Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Bob Lepine, and Ron Deal provide solid biblical answers on questions concerning young men struggling to launch, church and family conflicts, and how to offer counsel regarding adultery and pornography.
Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Bob Lepine, and Ron Deal provide solid biblical answers on questions concerning young men struggling to launch, church and family conflicts, and how to offer counsel regarding adultery and pornography.
Bob: When there has been a major breach in a marriage relationship, it’s going to take some time before there can be true reconciliation. Here are Ron Deal and Dennis Rainey.
Ron: The guy who says, “Okay; forgive me and get over it,” is not really repentant. He doesn’t understand the depth of the pain that he has caused to his wife in that scenario.
Dennis: Usually, where there’s sin, like infidelity or pornography, it’s layered—the deceit is layered. As a result, we have to give time for the relationship to peel it out and to repent all the way through.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, March 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. If you had a chance to sit down with Dennis and Barbara Rainey or Ron Deal—or any of us, here at FamilyLife—and ask a hard question, what would it be?
That’s what happened recently as we got together with some FamilyLife Today listeners. You’ll hear how it went today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know what? We have some of the best listeners of any Christian radio program—I don’t know the other programs’ listeners—I just know. I’m going to be out, in a couple of weeks, at one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, speaking in Branson, Missouri. I will get a chance to see FamilyLife Today listeners / Legacy Partners, who help support the ministry. It’s so much fun to meet these folks. It’s just always a great time to get together with them!
Dennis: It is! Barbara and I are going to be in Atlanta toward the end of April at a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway with friends, Crawford and Karen Loritts.
Jeff Patton’s going to join us, who’s a pastor of a church outside of Nashville. We’re going to have a great time, Bob. It is great to meet our listeners. I agree with you—I just always enjoy meeting them. In fact, we were with a bunch of them last summer—
Dennis: —in San Diego—had a chance just to spend a couple of days with them and say: “Thanks for being Legacy Partners. Thanks for being stakeholders in this ministry.” We got a chance to have some Q&A with those listeners. Bob, it was a real privilege.
Bob: They asked great questions. They asked questions about stuff they deal with in their marriage and their family, but they also asked questions about what we’re doing as a ministry. They believe in our mission to effectively develop godly marriages and families who change the world, one home at a time.
We thought our listeners might enjoy hearing you, and me, and Barbara as we responded—
Dennis: —and Ron Deal, by the way, was there—
Dennis: —heads up our blended family outreach.
Bob: That’s right. We thought it would be good for listeners to hear the conversations we had as we were with some FamilyLife Today listeners.
[Previous Legacy Partners’ Q&A Time]
Spencer: My name is Spencer. I’m wondering if you have some thoughts—in today’s culture, we have young men who—maybe it’s the Millennial-thing or whatever—but they are struggling to launch. Great kids—a lot of them—but lacking initiative. I know a lot of parents, who join us in the struggle of: “How do I encourage these young men, without infusing upon them a culture of achievement, that’s really contrary to the gospel?”
Bob: That’s a great question. Do you want to take a stab at that?
Dennis: I think the problem starts when they’re in junior high and high school.
I do not believe we are challenging our youth to truly be Christ-followers and counter-cultural in their faith, then—when they’re at home, with their friends, in the culture—so that they are running against the grain and into the grain, as young people growing up, at home, where parents can coach their kids in their faith when they fail and help them get back up. As a result, when they graduate from high school, they’re not on mission. A lot of young people today are leaving the church after 18, 19/20—they’re abandoning the church. I think it’s because their parents didn’t help them establish the right mission when they were at home.
What happens is—as they grow up into their 20s—and we see young men extending adolescence into the 20s and 30s—they’re allowed to not have responsibility when they need to be assuming adult responsibilities and an adult mission—
—and frankly, be about the King’s business, and be rolling up their sleeves, and running to the finish line. I think we’ve allowed this to happen. Parents, I think, have become—at points / not every time—have become enablers. They’ve allowed their kids to land at home / stay at home.
I’m not saying that everybody ought to do this—but when our kids were seniors in college, we would have some kind of conversation with them that basically said: “You’re about to graduate. I want you to know that we’ve been helping you get through school. You’ve been hammering out some of your own standard of living issues, as a young adult. But when you graduate, you’ve got a three-month period in there when you can stay at home / you can be there. But we need you to begin to think about where you’re going to go to work, where you’re going to live, “What’s your mission? What are you doing?”—and continue to expand what they’ve been about.
