Ask Your Preacher
Three years after my wife and I got married, she had an affair and got pregnant. I stayed with her even though I had some struggles accepting the fact she cheated on me. I accepted the baby because I am unable to have children. It was our only child. Our son recently was killed on a motorcycle through no fault of his own. He was thirty-five years old. My wife and I divorced twenty-two years ago, but we are still friends. My question is: even though he was a great son and a church-going person with his wife who is sixteen weeks pregnant, is my son considered to be an illegitimate child to where he can't enter into the Lord’s congregation? I accepted him as my son, but I can't get this off my mind. Could you give me an answer, so I can clear my mind? I love my son more than I can explain, but I am so confused from what I read. Like I said, he was a church-going person and never gave anyone any problems.
Dear Mourning Father,
We are so sorry for your loss. What a devastating time for your family. Let us give you one comfort – your son is not responsible for the choices that others made that led to his conception. God very specifically says that each person is responsible for their own sins. The entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 deals with this issue. God’s conclusion is that a son can choose his own path regardless of what his parents chose (Ezek 18:20). Each of us works out our own salvation before God (Php 2:12). Your son is not barred from heaven because of his mother’s past. His commitment to Christ will define him on that great Day of Judgment.
How do I take comfort from God when my two adult children are suffering with drug addiction? I have two sons who are throwing their lives away by way of drug addiction. The youngest is in our county jail waiting to go back to prison. My oldest is in Chicago Cook county jail awaiting a charge there. I am constantly fearful for their lives. If they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, how can I ever have peace? I see their self-destructive behavior, and I feel helpless. I feel guilty as well. Please, any advice would be helpful. I must confess, I have been baptized but do not currently attend church. I believe that may be the first step to helping me. Sometimes, I read Scripture that helps give me strength, but lately, I feel lost. Thank you for any help you may give me.
Dear Heart-Sick Mother,
We are so sorry for your grief and suffering. How you feel is completely normal, and in fact, you might take comfort in reading one of our questions, "A Mother's Grief", written in by a mother who had similar sorrows from her grown children.
You asked us what you can do to take comfort in God... and you are right; going back to church is a big part of that. God tells us that assembling with a faithful church encourages and strengthens us (Heb 10:24-25). You can't change the past, and you can't live your sons' lives for them. This is your reality now, and the best thing you can do for yourself (and for them) is to put your life on the right path. We would be happy to help you find some wonderful, faithful congregations in your area if you'd like. Not all churches are faithful, but we can help get you in contact with one that will help you draw near to God and heal. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello, I just really need some major advice if you could, please. My family (mom, dad, sister, brother and I) is always fighting. It's beginning to take a huge toll on all of us, and it's becoming all we do. I don't want us to be that way, but I don't know what to do to stop it. I pray that everyone will start being happier with everyone, that everyone will stop fighting and just get along and enjoy our time together. My parents fight a lot, and I'm just worried that it's going to tear this family apart. Do you know anything I can do or say to stop this?
I feel like I'm about to have a mental breakdown. I really do. Everything is just getting to me, and I have no friends at all (I know God and Jesus Christ love me, but I mean, like, people around me). Everyone just thinks of me as a loser or something. I want to be needed and to be someone's best friend. I know this all probably sounds crazy or just a rant, but I just needed to talk to someone that would personally read and answer me. I'm trying to make friends. I'm just afraid that I'm supposed to be alone and friendless all my life. Please help any way possible; a prayer for my family and I would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for taking the time to read this, and again, I'm sorry. God bless.
First of all, you are in our prayers. Fighting within a family is so painful for a child; at least one of our AYP writers knows that first hand. Perhaps the most painful part is the feeling of helplessness that the children are left with. There isn’t anything you can say to fix it, and that is what hurts. We wish we could tell you that there is an easy solution, and if you step in and get involved, it will change everything, but that isn’t true. Sometimes, getting involved can make things worse. Pr 26:17 says that getting in the middle of someone else’s disagreement is like grabbing a dog’s ears. You’ll get bitten every time. Just because you feel you have the solution and see the situation clearer than your parents doesn’t mean that they would be receptive to hearing it. The most likely scenario is that you would add fuel to an already burning fire.
Another thing to consider is that your advice isn’t likely to be accepted by either parent because you are their child. Jesus said that a prophet has respect except amongst his own family and in his own house (Mk 6:4). Time has not made you equals with your parents, and you aren’t in a position to help them – it just isn’t the way life works. This doesn’t mean you are wrong or that you are seeing things incorrectly – it just means they won’t listen because you are the child, and they are the parents. Whether or not you are correct is irrelevant.
But all of this doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do. Jesus’ preaching didn’t affect His family, but His lifestyle did. Multiple times in the Bible it says that Mary saw Jesus’ behavior and “treasured these things in her heart” (Lk 2:19, Lk 2:51). Jesus’ example made a lasting impact upon His family. When you see your parents fighting, calmly walk away. If they ask why – tell them it hurts you. When you have a chance to show respect to your father and love to your mother, do it. As parents, we can tell you that mothers and fathers notice these acts of selflessness and maturity in our children more than they ever know. Many parents have become better people because of the example of their children. You can’t preach to them, but you can live a sermon every day. And most of all, remember that regardless of what your parent’s marriage looks like, it isn’t your fault, and it isn’t your burden. You are only responsible for you, and someday, if you get married, you can apply the lessons you are learning now to change your family tree, so your children don’t need to feel the way you are feeling now.
We recently had a man from the congregation preach for us, and as he talked, he told the unfortunate story of how his son's life was not in accordance with God's will and how he wished so much that he could even share a meal with him, but because of his sinful state, he could not be around him. Is this the kind of separation the Bible teaches we are to have from those outside Christ? How can we be a light to those not in Christ if we can't speak a word to them?
Dear Seems Harsh,
It sounds like this man’s son became a Christian and then fell away. When that happens, the church is told to show tough love and separate themselves from the wayward brother or sister. We are commanded to “withdraw from” and “have no company with” an ungodly Christian (2 Thess 3:6, 1 Cor 5:1-13). We are to do this for the sinner’s own good, hoping it will bring shame on them, and they will repent (2 Thess 3:14). This is really a loving thing to do even though it is a hurtful and sorrowful act for all people involved. The church is given strict orders to withdraw and not associate with a wayward brother or sister (1 Cor 5:13).
However, the immediate family doesn’t have the same “black and white” guidelines. In fact, we see that in some scenarios, the family is commanded to do the opposite – as in the case of an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:13). Sometimes the family has a greater influence by still associating with the wayward Christian… in other cases, the family finds the best way to help the sinning loved one is to separate themselves. When dealing with immediate family, there are wisdom and judgment calls involved.
It is important to note that when a Christian turns back to a life of sin, the church is supposed to separate themselves from them… but that command only applies to wayward Christians. The apostle Paul specifically tells us that we should try to draw near and affect the lives of sinners that haven’t ever obeyed the gospel (1 Cor 5:9-10). Christians should seek to be lights in the world and examples to those who have never known Christ.
Hello; I'm wondering if a person is born with mental deformities and can't understand the concept of the Lord, will they still reach heaven?
Heart For Others
Dear Heart For Others,
Those with mental handicaps would fall under the same rules as children. In order to obey the gospel, we must have the maturity to:
- Take responsibility for our sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for our own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
Children and those with certain mental handicaps do not have that ability, and God only holds us accountable for what we are able to do (2 Cor 8:11-12). Just like children, they will go to heaven.