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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.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Response to a Personal Invitation

To Nancy H. in Seattle:  Thank you for the gracious invitation, but I must respectfully decline.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Deal with Discord


Hello Aunt Dara, 

I first want to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!  My problem is about discord and how to deal with it.  I currently go to a university that is now divided on a very public issue.  I've taken the time to observe both views, and I understand both sides of the argument.  My stance is somewhat on the middle ground, but I'm still torn between two views.  However, it saddens me to see both my friends and professors acting in such an unscholarly way in response to discord.  They are taking stances without considering the view of those on the other side.  I'm especially disappointed in my professors.  The way they go about taking sides (speaking about the problem during lecture, writing about their opinions for the school newspaper, etc.) makes me sad because they didn't consult or try to understand the other side. 

I've tried to search online what the Bible says about dealing with discord, and I've found nothing.  What do you think Christ might do, say or think in this situation?  What might he say to me? 

Sincerely,
Torn and Disappointed 

Dear Torn and Disappointed,

Actually, the Bible has a lot to say about how to handle disagreements and conflict, depending on how many people are involved and what the issue is.  We know that this situation involves two groups of people with opposing viewpoints.  However, I think you may be making an assumption that the professors are taking sides without understanding the opposing viewpoint.  The professors have probably researched the topic thoroughly (that’s what scholars do), and have reached a conclusion that they believe is right and defensible.  Furthermore, it appears that they think that the issue is important enough to instruct others who have the opposing view.

When Jesus was asked about issues in which people had differing views, He based His response on what the scriptures say and used it as an opportunity to teach (see Matthew 19) and to correct error (see Matthew 22:23-33).  Nowhere are we given an example of Jesus compromising on the truth or saying, “Well, I can see both sides of he issue.”  Jesus was not concerned if anyone was offended by the truth (Matthew 15:11-13, John 6:60-69).  We are to follow Jesus’ example by first determining if the Bible says anything about the issue.  If it does, then we are to teach others what the Bible says, even if it offends someone or contradicts current societal trends or popular belief.  God’s word is still God’s word, regardless of political correctness (Exodus 23:2).  Anything that was sin in the First Century is still a sin in the Twenty-First Century.  However, we should not be arrogant or aggressive in teaching truth or correcting error.  Please refer to 2 Timothy 2:23-26; 3:16 - 4:4, Galatians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, and James 5:19-20.

However, if the Bible is silent on the issue, Paul instructs us on how to handle differences of opinion in the 14th chapter of Romans.  Present day issues that might be comparable to what Paul refers to as a “disputable matter” are disagreements about the role of women in the church and using contemporary Christian music versus traditional hymns.

Bottom line:  Speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Message to My Readers

According to my blog statistics, Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column has been read by multiple thousands of readers in over a hundred nations in every continent in the world except Antarctica.  I recognize that cultures differ and am aware that communication can be misinterpreted when cultures or religious denominations differ.  I must always keep this in mind when responding to letters.

I receive several letters each month.  Sometimes it may take a year or more before a letter and my response is published, and many letters are never published.  Usually I have multiple contact with the writers via e-mails before publishing their letters.  Often the letters that are published are condensed versions of the original or summaries of multiple communications with the writer.  My policy regarding publishing of letters and responses is contained in the Privacy Policy / Disclaimer which can be found at the bottom of each page on my website.  The Privacy Policy / Disclaimer has not been modified since this website was established on December 20, 2010.

When I receive a letter, I never send a response until after I have devoted time to pray about it—perhaps only a day or two, but in some instances I have prayed for up to two weeks.  My prayer is always to be sensitive to the needs of the writer and to convey to the writer the things that God would want them to know.  Sometimes I preface my response with an acknowledgment that what I have to say may be hard to hear.  However, it is never my intention to be insensitive or hurtful in anything that I say. 

My readers should always keep in mind that this is a Christian advice column that strives to answer questions from a biblical perspective.  The published information about me clearly states that I believe in traditional Christian values and morals, and I believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.  Therefore, my replies may not be popular or politically correct, especially in certain cultures, and I realize that there will always be those who will disagree with some of my responses. 

