Legislature Can Strengthen Marriages

April 29, 2008

No, you can’t legislate morality. But let’s not push that too far.

No, a brief class to instruct couples on the principles of good marriage won’t spin them around on a dime. But let’s not discount the value of education either.

Laws can support good social institutions or they can allow those institutions to deteriorate. Laws can safeguard the building blocks that strengthen that society. State legislatures across the US are wrestling with innovative ways to strengthen marriage. Smart Marriages has been encouraging them to do even more. I asked my “Counseling and Law” class at Dallas Theological Seminary to write a paper describing what’s going on in this area currently. Elaine Charles did a good job, I think, so I share her paper with you. It’s an informative read.

Elaine Charles
April 2008

With an ever increasing divorce rate and the need to support the vow that is made between a man and a woman, many states have taken measures to support the marriage relationship. These measures will be introduced, examined, and discussed including their potential strengths and weaknesses. In addition to the measures that states have put forth up to this point, suggestions will be made concerning action that the great state of Texas can take in fighting for the marriage relationship.

The state of Florida is one of the leading states that have implemented measures to support marriages. In January 1999, Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, became the first governor to sign a Community Marriage Policy. This Community Marriage Policy is focused on saving marriages at every part of the marital cycle. In addition, Governor Bush signed a bill that became effective May 1, 2003 which replaced the Florida Commission on Responsible Fatherhood with the Commission on Marriage and Family Support. The goal for this is to strengthen families, including marriage relationships.

The Florida Legislature decided that a law was needed to recognize how important marriage is to families in the state. In 1998 lawmakers passed that law based on a multitude of factors including: divorce rates accelerating, ability to implement effective coping skills, learning relationship skills, and so forth and implemented the Marriage Handbook, which was produced in 1999. The Marriage Handbook of Florida fell Read the rest of this entry »

How Is a Mission Trip Funded?

April 28, 2008

Some people have been asking, “How do you raise the support money to go on a mission trip to the Canary Islands?”  Most of my work has been attitudinal.  I remind myself and others that it’s not about me.  For example, while many people travel to these resort locations for pleasure, it’s tough to do spiritual work there.  That  part of the world is closed to Evangelical Christianity, particularly when the “teachers” come from the United States.  But the local pastors are very open to us and very eager to learn.  So if we can train them, they can strengthen their local churches and from there develop an impact in their own country.  So is it worth $5,000 to go train a dozen pastors?  I think so.  Jesus started with that number.  All the efforts are then multiplied.

There are several people in our Dallas community who agree with me and believe in the importance of helping those local leaders do the job.  If 50 people can donate $100, or 100 people can donate $50, (you can do the math) then it’s done.  There are a lot of people who have the means to send someone over there, but can’t go themselves for one reason or another.  In the body of Christ, there are “senders” and “go-ers.”   All contributions are tax deductible.  For example, anyone wanting to support this effort can write a check to East-West Ministries and mail it to E-W Min, 4450 Sojourn Drive, Addison, Texas 75001-5043 with the memo line indicating “Account #4052- Dr. Jagers” and they will handle the money.  I never see it directly.  Most of the expenses for this trip are going to air fare.  I also like to buy gifts for our host families who house us and transport us.  I also like to give a book for the pastor of the host church to build his study library.  On the way to the Canary Islands, I’ll be stopping over in Seville to visit the pastors I met several years ago on a similar teaching mission.  I’ll take a book to them as well.

We’ll be taking some side trips on our own that are not related to the mission objective.  Those expenses are handled by us personally and do not come out of the contributions.

If you believe in this mission and are inclined to send in some contributions, we would appreciate it very much.  If we receive more than we need for this trip, the money will stay in the account to be used for a future trip.  One of my hopes is that this training for these pastors can turn into a yearly event.  That way, we can develop very personal relationships.

So the bottom line is that the money is not about me; it’s the Lord’s money and He likes to move it around occasionally to distribute His blessings from one part of the world to another.  It’s humbling to be part of that process.  It’s exciting to think about contributing to the equipping of these pastors who have more zeal and eagerness than formal training.  But, unlike some of us, they use everything they learn.  Nothing stays dormant.  Praise God for them.

