, website, TV commercial or self-help book.  As a follower of Christ, it is our responsibility to be discerning.  WORLD and CITIZEN are publications that offer a biblical perspective in contrast to Newsweek and Time.  Websites with current information offered from a biblical worldview rather than humanist perspective include Parental Rights, Answers In Genesis, LifeNews, the Family Research Council, MercatorNet, and Concerned Women for America.

Use Spiritual Discernment.  A Titus 2 mentor reaches out with the Truth of God, both Law and Gospel.  We are called, however, to be discerning in the proper use of each.  The woman who doesn’t recognize her sin is in need of the Law, but the woman who has been convicted of her sin longs for the Gospel (Psalm 32:3-5).  A suggested book that will help you better distinguish Law and Gospel — as well as the time and place for both — is Handling the Word of Truth by John T. Pless.

Mentor, Don’t Preach.  The woman who builds her house on firm foundation must be prepared for “hot button” issues that stir memories and emotions.  In our circle of relationships are women who have been mentored by someone with a humanist or feminist perspective.  Among us are women who have been wounded by a past abortion, divorce, or physical or mental abuse.  Jesus never compromised the truth nor did He break an already bruised reed.  May we, too, speak truth with a gentle love for souls.  One very effective way to mentor without preaching is story-telling.  No one can deny the lessons learned from a person’s real-life experience.

What’s next?  #2: Mentor Confidence in the Created Order.

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed
by Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats.

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My friend, Allie, has made an investment.  The cost is too great, she thinks, to disconnect from that investment.

Am I speaking about Allie’s financial affairs?  No.  I’m referring to matters of her heart and soul.  Allie is cohabiting.  She has invested the greater part of her very being to a man not her husband.  Why?

There are many reasons why Allie continues to live with her boyfriend.  She has bonded with her partner.  She told me he isn’t the Christian she’d like him to be.  He isn’t protecting her virtue like he should.  He doesn’t have the qualities she would choose in a husband nor is she convinced that he should the father of her someday children.  But, she is “one” with him.  She has bonded.  What Allie doesn’t realize is that oxytocin and her amygdala have paralyzed her good judgment.  Hormonal chemicals and the “feeling” part of her brain are playing with the strings of her heart.

The concept of marriage frightens both Allie and her boyfriend.  Allie’s parents are divorced.  Her boyfriend’s parents are also divorced.  In their circle of friends and relatives, there are few models of faithful and working marriage.  “Living together” is just “what you do” to “find out if you really get along.”  Or, “living together” first is a “good way to avoid divorce.”  So, Allie and her boyfriend are just “doing what everyone else” seems to be doing.

Allie wants to believe that her boyfriend might change.  What is changing, however, is how she sees him.  Early in our visits, Allie explained how uneasy she was with her boyfriend’s need to control her, his sudden bursts of anger, and his avoidance of discussions about faith.  Over time, Allie began offering excuses for his negative and often wrongful behavior.  What is also changing is Allie’s perspective on God.  She wants me to remind her of her identity as a daughter of God in Christ.  She knows God loves her and that she’ll always be His child.  But, because she is living in a relationship that cannot please God, she is making God fit into her world.

So, how did Allie find herself in a place she really doesn’t want to be?  She longs for home and family, but has no husband.  She knows she isn’t in a healthy relationship, but worries that there might not be another.  She and her boyfriend sometimes speak about marriage, but her comments to me reveal that Allie’s standards for her live-in partner are actually lower than they are for her some-day husband.  Why is this happening?

Allie has done what researchers call “sliding, not deciding.”  Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia, explains.  “Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation.  Couples bypass talking about why they want to live together and what it means.”

There’s something else.  Allie and her boyfriend have different, but unspoken, agendas.  A woman may view living together as verification that a man cares about her and living together, as much as she may dislike it, is a step toward marriage.  She may even think that by giving her man what he seems to want, he will, in turn, want to marry her.  But, a man may see living together as a way of testing a relationship or even postponing the commitment of marriage.  And, if a woman is willing to fulfill his physical desires without a ring, why jump into commitment until, well, maybe until there are children to consider.  Dr. Jay writes that “this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage.”

