What I Believe (a.k.a. My Scary, Ultra-Liberal Ideas)

man with ideas

Image courtesy of  thewoodenshoes on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.

[This post was originally published on June 24, 2010. The content has been edited, updated, and expanded.]

I write this coming off a hard week of Facebook exchanges with a conservative Christian.  Good guy, from what I can tell, with a good heart.  Just very conservative.  So I now have this picture of myself as a scary, ultra-liberal.  I don’t think that’s who I am (and he never used those words), but here, for the benefit of all, I will “come clean” about my views (both political and theological).

1. I believe Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God and that salvation comes through him alone.  I also happen to believe that if he is in fact God, then he will unite people with God who do not fit the formula the church has established.  People get upset with me for thinking this, but why?  Can I not leave it to God to do what God will do?

2. I am pro-life.  God cares as much about the already-born as he does about the unborn, so I believe social justice is critical as well.

3. I am pro free-market.  However, because so  many people lack internal constraints based on well-grounded moral principles, the market must be regulated to keep individual self-interest from shipwrecking the country (if it hasn’t already).

4. I believe in “Just War” theory.  I am not a pacifist, but lean strongly in that direction.

5. I believe that not only are individuals responsible before God, but so are countries and societies.   

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A (Virtually) Guaranteed Way to Save/Improve Your Marriage

couple silhouettePhoto courtesy of Gregory Jordan, under Creative Commons License

Marriage research has come a long way in the last twenty years. Therapists used to try to save marriages by helping couples improve their communication and conflict resolution skills. Indeed, this is still what many therapists are doing to help marriages improve. The problem is, we now know that this is not effective.

While we know that couples in happy marriages usually communicate and resolve conflict well, it turns out that is not why their marriages are happy. Their marriages are happy because they enjoy the time they spend together. Likewise, you will not fix your marriage by going to therapy and working on communication and conflict resolution skills. You will fix your marriage by learning  to have fun together.  

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The Couple Contract

rules for making a marriage contract

Most couples who seek counseling are not doing well at all. Need I say that? They are both struggling greatly. There is no safe ground, no neutral territory. They cannot build good memories together because they fight over everything, even things meant to be healthy and good. Options are very limited. In such a situation, sometimes a couple contract may be one of the few options left.

What the contract is

The couple contract is exactly what it sounds like. Spouses literally negotiate for what they need from each other and what they are willing to do for each other. This can almost never be done without a counselor or other skilled third party, because in spite of its potential, it is a disaster waiting to happen. The therapist will need to keep the couple on track and help them define their terms as clearly as possible. The couple is responsible for telling each other what they need, but it’s up to the therapist to make sure this is written down in terms that each party can actually follow. It must be clear and measurable. “I am willing to be more supportive” will not work, but “I am willing to ask you twice a day if I can help you with anything” will work just fine.

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Marriage Hope: 10 Things You Can Do TODAY If You Are in a Bad Marriage

angry couple on benchImage courtesy of Ed Yourdon via Flickr under Creative Commons License

While reading yesterday’s post you may have realized you are in a conflicted or devitalized type of marriage. The bad news about this is that these marriages end in divorce considerably more often than the other types. The good news, though, is that there may be much you can do to improve the relationship. Today I will suggest ten things you can do starting now.

TAKE STOCK OF THE MARRIAGE

1. Rate your marriage from 1-10 based on how valuable it is to you. Most marriages can be saved if both partners are willing, even marriages that partners rank a 1 or 2. Sometimes people  just tough it out because of what the Bible says. Of course it is good to care about honoring God, but if you are in a conflicted marriage, the way you are treating each other does not honor God. The question then is whether the marriage can become a God-honoring environment, or whether it needs to be dissolved.  

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Why Not You? Why Not Today?

why not you?Image courtesy of blmiers2 via Flickr, under Creative Commons License

Today someone is going to move a little bit closer to realizing their dream. Why not you?

Today someone is going to spend a few minutes doing something that no one in the world is making them do, but that will change their life forever. Why not you?

Today someone is going to face their fears, ignore their lack of confidence, and go for it. Why not you?

Today someone is going to be rejected and choose to keep going anyway. Why not you?

Today someone is putting down their excuses and picking up their efforts. Why not you?

Today someone will begin to take himself as seriously as others take him. Why not you?

Today someone realizes she needs to stop waiting for more confidence before she sticks her neck out, and that confidence, in fact, grows by doing just that. Why not you?

Today someone will realize that she has always been her own worst enemy and that if she’s not on her own side, who will be. Why not you?

Today someone will finally realize that the big random check is never coming, the lottery number is never getting pulled, the pot of gold isn’t falling out of the sky, and success in life is directly and proportionately related to hard work, courage, and the number of times you are willing to be told “no” and still keep going. Why not you?

Today someone will realize time is precious, it’s all anyone is ever given, it’s never enough, and what you do with it is, in the end, all that will matter. Why not you?

Question: Why not you? What obstacles are standing between you and the life you want?