Monday, November 18, 2013

Old-fashioned doesn't always mean moral

What better way to get into the Christmas spirit than to openly tell a family member that their significant other isn't welcome? That's what this reader wrote Billy Graham about. And of course, Billy agrees that boyfriend shouldn't be welcome...
Sticking to your moral standards in not being 'old-fashioned'

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Are we just hopelessly old-fashioned, like our niece says? She just moved in with her boyfriend, and now she wants to bring him along when her family comes for Christmas. We’ve told her that she’s welcome, but not to bring the boyfriend. We don’t have a spare bedroom for him, and we refuse to approve of the way they’re living. — K.R.

DEAR K.R.: No, you’re not just being old-fashioned, but you are facing a dilemma that’s unfortunately become increasingly common today. As our society drifts further and further away from the moral and spiritual values it once held, many no longer live according to the standards God has given us in his word, the Bible.
You have every right, therefore, to uphold the moral standards you believe, even if your niece doesn’t agree with them. You also have every right to decide who will be a guest in your home. I know some families might disagree and would take a different path in a situation like this, but don’t compromise your own convictions. If you did, your niece might conclude that your moral values aren’t as strong as she thought they were.
At the same time, assure your niece of your love for her, and your concern for her future. As you have the opportunity, explain to her that you aren’t just being old-fashioned. Instead, you know — both by experience and by God’s word — that the kind of relationship she has with her boyfriend seldom lasts, but often brings only heartache and insecurity.
Above all, urge her to turn to Jesus Christ and discover his perfect plan for her life. God made us, and he knows what is best for us. Jesus’ promise is true: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

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This is a tough situation, and it's sad that there seems to be a hard line being painted here. In my opinion, KR is being old-fashioned. There could be more to this story, but the focus is being placed on the fact that they are living together. If he has a criminal history, is regularly rude, or has even stolen from the house during a previous visit, I could understand his not being welcome. But the problem is that KR's niece and boyfriend live together, and they don't have a spare room... 

To a point, I agree that it is their house, so it's their rules. But that doesn't mean that the boyfriend can't come over. Maybe KR could let them share a room, but make it clear that they are not to have sex under their roof. Or if sharing a bed is too much for them, they can put an air mattress on the floor. If they are still somehow unable to them sharing a room, maybe he can crash on a sofa, or an air bed could be placed in any room of the house.

There are plenty of options available where the niece and boyfriend can still be welcome, and KR can still be happy. How long have they been dating? They have moved in together, so it has likely been a good amount of time. They are also probably of an age where they can make reasoned decisions, since they are living on their own. Moving in together means that it is probably a serious relationship. It could very well be that they may soon get engaged. Perhaps she wanted to bring him to Christmas to announce the engagement.  Or maybe he just wants to be part of the family and share this time with everyone.

One thing for sure is that by rejecting him, they are also rejecting her. Rejecting her judgement and choices. Holding their opinion as more important that their own niece. They may think that what they are doing is a way to instil their values on their niece, but what they are really doing is driving a wedge in their relationship. I fear that their old-fashioned 'morals' will only cause hurt and division within the family... 

And it's no surprise that Graham agrees with KR. He also applies to the same outdated and sometimes troublesome 'values'. Trusting too much in a horribly flawed and immoral book. He is correct that KR has every right to decide who is welcome in his home, but he should also not be surprised if his decision cases division. The advice that KR needs to stand strong in their convictions, as to not show weakness, is like telling someone to stand right up to a bear and look it straight in the eye in order not to show weakness. Sometimes putting on a show of strength can get you in trouble. The bear may get you if you don't run or hide. Instead of shouting that the bear must leave you camp, perhaps it would be smarter to throw some food, jump in the car and leave. Likewise, maybe a compromise would be a good idea. Work out a solution where their values are still respected, but where all are welcome.

So cohabitation is bad, but Biblical these values are just dandy?
Graham also states that they need to express their love as well as their concern. But if this relationship is serious, saying he isn't welcome is a hit on her as well. They can say that they love her all they want, but their actions say otherwise. What they say is that they disprove, and don't trust her decision making abilities. Emotional damage as well as attacking the niece's intelligence in an indirect manner.

He also says that 'these kinds of relationships seldom last'. Citation please? Since religious couples get divorced more than non-religious couples, I have to question this claim. And so what if they don't work out? Living together prior to marriage can be viewed as a trial run. You get to know your partner much better than you can by just dating them. You will learn their unique ticks. You will find out what it's like to live together. You will find out if you are truly compatible to spend all your days together. And if it doesn't work out, it is still a learning experience. And opportunity for growth, wrapped up with some pleasure as well. 

And there is a benefit that Christians should love. If the relationship fails for whatever reason, that means no divorce. Shouldn't Christians be happy that they moved in together and broke up because of how one of them acts in private, rather than them getting married and then getting divorced because of how one of them acts in private? 

My wife and I didn't move into our house together until the day before our wedding. But prior to that, I stayed with her almost every weekend. In those days I really got to know her. Learn what makes her laugh, cry, and smile. How she acts when she is nervous, learn her little ticks and quirks, and what it would be like to live with her. I feel like our marriage is stronger because of it. We knew pretty much what to expect, so there weren't any rude surprises waiting for us.

Graham also casts a favorable light on following God's relationship rules. So does that mean that KR's niece's boyfriend should just rape her and give her dad some silver coins? After all, the Bible rules that he would then have to marry her. Then he'd be a part of the happy family right? Or maybe her dad should sell her off like the Bible allows? Maybe they need concubines? Maybe she should be just one of many wives to her boyfriend? These are all Biblical 'values'. 

Or maybe they should just stop inventing prohibitions that simply don't exist. Sure, there are verses that denounce sex prior to marriage. But there are none that specifically say that living together is wrong. I know it is an old-fashioned value though.

So KR... Try compromise on for size. Instead of forcing your own way, try and make room for the person your niece loves... if only for her sake. And you never know. This guy that you're so keen to cast away may be your future nephew. So try and get along instead of totally close-minded.

-Brain Hulk

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