My boyfriend says that if we truly love each other, then it’s not wrong for us to have sex. I wasn’t brought up this way, but I’m afraid he’ll drop me if I keep telling him no. What should I do? — K.F.
I sincerely hope you won’t give in to your boyfriend’s pleas. After all, if he truly loves you and respects you, he will honor your intention to delay sexual relations until marriage. But if he doesn’t honor it, how can you be sure he truly loves you? The answer is — you can’t.
God takes marriage very seriously; after all, He gave it to us, and He meant for it to be a source of great happiness and security for us. At the very beginning of the human race, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). And one of the ways He gave for husbands and wives to express their love for each other is through the gift of sexual relations. Marriage involves the solemn commitment of a man and woman to each other — and in God’s plan their sexual relationship is a sign of that exclusive commitment.
But when God’s gift of sex is practiced outside of the commitment of marriage, then God’s purposes are not fulfilled. Sex becomes something selfish instead of what God intended it to be: a mutual expression of love..
Put God’s will first in your life. He loves you and knows what is best for you. Begin by asking Christ to come into your life, and then commit your future — including your marriage — into His hands.
We’ve been married for three years, and the only thing we ever argue about is money. Now with the economy getting worse and my husband’s job in danger we’re arguing even more. How can we avoid this? It upsets us to argue, but it’s becoming a real habit. — Mrs. R.McD.
Disagreements over money can easily spiral out of control, and unfortunately studies show that arguments over money are responsible for a high percentage of divorces. Don’t let this happen to you!
What can you do? First, try to understand what the real problem is. For example, one of you may have been raised to be very careful with your money, while the other grew up in a family that put things and pleasures first. In other words, face your differences and understand them — and then learn to compromise. Often the problem isn’t money, but differences in personality and upbringing.
Then take practical steps to get control of your finances. Don’t argue over things you can’t control — but do control the things you can control. Make a realistic budget — and stick to it. If your credit cards are a problem, lock them up.
Above all, commit your lives — including your finances — to Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5). This may seem impossible in our materialistic world — but with God’s help you can. It will make all the difference.
My parents got very upset with me when I decided to leave our old church. The reason I did it is because last year I gave my life to Jesus, and the church I’m going to now is really helping me grow spiritually. How can I explain this to them? I don’t understand why they’re so upset. — N.W.
Have you tried to put yourself in their shoes? Your parents are obviously committed to their church tradition, and one of their hopes as they raised you was that you would become committed to it also. But now that you’ve chosen another way, they don’t believe you are simply rejecting their church, but you are rejecting them and the way they raised you.
This wasn’t your intention, however, and somehow I hope you can express this to them. Let them know you love them, and that you’re grateful for all they did to raise you. Thank them also for raising you in their church; after all, even if you didn’t find Christ there, you still learned to believe in God.
At the same time, I’m thankful Christ has become real to you, and that He has led you to a fellowship of believers where you can grow spiritually. The Bible says, “Let us not give up meeting together ... but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).
Pray for your parents, and ask God to help you be a witness to His love by your life and your words. Remind them that only Christ can save us; He is our hope of salvation. The Bible says, “Always be prepared to give an answer . . . for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
My sister is retired, and says she no longer goes to church because of her health. But I think the real reason is because she just doesn’t want to go to all that trouble. She does watch a service on TV, but how can I convince her she needs to get back in church? — Mrs. S.N.
Be cautious about jumping to conclusions about your sister’s motives; after all, elsewhere in your letter you mention that you and your sister live in different parts of the country and seldom see each other.
Even if you have reason to question her claim, however, it may not be possible for you to persuade her to reconnect with her old church. After all, you can’t control her life, and if you try (as brothers and sisters sometimes do!) it will probably accomplish little, and may even upset her. Perhaps the best you can do is let her know you care about her, and that you hope she won’t cut herself off from her church completely.
Remember: Our greatest spiritual need is to grow in our faith — and one way this happens is through our fellowship with other believers. But it also happens as we hear the Bible taught and preached. Is this happening in your life?