To help us be thankful, here is a famous Thanksgiving day proclamation.
Here it is:
PRESIDENTIAL THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATIONS
1789-1815 : George Washington, John Adams, James Madison
THANKSGIVING DAY 1789
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
OK, so this week I got to be a facilitator between a man and a woman in a relationship. I got to hear a bit about what they thought was appropriate in the area of physical touching. These two had made great decisions, and it protected them both. Anyway, thinking about them caused me to think about the studies I had posted about boundaries in sexual matters a few years back. So I’m going to re-post them to remind everyone not to be in a rush to say yes to premarital sex.
People who lose their virginity later than their teenage years are more likely to enjoy satisfying relationships later in life, according to a new study.
Researchers found that people who didn’t have sex until they turned 20 or even later are more likely to end up in a happy relationship.
[…]Previous research suggests that there may be cause for concern, as timing of sexual development can have significant immediate consequences for adolescents’ physical and mental health.
However, until now little had been done to study long-term outcomes, and how early sexual initiation might affect romantic relationships in adulthood.
Psychological scientist Paige Harden, of the University of Texas in the United States, set about changing this.
She wanted to investigate whether the timing of sexual initiation in adolescence might predict romantic outcomes – such as whether people get married or live with their partners, how many romantic partners they’ve had, and whether they’re satisfied with their relationship – later in adulthood.
Doctor Harden used data from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health to look at 1,659 same-sex sibling pairs who were followed from around the age of 16 to about the age of 29.
Each sibling was classified as having an ‘early’ (younger than 15), ‘on-time’ (age 15 to 19), or ‘late’ (older than 19) first experience with sexual intercourse.
Those who lost their virginity later on in life were more likely to have a well-paid job.
They found, as expected, later timing of first sexual experience was associated with higher educational attainment and higher household income in adulthood when compared with the early and on-time groups.
People who had a later first sexual experience were also less likely to be married and they had fewer romantic partners in adulthood.
Among the participants who were married or living with a partner, later sexual initiation was linked with significantly lower levels of relationship dissatisfaction in adulthood.
“Courtship is a time for exploration and decision-making about the relationship, when partners assess compatibility, make commitments and build on emotional and physical intimacy.”
“The rapid entry into sexual relationships may, however, cut short this process, setting the stage for “sliding” rather than “deciding” to enter co-habiting unions.”
“Around a third of the men and women said they’d had sex within the first month of dating, while about 28 per cent waited at least six months, the Journal of Marriage and Family reported.”
“Analysis of the data clearly showed the women who had waited to have sex to be happier. And those who waited at least six months scored more highly in every category measured than those who got intimate within the first month. Even their sex lives were better.”
“The link was weaker for men. However, those who waited to get physically involved had fewer rows.
[…]‘A strong sexual desire may thwart the development of other key ingredients of a healthy relationship such as commitment, mutual understanding or shared values,’ the report said. ‘Good sex is sometimes confused with love; some couples overlook problematic aspects of their relationship that ultimately matter more in the long run.’”
So, it looks like you lose some stability if you push too hard on the premarital sex. Is stability important to you? Well, divorce is a financial disaster for men and women – so that’s one reason to care about stability. If your plan for marriage is to provide a stable environment for your kids, then that’s another good reason to care about stability. If you are getting married in part to advance your cause through effective children, then you have to control yourself now in order to be the person who can give them what they need later. This is not out of your control, this is not unpredictable. There are best practices.
If you keep rushing into things and experiencing painful break-ups, you will naturally stop the behaviors that allow you commit out of self-preservation. You will begin to resent having to care for that other person, except maybe when it makes you feel good. When you invest a lot and break up, you become less willing to invest in that other person. You retreat into your shell. You resent having responsibilities and obligations to that other person. You expect things to work on their own, apart from your efforts to make them work, because that’s how you avoid getting hurt. You try not to invest too much, because you imagine that things will fall apart and you’ll get hurt again. You focus on just feeling good now, so that when the relationship fails, you come out “ahead”. But this is not the way to make a stable marriage.
