Daily Devotional for Thursday July 24, 2008
Two Children Who Ran Away from Home to be Together
(Genesis 2:24, 29:20)
Two CHILDREN who ran away from home to be together. If you continue to under estimate the influence TV and other forms of media have on our culture and the lives of our children, note the chilling story out of Flint, Michigan a few months ago regarding the 15-year-old boy who ran away with his 13-year-old "girlfriend" because their parents were trying to keep them apart. Hannah McConnell, 13, and her boyfriend, 15-year-old Gage Petherbridge, ran away authorities said, setting off for California in Petherbridge's family's white minivan. They packed an Xbox 360, a dog and $680 in cash. Authorities were able to trace a cell phone call made by the runaway children to Nevada where they were located and brought to their parents.
This sad and chilling story serves as the backdrop today for a message every child and young adult over 10 needs to hear. A relationship between a man and woman is NOT a game! It is a serious, life-changing business. Every day, approximately 5,000 of the 40,000 prayer requests I receive at Liveprayer are from young adults 18 and under, and the vast majority of them are dealing with the issue of relationships. Let me say right up front, I personally feel that a young man and woman should WAIT until after High School to start dating.
Dating, having a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, should be for the purpose of finding your partner for life. A 12, 13, even 16 or 17 year old, is RARELY equipped or ready to be thinking about marriage. So they enter into a relationship solely based on feelings they don't understand or have under control yet, and for every reason BUT marriage. I realize that MTV., Friends, Dawson's Creek, and all of the garbage on TV, glorifies teen relationships. EVER SEEN A GODLY TEEN RELATIONSHIP ON TV? As Christians, we are to live UP to the standards of God, not DOWN to the standards of this sinful world!
Here are the two problems. First, in EVERY relationship you have, you give a piece of yourself away. By the time you finally get married, after say 3 to 10 relationships, that is how much LESS of you the one you are committing to spend your life with will get. The second problem is that going in and out of relationships means each new one becomes less special, breaking up becomes easier each time you do it, and you develop a mindset that you eventually take into marriage that makes it easy to get divorced when things don't go as you hoped. Marriage becomes little more than a legal date.
I get flooded with emails every time I mention about young adults waiting until after high school to date. They pour in from young men and women, 13, 14, 15, 16 years old who tell me that I don't know what I am talking about. They are in "love." Getting involved in a relationship unlocks our emotions. It sets off things inside of us that have incredible power over us to the extent we don't act or think rationally. We become consumed. Mature, experienced people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s often destroy their very lives by letting these emotions rule them. What chance does an inexperienced teen have? None! The results of these teen romances range from hurt feelings, all the way to death, and everything in between.
I get emails daily from young adults who have diseases they will carry with them the rest of their life, have had children that obviously dramatically altered their life, as well as those who made the unfortunate choice to have an abortion and are now dealing with the consequences of that choice. I get emails daily from young men and women who have broken up and are contemplating suicide, can't eat or sleep, or simply have no desire to do anything. The fact is, God gave you free will to make choices.
To choose to enter into a serious boyfriend/girlfriend relationship before you are out of high school is a BAD CHOICE and can dramatically change your life forever. By the way, there is nothing magical about being out of High School. It is simply one major "life hurdle" out of the way that is part of the foundation of your life. There is PLENTY of time after High School to start dating.
Even though this is not even a debatable issue, because it is such a problem, let me quickly address it. There is absolutely NO situation when sex outside of marriage is acceptable to God. NONE. ZERO. There is a Biblical word fornication. It literally means any sex outside of marriage. Any boyfriend or girlfriend that is willing to have sex before marriage is NOT the person God has chosen for your life. It is simply not acceptable. Don't play games in this area!
I get emails all the time asking how far can you go? Jesus said if you lust in your heart you have already committed adultery. If you have to ask how far you can go, you are already too far. Once you allow lust into your heart, God says you have already sinned. Let that be your standard to judge by since it is impossible to engage in ANY act that wasn't already birthed in your heart. The physical act is simply the manifestation of the sin already committed in your heart.
Having said that, let me talk to you about the two most important elements of a relationship should you be thinking of marriage. The first is God's warning found in 2 Corinthians 6:14 to NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED. I have done entire Devotionals on this issue. It is a warning from God to protect you. Choosing to ignore this warning is no different than deciding to run a stop sign. You are asking for serious problems. I cannot even begin to tell you how many emails I get from men and women daily who ignored this warning and are now dealing with the consequences. Consequences, by the way, that have literally changed their lives. The person you enter into a relationship MUST also be a Christian and actually living their life for Christ.
The second is the foundation on which you build your relationship. If you do not have a spiritual foundation to your relationship, how can you expect your marriage to survive the storms that come in every relationship? It is exactly like the story Jesus told at the end of Matthew Chapter 7. The marriage built on a spiritual foundation is like the house built on a rock. The marriage built on any other foundation is like the house built on the sand. My friend, again, let me reiterate. God gave everyone free will to make choices. You can do what you want with your life. My only purpose today is to help you make wise, informed choices about things that will affect the outcome of your life.
I love you and care about you so much. I can't even begin to tell you how my heart is broken today, reading email after email of how people's lives have been decimated by broken marriages. The fact is, so much of the heartache, pain, and tragedy many have lived through could have been avoided if they had simply listened to God. When you are having relationships without even understanding what is going on in the world, when you are engaging in sex outside of marriage, when you get married to someone who is not even a believer, when the foundation of your marriage is built on looks, sex, money, or anything other than the Lord-you are simply NEVER going to know the peace, joy, and abundance that this life can offer when you do it God's way!
The other problem is, so many of God's children end up battling with the domestic issues. They are of little service to the Lord. Never forget, that is our purpose in this life, to serve and glorify Him with our lives. The enemy gets us so distracted handling the consequences of our rebellion, that we have little time or energy left to serve Him. Please read, and reread these words today. Commit them to your heart. I realize how strong emotions can be, and how they can cloud your judgment. That is why the more focused you are on what God's plan is, the less chance you will have of compromising and getting into trouble.
A NOTE TO MOMS AND DADS! You are NOT responsible for the choices your children make. Please, hear me clearly. You are NOT responsible for the choices your child makes. You are responsible to raise them in the admonition of the Lord, to shape their lives according to God's Word. You are responsible for their protection and care while they live with you. But please understand, just like God gave you the free will to make your own choices, God has given your child that same free will. Pray for them, love them, help them as you are able, and stand on God's promise in Proverbs 22:6, "train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
The bottom line to these words today is this. Do it your way, and it will never work out as God intended. Do it God's way and it works. Life is NOT something to dread, but something to embrace and enjoy. The choice is yours. I will be praying as you make the choice God is asking you to make. Is it a guarantee that if you wait until after high school to start dating, find a spouse who is saved and living for the Lord, build a spiritual foundation together, that your marriage will not end in divorce? No! Sin can creep into people's lives and satan loves nothing more than to destroy a marriage. But I can promise you that the odds of you making it are 1,000 times better.
A relationship between a man and woman is NOT a game! It is a serious, life-changing business. A relationship God's way can be the most beautiful and rewarding experience you can ever imagine!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller