Thursday, May 28, 2015

Being a Single Christian in a Sexualized Culture: The Modern Ethic vs. the Christian Ethic

Single Christians... can we get some love?

As if being a follower of Christ wasn't hard enough, imagine being a single Christian!  That is the predicament for many in the world, and in the United States today.  Including myself.  I'm 30 years old, single and I have no children.  I follow Christ.  And as a Christ follower I'm unique in that I must impose certain limitations on myself when it comes to romance and sexuality.

Being a single Christian is perhaps one of the most difficult situations to face. An individual of either sex is fully sexually active by age 13-14 (Penner & Penner, 2003). The sexual desires are extremely intense beginning in puberty. However in the culture of the United States it's becoming increasingly common for couples to wait until their middle to late twenties to marry (Penner & Penner, 2003). In addition, masturbation and lust are sins according to the Bible (Matthew 5:28). Pre-marital sex is also quite obviously a very serious sin (1 Corinthians 7:2, Ephesians 5:5). The Bible makes references to sexual immorality many many times.  So it's clearly a very important area of conduct for followers of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, Matthew 5:28, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Colossians 3:5).  But how serious is it?

Ephesians 5:5 (English Standard Version) goes far enough to say it like this: "For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."

This is the point during youth group when the kids will probably start rolling their eyes and tuning you out.  But are we followers of Christ?  If "no" then there's the door.  If "yes" then we necessarily must take every word of the Bible, especially the New Testament very seriously.  In addition, I believe many Christians today have been lulled into a false sense of security.  They believe they may accept Christ and then live however they please.  But that isn't the case.  We need to be obedient workers of righteousness.  

Anyone hanging around youth group long enough may notice a attitude regarding sex virtually synonymous with non-Christians (Morris, 2015).  I attended a Cru (CCFC) event at a local college about six weeks in a row.  By the end I had heard a lot of good teaching. But in between sessions I heard a lot of drinking, sex, and joking about lesbians (by one of the leaders).  I know I'm not alone in that frustration.  Many of us have felt that way in large groups, and many of us have been that person making a crude comment when maybe we should've just shut up.  I know, I know, I've been that person too.  We're not perfect, but we're called to obedience.

Again and again in scripture we notice how faith and trust in the work of Christ is undeniably married to Christian obedience, or in other words, repentance and the keeping of his commands (1 John 3:24, Luke 6:46, John 8:51, James 1:22-25, John 15:10, Philippians 2:12, 2 John 1:6-9, Romans 6:16).

Given the importance of moral sex conduct, what is the single Christian to do? The mainstream media would have sex before, during, and after marriage.  Sex is quite often portrayed as occurring on the first date.  Young and old alike see that portrayed in enough movies and eventually it becomes a normal attitude.  It's basically expected.  Christians and non-Christians alike are bombarded by sexually enticing imagery daily. How is the single Christian to stand against temptation?

Churches can help single Christians by beginning to generate a dialogue regarding important issues like sexual intimacy (Morris, 2015). Churches can also help by creating better support systems for the single Christians they serve (Morris, 2015). It's very important that single Christians have a place they can come to frankly discuss sexual frustrations and past sexual hurts (Morris, 2015). If single Christians don't have a place within the Christian community to discuss straight forward sexual issues, then they will most likely go outside the church with their questions and concerns (Morris, 2015).

For single Christians, there are certainly options for dealing with these issues. In many cases single Christians have unknowingly believed lies they've been fed by the media and culture (Morris, 2015). Men and women are programmed to believe that sexual intimacy is synonymous with emotional intimacy. Of course it's not.  Women assume they can "get" emotional intimacy if they offer sex.  Men assume if they can "get" sex their deep internal desires will be fulfilled.  Of course both of those assumptions are entirely false.  Singles assume that the best way to "keep" a prospective mate is to "put out." Yet studies have shown that the sooner sexual intercourse occurs in a relationship the more likely it is to end in break up (Penner & Penner, 2003). Studies have shown that those who wait longer to engage in sexual intercourse actually tend to stay together longer (Penner & Penner, 2003).

Christians of today are more impacted by the media and culture than I think we'd like to admit. We watch secular shows, listen to secular music, read secular books, go to church on Sunday, and assume we're acting on Christian values.  Then why is sexual immorality such a problem for Christian youth and young adults?  Maybe we're getting messages we don't realize we're receiving.  Maybe we're believing falsehoods without even consciously noticing. 

Stolen waters are portrayed as so much sweeter than those forged in relationship and time (Proverb 9:17). Yet those who have taken stolen waters often testify to the emptiness and guilt found there in. Though a one night stand, or sex with someone already married to someone else may be exciting and intoxicating at the time, later guilt, shame, remorse, and trouble come as a result. In addition, in those occasions when sex occurs rapidly and out of marriage, there is no spiritual aspect. Only the flesh is temporarily titillated. But the flesh will the next day simply cry for more, more, more (Proverb 27:20). And that desire fed is never ending, and never satisfied. 

