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Volume 5 Number 37       October 4, 2000       Norman Bales, Editor

CONTENTS

Just Visiting

Occasionally, we encounter a person who thinks love is bad for the Christian faith. They think it's more effective to scare people into serving God than it is to love them into active Christian service. They have an aversion to love because it looks too easy.

Actually, learning to love is one of the most difficult of all disciplines if we do it right. There are some things that pass for love that really ought to be labeled something else. But real love gets tough sometimes. It can involve confrontation (Galatians 6:1-2) or it can involve rebuke (Revelation 3:19). It requires self-denial, sacrifice, even denial of one's feelings.

One of the most demanding tasks of love is the requirement to love those who appear unlovely to us. Many different things can make them appear unlovely - appearance, behavior patterns, irritating habits, anti-social behavior. The list could be expanded even more. In this week's feature article Norman talks about an important lesson he learned about loving from an unusual source.

Norman and Ann

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"Love Is For the Birds"


by Norman Bales

Ann is a bird lover, a genuine admirer of feathered creatures. Her attempts to provide nurture for birds have taught me a great deal about the nature of love in the family. We enjoy looking out the window at doves, cardinals, blue jays and some beautifully colored birds I don't recognize. Early in the summer I suspended a hummingbird feeder right outside the kitchen window so Ann can watch them feed while she works at the kitchen sink.

Unfortunately all birds aren't attractive. Most of our avian visitors are rather plain looking - sparrows and starlings mainly. But then, on occasion, Ann will call me to the window and say, "Honey come look!" When that happens, I know she has spied a warbler, a nuthatch, a chickadee or some other bird that we rarely see.

On occasion some large black birds (grackles I would guess) invade our feeder. I don't really mind their eating the birdseed, but they kick as much out on the ground as they eat. Besides that, they run the other birds off. A long time ago we decided that we couldn't limit bird feeding to those birds you enjoy watching. We've got to feed every bird that wants to eat.

I hope you haven't decided to mouse click the cancel option on your screen, because I'm not writing an article for bird lovers. My subject is love in the family. Bird feeding is the runway that gets my thoughts airborne. In the storybooks handsome princes marry beautiful young maidens and they live happily ever after. In the Cinderella story nothing good happens to the ugly step mother and the ugly step sisters. Unfortunately, we don't see too many handsome princes and fair maidens in everyday life. If you've been following the divorce statistics, you'll notice that a lot of folks seem to be missing out on the "happily ever after" part too.

Besides that beauty has a way of fading. Try attending your class reunion on the 25th anniversary of your graduation. Take a look at the class beauties. Sometimes a quarter of a century later the "plain Jane's" look better than the beauty queens. There is just a slight possibility that your own wife is not going to look all that pretty a few years from now. Do you fall out of love when your wife's body loses its attractive shape after giving birth to children? When her hair turns gray and her smooth complexion begins to wrinkle, do you trade her in on a newer model?

Love is like bird feeding; you give it to everyone who needs it. Jesus said, God is ". . . kind to the ungrateful and wicked" (Luke 6:35). In Isaiah 52, the Son of God is described as a "Suffering Servant." He is not beautiful in the eyes of many who see him. " . . . there were many who were appalled at him- his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness." (verse 14). If God sees people differently, how can we do otherwise?

Please don't misunderstand. I am not saying that love requires either endorsement or toleration of negative behavior patterns. Dan Coker is a friend who has spent most of his adult life in Spanish Speaking countries. He is fluent in the Spanish language, but he also enjoys an occasional visit to his homeland and the opportunity to converse in English. It's kind of nice when he hears English spoken with taste. A couple of years ago he watched a stunningly attractive lady approach a car on the parking lot at a supermarket. She spoke to a man in the car with a string of profane and obscene expletives. Dan said, "She got ugly in a hurry." Where I grew up we used to have a saying, "pretty is as pretty does." Loving the unlovely does not mean endorsement of their ugly actions.

