Today's Christian Marriage
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Mark Gungor

Mark Gungor is one of the most sought-after speakers on marriage and family in the country.

Posted 4/15/09 at 10:35 AM | Mark Gungor

The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity--part 2

This is part two of a three part series on The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity

In part one of this series, I discussed the potential damage to men that can happen as a result of pre-marital sex.

What about the girl...

The answer, of course, is that a woman also receives a great deal of damage from being sexually promiscuous, and her damage is both psychological and physiological. First the psychological damage:

When a woman experiences sex without commitment, she soon learns (falsely) that sex means little to nothing. Why? Because nothing happens as a result: no meaningful relationship ensues - he may never even call her or talk to her again. She has inaccurately learned that sex and commitment are two completely separate issues, which they are not. That is why so many married woman view sex as an unimportant side issue in marriage, when it is, in fact, a key and central issue to a successful marriage. God's original plan was to use sex as the path to commitment. But because of promiscuity, she no longer views sex as a path to her husband's commitment. On the contrary, she begins to demand that commitment BEFORE sex is granted, something he is not wired to do. The result is a relationship that struggles to succeed.

As for the physiological damage, science shows us that when a woman has sex with a man, a chemical called oxytocin is released into her system. Oxytocin is a neuro-peptide most commonly associated with pregnancy and breast-feeding. It seems to act as a human superglue and helps a woman bond with her infant. This chemical also helps a woman bond with her lover during sex. New scientific studies, however, suggest that if a woman has multiple sexual partners, this will lower her levels of oxytocin which in turn can inhibit her ability to bond to her husband. According to an article by Drs. John Diggs and Eric Keroack, "People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual." [You can read the entire article at http://www.abstinence.net/library/index.php?entryid=344] FULL POST

Posted 4/1/09 at 11:06 AM | Mark Gungor

The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity--part 1

This is part one of a three part series on The Damage of Sexual Promiscuity

Giving People the Full Story
Not everyone who has sex gets pregnant. Not everyone who has unprotected sex gets AIDS or other STDs. Yet enough do that we take great lengths to warn people of the potential dangers. Sadly, little has been said of the danger of how pre-marital sex can negatively affect people for the rest of their lives.

The Potential Damage
Some years ago, while doing some video taping of cranes in the wild from a helicopter, I learned of how these birds "imprint" when they are first born. In other words, whatever creature they first interact with after birth, they assume it is their mother, even if it is a human. I immediately thought of what first-time sex does to a man. This overwhelming new experience IMPRINTS on him and he connects the context with the experience. Those who have their first sexual experience outside of marriage imprint on the lust of illicit sex - those who have their first sexual experience in the context of marriage imprint on the girl.

Consider scenario A:

Boy gets girl to let him fondle her in the back seat of a car. Soon he is undressing her. His heart is pounding as it becomes clear that she will allow him to have sex with her. The windows are steamed, he is now in a major hurry (lest she changes her mind or someone catches them). He experiences an adrenalin rush not unlike a thief experiences when he first steals or a thrill seeker gets when jumping from an airplane. He then enters her body and experiences his first sexual experience with a woman.

This incredible experience leaves a major "imprint" on him. Now (possibly for the rest of his life) he is likely to view sex in the context of "lust" and "naughtiness". This is the man who will constantly be pushing his wife to try some outrageous new behavior, take sexual risks or constantly role-play - all in an attempt of re-living that experience that has had such a profound impact on his psyche. This is the guy who wants to "do it" in the elevator or in the backyard or in some semi-public place. This is the guy who needs his wife to pretend she is a cheerleader or a naughty nurse before he can get excited as he tries to re-create his sexual imprinting. He is not really interested in the girl; he is interested in the sex.

Now consider scenario B:

A man falls in love with a woman and asks her to marry him. His friends approve, his family approves, his co-workers approve. They all join in a concerted effort to make the event a success - planning, showers, and parties. They all come together in one gigantic effort to celebrate their approval of what he has chosen. They now gather in the presence of God, under the approval of his minister. They commit themselves before God and are then off for what will arguably be the biggest party of his life.