Now, we didn’t do that perfectly; we had some kids who struggled. But we’ve watched too many kids be bailed out by their parents—
—and I think allowed to extend adolescence out into their 20s and 30s; especially young men. As a result—here’s the kicker—today, we have the oldest age for young men getting married in the history of our nation. Some of that’s because of co-habitation—they’re taking on the benefits of marriage without the commitment. But I think some of it is a lack of having a mission / a lack of being challenged to assume adult responsibilities.
Bob: I’ll just add to that—I think, to Dennis’s point, introducing graduated levels of responsibility when you’re kids are growing up, so that all along, as they’re growing, they’re learning to assume responsibility. When our kids were, I think, 12 years old, we went to them and said: “You’re going to start buying your own clothes. We’re going to give you an allowance at the beginning of the year, and then, if you want the nice tennis shoes, it’s your call. Out of the allowance that we give you and whatever you want to add to it, you can do that.
“But when you run out of underwear, you’re going to be buying that too. And you’re going to be buying gifts for other family members during the holidays.” We wanted them, while they were still at home, to make some mistakes around how they handled money, but to assume responsibility for those actions so that they were ready for that by the time they got to college and beyond. I think introducing those graduated levels of responsibility so that they own that will help them thrive when the responsibility comes on their shoulders.
And then I’ll just add that Matt Chandler, who is a pastor in Dallas—we interviewed him for the Stepping Up® video series and asked him about this whole issue of failure to launch guys. Matt said most of the guys he talks to—who are in their late 20s and they’re not really sure what to do—he said: “They’re not proud of that! These guys are not guys who are excited that they’re playing video games until late at night.”
He said: “So shaming them out of that is not the way to try to get them to do it. You have to help cast a vision for them, and you have to try to assist them without being the full impetus behind it.”
I was just with a young man, and we were on an extended trip together. I was saying: “Where do you see yourself five years from today? What’s your path to get there? If you could do anything…”—I was having those kinds of conversations and questions, just to spark his thinking. Then I realized, in my conversation with him, there’s a point where you’ve got to kind of back off and let it be his ownership of all of that and not be guiding too hard.
But I think we can get with these 27-, 28-, 29-year-old guys and say, “Let’s talk about your future, and about where you want to be, and about how you can really fulfill ‘the good works that God created beforehand that you should walk in them.’”
Barbara: We did the same thing that Bob and Mary Ann did with our kids about allowances, and they started buying their own clothes too. They knew that our allowance was not going to be enough to buy the kinds of things they wanted to buy to keep up with their friends at school. So they needed to find employment elsewhere.
We got all of our kids working for Chick-Fil-A® when they turned 14. Now, I’ve just learned that that doesn’t work in all states; because not all states allow kids to start working at 14—but ours did at the time. All of our kids started working at 14. It was so good for them to have to learn to please somebody besides their parents and to have to reach expectations for somebody besides mom and dad. They learned so much in that work environment, besides just making money that could help them afford what they wanted to buy. So that was a really good lesson for them / it was a good experience for them. We processed it, because they were doing it while they were living at home.
Bob: Next question.
Rod: My name is Rod, from Albuquerque. Rose and I have really been thriving in our relationship because of the materials that FamilyLife has provided. We’re involved in Weekend to Remember / we’re involved in The Art of Marriage®. We want to spur one another on—we want to spur others on without beating them up. So here’s what we see—we see a lot of people who have the desire and the need, but they just don’t seem to quite step up to the opportunity to get involved in these things. What can you give us that will help us to spur one another on without beating one another up?
Dennis: Well, I would encourage you—and I know you already are on this—be on mission / on task yourself. And then just hemorrhage over people what God’s doing. I mean, why would you want to eat a hot dog when you could have halibut?
Bob: I can tell you. [Laughter] Put a little chili and cheese on that dog—“Whooo!” [Laughter]
Barbara: You could try it with a filet. [Laughter]
Bob: Filet—now, filet—I can go with filet.
Dennis: Or how about blackened salmon, Bob?
Bob: Well, your blackened salmon’s pretty special—yes, that’s true.
Dennis: But, you know, here’s the thing—Jesus called a lot of guys. Some of them withdrew and “followed him no more.” We’ve got to give people the freedom to not get it yet, but don’t lose heart and don’t give up on them. Sometimes, they need a guy like you to get in their grill and say: “Let’s go! Come on!”
I think we live in the most opportunistic age that may have ever existed in the history of humankind. The family is in serious trouble; and our country, as a result, is in serious trouble. What’s the best way to do battle? If there’s another way to attack it more strategically and spiritually than the family, then go do it! But if you can’t find a better way, then get on the field—get on the ground / get in the game—and commission people to go after it!
How many Art of Marriages have you guys held?
Rod: We’ve done 20, and we have 3 more in the works.
