Youth Conference 2015 Q&A - Part 2

Q1

What do you say to couples that start talking at 16 and get married 6 years later. Wasn't it too early?

This is a tricky question because the opinions can be very subjective. But I will say this - couples who court before their ready for marriage will typically have a more difficult time than those who don't. The younger you are the less sense/ wisdom & self control you have, this is why it's necessary to have parents or guardians until each young person becomes an adult. So take young people at the age of 16, with their brain not fully developed yet (last part develops around 20-25) add a new range of hormones to the mix, and throw them into critical decision make scenarios. You don't have to be really smart to see that this is a scenario that is prone to difficulty. Now, I'm not saying it's impossible or that couples don't exist that have courted from 16, got married and are enjoying a thriving marriage. All I'm saying is that it's a very difficult way to stay out of sin and end up in marriage. The temptations are harder, at a time when the flesh is weaker. Why put yourself in that scenario? What would I advise a 16 year old to do? I would advise them to "Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." (2 Timothy 2:22) Don't focus on guys/ girls when you're 16, focus on growing in Christ by making every part of your life surrendered to Him. Why? So you'll be ready for marriage when the time comes.

Q2

What is the difference of disrespecting and disagreeing with your parents when it comes to the girl your going to marry?

The Call to honor your parents never stops. As long as you have a father and mother you should always honor them. (Exodus 20:12) However, I think it's important for all of us to understand that scripture calls you to obey your parents as long as you’re a child. (Colossians 3:20, Ephesians 6:1) When you step out of childhood and into adulthood, you need to make your own decisions. So when it comes time to marry, this should be definitely made with counsel of wise people who love you. (In almost all cases parents fall into this category.) It’s also important to know that whatever decision you make, ultimately is yours to live with. If your parents pick someone for you that you don't necessarily like, at the end of the day you have to live with that choice. If you pick someone your parents don't like and then end up regretting it, it's still your decision to live with. I know of a several people who their parents advised them not to marry someone they had their heart set on. These young adults didn't listen to their parents and ended up in horrible relationships - chalked with abuse, selfishness, hurt, hate, and ultimately ended in separation. On the other hand I also know another relationship where the parents advised their child that they should not marry their intended suitor. Their child respectfully disagreed, married that person and are a thriving healthy marriage that blesses the church they attend. The difference? Jesus. In the first set of scenarios, the young adult ignored their parent's counsel that was according to scripture and to wisdom and followed their young naive feelings. They made a decision based on what they wanted right in that moment. Their parents advised them that they are unequally yoked, (2 Corinthians 6:14) showed them that the suitor in question wasn't fit to provide, wasn't mature (aka ready for marriage), that they hadn't settled in their ways yet, and so on. After they wed the nightmare began. Don't make permanent decisions on a whim unless you want to end up full of regret. I've seen good people make bad decisions, and marriage is not a decision to be made lightly. I want you to understand that your parents love you and don't want hurt for you. Now, in the other scenario the parent had wrong motives for denying their child to marry the person they loved. The potential suitor was a Godly person set up and established in every way. The child and the suitor were married and are an example couple for many young people today, I can also happily say that both sets of parents greatly approve of their marriage today. So the difference is? Follow Christ. He will lead you to victory. In the first scenario couples followed their desires and not Christ. In the second, the couple followed Christ and not people around them. It's Jesus that ultimately makes the difference and wins the victory. Pray with your parents, seek wise counsel, and let the spouse you love be reflective of Christs character.

Q3

What is the best way to prepare yourself to be the priest of your household?

A priest's role is to bring the congregation before the Lord. So your duty is to be the kind of man that leads your family and presents them before the Lord. In order to do that, you first have to learn to lead yourself to the Lord daily. Genuine holiness begins with the denial of self. So during this time of singleness learn to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. (Mark 8:34) Your time of singleness should be a time of learning how to grow in discipline, grow in prayer, grow in fasting, grow in scripture - and most importantly: don't just grow by knowing these things, grow by doing them. Grow by walking with God. A great Christian leader is a great Christian follower of Jesus. (1 Peter 2:21, 1 Corinthians 11:1)

Q4

What's the biggest age difference before it's just weird?

Check out this link to my first blog as I've answered the same question there. It's Question #3.

Q5

How should God play a role in a relationship?

Great question. Let me answer first by provoking a thought. How should God play a role in your relationship with your parents? How about with your friends? With your Pastor? You see, I believe that God has a role to play through us in every scenario. You treat your parents a certain way because you're a Christian. You treat your Pastor with respect and reverence because you're a Christian. You treat your friends with selfless love, sacrifice and respect because you're a Christian. So how should you treat your girl/boy friend in a relationship? The question I want you to continually ask yourself is, how should a Christian respond to this? Secondly, God can play a great role in your relationship but what that role looks like in practicality has a lot to do with your personal relationships with Him. Here's an example: you can set boundaries and investments as I call them. Some boundaries could include - not talking at all past 10pm, NEVER being alone in private places, committing to not touching each other, and setting a commitment level early on when you'll eventually hold hands and save the rest for marriage. Some investments might be to read through a book of the Bible together, and then when you get together once a week to talk about what you've read, another might be to fast 1 day a week together to search God out on His will for the 2 of you. These are just some examples from previous couples I've counseled, but they may not have the same impact on you. So that's where your boundaries and investments will have to be molded from both of your personal relationships to Christ within the guidance of Scripture. They have to work with where Jesus is leading you. I'd also highly recommend to not court in private. You only hide what you're ashamed of and courting in a Godly way shouldn't be something we are ashamed of, rather it should be something we're proud of. Plus it helps keep you accountable.

Q6

Is it biblical to live with your parents/your spouse's parents after you're married?

Biblically there is no specific identification one way or another. Scripture says that a "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Matthew 19:5) Now does this mean that they must move out of their parent's home? Nope. In fact Jewish custom during Biblical times was for the man to build an addition on to his father's house for him and his new bride to live in. Now I think it's important to understand, that even if you live with your in-laws or your family, they're not a part of your new family. They're close but still on the outside. In Matthew 19:5 where it says to leave and cleave (or be united) it's referring to the identification of family, not necessarily a physical leaving. However, if you live together with family just know that it will be more difficult at times. This does depend on you and your family/in-laws. If they're difficult people I'd advise to not live there. The first few years of marriage are important and not always easy, you want privacy in those times and living under the same roof won't afford you that. I understand the pull of little to no bills as it saves you money and helps you get established, but it really needs to be weighed out in all aspects. If your husband/ wife doesn't want to really leave the comfort of mom and dad, I'd 100% encourage you to make a clean break and rent an apartment somewhere. Kids that don't want to leave their parents but enter into marriage are just that, still kids. If you want to help this process, then I would urge you to make moving out a priority.

Q7

What can you do to save or fix a failing marriage?

There is always hope for a failing marriage. I believe this wholeheartedly, and I can't say it often enough. What you can do is invest in it. If it's failing and there's a lot of hurt, and I mean you're about to walk out the door, I would advise you to take your wife/ husband and go to christian counseling. Find a Christian counselor and begin attending. I'd also advise you to ask another couple for help. Close friends, someone with no bias, possibly a church leader, etc. Their role would be to hold you accountable and give you a place to talk it out. Obviously you would want someone who has a great marriage. Where to look for a counselor? Call the local large American church and ask. Honestly it's a marriage we're talking about, look under a rock if you need to! It's worth fighting for! If it's a marriage that's struggling but isn't on the cusp of divorce, then I'd advise something else. Counseling should still be an option, I'm a strong believer in God equipping individuals with gifts to help others, but you can do a couple of other things as well. Begin with setting some ground rules on conversations. Never use absolute statements like "You never.." or "I always..." because that changes the focus of the conversation and now you're arguing 2 different points. Instead, begin statements with "I feel..." So here's an example: instead of saying "You never care about me." you could say "I feel like I'm not important to you." One is attacking and the other person goes on the defensive. The other invites your spouse to join in on helping your hurt. Another thing that's helped many in marriage is clear communication. When your spouse says something that may be confusing or possibly hurtful to you instead of getting angry try this. With no hostility in your voice ask "Hey, I feel like you're saying this: [repeat what you understood], is that what you're saying?" You'll find out that most times we simply don't know how to communicate. Also, check out A Weekend to Remember. This organization is awesome. My wife and I have personally attended just to enrich our marriage. It'll help begin the healing process in a big way. If this isn't about you but a close friend or relative, then buy them a weekend away. Pay for it yourself, borrow money if you have to, PRAY, and get them to go. You can also look up Family Life Today and listen to their large library of sermons and testimonies about family life and marriage. If you have a smart phone, download a podcast app like Downcast and search for Family Life Today to look through their library that way. Put it in your husband/ wife's iPod/iPhone so they can listen to it at work/ while they exercise, etc. The best thing you can do is begin working on it. Now saturate all of this in prayer and fast. Seriously, it's a marriage we're talking about. Take a few days to fast about it. Draw near to God in prayer, and I'm confident He'll guide you. (Also look at some of the resources I mentioned in Q10 below.) Be encouraged, there is hope!

Q8

Why is it that Jews would become married at age 14, or that it is said Jesus' mom was about 14 when she was married and pregnant?

Culture was extremely different back then. Society wasn't individualistic as it is today, everything was community based then. As we passed through the years our world has changed philosophically and culturally. Even some of our views from 100 years ago seem strange today, now from 2000 years ago they seem as if it's another species we're talking about. Here at 25 you get married and buy a house. In Bible times you would get married and then build an addition on to your father's house and your bride would move in. Today we propose with a ring, in scripture they offered a cup at a special dinner. Today many don't believe in any God, but in Bible times everyone believed in some sort of God, just to mention a few areas of difference. So in those times specific decisions made sense for their own cultural and philosophical reasons, even though some of those things may sound really strange today. The important thing to take away is this: we follow Biblical principle and Jesus, not tradition and culture. Not just the teachings of Jesus, but the teacher Himself - for He lives in us. The Jews had some things in their culture that they did, and we don't do them. Nor should we be focused on how people lived, dressed, wore their hair, etc. These things often times take our focus away from the real message. That Jesus loves us, wants to redeem us and live in & through us.

Q9

What if your guy says he wants to be with you but doesn't really pursue?

This could be multiple things. It either could mean that he wasn't honest for some reason - like not wanting to hurt your feelings, break a friendship, etc. or he simply doesn't know how. You have to realize that he's probably just as stressed as you are about the whole scenario. I think we can agree that godly men need to take the initiative, be confident in approaching a girl and perusing courtship. However, this isn't an easy thing to do for most guys. The standard is there and we're aware of it, but most of us have never been shown how or encouraged to believe in ourselves. There's a giant struggle taking place in every mans heart, similar to how women have their own struggles. Many young ladies are still trying to work through things like insecurity & low self-esteem. These major issues can play a role in every aspect of your life. For men, it's fear of failure and a need for validation. Fear of failure paralyzes even the best of men from moving forward, this typically steams out of a lack of validation. Men need validation from their creator in order to be confident and courageous. Many times they'll look for validation in the women they date, the clothes they wear, the cars they drive, or the career they have. But men that are validated by their Lord and Savior, know who they are because they know who He is. This is a battle all men face and God desires to free us from. So realize that in the same way that your strengths and weaknesses play a role, so do his. Your best bet is to encourage him to have a simple and clear conversation with you where you guys can talk it out. Here's a tip, as you're talking it out when He says something, explain to him what you understood. It's so funny how what we say doesn't register the same way we said it to another person. So literally do this: say "Ok, here's what I understood that you just said..." and then repeat it back to him. It'll help him develop his thoughts and cause clear communication to happen. Also, here's a great resource for you to purchase for him: Wild at Heart by John Eldridge. (Most guys don't read, so I linked the audio version.) Fantastic book about the heart of a man.

Q10

If your in a relationship and your spouse makes you clean all the time how do you tell them no?

This is a difficult question because I'd like to give you a clear answer but without more info it's tricky. Assuming that he's the sole earner of the home and you're the homemaker, and you're not in a different scenario (like you work 40 hours a week and he stays at home, or you both work full time jobs, etc.) I would say that cleaning and homemaker work is something you should be doing without him telling you to. It's your role in the marriage if you're the homemaker. Also, it's important to realize that homemaker isn't a degrading job, it's one of honor and authority and a role that can either bring life into the home or chaos. Now I'd also advise that you encourage your husband to help pitch in a little bit after he gets home and has had a second to rest and relax from his day. He wants to feel successful, so coming home to problems of cleanliness or a list of chores isn't what he wants right out of the gate. Give him 30 minutes to rest and reassess. Also I'd like to recommend this book to you and ask you to read it with discernment: Created To Be His Help Meet. I've heard numerous reports from both wives and husbands how this book has impacted them. Take it with a grain of salt as you'll probably not agree with everything, but it may help your marriage greatly. Also, something for the 2 of you: For Women Only and For Men Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn. This book set is fantastic, small and easy to read, and shed a lot of light on how we operate as men and women. I'd advise you to read each other's book first (so you read the "For Men Only" book, and your spouse does the opposite). This will help you learn more about yourself, and as you come across parts that really speak to you, highlight them. Then switch books and re-read. This way your husband will see the highlights and know what's important to you, as well as vice versa. Now if your situation is different than him being the sole earner and you being the homemaker than my advise would be considerably different. You and your husband have to define what the roles are in your household, and it may be difficult because your expectations are that which you've grown up with - almost always being different from one another. So sit down together, EACH of you need to let go of expectations and together create what will be the standard for your home. God's desire is for your family to reflect Him in the uniqueness of you two.