Marriage requires you to give 100% and regardless of how you feel. That’s what a commitment is – it’s a decision to perform regardless of feelings. To get stability, you want to be comfortable with investing in that other person – taking on responsibilities, satisfying expectations, performing obligations. Both of you have to be comfortable with the selflessness of commitment, and be ruled by your own decisions, instead of your feelings. And your goal here is not to find someone who gives you good feelings right now. Your goal is to find someone who will not hurt you the more that you give of yourself, up to an including marriage. It’s not good feelings that you are looking for, it’s the safety to commit everything you have to this other person, and not get hurt. The real joy of a relationship is not fun and thrills, it’s giving everything you have to another person, and knowing that if you fall, they will catch you.
If you choose candidates carefully, involve wise mentors, and set proper boundaries, you’ll find that relationships are a lot less painful, and that when you really want to commit, then you will be able to commit with your whole heart, and to be content with the commitment. There are plenty of ways to love and serve another person other than sex, as you both get to know each other and size each other up for a life-long commitment. Premarital sex is counterproductive… it’s speaking in a language that is designed for two people who have already made a lifelong commitment to have a common plan and a common purpose. Sex makes sense when you have that commitment, but it undermines communication and objective evaluation if it’s done before that commitment commitment is in place.
This story is from the Daily Caller. Let’s take a look and then I’ll link it back to Christianity and parenting.
Prompted by the slew of attacks on police officers, a former inmate who turned his life around, caused a social media frenzy by praying with the officer who arrested him eight years ago, asking God to protect police from violent criminals.
Texas City patrolman Salvador “Sal” Chapa was attending a barbecue on Saturday when he was approached by Doc Amey, a man he arrested eight years ago for a gun offense. So disturbed by the attacks on police, Amey pulled Chapa to the side of the crowd, where the two joined hands and said a prayer for the officer’s safety, according to ABC13.
Fellow barbecue-goer Kevin Woods was so touched by Amey’s prayer, that he snapped a picture of the pair and shared it on Facebook saying, “We should be seeing more of this in America. There shouldn’t be race involved and this is living proof that color doesn’t matter. This is a prime example. All lives matter ONE NATION UNDER GOD!”
According to the now-viral post, Amey was arrested by Chapa on a gun charge, and received a five year sentence for the crime. While in jail, Amey devoted his time to prayer and getting his life in order. He was released from prison after serving only a year and a half, and has since graduated from Bible college with perfect attendance.
According to Chapa, he and Amey had seen each other in town before, but never talked. Moved by the recent trend of attacks on police officers in America, the reformed criminal was compelled to approach the Chapa who arrested him nearly a decade ago, and ask God to protect the officer from the rampant crimes.
The picture has received nearly 30,000 Facebook shares, including a share by the Texas City Police Department’s official page.
“After seeing the picture getting posted and all, I was overwhelmed but at the same time I was happy it happened. I hope whoever views it looks at police in a different aspect. We’re here to help everybody,” Chapa told ABC13.
I want to be friends with that man. He is a good man!
So I want to make two points, one theological and one about parenting.
First point, Christians who read the Bible carefully will develop a tolerance for God chastising them with suffering, because they know it shapes their character to be more like Christ. This is the process of sanctification, where a Christian is made more like Jesus through the process of encountering the moral law, and learning how to obey it. If a Christian makes a wrong decision, and God lets him suffer, he praises God for teaching him right and wrong. He does not turn away from God, block him out of sight, and then continue to make bad decisions as if nothing had ever happened. Christians, of all people, need to be reading the Bible practically. We need to make ourselves comfortable with being judged, and not be rebellious when it happens. We need to learn to respect God and his moral law, and not make the same mistakes over and over.
