Articles

Preparing for Marriage

 by G. Corey Carlisle, MDiv, LMFT, CST

How exciting it is to find the person you desire to spend the rest of your life with, whose presence gives you butterflies and whose touch is utterly electrifying. You see the best in each other and can hardly wait to live happily ever after in each other’s love. Passion is high and this is a very thrilling season of life as you prepare for marriage.

Often the last thing we want to do during this time is to have a sober look at our relationship. We don’t want anything to rob us of our joy. However, if we let the intensity of this season get the best of us, we can rush ahead of wisdom and set ourselves up for many disappointments and regrets. Whether building a house or building a marriage, wisdom instructs us to count the cost before beginning (Luke 14:28).

Premarital counseling is a great way for you to count the cost as you prepare to build an intimate marriage. Through counseling you are able to explore the strength and the growth areas of your relationship. Do you have a solid foundation ready to endure the many storms of life and marriage? Are there issues that need to be addressed before walking down the aisle?

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Thoughts on desire, sin, affairs and being deceived...

by Michael Sytsma, PhD, LPC, CST, CSAS, CPCS

Some thoughts on desire, sin, affairs and being deceived while reading the book of James...

About 70% of my therapy load involves post-affair couples. One, or both, of the spouses have had an affair and they are in my office, at least in part, to restore their marriage. As a result, I have heard hundreds of stories of how affairs develop. The more I hear, the more James 1:14-16 becomes real to me.

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Thoughts on addiction to pornography

by G. Corey Carlisle, MDiv, LMFT, CST

I have a friend who has a little habit. He begins every morning indulging in its pleasures before heading to work. He jokes he cannot start his day without it. Frequently, he goes to specialty shops to spice things up and experience a little variety. When he is feeling stressed he does it more often.

If my friend’s habit was pornography many would quickly consider him a porn addict, but my friend’s habit is his morning cup of coffee. Does that change things? Is my friend still an addict? The best answer is likely yes and probably no. 

Being creatures of habit there is a sense in which we all engage in addictive behaviors. As psychiatrist and spiritual counselor Gerald May defines it, an addiction is “any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of human desire. It is caused by the attachment, or nailing, of desire to specific objects” (from Addiction and Grace). Much of the Christian life is a struggle to find freedom from various habits (idols), our repeated attempts to make life work apart from God.

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Sexual Stewardship

by G. Corey Carlisle, MDiv, LMFT, CST

You may remember the story Jesus told of the man who entrusted his three servants with various amounts of money (talents), and urged them to manage his affairs well while he was gone. The first two servants were rewarded for trusting their masters heart, taking a risk, and doubling their investment. The third servant, however, did not trust his masters heart. Feeling afraid, he played it safe and hid what was given to him. The master responded by throwing the “useless servant into utter darkness” (Matthew 25:14-30). 

This passage reminds us we must be faithful stewards of what God has entrusted to our care. Certainly this includes our money, possessions, and time, but it also includes our sexuality. Our sexuality is a gift given to us by God to manage; it is not our own. And more importantly, the passage shows us how will handle our gifts reveals what we truly think about God. Will we steward our sexuality boldly and freely as sons and daughters, or in fear and rebellion as slaves (Galatians 4:7)?

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Eros Toward the World

by G. Corey Carlisle, MDiv, LMFT, CST

It is not difficult to see the many divisions that exist in the world and the pain caused by such discord. For example, many recent events have reminded us that race relations are not yet healed in our nation. As Christians, we are aware that we can find oneness and unity in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). However, it seems we often struggle to know what this looks like in actual practice. Thankfully, God has given us a very concrete picture of unity to help us discover and move toward oneness.

What does it look like for two to be reconciled, joined together, and unified into one? God has given us marriage in general and the act of sexual intercourse in particular to provide the illustration. As the Apostle Paul highlights, these are pictures pointing to a deeper reality, symbols revealing a much larger story (Ephesians 5:31-32). There is much more going on than simply having a happy marriage and great sex. God is trying to show us what unity looks like. This is done in part through the gift of Eros.

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