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Posts tagged ‘loving confrontation’

Explaining Your Convictions About Homosexuality

SOURCE:  Adam Barr and Ron Citlau/Family Life

In the next year you can bet at least one of these things will happen in your life:

  • A family member will come out of the closet and expect you to be okay with it. If you are not, family members may call you unloving and judgmental.
  • You’ll be invited to a cousin’s “wedding” . . . to someone of the same gender.
  • You’ll show up for one of your kid’s soccer games and discover that the woman who comes to every game with little Billy’s mom is not his aunt.
  • You will encounter someone who says the gospel cannot bring healing to our sexual identity or orientation.
  • You’ll have a conversation with your college-age child and learn she thinks your view on homosexuality is bigoted, a twenty-first-century version of 1960s racism.
  • You will read about a nationally recognized church leader endorsing the idea of same-sex marriage.

Are you ready to answer the tough questions your friends are asking you about your beliefs? Are you ready to reply to the wedding invitation from your gay cousin? Are you ready to deal with your daughter’s new friend and her two mommies, and the invitation for a sleepover? Are you ready to show someone that you can really, truly love people and still believe that sin is sin?

Are you ready, or are you panicking?

Chances are you would answer in the affirmative if someone asked you, “Is homosexual behavior a sin?” But consider three follow-up questions:

First, why do you believe this? Is it simply because “that’s how I was raised”? Is it because you find “those people” kind of “gross” and “weird”? Reality check: If our convictions are that shallow, then how can we respond with Christ-like compassion to people Jesus died to save? How will you be a real witness to the gospel? How will your faith survive when one of “those people” turns out to be someone you know and love? People gripped by the gospel are able to reach out toanyone in a way that balances truth and love.

Second, have you taken time to really explore what the Bible teaches about sexuality? You might (correctly) believe that Scripture says homosexual activity is a sin, but are you prepared to help someone else see that? Are you ready to defend your beliefs when someone persuasively argues that the Bible does not really condemn loving, committed same-sex relationships? Simply responding, “It’s what I’ve always believed” will not help you be a faithful witness. It will not help you when smart people ask hard questions.

Third, if your convictions on this issue are not well founded on rock-solid truth, do you really think they will stand the test of a hard storm? Jesus said that someone who hears His Word and obeys it is like a person who has built his house on a solid rock. The rain comes, the wind rages, but the house stands. If our stated convictions are not undergirded by solid foundations, they can be quickly swept aside. On this issue, Christians who faithfully speak the truth will increasingly stand in the minority. In the last decade alone, our culture has experienced a revolution of thought when it comes to homosexuality. The pressure to conform will be intense.

Are you ready?

Or are you panicking?

Here are a couple common questions we hear from Christians about talking with others about their convictions on this issue. Something important to remember as you read through these: Real-life people stand behind each of these questions. Relationships. Personal stories. Each of these questions and answers needs to be worked out in a Spirit-led context of relationship.

Question: How can I have a meaningful conversation about this issue without getting into an argument? How can I turn an argument into a meaningful conversation?

Paul was no stranger to difficult conversations. Sometimes, they ended with incredible conversions. Sometimes, they ended with his being stoned. His words to the Colossian church are relevant:

[P]ray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:2-6)

Here are five simple applications we can draw from this passage:

1. Have the right mindset: If you enter a conversation with a win-lose mentality, you’ve lost already. Our goal is not to win a debate, but to open a door. Creative questions are one of the best ways to do that. “What do you believe? What has led you to care so much about this issue?”

2. Speak your convictions clearly: We’re convinced God has revealed truth in His Word. In some ways, that removes the pressure—this isn’t just our private hobbyhorse. It is what the Bible, God’s Word, teaches.

3. Pay attention to the conversational context: Paul said we should “walk in wisdom.” Wisdom is applied righteousness—knowing the right steps in the real world.

  • Don’t “yell in the library”: Are you at work, in a Bible study, on the street? These factors will determine just how the conversation proceeds.
  • Discern whom you are speaking to: Is he gay? Does she have an ideological ax to grind? Has he just learned his daughter is lesbian?
  • Control the thermostat: What is their emotional temperature (1 = calm; 10 = screaming mad)? If it starts to get hot, acknowledge it and take a step back. What is your emotional temperature? Your conversation should be “gracious, seasoned with salt.”

4. Don’t expect agreement every time: In this passage, Paul basically asks God for the chance to say again, with clarity, what got him imprisoned in the first place! This isn’t a popularity contest.

5. Pray. Pray. Pray: Enough said. Just pray. A lot.

Question: My neighbors are a lesbian couple. We occasionally converse and have a cordial relationship. I’ve never out-and-out told them that I think their lifestyle is sinful. Am I just being a coward? Or is it okay not to mention this and just try to be a good neighbor to them?

1. Be a good neighbor! Build relationship. Be friendly, invite them to your home, go to their house, live some life with them. Don’t be overly concerned with being the moral police. Let your Christian witness shine through your actions. This isn’t being cowardly, it is just simple kindness. From my point of view, you can be more direct and honest the better friends you become.