Second point, about parenting. I think that there is a lot of hostility on the secular left towards parents who want to discipline their children. This story shows how disciplining is supposed to be done, and what the right response is to being judged and having boundaries placed on you. When a child stays up late and then sleeps right through a test and fails it, the parent should ground the child so that the child associates staying up too late the night before a test with a punishment. Most parents today would be mad at the teacher and the school for bruising the ego of their child. That’s wrong. It’s much better for the child to suffer a trivial punishment now, and not make much bigger mistakes with much bigger punishments later. In computer science, it costs MUCH LESS to fix a defect when it is discovered by the project team in the early requirements elicitation phase than it does to fix it if it’s discovered by customers after the deployment to production phase. Find the mistake early and fix it. The longer you wait, the more it costs to fix it.
Here’s a good passage from the Bible about accepting the suffering God allows you to experience after making a bad decision:
1 And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him,“There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.
2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds,
3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him.
4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan,“As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die,
6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul.
8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’
11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”
13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
This attitude of being grateful for judgment and boundaries is not popular on the left. The left is all about not judging, and especially about not punishing. They call it compassion – letting people who make mistakes get away with it instead of teaching people who make mistakes a lesson that will make their future decisions better. I often see Christians refuse to judge other Christians when they make mistakes. Instead of warning them, we want to pray that their mistake will “work out”. My advice for people, and especially Christians, is to not run away from being judged and having boundaries placed on you – if they come from someone who is wiser and who loves you and is looking out for you on a long-term basis. Parents are like that, most of the time.
The parent who doesn’t warn a chain-smoking child about the dangers of nicotine is not a loving parent.
The doctor who doesn’t warn a morbidly obese patient about the dangers of overeating is not a loving doctor.
The preacher who doesn’t warn his straying flock about the dangers of spiritual compromise is not a loving pastor.
Love warns, and it warns loudly and clearly – but that does not mean harshly or with an angry, self-righteous spirit.
Love warns with tears.
Love warns with brokenness.
Love warns with longsuffering.
That’s why Jesus wept in public as He warned Jerusalem about the terrible judgment that was at the door (Luke 19:41-45).
That’s why Jeremiah wept in secret when the nation refused to hear his warnings of impending disaster (Jeremiah 13:17).
That’s why Paul said to the elders of Ephesus, “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:29-31).
When is the last time we warned someone with tears? When is the last time we cared enough to weep for them in private?
May God break our hearts with the things that break His heart. May the Lord shatter our indifference.
In the words of the Book of Proverbs, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. . . . Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue” (Proverbs 27:5-6; 28:23).
We are not called to tickle people’s ears and make them feel good. We are called to speak the truth in love, to have hearts of compassion and backbones of steel, to emulate the true prophets not the false prophets, to do the right thing rather than the convenient thing.
Oh that God would deliver us from a crippling, compromising, man-pleasing mentality!
In your life or ministry, do you really want to be surrounded by a bunch of Yes-men who tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear? Do you really want to work with a bunch of carnal prophets who say, “All is well, all is well,” when nothing is well? (See Jeremiah 6:14.) Then do the same for others and save them from disaster and self-destruction by warning them when they are on the wrong path.
Paul’s final exhortation to Timothy rings as true today – if not even more true – than the day it was written: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).
Lots of good, challenging Bible verses there. It shows that telling people “watch out” is a real thing. First point I want to make is that you should use data when you warn people, if you can. Notice that in Dr. Brown’s list, he talked about smoking and obesity, which doctors universally frown on. He wants to tell people the consequences for their health if they choose to smoke or be obese. A lot of moral issues are like that, where you want to tell someone the consequences, which they are often ignorant of – especially when they are young and foolish. So do use studies and papers to show the consequences.
I don’t think it’s something you can do flippantly. But if you have life experience in the area that you are warning about, then it is a good idea to tell what you learned to someone who is about to make a mistake. For example, suppose you see someone about to move in with their boyfriend, and their boyfriend has no degree, delivers pizzas, has gaps in his resume, and has no savings. And he’s 30. If you moved in with a deadbeat guy and it went nowhere, then you should tell this other person what happened to you, and what you learned from it. Don’t be afraid to pull out studies about cohabitation to turn your personal experience into something more persuasive.
