Tag Archives: social concern

What Are Some Unrealistic Expectations About a Remarriage?

All couples have dreams for the way they want their family to be. But some set themselves up for failure by holding on to unrealistic hopes. Here are a few of them:

We’ll have instant family happiness. It’s unrealistic to think that family happiness will happen overnight and without some struggles.

In a stepfamily, building a happy home takes longer. Losses associated with divorce, loyalty to biological parents, no shared history, and a lack of time together are just a few of the factors that can slow stepfamily bonding.

There’s no set timeframe for family cohesion. And it helps to remember that even intact original families must work to be happy. Like the church, it takes time, effort, and reliance on God for a spirit of unity and peace ( Romans 15:5-7 ). It’s the consistent application of gentleness, humility, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, love and patience that build unity (Philippians 4:5; Colossians 3:12-14 ).

Children will automatically welcome a new parent in the home. While single parents appreciate the added parental support in remarriage, children may not be as eager to tolerate the new authority figure. Feeling jealous or threatened by the new marriage partner, many children become either distant or aggressive in their relationship with the stepparent.

To defuse conflict, couples need to clearly define the stepparent’s role. As disciplinarians, stepparents shouldn’t be too heavy-handed or too permissive ( Ephesians 6:4 ). Talking with the children about the stepparent’s new role in the home, including them in setting house rules, and fair discipline can ease some of the turmoil. Spending time with the stepchildren and getting to know them can ease tension and build positive relationships.

The past won’t affect how we operate as a family. Some wish that they could erase the painful past of a family break-up. They fear that ex-spouses, money matters, and emotional pain will barge through the door of their new home and become regular unwanted boarders. So they pretend that these problems don’t exist.

Visitation schedules, child-support issues, and unresolved emotions should be discussed as they come up. Realistic acknowledgment of these problems is best.

Focusing on loving others can help us overlook some of the inconveniences of stepfamily life ( 1 Peter 4:8 ). We can also allow the difficult moments to teach us about patience, generosity, and focusing on others’ needs ( Philippians 2:4; Psalm 38:17-22 ). Facing the past and accepting certain realities of stepfamily life can encourage personal growth and healthy family relationships.

Our premarital counseling will prepare us for all that we’ll encounter as a stepfamily. Just as medical training in the classroom can’t fully prepare a doctor for work in the emergency room, premarital counseling is limited in what it can do to get couples ready for remarriage. There are intense emotions that arise and unhealthy ways of coping with the stress that can surprise us. It’s only in the challenges of stepfamily life that we become aware of some of the areas that need special attention.

While premarital counseling is important, it is equally good for stepcouples to continue to educate themselves about stepfamily life. Reading literature on remarriage and stepfamilies1 , networking with other blended families, and staying connected in a strong community of believers through church involvement are crucial to the success of stepfamilies (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; 10:25; Galatians 6:2 ).

The desire of most couples entering remarriage is to create a safe, secure, loving home for their children and themselves. But if we tightly hold on to unrealistic expectations, we can unintentionally put our stepfamily at risk. Instead, stepfamilies can help themselves by taking an honest look at their expectations, adjust them according to biblical standards, and trust God to help them redeem the painful past and meet the needs of their new blended family.

  1. While RBC Ministries does not necessarily endorse all the concepts raised in the following books, they can be helpful for remarried couples and stepfamilies:
    The Smart Stepfamily by Ron L. Deal (Bethany House, 2002.) The Blended Family: Achieving Peace and Harmony in the Christian Home by Edward and Sharon Douglas (Providence House Publishers, 2000.) 7 Steps To Bonding With Your Stepchild by Suzen J. Ziegahn, Ph.D. (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2001.) Merging Families by Bobbie Reed, Ph.D. (Concordia Publishing House, 1992.) Back To Article
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Why Care About the Earth?

One of the thrilling promises given to us by Paul is that “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21, NIV). This passage, in tandem with Acts 3:18-21, speaks of the future when Jesus Christ will return and with His followers establish His messianic kingdom, which, according to evangelical theologians, will be on this present earth.

Our “heavenly citizenship” tells us who our true Sovereign is and to whom we owe allegiance. And His kingdom is actually going to come to earth. That’s what we pray for in “the Lord’s Prayer,’ and what the apostle John tells us about in the Revelation (Rev. 21:6). That understanding should keep us from carelessness regarding God’s good creation. Poet T. S. Eliot, a friend of C. S. Lewis, gave believers a good point to ponder in his poem “Choruses From the Rock”: “‘Our citizenship is in Heaven;’ yes, but that is the model and type for [our] citizenship upon earth.” (p.100; T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems 1909-1935; Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich; 1936)

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ provided not only for the salvation of mankind, but also for the restoration (Rom. 8:21) and reconciliation of the whole creation (Colossians 1:20). Our nonhuman co-worshipers—the stars, the land, the animals, the plants—will share our return to pre-Fall conditions which, as suggested by John Wesley, may even exceed the glories of the original creation (John Wesley Sermon #60 “The General Deliverance,” Section III, 1872).

