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Adultery, Fornication, Pornography: IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS S-T-U-P-I-D

 Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 

Recently I was asked (for the gagillionth time) what the Bible says about divorce. Predictably, that led to many questions about morality  and family… sexual purity being the most common inquiry, particularly adultery which sadly is becoming more and more common even in Christian homes.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “but God doesn’t want me to be unhappy…” to justify adultery or sexual sin.

The problem of adultery, fornication, lust, impurity and immorality is a major issue with both genders today. While it used to be heavily skewed as a husband’s sin, the fruits of feminism has seen adultery become epidemic among wives now as well. Our society is plagued with sexual immorality and the church is no less affected. Christians have a weak and worldly view of sexual purity that ripples destruction through both individual and family lives. From our opening verse (Ephesians 5.3), notice the breakdown of the words in Greek so that we can be clear what the different terms mean:

  • “immorality” (porneia) – illicit sex, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, all forms of deviant sexual activity, sex with a divorced man or woman
  • “any” (pas) – all things, every, whosoever, everyone, whole, all manner of, every thing, whatsoever, always
  • “impurity” (akatharsia) – uncleanness; lustful, luxurious, profligate living; impure motives
  • “named” (onomazo) – call, to utter, to make mention of

Studying the original meaning helps us to understand how deep and encompassing this imperative from Paul is. He is saying, “let NO form of sexual impurity or lust or uncleanness be mentioned, uttered or named about any person who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.

  • When you toy with sexual immorality, you flirt with destruction: divorce, broken homes, disease, loss (what could have been that is now forever out of reach), guilt, shame, etc.  
  • How sad that we trade so many treasures (fidelity, family stability, honor, vows, purity, righteousness, etc) for the enticements of sex, eroticism (porn) and temporary pleasure (illicit relationships).

And yet, this is what the world relentlessly presents to us every day as the “prize”: sex and the pleasures of the body. Some basic Biblical points to consider:

I want to impart to you a very deep, complex and difficult concept. It’s not new. I didn’t make it up. Other writers have expounded on it and this is simply my version of it. Ready? Here goes:

Sexual immorality is always S-T-U-P-I-D.
Adultery is always S-T-U-P-I-D.
Fornication is always S-T-U-P-I-D.
Pornography is always S-T-U-P-I-D.

Okay, it’s not really complex or difficult to understand, but you would certainly think it was given how lax our standards have become. Christianity today has become so desensitized by the world’s acceptance of sexual impurity, that we tolerate, or at least are passive about, things that would have made our grandparents have a cardiac arrest. We seem to get a clue of the Church’s condition from Jesus in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 3:14-22 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ” (NKJV; emphasis mine)

If there is a portion of Scripture that describes the state of Christianity today, it is hard to argue that these verses aren’t it. We are lukewarm – particularly about morality and purity. The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with these conditions because he wrote the Epistles of the New Testament in a time when sexual immorality was rampant.

Why is sexual immorality ALWAYS stupid?

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

God will NOT be made fun of. If you plant a seed, it will grow something. If you plant sexual immorality, you WILL reap a bitter harvest. It might take a week, or 6 months or 20 years… but make no mistake – you will reap the consequences of sexually immorality. Commit adultery or fornication today, most likely you’ll still feel the pain of it 20 years from now.  It can come in the form of marriage problems, sexual problems, rebellious kids, shallow fellowship with God – any number of manifestations. We cannot know the exact form of consequences that will come, but we can know for sure that they will come. And no, I’m not being “judgmental”.  Don’t shoot the messenger. If you don’t like what God has to say about adultery, fornication or porn, take it up with Him.

There are no exceptions, no excuses, no way to avoid it.
Sexual immorality is always stupid. Period.
Don’t fool yourself about it.

Conversely, purity is ALWAYS smart. God will always honor it, always bless it, always reward for it. You can never go wrong by choosing purity. (Randy Alcorn’s book – The Purity Principle – is an excellent lesson on this).

This point seems so OBVIOUS, doesn’t it? On the surface, I would agree – but given the tolerance for sexual immorality that the average Christian seems to have, it is a lesson that needs to be taught and retaught. It would appear by observing how we (Christians, churches) dress, how we talk, what we enjoy and what we entertain ourselves with, we don’t truly believe that ALL sexual immorality is stupid.

Given how many people are committing adultery and fornication and talking about their “happiness” (which has become their god), it’s obvious that sexual purity and it consequences are not taken seriously.  We apparently don’t believe there should be NO HINT of sexual immorality in our lives. Or perhaps we don’t understand what “hint” means. Somewhere between our head and our heart, the message of moral purity is getting lost, diminished or distorted… and broken homes, damaged kids, disease and heartache aren’t enough to deter us from our sexual sin.

Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Class dismissed.

Our Heavenly Father, Help us to realize that You have given us purity as a gift and not some sort of stingy constraint.
Help us to truly understand the stupidity of immorality. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Do you believe that sexual impurity is always stupid? Does your life reflect it? Does your choice of entertainment reflect that belief? Does the things your allow your eyes to look at and hears to ear confirm that you believe purity is always smart, and immorality is always stupid?

Application: Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART.


Considering Divorce?

Malachi 2:16 – “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce…”

I get a lot of emails and questions. Frequently it is about marriage and divorce. I thought I would revisit the topic today since it remains prevalent even in Christian homes.  If you know someone thinking about divorce, or even in the middle of one, send this to them.

I am frustrated, but not surprised, over the confusion and lack of understanding concerning Biblical teaching on divorce. Scripture is pretty straightforward about the topic but sound teaching is beaten down by a culture that has not only accepted divorce for just about any reason but wants to treat divorce as not really all that big a deal. Predictably, this is exactly opposite of God’s instruction on divorce. I want to present a straightforward and simple explanation of what God says about divorce and remarriage.

