Ask Your Preacher
Should I continue to attend a church that I don't believe is teaching the right things even though my husband is a member there?
Dear Wondering Wife,
Though the Bible says to respect your husband (Eph 5:33), that respect is in subordination to the Lord. It is important to obey God before man (Acts 5:29). We must each work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12). Solomon made the mistake of honoring his wives before God, and he lost everything because of it (1 Kg 11:4). If the church you are currently attending is not faithful to God’s Word, you must choose a faithful church over your husband.
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.
There are some things that I can't comprehend. I'm having to watch my mom slowly die of cancer. Why would a loving God put my family through this? If God is so great and powerful, why won't He heal her? She is the only parent my siblings and I have ever had. Please help me to make sense of it all.
Child In Distress
Dear Child In Distress,
Life here on this planet is full of heartaches, and we here at AYP cannot imagine how devastated you are right now. This world is full of all sorts of disease, pain, violence, and strife – but God didn’t cause those things, sin did. All bad things are a result of sin. When God made the world, He placed mankind in the Garden of Eden and gave us a joyously blissful existence in that paradise. Who caused the pain? We did. It is sin that has brought all of the death, disease, decay, pain, suffering, troubles, and heartaches into our world. We all, in varying degrees, are reaping the benefits of a world with sin in it. 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. 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.
Sometimes bad things simply happen because they happen. Job suffered greatly, and his children died, but it wasn’t his (or their) fault. Job hadn’t done anything wrong, nor had his kids. It all happened because Satan wanted to do evil (Job 1:6). As long as we live in this world of sin, there will be troubles. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone at fault… just time and chance wreaking havoc in a sinful world (Eccl 9:11).
Regardless of the reasons, your mother’s illness is devastating to you – and rightfully so. You have every right to be hurt, but don’t let that hurt cause you to turn your back on God who wants to save us all from this sinful world. After all, God gave His Son’s life for us – He knows how painful this is for you and knows exactly how to give you comfort through this dark hour.
My grandmother died this year; she was ninety-four years old. She had two daughters. In her will, she left the major portion of her estate to her younger daughter. When my grandfather was alive, they had a living trust; their estate was divided equally between the two daughters. My grandmother always favored her younger daughter and her family, and it was very noticeable to an outsider. When the reading of the will was done, it hurt my mother, making her feel even more unloved. My mother never did anything to deserve this. My mother is a God-fearing Christian and has always done the right thing. My aunt won't have a thing to do with my mother, which was another blow to my mother. What does God think of a woman who would cause so much pain?
Your question is a loaded one. Realistically, we all cause others pain, and every story has two sides to it. We won’t even begin to talk about the eternal fate of someone we’ve never even known. After hearing your perspective, we can’t imagine why anyone would behave like that, but that is always the way you feel when you only hear one side of a story (Pr 18:17).
Jesus was once asked by two men to settle a family dispute about money, and His answer was, “Who made Me a judge or divider over you?” (Lk 12:13-14). We would have to take the same tact – it isn’t our place to try and unravel family financial squabbles.
We are very sorry for your pain, and we are so sorry that your mother is hurting. The best advice we can give is to not focus on what others think of us and remember that if we serve the Lord, He will cause all to work together for good (Rom 8:28).