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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Do We Really Want to Go Around Offending People? A Conversation


Some people get offended rather easily. They’re offended by an array of simple things: flags, expressions, words, statues, signs, plants, postures, and even history. Some are offended because others are offended! I understand some of these. They're because of misuse and interpretations. But, that’s not exactly what this post is about.

I recently saw a T-shirt advertised on social media. Frankly, I thought it was in poor taste. Then, the person who posted it said she “would like to wear it and walk around offending people.” Okay, it’s her right to wear whatever she wants. She can put on any printed T-shirt, even if others don’t like it. She can express her ideas on her top or walk around carrying a sign, if she wishes. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. I don’t have to agree, and I can even be offended. She has the right to express her thoughts.

It made me think: as Christians, are we supposed to walk around offending people, on purpose? Are we supposed to in-your-face try to offend?

What does the Bible say?
  • LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour (Psalm 15:1-3).
  • Jesus said, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).
  • If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18).
  • Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed (2 Corinthians 6:3). It goes on to say that as Christians we rather suffer than being offensive.
  • And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted …. (Ephesians 4:32a).
  • Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it (1 Peter 3:8-11).

What is a Christian’s reaction supposed to be, if he feels offended?
  • Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Colossians 3:13).
  • … forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32b).
  • But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing (1 Peter 3:14-17).
Our example is Jesus. He didn’t go around intentionally offending people. If they were offended, it was because He spoke the truth. It wasn’t because He was unkind. May we be Christ-like Christians and avoid causing intentional offences. Let’s be sensitive to others and kind. May we not let our differences of opinion make us offensive. We're supposed to point to Jesus, who said,

Let your light so shine before men, 
that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:16)

  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Four Easy Boundaries for Christian Dating


Some years ago, I was talking to teen girls about personal boundaries. Afterwards, a young adult woman asked how to know how far to go. It was a sincere question, and she needed a solid answer.

Where should we set boundaries? Why do we need them? What if … ?

First, I think it’s great when parents talk openly with their teens about this—way before they date. Talk about purity and right behavior with your children. A lot of parents aren’t open with their kids, and they don’t provide them with guidelines. Young people don’t know what’s expected of them. They have no clue.

So, Susie goes out with Fred, and she’s scared. They haven’t talked. Susie needs a framework, some kind of guideline.

Let’s look first at what the Bible says to young people.
  • The context is about avoiding fornication: Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Corinthians 7:1).
  • This passage speaks first to unmarried men, then to unmarried women. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).
  • Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation (lifestyle), in charity (love), in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
  • The young, single pastor Timothy is admonished about how to treat people in his congregation: The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity (1 Timothy 5:2).

These short passages (above) give a great four-point outline for dating conduct:
  1. Treat other single people like your brother or sister.
  2. Please God.
  3. Don’t touch. (Only touch as is normal between friends.)
  4. Be pure, both in body and spirit.

How can we achieve this while we’re dating? Here are a few suggestions that are tried and proven:
  • Plan your dates for public places—where someone might walk by at any time. Always go to public places! You can go to concerts, ball games, church functions, restaurants, cafés, parks, boardwalks, malls…. Use your imagination!
  • Perhaps a corollary to the first rule is never be alone in a house, together. Nothing is more intimate than knowing the bedroom is a few steps away—and no one else is in the house. Never, ever end up alone in a house all by yourselves. If it happens (your roommate leaves, for example), you can both step outside. Also, don’t park a car and remain inside it. When you arrive at your destination, get out of the car and go to your activity. You can talk on the way. These two rules will save you from some very awkward situations.
  • Keep all your clothes on. I am amazed how many moms don’t talk to their daughters about this. If a guy “wants to see,” that is simply not acceptable. Only husbands have a right to see. Do not lift up, unbutton, unzip, or let anyone see what’s only for husbands. Keep all clothes properly on. Enough said.
  • Decide before your heart is involved where your boundaries are. Many Christian women and men decide not to kiss until the wedding. It is wise to be very careful where you draw the line—and stick to it. Make sure your guideline is purity. That means absolutely no touching of body parts that would be covered by a modest swimsuit (women) and surfing shorts (men). That also means no touching other than how you would touch a friend. A touch to the arm or holding a hand is “friendship” touching. Be very careful about full body hugs—probably not a good idea—and kissing. If you decide to allow a kiss, make sure it’s short and sweet, not anything else. If you set boundaries as a couple, it is easier to keep them.
  • Most important is your heart attitude. Is it more important to please God or this person? Clearly God. So, make sure you please Him in every area of your life—especially as you get to know the person you’re dating. Get to know this person’s heart and soul. Find out his goals, his values, his desires. Evaluate your potential partner on the basis of God’s standards.

I hate to have to mention this, but many men take advantage of naïve women. They butter them up with words and gifts and “love” and then ask for sexual favors—or force themselves upon them. This is not true love! This is selfishness. The Bible says that love (called charity) suffereth long (is patient), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil (1 Corinthians 13:4.5). If your boyfriend doesn’t behave purely toward you, you have the wrong boyfriend. If he’s not willing to wait until after marriage for sex, you have the wrong boyfriend. He’s only thinking of himself. If he blames you, is easily provoked, and says ugly things about you, run! He will be more abusive the longer you let this relationship go on. You do not want to live with a manipulative man who shows you only lust and not biblical, pure love. By the way, you always have the right to say no and flee. I know this is hard, but if a man has committed a crime towards you (date rape), he needs to be reported to authorities—so that his next girlfriend doesn’t suffer the same fate.

A man who truly respects a woman will behave in a decent way towards her. He will not ask her for favors. He will treat her as a Christian sister and with biblical love and purity. The Bible says this goes for women, too. 

Purity is important.

I’m sure you want nothing less.