You Can Always Find What You Want to Hear

Like any sensitive cultural or religious hot topic, you can go out and find any number of websites, churches or professed Bible teachers who will tell you what you want to hear. Do you want permission or approval for divorce? There are plenty of Christian preachers, authorities and writers who can explain away the clear Word of God and leave the door wide open for divorce on whatever grounds suits your need. You’ll find all sorts of definitions for “adultery” and all manners of Biblical interpretation that give just about anyone permission to divorce (or remarry).

  • You’ll find teaching that is the equivalent of “God does not want you to be unhappy, go ahead and get divorced and if it’s wrong, God will forgive you”.
  • You’ll find religious authorities who will tell you there are a long list of behaviors and circumstances that are tantamount to breaking the marriage covenant therefore qualify for divorce.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find those who are cold and hard about divorce for any reason and apply an extreme legalistic (often hypocritical) standard to marriage and remarriage.

  • Of course the most common response to divorce in Christianity is simply that it is ignored either because “it’s none of my business” or “the problem is so big we cannot do anything about it anyway”.
  • Divorce is seen as culturally acceptable and something the church should simply not be all that concerned about.
  • You could extend this towards the complacent and casual attitude towards sin in general, especially sexual sin such as fornication, adultery or homosexuality.

Let’s look at a straightforward and clear presentation of what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage. Your choice is either to take the Bible at face value, or entertain endless interpretations and personal opinion that fit cultural norms and personal preferences.

God Hates Divorce

It is paramount to establish up front God’s opinion of divorce. Unlike humans who throw the word “hate” around casually, we must understand that when God says he hates something it means the Creator of the universe despises it so much that he wishes it did not exist (and won’t in eternity).

  • Malachi 2:16 – “For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.” (NKJV)

God hates divorce because it does violence to the relationships in the sacred institution of marriage which is the foundation of humanity.

  • Marriage brings stability, security, structure, and health and is the means by which mankind continues and increases its existence.
  • Divorce destroys the very bedrock of what the Creator has designed.
  • Besides the question of sexual sin, this is also the greatest argument against the proponents of homosexual unions.
  • God hates divorce and God hates anything that destroys or corrupts the most basic and primary relationship he established for his creation.

It is clear from Jesus own words that God only allows divorce because of man’s sinfulness and the hardness of our hearts:

  • Matthew 19:8 – He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. (NKJV)

It is only because there are certain situations and consequences that arise from sinful choices that God allows divorce – even though he hates it. The clear and simple teaching of Scripture is there are only two reasons God allows us to divorce: adultery and abandonment.

Divorce on the Grounds of Adultery

We hear great debate and long discussions concerning the definition of “adultery.” However, I think this is much like hearing former Pres. Bill Clinton ask “what is the definition of ‘is’”? Unless we are looking to complicate the issue or to explain it away, we are compelled to except the definition in its simplicity. Adultery is a married person having sex with someone other than their own spouse. That always brings up a bunch of “yeah, but…” responses and I am only going to cover one of them since it is commonly presented as grounds for divorce.

“Yeah, but didn’t Jesus say that even lusting after another woman is adultery?”

  • Yes he did, but this is within the context of speaking about purity and his standard of morality.
  • If divorce was allowed by God each time a married person is guilty of lust, at some point every marriage would be eligible for dissolution.
  • I would venture to say that there is probably no one who has ever gone their entire married life and never lusted once, even if just slightly and for a single moment.
  • So obviously Jesus is not saying that lust (which in terms of sin is equivalent to adultery) is grounds for divorce.

The physical act of adultery is. Great discernment is needed and wise counsel should be sought in cases where a spouse’s unfaithfulness involves pornography or an intimate emotional/romantic relationship with someone else. Consider the simple clarity of these verses:

  • Matthew 19:9 – And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” (NKJV)
  • Matthew 5:32 – But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. (NKJV)

Divorce on the Grounds of Abandonment

The second biblical allowance for divorce is when a non-Christian spouse abandons the marriage.

  • 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 – But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (NKJV)

When a married Christian has been abandoned by an unbelieving spouse and reconciliation is refused, God releases the Christian from the responsibility of that marriage. The unbelieving spouse that has abandoned the marriage is a covenant breaker.

  • However, as long as there is a reasonable chance for reconciliation then the Christian’s responsibility is to pray for the repentance and salvation of their spouse and reconciliation of the relationship.
  • Once it becomes obvious that reconciliation is never going to occur (this may happen quickly or may take a while depending on the circumstances) the Christian has grounds for Biblical divorce.
  • The prudent Christian will seek the advice and counsel of mature Believers to help them know when reconciliation is no longer possible.

The Christian and Remarriage

In all cases of Biblical divorce, a Christian is only permitted to remarry another Christian. This hardly even needs explanation. The reality of divorce and its subsequent heartache should be enough to teach any Christian they should only consider remarriage to someone who shares their Godly convictions about it. Just in case we need further direction, the Bible is clear:

  • Mark 10:11 – So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. (NKJV)
  • 1 Corinthians 7:39 – A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. (NKJV)

It is obvious when you take the verses that describe the two reasons God allows divorce in context that both of these verses just listed could say “unless you’ve been Biblically divorced” or “if you’ve been Biblically divorced.” A Christian who has been divorced on biblical grounds is free to remarry only another Christian. If the person you’re going to marry has been divorced, they must have been divorced on biblical grounds as well. If either party was on Biblically divorced and the marriage occurs anyway, both are guilty of adultery because in God’s eyes one or both of them is not free to remarry.

Christians who ignore God’s clear word on divorce and remarriage are subject to church discipline as clearly outlined in Matthew 18;15-17.

  • The reality is that today very few churches will ever enact church discipline or even seek to know the details of a divorce or remarriage… but that does not excuse us from being responsible.
  • It is up to the spiritual leaders of each church to guard the sanctity of marriage by proclaiming the clear Word of God on the matter of divorce and remarriage.
  • It is the responsibility of each individual Christian to take God seriously concerning divorce and when contemplating remarriage.
  • For either leaders or individuals to ignore what God says simply because our culture proclaims divorce to be a casual right with minimal consequences, does not remove the consequences of violating God’s word.

Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked… whatever we reap we will sow and that includes violating God’s word when it comes to divorce and remarriage.

Divorce and Remarriage Before Becoming a Christian

A foundational principle of Christianity is that we are to live our Christian lives starting at the point we are saved. Whatever circumstance or situation we find ourselves in, we are to live out our Christianity as God’s word becomes known to us.

If you become a Christian and you’re married to an unbeliever, you are not to seek a divorce because your spouse is not saved.

  • As a Christian you are called to live a Christian life and to stay in your marriage as long as you’re unbelieving spouse does not abandon the marriage.
  • By your example and prayer perhaps your spouse may come to know Christ.

If you become a Christian and you have already been unBiblically divorced and remarried, you are not to seek a divorce and try to return to the first marriage as a way to correct your mistake.

  • A second unBiblical divorce is not the answer to fixing the first.
  • The moment you are saved is the moment God holds you responsible to keep his Word.
  • That would apply to whatever marital situation you are in at that time.

If you become a Christian while divorced and are not remarried, then it would seem a reasonable attempt to reconcile the first marriage is in order.

  • If your previous (still unmarried) spouse refuses an honest effort to reconcile this would seem to be equivalent to them abandoning the marriage in which case the Christian would be free to remarry another Christian.
  • If you were unBiblically divorced and your spouse has already remarried, as difficult as it is, it does not appear the Bible allows for your remarriage.

A Word about Biblical Divorce

Remember that God hates divorce. Even if you have Biblical grounds for divorce, you must keep in mind how much God despises it.

  • Even when adultery or abandonment has occurred, our automatic response should NOT be to seek a divorce.
  • There should always be an open door for repentance and reconciliation of the marriage before divorce is sought.
  • The Christian who is secretly hoping for adultery, or is glad it has occurred because it gives them an “out” from the marriage, is not being faithful to God’s viewpoint on divorce.
  • God hates divorce and so should we. If we truly hate divorce, then we will seek it as an honest last resort.

While adultery and abandonment are among the most painful of emotional experiences, we must not forget the power of repentance and reconciliation. God can and often does restore marriages that have been torn apart by adultery or abandonment if both parties truly seek forgiveness and God’s healing.

About UnBiblical Divorce

The forgiveness available through the shed blood of Jesus Christ covers any sin. While we applaud the repentant drug addict, murderer or thief, uncompassionate and legalistic Christianity often looks down their nose towards divorce. This is an understandable yet regrettable backlash to the casual attitude our culture has about divorce.

  • However, we must never make the mistake of constraining God’s forgiveness for any sin that is truly repented of even if we fear grace may be abused.
  • If a person has been unBiblically divorced, if they repent and genuinely seek forgiveness from God, God will grant it.
  • A true sign of genuine repentance is that reconciliation will be sought if remarriage has not occurred.
  • If remarriage has occurred then repentance over both the unBiblical divorce and the unBiblical remarriage should be present… and the Christian should apply God’s standards to the current marriage.
  • There is nothing in Scripture to suggest or imply that a person should seek to leave a current marriage because the remarriage occurred unBiblically.

It is a very difficult situation to be an unBiblically divorced Christian and realize that remarriage is not an option. There is no denying how hard this can be yet we know that God will honor our faithfulness to his Word.

  • There are those that teach that once a Christian in this situation has either
    1) sought reconciliation and been denied or
    2) the other spouse has remarried,
    … they now are divorced on the biblical grounds of abandonment.

While this may indeed be true in some cases, great caution should be exercised in this situation and spiritual counsel sought from mature and faithful believers. There are many questions to consider and the divorced Christian is in a fragile dilemma where their own heart can easily deceive them. A Christian should never take remarriage lightly and should wisely seek the godly advice and opinion of multiple mature believers and their Christian leadership before considering remarriage to make sure they are not violating God’s word.

In a Nutshell

In summary, the Bible’s teaching on divorce and remarriage is this:

  • There are two allowances for biblical divorce and that is 1) adultery and 2) abandonment by an unbelieving spouse.
  • Divorce should be a last resort after reconciliation and repentance is sought.
  • If a Biblical divorce occurs the Christian is free to remarry another Christian only.
  • If salvation and/or genuine repentance occurs after a divorce, reconciliation should be sought if neither are remarried. If remarriage has already occurred, the Christian should not seek to leave their new marriage. If the former spouse is remarried and the Christian is not, then the new Christian is free to remarry if the divorce was on Biblical grounds.
  • In all instances of approved remarriage, it can only be with another Christian.

That is the plain and clear teaching of Scripture. The typical response I hear at this point is “it’s plain and clear to YOU, that’s your interpretation.” In reality, this can be the response to ANY interpretation of Scripture so each Christian must read God’s words for themselves and decide whether or not what the Bible simply says, is what the Bible simply says. The Scriptures we find concerning divorce and remarriage are straightforward and not complex. A few simple verses tell us plainly what God thinks about divorce, the reasons he allows divorce and who a Christian may remarry if Biblically divorced.

Sadly, if you want to find a Christian authority who will tell you it’s okay to get divorced or remarried (regardless of your situation), you will easily be able to find one. As well, you can simply get divorced and/or remarried and most likely no other Christian or church will show any concern or question it at all. Even if they do, you can simply move to the church down the street and no one will care. That is a sad commentary on the state of church leadership, Biblical teaching and discipline.

  • The point is not to run around interrogating everyone about their marriage or even their divorce but if we have absolutely no concern for God’s standards, especially if God has called us to Christian leadership, then why have standards at all?
  • If God gave us clear teaching about divorce and remarriage then it is our responsibility as Christians to hold each other accountable to those teachings.
  • We don’t do it to be legalistic or to stick our nose in other people’s business, we do it because we want God’s best not only for our own marriage but for our community and the Church as a whole.

