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Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word

askauntdara@gmail.com


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Husband in Communication with Married Female Friend

Dear Aunt Dara,

My husband, Bill, has been friends with Sherry for over 30 years.  When we began dating, Sherry and her husband and children lived in the same apartment complex as my husband.  She would come to Bill's apartment many times during the course of our 1 1/2 year courtship.  She was ALWAYS coming over and she and Bill would go off and talk.  I discussed with Bill how much this bothered me and he would tell me that she was his sister in Christ and he would offer her Godly advice on her marriage and she would offer him Godly advice on our relationship.  I told Bill that I thought this was information Sherry should discuss with family members or girlfriends, not with him.  When we got married, things got a little better as we moved into my house and Bill was out of the apartment complex.  He knew that I did not like Sherry and did not agree with their discussing relationship issues with each other.  So, he limited how much he contacted her.  In May, Bill lost his local truck driving position and went over the road.  Since that time, Sherry's private contact with Bill has become much more frequent—several times per month for the past 3 months.  I was very upset when I found out about this.  I told Bill that under no uncertain circumstances did I want myself or our relationship discussed with Sherry.  I know she tells Bill all about her marriage woes.  He has told me that he does not discuss us, but I am not sure that I believe him.  He has asked me to find forgiveness in my heart and become friends with Sherry as this is his friend of 30-plus years and his "sister in Christ."  I feel as though he wants me to become friends with her so that they get "my blessing" to continue their private communications with each other.  When I ask what they discuss, he does not want to tell me.  I have discussed with Bill that if he does have the need to talk with Sherry to do it when he is on home time and I am there instead of in private when he is over the road.  He says that I am overreacting and that he sees nothing wrong with him contacting Sherry or Sherry contacting him.  We are at a standstill on this subject and I could use some advice as to what to do. 

Thank you,
Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

Thank you for writing to me and trusting me with your situation.  I pray that I can say some things that may shed some light on what may be happening and perhaps spur some change and growth in the way that you may be interpreting your husband’s behavior.

First of all, the Bible is very clear that we need to have friendships with other Christians.  We are instructed to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another (James 5:16).  We are to be a source of strength and encouragement to each other (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), and we are to instruct and correct one another (Proverbs 27:6, 17; James 5:19-20).  However, nowhere in the Bible are we told that it is wrong for a man and woman to have a Christ-centered friendship with each other.  The idea that women can only have female friends and men can only have male friends seems to be based on the culture and time in which we live.  The Bible gives examples of what appear to be friendships between men and women.  For example, we know that many women followed Jesus during his ministry and took care of meeting His needs (Luke 8:1-3), and some of these women were married.  Jesus had an extensive, private conversation with a woman (John 4).  The apostle John apparently had a close friendship with a woman, so much so that he wrote a letter to her, the book of 2 John, and told her that it would be a joy for them to talk face-to-face (2 John 12).  We even have an example of the prophet Elijah living with a widow and her son for a while (1 Kings 17), and undoubtedly the two of them developed a friendship while he was living in her home. 

That being said, the cultural taboo against mixed gender friendships is likely based on the human fleshly desires that can easily enter into such a friendship.  Factors that make us more vulnerable to this temptation are (1) spiritual immaturity and (2) an unhappy marriage.  That is why Paul gave guidelines for how to manage Christian relationships when he told Timothy to treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:20).  We are to think of each other as family members, WITH ALL PURITY, for we are brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Regarding your specific situation, it would appear that your husband is aware of the need to maintain purity in this friendship, because he keeps emphasizing that Sherry is his “sister in Christ” and he is honoring the purpose of Christian friendships by offering her Godly advice.  Hopefully, your husband is encouraging Sherry to address her marital problems directly with her husband so they can resolve them.  Your husband appears to be respecting your wishes by not discussing you or your marriage with Sherry, so what reason do you have to doubt his honesty other than your own suspicions?  Your husband persists in maintaining contact with Sherry, believing there is nothing wrong with that.  He is right.  He wants you to become friends with his friend, and you think it is because he wants your blessing to continue his private conversations with Sherry.  Perhaps he wants you to get to know her so you will feel less threatened by his friend of 30 + years and less jealous and suspicious of his friendship with her.

Before you married your husband, you knew that Sherry had been his friend for over 30 years and that they had regular, private communications with each other.  To require or expect him to break off this friendship or to try to set rules to control it (needing to know what they talk about, forbidding private communication, and wanting to be around when they talk) is being unfair to your husband.  This could drive a wedge between you and your husband and could result in his increased attempts to keep his conversations with Sherry secret.  Perhaps if you got to know Sherry, you might realize that her more than 30 years of friendship with your husband might have had a positive influence on his spirituality and helped to shape him into the man that you fell in love with.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Friday, July 31, 2015

Their Life Core Values are not Aligned

Dear Aunt Dara,

I have been dating a guy for 6 months now.  He's kind, caring and fun.  We have quite a lot of interests in common and I enjoy spending time with him.  Lately, I have been feeling disappointed because our core values are not aligned.  I have been a Christian for years and I know biblically well what is right and what is wrong.  He's a Christian too, but not an avid one.  He told me that he lost his virginity in his past relationship and he had no regrets about it though he knows religiously it's wrong.  This bothers me much because as a Christian, I know premarital sex is not allowed.  He's a good man and I don't want to lose him but I'm confused if we really do share the same core values.  How should I get over this?

Confused


Dear Confused,

Since he says he has no regrets and he claims he knows "religiously it's wrong," that indicates that he has felt no godly sorrow for his sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10) and therefore he has not repented.  Saying, “I know religiously it's wrong" is the same as saying, "I  know that other Christians think it's wrong, but I don't, and I'm not sorry."  The lack of repentance, lack of respect for the authority of God's word, and lack of sorrow for his disobedience to God is of an infinitely greater concern than the loss of his virginity.  It appears that he is a "Christian" in name only, and "not an avid one," as you said.  This is what Jesus has to say about that:  “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16).

As you said, he does not share your core values.  Until he starts showing evidence that he respects God's word and wants to obey what it says, I would be very hesitant to continue this relationship.

God Bless,
Aunt Dara

Monday, April 27, 2015

Red Flags in a Relationship

Part One
 
Dear Aunt Dara,

I knew a guy indirectly from a friend and I had been drawn to him for a couple of years.  It was unexplainable of why I was so attracted and drawn to this guy whom I never met.  Not knowing that he was interested in me as well, he asked for my number.  He explained how he appreciated the encouraging posts and songs, and I seemed like a cool person.  So we begin talking and in only a week, we were talking on the phone every day and texting non-stop.  After three weeks, he told me that he loved me and he believed that I was the wife that was destined for him.  Within a month, I found out that he had just moved into his own house that his step mom left him (his dad is in jail and his mom only talks to him when she wants something).  He had no car.  He dropped out of college because he felt it wasn't for him and wanted to start working full time.  This is the total opposite of me because I grew up with my married parents, I have a car, and I'm a full time student.  I didn't judge because I felt as though not everyone had the privilege of growing up with both parents, and people have experienced other casualties.  I also learned that he had been saved for a little less than a year, and before he got saved, he used to sleep around with a different girl every night.  A lot of baggage, but again, I didn't want to judge on someone's past.

After a month I wanted to meet him in person, but he had no car.  My parents wouldn't let me drive 20 minutes to see him because they believe in a guy should come to see the girl.  My mom construed the idea of her driving to pick him up and bringing him here, but now she regrets the decision.  She picked him up and when he got here, it was amazing.  He asked me to be his girlfriend, but I felt it was rushing because we only known each other for a month.  However, I felt so attached to him that I needed to be with him.  I was in love with him and with his relationship with God.  He moved really fast though.  He kissed me very forcibly like he was sexually frustrated.  After we became a couple, he started to ask me to check in with him.  He doesn’t want me speaking Spanish in front of him, and the only time he seems interested in what I have to say is when I am talking about God.  He asked me to only wear skirts and dresses.  Because I refused to not wear skirts and dresses all the time, he called me selfish and wanted to break up.

We stopped talking for a whole month and he finally contacted me.  We didn't get back together, yet we acted like we were in a relationship.  Here’s the problem.  He has started asking me to send him pictures when I go jogging to make sure my shorts aren't too short.  He tries to pressure me to drive to his home to see him, and I said no.  I said if he wanted to see me, he would make a way to see me.  He has been used to girls saying yes and driving to see him, so when I said no, he stopped talking to me for three weeks.  (At this point, we had only seen each other once and that was about 3 months ago.)  So, after 3 weeks of silence, he asked to meet with me in my town.  I met him and he told me during the time we weren't talking, he "almost" had sex with another girl.  I was hurt.  I knew that even though we weren't dating, I wouldn't do that, especially if he was the one I loved.  He begged me not to leave, so I didn't.  