Then, with the joyous approval of every person important in his life, he takes his bride to their honeymoon suite and for the first time in his life - without the rush or fear of a back-seat encounter - he experiences the most wonderful sensation of his life as he enters his bride's body and reaches his sexual peak. FULL POST

Posted 3/25/09 at 12:10 PM | Mark Gungor

Not Your Mother

So often I hear women complain because they have to ask their husbands to do things. They complain that they have to remind them-sometimes repeatedly-to put their laundry away or do the dishes or help with the kids. The list of transgressions that they recite is then followed with a line similar to, "I should be his wife, not his mother!" or "I feel like I have two small kids and a big one!" You get the idea. What is really at the bottom of all this frustration is that these women expect their men to be like women.

 Because another woman would see that the dishes needed to be done, or the laundry put away. Their sisters, mothers, or girlfriends would automatically know that the kids need to be bathed and put to bed and they would jump right in and do it. But men are not women! Often, we literally don't see these things; they aren't big priorities to us and, as far as we know, the world won't end if they aren't tended to immediately.

 That is not to say that men don't care about their wives....which is the avenue most women will immediately drive down in a situation like this. We, men, do care about our wives. Just because your husband doesn't jump up from dinner, rush to clear the table, load the dishwasher, fold the towels in the dryer and take on pajama patrol with the kids, doesn't mean that he doesn't love you. Not being aware of these things doesn't make him evil - it just makes him a man. FULL POST

Posted 3/18/09 at 10:26 AM | Mark Gungor

The Frustration of Developing a Mature Relationship Later in Life

Every married couple looks forward to having a stable, secure and mature relationship. A relationship where difficult issues have been resolved (or at least agreed to not resolve them), where the understanding and rules of the relationship have been firmly established and where both parties feel secure and understood. Unfortunately, there is one ingredient that is essential for a relationship to become a mature relationship and that is this: time.
Even if you do everything right, time is the only way to grow your relationship from a weak, immature one to a solid, mature one. This can be particularly frustrating for couples who are marrying or re-marrying late in life. If you are in your 40's, 50's or 60's, you undoubtedly have achieved a great degree of maturity in your personal life. You now have found that special other person, fallen in love and tied the knot. You look around yourself you see that many of your friends who are in the same age bracket have wonderful marriages that are secure and mature. You also assume that, since you are of a mature age, you too should have a mature relationship, yet yours seems to be a continual struggle. You ask yourself "We are grown adults, why do we struggle so?" or "Why do my friends seem to get along so good in their relationships but we are so frustrated?" I'll tell you why: because your marriage is only a few years old while those in your age bracket have been married for 20, 25 and 30+ years.

You somehow believe that since you are both mature adults you should be able to fast track your relationship into the mature type of marriages you see in those around you, but you are not being realistic. It doesn't matter how old YOU are - your relationship is just a few years old. In fact, one of the great struggles of getting married later in life is that even though you may be 47 years old, after just a few years of marriage you will have the relationship of a 20 something year old who just got married - and that can be very frustrating. It's one thing to have a marriage of a 20 year old when you are 20. Its quite another to have the marriage of a 20 year old when you are pushing 50. And the truth is, the 20-something year olds are likely to be able to adapt to their marriage problems more easily than the 50-something year olds. What can you do? FULL POST

Posted 3/11/09 at 12:31 PM | Mark Gungor

The Importance of Understanding

Understanding is extremely important when it comes to a healthy successful marriage. When you are willing to understand each other, new vision and hope will emerge. You will immediately become energized to work on your marriage, even if it is rife with trouble. Here is a story that illustrates the power understanding has on our willingness to stick to a difficult relationship.

Once there was a boy who lived with his mother and grandfather. His grandfather was not really an elderly man, but he was confined to a wheelchair and had very little use of his arms. His face was badly scarred, and he had a difficult time swallowing his food.

Every day the little boy was assigned the task of going into his grandfather's room and feeding him lunch. This the little boy did faithfully, but not joyously. It was quite a mess to feed Grandfather.

As the boy grew into adolescence, he became weary of his responsibility. One day he stormed into the kitchen and announced that he had had enough. He told his mother, "From now on, you can feed Grandfather." FULL POST

Posted 3/4/09 at 11:52 AM | Mark Gungor

Young Marriage

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Ariel Durant

There has been quite the uproar over Sarah Palin's seventeen year old daughter who has had a baby and plans to marry the father. Many have decried this potential marriage as a terrible idea since the couple is "too young". But it wasn't long ago that such a marriage would not have been thought of as unusual.

"The traditional markers of manhood -- leaving home, getting an education, starting a family and starting work -- have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved," says Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland. For instance, in 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached these milestones by the age of 30; today, less than a third of males can say the same.

Some of the most successful marriages in the world started with two teenagers. Indeed, it is difficult to reach 75 years of marriage if one waits till he is 30 to say "I do" - you're pretty much dead by then.

Even biology challenges us to rethink delayed marriage. According to U.S. researchers who analyzed census data and information from genealogical records, children born when their mothers were under 25 were almost twice as likely to live to their 100th birthday and beyond and University of Chicago husband and wife team Dr Leonid Gavrilov and Dr Natalia Gavrilova have shown that firstborn children live longer than their younger siblings. It appears the two are linked, with older children living longer because their mothers are younger when they have them.

Studies have also shown that it takes longer for older men to conceive. Starting in their 20s, men face steadily increasing chances of infertility, fathering an unsuccessful pregnancy, and passing on to their children a genetic mutation that causes dwarfism. "We [now] know the probability for certain types of DNA damage goes up with age, and we can give you a mathematical probability," said Andrew Wyrobek, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.

Not only is it bad to our children's health to delay marriage and child birth, this delay is also resulting in increasingly lower birth rates which may be bad for the longevity of Western culture. According to Mark Steyn, the low birth rates already at play in Europe are a prescription for the end of Western civilization. FULL POST

Posted 2/25/09 at 2:02 PM | Mark Gungor

Men and Women Think Differently

Men and women are different. We just are. Our bodies are obviously different; our behavior is different; and as it turns out, our brains are different, too. Why would God create us to be so different? For two reasons: 1) He wanted each of the sexes to face ourselves, so we could discover our strengths and our weaknesses. Facing ourselves-being open and honest about our differences-is an unnerving undertaking. Yet denying our differences ultimately accounts for our undoing.

Understanding the different ways men and women think and feel about life helps us more accurately interpret what is really going on in our marriages. How a person views the world affects how they interpret things. Imagine a Martian watching an election on Earth. The Martian would think the human beings were simply putting pieces of paper in little tin boxes. A politician of the time might view it as a very tense election in progress, one that affects his livelihood. The point is, your perspective colors your understanding of what is happening. And it will ultimately govern your responses.

In the words of John Gray, men are from Mars and women are from Venus. In other words, we come from two completely different worldviews. And much of our differences are ‘head" differences, not "heart" ones. If we would dare to learn how the opposite sex thinks, we would spend less time judging each other for having a wrong "heart" and could spend more time discussing which "head" view is most appropriate for any given situation.

Wars usually start over misunderstanding. If you work on understanding, you can avoid a hundred-year war and actually experience marital bliss. Misinterpreting your spouse's actions will cause you to believe there are hidden dragons lurking in your spouse's soul-something "deeper" is going on that is not good. This explains the tendency we have to create "heart" problems out of things that are inherently "head" problems. FULL POST

Posted 2/18/09 at 9:46 AM | Mark Gungor

Marriage is a Mirror

Ever walk past a mirror and are shocked or mortified by what you see? Your hair standing up in a weird way, your slip showing, your fly open, egg stuck in your teeth? Mirrors can be real lifesavers. Had it not been for that mirror, you may have gone the entire day looking ridiculous.

