By Rev Angela Bosfield Palacious
How would you answer the following questions that were posed at a seminar on marriage and family life?
1. As a committed Christian is it wrong to be in a relationship with a non-believer?
As we pray about our relationships, we seek God's guidance and godly counsel, while remaining very observant and attentive to all aspects of the relationship.
A shared faith offers many opportunities for joint activities to worship and work for the Lord, while the question of values, principles and morals needs to be carefully examined if one is not a Christian at all.
2. How do I know if I can trust someone that I have only met online?
Trust is best built with face to face encounters and depending on the age of the persons should begin in a very controlled environment with parents or responsible mutual friends present.
3. If you make a mistake and admit it, why is it so hard for the other to forgive?
Forgiveness is something that we receive from God and pass on to ourselves and others.
Depending on the depth of the pain and the relationship with the perpetrator, it may take time and prayer for the person to be ready to forgive.
4. How soon after a divorce or break up should I start a new relationship?
Depending on the circumstances, counselling may be required to re-establish trust.
It takes time to heal from a broken relationship, especially a marriage, and usually counselling helps us learn from past mistakes. Some would say that it is better to remain alone and focus on a relationship with the Lord.
1. Is it OK for a married couple to have friends of the opposite sex?
It is better for friends of the opposite sex to be mutual friends with the spouse and all former relationships of an intimate nature should be terminated prior to marriage.
2. Is it wrong to admire someone other than my spouse?
Admiration for another is common but admiration for the spouse should be greater, frequently expressed and celebrated
3. If my spouse is unfaithful how far should I go to save the marriage?
Prayerful consideration needs to be given to: the willingness to admit the truth, the sense of regret, openness to counselling, and the recurrence if it happens. Both persons are implicated to some degree, and the couple needs to honestly assess their relationship to move forward.
4. What should I do if my friends do not like my spouse?
Much prayer is needed before contemplating marriage. The opinions of friends while dating may be worth considering seriously, but extended pre-marital counselling helps to assess the relationship carefully in case their objections are very legitimate. If they are not able to respect the final choice, the couple needs to establish mutual friends, and reconsider the role that former friends will play in the future.
5. Should I marry someone with the hope that he/she will change their bad habits?
It is wise to accept the person as who he/she is in the present and not marry his/her potential. Better to wait to see if the bad habits will change before marriage, and the nature of the bad habits should determine whether there ought to be a relationship at all (for example violence, criminal behaviour, et cetera).
6. Is it wrong to get married for any of the following reasons: to feel less lonely, to escape a difficult situation for myself or the other person, because of sexual pressure, or social pressure to get married?
God will help you to evaluate every situation you face and the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth. Companionship is important in a marriage, along with sexual intimacy; however, a marriage of convenience often leads to serious repercussions.
• Rev Angela Palacious, a motivational speaker and author of several devotional books, is an Anglican priest. She may be contacted at 393-9000 or by e-mail at email@example.com.