Since then we have seen each other many times because he got a car and a new job in my town.  Still, he never drives to see me; I drive to see him.  That is never what I expected.  I always thought it should be the other way around.  Once again, he asked me to drive to his home to see him, and I said no.  He called me selfish, and by this time, I was fed up.  I told him that I'm giving him my all and he is offering me nothing.  The only time he has put any effort to see me was when he hopped into my mom's car.  After I told him that, he wanted to take another break.  I begged him to talk to me and he refused.  I told him that he can either speak to me or I want to cut all ties.  He told me that if I want to leave, then leave.  So I left.  I cannot stop thinking about his being a jerk who threw me away.  I don't know what to do.

Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

You are to be commended for finally getting fed up with a selfish person who uses manipulation and control to try to get what he wants.  There are so many red flags in this letter, that I would have a difficult time trying to list them all.  But this I know for sure, this is NOT the man that God wants you to be with.  God doesn't want us to be in a relationship with someone who is this dysfunctional.  I know you think you love him, but please do not confuse attraction with love.  Trust me, this man does NOT love you and he does NOT put God first in his life.  When a person's actions do not match what they say, ignore their words and trust the behavior.  There is absolutely nothing in this person's behavior that shows that he loves you or that he loves God.  Don't fall for his persuasive words.  Cut the ties and don't look back!  Don't let him try to manipulate himself back into your life.  You don't need the emotional drama and he will only bring you heartache and regret if you continue to be involved with him.

God Bless,
Aunt Dara

Part Two

Dear Aunt Dara,

It's me again.  It's been a little over a month since all this stuff has happened.  He has tried contacting me which I've ignored, and because I deleted him from all social media pages, he has been doing little things to try and catch my attention.  I've just been ignoring him until finally I was agitated.  I let those little menial things get to me and I responded back to him and asked him to stop.  That's just words because in my heart, I don't want him to actually stop trying to contact me. However, after I told him to stop, he blew up my phone with phone calls begging to just talk.  After denying his phone calls for a while, I finally just let him say what he had to say.  He begged for my friendship and said nothing more.  He just wanted my friendship, my prayers, and my love.  I talked to him for a couple hours but Aunt Dara, I feel really stupid.  I don't think I can accept his friendship. Not that he is a bad person, but I don't want to see him move on with someone else and I have to be okay with it.  I feel really empty.  I've been talking to God but I feel like I've been agitating God with the same old thing.


Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

It is your choice whatever you decide to do in regard to him.  However, I suggest that you stop asking God what He wants you to do and begin listening for God's answer.  When you get God's answer, don't keep playing around with your indecision.  If God is saying that this person is unstable, unhealthy, and will be a source of pain for you, then cut all ties.  (All means all.  Any contact at all will only make matters worse and prolong the issue, which you found out.)  If God is telling you that He wants you to continue having contact with him, then by all means, obey God.  However, there are so many red flags in this relationship, I foresee that you may have a very difficult future if you choose to remain with him.  Do you believe that is what God really wants for you?

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Afraid of People’s Reaction to Their Age Difference

Dear Aunt Dara,

I am currently dating a man who is 25 years older than I am.  He is 54 and I am 29.  We have been together nearly a year.  He is a Christian man and a minister.  He shows me that he genuinely cares for me and my 2 children.  I have prayed and prayed and asked God to take him out of my life if he isn't the right one for me, but he's still holding on strong.  I love him.  He is everything that I ever wanted in a man and he loves God.  We are considering marriage soon, but I am afraid of what others will say about our age difference.  I feel very strongly that God has confirmed our union in more ways than one, but I'm just so scared of what others would say.

The Younger Woman
 
Dear Young Woman, 

You should do what you believe God wants you to do, regardless of what other people might say.  If the two of you have been together for a year, have been praying for God to show you what He wants you to do, and the answer you keep getting is that God is confirming your union, then nobody else has any right to contradict God's will for you.  You have been blessed with a man who loves you and your children, so accept God's gift.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Should she Ignore her Family, Friends, and her Gut Feeling to Marry the Man She Loves?