Dennis: Yes; and this is after how many years?
Rod: Four years.
Dennis: Four years. You knew nothing about our ministry five years ago.
Rod: That’s correct.
Bob: So the rest of you guys are just weenies; okay? [Laughter]
Dennis: —with chili on them. [Laughter]
Bob: Chili and cheese; yes!
Dennis: I think it was you who said someone gave you the advice: “Find the people who want to go and go with it. Move with the movers.” So; yes!
Okay; a follow-up question. We’ll take one more.
Female: It’s funny because—having done so many classes with my husband, one of the biggest things that come out of them is infidelity and pornography and the impact those have on relationships. Of course, my husband, you know, talks to the men / I talk to the women.
One of the challenges for the women is—when the men have been unfaithful—is: “How do you forgive? How do you get beyond that?” You know, it’s me—it’s praying and encouraging them—but beyond that, do you have any more answers on how to address those concerns?—because Weekend to Remember and Art of Marriage, oftentimes, that’s when the wounds open.
Dennis: Go ahead.
Barbara: I think it’s reminding them that they didn’t get there overnight—so it’s referencing the Joel verse—that it takes time for God to rebuild what they destroyed. It will happen, but it’s being patient. I think it is repeating forgiveness. As couples get to know what this sin / what this destruction has caused, there are more and more opportunities to ask for forgiveness. I think it’s coaching them with the long view in mind. I think what you’re saying is exactly the right thing—I think it’s just helping them through that process.
Dennis: I think we can’t cheapen sin.
Dennis: We can’t make repentance cheap / we can’t make it this flip of the switch. Usually, where there’s sin like infidelity or pornography, it’s layered—the deceit is layered. As a result, we have to give time for the relationship to peel it out and to repent all the way through.
At every turn, a wife has got to be allowed to be human. I mean, we’ve seen situations—and I know Bob has, too, at the Weekend to Remember—where a woman will come up and say, “My husband has confessed an affair, and he’s just wanting me to forgive and move on.” Well, he’s dumped out years of unfaithfulness out on the table and expects her to flip a switch in a week—that’s not going to happen. There has to be the, I think, third-party coaching, mentoring, encouraging back to the Bible—as Barbara was talking about—to forgive and what forgiveness looks like when you’re tempted to become bitter.
Then the person who is repenting has to bring forth the fruits of repentance.
Bob: I’m just going to ask Ron Deal—would you mind standing up and just speaking to that?—because Ron has done thousands of hours of counseling, and you’ve hit this situation a lot. What’s your coaching here?
Ron: Let me just start by saying, “Amen,” to what’s been said already. It is multi-layered.
One of the difficulties with any sort of confession--infidelity, pornography, or some sort of betrayal—is you have the immediate fallout, and then, you have the long-term recovery. Those are two different things. In the immediate fallout, they often have to live on borrowed hope. How do you give them borrowed hope? Well, one of the ways you do that is—in a church context / a small group context—if you have another couple who has survived, match them up / pair them up. Let that couple be vulnerable in the group setting so that the couple that is hurting is seeing: “Okay, they made it. I guess we can make it.
“I don’t know how we’re going to make it, but I guess it’s possible.” We’re doing everything we can to just lend them some hope while they don’t even know how to see the day and deal with the day.
Then you begin peeling off those layers—you know: “What happened? How it
happened / what it means.” The long-term recovery is developing a new track record. For the guy who says, “Okay; forgive me and get over it,” is not really repentant. He does not really understand the depth of the pain that he has caused to his wife in that scenario—so working with him to be able to articulate his understanding of her pain shows her he’s getting it. By the way, he probably won’t get much of it. He’ll get a little bit, and then a little bit, and then a little bit. That means humbling himself over, and over, and over, and over, and over. That’s what he doesn’t want to do—that’s the hard part.
But that, eventually, begins to help her see that maybe he gets it. And if he gets it, then maybe he won’t do it anymore. She may be able to forgive him, but trust is a totally different thing; right? So “I forgive you,” first / “Now, I’ve got to decide how I trust you.” Trust comes only when he shows her a new track record of behavior. That then lends her heart to soften more over time, and then she can begin to move toward him if and when that happens.
Now, that’s a whole lot of ifs; right? So, in the meantime, what are we doing? We’re lending them hope. We’re showing them people who have made it. We’re standing with them, and crying with them, and being compassionate about all the pain—helping them learn how to just try to be patient, and hold on, and not give up. Slowly, over time—and I mean, sometimes years, depending upon the level of the betrayal / years—they can get there as long as both of them remain in that posture of humility and just trying to walk it out, day in and day out.