In stark contrast is the sacred spiritual sex between husband and wife within the bond of marriage. In that sacred union of bodies there is not only fleshly enjoyment, but also a spiritual communion, and an intense love and connection between the two.  Such a sexual experience is not simply emotional or intellectual, or joyous, but also a spiritual act of closeness that draws the couple even closer together.  Such an experience is the reward for patience and vigilance when seeking the person God has fore-ordained us to be with. It is most certainly worth it to wait. True love is worth the wait. And the beautiful thing about sex within marriage is that it's meant to be enjoyed frequently, passionately, and constantly (Proverb 5:19).

Many young Christians unknowingly trust in the sexual ethic of the world, thinking they will find fulfillment within that game of chase, manipulation, control, and indulgence. But instead many find longings cracked open that can never be closed again, like sexual addiction, sexual illness, and broken patterns of relationship. At face value the sexual ethic of the world may seem appealing, yet God's word is proven right despite our best ideas again and again, as we see divorce on the rise, broken families, children born out of one night stands, and young people hurting, confused, and lost. Thankfully it doesn't have to be that way, if we would just trust that God is in fact right about sex. He provides the strength. But we need to do the footwork. We need to examine our own root convictions and adjust them into alignment with the biblical truths found in the word (Morris, 2015). 

Proverb 4:23 (ESV) says "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."  And in the Song of Solomon three different times the woman in the poetic saga urges the young women of Israel: "Do not awaken love until the time is right" (Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4).  Our hearts have a tendency to bounce around in a hundred different directions.  The culture often tells us "trust your heart."  But instead I urge you to trust the Spirit.  Access the Holy Spirit within, and request His guidance.  Seek his wisdom.  Do not look to our hearts, which are often so fickle, selfish, and flighty.   We must guard our hearts.  With threats like pornography which may seem "harmless" at the time.  We need to remember that these things we see in life cannot be unseen.  And so often these displays trigger in us desires that can never be truly fulfilled.  They are dead ends.  

As it says in the Song of Solomon, men and women be gentle with hearts.  We have incredible power over those who may have romantic feelings for us.  Don't trigger love.  Don't play on emotions, play games, and endless hollow flirtations.  Be cautious how you dress.  Do not awaken the love in another's heart until it is time.  We have many blessings in our physical appearance, the clothing we wear, and the beauty we carry.  Let us be humble, and wise with it's application in daily life. 

In conclusion, the battle is difficult.  But we can indeed stand, if we truly address the lies we may be believing and replace them with the truth of God's word.  Many would probably still say: "Well you're probably right, but I'm still going to do it my way." In that case, just as in any other, when we decide to play god about what is right and wrong, we have that choice, but we do not have the choice of determining the consequences of those actions we take. We can let God teach us through the Bible or we can learn it the hard way.  I was one of the people who had to learn the hard way.  I acted out and lived foolishly.  Ultimately it was hollow, empty, and emotionally troubling.  Today I choose God's way.  It is the best way, and truly the way of real fulfillment.  God will provide.  Trust him.

But ultimately it's your choice! Make it a good one.


Morris, S. H. (Director) (2015, May 27). CCOU 303: Single Sexuality. Issues in Human Sexuality. Lecture conducted from Liberty University, .

Penner, C., & Penner, J. (2003). The gift of sex: A guide to sexual fulfillment. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group. 

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  4. How does God communicate with us? 
  5. The Great American Culture War: Religious Liberty, Gay Rights, Naturalism and the Christian Faith
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  7. Christian Mental Health: Strategies for Developing Personal Security
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Books and the Joy of Reading: George Washington, Helen Keller, C.S. Lewis, and the Bible

I've been reading a few books lately, and rediscovering the joy of reading.  I'm sure many of these books were inspired by the very spirit of God.  

I was reading a biography of George Washington.  The author told of a battle during George Washington's early service in the British army in the 1700s.  It was during the French and Indian war.  Washington's commanding officer had been shot, and they were losing the battle badly.  Washington was riding from one line of the battle to another trying to rally the men.  His commanding officer had had five horses shot out from under him, and finally he had been injured. But Washington didn't have a scratch on him, and he suffered no injury during the battle.  It was recorded that a native american looked on at those moments, and said that Washington had some powerful force, some being divinely protecting him.  

I've also heard the story told of a certain foreign diplomat traveling in the United States, who suffered a brutal car accident.  By all rights, the man should've been killed in the accident.  Providentially, he was not.  His name was Winston Churchill, the man who would see Great Britain through the horror of World War II. 

History has always fascinated me, especially the history of the United States and of the great world wars.  Consider the situation in Europe during World War II after the fall of France.  The Nazis had conquered the whole of Europe and were encroaching on the Russians.  Great Britain alone stood against the German army.  They were outmanned, outgunned, and their technology was less advanced.  In fact the Royal army had been stomped in their first engagements.  

They were forced to retreat to the channel, and the only way they made it across the channel was from the help of civilians with skiffs and private craft to shuttle them across.  The United States at that time was determined to stay neutral in the whole affair.  During that time Churchill championed the cause of the British people, inspiring them to hold the line against the night.  Imagine it.  The battle of Britain rages.  British fighter craft go into battle often outnumber 3 to 1, 5 to 1 and even 10 to 1, striking in against Nazi bombers intent on destroying their country.  Still the British held out.  At that time there were two key men in Great Britain, speaking to the people.  Of course there was Winston Churchill, but there was also a certain C.S. Lewis, preaching some of the greatest sermons of his life (now recorded in a book titled The Weight of Glory.)  

