Jan 23 2013
Marriage is Body and Soul

I've edited this email. Changed the name, some of the circumstances, etc. I showed my response to Sherri, our producer, and she thought a lot of people might want to read it, because so many deal with this sort of thing.

I don't claim to have "all the answers", ever.  I do know that God loves "Vanessa", and her boyfriend, more than I can put into words.

 

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Hi Brant,

Four years ago, I met a man who was a Christian, and we started dating. Eventually we became intimate, and I've felt horrible about this, and my relationship with God has almost come to a total standstill.

I am feeling extremely convicted and even fearful of what God will do because of our disobedience. When I bring it up he gets angry and says that why do I choose to obey this and why not everything else the Lord says?

He gets my mind going and makes me think that maybe I'm wrong to think that shouldn't be a part of our relationship especially since we have already had that be a part of our relationship. He says we're going to get married anyway, so there's nothing wrong with it.  I'm confused what the Bible says about this, based on what he's telling me.

Please help me. I'm tormented because I feel like I'm putting my boyfriend before God and I don't want to go to Hell for this.  But if I don't give in I feel like maybe I'm being foolish to try and change things now. 

Thank you for reading this!

Vanessa

 

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Hey Vanessa,

THANK YOU for your honesty.  I'm not sure if I'll provide the best guidance, but I will be as honest as I can be, while I'm typing hurriedly!

There are no sins worse than others.  They're all tragic, and represent rebellion against the only true, lasting love we'll ever have.

I've been married nearly 23 years, and have a dynamite marriage, and it's still true: He's it.  Marriage is a wonderful analogy, or shadow, of the love He has for us, but it's not the full picture of the love God has for us. 

Rebelling against that love is painful for awhile, and then ultimately numbing, because we become less human, less the way we were supposed to be.  We stop feeling, and things lose their joyfulness, and their color.

Will you go to Hell for your sexual sin?  Jesus told the "righteous" people, whose hearts were proud, that tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before them!  The real question isn't, "Will this sin send me to Hell?" It's "Do I want the Kingdom of Heaven?  Do I even WANT God in charge?" - because, guess what, that's who's in charge when everything is restored. If you do want Him in charge, and you have made Him king NOW, demonstrate it.  As I type that to you, I type it to myself. There will be plenty of proud, upstanding, moral people in Hell. Too proud to want God as King, really.  We all sin, and Jesus has already paid the price for that. It's a question of the heart, now.

This said, some sins are WAY more impacting than others.  Marriage is saying, "I commit body and spirit to you."  And sex is a commitment of body, but outside of marriage, it's not backing it up with the lifetime commitment of the soul.

It's been proven, particularly for women, that sexual contact forges an intimate bond that goes WAY beyond mere physical exercise.  You are sharing your soul with someone who is not returning that exchange.

I suspect we all know this deep down. His body is writing a check that his soul is not willing to honor, not now.

This is very, very UNLOVING.  Very selfish of him, and, frankly, if he doesn't understand how a woman works, how a woman's heart works, or the link between sex and your very identity… Why would he be a good husband?

Marriage is ALL about putting AWAY your selfishness.  And he's demonstrating he wants to have his fun regardless of cost to you, so far as I can tell.  I don't get it.

All sin is equal rebellion against God, but sex is ridiculously powerful, and the consequences are identity-changing.  You become less YOU.  

If he's not willing to serve you in this area, to honor your desire to please God, to guard your own heart - and you should, you're NOT married - I'd dump him.  Perhaps after explaining it, lovingly, he'll "get it", and respect this, and you can make a new start, with pre-marital counseling involved.

I'm always amazed, too, at the "Well, we're GOING to get married," defense. Sometimes people do wind up getting married, sure, but if it were a sure thing, why aren't you already married?  Finances are used as an excuse, often, but it's usually CHEAPER for two people to live together than apart.  So…?  

Maybe there's a lingering sense that a commitment like marriage isn't the best thing right now…?  Fair enough. No sex until your soul will cash that check your body's writing.

That's my take.  And yes, the Bible is quite clear that sex outside of marriage is sin, just as lust is, according to Jesus.  (The commandment against adultery is often given a crafty "Well, this doesn't apply to us" spin, but there it remains. In our modern culture, we just can't STAND the idea that God wants us to live with sexual limits, because we worship sexual autonomy above all other things, no matter the cost. But yes, God cares about our sexuality. It'd be odd if He didn't, as powerful as it is!)