That being said, I would like to address the person who wrote me a particularly scathing comment, and asking if this is for real or a satire blog.  I have taken your comments to heart.  Your message increased my awareness that just because I think that I am following God's leading in my replies, I still could be mistaken.  However, you were mistaken in your assumptions about the situation of the person who wrote to me.  This person is doing well and her situation has greatly improved since my initial contact with her.  I appreciate your comments, but your condemnation was not deserved.  I am not perfect.  I don’t know everything.  I make mistakes.  Sometimes I may even give inappropriate responses or bad advice, but my intention is to help and never to harm.  There will always be people who disagree with my responses, but before you criticize me so harshly, remember that you do not have all the information.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Is it Time to Give up on Love?


Dear Aunt Dara, 

I am 26 years old and I have never been in a relationship nor have I been on a real date or even been kissed.  Though I may not be the world's most beautiful woman, I am not ugly.  I have a good personality and many supportive friends and family.  I have many great qualities, and I thought being single wasn't such a bad thing.  All my life I have had great guy friends, but I have never been pursued by any.  On several occasions, these friends seemed to date everyone in my friend (and even family) circles, but never expressed an interest for me. 

I have had many sleepless nights and teary eyes trying to figure out my problem.  What is so wrong with me that no one could love me?  As I watch my siblings sustain their relationships and began to marry, I can feel the sting.  My parents and siblings tell me I am too picky and that my standards are too high, and that may be somewhat true.  I have never had a guy knocking at my door wanting to date me.  What is the problem?  What makes me so un-loveable?  At this point, is it time to give up on love? 

Single Gal

Dear Single Gal,

Please do not lower your standards just to get a boyfriend or husband.  You may get a boyfriend sooner by doing that, but not the one that God has intended for you.  A man who is worth having is one who is worth the wait.  Sometimes God brings the right man into our lives when we are very young, and sometimes He doesn't bring the right man into our lives until we are much older.  If you try to hurry things by lowering your standards, you will get a sub-standard man.  Is that the kind of man that you want to spend the rest of your life with?  Is that the kind of man that you want to be the father of your children?  Probably not.

Please do not blame yourself because God has not brought the right man into your life yet.  You are loved, very much, and God sees your tears.  Being loved by the right man has nothing to do with how pretty you are.  Every woman is precious and beautiful in the eyes of the man who loves her.  You are precious and beautiful in God's eyes, so let Him love you.  Then, if God wills, He will make you precious and beautiful in the eyes of the man who is right for you.

Don't rush it.  Don't compromise your standards.  Don't settle for a sub-standard man.   For more information, please refer to my posting on 8/16/2012 titled "Wondering when she will meet her Future Husband."

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Trying to Keep Peace in the Family by Keeping Secrets

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I'm praying about this and know things will work out but, I could really use some additional advice.  I'm 17 years old and have been dealing with my parents divorce since I was 5.  My parents have a really extreme divorce case where they have been in and out of court constantly for 12 years.  I'm sure in some lawyer’s office practically my whole childhood is documented.  Recently I was using my dad's computer and I accidentally saw that he had been looking at very vulgar pornography.  I quickly turned away but I saw some pretty mentally scaring things.  Since he is my dad and also a father to three daughters I felt disgusted, confused, upset, and angry that he could do such a thing.  It wasn't a one-time thing either.  There have been many times where he has forgotten to wipe the history and so it showed those websites when I opened a new tab.  Since this whole thing is highly upsetting and extremely awkward, I obviously didn't want to confront him about it.  So I tried to forget about it and I did a pretty good job, until it started happening more frequently and the images got more vulgar.  So one day when I was alone in the car with my mom, I told her about it.  It was really bothering me and I wanted to talk about it and try to make sense of it all.  I made her promise not to use it against him in court, and to not tell anyone about it.  

She didn't say anything to anyone until a few weeks later when my younger sister (15 years old) said something to my mom about it.  Then my mom was extremely concerned that my other younger sister (12 years old) would see it too by accident.  So without telling me she emailed my dad.  She was very vague in her email and told him that if he had anything inappropriate or unsettling on his computer that he should be careful about hiding it so that we didn’t see anything.  She told him she wouldn't use it in court and not to mention it to any of us.  However, the first thing he did upon receiving this email was call my 12-year-old sister and ask her about the email my mom sent him.  She had no idea what he was talking about so she answered honestly that she didn't know.  After that call my mom told my 15-year-old sister and me that she had sent an email to my dad and what it said.  We were upset because we felt our trust was betrayed, but as time wore on I was less upset about it.  