Couples who cohabit before marriage may want to avoid divorce, but that’s not the reality.  Dr. Jay notes that “couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages – and more likely to divorce – than couples who do not.  These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.”

Sliding into an unmarried-but-want-to-be-married state wouldn’t be a problem for Allie if sliding out was easy.  But, Dr. Jay explains that Allie is “locked in.”  She’s “signed up for a credit card with 0 percent interest.  At the end of 12 months when the interest goes up to 23 percent [Allie feels] stuck because [her] balance is too high to pay off.”  For Allie, being “locked in” decreases the likelihood that she will search for, or adjust to, another option.  “The greater the setup costs,” explains Dr. Jay, “the less likely we are to move to another, even better, situation, especially when faced with switching costs, or the time, money, and effort it requires to make a change.”

For some, living together seems fun.  Economical.  Safe.  Allie also perceives it as better than living at home (after all, she’s in her 20s) or with a girlfriend.  Allie once told me she was trying to “nest” in her boyfriend’s apartment, but when I asked her whose bed she was sleeping in she whispered, “His.”  Not “ours.”

As time goes by, Allie more stubbornly defends her living arrangement.  Why?

Because Allie’s investment is too high.  In her mind, perhaps too high to disconnect.  Too high to re-evaluate her standards.  Too high to wait patiently for a man who values her enough to say “I do . . . until death do us part.”  There are no children, yet; but, should Allie become pregnant, then what?  Will she settle for whatever?  Will she marry the man she says doesn’t have the qualities a child should have in a father?

Allie, like all men and women who cohabit and then, perhaps, slide rather than decide, seems stuck.  But, I know Allie.  She tears up when I remind her that she is the daughter of God because of what Jesus has done for her.  She says she is always encouraged by our visits.  She wants to believe she has a future of hope.  So, I will continue to remind her, whenever I can, that she has the ability to choose the father of her children.  She has the strength — promised from Jesus Himself – to leave bad habits behind and start fresh.

After all, Jesus’ investment in Allie is much higher than any investment she has ever – or will ever – make.  Jesus invested all He had for the sake of Allie’s soul.

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Those who make a living positioned in Washington, D.C., may think the rest of us are positioned on a beach with our heads in the sand.

No way.  Nearly every day, I skim through a dozen or more articles and commentaries on national events.  This blog exists for two reasons: 1) To encourage other ezer (“helper”) women and the men in the lives, and 2) To help my neighbors and me think – then engage.

So, in case you’ve been at the beach — or up to your neck not in sand, but with family and work – and haven’t had time to hear what’s going on, here’s a quick read of the news:

  • The Grand Lake Patriots is a movement of former teachers who make the agenda of the National Education Assocation (NEA) known.  The Patriots group recently hosted a presentation by former educators who are calling attention to how the NEA actively promotes abortion and the homosexual agenda.  Judy Bruns reports that thousands of dollars in teachers’ union dues are going to homosexual organizations.  “In just two year’s time, between $350,000 and $400,000 . . . was given to the Gay, Lesbian [and Straight] Education Network [GLSEN],” she explains.  “They also gave to the Human Rights campaign, [which] is a gay activist organization.”  Bruns, during her time as a NEA member, tried along with other Christians to encourage the union leadership to at least take a neutral position on abortion and homosexuality.  The NEA refused to do so.  The Grand Lake Patriots speak at events throughout Ohio.  There is a similar group speaking up about the pro-homosexuality efforts of the teacher’s union in California.  You may learn more from OneNewsNow.
  • Population-doomsayers continue to proclaim: “There are too many people!”  Speaking in New York recently, Al Gore warned that the world will drown in pollution unless we stabilize population growth.  He suggests that we do this through “fertility management” and “educating and empowering women and girls” to make the right choices.  “Right choices” to those of the liberal persuasion are limiting families through contraception and abortion but, I note, not limiting “rights” for anyone to engage in the procreative act of sex.  (Huh?)  Don Feder offers this truth: “You can’t have progress — of any kind — without population growth . . . More people equal a greater capacity for production, development of resources and innovation – which in turn leads to higher standards of living all around.”  I’ve long subscribed to the belief that over-population is a myth.  However, under-population, as Feder notes, could soon become reality.  He writes: “When there aren’t enough young workers to pay the pensions of the elderly…  When one child is asked to care for two retired parents and four elderly grandparents…  When the housing market collapses because there aren’t enough buyers for existing (not to mention new) housing units…  When developing nations are drained of young men to meet the labor needs of developed nations which refuse to reproduce in adequate numbers…  When a nation’s one-child-per-family policy results in a situation in which millions of young men will never be able to find wives — that’s under-population. ”  (Excerpted from Don Feder’s speech to the Moscow Demographic Summit.  Read more of “Demography is Destiny” by visiting Mercatornet.)
  • A study has come out from the University of Iowa indicating that women who were sexually active as teens — prior to marriage — were more likely to divorce as adults.  This goes without mentioning the risks of unwed pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, single parenthood, emotional baggage, and HIV/AIDS.  So, it makes perfect sense that sexual abstinence – “just say ‘no'” education – would be in the best interests of children, parents, and the government.  But, government begs to differ.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released grant money to promote healthy marriages.  Grant money, however, cannot be used for abstinence education.  That’s because “abstinence education” is listed as one of the “unallowable activities” under the Healthy Marriage and Relationship Grant.   (Huh?) Read more by visiting The Heritage Foundation.
  • Diane Sawyer, on ABC World News , reported on a Christian counseling center run by Dr. Marcus Bachmann, the husband of Michelle Bachmann.   Sawyer introduced the report, “Michelle Bachmann Family Business Exposed!”  Sawyer’s lead question: “Is the Republican superstar making money trying to turn gay people straight?”  For years, I have been following the work of Exodus International and other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).  I have collected stories of men and women who left the homosexual and lesbian lifestyles behind.   Some have married.  Some have become parents.  Contrary to the mainstream media, there is no harm done.  No pressing down with guilt but, rather, a lifting of the burden that often separates a man or woman from the God who made them.   Recommended sites: Exodus International , Love Won Out, and Joseph Nicolosi.

If you’ve been on vacation, welcome back to the world!

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June is the traditional month for weddings.  Marriage expectations are high.  Most brides and grooms expect to have all their hopes and needs met by the other.  Is this possible?

In God’s perfect world, yes.  In a fallen and sin-filled world, no.

Marriage was instituted by God.  It is a union of two completely different people — male and female — for the benefit of children and society.  It is a relationship that models the agape love of patience, kindness, selflessness, and faithfulness.  It builds family and community.  It mentors the vibrant and compatible roles of manhood and womanhood for generations to come.

History explains.  After God created man, He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.  I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).  God wanted man to know that he was not yet complete.  He had no mate appropriate for him and he had no means of procreation.

Fit for him” literally means “like his opposite.”  Imagine that.  She fit perfectly with him, yet they were not the same — anatomically, hormonally, or psychologically.  With God, they would procreate new life.  She would be the vessel for the young one he would protect.

Equal, but different, the man and woman would unite in a partnership.  Their unique character traits and personalities would harmonize.  In God’s order of creation, a “helper” (Hebrew: ezer) would be an “assistant” and “ally.”  The ezerwoman would not be dissimilar from the “Helper” sent by Jesus to the disciples.  That Helper, the Holy Spirit, was called a “comforter,” “advocate,” and “encourager.”

