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Doing Life Together

ID-10070272David sat in my office confused. “I know we’ve had lots of family problems. My wife is mad at me for all kinds of reasons and some of them are legitimate. But I am trying to do nice things for my wife. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to matter. She doesn’t even notice. I don’t get it.”

David fails to see that the overall negativity of his relationship cancels out the good when it happens. I know that doesn’t sound fair, but an on-going negative relationship depletes the positives over time.

For example, in an overall positive relationship, if a husband comes home and forgets to bring the bread for dinner, the wife would probably think,”Oh, he must have had a lot on his mind and just forgot. No worries. We can do without bread.”

But if that same relationship is already very negative and the same thing happened, the wife would think, “See, he only thinks of himself. I can’t depend on him.”

In fact, research tells us that 50% of positive gestures go unrecognized in couples characterized by negativity. The reason–there is too much negativity in the bank. Even neutral actions are seen as negative.

So what can you do?

Go back to the basics. Work on the marital friendship, show admiration and respect for your partner, and most of all, be there when he or she tries to connect with you.

The challenge is to deposit positives into that emotional bank account. Over time, you can turn it around. But you have to be intentional. Pray for a change of heart and for your spouse to be responsive to your continued efforts.

Keep down the criticism, defensiveness and disrespect towards one another. Don’t turn away when frustrated. Stay present, calm yourself and talk.

Point out the positives about each other. Remember why you got together in the first place and try to recapture some of that good feeling! Be patient and eventually things will turn around, but you may need help restoring that friendship and expressing fondness. Afterall, it was probably the erosion of the positives that created the negativity you now experience.

For more help, We Need to Talk by Dr. Linda Mintle

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ID-100358653I teach millennials. One of the most common things I hear is that they don’t want to judge anyone. While that sounds good on one level, it is also a problem on another. What I see is a misapplication of a biblical view of judgment.

Here is an example. A group of millennials were talking about their friends who co-habitate and claim to be Christians. The Bible is very clear that this is sin despite the wide acceptance of this practice in the larger culture. When I asked if any of them ever discussed the biblical view of co-habitation given their purported Christian faith, the answer given was, “I don’t want to judge them. Hey, we are all sinners. “The  verse that was quoted was Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” This scripture is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and is widely used to justify tolerance.

But Jesus is not saying that we aren’t to judge what is sin or call sin sin. He is talking about hypocrisy. In other words, if you can’t adhere to biblical standards, you have no business calling others out.

In Matthew 7, Jesus is telling us to first look at our own behavior before we are even qualified to look at what others do. “Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log in your own eye? … You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.” (7:3, 5). Without this self-examination and repenting of our own sin, it is wrong to call others out. Remove the hypocrisy.

Judgment also infers that we are deciding if something is good or bad. We don’t remain indifferent to sin. If we never make this decision, we can’t function as a society. We would be in chaos.

Thus, the importance of Matthew 7 is to warn us to examine ourselves first, to be in right relationship with God in terms of HIs commands. Then we are in a position to talk with others about sinful or problem behavior. But this is a tall order, as none of us is without sin. So the focus really needs to be on us first, then our brother or sister.

So to my millennials, I say, look at your own issues first, and then it is OK to judge certain behaviors and actions as sin. You might be helping another Christian along the journey.

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scaleI’ve been working with weight loss for years now and was excited to see what the TV show, The Biggest Loser, would do in terms of helping those with obesity. I stopped watching the show because I feared what would happen in the long run–people would regain the weight after a year or so. And that is what has happened.

As I read the stories of those who were on the show now struggling to keep the weight off, my heart sank for them. It’s tough to keep the weight off because the solutions to obesity are not as easy as reducing calories and exercising.

Weight loss has to do with so many factors including resting metabolism and hormones. Resting metabolism is the calories a person burns when at rest. Quick weight loss slows down that resting metabolism and the body fights to stay at the new weight.

Then you add hormones to the slowing of metabolism and you have a person who is hungry and whose biology tells them to eat more.  One of those hormones, leptin, is supposed to say, “Hey, we have enough food and fat storage, stop eating.” But in obese people, the body doesn’t say we have enough so stop. Obesity involves a malfunctioning metabolic system that researchers are still trying to figure out in order to  know how to correct the metabolic problems.

When we are dealing with obesity, Dr. Rosenbaum, obesity researcher from Columbia University,  says, “The difficult in keeping weight off reflects biology, not a pathological lack of willpower affecting two-thirds of the U.S.A.”

Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center  at Boston Children’s Hospital is looking for new approaches to weight loss. He agrees, the person who can ignore the biological signals for hungry and continue to restrict calories, has a tough road ahead. A slower metabolism and constant hunger make weight loss maintenance difficult for the average person.