Marriage is a mirror. By living so closely with another human being, you start to get a picture of what you really look like. You start to see where you need to adjust and change. This is why marriage is so effective at making people's lives more rich and productive-if they adjust to the needed changes. Unfortunately, many expect marriage to be something that makes them look better, not something that reveals where they don't look so good. Additionally, rather than see where we need to change, we opt to project our own negative images on our spouses and point out where they need to change: She is so irritating....he is such a lazy slob....I don't want to act this way, but she brings out the worst in me. In the Bible, Adam played the blame game like this: "That woman you put here with me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

If we believe our spouse is present in the marriage to make us look better, instead of being a mirror to help us see who we really are, we will think our marriage is inadequate whenever one of our faults is revealed. Like the witch in "Snow White" who became angry at the mirror for not telling her what she wanted to hear, we criticize the mirror-our spouse-in the marriage. We end up communicating to him or her: This marriage isn't good. You're doing something wrong. We need to get this fixed. FULL POST

Posted 2/12/09 at 1:27 PM | Mark Gungor

Ministry Can Be Sensual

I know it sounds weird, but ministry can be a very sensual experience. Whether you are a pastor, elder, choir member or any other church volunteer, you can find yourself working very closely with the opposite sex. And much of the time you can be dealing with people who are emotionally hurting and desirous for caring human contact. There is frequently touching, hugging, smiling, and open hearts sharing. These people will often look up to you, admire you, respect you and think you are generally quite wonderful. Add to that the fact that people generally come to church always looking their very best and on their very best behavior, and you create an environment ripe for sexual temptation. It's like a keg of gunpowder just waiting for a spark. Sadly, most Christian workers walk into this powder keg with little to no awareness of the danger that is lurking. This is why so many Christian leaders - including pastors - are falling into sexual sin.

We have to smarter than we have been. While we don't need to walk about in a continual state of fear and paranoia, we do need to constantly remind ourselves of the danger that exists.

I am a pilot. As pilots, we are constantly rehearsing in our minds, "What could possibly go wrong? What if I lost an engine, where would I land? What would I do if my instruments stopped working? What if I lost all communication? What if there was a fire on board?" Many of us even go for annual or biannual training in simulators where they intentionally cause systems to fail, testing our readiness for an actual emergency. We learn to be on our guard.

Christian workers, too, need to be on their guards against sexual temptation and sin. Here are some practical suggestions: FULL POST

Posted 2/5/09 at 12:10 PM | Mark Gungor

Honest Dating: Considering the Past

Here's a familiar scenario: a woman is dating a guy and thinks, "Ok, so he has A-B-C-D going on and he's a bum, but I love him." Then she marries him and in the not-too-distant future she becomes...well, miserable. She'll then come to someone like me for counseling. I often ask, "You didn't see this before you were married?" Then she'll tell me, "Yes, but I thought I could change him."

I think a lot of people are not being totally honest during the dating process. Or many feel obligated to follow through with a relationship just because they have been dating for a while, even though they may have some strong reservations. But if you are struggling with any aspect of who a person is, you probably need to look at that as a red flag. Ultimately, that is what the dating process is for - to decide, based on what you have learned, whether or not to marry that person.

As people of the Christian faith - a faith the stresses hope for our future, despite the failings of our past - we oftentimes deliberately ignore a person's past when deciding on a mate. And while everyone makes mistakes, some mistakes have consequences and ramifications that can follow us for the rest of our lives. Granted, God doesn't hold our past mistakes against us if we come to him in true repentance, but those mistakes can still have consequences that may negatively affect our future relationships, particularly in our marriage.

The dating process should be a time of discovery and analysis as to whether or not a certain person would make a good lifetime mate. And make no mistake about it - a person's history can be a major factor in determining how they will handle their future relationships. But because of our belief in forgiveness of the sins of the past, many Christian couples fail to factor history into their mating decisions. The wise seeker of a mate, however, would do well to look into the history of their potential spouse. And doing so is not unfair, nor is it un-Christian. FULL POST

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