The point I see in all these "coincidences" and "lucky breaks" is a divine providence to provide the right people, at the right times, and at the right places.  I'm sure at times it seemed hopeless to Winston Churchill, fighting alone against the Nazis.  I'm sure he was terrified for the fate of his nation when rumors were heard that the enemy was forcing Jews and Christians into extermination camps.  Can you think of a more terrifying scenario? Yet it wasn't over.  God had provided the right people to see Great Britain through the storm.  And in the end Great Britain received increasing help from the United States, until eventually the United States hit the shores of Normandy and changed the entire war.  Great Britain won out. 

Now we come to Helen Keller.  Have you ever read any of the writings of Helen Keller?  I personally haven't but I'm going to make a point of it.  I've been reading quotes from Helen Keller, the woman who was born deaf and blind, and they are astoundingly beautiful.  Did you know she was a devout Christian?  I didn't.  They never told me that in public school.  Such revisionist history.  Did you know George Washington was a devout Christian as well?  Yep, he was.  Anyway, Helen Keller said this about the Bible: "Just as all things upon earth represent and image forth all the realities of another world, so the Bible is one mighty representative of the whole spiritual life of humanity."  Yes I will definitely be reading some of her books.  Books are a real gift of life on Earth.  Don't you think?  

One of the first loves of my life was books.  My mother would read books to my sister and I before bed every night.  She read books in the Berenstein Bear series.  I always remember one called "Owl Moon."  It was a beautiful, and mysterious journey of a father and son walking into the woods in the middle of the night to go owl spotting.  It captured my imagination.  

I never thought I would be able to learn how to read.  I was very anxious about it.  It seemed impossible.  I can still recall being six years old and fearing I would never learn to read properly.  I was in 1st grade, trying to understand it.  Despite how complicated it seemed, I began learning how to read.  And I learned to love it dearly.  

C.S. Lewis wrote in his famous sermon "The Weight of Glory" that each of us has a longing within us that can't quite be placed. 

"I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter." -C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, pg. 3

We try to ignore it, the world around us creates philosophies, sciences, and concepts to try to explain it away.  Yet it stubbornly refuses to be appropriately classified, marked, and boxed.  Some call it beauty and leave it at that.  Yet there is something within us, a longing for something we can't quite define.  Lewis related the experience of coming to that, and learning to know God as similar to a school child attempting to learn reading and writing.  At first it's a drudgery.  We begin down the road of the Christian life hardly knowing where we're even going, attempting for mindsets and positions of the heart that seem thankless, difficult, if not impossible, and stumble forward coming after a heaven we can't even imagine and a paradise we wonder if we even desire.  

Yet as we learn and grow, it slowly starts to fall into place.  We learn, we grow, we begin writing, reading, and creatively expanding our understanding.  In the same way, in the walk with God we can scarcely imagine a heaven, a time when we might understand and might be able to enjoy such a place, yet we proceed forward, awkwardly, stumbling toward the goal of eventual knowing, relating, and perhaps even truly loving.  

"If a transtemporal, transfinite good is our real destiny, then any other good on which our desire fixes must be in some degree fallacious, must bear at best only a symbolical relation to what will truly satisfy." -C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, pg. 3

I get a little taste of that journey when I pick up a book.  Or when I page through the Bible.  I understand a bit more clearly when I stare out my living room window and notice the sun shining down through the trees, droplets of water shimmering on the pine needles in the mid day sun.  

Even when I fell into sin, drugs, alcohol, and addiction I still read a great deal.  Though I often read rather dark and apocalyptic pieces.  I think during those years of addiction I read every book written by Hunter S. Thompson, the famed Gonzo journalist.  I also read people like Philip K. Dick, Henry Miller, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, and H.G. Wells.  Did you know all of those authors save Thompson were atheists?  Anyway.  One of the gifts of Jesus, and recovery has been a renewal of my appreciation for books and readings.  

Given how much I need to read and study my college textbooks, when I engage in personal reading I usually do so with audiobooks.  That way I can put the books on my mp3 player and listen while I work out.  Or I can play the audiobooks on the CD player in my car.  It helps to switch things up like that.  

I'd like to highlight a free resource called Librivox.  It's a website full of free audiobooks, recordings made by volunteers of books in the public domain.  Definitely check it out!  They have thousands of books on there.  It's been a real blessing to my walk.  I recommend checking out the G.K. Chesterton books.  Also check out the biographies section, there are a lot of good ones.  

Recently I've been reading a book called "Lies the Government told You" by Judge Andrew Napilitano.  It's been a very eye opening read for me.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone who seeks to understand the problems in United States government and politics.  It's quite astounding.  I also just started "The Weight of Glory" by C.S. Lewis.  It's been excellent so far.  Just the first few pages, especially page three have really captivated my imagination.  I love books!  Others coming up on my reading list are: 

Seven Men: And the Secret of their Greatness by Eric Metaxas
1776 by David McCullough
The Sky is Not Falling: Living Fearlessly in these Turbulent Times by Charles Colson
Franklin and Winston by Jon Meacham
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that affect our Freedom by Ron Paul

Books are a wonderful thing.  In fact we receive the truth about God himself through a book we call "the Bible."  "Bible" actually simply means "book."  