Even better than a bad experience is how-to knowledge. If you have tried to do something and been successful at it, then you are in a position to say what worked. Suppose you have good STEM degrees, a good long work history and lots of earned income that you’ve saved and invested. You see a guy who is about to do a degree in art history, then he wants to go on vacation for two years in Europe, before finally trying to find a full-time job. You know – based on your own success – that this is bad for his resume, bad for his career, bad for his future marriage (a lot of divorces happen because of money). Well, then say something to him. It’s better to say something and risk losing him as a friend than for him to proceed in ignorance and make a mistake. It’s better to tell the truth than to be liked for lying. That is the loving thing to do.
Finally, if you are the person who is being warned, then respect the people who try to tell you the truth. God knows, it is hard to be the person who speaks the truth in a day and age when people just want to be happy, and be surrounded with positive affirmation. What happens when you chase away the people who have the courage to tell you the truth is that you find yourself surrounded by liars. It’s never going to be the case that you know everything about everything. There will always be people who know more than you. If you keep chasing them all away for disagreeing with you, you’ll only be left with your own judgment and a crowd of people who either don’t know the truth, or won’t tell you it. Be careful how you treat the truth-tellers in your life.
Here a good study on relationship tempo and relationship quality.
Rapid sexual involvement may have adverse long-term implications for relationship quality. This study examined the tempo of sexual intimacy and subsequent relationship quality in a sample of married and cohabiting men and women. Data come from the Marital and Relationship Survey, which provides information on nearly 600 low- to moderate-income couples living with minor children. Over one third of respondents became sexually involved within the first month of the relationship. Bivariate results suggested that delaying sexual involvement was associated with higher relationship quality across several dimensions. The multivariate results indicated that the speed of entry into sexual relationships was negatively associated with marital quality, but only among women. The association between relationship tempo and relationship quality was largely driven by cohabitation. Cohabiting may result in poorer quality relationship because rapid sexual involvement early in the romantic relationship is associated with entrance into shared living.
The authors are from Cornell University and University of Wisconsin – Madison. Prestigious schools, and very far to the left.
Here’s another recent study that shows that if a woman has more partners than just her husband as a premarital sex partner, the risk of divorce increases.
Using nationally representative data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, I estimate the association between intimate premarital relationships (premarital sex and premarital cohabitation) and subsequent marital dissolution. I extend previous research by considering relationship histories pertaining to both premarital sex and premarital cohabitation. I find that premarital sex or premarital cohabitation that is limited to a woman’s husband is not associated with an elevated risk of marital disruption. However, women who have more than one intimate premarital relationship have an increased risk of marital dissolution.
Data from the 1988 US National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) were utilized to assess the impact of premarital sexual activity on subsequent marital stability. Among white NSFG subjects first married in 1965-85, virgin brides were significantly less to have become separated or divorced (25%) than women who had not been virgins at marriage (35%).
[…]The lower risk of divorce on the part of white women with no premarital sexual experience persisted even after numerous intervening and background variables were controlled.
And I am going to save the best study for last. This marvelous PDF is from August 2014, and is put out by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. It is comprehensive, and links to many papers from decades ago to the state of the art today. It seems like people are really rushing into sex these days, without much thought. They want to have fun, feel accepted, be like their friends, conform to the culture. But sometimes, it’s better to be practical than to be governed by the desire for fun and thrills. If you want to do something, look at the research and find out what the consequences are before you do it. That’s what a sensible person does.
When it comes to discussing the Bible’s rules on sex, evidence is very important. Evidence is what convinces even non-Chrsitian people to take the Bible seriously when it comes to putting sex in its proper place. That’s why we need to know what the Bible says, and we need to augment that with real-world evidence so that it is applied to our own decision-making, and so that we can be persuasive when discussing it with others.