A word for wives and mothers, especially young wives and mothers:
Have you fallen victim to those books and articles that insist that if you simply do this or that- your marriage, your children, your family will become this or that… Burn those. The Bible does not offer any such guarantee.
God through The Bible, His Word to us, gives you and me one mandate: Do your best to learn of me and of my son who stands ready to save you; learn to love me, and to show your love through obedience to me… And you will have my blessing. Everything else is a surprise. Get used to it. And trust me.
Therefore, if we aren’t sure of what our own obedience looks like, we better dig deep into the Word and become sure; for while God offers no guarantees outside of our own salvation, He does insist that the best chance each of our loved ones has for a blessed and healthy life is to learn of such life and to begin to desire it because we model it for them. He also makes it painfully clear that each one we love may not come to know Him and that the ones who do come to know Him will be made to seek, find, trust, love, and obey on each one’s own private journey of faith. We will not be enabled to give anyone salvation. We will not be invited to directly participate in the inner journey. It is a very private lifetime encounter exclusively designed for the individual soul.
And while I remain convinced that no other work has the potential for greater positive impact on society than that of being a good wife and mother, personally I am truly grateful that by some miracle of grace, every time my job gets harder- I find the strength to pray harder and to work harder; and it is such a sweet surprise to realize that Our Father is working through me to bring about His best will in spite of my own sin, my own lack of this or that, my own lack of perfection. It is an additional gift from a generous Father, and it is available to all of his saved children. ❤️
Matthew 22 (22:36-40)
Copyright 2017. L.L. Shelton
To begin: There is only ONE good reason for getting married and for having children, and it is: Because GOD wants you to do it. And if it is HE wanting you to do it; it is because He wants you to be a part of what HE is building. He wants you to be a part of illustrating HIS story to a watching world. God desires for you to be a part of LOVE as defined by Him.
Don’t allow yourself to enter these arenas, the building of marriage and family, at the persuasion of any other than God in Christ, or without reading His Word and getting whatever grasp upon this that your maturity and His patience allow to you. These are not institutions for the faint of heart and will never withstand the difficulties that come along with them unless built upon a proper foundation. Marriage and family belong to Him. They are His design and He has said that they must be structured upon Him, upon the principles set forth in His Word, to be successful. And the terms for success in marriage must be and are determined by its Creator.
Maybe you have entered into these things lightly and without a proper amount of forethought. It is not too late. You must pray for GOD to make your partner willing and as He does this, the two of you begin (together in Christ) to tear down the old relationship and to start anew on the correct foundation. Seek out an older married couple in whom you see Christ (in other words, you observe them living together according to the principles set forth in The Bible for the living out of their shared faith). Approach them and directly ask for their active guidance and participation in your lives. If resources allow, find a Biblical counselor to assist you in building this new platform for your marriage.
Another issue may be that your partner remains unwilling to consider Christ. In this case, you must continue in earnest prayer, gentleness, and good will toward your spouse until such time as God releases you from the relationship, and you are free to start again; and this must be done with the greatest caution for two primary reasons. The first is that you must try with all your will to NOT push your partner away from either yourself or God in the hope that the other will leave soon. This happens often in such a case and is regularly realized only when an experienced helper points out to the Christian in the marriage that this is indeed what that one is doing. The second reason is that you are quite liable to abandon the frying pan in favor of the fire, unless you have spent an adequate amount of time in the judicious study of Holy Scripture concerning the Way of Life of a Christian in order that you may more easily recognize a fraud should there be opportunity for a next time around.
Paul reminds us in a letter to the early church that it is better not to marry at all than to enter the covenant casually. It is a choice open to the Christian to remain single and serve GOD fully from that position, rather than serving Him from the position of marriage. However, for God’s saved child, there is no choice as to serve or not to serve, and if your heart is completely without reservation His own; you will be compelled to serve despite your finest efforts to the contrary. (The difficulties and delights specifically associated with the Christian’s choice to remain single are beyond the scope of this short essay.)
In the end, I don’t wish to leave the impression that there are no joys associated with marriage but only trials, as that would be wholly untrue. There are multiple blessings to be had within the marriage relationship- true friendship, God’s allowance to fully know and to be fully known by another human being- to completely relate to another person, children within God’s favor and under the protection of a legitimate bond. I count it a great privilege to enjoy many of the wonders of marriage.
Now, in this day of much confusion concerning marriage and family, I implore you to search God’s Word for yourself to find that these very things that I tell you are true. And may The Lord God of All bless your every effort!
Copyright 2016. L.L. Shelton
(An Addendum to, Brief Thoughts of Love)
My Young Friend,
Each of us is composed of both physicality- our body and the stuff therein, and of a soul or spirit- the eternal self; that was a thought in the mind of God before our physical existence and destined to continue long after our body has perished. We are each in possession of a mind- emotion and intellect (albeit there are varying degrees of functionality among them) and along life’s way we each develop a personality and a sexuality. These things are inextricably intertwined until the day of physical death. Until then, one can not function apart from the other and each is connected to and affected by the other. This is a terrifically complicated and marvelous design.
God has created our sexuality specifically to allow for and to encourage the most intimate level of communication in relationship that two people and their Heavenly Father can together experience. He designed this aspect of the system to lend us the ability to procreate and to grant us the capability of relating in a way that is illustrative of that way in which The Trinity relates, and of the way in which God in Christ relates to His people. Also, it is to be a reward unique to the covenant marriage of a man and a woman in the Presence of God. It may be startling to consider that God is a part of the expression of one’s sexuality, and yet it should be obvious. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere at once. As Christians, we are promised that His Holy Spirit lives in us- all the time. Our God does not slumber or sleep, rather He carefully watches over us continually.