God’s instructions on divorce and remarriage are not ambiguous, confusing or complex. It is a simple matter of whether or not we want to except God’s standards… or simply do as we please.

  • One the most common and saddest things I hear today is: “well, God doesn’t want me to be unhappy and you don’t understand my situation. I know the Bible says it’s wrong to get divorced in my case but God will forgive me.”
  • This mindset is encouraged by the fact that a person can proceed and simply change churches, or never even be questioned at all by the church they are in (or by any Christians who know them personally).
  • In our era of “personal rights” and “it’s none of your business what I do”, it’s very hard for most people to grasp the idea of any sort of accountability or church discipline.

But… that doesn’t change our responsibility to God’s Word.

God can and will forgive anyone truly repentant of sin concerning divorce and remarriage. No question about that. But it does not remove the awful consequences divorce is inflicting on our homes, communities and churches.


Christian Finances Are Not a Secret

firemoney

I have to admit I get a little wore out at all the “Christian” sites/books/programs that offer the “Biblical secrets to financial prosperity”.  Some are nothing more than the butchering of Scripture passed off as “promises” from God for abundance… others are more sensible but still present Biblical principles as if they are secrets or sure-fire formulas for financial success.

What the Bible says about money, income, finances, prosperity, etc is not a secret. A friend of mine recently asked for my discernment about a currently popular site touting yet another exciting presentation of “Godly principles that guarantee financial success”. So I wrote up a summary list of what I believe is a Christian perspective on the topic. The Book of Proverbs gives us many principles about finances and there are many general truths on this topic (money, finances, prosperity, etc) found in the New Testament.  Here’s my nutshell version (just some example verses from the Bible; there are tons more):

  • Work hard
    • Proverb 12:11   Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:10  For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
  • Be generous and giving
    • Proverbs 11:24  One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
    • 2 Corinthians 9:7  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  • Acknowledge it all came from God and all BELONGS to God
    • 1 Corinthians 4:7  For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it?
    • Psalm 50:10  for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
  • The only truly lasting investment and sure thing is investing our money in God’s Kingdom, or in truly unselfish righteous deeds
    • Matthew 6:19-20  Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
    • 1 Corinthians 3:12-14   Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
  • Everything is temporal, fleeting and can be taken from you a hundred different ways; ex-wives, government, thieves, catastrophe… sorry for the redundancy 🙂
    • Matthew 6:19  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
    • Psalms 144:4  Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.
    • Ecclesiastes 2:22  What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.
  • Christians are never promised personal prosperity in Scripture. What we are promised is that God will give us what we need to be the MOST Christlike… for some that means less money, for others who can use money to God’s glory, he makes some Christians wealthy. Ironically – despite the preaching of today – what the Scripture does promise is persecution not affluence.
    • 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;  but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.  If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
    • Philippians 4: 11-13  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
    • James 4:3  You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
  • The secret is being CONTENT with what you have while understanding it is perfectly “holy” to work , save, achieve and build wealth when you do so for the glory of God and TRULY are ready to be a good steward of it, hold on loosely to it, invest it in what matters, and always remember you would have NOTHING if God did not give it to you.
    • Hebrews 13:5  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
    • 1 Timothy 6:6-8   Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
    • Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
    • 1 Timothy 6:10-11 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

Those are the open “secrets” the Bible gives us about being 100% fulfilled and content financially; as Paul says, whether in “want” or “plenty” be content. That’s a far cry from the prosperity message of much of western Christianity today who – even the “poor” among us – are WILDLY rich compared to the rest of the world, and the rest of history. Remember the Biblical definition of “rich”: having more than enough for TODAY; not having to worry if we will have food, clothing or necessities tomorrow.  Even our welfare dependent, fixed incomes and lazy are crazy rich by the Biblical standard (which is by the way, the standard for the vast majority of humanity throughout all history).

I pray this:

“Lord, thank you for everything you’ve given me and our family… it’s more than we ever deserve. Help me to work hard, make smart business decisions, increase my income, increase my generosity and always acknowledge you as the source of my blessings or success. Help me to be CONTENT RIGHT NOW with exactly what I have knowing that you have given me THIS MOMENT exactly what I need to do your will, and exactly what I can handle spiritually without money distracting my attention from you. Lord, if it is your will, increase my income and business success THEN show me how you want me to use it to your glory.”

That’s what I have prayed for many years…  no matter how much money we make, if we cannot truly be content in this moment, right now, with what God has given us, we will never find rest or fulfillment with regards to finances. I always pray for more income following by praying that income will 1) never distract me from God and 2) will always be used the way God wants me to use it. I think it is only with that mindset that IF prosperity comes, it won’t come with regret and failure.  Let me close with a couple of things I often teach and repeat when it comes to money:

  • “God, give me exactly the amount of money You want me to have to do Your will but never distract me from it… grant me the desires of my heart (one of which is abundance) as long as they don’t keep me from being near Your heart.”

And this statement of faith I fully believe:

  • “I’m never anxious about money because God owns it all and I believe without doubt that if I needed a million dollars TODAY according to God’s will, a million dollars would show up today.”

Question: Confronting the Unsaved About Sin

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A reader asks:

How do you approach or confront a non-Christian going down a sinful path? Do we just love them and leave the convicting to the Holy Spirit?

My answer:

On a personal level, there is no Christian mandate to confront an unbeliever with anything but the Gospel (a conversation about “the Law” which convicts, and Jesus Christ who saves). An unsaved person should be expected to act according to his state: unsaved. As Christians, we should not be surprised that the spiritually-blind, enslaved-to-wickedness, dead-in-their-sins, unsaved person is committing sin, making poor choices and generally destroying their life. That’s what sin does to people. And the unsaved are incapable of any other type of behavior. Yes, it may be mixed in with some “good” moral and civil choices but overall, humanity acts according to their nature which without Christ is evil and depraved (it just manifests itself in varying degrees but it’s always headed the same direction).