Bob: In the midst of the pain, you can’t necessarily have a conversation like this—but at some point—you can sit down with somebody and say:
Here’s where you are. Let’s talk about where you’d like to be five years from today; because where you are today, there are really two paths you can go on. One path is to try to seek to pursue reconciliation and have, five years from today, a marriage where you can share with others about the power of God to bring
restoration and to do a healing work: “It will be powerful and amazing, like this couple,” or “…like this couple,”—others you can point to—to Ron’s point.
Or you can be on a path that, five years from today, you’ll be in separate cities. When it’s time for the kids’ marriages, you get together—and it’s awkward—and where the kids are always dealing with the scars of it.
You could say:
You’ve got a choice you can make here today about which path you want to set out on.
Again, you can’t do it in the midst of the pain, because that feels insensitive. But, at some point, you can try to say: “There are two options before you. Which path do you want to be on?”
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to a conversation we had with some listeners, back last summer—some great questions tossed our way.
Dennis: And, Bob, could you have imagined, back in 1992, when you started FamilyLife Today and began to coach me on how to pronounce words and correct my grammar and English. [Laughter] And all of the torture I’ve been through all of these 25 years—could you have imagined—no; I’m not going to live there / I’m going to forgive you for all of that! [Laughter]
Could you have imagined that we would have had the privilege, for 25 years, to touch literally millions—maybe tens of millions—of lives/people?—not only here in America—but because this broadcast is heard in more than three dozen countries and in multiple languages around the world.
It’s just fun to meet a listener / it really is cool to meet a listener! Can I tell you my favorite meet-a-listener story? I may have shared this; so stop me if I’ve done this. [Laughter] If you’re a listener and you’ve heard me share this, just call the 800-number and say, “You’ve told it before!!”
Bob: Just tweet us.
Dennis: Barbara and I went to do a series of meetings in Fiji. That’s right—it was Fiji. I know what you’re thinking, but it was a lot of work. We spoke at high schools. We did marriage and family conferences—Weekend to Remember all over the country. It was a great privilege to serve Peta and Mary Nathuba, former Speaker of the House of Parliament of Fiji, who now heads up FamilyLife there.
Anyway, when we finished, Peta and Mary said, “We want to treat you to a couple of days off on an island.” Fiji has over 300 islands. They set us up at this beautiful island called Castaway. You can look it up online—really pretty cool!
We were sitting there, having dinner. Our waiter, whose name, I believe, was Samson, looked at us kind of funny at a point and he said, “May I ask you a question?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Who are you?” [Laughter] Now, I’ve had this happen in WalMart®, here in America.
Dennis: I’ve had it happen in Alaska, on top of a mountain, with meeting people; but in a foreign country?
Bob: Yes—on an island in Fiji—yes.
Dennis: Samson said: “I’ve been listening to your broadcast on another island, where my family lives. I just want to thank you for what you and Bob do for families all over the world. I listen every day.” And he takes a boat! He has to take a boat from his island to get to work. We fellowshipped there for a few seconds and laughed about that. It is like: “What a small world!”
Dennis: I just want to say: “Thank you. Thank you,” to the Legacy Partners and the donors to this ministry—who make a ministry to people of every nation / maybe every tribe; who knows?!—ministering to the most basic unit of every civilization—the family. What a privilege to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
Bob: The money our listeners invest is money that goes to expanding the reach of this ministry. It goes to taking this message to more and more people.
Dennis: And it’s been that for 25 years.
Bob: As you can help us today with a donation, what you’re actually doing is helping more people hear practical biblical help and hope for their marriage relationship. We want to say, “Thank you,” to those of you who are monthly Legacy Partners. Your monthly support gives this ministry a financial backbone. It doesn’t cover all of the expenses, but it does give us a solid base that we can build on. We’re so grateful for your support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If you can help with a donation today, or if you’d like to join the Legacy Partner team and start providing regular monthly support for this broadcast ministry, go to our website at FamilyLifeToday.com and make an online donation. When you do, we’d love to send you a set of FamilyLife’s popular Resurrection Eggs®—a tool to help you explain the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection to younger children. It’s our gift to you when you donate at FamilyLifeToday.com, or when you call 1-800-FLTODAY to donate. Or you can mail your donation and request your Resurrection Eggs. Our mailing address is FamilyLife Today, PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
And with that, we’ve got to wrap things up for today. I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend.
Then join us back on Monday. Our friend, Gary Thomas, is going to be here. We’re going to talk about a word that you probably used with your spouse on your wedding day. You may have forgotten a little bit about what it was you promised. We’ll talk about how we are to cherish one another coming up Monday. I hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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