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Helping students develop a realistic vision for marriage

In the previous post I explained how many young people are expecting the perfect marriage, meaning the perfect partner, the perfect wedding day and a perfect life. My conclusion was that we need to help our students become more realistic about marriage, so that they are better equipped to make their marriages last. But how do we do that?

I think that if we want our students to develop a more realistic vision about marriage, we need to do three things:

Give them a vision for serving, not being served

Give them a vision for suffering, not perfection

Give them a vision for fixing, not quitting

Continue reading Helping students develop a realistic vision for marriage

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The illusion of the perfect marriage

Over the years, I’ve had lots of conversations with students about love, relationships, and marriage. Here’s my observation:

Young people want a perfect marriage and they won’t settle for anything less.

That may sound like a good thing. We could all do with a little more ‘perfection’ in our marriages, at least in the sense that we could all work a little harder to make our marriages better. But that’s not what young people mean and do. For them, the perfect marriage means this:

The perfect partner

The perfect wedding day

The perfect life Continue reading The illusion of the perfect marriage

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Family First?

Family First?

Once upon a time there was a volunteer youth worker. She was committed to her church, had invested into the students of the congregation for years, and saw class after class graduate through the ranks of the student ministry.

And she lived happily ever after.


Once upon a time there was a spouse of a volunteer youth worker. He also loved his church and was thankful that his wife had found a place to use her spiritual gifts, share her heart, apply her abilities, maximize her personality and employ her experiences. She almost seemed to be a better person because of it.

The only problem was she never seemed to be home.

It didn’t seem like much at first to give up going to the same church service together since there was another one right after. Their young son really liked the class the church offered at the first service, though. Consequently, the husband would take the son to children’s church and sit through the first service by himself. Since his wife taught during that hour, it became common for them to never attend service together as a couple.

Then there were the times that he noted when she was home she wasn’t fully present. There was always another lesson to plan, another student to call or another meeting to be at. Even though he found his wife to be a much healthier Christian for all she was doing, he began to resent how unhealthy his marriage was becoming.

He spoke up a few times about it and asked her to cut back. She did at first, but then drifted back into the same load of a commitment. He thought about bringing it up again but felt like he was the voice of Satan himself for even thinking it.

Finally, the day came when he asked for a divorce. It was enough to scare her to back out of everything altogether. They had conversation after conversationover the next few months, eventually agreeing not to get a divorce. She eventually went back to teaching “a little bit.”

And they lived amicably ever after.


Once upon a time there was a paid youth pastor. He started to notice that his faithful volunteer was back in full force, although her husband was strangely absent at weekend services.

How’s your husband these days,“ the youth pastor inquired. “I haven’t seen him around.”

He started attending another church,” she answered. “I don’t like it, but at least we’re not divorced. Our son comes with me most weeks and I check him into children’s church before I go teach.

Wait, what?” the youth pastor again asked. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”

We’re managing everything just fine,” she responded. “He has his life, and I have mine. Besides, this way I get to serve and make a real difference in the lives of the students. And we don’t argue as much. He feels closer to God than ever before.”

And they lived adequately ever after.


Once upon a time there was a senior pastor. The youth pastor reported all that he’d learned of the situation, asking what the most biblical response should be to the situation. It felt wrong somehow, and yet the couple seemed okay with it. After thinking long and hard and praying on it, the senior pastor offered this advice that he sensed was the most God-honoring way to proceed:

(fill in the blank)

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The marriage rate

Just about every youth worker I’ve ever met would agree with this statement: “It’s best to not have sex before marriage.

It makes sense until you pair it with data from the U.S. Census Bureau. “The average age for first-time brides and grooms is the highest it’s ever been: 26.5 years old for brides and 28.7 for grooms.source

It makes even less sense when you consider that the age of puberty continues to drop. “At 7 years, 10.4 percent of white, 23.4 percent of black and 14.9 percent of Hispanic girls had enough breast development to be considered at the onset of puberty.source

So let me get this correct. A students body is “ready for sex” by, on average, 13 years old. (Most states have statutory rape laws outlawing sex before 16) However, the average person is waiting until their late 20s to get married. And one of our primary messages continues to be that students should wait for sex until marriage?

No wonder they  think we’re crazy!

While I agree, like we all would, that it’s best to wait for sex until marriage. It would make sense that we must also argue for early marriage for that to be realistic.

It would seem that we, in youth ministry, need to help change some minds. You can’t argue both for no sex before marriage and realistically expect a person to wait 15 years. Our bodies just aren’t built that way. Instead, more realistically, we need to argue for no sex before marriage and getting married in the early 20s. (Or sooner)

What do you think? 

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Modeling Marriage to our Youth

What is modern culture teaching our youth about marriage? Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore reportedly had an ‘open marriage’ but filed for divorce after six years or marriage. Kim Kardashian was married all of 72 days when she filed for divorce. And they’re hardly an exception in movie- and show business land.

Meanwhile, on popular TV series marriage seems to mean nothing either. People get married and get divorced just like that. Think Alex and Izzie and George and Callie on Grey’s Anatomy. Think Mr Shuester on Glee, or Gibbs on NCIS.

There used to be a time where the most popular series were about families, marriages…The Cosby Show, Growing pains, Family Ties. But these days are long gone. What youth now sees about marriage it’s that it’s temporary, fleeting, meaningless. It’s fun until it isn’t anymore and then there’s divorce. They see it everywhere, including in their own families.

Continue reading Modeling Marriage to our Youth