We're all sinners, but we can't use that as a justification to just keep doing what we want to do.  If he's a "believer", great.  "Even the demons believe," it says in James.  Does he have a heart for God, a desire to grow in love? He's demonstrating he values his own urges more than you, and that's not a good prescription for a long-lasting marriage, that's for sure.

Even if he doesn't agree, Biblically, a good future husband would protect the heart of a woman he loves, control himself, and quit taking advantage of her weakness. He'd help her get where she wants to be.  

And that's what marriage is, as it turns out.  Clearly, much as he wants the sex part of marriage, he doesn't want the part where he has to be a man and take responsibility for the wonderful gift he could have in you. You can bring that man out of him, perhaps, by saying, "This is the way it's going to be, or we're done.  Now, what do you want?"

God bless you, and I'm praying he grows up.  

Either way, you're playing with a strong hand.  Your longest-lasting, best, most passionate lover, body and soul, is with you, and will never leave you.

Best,

Brant

Dec 17 2012
An Ultimate Question: Will God Protect My Kids?


Brant, my dog growled last night and I thought of this question and decided I'd ask you.. My husband travels a lot (like 2 weeks a month) and so I am home alone with my two babies, my dog, and my two cats, and all the scary noises and shadows that make you wonder how safe you really are.. I normally follow my dog's lead when I get worried as his hearing is better and he is very protective of us.. I read a prayer book to my babies at night (just a collection of prayers) and a couple of them contain "Protect my family", "watch over us", etc.. but here's my hiccup.. God lets bad things (horrible things) happen to good people.. to HIS people.. People are raped and murdered every day so how is trusting God to keep us safe supposed to happen?? Yeah, Daniel may have walked through a den of lions unscathed, but I'd be willing to bet Stephen felt every stone that was thrown at him.. So how do we sleep at night knowing the world is full of evil and that sometimes (a lot of times) that evil hurts good people?? Just wondering what your thoughts are on this topic..


Amy

 

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Amy,


Okay, here are my thoughts, such as they are. And I hope you don't mind the picture up there. I have no idea who that is. I just like putting pictures next to blog entries. Thank you. But back to the question, and I think a LOT of people are asking it, even if not out loud.

As a dad, I think the answer to this is scary. And this may not be true for you, it may not be exactly YOUR inner conversation, but the conversation can go something like this:

Honest question: If I am a good Christian, and have faith and stuff, will God protect my children?

Honest answer: He might. Or He might not.

Honest follow-up question: So what good is He?

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I think the answer is that He’s still good. But our safety, and the safety of our kids isn’t part of the deal. This is incredibly hard to accept on the American evangelical church scene, because we love families, and we love loving families, and we associate Godliness, itself, with cherishing family beyond any other earthly thing.

That someone would even challenge this bond, the primacy of the family bond, is offensive. And yet...

Jesus did it. And it was even MORE offensive, then, in a culture that wasn’t nearly so individualistic as ours. Everything was based on family: Your reputation, your status -- everything. And yet He challenges the idea my attachment to family is so important, so noble, that it is synonymous with our love for Him.

Which leads to some other spare thoughts...

We can make idols out of our families.

Again, in a “Focus on the Family” subculture, it’s hard to imagine how this could be. Families are good. 

But idols aren’t made of bad things. They used to be fashioned out of trees or stone, and those aren’t bad, either. Idols aren’t bad things, they’re good things, made Ultimate.

We make things Ultimate when we see the true God as a route to these things, or a guarantor of them. It sounds like heresy, but it’s not: The very safety of our family can become an idol.

God wants us to want Him for Him, not merely for what He can provide.

As wonderful as “mother love” is, we have to make sure it doesn’t become twisted.

And it can. It can become a be-all, end-all, the very focus of a woman’s existence. C.S. Lewis writes that it’s especially dangerous, because it seems so very, very righteous. Who can possibly challenge a mother’s love?

God can, and does, when it becomes an Ultimate. And it’s more likely to become a disordered Ultimate than many other things, simply because it does seem so very righteous. Lewis says this happens with patriotism, too.

Mother-love, even when disordered, and placed before a desire for God Himself, always looks perfectly justified. And that’s why it’s deadly.

Children are truly gifts from the Lord. And, still, God wants us to want Him for Him, not His gifts.

This is the whole point of “trust”.