Part of me wants this to be fixed and for him to know that what he's doing is disgusting and wrong and devaluing other people's daughters.  However, that is not a conversation I want to have with him. Then a couple days later when I was on the phone with him he asked me if I found anything at his house that I was mad or upset about.  I had to respond quickly and I had no idea what to do, so I did something terrible and I lied.  I told him no.  He asked, "Are you sure?"  I replied, “Yes.”  I felt awful to have sinned and lied, but I still have no idea what the proper way to handle that situation would have been.  He also asked me not to tell my mom that he asked me that question.  I want to tell her, but I don't think it would be productive.  I just need advice.  I'm also torn about whether to do anything or not.  This is an issue that has always been close to my heart and I'm passionate about it.  So, it just bothers me to my core that my own father could do something like this and I am doing nothing to stand up against it.  How should I handle this the way God would want me to?  I really don't want this all to blow up in my face, but doing nothing is eating away at me.  Thank you for taking time out to read this it means a lot to me.

 Sincerely,
Upset and clueless 

Dear Upset and Clueless,

Hopefully your parents will have worked this issue out between themselves.  However, you have asked for additional advice from me, and I do have some advice for you and your sisters. You and your sisters should never have become involved in your parents' divorce, their apparent on-going animosity toward each other, and their continuous court battles.  That your parents have placed you and your sisters in this situation is both harmful and wrong.  You and your sisters are NOT responsible for keeping peace between your parents.  You are not responsible for fixing this or any other situation with your parents with which you have become involved.  You should resolve from this day forward to refuse to be used as a go-between, an advocate, or a peacemaker between your parents.  You and your sisters should never be placed in a position where you are pitting one parent against the other or made to feel as if you are being disloyal to one parent or the other.  This means that you should never be made to testify in court against one of your parents, nor should you be placed in a position where you are managing the responsibility for any evidence that one of your parents could use against the other.

As a psychotherapist, I work with a treatment team that consists of myself, the psychiatrist, the nurse, and the case manager.  I tell my clients when they come in for therapy that what they tell me during sessions is confidential, but with limitations.  I am mandated to report some things, such as child abuse or neglect.  I tell them that if they are suicidal or homicidal, nothing they tell me is confidential at that point because I will reveal whatever is necessary to assure their safety or the safety others.  Then I let them know that I work on a treatment team and I say, "I do not keep secrets from the treatment team.  Anything that is important for other members of the treatment team to know, I will tell them, so don't even ask me not to."  I tell you this because there is a difference between keeping things confidential and keeping secrets.  The things that you and your family members are trying to keep from other family members are examples of keeping secrets.

Secrecy is very unhealthy and damaging to relationships, especially family relationships.  While reading your letter, it strikes me that this situation could have been nipped in the bud if you had been honest with your dad the very first time that you saw porn on his computer, if you had told him what you saw and how you felt about it, and if you had asked him to take measures to prevent this from happening again.  Hopefully, by now your father has been alerted that his secret sin is no longer secret, and he has repented, or at the very least is doing something to protect his daughters, such as not letting his daughters use his computer or getting a different computer for his daughters to use.  In any case, you should stop participating in family secrecy.  You should let both parents know that from this day forward you will no longer keep things secret from the other parent, and you need to stop asking them to keep secrets.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Her Family Doesn’t Like Her Church

Dear Aunt Dara,

For the past few months, I have been attending a new church.  The problem is that my husband is not a church-goer.  He says he doesn't like my church for various reasons, and he complains that "it’s too loud.”  Additionally, I have a 9-year-old little girl who gives me problems about attending church with me.  At times I have dragged her, unwillingly and in tears, to church with me.  On several occasions my husband has tried to intervene by telling me that she doesn’t have to go.  Isn’t it my job as a Christian and as a parent to try to raise my child in the church, or do you think she will come around on her own?

Frustrated Mom

Dear Frustrated Mom, 

Actually, it is both your job and your husband's job to raise your child in the church.   However, if this situation remains unchanged, you will succeed in turning your daughter against attending any church and you will have never won your husband.

