Are Your Kids Old Enough To Date?

kids-to-young-to-dateThe other day, my two-year-old mentioned in passing that two of his friends “liked” each other. Now he probably did not know what he was saying, but his discussion reveals our kids are never too far away from thinking about dating and boyfriends and girlfriends. And when they do land on these topics and want our opinion,  we should be ready with an answer.

Thankfully the Bible gives us direction on this subject. In Mark 10:6-8, we read:

But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.

From this passage, we can extra three important principles for determining when are children are ready to date.

1. Our children will be ready to date when they are attracted to members of the opposite sex. As parents devoted to the Scriptures, we can only encourage our children to date members of the opposite sex. This is God’s design for the universe. We do not get to decide. God does. He has already declared that boys should date girls and that girls should date boys. Any variation upon this plan is wrong and sinful. As Godly parents, we should only encourage our children to date if they are willing to follow God’s design for gender and marriage.

2. Our children are ready to date if they are ready to leave and cleave. If your son is too young to get a job and to provide for his future wife, he is too young to date. If your daughter is too young to leave your house and set up a new home with her boyfriend, she is too young to date. If you are taking your daughter to the movie theatre and picking up your son from the ice cream shop, your kids are too young to date. They cannot in any meaningfully hope to leave and cling to that cute guy in school or to the pretty girl down the street. They lack the social and economic skills needed to create their own family. However, the high school senior that has a job and pays for all of his bills may be ready for marriage.

3. Our children are not controlled by animal impulses. We should be encouraged to see that our young men are attracted to young ladies and that our young ladies are attracted to young men. We must realize that such urges and desires to be with members of the opposite sex are good and right. But, we must also realize that these desires can come early and be perverted by all kinds of sin. Because we live in a fallen world, our kids will experience hormonal surges and desires for intimacy that they cannot implement without breaking God’s commands. Many children and youth will desire to express their physical urges before they have the ability to leave and cleave. When this happens, we must remind our kids that God’s commands do not conflict. Sexuality and intimacy between a man and woman are always supposed to occur in marriage. And until they are ready for marriage, our children must wait to express these things. As Josh McDowel tells teenagers,

Yes your hormones are strong. Yes, it can be difficult to wait, but the bottom line is sex is a choice. You are not an animal. You are a human being with God-given ability to love, to think , to create, and to make moral choices.

Consequently, the best way to handle the urges for marriage is to trust Christ. We should not encourage our kids to date before they are ready for a one flesh union. Rather, we should point them to Christ and tell them to wait, trusting that God will meet their needs and empower them to overcome temptation until they are ready for their spouse.

As I Corinthians 10:13 says,

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God is always faithful.

Now, my two-year-old and his friends will not be dating anytime soon. Nor does he really want to. His greatest loves are basketball and Mickey Mouse. But at some point, he will want to talk about more than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Your kids too will be interested in dating if they are not already. When the subject comes up, what will you tell them?

Can A Baby Solve Your Marriage Problems?

marriage-baby-1.jpgWe all long for community. We all long to be known and to know. When our relationship with our spouse begins to fracture, we look for solutions. We look for ways to fix the every widening gulf between our loved one and ourselves. And quite often, many settle on the idea of a child. “What is more intimate and more glorious than having a child” is the thought process. But it is correct?

At one level, the answer does seem plausible. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Psalm 127 makes this point abundantly clear. Having children in our homes is a very good and a very God thing. But are children the solution to our marital problems? Does their blessed nature help us overcome our lack of trust or poor communication issues? Will creating another life and building a relationship with that small person empower us to reshape our relationship with our spouse?

The answer to this question is, “No.” Children cannot restore or fix our marriage because they were not designed to be marital talismans or good luck charms. If anything, they are the opposites. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, children actually exacerbate martial tensions and stresses. The common idea that having a child will improve your already troubled marriage is at best a myth; and at worst, it is destructive and harmful.