As friends, we certainly want to warn those we love who are unsaved of the consequences of poor choices and bad behavior (we can advise them of the likely results of their sinful choices) but when it comes to them pursuing sin, and acting sinful, they are just acting naturally. It’s to be expected. No amount of us warning them about the consequential dangers of the sin will change their course. They are incapable of anything but some temporary and futile course redirection because the sin-cursed nature will always win over time. That’s why there is only ONE THING that is truly beneficial to the unsaved person: the saving and regenerating Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are not boldly sharing with them their true condition of eternal condemnation before God, their violation of God’s holiness and law for which they will be held accountable, and then finally giving them the GOOD NEWS that there is a “rescue” available because God loves them… anything short of that is just a band-aid, not a real life changing solution.

To emphasize: the only confrontation called for about “sin” to the unsaved is the Gospel and the reality of Hell. Otherwise, our friendship compels us to warn them, advise them and try to influence them but not “confront them about their sin” (as we understand this statement when it comes to CHRISTIANS confronting each other about sinful behavior).  The Gospel is what our unsaved friends need to hear.


Confused About Divorce While Unsaved

A reader asks (condensed):

angrycouple2I have spoken to many Pastors hear different answers about my situation: raised as Catholic… never new the meaning of Christ. I was married at 21 im going to a non believer… he cheated, I cheated… divorced.  Years later we get back together… he cheated, I cheated… divorced.

In 2009, I accepted Christ and was truly saved… asked my ex-husband for forgiveness.  I’ve been told I cannot remarry because I was unequally yoked, because I am divorced. I want to marry a Christian man and do all things for the glory of God and honor him in my new marriage but I want to make sure I’m obeying God’s Word. I want to feel comfortable about this issue.

My Answer:

First, I rarely write an answer to make someone feel “comfortable”.  I want you to be CONFIDENT that you know God’s Word, and if not, I WANT you to be uncomfortable. However, I appreciate that you are interested in obedience to the degree that you are seeking out good counsel instead of just doing what you feel like doing. Before we are genuinely saved, we have no choice but to act like sinners and ignore God’s commandments. When you become a Christian, you are responsible to do what God leads you to do as a new Christian from that moment on.

Divorce is allowed for Christians for 2 reasons: abandonment and adultery. Both occurred in your marriage by both of you BEFORE you were saved. You were acting like what you were: UNSAVED. Now, as a Christian, you have two responsibilities: 1) do what God’s Word says, and 2) do what God leads you to do by your Spirit-led conscience.

You are divorced. God hates divorce. You did that as an unsaved person, a slave to sin. You are now a Christian. My pastoral advice is for you to first consider this: is there any chance that my previous marriage can be reconciled into a CHRISTIAN marriage? If he is remarried, then the answer is an easy “no”. Otherwise, you would not want to remarry him as a non-Christian because then you are certainly “unequally yoked” to an unbeliever. God never tells us to commit sin in order to obey another command or correct previous sin. So, if your ex-husband is now a Christian too (and never remarried), and wants to reconcile as Christians in Christian marriage, then I would say that is your first consideration.

If that is not possible, then your responsibility is now to have God’s mind and God’s heart about marriage. You could not have that as an unsaved person. You were incapable of it, and with regards to “Christian living” not responsible to live that way. Now you can and must. So if you remarry, you must remarry a sincere and authentic Christian only. BUT… and there’s always a “but”… you have to listen to your conscience. If God is saying clearly in your heart “no, do not remarry” then you have to be willing to obey God’s voice. I am telling you what I believe is the Truth objectively on the “outside”. Only you can know what God is saying INSIDE your heart.  Remember, as a Christian our priorities are this:  1) obey God’s Word… 2) obey our conscience that is in harmony with God’s Word and led by the Holy Spirit.

I do not believe the Bible prohibits you from remarriage at this point because you were unsaved when you sinned in your previous marriage. We can expect nothing more from sinners than SIN. We cannot bind God’s commands to Christians on the unsaved. They are incapable of keeping them. Yes, they are accountable to God’s law in the sense they will be condemned  for their sin if they reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ… but in the daily Christian life, we only become responsible to follow Christian teaching once we become a Christian (that is the issue of salvation not sanctification). We certainly still have consequences to deal with from our unsaved life after we become a Christian, but I find nothing in Scripture that tells us the principles/commands for the Christian life are binding and consequential to anyone BEFORE they become Christians (past the issue of being saved or not saved, heaven or hell).

You are a Christian now. Learn God’s commands by reading the Bible and do them. Obedience is the primary indicator of authentic salvation. Pray, and learn to follow your Spirit-led conscience (ie. don’t do something you KNOW God is saying “no” about…).  Your responsibility as a Christian is to start RIGHT NOW doing what God tells you to do which involves learning His Word, praying and obedience.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.


Out of Control Kids: “Just Kids”? Or a Problem?

A reader asks:

How to raise boys… we have 7, 8 and 9 year old boys, adopted, with the two youngest were adopted 4 years ago internationally. After 4 years I would think that they would have understand the rules of the household (i.e. don’t hit your brother) and what seems to be to be common sense things (don’t Febreeze the cat, don’t run top speed into the wall on purpose). All 3 boys act this way, our oldest models them (he’s special needs, so it was expected). I can’t even trust them to go into the kitchen to get a snack without somebody destroying something or making a huge mess getting into something they know they shouldn’t be into. My friends’ kids the same age can do things I can’t let my kids do, because they can get into downright dangerous stuff (yesterday, the 7 yr old went INTO the neighbor’s garage, got a can of gasoline, and poured it in on our garage floor, then the 8 yr old walked in and fell into it… could have been a really bad situation but turned out ok, thank God). My husband keeps telling me “that’s just how boys are” but it drives me crazy. There’s no volume except top volume. There’s no activity except climbing the walls crazy level activity (and no, it’s not sugar intake!). What’s worse is it seems to be getting worse and not better. Is my hubby right? And I just wasn’t prepared for boys? I really worry that the boys are going to end up in jail or get kicked out of school or something. So far they act perfect in most public situations, and at school.