Help for Young People with Tough Problems

April 27, 2008

“I don’t want the behavior. Little girls are walking around dressing like hoochies, cursing and swearing and showing disrespect toward their elders. In Islam, we believe in respect and dignity and honor.” This California Muslim woman was quoted by The New York Times on March 19, 2008; the Dallas Morning News picked it up on March 30, 2008. Her observations highlight a newsworthy symptom of moral decay in our culture. What is that lady doing about the problems she observes? She’s home schooling her four children. What are we doing around here?

I’m encouraged by the services that Dolores Shavers (click here) offers in her SE Dallas counseling practice.

She has specialties in agoraphobia, child and adolescent issues, drugs and parenting. She offers after school groups for both boys and girls. She offers counseling help for Spanish-speaking individuals. She not only reaches out with her practice, but she has a heart of gold. She’s the real deal. Her number in Dallas is 214-660-9515.

Her son works with her. In addition, he is the youth minister of his church, Pathway of Life (Pastor Danny Wingman).  If you read Weldon’s brief article, you’ll get a feel for where his heart is.  What a solid resource for our community!

The Reflection in the Mirror
by J. Weldon Shavers, Spiritual Consultant

A great man once said, “Follow a poor kid home and you will meet poor parents, follow a rich kid home and you will meet conceited parents”. Adolf Hitler declared, “If I can control the youth, then I can control the world”. The minds of young people, naive and impressionable has always been the breading ground for insolence and intolerance. From the hands of young people come school violence and gang signs. From Columbine to the crumbling wall of Berlin, from the mean streets of Iraq to the killing fields of East L.A, young people have always displayed the reflection of our culture, time and annoyances. While watching television I observed a 5 year old girl dressed in a white sheet making crude, racist remarks. The host asked Read the rest of this entry »

Remarriage: What the Bible Says about It

April 25, 2008

Have you ever heard a divorced person wondering if remarriage was an option for them? I mean . . . biblically? I specialize in this area and I seldom hear the question. Usually, I hear people talking about “How long should I wait after my divorce?” or “How will we handle the kids when we remarry?” or “What should I do differently this time?” All very practical and important questions. But it seems to me that to seek God’s face and to get his perspective on the whole thing is also important. Here’s a student paper by Reta Selitta that tackles this touchy issue. I think she handles it well. Once again, my blog doesn’t handle footnotes or endnotes, so Reta isn’t plagerizing; I’ve removed the “funny looking stuff.”


by Reta C. Selitto

March 2008

Remarriage is a prominent topic in Christian circles. The implication of one’s stance on remarriage affects many areas of Christian life. This is especially true for those who are in leadership within the church. How a pastor or counselor understands biblical reasons for remarriage can dramatically alter an individual’s understanding of God and self. Thus, the consideration of such a topic is not to be taken lightly. It is imperative that ministry leaders do a tremendous amount of research on remarriage and come to a conclusion they can defend biblically. With this in mind, the author intends to explore the three positions available on remarriage and will identify the one which most resonates with a comprehensive biblical understanding. In so doing, all major biblical passages will be explored. The three positions to be examined include no permissible reasons for remarriage, two permissible reasons for remarriage identified as adultery and desertion by an unbelieving spouse, and lastly three permissible reasons for remarriage identified as adultery, emotional and physical neglect, and abandonment and abuse.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Plans: Pastoral Training in Canary Islands

April 25, 2008

Last year, after I offered a sample workshop in “Counseling Basics” to a dozen pastors in the Canary Islands, they asked for more. Oscar Lopez, my good friend who has been working with these men twice a year for ten years, served as my link, my translator and my guide. So we’re planning a return trip.

Opportunities to share the Christian Faith are rare in that part of the world. But these pastors are more than open . . . they’re hungry. To build the churches and keep them from floundering, they need more training.

I train pastors to effectively apply biblical principles to their people’s lives. As far as Oscar and I know, this is the first time pastors have received this kind of training.

