Children and Divorce

Child 1

Child 1 (Photo credit: Tony Trần)

Burning Question:  When there has been a divorce/separation, how do you help children and teens through it?  How do you get the right attitude?

Separation and divorce have an effect on children in ways which cannot be avoided.  Though Mom and Dad may feel that they are justified in their decision to part ways and though there may even be biblical support at times for separation or divorce, children will merely experience the results of divorce/separation and will likely not be able to process the reasons behind it.  To view statistical insight into the effects of divorce upon children, see this well documented article by Amy Desai.

Obviously the best solution to any situation within marriage which would cause a couple to consider divorce is to resolve that situation and make needed adjustments to create a healthy, loving, Christ-centered marriage.  Divorce may appear to bring freedom, however, in reality it only serves to create a new set of issues in need of attention . . . and many of these issues pertain to the children affected by the divorce.  An article which is extremely helpful in assisting children through the troubling waters after divorce can also be found here.

In order to get the right attitude in helping children after divorce, one must be certain to stay close to Christ and to spend consistent time in God’s Word.  This is important because His truth will counter and replace the negative emotions such as unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, etc. which often present themselves.  Also, this article gives great insight into practical ways to work with a former spouse to insure that the children are cared for in the best way possible after a divorce.

Advertisements

Responding To Adultery

Red phone

Red phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Burning Question:  How do you respond to a brother or sister in Christ who has committed adultery?

How one responds to a believer who has committed adultery depends largely on the attitude of the one who has fallen.  If the attitude of the one who has sinned is one of arrogance and they show no desire or plan to put away the sin, then the believer is wise to lovingly, yet boldly confront that sin in hopes of leading them to repent.  A great example of this comes from the life of Nathan in the Old Testament who risked friendship and even his own life to confront King David in his sin of adultery (see 2 Samuel 12:1-13).  Nathan’s bold confrontation of sin (don’t miss the fact that Nathan was sent by God according to verse 1) resulted in restoration to a close walk with God in David’s life.  David expresses his repentance in Psalm 51 in powerful language.  James 5:19-20 speaks of the rescue which comes to the fallen through one who is willing to confront the fallen in their sin.  Galatians 6:1 gives a clear call to the believer to confront sin in the life of another with an aim towards restoration, but also gives a clear warning to do so in humility and wisdom.

On the other hand, if the fallen believer has already expressed authentic repentance, then the Chrisian friend is in a wonderful position to offer ongoing encouragement and accountability.  Galatians 6:2 instructs us to bear the burdens of one another and ironically comes on the heels of verse 1, which instructs us to humbly and gently confront sin in fellow believers.

Think for a moment of what you would desire if you should wander into sin which will bring the type of devastation wrought by adultery.  Would you consider it the loving thing for your friend to do if they ignored or excused your sin and let you wander into the consequences which sin, especially adultery, brings?  Or would you consider their loving confrontation in humility and gentleness with an aim towards your rescue and repentance to be the loving response to your sin?  Confrontation is never easy.  However, there are times when love demands nothing less.

Polygamy and the Bible

Random Numerals

Random Numerals (Photo credit: andymangold)

Burning Question:  Why are “great men of the Bible” in the Old Testament permitted to marry many women when God’s design is for one man and one woman to be joined as one flesh?

What a great question!  This is probably a question that many have wondered, at least from a curiosity standpoint.  But let me mention that even though this is not an issue that is prevalent in our country today, it is an issue on the mission field.  With that in mind, you may appreciate the humble approach of John Piper here.

Some of the greatest and most prominent men of Scripture actually had more than one wife at one time.  The most obvious examples would be Solomon (with a whopping 700 wives from a variety of backgrounds) and his father, David (who had at least 8 wives and some believe as many as 12)!  But just because a practice is captured on the pages of Scripture does not mean that God condones or directs that practice to take place.  In Genesis 4 for example, Scripture tells of Cain’s murder of his own brother, Abel.  We never equate the inclusion of this horrific sin in Scripture as God’s permission to commit murder.  So, just because polygamy is referenced in Scripture and just because some of the “heroes” of the Old Testament practiced polygamy does not imply that God was in favor of it.

In fact, Deuteronomy 17:17 gives God’s specific command not to multiply wives and even includes His warning of what will happen if one doesn’t follow His command.  Sadly, Solomon’s life is Exhibit A as to the truth of God’s warning (see 1 Kings 11:3-4).  And we can’t afford to forget the very structure of marriage which God put in place back in Genesis 2:24, that marriage is comprised of one man and one woman.

Does God allow a person to make their own choice and commit sin?  Yes, He does.  We have been created with the will to choose whether we will obey or disobey Him.  Does God ever condone sin, including polygamy?  No, He doesn’t.

Marriage and Finances

Dollars

Dollars (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

Burning Question:  What does Jesus say about who in the marriage controls the finances?  What if only one spouse is working?  Should that spouse control the finances?