However, because we are living in the contaminated environments of the earth and of our own fleshly bodies, we are apt to the perversion of our sexualities. Though there are myriad natural consequences as a result of expressing one’s sexuality outside of the one relationship for which it was designed, and those consequences are always spiritually degrading, often emotionally detrimental, and many times physically debilitating; still we are highly likely to misuse this aspect of ourselves, and yet Christ insists that we are to strive for sexual purity.
Interestingly, Christ is apparently unconcerned with the technicalities of things surrounding human sexuality; things such as whether or not a person should date at this age or that, whether a kiss is sexual or not, or that a person refrain from intercourse until marriage. It is possible that I have, again, startled you. I mean to convey that Christ’s concern is for something infinitely greater- our sexual purity; and sexual purity has its roots in the imagination. It is in our imaginations that He desires to reign supreme. Pure sexuality begins in the thought life and can never be achieved apart from it.
Sexual purity is maintained through the constant effort to view God, ourselves, and others appropriately, as living beings valued beyond price, worthy of sacrificial love; as opposed to objects to be used and abused according to our whims or our erroneous desires.
In God’s economy, there is truly no need for such deliberations as whether or not to hold hands on the first date; as He has in Christ surely freed us from endless and rigorous contemplations of the nature of “angels on the head of a pin” rather, God has allowed for us to be (in Him) all that we can be!
In His Love,
An Old Friend
See Psalm 51, Matthew 19, Mark 7
Copyright, 2012. L.L. Shelton
My Young Friend,
Love has been tragically misrepresented and misunderstood. Love both requires of you and insists that you require of yourself; it is both a proper noun and a verb. It requires of itself what is best for another and gives it without reservation. Love demands sacrifice and sacrifice usually stings a bit. Often it is genuinely painful, at times even debilitating. Any one who has truly loved has felt both the joy and the bite of it. The idea that love is all pleasant and ever delightful is a gross adulteration.
I hear a great deal these days about fear of commitment, about lack of commitment, and inability to commit. I listen to tales of lack of intimacy and emotional distance in family relationships and in marriage. I am often told of loneliness, and the death of community. I believe these things are symptoms of a lack of love, and I do not believe it is commitment we are so afraid of, rather it is sacrifice that we fear.
Most of us have felt the confusion resulting from a person’s declaration of love for us followed by an expression of our sexuality, only to realize rejection at a later date. Some of us have felt the terrible vexation that comes when a parent who has claimed love for us has then neglected or abused us (or our other parent or sibling) and maybe even abandoned us or left the home. Each of us has been puzzled at one point or another by the expression of love and insult from the same mouth. Each of us has brandished both affection and grief with one tongue.
People are imperfect. We are incapable of either loving or hating perfectly. This is why we are taught to strive always to become perfect in love and to avoid hate altogether. We’re instructed to leave the hating to God. We are taught to learn of repentance and forgiveness and to become experts at both, and there is a Way.
Another method by which love has been horribly distorted is by the idea that love and sexuality can be one in the same. The two are never one. Human sexuality is and has always been one way in a million of expressing love. Obviously, it is often used in a perverse manner to express things that do not resemble love in the slightest.
For many reasons, one being to set the relationship above and apart from all others, and some that are mysterious and still known only to God Himself, we are told that His system is designed to function optimally for us (for all of us individually and as a corporate whole) when each of us limit the expression of our sexuality to one relationship with one person of the opposite sex (gender) for the entirity of our lives. Yet, we are encouraged by God to express our LOVE for everyone all the time!
My third and final offering concerning the misrepresentation of love is this: God is love, but love is not God. According to His Word, God is many things and love is ever a part of Him; His perfect Love motivating him continually. Love is only itself. Love is one of the many attributes of God and is nonetheless the epitome of holiness and the greatest thing. Love is perfect. God Himself is love, but love is not God. Therefore, we in our love are not God. God is bigger.
Lastly, in love I offer this truth from God’s Word. It is an expression of my love for you. May it allow you some clarity and grant you a bit of peace on earth.
An Old Friend
(Please see 1 John 3:16, John 13, 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13)
Copyright 2016, L.L. Shelton
As a Biblical counselor, I hear these and other words of the same meaning quite often: The church is suffering from lack of community. Our marriage is in trouble due to lack of intimacy. My response: How bad do ya’ want it?
Community and intimacy are alike in that they are the result of a cyclical pass through vulnerability. Most of us prefer anywhere to there. Community and intimacy are the continual culmination of transparency, and accountability. These things require the practice of genuine love and authentic faith. These things mandate that our love be abundantly evident that we may expose ourselves without fear, and that we will welcome critical examination in our effort to be the best we can be for the other- and doing anything without fear requires faith.
What is faith? It is the evidence of things hoped for and the belief in things not yet realized. Do we have it? Faith in God? Faith in ourselves, with God? Faith in one another? Do we believe that all things are possible with God? Do we believe that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength? Do we believe that we can trust God to make out of each of us, fallen as we are, something beautiful? Something resembling Himself? Can we patiently suffer one another- forgiving, seeking forgiveness, receiving grace, offering grace, guiding, allowing ourselves to be guided, being consistent as well as realistic in our expectations of one another as we wait for Him to do this in His time and in His way, both individually and in a corporate sense?
May I submit to you that this is what must be if we desire community with others, if we yearn for intimacy with another? It will not be easy. It will be difficult to achieve and to maintain- and it will be the place where our joy may be made complete. Therefore, absolutely without a doubt, worth it.
How bad do ya’ want it?
Copyright, 2015, L. L. Shelton