Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


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, July 31, 2012

Giving Marital or Relationship Advice to a Friend

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I'm hoping to hear your thoughts on my friendship with my neighbor.  She's a close friend and I love her kids.  She and her husband (whom I also really like) are getting divorced, and he moved out 3 months ago.  It's been much harder on him, and mostly she has seemed almost indifferent about it.  Around that time she said that she thought she was gay, but hasn't said anything about it since, and I think she has a girlfriend.  She was raised as a Christian and goes to worship services sometimes, but I don't really know how her relationship with God is.  My family talked with the husband about our faith before he left, since he was unsure.  I've just been supportive of all of them as much as I can and helping with the kids, without giving too much of an opinion on what I think they should do.  I know there are Bible verses that tell us not to judge others, and other verses that tell us to encourage others to follow God's ways.  I'm wondering if it's my place to talk about what God says on these issues, or if it would be better not to bring up my thoughts.  Does it make a difference that she's 10 years older than me and I wouldn't be telling her anything she doesn't already know on some level?  I want to make sure that I'm not being judgmental, and that I'm loving them as God wants.  Thank you for your time and thoughts. 

Concerned friend

Dear Concerned Friend, 

I appreciate that you care about your friend and that you want to do the right thing.  Here are some things to consider:  Even though your neighbor may be a close friend, it doesn’t appear that she confides much in you, nor does it appear that she has asked for your thoughts regarding her problems.  Divorce is a complicated issue and you do not have all the facts surrounding your friends’ marital problems and you do not know that their marriage has been like.  You should not become involved in your friend’s marital problems by telling her what you think she should do.  It’s her marriage—not yours.  The Bible is clear that we should not meddle in other people’s business (Proverbs 26:17, I Thessalonians 4:11, I Tim. 5:13, I Peter 4:15).  Marital counseling should be left to those who have been trained in counseling and are experienced in providing spiritual counsel on family issues.  If you try to advise her, you may end up alienating her because few people appreciate unsolicited advice. 

The best thing that you can do for your friend is to let her know that you are available if she needs to talk.  Listen to her and let her know that you care.  Don’t judge her or tell her what you think she should do.  This is how you develop a trusting relationship with her.  Then you can ask her about her relationship with God and what she thinks God would say about her situation and what God would have her to do.  Be prepared to explore some relevant scriptures with her if her answers seem to be contrary to what the Bible teaches.  Do this gently (Galatians 6:1).  Use the approach that you are both learning what the Bible says.  DO NOT offer your opinion about what you think she should do, even if you have scripture to back it up.  If you do that, she is likely to become defensive and shut out anything that you say. 

Also, keep in mind that divorce is a very difficult thing for everyone in the family, especially the children.  The entire family is hurting, even if they do not seem to show it.  Since you are close to the children, encourage them to share their feelings with you and be supportive of them.  Let them know that both their parents love them.  Assure them that it is not their fault that their parents are having problems with each other or that their dad no longer lives with them.

Above all—pray.  Your prayers are what this family needs most from you!

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

She Thought She was Over Him

Dear Aunt Dara,

I have always told myself I didn't need a boyfriend, that I was too young for one or that it would be pointless because it wouldn't last past high school, so I've never had one and I honestly haven't seriously liked a guy until now.  I met him last semester in one of my classes.  I didn't like him at first.  He was really quiet and shy so we didn't talk at all.  But as time went on we got to be pretty good friends and all my friends and I thought that he liked me.  At that point I kind of liked him but not enough to admit it so I never mentioned it and we just stayed friends.  All the while I was getting to know him more and realizing that he was the most amazing person I have ever met and I really started to like him.  He was sweet, sensitive, shy, caring, understanding, and he made me feel good about myself—always telling me how smart I am or that I'm the greatest person he's ever met.  And on top of all that, he's a Christian!  I couldn't find one thing wrong with him.  Not one! That is until I found out he was gay.

I cried so hard when I found out, I couldn't stop.  I was so upset that I went totally numb for at least two weeks.  It was that same numbness you get when a family member dies.  I didn't want to eat or do anything.  I turned to God and finally accepted the fact that he was not the one God had for me, so now I view him as just a friend.  As a friend I still wish he would be straight.  I believe that homosexuality is a sin.  I don't believe you go to hell as a result of it even if you’re saved since all sin is equal and since we've all sinned and come short of the glory of God.  I don't think that particular belief lines up with the word of God, but I do believe that it’s wrong and this whole situation has set that belief in stone for me.  I told him that I don't think it’s right but that I respect his beliefs as his personal beliefs and that I would never stop being his friend because of it.  I tried to keep my feelings from him and neither one of us has really confronted each other about it since then.  So, I've slowly healed and I thought I was over him, but he just got a new boyfriend and... I cried again.  I feel fine now, but I just don't know what to do.  I feel as if I need to talk to him about it.  I obviously still have feelings for him, and even our friendship is suffering.  I think he's afraid to talk to me about his relationships for fear of hurting me, or perhaps because he thinks I don't want to hear about it, but I want him to feel as if he can be open with me and know that I'm here for him no matter what it is!  Our friendship isn't going to last long if all our conversations only consist of small talk.  I'm always worried about how he's doing because he won't say anything, but I'm too scared to say anything.  What should I do?

Awkward Friend 

Dear Awkward Friend,

You are showing wisdom in going to God about this situation and recognizing that he is not the one that God has for you.  It appears that you have become emotionally invested in this person and you had hoped that your relationship could have grown into more than just a platonic friendship.  Now you are grieving the loss of what could have been and you appear to be deeply concerned for his well-being.  That is why you become so upset.  You care about him very much and you are worrying about him.  Perhaps you are afraid to say anything to him because you are trying to guess why he isn’t discussing personal things with you.  Since you have a good relationship with him, I recommend that you be honest with him regarding your concerns.  It’s okay to ask how he is doing.  Explain to him just what you have explained to me and tell him that you want him to feel as if he can be open with you and that you are there for him no matter what, and then allow him the freedom to share what he wants with you, when he chooses to do so.  In the meantime, it would be good for you to develop other friendships and interests so that you are not so emotionally involved with him.

I would like to say a few things about sin in general.  You are correct in saying that all sin is equal and quoting Romans 3:23.  However, we should never use that as an excuse to avoid repenting of our sins and we should never take any sin lightly.  Please read Romans chapter 6, James 1:14-15, I John 2:1-6, and I John 3:4-9.  If we continue to practice sin, our conscience becomes hardened.  We start to make excuses for our sin, such as, “God understands.”  We try to justify ourselves, even to the point of searching for scriptures that we can take out of context or twist their meaning, while ignoring scriptures that contradict what we want to believe.  These are the tricks that Satan uses to keep us in his trap.  Don’t let that happen to you!

In the meantime, keep trusting God and He will lead you to the right one for you when the time is right.

God bless,
Aunt Dara