By Cindy Bleuler Tucker
I was reading an article this morning, the kind one often reads at the beginning of a new year. “16 Ways to Live Better in 2016” for example. ( There is probably already a title like that out there, I just made that up.) In fact, I could very well write an article like that myself. So, I don’t have issues with articles of this nature, and actually get a lot of good advice from these kinds of articles.
The phrase I questioned was “allowing ourselves to feel the happiness that we deserve.” I got to thinking- do we always deserve happiness? Is it good to always be happy? When someone we know has had a hard life, bad relationships, and financial downturns and we finally see them get a break, we say he or she “deserves” to be happy. Often times, that is true.
But when is this statement false?
We live in a culture in which many people choose to live outside of God’s law. They choose habits or relationships that may have some good qualities, but it is not God’s best plan for them.
Take sexual relationships and marriage. God has specific boundaries He established for the good of the individual and society. He clearly stated that the only holy sexual relationship was between a man and a woman inside the sacred union of marriage. Not premarital sex, extramarital sex, or homosexuality. Not hookups, living together, multiple marriages (as a result of most divorces). or gay marriage.
This is so archaic in today’s culture. To believe this is to be considered judgmental, out of touch, and homophobic. It is counter- intuitive. As much as I want to follow God and obey Him- a response of gratitude for His mercy to me- I find myself cheering when Sheldon and Amy finally consummate their relationship ( Big Bang Theory). After all, they’ve been dating for years! They “deserve to be happy.” Then I am convicted by the reality that this is not something God would be endorsing.
Then I look at my personal relationships and contacts. The idea of dating and not being sexually active is rare, regardless if you profess faith in Christ or not. Wonderful Christian families are torn apart by infidelity. Families deal with the tensions of homosexuality and transgender issues, sometimes damaging relationships.
It is difficult to live in integrity as a Christian as you wrestle with the reality of sexual sin in our personal lives. Whether it is our friends, neighbors, children, or spouses, how do we follow God’s law and live holy lives, yet maintain loving relationships?
Often we are asked by those who are actively involved in sinful relationships “can’t you just be happy for us?” How do we love the person without compromising our convictions? We question whether every kindness we bestow is conveying approval of sin. We have much angst when someone who professes Christianity chooses a pattern of living that God specifically forbids. We question the person’s salvation and grieve over their choices.
Ultimately, we look at Jesus and His example. Jesus spoke the truth without compromise, and Jesus loved. Jesus preserved relationships. If we truly want to lead others to love the Lord and live holy lives, we must do all we can to preserve the relationship without compromising the truth. This may mean setting up boundaries or not financing poor decisions. If we react in hate and pride and damage the relationship, we may turn that person against the Lord.
Someone who chooses to live against God’s law doesn’t “deserve” happiness. It is only in experiencing unhappiness and discontent that a person will be led to seek He who provides us not happiness of our own design but the joy and peace of living as our Creator God intended.