The woman would know joy and contentment in her role of “helper.”  She would find limitless possibilities in her multi-faceted vocation.  She would help man to be a better steward over all creation.  She would help nurture all the living.  The  man would rejoice in his completeness.   He would love the woman built from his rib and guard her life as if it were his own.  He would serve not his own glory, but the glory of God (to her benefit).

In the first marriage, there was no fear.  Resentment.  Envy.  Frustration.  Anger.  Heartache.  Disappointment.

Everything changed when the first husband and wife sinned against God.  They were equally guilty, yet the consequences of their sins were as different as their natures.

Today’s bride and groom may expect to have all their needs met.  But, in a fallen and imperfect world, no person can do that for another.  Only God can and will fulfill our deepest needs.  At the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Bishop of London noted, “As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life.  This is to load our partner with too great of burden.”

Let us ease the burden with encouragement.  Sin distorts God’s perfect plan, but the original design is still in place.  It serves well when trusted.

  • A woman “fit for him” remains a husband’s opposite.  She is made to think, act, and love differently.  Sin complicates those differences.  Not only are they male and female, they have contrasting personality traits, quirks, familial histories, and experiences that may threaten to tear the marriage apart.  But, there is another choice.  With forgiveness and practice, husband and wife can merge their best qualities for the benefit of a stronger marriage.  They can stop playing “me against you” and become “we.”  They can unite as a team for the sake of their children.
  • A woman’s role still complements the man’s.  She is his “helper.”  Regardless of sin and circumstances, she has a choice: to help him be a good or poor steward; to encourage or discourage; to build up or tear down; to connect him to children or disconnect.  He has the choice to use God’s Word for life, warn against death, and cover his wife and children with his faithfulness — or not.

Equal, yet different, husband and wife have an example to follow.

Jesus is equal to God.  He is God yet, in His role as the Son, He submitted to His Father’s will in order to be the Savior of the world.  A wife who respects her husband and submits to his appropriate leadership is really submitting to God.  A man who loves his wife as Christ loved the Church is submitting himself to God.

Marriage expectations?  On this earth, husband and wife won’t make each other completely happy.  Won’t meet each others every need.  Warm fuzzies will fade.  But, Jesus in a marriage makes two “better than one.”  Opposites who glorify God rather than self change the environment.  Root deeper.  Build stronger.  Persist against every foe.

A threefold cord (God, man and woman) is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12).

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Titus 2 for Life is a mentoring ministry that honors God’s model for positively affecting society.  The flow of mentoring is older to younger.  “Older” is more than age.  It is experience and spiritual maturity.  Typically, with age, we become wiser.  We’ve made mistakes and hopefully learned from them.  It is unfortunate when the “younger” see little need for sage advice.

History is real.  It happened.  Of course, the best one to tell it — and explain the lessons learned from it — is the person who lived it.  I’ve been reading several stories of “older” women who were supposedly “modern” and “unbounded” earlier in their lives who now have a different perspective.

Matt Kaufman notes one.  He writes:

“Sometimes family-values talk comes from unexpected sources.  Like Raquel Welch.  Writing for CNN on the 50th anniversary of the Pill, the 69-year-old actress regrets that it took ‘the caution and discernment out of choosing a sexual partner, which used to be the equivalent of choosing a life partner.’  As a result, she writes, ‘nobody seems able to . . . honor a commitment.’

“Welch regrets her own track record in this area, too.  ‘I’m ashamed’ — how many celebs use that word? — ‘to admit that I myself have been married four times.  And yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stablilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.’

“There’s more.  Welch deplores ‘promiscuity.’  She says ‘any sane person’ must make a moral ‘judgment’ about certain sexual practices.  She even sounds pro-life: When she got pregnant, she realized ‘this process was not about me,’ but about the ‘life’ inside her.

“In a new book, Welch says she’s reconnected with her Christian upbringing and regularly attends church and Bible study.”  (Matt Kaufman, Focus on the Family CITIZEN)

What do you have to say about that?

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