Sonia is a “mommy coach” and will work with the mothers of young (pre-school) children to help them with some helpful perspectives in child rearing and to encourage them with a vision of how important their job is.

The Evangelical church adds up to about 0.1% of the population. The islands tend to remain isolated except for vacationers. Relaxation and pleasure are highly valued, but the local people must work hard to make a living.

Applying biblical principles to life situations increases our quality of life. Mothers need to catch the vision of child-rearing that goes beyond feeding, clothing, and keeping them out of harms way. How do you train up a child?

Pastors need to deal with problems like depression, anxiety, marriage problems, and addictions. It takes more than a Bible verse and a prayer from a nice person.

I am asking people to pray for cultural sensitivity and effectiveness in connecting with these dear people where they are. I am also asking for those who feel so moved, to support this tip financially. More on that in a future post.

Book Review – “Living Together: Myths, Risks & Answers”

April 22, 2008

When I find a good book review of a good book, I like to save it and pass it on. Such is the case with George Barna’s review of the book on Cohabitation by Mike and Harriet McManus. I learned from Smart Marriages that the McManus’ were surprised and delighted to hear that Dr. Laura is giving away free copies of the book on her radio show. I’d like to add my small part in promoting a good work. Here’s the review by George Barna:

You can see it in the declining number of people who get married. It is evident in the fact that the U.S. has the highest divorce rate among developed nations. You can sense its deterioration based on the effort to legitimize gay marriage. Even public opinion about the importance of marriage is slipping. This new book by Mike and Harriet McManus addresses a critical aspect of that problem: cohabitation.

Based on the McManus’s extensive experience with seeking to strengthen traditional marriages, this volume is a welcome addition to the practical literature on the subject, offering viable strategies for enhancing marriage as well as recent information about the state of marriage and cohabitation.

Early in the book you will read why cohabitation is something we should be paying attention to if we care about saving marriages. A useful tool is the list of myths about cohabitation. The book notes that people cohabit for a variety of reasons, but the result is generally the same, regardless of the motivation: a failed relationship, whether marriage ensued or not.

Among the reasons cited for the break-up of cohabiters are the mistrust of marriage, the lack of positive experience with marriage in their family of origin, the absence of male commitment, increasing cultural acceptance of both cohabitation and divorce, and financial benefits. Surprisingly few people seem to be aware of the risks inherent in cohabitation. Chief among those is the potential for experiencing violence. A different but no less significant risk is that of bearing children without a committed family bond. Economic hardship, rampant infidelity, legal entanglements and more are detailed with depressing clarity by the authors.

Depending on your faith perspective, of course, there are all kinds of arguments that can be made in relation to the cohabitation experience. It is biblically forbidden. It is historically ineffective. It pales in comparison to legitimate marriage as a satisfying or lasting relationship. But cohabitation has become an accepted way of life in America, despite its flaws and failings. What can be done?

The authors use the second half of the book to describe a variety of means that churches can implement to blunt the harsh effects of unmarried people living together. Drawing on their successful endeavors related to the Marriage Savers ministry, they offer a practical approach to counteracting cohabitation. Included among their detailed recommendations for churches are implementation of a premarital inventory; training and assignment of mentor couples; providing the skills to resolve conflict; establishing and supporting a church policy regarding cohabitation; and a process for educating couples about cohabitation and marriage.

Perhaps the most important step in this approach that is widely overlooked is the role of married mentors. While identifying and preparing married couples to be effective mentors is a challenging task, the impact of those mentors can be staggering.

This shouldn’t be news to us; coaching is critical in every aspect of development, from leadership training, the athletics to child development. Good coaches or mentors change people¹s lives! Why shouldn’t we expect that to be the case in marriage, as well? This book not only describes how to equip couples to be influential mentors, but provides the statistical back-up as to the difference such coaching makes in relationships.

The book concludes with a chapter about the Community Marriage Policy, the cornerstone of the Marriage Savers strategy enacted through churches. The brief explanation of the policy and its impact to date is compelling. In an age where marriage is under attack, churches are overwhelmed by the challenges related to marriage, and there is limited united and productive action undertaken across church lines, the Community Marriage Policy is something that every pastor should consider adopting.