 "The English word "Bible" comes from bíblia in Latin and bíblos in Greek. The term means book, or books, and may have originated from the ancient Egyptian port of Byblos (in modern-day Lebanon), where papyrus used for making books and scrolls was exported to Greece." -source: About Religion

What are some of the books that influenced you the most in life?
I compiled a list of some of my favorite books over past few years.  Definitely read these if you get the chance.  They are classics.  

My Top ten favorite books over the past 2 years...
10. The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
9. A Year of Living Prayerfully by Jared Brock
8. Revolution in World Missions by Dr. K.P. Yohannan
7. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
6. Christianity in Action by Henry Gariepy
5. Has Christianity failed You? by Ravi Zacharias
4. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis
3. Walking from East to West by Ravi Zacharias
2. Orthodoxy (book) by G.K. Chesterton
1. The Bible by various


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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Christian Activism: Can Christianity survive the new cultural attitudes?

 "Rally for the Republic" hosted by Campaign for Liberty - Ron Paul
14th day of the Occupy Wallstreet protests

Can Christianity survive the modern cultural attitudes?

The loyal Christian, dedicated to the Heavenly Father must be an activist in the pluralistic global environment post 9/11. We've put up with a lot in the United States.  Many decisions have been made, and many changes have occurred in recent years.  How are Christians to respond to the new cultural attitudes of casual sex, the embracing of homosexuality, child extermination through abortion, and the growing authoritarian nature of the U.S. government?

Christianity is in trouble in the USA, and has crumbled in Europe over a short period of time.  The American public seem poised to remap the moral framework from a Christian view to a sort of pluralistic view that quietly ejects Christianity and Judaism while embracing self deification and naturalism.  The Judaeo-Christian worldview has been called into question and found incompatible with the new globalized framework.  

We can see the problem.  I don't need to expand upon the problem.  What's the solution?  Do we end up asking ourselves if Christianity can even have a seat at the table?  Inevitably the question arises as to the role of the Christian in the political process. 

It must be stated that when Jesus Christ came he did not concern himself with political process or the government of Rome.  He was concerned with showing mercy to the poor and lost, and rebuking the self righteous religious types. 

His stated purpose on Earth was to be offered up as a sacrifice for many.  But in fair contrast God has quite often involved himself in political processes.  He personally raised up the nation of Israel to be an example to the nations of the Earth.  He very personally claimed the seat of king in the temple, and later set up a line that went from Solomon, David, and later to Jesus Christ himself.

Jesus Christ will be the literal political leader of the world one day in the future.  What should we do until then?  Jesus Christ said to his friends: Go and make disciples of all nations.  I find it interesting that Jesus Christ said nations and not peoples.  Or individuals.  He said nations.  We go into nations and Christianity changes nations.  This is powerfully illustrated when comparing North Korea to South Korea.  One has a democratic government, the other is a militarized dictatorship.  And we hear about the atrocities of the dictatorship don't we?

Unfortunately Christianity has been tried in a manner where the religious leaders wield power and that has utterly failed to the shame of many in the history of Europe.  The crimes of the papacy are well documented and those crimes continue at the Vatican to this very day.  We don't want a government imposing religion.  But we don't want a government devoid of religious reference either.

That lead to the great experiment, the United States of America.  The political process made mention of a God, but did not name the God.  This allowed various denominations and faiths to pour in meaning interchangeably.  It left the freedom to choose a faith open.  But now many in America want to tear that apart, and jetison that philosophy from the government.  Some want to play god, and redefine truth.  But I don't think that's the way.

Something special happened in 1776.  I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I do know that God was involved.  He's involved in all of human history.  Something special happened, something divine, that allowed for the United States of America to come together.

Can it really be our destiny to fall into moral decline?  Can it really be our destiny to slink back in defeat as militant atheist groups sue and lobby all mention of God from the government?  Will we really allow the metal beams in the shape of a cross to be removed from the 9/11 memorial? (Update: The case was defeated, and the cross beams were allowed to stand at the 9/11 memorial site).  How sad a thought.  How pathetic that we've let it get this far.

All of these words to say one thing: The Christian of today must be an activist.

Social and political activism is an excellent grassroots tool that many in politics have used to powerful effect.  Gay rights activists have made strides forward in capturing the hearts and minds of the people with their misguided views.  Libertarians have made a powerful impact on both political parties due to their political activism surrounding the "Ron Paul Revolution."  Progressives also made good use of political activism during the "Occupy Wallstreet" protests across the country in 2010-2011.  I believe Christians can help reclaim the United States by becoming social and political activists.

Isaiah 1:17 (NIV) Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

The new Christian must be an activist.  This means we participate in the political process.  We form organizations to protect our moral values.  We express the sacredness that they try so hard to reject, the sacredness of the marriage, of the marriage bed, of what the eyes see, of what the ears hear, and what the mind conceptualizes.  We build websites and form petitions to lobby our elected representatives.  We speak out in our communities on key issues.  We refuse political correctness and talk about God the Father, and Jesus Christ savior of the human race.  We get bold about the issues.  We stop retreating as the liberal majority condemns us and calls us intolerant.  We stand up for the truth, because we know the truth.