A person who loves is patient, kind, free from envy, boasting and pride. Those who love avoid rudeness and self-seeking. Loving people are not easily angered and they keep no record of wrongs and they do not delight in evil. Love always rejoices with the truth and always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. Perhaps you recognized that as a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 3:4-7.

I've learned quite a lot about loving by watching Ann feed the birds. She feeds all the birds regardless of their appearance. That's a good principle for people to learn.

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ABSTINENCE -- A MOST ROMANTIC NOTION


by Mikal Frazier, LMFT, LPC

Note: Recently I was asked to respond to a question about abstinence. My answer is to be printed in an on-line information base which can be found at: abstinencedu.com. For my article in this issue of All About Families I have decided to adapt this answer for our AAF Newsletter. --------- "Everyone loves romance," said my friend. Just the word "romance" reminds most of us of hopes, dreams and ecstasy. But it occurs to me that romance is an ideal way to sell abstinence. What could be more romantic than determining at an early age of understanding that one will save one's self sexually for that lifetime partner, to be given as a gift ordained by God?

Sometimes the question is asked, Well, how abstinent does abstinence have to be? My answer is: From the neck to the knee is no man's land. Such a choice will keep you safe in every facet of your life. Often I visit with people about the whole person concept. The idea of the whole person concept is that there are five basic areas in which we function which make up the whole person. They are the spiritual, physical, emotional, social and cognitive or intellectual. Following is the result in each of these areas when abstinence is chosen:

SPIRITUALLY: No guilt, no sin with this choice.
PHYSICALLY: No chance of sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy.
SOCIALLY: No embarrassment, no subject of gossip, no reputation concerns.
EMOTIONALLY: No regrets.
INTELLECTUALLY (cognitive): No difficulty with making a decision. The decision has already been made and you make a plan to follow through on that decision.

Romance also carries with it the idea of intimacy. Abstinence protects intimacy. Romance, like intimacy, is private, shared between two. In fact, a frequently used definition of intimacy is shared privacy. If you share your private self with several, then it is no longer private, it is public. Performing intimate behavior with several partners prevents the possibility of being truly intimate. When you share yourself so completely with several, what part of intimacy is left? True intimacy carries with it the concept of exclusivity. Serial monogamy, or one partner at a time, but moving from one partner to the next, also prevents true intimacy. Connecting with several partner erases intimacy. There is nothing intimate when many are part of it. Good-bye romance.

If you are a young person who craves intimacy, you might want to examine yourself to see if there is a deeper issue you are dealing with. In the February 16, 1987 issue of Newsweek, in an article titled "Kids and Contraceptives," this statement is made, "They're little kids with grownup problems. They're moved to sex, many of them, not by compassion or love or any of the other urges that make sense to adults, but by a need for intimacy that has gone unfulfilled by their families."

This is not to blame, but the intention is to become more honest about what motivates us. Then we can begin to heal. Because there is not a good outcome of premarital sex, we must examine ourselves to determine why we would act in such a way which in the end creates loss and heartache. To begin to heal, follow the "act-as-if" principle. Start choosing abstinence and after six months, examine yourself and determine if you have made a good choice.

Thankfully we have a God of second chances (Jonah 3:1). Choosing from this day to be abstinent until you say I do is a most romantic notion.

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PERCEPTIONS

"Is There a Word From the Lord"

by Dr. Eddie Randolph
erandolph1@aol.com

Have you ever encountered a circumstance where you desired a word from God so that you would make the right decision? Has the message you received from the Father not been exactly what you wanted to hear. Many times we hear His word but are not willing to obey it. Dr. Randolph addresses this concept by using the prophet Jeremiah and the trials of Judah to give us something to think about. You may read his thoughts

at

http://www.allaboutfamilies.org/sh/percep200037.html

If you have questions about marriage and family relationships, you can "ASK THE COUNSELOR." Address your questions to Mikal Frazier. Her address is mikal@allaboutfamilies.org

Norman's e-mail address: nlbales@allaboutfamilies.org

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