So let’s be careful not to cheer The Biggest Losers for their valiant efforts to lose weight, but then condemn them for regaining the weight. The biology operating against them is a significant factor in the weight gain-one that researchers are still trying to figure out.

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If you are unaware of the news story about the Stanford athlete, Brock Turner, convicted of sexual assault, you need to read what happened . The victim wrote a compelling statement describing the impact of the assault. Every student, parent and grandparent should read what she read aloud in the courtroom to her perpetrator. This will help you understand the trauma involved in sexual assault. She needs our prayers, as does the perpetrator.

Nothing excuses sexual assault. Nothing! But I have to ask, how did we get to the point where college age men become so calloused to violence toward women?

Do we really believe that moral failure, which is the root of the problem, is not a reflection of changing influences in our culture? Don’t get me wrong. Young Turner is fully responsible for his actions. His behavior was unconscionable, but is there any cultural culpability that needs to be addressed in order to prevent sexual assault from happening in the future?

These days, college students are coddled with “safe spaces” where no offense is to ever occur. When a student is offended, micro aggression charges fly with impunity. Thus, if a professor attempts to correct disrespectful or inappropriate behavior, micro aggression is now the defense. These professors are then vilified as intolerant and even fired. The voices of common sense and accountability are being silenced and eliminated because we don’t want to offend anyone. College, which used to be the place where students learned debate, critical thinking, and wisdom from their professors is now a one-sided diatribe of political correctness run amuck. The result is a lack of challenge to immoral thinking and basic values.

The notion of tolerance has been grossly distorted.  In order to be tolerant, you have to have disagreement. The point of tolerance is to disagree with civility and respect. You “tolerate” a difference of opinion.  Yet tolerance has become a one-sided concept–you agree with me or I will label you a bigot and a hater. You label my behavior and I will find a way to discredit you–just look at our presidential campaign if you want incessant examples. Someone decides which side of the argument is correct, and anything other than that will be attacked–the very essence of intolerance. Consequently, rudeness and disrespect run rampant.

Now let’s add the confusing and perverted messages related to sexuality promoted on college campuses. Universities support such outrageous events like Sex Week in which everything from sadomasochistic porn, demonstration of sex toys, lectures on how to have a threesome and live nudity in classrooms are promoted. This is a week in which women are objectified, reduced to objects and treated like sex toys. Pornography, which is reinforced and rampant on our campuses, activates the part of the brain that sees a person as a tool, an object. It creates unrealistic expectations regarding sex and is self-gratifying.  Then we are surprised that hormonal boys see women as objects for their pleasure? Again, not an excuse, but perhaps we need to address how this thinking gets molded.

And the biggest lie of all is telling women that if you willfully decide to participate in your own sexual objectification, this is empowering. Why is this allowed on campuses? Where are the feminists and protestors? Who in their right mind believes this is sex education? Objectification of women, pornographic training in a vacuum of morality–sex and lust apart from intimacy– and we think this doesn’t impact the way our students think when it comes to doing the right thing and treating each other as valuable? We think that by asking someone if they consent to a casual hook up on a campus, this will solve the problem of assault. We see no connection of the perversion of sex as only a physical act for someone’s self-gratification and sexual violence.  We eradicate the connection between sex and intimacy,  feed the perversion and call that normal.

And why do universities turn a blind eye to rampant illegal drug use and underage drinking since both are most often involved in sexual assault? We have decades of experience with unbridled substance use that characterizes our college campuses. Ask any college town emergency room doctor how many cases of alcohol poisoning and overdose he or she sees. But let’s just go with the solution of legalizing more drugs and push the message that drugs do not impact judgment or impair a person, and are harmless. Let’s continue to ignore the damage to the developing brains of undergraduates and view illegal substance abuse as a “right of passage”on campuses.

And finally, as long as I am ranting, let’s never be allowed to discuss the politically incorrect view that taking God out of culture results in the removal of the development of a moral compass in peoples’ lives.  We can’t present the position that left to our own devices, we are sinners, not good people who don’t get better without God; we are depraved and sinful people in need of redemption. We have to go off campus to say this because it may offend someone and violate the wrongly interpreted separation of church and state argument. It also flies in the face of secular humanism, the allowed religion on college campuses. Christianity is taught to be oppressive, bad, an illusion, only for the weak. Yet, look at the fall-out of excluding God from the public square.

A relationship with God gives people the power to stop doing bad things, to look at a drunk and unconscious woman and say, “I won’t take advantage of her. I won’t do horrific things to her. I need self-control. I won’t excuse drinking as a right to defile her. I won’t treat her as an object, as she is made in the image of God.”

God help us!

 

 

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