I recently finished reading the book The Ring Makes All The Difference by Glenn T. Stanton. The book addresses one of the hottest topics of the day – cohabitation vs. marriage. In the book Stanton, who is a Christian, tackles the topic, not primarily from a religious standpoint, but rather from a scientific/sociological one. He does intentionally (which will be addressed in a moment) this with the benefit of research over a long period of time and across a very broad spectrum of people around the world from all kinds of backgrounds. We no longer have to wonder about the differences between marriage and the cohabitation, because the evidence is in.
In the book, Stanton points to scientific evidence, which I appreciated, because even if someone does not have a religious persuasion, the book can be helpful as the evidence can speak for itself. Stanton reserves any religious mentions (save one reference to the union of Adam and Eve) until the very end of the book citing that Christians need not be afraid of science because in reality, if it proves to be true, then it has its origin in God who is truth.
My only comment is that I believe that relationships are more than a science – there is very much a spiritual reality to them, and ultimately decisions about relationships, in my opinion, need to be made with a deep conviction that goes beyond a formula. In other words, in comparing the realities of both cohabitation and marriage – both the pros and the cons – I believe it’s important for people (especially if they consider themselves to be followers of Christ) to approach relationships not for what they can get out of them, but for what they can give to them. This is the way of Jesus and addresses the fundamental problem that leads to the breakdown of the majority of relationships, marriage or otherwise: selfishness. Stanton addresses this in the book, but I simply want to highlight that the success of relationships is based on two people coming together to serve one anther and grow together. One ought not read the book and say, “Well, this seems to be the lesser of two evils based on the evidence, so I’ll just get married.” In this regard the spiritual matters he addresses at the end are most important and foundational.
This book is a good read with lots of food for thought with scientific evidence to back up the claims. It also includes discussion questions for couples or small groups at the end of each chapter. It would be very beneficial for people in many different groups: Those who are young adults (and I would even say juniors and seniors in high school) so that they know the realities of moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend before they find themselves confronted with that decision; those who are already living together, whether they have thoughts of eventually marrying or not; those who are separated or divorced; those who have children affected by blended homes (parents married or not); and people who have friends or people they want to broach the subject with in an informed way.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Natalia want 2-2 with a homerun, a single, and 2 runs scored last night! Sp proud of my big little slugger!
Last night our family and the Noble family represented our small group and went to serve at The Narrow Door. We prepared 224 boxes of food which will be distributed to the needy in our community in the name of Jesus.
Families don’t exist to build better youth ministries;
youth ministries exist to help families be better families.
- As you look at your calendar, are you asking families to revolve around your schedule, or are you seeking to create your calendar around families?
- What events are you doing that are designed specifically to better connect kids with their parents?
- Are there one or two events a year that you could tweak just a little bit and move them from events that separates parents and kids to events that actually bring them together?
- How are you actively communicating with parents on a regular basis?
- How are you soliciting feedback from parents?
- How are you encouraging kids in terms of their relationships with their parents?
- How are you equipping parents to be better parents?
Yesterday we had the opportunity to go to Laguna Beach where we enjoyed a break from the desert heat with our friends Jim & Elaine Flauaus from Virginia. We also visited one of our favorite art galleries – Wyland. If you’ve ever seen a Whaling Wall – a massive marine life mural (e.g. the one in Norfolk, VA pictured below), you’ve seen the work of Wyland. While we were visiting, Wyland popped down from his studio where he is filming a new 13-week PBS show. He was very friendly and asked us not to leave until he returned from taking a painting out so someone’s car. When he returned he chatted with us and took a picture with us.
Tomorrow 8 middle school students (6th-8th graders) we’ve been mentoring this school year as student leaders will be running our entire program from top to bottom! Setting up, greeting, games, announcements, doing tech, leading worship, and even preaching! Our staff and volunteers are just coming to be cheerleaders! Why would we do such a thing? Here’s the philosophy of youth ministry that undergirded our decision.
Belief in Students:
The Bible is full of young people who accomplished great exploits for the Kingdom of God. In I Timothy 4:12 Paul says to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Teenagers can be leaders here and now!
Students CAN Hear from God Personally:
Teenagers are in a moldable season of life where their physical senses are developing in new ways. In the same way, we believe students’ spiritual senses are developing, and they can hear from God personally. (I Samuel 3) Experiences will be offered which will help students learn how to tune their ears to God’s voice, and opportunities for them to share what they believe God is saying will be given.
The best people to reach students for Christ are other students. It is imperative that we empower students by giving them opportunities to live out their faith and explore their giftings. II Timothy 2:2 says, “And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these pass on to reliable men who will be able to teach others also.” This verse is at the crux of the call to being an adult leader in the youth ministry. It is critical that student have people who have gone before them to mentor and coach them as they are growing and maturing. And it is crucial that leaders be willing to step aside so students can step up. I call this T.E.A.M. Leadership (Teen Empowerment, Adult Mentoring). The two must go hand in hand.
Does God answer prayer? Some, but not all? Sometimes, but not all the time? Or does God always answer prayer and it’s just that sometimes God says no. Could prayer be bigger than God listening and answering? Maybe we need a fresh perspective on how we approach the things in life that compel us to pray.