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A Dad Sermon

A Dad Sermon

The following is a letter I wrote to my four grown children. Their parents hauled them off to the mission field when they were ages two, four, six, and eight. They all loved their growing up years in the Philippines and have adjusted well to adult life. The letter comes after a Bible study with a group of Filipino Believers that my wife and I have been meeting weekly with for the past 18 years. 

Time for a Dad sermon. Last Friday night, as some of us were chatting before our small group Bible study, another parent asked me a question. He asked, “How many of your kids are dating someone?” I informed him that (to my knowledge) none of you were in a current relationship. Just the fact that we post-parenting adults have these conversations indicates that it is something we think about and desire for our children. But this desire is not at all an indication that we are in any way disappointed that you are all still “single.” At that point in the evening, I had no idea that this conversation was going to at all connect to the passage we would be studying.

Our lesson that evening was from 2 Corinthians 6.

14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Our lesson book pointed out that the most common application for these verses is in the area of a Believer dating or marrying someone who is not a Christian. I kinda thought our group would just move quickly through this section of the lesson, since it did not seem to really apply to a bunch of older married people. But it soon became clear that this was an area where many in our group needed encouragement and direction. 

I had not really thought much before about the struggles of parents of children who were in “unequally yoked” relationships. And I did not know that the majority in our group found themselves in these types of situations. These are kids who grew up with you in Sunday school and church. The problem is not that they do not “know” that it is wrong to date an unbeliever. For whatever reason, they ignored their parent’s objections and compromised their knowledge of truth for something that felt somehow better.

One member of our group shared how difficult it is for her - how her other children can’t stand her son’s unbelieving girlfriend. And it seemed she did not think their reactions were out of place. So I pointed out that our believing children are kind, loving individuals who are honest and upright. Why would we be surprised that a non-Christian would be attracted to them? It only makes sense that they would see the integrity and compassion in our children and be attracted to them. This is logical. We should find no fault in the unbeliever who desires a relationship with a Christian. What should concern us most is the Believer who is somehow attracted to an unbeliever. 

Look at Paul’s argument in the passage. He does not give a long list of reasons why these unequally yoked relationships are wrong. Instead, he asks a series of rhetorical questions that boil down to one main idea: a relationship like this makes no sense. Because, in the main matters of life, an unbeliever and a Believer have no common ground, just like there is no harmony between Satan and Jesus. It just makes no sense. 

Different ones shared their experiences. Then, one mother asked me directly, “What would you say to try to convince your child to quit a relationship with a non-Christian?” At first, I felt a bit hesitant to answer. Then she added, “We just told our daughter that all we really wanted was her happiness.” I could not let a setup like this pass me by. So, I pointed out that, though certainly true, I thought basing her argument on happiness may not be the best approach. The very logic she was using to try to get her daughter to end the relationship was more than likely the very same logic the child used to justify the relationship. This relationship was what made her daughter feel happy and loved. Obviously, her highest joy would not be experienced in this relationship, but the love she was experiencing certainly brought her a measure of happiness. And that powerful happiness blinded her to the greater, lasting, complete joy that comes through obedience to God’s Word.

Note that Paul’s argument does not end with those five rhetorical questions. He goes on to point out that “we are the temple of the living God.” Maybe we have heard these words so often that we too easily pass right over them and miss their majestic power. We are the temple of the living God.  Because we are His temple, Paul goes on to explain, “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” The living God is walking with us. He is ours and we are His. It does not get any better than this. This is love at its best. 

Because the living God walks with us, we need to keep our walk pure. Paul says we need to come out from, walk away from, be separate from, and not touch those who are unclean. And when we do that, God receives us. He becomes our Father, and we become his sons and daughters. 

When we choose to yoke-up with and walk beside an unbeliever, we are choosing to walk further and further away from our Father and the most important relationship we can possibly have. We are choosing to put a relationship with one who is dead in sin over our relationship with the one and only living God. Why would we do this? Because we are stupid. We crave the feeling of love over the God of Love. 

So, my prayer for each of you is that you will fall deeper in love with the love of God and the God of Love. That you’ll be so in love with Him that you’ll not be tempted to set it aside for any earthly love. I pray too that one day, maybe soon, an earthly love will come along that compels you to walk together closer to the One who loves you most.

So, as I shared my prayer request at the end of our Bible study that evening, I asked the group to pray for me - that I would follow through, as I realized I needed to, and write you all a letter about dating. The above is the result of their prayers.  -Your Dad