This book doesn’t take long to read. But if you take the information and recommendations to heart, its impact will be long-lasting. GB

Marriage is about God’s Glory

April 2, 2008

marriagehands.jpgIt’s rather coincidental that the same day I’m posting another student paper on God’s purpose for marriage Albert Mohler has done the same thing, and with the same focus. His is a good read. And so is Abby’s paper. In our seminary class, Counseling and Law, I thought it would be a good idea get clear on the foundations of God’s design for marriage before we started to look at how mankind has managed to mangle it. After we’re thinking more clearly about what it’s suppose to be, then we can better deal with divorce law, legislation on same-sex marriage, etc. Here’s Abby (Note, the footnotes did not get picked up by my blog formatting):

Abby Lynn Helman
February 16, 2008

Currently, with the rate of marriages diminishing and the numbers of couples choosing cohabitation over matrimony increasing, it is vital that the purpose of marriage must be determined. Despite the bad name that marriage has gotten due to the high rate of divorce around the world, and the selfishness of man to seek his own good instead of the good of another, marriage itself stands as an exemplary model of what true sacrifice, love, faithfulness, and service are. Although marriage was created by God in the Garden of Eden it certainly has other roots as well. These other interpretations of Biblical ideals are worthy of consideration to reach a conclusion. This paper will examine scriptural mandates and exhortations regarding the estate of marriage and compare historical and logical arguments for other models of marriage. Ultimately, the purpose of marriage is doxological, just like the purpose of all of creation.

Theological Foundations

There are two ways that the purpose of marriage can be assessed. First, it can be evaluated in terms of ethics. Benton Kline says, “If it were an ethical reflection [on marriage], then we Read the rest of this entry »

God’s Purpose for Marriage: a Biblical View

April 1, 2008

Maybe the statistics on divorce rates aren’t as grizzly as we have thought.  Maybe there is some correlation between people’s godly perspective on marriage and the health of the marriage.  The recent Barna Report provides some interesting numbers that suggest God’s design works.

The study showed that the percentage of adults who have been married and divorced varies from segment to segment. For instance, the groups with the most prolific experience of marriage ending in divorce are downscale adults (39%), Baby Boomers (38%), those aligned with a non-Christian faith (38%), African-Americans (36%), and people who consider themselves to be liberal on social and political matters (37%).

Among the population segments with the lowest likelihood of having been divorced subsequent to marriage are Catholics (28%), evangelicals (26%), upscale adults (22%), Asians (20%) and those who deem themselves to be conservative on social and political matters (28%).

Here’s a thoughtful perspective from another student in my class that adds substance to this notion that God has a purpose and that we do better when we align ourselves with that design.


Nicki Cochran

Certainly an all-wise God who created order out of chaos, handcrafted man and woman in His own image, and then instituted and ordained marriage must have had a purpose in doing so. What then, one must ask, was God’s purpose in creating marriage? Indisputably the most fitting answer will be found in harmony with the will of God as it is revealed for us in His Word. It is for this reason that one must turn to His Word in order to find the divine purpose of God’s institution of marriage. And that is exactly what some Christian authors have done. However, for the most part, a large number of authors and theologians have run into incredible difficulty in actually clarifying what God’s purpose for marriage essentially is. Millions of pages and numerous books have been dedicated to offering help on how to save, better, grow, or even end a marriage and many more go as far as to describe the roles in, the tasks of, and the reasons for marriage, but it is difficult to find many pages that offer the purpose for marriage, and even fewer that offer God’s purpose for marriage.[1] The problem with this is that we must first form a foundation that is the divine purpose for marriage in order for us to then process and understand the roles, reasons, and successful growth of marriage.

The following is a consideration of three of the leading proposals for God’s intention for marriage, followed by concluding thoughts on which purpose is the most biblically sound. These three proposals are as follows: God’s purpose for marriage is a functional purpose, God’s purpose for marriage is a sacramental purpose; and God’s purpose for marriage is a transformational or sanctifying purpose.

Read the rest of this entry »