Ask Your Preacher
This girl and I have been dating for almost eight months, and we truly believe with all our hearts that we are meant for each other; we've even had dreams about each other with kids, too, but her parents won’t give us permission to be together, and her sister is even telling us we’re wrong, but she stared dating even younger than us. The thing is, my girl is scared of getting in trouble. What do we do?
Dear The Guy,
The right thing to do is probably not what you want to hear. Col 3:20 says that it brings joy to God when children obey their parents… that is what you should do. As much as it may be painfully difficult for you two to put your dating and family plans on hold, the right thing to do is to respect her parents’ wishes.
Eph 6:1-3 says that God blesses children when they obey their parents. That means that even if her parents are making the wrong call, you will be blessed by honoring them. God causes all things to work together for good (Rom 8:28), and when you do the hard thing, it inevitably turns out better in the long run.
It sounds like you are surrounded by people that you disagree with, but these people still care about you and have your best interests at heart. Parents and children don’t always see eye-to-eye, so it is an act of faith for children to obey their parents even when they disagree. God will bless you both if you show patience. After all, “not now” isn’t the same as “not ever”.
My husband and I were raised in different churches. We recently had a discussion about alcohol: those who drink it, those who don't, and what kind of example we want to set for our children. Can you clarify what the Bible states about alcohol consumption?
Dear United Front,
God never specifically condemns all alcohol, but He does condemn ‘strong drink’ (Pr 20:1), drinking parties (1 Pet 4:3), and drunkenness (Rom 13:13). Almost all alcohol that is consumed today would fall into the category of ‘strong drink’ because our alcoholic beverages are artificially fermented to increase their alcoholic content (unlike the wine of Jesus’ day – read “That’s Just Grape” for further details on the wine Jesus drank). We would all do well to heed the words of Pr 23:31-32 and avoid alcohol as much as is possible.
I have a parenting question. My eight-year-old daughter has a friend about a year older than her who lives down the road. She and my daughter have been friends for several years, but recently, the neighbor girl berated my daughter to the point that she came home in tears. Unfortunately, this has happened before in their friendship. Also, as the neighbor girl has gotten older, she has developed a fairly bad attitude that is becoming a challenge for my daughter. The neighbor girl has a habit of doing this when she is upset about something, but she also usually comes back with an apology. This time, however, I'm leaning towards discouraging my daughter from continuing a friendship with this girl. My dilemma is: I want to teach my daughter to be forgiving, but I also don't want to put her in a situation where she will get hurt again or steer her towards a friendship with a girl who is becoming an increasingly bad influence. I also am not sure that I want to teach my daughter to continue a potentially abusive relationship simply because of an apology (I'm thinking ahead). Should I encourage my daughter to accept her friend's apology and continue the relationship on the grounds of forgiveness, which is vitally important, or should I encourage my daughter to end the friendship despite the apology because of the unhealthy nature of the relationship?
Parenting is about nurturing your children along to adulthood (Eph 6:4). Nurturing means more than just teaching one concept; it means providing them with all of the skills and strengths they will need in life. You are doing things exactly right.
It is important to teach children about forgiveness, mercy, and kindness – numerous verses teach that concept. However, that isn’t the totality of God’s teaching on relationships! If it were, Christians would be required to put up with untold abuse and accept every unhealthy influence that comes our way. Instead, God also teaches that bad relationships can corrupt us (1 Cor 15:33).
You can simultaneously teach your daughter to forgive this other girl while also teaching the benefits of setting healthy boundaries. That is a skill set she will need for the rest of her life. Forgiveness isn’t the same as trust. After all, Jesus forgave people but didn’t necessarily trust them in all circumstances (Jhn 2:24-25). You are right to seek a balance, and your daughter is blessed to have a parent that nurtures these healthy social skills in her.
I have a son who is married, but he and his wife are separated. He is seeing other women and having sex with them. He stays with us, and so if he’s living with us and we know that’s what he’s doing, will that stop the blessing from coming in our house?
When a child becomes an adult, they are responsible for their own sins… but you are responsible for your household. Eli was sharply rebuked and cursed by God because he honored his sons above God’s law (1 Sam 2:29). When a love of family supersedes our love for the Lord – we’ve got big problems (Lk 14:26). You cannot control what your son does when he leaves your house – but until then, remember the words of Joshua: “As for me and for my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15).
My son is dying a horrible, long lasting death of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). I have been a Christian my whole life and an active staff member in the church. My whole spiritual world has been rocked by watching my son suffer day after day with nothing in sight except a horrible death. My question is: I have been taught my whole life that God answers prayers. That is not true. God can heal. Yes, He can, but it is just a matter of whether or not He will. God doesn't like to watch His children suffer. Then why does He let us?
Dear Mad Mom,
We are so sorry for your son's suffering, and we cannot fathom the pain it has wrought for you as well. Sickness is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. One of the curses of their sin was that we all must face our own mortality – life is finite (Gen 2:17). Sickness, disease, and pain are a part of the human existence. Sadly, this is true even for our children. When God gave us freewill, He gave us the right to cause problems for ourselves and others, and if He simply removed all the consequences for our actions, He would be removing our freedoms as well.
God could have made us without the freedom to choose, but then we wouldn’t be “in His image”… we would be automatons. As a parent, you have seen how the freewill of our children can break our hearts sometimes, and it can be difficult to see your children hurt when they make choices that have painful consequences. From scraped knees to heartaches, parents watch their children get hurt when they leave the nest and strike out on their own. God has that same parental paradox (Heb 12:9-10) – the love to let us choose even when those choices have caused all sorts of problems for us. Your son is suffering because of the diseases mankind’s choices have brought upon us.