Marriages struggle not because of children nor because of a lack of children. They struggle because men and women are putting their own needs and their own desires above their spouse’s needs and desires. They are selfishly deciding not to share about their day or about their recent success at work because they do not trust their spouse. They do not want to get hurt, so they withdraw from the intimacy of the marriage. Or perhaps, you have already been hurt by your spouse’s anger, cutting words, or neglect and you do not want to do the hard work of helping your spouse change. Regardless of the issue, the temptation to run to children is often nothing more than a distraction and escape. It is an attempt to fix deep spiritual and heart issues with physical things, i.e other people.

Having a child to fix your marriage would be like going on a cruise ship to cure your cancer. It may provide a brief rest from cancer, but the cancer remains. The disease will get stronger and will hurt you more and more. A child may briefly distract you from your conflict with your spouse, but eventually the arguments will come back. But now, you struggles occur within the frame work of sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, and the despair that comes from listening to a baby cry for hours upon hours.

Ultimately the marriage that is weak, broken, and defined by a lack of trust does not need more children. It needs more of Christ. Both spouses need to reengage Jesus. Instead of channeling their marriage through their sinful desires, they need to channel their marriage though Christ. They need to remember that Christ loved them long before they loved Christ (1 John 4:10). And they need to remember that they need to love their spouse regardless of what their spouse does. Love is not conditional. It is a free gift that we must daily work to extend.

All marriage problems have one source: our sinful hearts. As James 1:14-15 says,

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Our marriage problems are sins problems. And sin problems can only be fixed by refocusing on the heavenly dwelling of Christ. There is no other way. Kids will not make our marriages great again. Are you ready to deal with this reality?  Are you ready to do the hard work and get serious about your marriage issues?

5 Things Habits Of Effective Nursery Workers:

nursery-workers1. Listen To Your Leaders:

To be a great servant, we must be a great listener and doer. We must make every effort to listen to our pastor. If he ask us to arrive 15 minutes early, we make every effort to arrive on time. If our nursery director tells us not to pull out the blocks today, we follow her advice and leave the blocks put up. To be a great nursery worker, we must listen to and follow our leader’s directions.

2. Listen to the Parents:

To be a great nursery worker, we must listen to the parents. If they ask us to give junior a bottle at 9:15AM, we should do everything we can to give him the bottle then. If they ask us to get them quickly if their child will not stop crying, we go get them. If they tell us that little Sally will be fine, we let little Sally cry it out until it becomes obvious she needs mom or until her crying become so disruptive that the wellbeing of necessitates her removal. Again, we may not always agree with the parents. But if the child is not being harmed, we need to die to ourselves and our pride and listen to the child’s mom and dad. After all they (and not us) have been charged with caring for the child. We need to respect the parents. We should listen to them.

3. Listen to the Kids

When we come to nursery, we need to arrive with a kid focus; our goal should not be to catchup with the other adults in the room. Our mission should be to learn and to play with the kids in our room. We should talk to them about preschool. Learn about their favorite colors. Play dragons, farm, and restaurant with them. And if they are too small to talk, we should study the babies, seeing what makes them happy or upset. As we learn which babies like the swing and which ones like the bouncy seat, we will be better equipped to care for the children. And as the babies become happier, we demonstrate the love of Christ to both the little people and their parents. We show the onesie wearing souls that we love them. And we show the parents that we care about them enough to keep their kid happy so that they can make it through a sermon.

4. Talk To Your Leaders

After listening well, we should seek to speak well. We should seek to mention concerns and problems to our leaders. For example, our church has restroom signs above our restrooms because a nursery worker noticed that those signs were missing. All the rooms, had nice big signs jutting out from the wall. But the bathrooms did not. By speaking to me, he made our church better. No children’s pastor or nursery director can anticipate or catch every problem. By speaking well and with love, you can make your nursery and your church more welcoming, safe, and friendly. A good worker is willing to address concerns.

5. Talk To The Parents:

When parents come to the door to pick up their child, capture the moment. Tell them something their child did well. Brag about how well the slept or about how well they shared. My wife and I love hearing how our kids did in nursery. All parents do. And as we talk to the parents about their children, we begin to build relationships with them. We begin to lay a foundation from which to share the gospel or from which to talk about church membership. By reaching out to parents with hospitable speech we have a chance to make much of God.