The Bible is actually silent about which spouse is to carry responsibility of overseeing the family’s finances.  However, let’s make note of a couple of important points as they relate to finances.

First, how a couple handles finances may very well be more important than the actual amount of finances a couple has in their possession.  Financial mismanagement, debt, and the pursuit of prosperity have led many a couple to the rocks of disaster (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

Second, we are called to be good managers of the finances which God has given to us.  Jesus is very clear that we are accountable for the way we handle our finances (and many other blessings in our lives) by His words in Luke 16:10.

Third, within the marriage relationship, the “mine and yours” mentality gives way to the “ours” mentality.  So, it’s not a matter of “controlling” finances but rather a matter of “managing” finances together as a married couple.

Now for the question at hand . . . which spouse is responsible for overseeing the finances?  The answer . . .  whomever is best suited for the task.  H. Norman Wright and Wes Roberts write in “Before You Say ‘I Do'”:  “Once a man and woman have decided which vision of life is going to norm their activities in their marriage, they can leave the decisions in day-to-day affairs to the partner with the appropriate talents, temperaments, and situations.”

Punishment and Discipline

Discipline

Discipline (Photo credit: Grotuk)

Burning Question:  Do you think God punishes us with bad health because we have fallen? 

The key word here is “punishes”.  In the life of the believer (one who has turned from their sin and surrendered their life to Christ), we are assured of being in relationship with God.  This relationship is rooted in His unconditional love for us and we are blessed to have His grace applied to every area of our lives.  However, His love for us is not an allowance for us to rebel against Him and knowingly sin.  When we choose to sin against Him, His love drives Him to discipline us for our sin.  Discipline is much different from punishment.

Punishment is for the purpose of making another pay for their wrong, regardless of whether that person learns to do right or not.  Punishment is not concerned about the person being reformed or changed but is merely concerned that they “get what is coming” for the wrong they have done.  Romans 8:1 tells the believer that there is no condemnation upon those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ.   Jesus took their punishment for them (see John 3:16).

Discipline, however, is for our ultimate good.  Discipline carries with it the overarching aim of instructing and changing the life of the one disciplined.  God disciplines those He knows (Hebrews 12:6-7) because of His love for them!  How could loving God allow His child to embrace sin which will devastate his life without ever confronting that sin in His child’s life?

When we ask whether God punishes us (believers) with bad health because we have fallen, it would appear that He does not operate this way.  However, there are times when He will discipline the wayward believer in order to bring them to a place of repentance and restore a close walk with Him again.  When this happens, it is always under the watchful care of a Heavenly Father who loves us more deeply than we could ever imagine.

One final note . . . sin always carries consequences.  Be careful not to confuse the consequences of sin with the punishment of God.  If a person lives a life of sexual immorality but then turns from that lifestyle to walk in relationship with God, only to find that they later are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, that disease is not necessarily God’s punishment but rather a natural consequence of that sin.

Sin carries consequences and deserves the punishment of God.  God in His love brings forgiveness through Christ.  His love compels Him to discipline those He loves for our ultimate good.

Forgiving Ourselves

Head in Hands

Head in Hands (Photo credit: cellar_door_films)

Burning Question:  I know in bad relationships you can feel guilty about sins and we ask God to forgive us.  It is hard sometimes to forget the past and move on with your life.  What are some things we can do  . . . I know pray about it and ask God to give us strength to move on. 

Sometimes forgiving ourselves can be the last hurdle which keeps us from running full speed in the grace of God.  Scripture is clear that God’s forgiveness which comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ is complete and sufficient to cleanse us from every sin in our lives (see 1 John 1:9).  Psalm 103:12 tells us that God removes the sin of the Christian as far as the east is from the west.  This is an interesting concept because we realize that east cannot be measured from west.  God’s forgiveness through Christ is literally immeasurable in scope and when we are in relationship with Jesus, God chooses to no longer hold our sin against us!  In fact, 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Christ became sin for us so that we could have His righteousness applied to our lives.  What an absolutely incredible truth that we have the capacity to have every sin wiped clean and be replaced with Christ’s perfect righteousness in us.  And all because of the forgiveness of God!

If God is willing to treat our sin that way through Christ, then we should be willing to see our forgiven sin in the same way and forgive ourselves.  No, it’s not cheap grace which gives us free license to sin all we want because of His forgiveness.  We are called as believers to turn from our sin (repentance) with sincere hearts.  Rather, forgiving ourselves of sins which God has also forgiven us of is a mature, biblically based response which reflects God’s action toward our sin.

What can we do to move forward in God’s forgiveness?  First and most importantly, we must be certain that we are in relationship with Christ, for this is the only way to receive the forgiveness of God which we all need.  Second, we must seek to live in a way which keeps us out of sin.  We cannot expect to feel pure and clean if we continue to spend time embracing sin in our lives.  Third, we must saturate our lives with the truth of God’s Word.  To spend time in the Bible each day is invaluable because it allows us to replace the lies which we are prone to believe (such as not feeling worthy of forgiving ourselves) with the truth which God says about us.