2. But don’t be afraid of speaking the truth. Seek opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus. The best way to do this is by sharing what Jesus has done for you. Don’t make it academic; make it personal. This vulnerability is a nonthreatening way to share the good news of Jesus. And when the time is right, don’t be afraid to invite them to church.

3. If things get heated, remind them that friends can disagree. It is so silly that we have to walk on eggshells with those we don’t agree with. If it is a real friendship, then there will be several areas of disagreement. This is okay. What is needed are respect, a listening ear, and a bit of humility.

4. Become very aware of what God is doing in the life of this couple. A good prayer to pray is this: Lord, use me for what you want to do. Do you want me to serve them? Share biblical truth? And then, as you are with them, seek to discern why God has you in a relationship with them. And as God opens doors, walk through them!

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Adapted from Compassion Without Compromise, Copyright © 2014 by Adam T. Barr and Ron Citlau, Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

Q&A: Boundaries and Consequences

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Question:  I am unsure how to set up boundaries and consequences with my alcoholic, pot-smoking husband.  He thinks neither should be a concern of mine.  He says it doesn’t affect me.  When he has too much to drink, his verbal cocky language, insinuations, and controlling attitude are horrible.

He thinks nothing of drinking 6-10 beers at one time.  He is bi-polar but doesn’t think it is an issue anymore.  He was on lithium years ago for this.  I am so tired of this relationship with him.  I want to do what God wants me to do.  I know that with God He can handle this marital issue.  I just need to release it totally to Him.

Please give me guidance on setting up specific boundaries and consequences.  I have read your book How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong, but I need more specific advice in my particular situation.  Thank you.

Answer:  In my book, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong I introduced the idea of the Gift of Consequences as a loving gesture to help wake a spouse up to behaviors or attitudes that were affecting (or destroying) the marriage.  (This particular gift of love often does not feel loving to the one receiving it at the time)

In past blogs and in my other books on destructive relationships and marriage I give many more reasons and examples how not to enable destructive behavior to continue unchallenged by mitigating or removing negative consequences from the destructive person’s life.

Specifically in your situation you need to ask yourself the question how does his behaviors affect you?  For starters you indicate that when he’s drunk or high, he treats you differently.  He’s controlling, cocky and makes remarks that offend you and hurt your feelings.  What would be a natural consequence for someone who treats you that way?

Most healthy people wouldn’t put up with it.  They’d leave the room, leave the conversation, or exit the house for an hour or even for the night.   In other words, one consequence is that your husband looses the pleasure of your presence or company when he’s drinking or high because you don’t like the way he treats you when he’s that way.

Now, the problem for you when you implement this consequence is that perhaps it has no impact on him. In fact, he may prefer you to leave him alone.  This is where it gets tricky.  The consequence we implement we want to also have impact.

So what other consequences might you implement that may get his attention?

Stop cleaning up his messes – cans, ashes, dirty glasses, vomit.  (But you have to live there too so it impacts you too)

Separate your family money if he’s spending large quantities of money on his drinking and drugs and it’s affecting your ability to pay your bills.

Refuse to drive with him if he’s been drinking or smoking pot/ not allowing the children to drive with him

Refuse to lie to the children about his behaviors when they observe him drunk or high.

Refuse to bail him out of jail if he gets pulled over by the police.

Refuse to buy him alcohol or other supplies for his habit.

Refuse to lie or cover up for him to others (work, family, neighbors) for his foolish behavior while drunk or high.

Separate from him until he gets help and stops his abusive behavior.

Plan an intervention with family members to help him see how his problem impacts everyone (he says it doesn’t affect anyone).

Sometimes boundaries and consequences look rather similar.  The boundary you may set ahead of time – such as I am no longer willing to drive with you because I’m afraid when you’re driving and drinking.

A consequence might be, last night you scared me to death the way you were weaving in and out of cars. We almost had an accident. From now on I refuse to drive with you when you’ve been drinking (or smoking).

But bottom line – what keeps you stuck in this relationship is something you can work on. You can’t change him but you can, with God’s help, change you.  You say you want to do what God wants you to do but I do not believe God calls you to sacrifice yourself and your children so that your husband can stay steeped in his foolish behaviors.  So if you lovingly implement consequences – not to scold, shame or punish, but to wake him up, it can be part of God’s plan for his life.

Doing what God wants you to do means that you will also do what you need to do to stay healthy and get wise. It may mean attending Al Anon or Celebrate Recovery or some other support group for people who live with addicts.  It means that you will protect your children from his abusive behavior when he’s intoxicated and if it’s frequent, you may need to consider separating from him until he gets help for his problem.

I think we often think God wants us to always be nice and minimize the ugliness of sin.  We’re not to judge sin because all of us are sinners – you are not less a sinner than your husband is, but when we cover it up or minimize it or think it makes no negative impact on other people, we are deceiving ourselves and not living in the truth.

Your words to your husband – or consequences and boundaries may be hard but need not be harsh.  Do the work you need to so that when you take this step, you do it in love.

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