My answer:

First, you’ll have to forgiving me for laughing my butt off at some of your comments (yes, we say “butt” in our house… shameful pagans).  Having 7 kids, going on nine, with every flavor of personality (from parent-pleaser to Dennis the Menace), I can vividly imagine every scene you describe!

That they are well behaved in public and school says that you are probably doing more “right” than you give your self credit for. Parent’s who have well behaved kids in public are already significantly ahead of the majority today.

Boys Are Boys But…

Your husband is partly right but kids need discipline, consequences, direction and instruction too. “Boys will be boys” is not reason to let them run wild like hyenas no more than “girls will be girls” is an excuse to allow typical “bad girl behavior”.

On the flip side, I think we have become FAR too constraining and protective of our kids with the culture pressuring parents into creating a risk-free, stress-free and problem-free environment for kids. As a result, we have a whole generation of undisciplined, narcissistic and wimpy kids who are NOT prepared for the cold, hard, uncaring, risky and dangerous world they will face once they move out of their parents home around 30 years old.

Let your “kids be kids” when it comes to adventure, experimenting, creativity, exploration and spontaneity within the bounds of disciplined reason and appropriate safety (dousing your sibling in gasoline is probably outside those bounds unless of course you have a water hose nearby).  Kids like to make noise, take things apart, draw on stuff, run around, see how this mixes with that, scare the cat, catch bugs, drink nasty concoctions, play in the mud, bang pots and generally just “tinker” with the world. Nothing wrong with that… in fact, there is everything healthy about that within the predetermined boundaries of loving and conscientious parents.

Don’t discourage “kid stuff” just because it’s messy, unorthodox, unimportant (to you) or the “wrong use” of something (within common sense reason).  Most kids today are totally creativity-dull because we sit them in front of a screen (easy for the parents)  instead of letting them live, grow, explore and create (which can be messy, tiring and lots of effort for the parent). That’s one thing I love about my wife; she works with and encourages our kids in all manners of play (and it’s usually educational disguised as “fun”), creativity and exploration.  Reading, playing and creating comes before any screen time, and the benefit of those priorities is that is leaves LITTLE time for camping out in front of the glowing one-eyed brain sucker.  Watching a movie or playing a video game becomes a “treat” rather than a lifestyle and here’s a little secret for you:

The less you let your kids zombie out and rot their brain and personality in front of a screen, the less appeal electronics have to them. They discover the fun, joy and excitement of games, adventure, art, exploration and chasing the dog around the yard.

Respect for Location & Event

Whether it’s friends or family, I have no problem with letting any kid know: the inside of my home is NOT a playground.  There is a difference between indoors and out, playgrounds and home… but most parents don’t teach and possibly have never even considered this difference.

Generally speaking (my experience), kids are not taught there is a difference in appropriate behavior BASED ON LOCATION.  Whether they are in their own home, a public place or someone else’s house, it’s a free for all.  Standing on furniture, yelling, throwing things, making “outdoor” messes inside, kids are not taught there are different allowances for behavior based on both location and event, sometimes a combination of both.

For example, my kids know they aren’t going to bring dirt in the house and make mud piles in the bathroom sink but they know it’s okay most of the time to play with dirt outside in the yard and even get muddy once in a while.  That’s teaching them “appropriate location” for that kind of activity. In house, NO. Outside, YES.  Yelling, hollering, climbing, throwing, general mayhem? Outside okay. Inside, forget it.  They are also aware of “event” in the sense that if the event is at our house, mud making in the yard might be perfectly legit, but if we were over visiting some other family’s home, then they would have to get permission first.

The kids know that they are allowed to drag out 47 coloring books and 12 pounds of crayons at OUR house because we don’t mind but they know that’s too big of a mess to make at someone else’s home without permission. Location and event… respect for both should be instilled in your kids, teaching them appropriate behavior accordingly.

Now, let’s talk about my general recommendations for appropriate allowed behavior in our own homes. These are just my personal guidelines but they are made with the idea of teaching a clear boundary and respect for “inside vs. outside”, a boundary that you would want your kids to recognize when visiting friends, family, church, etc:

Inside: no yelling or screaming; pick up one mess before making another, no “dirty, messy” activities without permission first; no rough playing or climbing on furniture, the interior of the house is not a playground; older kids (3+) don’t need to be running full steam in the house, no coloring/drawing on anything not meant to be colored on; no throwing things; play in rooms that are meant for play and respect rooms that are not yours (like the parents bedroom, or other siblings rooms).  Outside: run, play, whoop & holler, climb, throw, ride, explore, jump… playground fun as long as your not destroying property or abusing your own possessions.

You might say “well I don’t care if they do some of that outside stuff indoors”. That’s up to you. Remember, the point is not just what’s safe, doable or tolerable to YOU… it’s teaching kids respect for property and awareness of location.  The idea is not to be overly restrictive (especially if you are just being restrictive because you don’t want to be inconvenienced as a parent) but rather to teach your kids respect for property, awareness of surroundings, life has boundaries, and that the whole world does not cater to their immediate impulses.

The Skill of Quiet and Still

I can always tell kids who either 1) spend most of their time in front a screen, or 2) have no boundaries at home. Those are the kids who have no clue 1) how to sit still and be quiet for ANY length of time, or 2) why/when/where you should sit still and be quiet. I hear parents bemoan the inability to take their kids “out” (church, restaurants, weddings, etc) because the kids won’t behave, won’t be quiet and won’t pay attention.  Of course it’s not the parents fault… they are just “being children”. Hogwash.