This "grassroots activism" approach hinges on one thing: Every single person is a self supporting activist consistently at work to start brush-fires in the minds of men.  If you're reading this, in Europe, in Asia, in the United States, it's not up to some organization, institution, or party, it's up to you, empowered by God, to change things by your own hard work.  No one else is going to do it for us, we must do it.  Let's get to work Christian activists.  

Ephesians 5:For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

Next take a look at... Five Causes for the New Christian Activist to Champion 

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ten Great Minds, Ten Controversial Presentations

It's all here ladies and gentlemen.  These are the great minds of western society: John Lennox, Ravi Zacharias, Dennis Prager, Ken Ham, Stephen Meyer, on and on the list goes.  Watching these presentations has greatly expanded my understanding of the universe and the world around me.  Please enjoy these presentations, which address the controversial issues of our day and age.

How are we to understand the developments of the last century?  How are we to understand life, existence, science, history, and ontology?  I often look to the great minds of our generation to learn about the most difficult issues that face our generation.

Let's face down the heated issues front and center.  We're not going to politically correct answers, we're instead going to skip past "what everyone wants to hear" and go after the truth.  These are the most controversial issues imaginable.  We'll look at gay marriage, the theory of evolution, intelligent design theory, liberalism in the college sphere, liberty and constitutional rights, young earth science, the philosophy of tolerance, the academic establishment, and Christians value in relation to the United States government.  

Have we failed to address any divisive issue?  I don't think so!  But these issues are vital for our day and age.  There is a lot of misinformation out there.  Often only one side of the debate is heard.  The mainstream media and it's corrupt influence often leave us ignorant of certain primary facts in these heated debates.  Enjoy, keep an open mind, and consider these issues in light of history and the possibility of a God who is in fact there.

1. Miracles: Is Belief in the Supernatural Irrational? | With John Lennox at Harvard 
Professor John Lennox, the renowned mathematician and devout Christian defends the concept of miracles before a packed audience at Harvard University.  Lennox describes in vivid detail the science and philosophy under-girding the concept of miracles.  Are miracles really so unbelievable?  Or are miracles reasonable phenomenon?  

2. Is Tolerance Intolerant? Pursuing the Climate of Acceptance and Inclusion | Ravi Zacharias at UCLA
Dr. Zacharias has traveled the globe discussing pertinent issues within philosophy, ontology, science, and culture.  At UCLA Dr. Zacharias addresses the issue of the philosophy of tolerance.  What is tolerance?  What is intolerance?  How are we to understand the climate of culture today?

3. Genesis, Key to Reclaiming the Culture | Ken Ham
The founder of the noted Christian ministry "Answers in Genesis" defends the young earth view of creation.  Ken Ham looks at the pertinent issues of today, and addresses the solution to reclaiming the culture of the United States.  

4. The Case against Gay Marriage and how Gay Marriage will Hurt Everyone | Frank Turek
Turek takes on perhaps the most controversial issue today in the United States: Should gay marriage be legalized?  This is a very difficult issue in the country today.  The voices on both sides are shrill.  Turek does a fine job of cutting through the noise, and looking at science, mental health, and government for answers. 

5. National Prayer Breakfast | Dr. Ben Carson
Dr. Carson's story is a beautiful witness to the power of Christ.  Carson looks at history, and his own upbringing to describe how the United States has prospered under God.  This is a presentation from 2013 National Prayer Breakfast with President Obama present in the audience.

6. What is Intelligent Design? | Stephen Meyer 
The intelligent design movement has faced a barrage of attacks from the Darwinian academic establishment.  Stephen Meyer describes Intelligent Design theory with clear science, and dispels the media created straw men.  Science vs. Religion = false dichotomy. Science and religion are friends, not enemies.  Divide and conquer, predictable tactic.

7. What Ever Happened to the Constitution? | Judge Andrew Napolitano
One of the great men of American politics, Judge Andrew Napolitano out lines how the United States has largely abandoned the Constitution.  Napolitano explains how liberties are being taken, and how those liberties are God given, and may not be rescinded by the state.  He describes in powerful terms the road back to sanity in the USA.

8. Faith Under Fire: Taking Risks For the Kingdom | Reverend Canon Dr. Andrew White at Hope College
The famed Vicar of Baghdad speaks to an American audience about taking great risks for the kingdom of God.  Canon White is an inspiration and has done great things in Iraq where hundreds of thousands of Christians are under severe persecution.

9. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed | Ben Stein
This is a documentary every American should see.  It explains how the Darwinian academic establishment has waged a war on Intelligent Design, and fights to keep any mention of the possibility of God from scientific circles.  This was a very eye opening documentary for me.  Please watch and share!

10. Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph | Dennis Prager at Colorado Christian University 
Dennis Prager is a Jewish radio host with an excellent understanding of Christian values and how they impact government.  I don't necessarily agree with Prager on everything, like his firm support for establishment candidates like Mitt Romney.  But Prager is a knowledgeable speaker with a lot of good points to make.  Please give him a fair hearing.