We say “I trust Jesus”, or “Trust in the Lord, and...” and all that stuff. But here’s where the words actually mean something.

What if... the worst happens? Do you still trust Him? Do you believe it’s really the end of the story, if it does happen? Isn’t that the point of trust, itself, is that you’re stepping into mystery?

Job is the classic example. He had no idea what was going on, and he was left with only one thing: His trust in God, Himself. He did not know the big picture, and yet he believed... there has to be a picture, here, and it’s one that I can’t see. As we know from the story, he was right. There was a backstory, he just didn’t know what it was.

Do we really believe that God is good, and will ultimately set things right? The real “trust” comes, I’m afraid, when what we think is “right” in our present reality doesn’t happen.

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Not long ago, my wife and I visited the mom and dad of a little girl who was the victim of an unspeakably horrible crime. A relative was in their home for Thanksgiving, and went on a shooting spree, concluding with deliberately taking the girl’s life while she slept in her bed.

We sat in the little girl’s room, days after the shooting. The dad sat on her bed, and pulled down a beautiful, embroidered picture that was on the wall above it. He was crying, and pulled down the picture, and showed the back of it to us.

He still thinks God is good. Somehow.

“I feel like we’re only seeing this part right now, where it looks like chaos,” he said. “But someday we’ll see the front, where the stitches make more sense, and it will be beautiful. It doesn’t make sense, but I have to trust God.”

There are those who would say he’s naive, but I think this is the very essence of trust, and the whole point of it.

We see dimly now, and we know in part now, but we will someday see it all. This is trust.

And one last, radical thought:

By becoming a Christian, we say we are giving our lives to Christ. If that’s true -- if we’ve given our lives to Christ -- we’ve given it all. Everything.

And if that’s true, it includes -- and boy, is this tough to say, as a dad -- it includes our very children. They’re His.

No one can take anything, or anyone from His grip. They can take from ours, but not His.

So watch them sleep, and thank God for them, and know that they’re on loan. He loves them, more than you, even. And whatever happens, He’s got the big picture, we don’t.

That is trust.

Not sure if that helps... but those are some thoughts, for what they're worth...

Best,

Brant

Dec 16 2012
Good News: God is Still Allowed in Public Schools

A listener asked me what I thought of the thought expressed on this t-shirt.

So here goes: Putting it in delicate terms... it's hogwash. 

God isn't "allowed" anywhere. He doesn't need permission. He doesn't need a hall pass from a teacher, and He doesn't need to report to the office on the way in.

We didn't "kick God out" of our public school system. We don't have that kind of power, unless you're such a big fan of the Supreme Court that you think God must first parse a majority decision to determine where He can go.

When Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you always," he didn't leave it subject to court review by our robed lawyers.

Do I think the courts have it right, that they've interpreted the constitution fairly, to allow students religious expression?  No way. They've been all over the map. Incoherent, even. They've overstepped their bounds, in restricting free citizens the very first freedom mentioned in Bill of Rights. That's my opinion.

But they did not kick God out of schools, because... they can't. And God doesn't take on the role of dispassionate observer to prove a point for you.

So don't tell us otherwise. And, because words matter, don't give kids the impression that God waits, sadly, outside, waiting for the final bell, when they can rejoin Him.

God loves little children, and He does not hear their cries from without, and then refuse to be with them. He loves teachers, too, who often feel overwhelmed at their jobs, and thousands call on Him daily. He does not offer a wistful, "I wish I could go in, but..." 

It's true: He does not promise an absence of suffering. In fact, he promises just the opposite. 

But lo, students and teachers, he is with you, always. And when God says He draws near to the broken-hearted, there's no asterisk that says, "Except during homeroom, pending an appeal." When He draws close, He doesn't consult the reigning opinion of the Sante Fe ISD v. Doe decision for boundaries.

Turns out, the Bible doesn't talk about our courts much. It does, however, make it clear that evil precedes the McCollum case of 1948. In fact, it dates back thousands of years, and Jesus' own birth into our world was greeted with unspeakable evil, an infanticide on an unimaginable scale, with a single purpose: Disallowing God.

But you know what? The authorities didn't get to determine where God goes, and where He is. They never do.

There's nothing new about evil. This is our world, as it was, as it is, but not how it shall ever be.

"In this world, you will have trouble," Jesus tells us. "But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Good news, kids! And good news, teachers!

God is in your school. He has not left the building.

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