This week we're putting focus on relationships. What makes relationships work or fragment? Though they can be complex and difficult to understand, there are guiding principles and truths that can make things clearer and easier. Danny Silk, Senior Management Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California, has written for us on the subject of building positive, effective relationships with our children. With many years of foster parenting and pastoral counseling, he brings much wisdom to the table. The first chapter of his book, Loving Our Kids on Purpose is available for free download by clicking here.
Author Laura Gallier sat down for an short interview with us this week discussing her personal experience with healthy and unhealthy romantic relationships. She has been in youth ministry for 10 years and has a passion for inspiring sexual purity in young adults. For our Facebook users, Laura has also put together a smaller version of her quiz "How Healthy Is My Relationship?". Click here to login and take her quiz.
The Greatest of These is Love
by Danny Silk
When the Pharisees asked Jesus what the most important commandment was, He startled them with His response. They were trying to trap him with His answer, but instead of painting Himself into a corner, He opened up a revelation to them. His response was, in essence, “Love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself” (Luke 10:27). The greatest commandment is love. These Pharisees had hoped that He was going to say, “Obey this commandment,” because their culture was steeped in the priority of obedience and compliance to “the rules.” In one fell swoop, Jesus promoted relationship above the rules. Love and relationship are the bottom line of the Kingdom, and they must be ours if we wish to establish a Kingdom culture in our homes.
There is a huge difference between a culture in which obedience and compliance are the bottom line and a culture in which relationship is the bottom line. The contrast is perhaps seen most clearly when people fail. Imagine this: Your sixth grader comes to you with his report card, which reveals a failing grade. How do you think you would respond (or, how have you responded) to such a scenario? For most parents, their immediate attention is on the child's lack of compliance with his school environment and/or their parental expectations. They work to set their child on a path back to a good student position by communicating their disappointment (and often their anger) and giving instructions on how to behave better.
There is really nothing wrong with this approach to dealing with the problem in general. But it perpetuates a problem if the parents are using it to reach an inferior goal (in this case, obedience), because it never really addresses the heart issues that lead to mistakes in the first place, and it doesn't help parents to stay aware of their own hearts. Elevating obedience above relationship can actually be detrimental to both your children's development of personal responsibility and their perception of God the Father. Although obedience is an important part of our relationship with our children (and our own personal sanity), it is not the most important quality. If we fail to take care of the most important matters first, what we build on top of our foundation will not support what we were hoping to accomplish as parents. Until our children learn to deal with what is going on inside of them, they simply cannot learn to manage their own personal freedom judiciously. They must learn to choose to act in wisdom and restraint; otherwise, it is only the fear of punishment or other negative stimulus which will restrain them.
I want to propose to you that freedom is a top priority in Heaven, because it is what makes relationships possible. Heaven's culture of relationships is vastly different than most everything we see on earth because God, the Father, is less interested in compliance and much more interested in love. This is the reason that He is trying to prepare us to live absolutely free lives in an environment of unlimited options more than just trying to keep us from sin. Love is the lasting foundation for obedience. Look for ways to build onto that foundation in your home.
Danny Silk serves as a Senior Management Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. He is a primary developer of the staff team and Director of the church ministries including the Transformation Center, city outreach, and Bethel's Healing Rooms. Danny and his wife, Sheri, are also the founders of Loving On Purpose, a ministry to families and communities around the world. He is the author of Loving Our Kids on Purpose and Culture of Honor available from Destiny Image Publishers.
An Interview With Laura Gallier
If you're not familiar with Laura's teaching on abstience, you should. If you are in youth ministry, or have young adults in your life, hers is the material you want to educate yourself with. She is full of truth and mercy. I spoke with her for a few minutes about her personal experience with both healthy and unhealthy romantic relationships. Along with her facebook quiz, "Is My Dating Relationship Healthy?", we've also included the first chapter to her book, Choosing to Wait, here for free download.
SB: Why abstain? Why shouldn't I get to enjoy myself when everyone else is?
LG: Well, to begin; everyone else isn't doing it! The statistics show about 45-50% overall in high school are sexually active. But, really, the risks with pre-marital sex aren't limited to teen pregnancy or that you could get an STD (though, those are certainly very big concerns). The biggest problem with pre-marital sex is what it does to you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The idea that is being sold to our teenagers is that as long as you're using a condom, it's safe sex. There really isn't any such thing as safe sex. You do become one with your partner – “protection” or not – and over time, you can develop quite the load of baggage which does carry over into your marital life, eventually.
SB: That's a little heavy. You sound like you might know a little bit about this.
LG: I do, actually. I really did have to learn this the hard way. Once upon a time, I had my own ideas of what made a relationship work. I was “looking for love in all the wrong places,” and eventually, at the age of 20, I found myself pregnant. It was under these circumstances I found myself married, and all too soon, divorced. So there I was, a single, divorced, 22-year-old mother. That when I began to see how the pattern in my relationships had caught up with me. I came to God and I said, “Lord, I did this my way, and it didn't work. I want to do this your way.” Eventually I met my husband, Patrick, and we did do things God's way. It was a completely different, healthy relationship built on respect and faith. We've been married for 9 years, now.
SB: So, in your experience, pre-marital sex is a sabotage to the relationship?
LG:Yes, absolutely. When lust is allowed entrance to your relationship, it doesn't take just an inch; it takes a mile. Lust will always seek to make you its subject; so your personal respect suffers, as well as the respect you had for your partner; they're no longer your partner. They become an object. It's a love-vacuum.
Laura Gallier has spent the last decade as a youth minister and advisor to teens and parents. She and her husband Patrick live in Texas and maintain an adventurous home life that consists of three children, two hermit crabs, a dog, and one temperamental fish. She is the author of Choosing to Wait, and Why Wait? available from Destiny Image Publishers.