Additional Posts on these Topics:
  1. Christianity in the Public Square 
  2. Expert Testimony: the Demise of Evolution, Complexity in DNA
  3. Expert Testimony: Intelligent Design, Archaeology, and Historicity
  4. The Great American Culture War: Religious Liberty, Gay Rights, Naturalism and the Christian Faith
  5. What is the matrix?
  6. Logic, History, Statistics, & Astronomy: Interdisciplinary approaches to the Truth Claims of Christianity
  7. Does man need God in Western Civilization 
  8. Real Christianity: Clothing, Buildings, Money, & Extravagance
  9. Seven Objections to the Bible and Seven Reasonable Responses
  10. 10 Answers to Common Questions Raised by Skeptics  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Helping Children Heal from Divorce

Helping Children Heal from Divorce
Justin Steckbauer
Liberty University

An article describing the effects of divorce on children and how healing can come about. The outcomes of divorce on children are explored. Possibilities for healing and examples from the Bible are described as ways children can come to healing after a divorce. Parents are offered various ways they can lead children along the path of healing after a divorce situation. Several key areas of healing are discussed including: healing internally, healing inter-personally, healing biblically, and healing holistically. God is described as the firm foundation that can transcend the shattered family structure for children who have suffered after divorce.

Marriage is the foundation from which a family is created. Children are born, and grow up in the gentle care and training provided by both mother and father. Marriage is sacred, a decree of God himself when he said, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24 English Standard Version). Marriage is binding, and the scriptures say that when two are brought together they become one. Matthew 19:6 (ESV) says "So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” God makes it clear that marriage ought to be binding until death. Again and again in the scriptures it's made clear that marriage between a man and a woman should not be broken except in extreme circumstances (1 Cor 7:10, Luke 16:18, Mat 5:32, Mat 19:6, Rom 7:2). As a result, is it any wonder that a marriage ending in divorce leads to such chaos and destructive for all involved? Divorce is very harmful to the husband and wife. But perhaps those most harmed by a divorce of husband and wife are the children. Children face many unique challenges in a divorce situation. Thankfully God provides ways to heal from divorce. 
Outcomes of Divorce on Children
Children of broken families are at much higher risk of negative outcomes in life than those in stable married homes (Kim, 2011, p. 487). Negative outcomes can include dropping out of high school, social problems, decreased cognitive skills, and poor psychosocial well being (Kim, 2011, p. 487). Although social stigma regarding divorce has decreased in society, these outcomes have not changed over the years (Kim, 2011, p. 487). In the United States in 1860, 1 in 1,000 marriages ended in divorce (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 301). In 2013, the divorce ratio was up to 17 divorces in every 1,000 marriages (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 301). Divorce rates doubled between the 1950s and the 1980s (Stewart, 1997, p. 691). Today, about 50% of marriages end in divorce (Stewart, 1997, p. 691).
The consequences of divorce on children can last a lifetime (Sammons & Lewis, 2001, p. 1). There is increasing research that shows the effects of divorce on children can be devastating, yet society seems to lag behind in providing support for children of divorced families (Sammons & Lewis, 2001, p. 1). How can society provide supports for children of divorce? It's an important question to consider. Despite support from parents, siblings, friends, church leaders, counselors, and support groups, the effects of divorce are never-the-less devastating. Is it any wonder then why the scriptures say God hates divorce? (Malachi 2:16).

Healing from Divorce in Light of the Bible
As previously discussed, the marriage bond is extremely important. Although in modern society marriage is often not taken particularly seriously, to God it is a sacred covenant relationship. Divorce in light of the Bible is a serious and difficult situation. Suffering is the natural outcome. Yet what possibilities for healing from divorce are there, in light of the Bible?
Jeremiah 17:14 (ESV) says "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise." Ultimately the only way for children to heal from divorce is to reach out to God for healing and comfort. Jeremiah 33:6 (ESV) says "Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security." The passages from Jeremiah are extremely important. Consider the situation Israel was facing: Israel had turned from the Lord, and the king of Israel was listening to false teachers. Israel was about to face the Babylonian captivity, a terrible time of discipline and suffering. It is much the same after a divorce. A family has been splintered due to sin. The parents could not work it out, and thus suffering results. Yet God still offers healing, forgiveness, and love despite the poor choices people make in life. Even out of great tragedy, God can bring prosperity and security.
Psalm 103:2-4 (ESV) says "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy." Psalm 103 illustrates how God offers forgiveness, healing, redemption, steadfast love, and mercy to those who come to him. Children must be encouraged to "bless the Lord." Remind children again and again that though their foundation has been lost, the family, they must seek out and find the true foundation which is God almighty. He is the only unshakeable foundation.
James 5:15 (ESV) says "And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven." Divorce often brings about chaos for children, and causes numerous problems in mental health and functionality. Thankfully prayer is a powerful weapon against brokenness. The Lord will raise up children who have suffered the horror of divorce. Sins related to the divorce should be confessed, and then they will be forgiven (James 5:16). It must be underlined, that the suffering child does not need therapy, counseling, or interventions as much as the child needs the real presence of God the Father. "Self-help" style counseling is foolishness, and God-less (James 4:7, James 4:10, Romans 12:2) It leads to a repeating loop of suffering. Instead the scriptures say that one must submit themselves before the Lord, and he will lift them up (James 4:10).
Psalm 147:3 (ESV) states: "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." God came to seek and to save those who were lost (Luke 19:10). Children of divorce have lost a great deal. Though some do suffer only minimal consequences, many leave the situation brokenhearted. If these children will honestly seek after God, he will bind up their wounds.