Dear Aunt Dara,  

I am 25 years old and my boyfriend is 45 years old.  He has a sad past and now he has health issues.  I love him and I want to give him a happy life, but I'm worried that I will be left alone with my children one day due to our age differences, and I am afraid that my children will suffer without a father.  I am not sure if I can be strong enough to face the world as a single mother.  Also, I truly don't want to hurt him deeply because when I see him hurt, I hurt too.  I don’t want to leave him suffering.  I feel like a bad person if I don’t marry him and I do love him, but I’m afraid things will go wrong with the passing of time.  He is a very kind man and he would be a great husband.  I made a lot of mistakes when he was in the hospital, but he is faithful and forgiving.  Additionally, my parents and friends don't approve of our relationship, and they warn me that our marriage will not work out.  I would have married him already if I didn't have this strong gut feeling inside me and warnings from parents and close friends.  I’ve prayed about it, but I still have a gut feeling.  I tried to deny it because he is so kind, loving, and caring, and I love him deeply.  I am so confused.  If this gut feeling is from God, why would God try to prevent me from marrying him?  I don’t want to be alone again, and it will be harder if I have raise my children alone.  I’m confused and unable to decide whether to marry him or not.  If I decide not to marry him, does that make me a selfish person or bad or evil?  I feel so guilty if I don’t marry him.  I do love him but I can’t ignore my gut feeling.  What should I do?

Confused

Dear Confused,

Thank you so much for writing to me and trusting me with your situation.  I believe that God can speak to us in many ways, including through His written word (the Bible), through godly advice from other Christians, and through the leadings of the Holy Spirit—what you refer to as your gut feeling.  For you to be able to make the right decision, you must listen to what God is trying to tell you through the scriptures, through godly counsel, and through your own inner voice.  If you feel anxiety and confusion when you think about marrying this person, then marrying him is NOT the right thing to do.  When you have made the right choice, you will feel peace.  If you believe that your gut feeling is from God, then perhaps the reason God is trying to prevent you from marrying this man is because God is trying to tell you not to do it.  You are not selfish, bad or evil for not marrying someone.  If you have made mistakes, then repent and pray for forgiveness.  Do not complicate the situation by making another mistake.  Marriage will not ease a guilty conscience.

Also, I believe that you are confusing compassion with love.  Having compassion for someone and wanting to do something to ease their pain is not the type of love that can be the foundation of a marriage.  A marriage based on compassion or pity cannot last.  In the long run, this marriage could end up hurting both of you.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Family Excluded from Invitation to Christmas Dinner

Dear Aunt Dara,

My wife is upset because my sister invited my son and myself to Christmas dinner but did not invite my wife and her two daughters.  How should I handle this?

Thank you for your help,
Caught in the Middle

Dear Caught in the Middle,

Explain to your sister that you would love to attend her Christmas dinner, but would like to bring your wife and her daughters, too.  If she says that your wife and her daughters are not welcome to attend, you should respectfully decline the invitation.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Student in Love with His Teacher

Dear Aunt Dara,

I have had several crushes but never a girlfriend.  I'm in love with my instructor and it's just making me miserable!  I know ethically it is wrong so I'm polite to her and pretty much leave her alone, but confess that it hurts that she's either not into me or simply might not like me.  If history taught me anything it's that I end up feeling resentful, hurt, and disappointed when a special lady rejects me.  I guess either I'm unlovable or nothing good happens to me.  It's nice when there's a happy ending but it would be so sweet if it happened to me for once.  For now I intend to give a thank you card for the semester.  I put some time in decorating and writing it so I hope she likes it and it makes her happy. 

Hoping for Love in Return

Dear Hoping for Love,

Hopefully, I can shed some light on this for you.  The reason that your instructor is not showing you any sign that she likes you is this:  She is a paid professional who is doing her job—teaching students—and you are a student.  For her to become personally involved with a student would not only be unethical, it would place her job in jeopardy.  In other words, she could be disciplined by her employer up to and including being fired.  So, you must understand that a sweet card from you will get you nowhere because she is unavailable.

True love means that you put the other's interests ahead of your own desires. That is why the Bible tells us to consider the needs of others (Philippians 2:3-4).  If you really care for your instructor, you will let her do her job and find someone else who is available to you.  
 
God bless,
Aunt Dara