What remarkable things might be accomplished if we lived on the fallen earth today in light of the way we expect to live on the restored earth tomorrow? We believe that through the process of sanctification we can become more like Christ. Are we to assume that sanctification improves relationships only between man and God and between man and man, and not between man and the natural world? The influential Bible scholar and Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer challenged us in this area: “God’s calling to the Christian now, and to the Christian community, in the area of nature – just as it is in the area of personal Christian living in true spirituality – is that we should exhibit a substantial healing here and now between man and nature and nature itself, as far as Christians can bring it to pass” (Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology, Tyndale House, 1970 p.69).

We ought to always remember this: to abuse the earth is to profane the handiwork of God.

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Why Should We Care About the Environment?

Consider similar questions: Why should we care about our bodies since they are all going to die anyway? Or why care for our homes or business establishments since they will all eventually be demolished? Careful consideration of these questions should make it easier for us to draw the conclusion that biblical prophecy about the future must not be used to excuse present carelessness. This kind of attitude has often been expressed in the claim that “some believers are so heavenly minded they’re of no earthly good.”

The Bible passage that tells us of the “elements” of the earth burning “with fervent heat” 2 Peter 3:10-13) is not easy to understand nor is its chronology clear. Many Old Testament passages speak about the permanence of the creation (Psalm 104:5; 148; 78:69; Ecclesiastes 1:4); both Old and New Testament Scriptures tell of a future time of restoration and reconciliation when the earth will return to the peaceable kingdom much like that of the Garden of Eden (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25; Micah 4:1-4; Acts 3:18-21; Romans 8:18-25; Colossians 1:19-20; Revelation 22:1-3). Certainly that is a yet-to-be era on this earth, and one we should eagerly anticipate. If what Peter was predicting is a total remaking of the planet, it would have to come after the restoration—which would seem to make such destruction unnecessary.

Regardless, Francis Schaeffer reminded us in his book Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology that “on the basis of the fact that there is going to be total redemption in the future, not only of man, but also of all creation, the Christian who believes the Bible should be the one who — with God’s help and in the power of the Holy Spirit — is treating nature now in the direction of the way nature will be then. [Our healing work] will not now be perfect, but it must be substantial, or we have missed our calling” (pp. 68-69. Tyndale House, 1970)

The major problem with basing our present attitude toward the earth on an uncertain chronology of the future is that we fail to remember the very clear mandates of the past. Caring for creation is a matter of obedience. It is our God-given responsibility to care. We understand this from Genesis 2:15. “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it” 1 (NLT). We are to be “good earth-keepers.”

  1. The two Hebrew words in Genesis 2:15 used in reference to caring for the creation are rendered in the King James Version as “dress” and “keep.” In modern English, these words have lost the rich meanings known in the days of King James. In Hebrew they are “abad” and “shamar.” The definitions of these words according to James Strong’s concordance include the following understandings: abad = to work, to serve, to till, to keep in bondage, to be husbandman over; shamar = to hedge about, to guard, to protect, to attend to, to be circumspect, to take, to mark, look narrowly upon, to observe, to preserve, to regard, to reserve, to save, to wait for, to watch over (as a watchman). “Shamar” is used in the familiar Aaronic blessing: Numbers 6:24 “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (KJV). Adam was apparently expected to care for the earth as the Lord cares for it and for us. Back To Article
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Isn’t “Caring for Creation” the Same as Environmentalism?

When a belief system becomes dominant in an individual’s life, it virtually becomes a religion. When it does, we often add the suffix “ism” to the chief word defining it. Many people are so given over to communism, scientism, conservatism, liberalism, or materialism that these worldviews become virtual worship systems to them. Because such philosophies come to rule an individual’s behavior, debate over them strongly affects the emotions of both believers and unbelievers alike. Environmentalism is another of those belief systems. It is an emotionally charged word that evokes images from the sixties of radical activists storming the fences of nuclear power plants or chaining themselves to trees about to be cut. It paints mental pictures of people worshiping nature. Without question, thousands of environmental activists really have no greater object of worship than the natural world. The cosmos is their god because it’s the greatest thing they know.