Helping Children Heal Biblically
Proverb 23:26 (ESV) states "My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." Children heal when the Great Physician is at the center of the healing process. If a child is to survive divorce and thrive in the wake of it, parents must help the child connect to God. Parents must help children to give their hearts to God entirely and seek him as the firm foundation that the family had been prior to the divorce. Parents must help children to study the Bible, to "observe His ways" and truly follow them. Otherwise divorce may be a grim endeavor for children.
Despite cultural views that "what is good for parents is good for children" the grim reality is that divorce is very destructive for children (Desai, 2006). Children hold a basic understanding that parents have a sort of supernatural ability to help them and protect them (Desai, 2006). When divorce occurs, that trust is shattered and children will often become resentful (Desai, 2006). Divorce initiates a basic contradiction of what children see as right, that their parents belong together (Desai, 2006). The psychologist Judith Wallerstein followed a group of children from the 1970s to the late 1990s to observe how the children would grow and develop (Desai, 2006). She interviewed each of them at 18 months, five years, ten years, fifteen years, and even twenty five years later (Desai, 2006). Shockingly, she found that many of them still struggled with basic issues of fear of conflict, fear of failure, and expectations of failure after more than twenty five years (Desai, 2006). God's word is correct, despite all the noise of culture and secular psychology's attempts to downplay it: divorce is destructive (Matthew 19:6). Yet there are many ways parents can help children heal from divorce.
Parents should be in prayer for their children on a daily basis (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is powerful (Mark 11:24). Prayer is meaningful, and God will help children who are being prayed for regularly (1 John 5:14-15). Parents ought to ask church leaders and prayer or small groups to pray regularly for their children (Ephesians 6:18).
Parents should also model effective communication (Minirth, Meier & Arterburn, 1995, p. 233). This will help children to share their feelings and avoid bottling up their emotions regarding the divorce (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Validate the child's emotions, don't discount them (Minirth et al.,1995, p. 233). Children need to share their feelings and identify those feelings after a divorce (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Watch the child's behavior. Behavior problems and acting out can be signs of deeper emotion issues taking place beneath the surface (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Staying actively involved in the child's life is very important as well; often parents who do not have full custody will disengage but that is not a good idea (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233).
Overall, parents who care for their own spiritual needs and mental health will be best able to care for their children after divorce (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Parents should pray regularly for strength, wisdom, and compassion (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Parents should join a divorce support group if they are able, and seek healing for themselves (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Parents should not try to communicate through the children or play games or attack the other parent's character in front of children (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Parents who have divorced should treat each other with dignity and respect, addressing each other as if in a business relationship (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). When parents are mature about the divorce situation children more easily adjust in healthy ways. 
Helping Children Heal Personally
Proverbs 17:22 (ESV) says "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Children are often left with a crushed spirit after a divorce. They have seen their foundation removed, and they feel resentful and may often become disengaged. Drug and alcohol use may come about. Thankfully joy is good medicine. How can children learn to have joy? Joy is found in the Lord (John 16:24, Psalm 33:21). Hope leads to joy, and children certainly need hope after divorce. Since joy, peace, and healing all come from God, children must learn to connect to God in real, tangible ways.
Parents must help children to develop spiritual disciplines to deal with the vacuum in their lives after divorce. There are many useful and powerful spiritual disciplines parents can teach to their children.
Searching the scriptures is a very powerful spiritual discipline (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006, p. 141). Children should be encouraged to carry their Bible everywhere with them, and to page through it in times of struggle.
Solitude is another important discipline. Help your child to shut off the computer, television and I-phone, and just sit quietly with a Bible or in prayer. Relaxing in nature and reflecting can be very powerful as well (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006, p. 142). Solitude is a lost discipline, but very useful for those in need of healing (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006, p. 143).
Silence is still another useful discipline to practice. Silence coupled with solitude has a way of dismantling defenses, and opening the mind to the presence of God (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006, p. 145).
Simple prayer is another important spiritual discipline. Teach children to constantly talk to God within their own minds as they go throughout the day (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006, p. 148). Teach children to get on their knees twice a day to pray to God (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006, p. 148). Parents can model all of these disciplines to their children and make it a part of growing together in the new post-divorce family unit. Other disciplines may be explored as well such as celebration, fasting, confession, and submission (Clinton & Sibcy, 2006, p. 150). 
Helping Children Heal Inter-personally
How can parents help their children heal in their relationships with others and the world around them? Children of divorce will often struggle in their future relationships and may be more likely to divorce in their future marriages (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 208). For parents after the divorce, it's important that children know the divorce is not their fault (Petherbridge, 2009).
Helping the child to grow and function well begins with the parent healing from the divorce (Petherbridge, 2009). Parents should find a support group where they can discuss the pains and hurts of the divorce (Petherbridge, 2009). That way the child does not have to be the comforter of the parent (Petherbridge, 2009). If a child becomes the comforter of the parent, this represents a role reversal and can be destructive for the child's mental health.
Parents should continue to discipline consistently (Petherbridge, 2009). Discipline and firm rules communicate love and security to the child (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Sometimes parents after the divorce may be tempted to over-indulge their children out of guilt, but avoid this pitfall as it can communicate confusing signals to children (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Overall, children may struggle in future relationships no matter what the divorced parents do. Divorce is an ugly affair. But parents can help children toward healthy interpersonal skills by helping children communicate their feelings, setting down good discipline, and explaining the situation in clear truthful terms (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Children can be helped by participating in strong communities of believers at places like church youth groups, bible studies, divorce support groups, and Christian after-school programs (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Parents can present a positive view regarding marriage and friendships, so that children will not grow up feeling jaded or fearful of interpersonal attachments (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Children need to be children, even after a divorce (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). Try not to involve them in decisions regarding money, food, or other adult issues outside the child's level of maturity (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233). If parents are careful to stabilize the growing environment for children while providing supports and opportunities for healthy relationships, divorce related social problems can be minimized (Minirth et al., 1995, p. 233-235). 
Helping Children Heal Holistically
Taking a holistic approach to healing after divorce is very important for the long term recovery of children. Children need to heal internally, they need to heal interpersonally, and they need to heal in the power of God.
Divorce is not considered a short term incident, but a life long struggle with far reaching implications (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 307-308). During the time after divorce both parents may struggle with self-esteem issues, sexual acting out, emotional outbursts, depression, and anxiety/fears (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 307). This leaves the parents unavailable to help their children adjust emotionally (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 307). Male children of divorce will often struggle with acting out behavior and non-compliance (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 308). Female children may act-in through becoming emotionally closed off (Balwick & Balswick, 2014, p. 308). There is no doubt that divorce is destructive, but many children from divorced families express relief because the marriage situation caused so much trauma and abuse (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 311).
It's clear that children are affected in diverse ways by the divorce situation (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 308). Usually the worst period for children is in the first year after the divorce (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 308). Of course children suffer less when the parents are amicable with one another (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 308). Female children tend to recover more quickly from divorce, while male children, especially those raised by a single mother tend to take longer to fully heal and recover from divorce (Balswick & Balswick, 2014, p. 308).
It's important to address multiple issues with children. Of course children must have their physical needs met: food, water, and shelter. Children must also have their emotional needs met through love, relationship, and emotional expression. Still further, children must have their social needs met through church fellowship, friendships, and adult mentors. Yet ultimately, the most important holistic need of the child is his or her relationship with God. Jesus Christ said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
Parents struggling through a divorce will not be able to lead their children perfectly in this process, but there are many resources and angles from which to seek help and support for the children. Parents would be wise to take a holistic approach to the healing process and realize children have diverse needs in the process of rebuilding (Balswick & Balswick, 2014).