If you make a concerted effort to teach your kids the discipline of sitting still, being quiet and paying attention, they will do it. Kids as young as 18 months old or two years can be taught to sit still and pay attention if you only put forth the effort. Several tips on how to do this:

  • Screen time is the ENEMY of teaching your kids to sit still and be quiet. Electronics are passive stimulation… they occupy the mind which means there is no self discipline involved in staring zombie-like at the mesmerizing aura for hours on end.  The amount of screen time you babysit your kids with will be directly parallel to their inability to sit still, pay attention and be quiet away from the screen. There is good news though: your kids will likely receive the idiotic and criminally overused diagnosis of “ADHD” which has two benefits: 1) your school gets more money to waste (no conflict of interest there!) and 2) you have a built-in excuse for bad parenting (ooooooohhhhh… THAT will get me some nasty comments!).
  • Actively teach your children to sit still and be quiet just like any other skill you take time to teach. To teach our kids this, we would have them sit on the couch or in a chair, quietly, hands folded and still, no talking, no distraction for ONE MINUTE for each year of their age until the skill was learned.  Sit still and be quiet means SIT STILL AND BE QUIET. If they don’t last the whole allotted time, they start over.   You only do this exercise until they learn the discipline.
  • Do activities that promote sitting still and being quiet: reading, coloring, writing, thinking up ideas, solving problems.  NO SCREEN TIME… that only promotes FALSE self discipline even though kids can zombie out for HOURS in front of a tube (tube? man, I’m old but “flatscreen” just doesn’t have the same ring).
  • Play the quiet game and give prizes. Whoever sits perfectly quiet and still the longest gets a prize. Teaching, fun and reward… a great combination. However, don’t just use a rewarding game; at some point kids need to learn this discipline simply for the sake of maturity and discipline.
Is it worth it? I would say this one discipline might bring the greatest benefit back to you as parents. We can take our children anywhere, to any event, even weddings and funerals with ZERO concern about their behavior. They are quiet, still and respectful.  Restaurants and church aren’t even an issue… we enjoy taking our kids anywhere knowing they will act appropriate to the location and event.

P.E.S.

I don’t know if PES is an actual term or not. If it isn’t, I have made it one because I don’t want to type ‘passive electronic stimulation syndrome” again and again.

So, what exactly is PES? It is the effects of passive electronic stimulation from “screens” like TV, movies, electronic games, social internet sites, internet news sites, internet pornography, email, Instant Messaging, etc. It would be adequate to stop the list right there because the two primary ways that people waste away their time are listed. They are television and internet.

Kids nowadays spend hours and hours and hours a day on electronics primarily for two reasons: 1) their friends do it, and 2) it keeps them busy which makes parenting easier. An alarming and growing number of kids waste 5-10 hours every single day on passive electronic stimulation.

What is PES doing to your kid’s brain (and yours)? Just to list a few:

  • Loss of cognitive skills
  • Inability to think abstractly
  • The weakening of personal communication skills
  • The inability to sit still, be quiet and focus on tasks
  • The promotion of a self-centric, instant-gratification, impulse-driven worldview and expectation
  • Loss of creativity (it’s all done for you)

… and probably all sorts of other fancy $12 phrases I don’t even know about.

Now, I’m not a doctor (I’m mean a real doctor not a pop psychologist) or researcher but my gut tells me that PES is primarily responsible for our dramatic decline in communication skills, education level, national creativity and the meteoric rise of so-called “ADHD” (which, in my opinion, 99% of the time is an acronym that stands for “I sit my kids in front of a screen hours and hours a day so they won’t bother me while I’m watching my screen”; more comments forthcoming).

I also believe that PES has a huge negative impact on family-building and parenting. It doesn’t take a genius to observe these things because they are so evident in everyday society.  By the way, if you were wondering … reading this blog doesn’t count towards PES! I’ve inserted magic programming code to enhance your attentiveness and creativity.   So no hypocrisy here… just move along.

Boundaries Give Security and Peace

While kids will buck and moan about any limitations, the reality is boundaries give them security. They know what is right, what is wrong, what is acceptable, what will be tolerated.  They don’ t to have to worry about being in trouble when they know the boundaries.

It also directly benefits parents. When the boundaries are clear, you don’t suffer parental guilt when you have to inflict consequences on violators. You’ve heard “son, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you”. Whatever. If that’s true, you need to grow a parental backbone. Whenever your children violate clearly communicated and well known boundaries, the only person it should hurt is them. You should feel GOOD about being a consistent, involved and courageous parent who sets boundaries for their children and expects them to be kept.

What are boundaries? Simply put: rules, expectations, limitations.  For example, “you are not allowed to tie the cat to the car bumper (boundary) unless you want to be hung by your toes and slow roasted over an open fire (consequence)”. It’s not rocket science.

Tell your kids what they are allowed and not allowed to do then enforce it. Communicate your expectations of their behavior and equally communicate what the consequences will be if they do not comply.  Clearly define limits based on location, event, activity, etc.  Just as clearly outline the consequences of surpassing those limits.  It’s not fair to punish a kids for a crossing a boundary they didn’t know existed and it’s inconsistent and ineffective to make up consequences as you go.  When the kids know “if I shoot my brother with this BB Gun again, the BB Gun will disassembled and made into my very own special paddle” then your kids instinctively no they have no one to blame but themselves when they shoot a smiley face pattern on their brother’s butt  (sorry, I forgot…we are far too safe and enlightened to let kids play with BB guns anymore. Maybe that same mentality is why this week an entire bus load of people sat by and watched two young punks beat a women for 10 blocks without lifting a finger to help her. I’m just saying….).

Energy and Personality VS. Out of Control

I hear parents say “that’s just their personality” concerning their bratty kid and I find that too be just as convenient as “they have ADD”.  Yes, kids have different personalities. If you can think of a personality, we have at least one kid with that one.  No matter what the personality trait, to let it run amok is to promote a lack of self control and childish indulgence.

Kids simply must be taught: just because YOU want it, just because YOU feel like it, just because YOU decided to is not PERMISSION to do it.  Again, it goes back to the overriding principles you are instilling in them: respect for authority, respect for the appropriate time and location, self discipline, and the realization that the whole world does NOT revolve around what THEY want every minute of every day (a rude realization they will be made aware of later in life if you don’t teach them now).

Cultivate their personalities. Parent them according to the personality (one-size parenting does NOT fit all). Encourage them in pursuits that fit their personality. But personality should never be allowed by parent or child to be an excuse for being out-of-control, disobedient or misbehaving.

Zero Tolerance Offenses

We have a lot of ridiculous “zero tolerance” policies today while being sadly negligent on the ones that matter. Some kindergartner cuts out a paper gun to play “cops and robbers” at school and they are suspended for a year for terrorism. How stupid.

Yet the very same people will tolerate the very kinds of behaviors that really will lead a kid to grow up as a miscreant (defiance, disrespect, etc).  Here are the things every parent should have a zero tolerance policy for with clear and expected consequences appropriate to the child’s age and maturity.

Defiance

Defiance is rebellion, plain and simple. It’s human nature. You don’t have to teach a kid to think “the heck with you, I’m doing what I want”. It’s inbred in the human race.  What an idiotic place we’ve come to in our society when we list defiance as a “disorder” (ODD – Oppositional Defiance Disorder). Defiance and rebellion are built-in human tendencies based in selfishness. I want my way. Plain and simple. You don’t have to teach or demonstrate it. Humans are born with this ability.  When we make excuses for it, ignore it or cater to it, we only encourage and cultivate it.

Defiance should never be tolerated or excused as “disorder” (my kid is “sick” with ODD, it’s not my fault they won’t obey… how convenient).  Defiance should have expected and well defined consequences EVERY TIME.  There is never a time to allow children the luxury or gratification of defying appropriate authority.

Disobedience

Same deal. What possible benefit is there to your children for allowing disobedience? Okay, occasionally you can show “grace” and this teaches a valuable lesson too, but as a rule, disobedience should be zero tolerance.

Parents, zero tolerance means zero tolerance, not zero tolerance after you’ve warned them 27 times, counted to one hundred or finally blown your top.  All that does is teach your kids how far they can push, fudge and bend the rules before you finally get to zero tolerance.

Disobey, get consequences. Period.  If your kids know that and expect that, guess what? Magic.  Like magic, they quit disobeying almost over night. Amazing how that works.

I heard a story once (Jim Dobson I think) that went something like this:

“After several requests for water, hugs and tucking in, I told my daughter if she got out of bed again, I would be coming in to spank her instead.  So a few minutes later I hear her call out, ‘when you come to spank me, can you bring me a drink of water?'”

 Now’s that funny… no matter planet you’re from.

Disrespect

You get the point by now. So I won’t keep going over “zero tolerance”.  Disrespect should never be tolerated in any form: mouthiness, back talk, sour attitude, “up yours’ body language, pouting or self pity. If you allow disrespect when parenting, expect them to be disrespectful to teachers, cops, authorities and ultimately, God.

Deceit

Interestingly, lying is included in every “really bad” list of sins in the Bible. Why? Because to lie and be dishonest is to corrupt your entire character and disrespect everyone else. “I can say whatever I want to get my way, advantage myself and avoid responsibility with no regard to your right for the truth, what it may do to you, and how it affects others”.

Lying, exaggeration, conveniently leaving out facts that should be disclosed and “spinning the truth” are all forms of deceit and you should have zero tolerance for them. One big reason: if you allowing lying AT ALL, when will you be able to confidently believe ANYTHING they say.

Culture has made a joke (literally) of lying. Commercials, cartoons, sitcoms… all make lying a source of humor and entertainment. News, politics and pop culture has simply made lying into a personal choice of convenience “as long as it doesn’t hurt others” which is an absurdly immature understanding of the effects of lying.

Destruction

Kids should not be allowed to destroy either their own stuff or others. We see the result of this lack of parenting all across society. Kids lose things, junk things, misuse things and ruin things with little regard to the sacrifice others make to produce or buy that object. Public property is destroyed. Community property is abused and ruined routinely… ask anyone that owns a business or property where the general public congregates (especially kids) and they will tell you how little regard people have for what it not theirs and was provided by the hard work of others. Your children should not be allowed to waste, destroy or take for granted material possessions whether it belongs to them or others.

Consequences Tailored to Fit

If your consequences are not true deterrents, then don’t bother. At that point its just something for your kids to make fun of behind your back.  I see parents give their little angel a 30 second time out after an hour of horrible behavior and even then, the kids pouts, sulks, glares and complains the entire time before finally getting their own way. Yeah, that will really show them you mean business!

On the flip side, if you overkill the consequences and ground your kid for 6 months because they didn’t face the milk label forward perfectly perpendicular to the refrigerator door, don’t think your consequences are doing anything but building resentment.

Consequences have to be substantive enough that your kids are faced with a real choice next time: “hmmmm… do I really want [consequence]  if I choose to do [behavior].”  Consequences have to be reasonable in duration and discomfort to teach the lesson but not make kids forget why they were in trouble in the first place (which turns into bitterness for having to endure overly harsh punishment).  This will differ from child to child because of their personalities. It’s not a question of “fairness” to have different consequences for different kids based on history of behavior and personality. Parent each child uniquely based on THEM.  I have some children who get the message with fairly minimal consequences.  I have other children who require much more “attentive” and “creative” and “frequent” consequences to impart the needed wisdom into their life.

If you overkill the consequences, you wear kids out and they resent you. If you wimp out on consequences, your kids know they RULE you and you aren’t going to change their behavior or mature them.

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Whew… I tired myself out just writing that. Maybe the next time one of my kids misbehaves, their punishment will be reading this blog post. That will show them.  What are your questions about parenting?

I’m outlining a book on parenting that I’m going to write soon. What topics would you like to see covered? What questions would you like to see answered?  Email me (brent@brentriggs.com) or leave a comment.