Christians, of course, don’t want to be associated with nature worship, so we don’t want to be characterized as “environmentalists.” However, the difference between environmentalism and true stewardship of God’s handiwork – good earth-keeping – is extreme. Some environmentalism does indeed tend toward worship of the creation. Biblical earth-keeping (caring for creation in accord with the Holy Scriptures), however, is centered on a personal relationship with, and worship of, the Creator. As a part of our worship we respect and care for the creation that comes from God’s awesome power and gracious providence. Caring for creation is one of the major responsibilities given by God to His people1 (Genesis 2:15). And there is no good reason we can’t combine that responsibility with all the other responsibilities we have: caring for our children, caring for our neighbor, caring for the lost, and the like—all the while, taking great pains not to make the objects of our care the objects of our worship (Romans 1:21-25).

  1. The two Hebrew words in Genesis 2:15 used in reference to caring for the creation are rendered in the King James Version as “dress” and “keep.” In modern English, these words have lost the rich meanings known in the days of King James. In Hebrew they are “abad” and “shamar.” The definitions of these words according to James Strong’s concordance include the following understandings: abad = to work, to serve, to till, to keep in bondage, to be husbandman over; shamar = to hedge about, to guard, to protect, to attend to, to be circumspect, to take, to mark, look narrowly upon, to observe, to preserve, to regard, to reserve, to save, to wait for, to watch over (as a watchman). “Shamar” is used in the familiar Aaronic blessing: Numbers 6:24 “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (KJV). Adam was apparently expected to care for the earth as the Lord cares for it and for us.Back To Article
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What’s the Purpose of Sex?

Of course, sex is necessary for the propagation of the race. But while we are to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:28), sex is not merely limited to the procreation of the human species.

Sexual intimacy is designed to reflect the beautiful mystery and intimate union between God and His people ( Ephesians 5:25 ). God gave us sex to arouse and satisfy our innate craving for intimacy, for union ( Genesis 1:24-25 ). A couple who enjoys emotional, relational, and spiritual intercourse with one another will be drawn to celebrate their love through sexual intimacy. That’s why sexual intimacy is exclusively reserved for marriage. Sexual experiences outside of marriage mar our enjoyment of the beauty of sexual intimacy in its proper context as God intended.

The Bible describes the sexual experience within marriage as honorable ( Hebrews 13:4 ). Some of the most beautiful erotic literature ever composed is found in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament. For some, the idea of verbally inspired erotic literature is difficult to accept. Yet God has frankly recorded for us His view of the delights of sexual intimacy between a married couple in poetic verse:

Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer — may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love ( Proverbs 5:15-19 ).

In the Song of Solomon, the husband’s description of his bride’s body ( Song of Solomon 4:1-15 ) and her description of his ( Song of Solomon 5:10-16 ) reveals the joy of love and sexual intimacy that God extols for a married couple. While sexual intimacy between a couple is not to be observed by anyone outside of the relationship, God, the One who sees and knows all, must smile with delight when He sees two of His children enjoying the good gift of sex He has given to them.

God intended sex to be far more than mere pleasurable sensations. He designed it as the intimate union of body, soul, mind, and spirit exclusively shared between a husband and wife. It’s about being open, exposed, naked, and unashamed in the presence of our spouse who finds us desirable and yearns to draw close to us. That’s how God captures our hearts. Being captured by our lover will give us a taste of being caught up in Christ’s love in a way that we feel deeply enjoyed without shame. In essence, sexual intimacy within marriage should draw us to deeper worship of God who initiated sexuality for His glory and our delight.

Enjoying sex with one’s spouse is always to be viewed as a part of the whole marriage relationship. Sex is never to be singled out as some isolated aspect of our being that is disconnected from the rest of the relationship. Rather, sexuality is a vehicle for expressing our identity as a man or a woman made in the image of God. Sexuality pulsates throughout a godly marriage and is not exclusively reserved for the bedroom experience.

A devastating assault on our ability to enjoy sexuality is the perpetuation of the myth, “Sex is just sex. It’s just another biological urge demanding satisfaction.” But that’s not true. God didn’t make sex as a mere physical act. Whether we’re willing to acknowledge it now, or we face the pain of admitting it after the fact, sex is always woven into our view of ourselves, one another, and God. Each of us distinctly reflects the image of God through the lens of our sexuality as either male or female. How we handle this good gift of sex will either enhance the glory of God’s image in us or will mar that glory.

If anyone should be enjoying sexuality, Christians should. We should know better than anyone else that sex was never intended to be an end in itself. It is intended to be a joyous celebration of the intimate love that a man and woman share together in the covenant relationship called marriage. It is designed to be a reflection of the intimate love relationship between Christ and His church ( Ephesians 5:25-33 ).

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