Saturday, February 23, 2008

How do you know?

I have a question for you.

Let me give you a couple of situations first. Then I'll pose my question. And I really would like to know what you think. Because I continue to struggle with this. And I am getting nowhere.

Situation A: I have this relative. Let's refer to this relative as X. X is currently on his third marriage. X also has a history of unfaithfulness...lots of affairs. X used to be a minister but decided that he didn't believe in God anymore. Mainly because God wouldn't approve of his chosen lifestyle. X has a son who was encouraged to lie to X's wife so that she wouldn't find out about his affairs. X's son has made comments like, "what's the big deal? It's just adultery." Although X is a close relation, we do not have a relationship with him anymore.

Situation B: Cinderella had a classmate who was an exchange student. Let's refer to the exchange student as Z. Cinderella and Z were close and had lots of fun together. Z returned to her native land and she and Cinderella kept in touch for awhile. Then Cinderella's letter's went unanswered. In the meantime, Z's host parents got divorced. Papa host parent was a minister, but left the ministry. Cinderella was very good friends with host boy. Host boy went crazy around this time, got kicked out of school, never graduated, never went to college, was thrown out of his house and bounced from job to job. This made Cinderella very sad. Yesterday, Cinderella discovered that Papa host parent followed Z to her native land, proposed marriage and married Z. Over a year ago. Cinderella is upset, shocked and overwhelmed by the "ick" factor. She wants to talk to Z but doesn't want to talk to/about Papa host parent.

So here's my burning question. The one that I struggle with all the time. How do you have a relationship with someone without giving the appearance that you are condoning what they have done. In the case of X, I am angry. I loved X's second wife like a sister. I hate what he has done. And continues to do. He sets a poor example for my children. I don't want them to grow up thinking that it is okay to live their life this way. And I know that his choices have affected his children. And yet I know that God wants me to forgive him. And I know my responsibility is to reflect Christ's love so that maybe someday he will find his way back to God. I am angry over the choices that Z and papa host parent made. I realize that their poor choices will continue to reverberate for generations to come. And yet, I know that God offers forgiveness if only they ask. On the other hand, I don't want my children to think that this is an acceptable way to live their life either.

So how do you do it? How do you love the person but not the choice. Especially when their choice makes them the person that they are? Any thoughts?

5 comments:

annie's eyes said...

Karen, this is tough. We try to teach our kids differently, yet all the rest of culture, including those they look up to fail them. I, who always have a comment, am stumped. My best thought is to do what you are doing and talk it out. You can't help but be disappointed in them, though. I think you love them anyway, but hate the sin. Maybe you remind the kids how easy it is to fall prey too, that "the devil prowls around like a lion looking on whom he can devour." So we are to be ever vigilant to guard our own hearts. I just had that conversation with Lindsay last weekend about guarding your heart and protecting it. Enough, I guess for someone who's at a loss for what to do. Keep us posted on how it works out. Prayers are going your way tonight. Love, Annette

Lori - The Simple Life at Home said...

I really struggle with this too. With regards to my kids, I try to be honest and tell them that everyone makes mistakes and sins, but that we still love the person. But it is hard to maintain a relationship with someone whom you feel has made choices that are very difficult to stomach and without repentance. I guess I look at what the Bible says when it says to not have fellowship with that kind of person. But it's done out of a heart of love - to encourage them to turn back to God. If you can't do it with love, you shouldn't do it. It's wierd to think you are kind of "shunning" someone but still showing them love. I would explain to them that because of their choices, you aren't going to be able to maintain the relationship to the extent you would like to, but that you love them and will be there for them once they desire to turn from their sin and repent. Easy to say, tough to do, I know.

annie's eyes said...

Yes, Lori says it well, and speaking the truth in love is what we are called. Tough, thing, though. You have made me reexamine some of my own relationships and what my responsibility is in relationships and the degree to which you can maintain them when they are out of fellowship due to unrepentant sin. Good thing to think about, Karen. Love, Annette

Queen B said...

This is SO tough. I know that we are to hate the sin and love the sinner, but what does that look like? We have always tried to be honest with our daughter (to the degree that she needs to know for her age) and explain what has happened, what we would have hoped might happen, how we can pray for them, etc. We try to treat the person with kindness when we are around them, but I admit I limit our exposure to them. I think that can be explained as we love the person inspite of their sin, but there are consequences for their actions, and one of those consequences is that our relationship with them had to change a little.

I think your X relative has made choices that have made it difficult for you to remain close. I think you continue to pray for him and pray for reconciliation. On God's terms, though.

Person Z's situation is very disturbing. I don't know ages but that is just super creepy.

I think situations like these cause our kids to watch us so closely to see how we handle it. I think their underlying issue is "if that is me, how would my mom & dad react?" I think it is a good time to emphasize to our kids that there is nothing they could do to make us not love them. Did that make a bit of sense? Sorry about the long comment. That is some heavy stuff...

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