Recently I was invited by my super-cool publisher, Anthony Horvath to participate in his second internet apologetics conference. I was a part of the line-up last year and had a great time talking about literary apologetics. This year the theme is marriage. While it is tempting to just show scenes from The Princess Bride as the material for my talk, I decided instead to actually try to say something. Now, since I am a pastor who likes to give his opinion, and they invited me to talk, I assume they have a taste for pastoral opinions. Therefore, this year I’m just letting it rip. Below I have posted a brief section of material for your preview.
I see stress on families that goes deeper than are people staying married or getting married. One of these is economic stress.
Economic stress exists in several strains. One is the stress of underemployed people having to cobble together multiple jobs, none of which are very fulfilling, in order to make ends meet. This type of economic stress has destroyed many couples notions of time together, weekends away, or family vacations. It is a shock to me how many families in our church never take a family vacation. It is not so much that they can’t afford it, it is that they work in so many disparate places which are not professional in nature and there is no vacation allotment.
A second aspect of economic stress is the pressure put on young people who want to get married by their Baby boomer parents to wait until they are ‘financially stable’ to do so. I hate to break the news, but young couples who just get married are never financially stable. It’s okay to be poor.
Kim and I were so poor when we got married that a Methodist charity paid for the ICU bill of our first daughter while I was attending a Baptist seminary and all we ate for a year was waffles because someone gave us a waffle iron and the mix was cheap. It’s okay to be poor and work your way through. It creates gratitude and hard work. But I will never eat a waffle again, but I am thankful for those waffles.
There is a third type of economic stress . . .
. . . a secondary stressor which is time. I’ve already talked about multiple jobs, but now factor in such things as gymnastics, school plays, little league, church, and don’t forget soccer. If I were king of the world, I would outlaw children’s soccer leagues. I’ve seen more families fall away from the faith because they enroll their children in soccer leagues which practice three nights a week and then play games every Saturday and Sunday morning. Curiously, many of these same families often end up in marital trouble or even divorce.
There is a correlation.
One more time stressor, and I suppose this is the pastor inside of me speaking, but digital social networks are killing marriages. I love Facebook and all my Facebook friends and I am trying to get used to Twitterfication and they can be powerful tools for connecting and ministry. In fact, I often do a lot of pastoring on Facebook with the people in my church and with people I’m connected to in other ways. But if a husband or a wife spends more time per day on Facebook than he or she does with his or her spouse, trouble is brewing. It’s the age-old problem of emotional adultery . . .
And that brings me to the last stress on marriage that I wish to share. This is the sex and romance stressor. Somewhere . . .
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