In conclusion, Deuteronomy 6:5-8 (NIV) states "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Though these words are from the Old Testament and refer to the Old Testament laws of Moses, one could surmise that Jesus Christ calls us to do very much the same. Jesus said let the little children come to me (Matthew 19:14). Jesus Christ also said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6). And Paul wrote of the Christ saying, "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). Families need Jesus. Parents need Jesus. Divorced parents need Jesus. And children of divorce desperately need Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ heals the brokenhearted.
If parents help children to place Jesus Christ at the heart of their healing process, then their children will be healed. Teach the children to love God with a full heart, despite the pain of divorce. Teach the children to know and follow the words of God in his Holy book the Bible. Counseling is important, support groups are important, wise parenting is important, and fellowship is important, but the very center piece of recovery after divorce is Jesus Christ. When parents are armed with that knowledge, their children will have the privilege of experiencing true healing after the horror of divorce.
Children need help to articulate their suffering, and express themselves personally. Children also need help from parents to develop their interpersonal skills. Children have a great many needs that must be addressed in a holistic manner. Yet most importantly, children need God to heal. And so do parents. In closing, parents and children of divorce alike ought to remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Balswick, J., & Balswick, J. (2007). The family: A Christian perspective on the contemporary home (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
Clinton, T., & Sibcy, G. (2006). Loving your child too much: Staying close to your kids without overprotecting, overindulging, or overcontrolling. Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers. ISBN: 1-591-45045-4.
Clinton, T., & Sibcy, G. (2006). Why you do the things you do: The secret to healthy relationships. Nashville, TN: Integrity.
Cloud, H. & Townsend, J. (2001). Boundaries with kids. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. ISBN: 0-310-24315-7.
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Sammons, W. A. H., & Lewis, J. (2001). Helping children survive divorce. Contemporary Pediatrics, 18(3), 103. Retrieved from
Stewart, V. L. (1997, Jul). Deconstructing the culture of divorce. The Christian Century, 114,690-693. Retrieved from accountid=12085