As I read your letter, I question a few things.  First of all, what is your daughter's objection to attending church?  Is it just your new church that she doesn't want to go to?  If so, what is it that makes her so unhappy that she is in tears as she is being dragged there?  Secondly, is your new church the only church that your husband objects to?  Would he be more willing to attend a different church where it isn't as loud and he would have fewer objections to?  And lastly, since this is a new church for you, why do you continue to attend there when your husband obviously doesn't approve of that church and your daughter so desperately doesn't want to go there?

In the best interest of your family, talk to your husband and get his input into the church that he would be wiling to attend.  Then both of you can be united in being a good example to your daughter by taking her to church together.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Boyfriend Revealed He is Addicted to Pornography

Dear Aunt Dara,

After my boyfriend and I began talking about marriage, he confessed to me that he has struggled with an addiction to pornography for the past couple of years.  I feel very hurt and betrayed.  Not only was he involved in this sinful act, but he started a relationship with me while it was a problem and he hid it from me and lied about it to me for this long.  

I feel lost and I don't know what to do or how to handle the situation.  My boyfriend and I have had our challenges before, and I'm struggling with trying to identify whether God is trying to tell me that this is not the man for me, or if He is ensuring that we are a strong couple and through His work we can make it through anything together.  We currently are broken up while he works on his recovery, and I now am faced with the decision (once he's recovered) to forgive him and pick up where we left off or to leave him and move on.

My boyfriend truly wants to become a better man for himself, for God, and for me.  He has tried to fix his addiction multiple times before, but they all have failed.  He realized that the only way to really overcome his problem is to have lost the one most important thing in his life because of it - that being me - and the only way to gain me back is if his addiction is no longer existent.  That all is flattering and I very much appreciate that he is trying so hard to eliminate the issue, but I don't know what's more important - the fact that he is truly committed to changing to become a better man, or the fact that he has been observing sinful material for TWO YEARS and hid it from the woman he plans to marry.

I would very much appreciate any insight and advice you have about this situation.  At the least, prayer to allow my (ex) boyfriend to quickly and effectively find healing and recovery and for me to find clarity as to what to do about the situation would mean a lot to me.

Thank you so much,
Loved and Betrayed

Dear Loved and Betrayed,

I strongly suspect that any change that your (ex) boyfriend makes will only be temporary based on his long-term history of this behavior, his multiple failed attempts to change on his own, his apparent lack of remorse for having sinned against God, and his current reasons to want to change.  Let me explain.

“Addiction” to pornography is not an illness from which one needs to recover.  (I speak as a Christian and a licensed mental health professional.)  Your boyfriend has been habitually engaging in a willful, sinful behavior, and he needs to repent.  It appears that you may have fallen for his excuse that he has an “addiction” from which he needs to “recover,” and he seems to be offering an excuse for future failure by telling you that he has “tried to fix his addiction multiple times before but they have all failed.”  The reason that his past attempts to stop his sinful habit have failed is because he was trying to “fix” it on his own—without God and without the power of the Holy Spirit.  True repentance is based on godly sorrow for having sinned against God (2 Corinthians 7:10).  Where was the godly sorrow?  Where was the confession of sin against God (I John 1:9)?  Where was repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22)?  Where was the reliance on Christ for strength (Philippians 4:13, John 15:5)?  Only by doing these things can he overcome his problem, regardless of his assertion that the only way to overcome his problem is realizing that he has lost the most important thing in his life (you) because of it.  Furthermore, the most important thing in anyone’s life should be God!

If he truly believes that the only way to get you back is “if his addiction is no longer existent,” he will lie and tell you what you want to hear.  Repentance based on sorrow for having hurt or disappointed another human being will only last as long as the relationship lasts, or until the person is able to resume his sinful behavior in secret.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not saying that he can’t change, or that he can’t be forgiven, or that he can’t live a pure life in the future.  What I am saying is that he needs to take personal responsibility for his behavior and acknowledge that it is sin, not an “addiction” or illness from which he needs “recovery.”  He needs to genuinely repent for the right reasons and pray to God for forgiveness.  Above all, he needs to put God first in his life—not you.

God bless,

Aunt Dara