Marriage after Corona/Covid-19

Hi, I’m Kevin. I want to share a part of my life’s story in the blogosphere. It’ll be a longer read than usual.  I grew up seeing my parents suffer together.  When I was a young kid in Vancouver, my father raised the family (my Mom, brother and me) by working two or three part-time jobs.  Life was tough in my younger years but I didn’t know the difference. 

Later on we moved to the prairies of Saskatchewan. We worked hard together.  I grew up seeing my parents live a family-first model of marriage.  In this model, marriage is not so much about romance but it’s also about the kids, money, raising a family together.

When I grew up, became a young adult, went off to college in Ottawa and Virginia. I was taught to believe that the soul mate model of marriage was the only true way to live.  Life was about seeking happiness, and marriage was supposed to bring happiness.  From a secular view, marriage was actually seen as optional.  Marriage and children were a hindrance. These things can get in the way of achieving happiness and a comfortable lifestyle.  This is today’s current view of marriage. This will, however, change.

After college, I moved to Toronto.  I believed that life was all about achieving success in one’s career.  It was about finding the love of your life; one could then live happily ever after.  I bought into society’s ideals hook-line-and-sinker.  Love and success were supposed to make a person happy.  If one doesn’t find success and happiness, you would then be settling for second place; and second place was a loser’s place.

In a recent essay in the Wall Street Journal, author W. Bradford Wilcox said this about the soul mate model of marriage:

“For those who are already married, the stresses and strains of marriage and family life in the time of Covid-19 will send thousands of couples to divorce court. Marital failure will be especially common for husbands and wives under the sway of what I call the “soul mate model” of marriage. The soul mate model—trumpeted in books like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” not to mention countless songs and rom-coms—is the idea that marriage is primarily about an intense emotional and romantic connection between two people and should last only so long as that connection remains happy and fulfilling for both parties. This self-centered model gained in popularity for many Americans starting in the 1970s, the ‘Me Decade.’”

Later in my young adulthood life I realized this model to life and marriage was wrong-headed. I could see it taking me no where. I then realized that this was actually a mass deception created and perpetuated by the mainstream media and by Hollywood. A Me-First mentality.  I looked back and began to consider history and traditions, and why life seemed better in the golden olden days. Call it nostalgia if you wish.

I looked at myself and didn’t like what I had become.  Self-centered.  Selfish.  Prideful.  I knew that there had to be more to life than just seeking happiness for myself. I confessed and repented of my ways. I made a switch, slowly but surely.

Wilcox said of the family-first model of marriage: “in times of trial and tribulation, most people—and most spouses—don’t become more self-centered, they become more other-centered, more cognizant of how much they need their family members to navigate difficult and dark times.  He believes that in a post-Covid-19 society, the family-first model of marriage will gain ground against the soul mate model.  I agree with this.

Since the great depression of the 1930s, we haven’t had such a big downturn in job losses. During this Covid-19, experts and economists are saying that we will definitely have a recession, or even, a depression.  I have never seen communities as a whole pull together. Perhaps 9/11 in New York City was one instance but on a national and worldwide scale, I don’t think this generation has ever seen anything within our lifetime as during this pandemic. There may very well be or a soon-to-be economic collapse, but of course, I’m hoping there won’t be one. It’s safe to say that everyone is coming to realize the dangers and calamity the virus will inevitably cause. 

I believe that in the end, people will pull together as communities, for the good of the community.  Families will also pull together and stick together.  Why?  In togetherness, one becomes stronger than when one is alone. Friendships will be bound together based on teamwork, team spirit and camaraderie.

An opposing direction that a post-Covid-19 society might go is the prepper-survival mentality.  Every man (and woman) for himself.  Screw the rest.  Prepare your home as a fortress to hide out.  Fill it with food, bullets, and survival items in order to stave off collapse for months or even years.  And bear fire arms. Have your ammo ready.  Lock and load to protect your fortress.  If the situation ever gets so bad, it could come to this low level post-Armageddon mentality.  Perhaps I’m too optimistic but I don’t think it will come to this level.

In togetherness, one becomes stronger than when one is alone. Friendships will be bound together based on teamwork, team spirit and camaraderie.

Families will come together because as human beings, we know there is something more to life than just living life in order to seek happiness.  There is also happiness in seeking to live life together.  This latter approach to life is bigger than life itself.  It puts the pressure off of yourself, the individual.  The pressure to succeed now lays in the bigger group, the community, and the family.

“There is also happiness in seeking to live life together.  This latter approach to life is bigger than life itself.”

My parents taught me something about sticking it out for the long haul.  Suffering for a short time will pay off in the longer term.  After I took on this new view of life, things began to change.  God blessed me with a life partner (rather than a soul mate).  We began a family together.  We now have a daughter in middle school.  Life hasn’t always been easy but life has been good together.  So far, so good.

This has been a part of my life experience and I wish to share this with the community I’m a part of in the blogosphere. I hope it encourages a few people out there who might read this.

A Father’s Letter to His Daughters…

Here is a blog post from Brandon Andress about his love for his daughters. It is beautifully written so I repost it here. It is found at: https://brandonandress.com/2013/02/11/a-fathers-letter-to-his-daughters/

Happier people are married

Wow. The stats from a study by Dr. John F. Helliwell reveals that married people are happier than single people (link here and source here).  To be politically-sensitive, our first reaction might be that we should be quiet about this because it might irk a negative reaction from single people who are set on staying single and who will want to justify their singlehood.  On the otherhand, this news (or old news) should be shouted from the housetops: that married life is to be celebrated.

People who are divorced may disagree with this though.  Their experience of living together with a spouse in an unhappy marriage is subjective and very personal to them, and can be true because it’s based on their own personal experience.

This can pose another question for us to think about.  What makes a happy marriage?  Maybe we can go back to the bible on this one.

Theological pilgrimage

I have blogged about this matter in the past but only very briefly in passing.   After many months of self-reflection and getting resettled, I now have more time to reflect upon my journey and share with  readers here (and anyone else who may be interested).

Since November of 2011, I have made a journey that has brought my family and I to a new denomination, and to another province.  As  some of my old readers may know, I began serving as an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. My family and I decided to leave the Lutheran church for various reasons–partly for family and ecclesiological reasons.  The ELCIC denomination (Canadian equivalent to the ELCA) in which I was a part of had made big changes in the summer of 2011 in the way it treated marriage between two people of the same gender.  I believe its interpretation of Scripture had gone awry and I know that this goes against the popular beliefs in society today. The atmosphere in this denomination made it very difficult for pastors to speak their mind (despite what they may say).  After some time praying and reflecting upon this, as a family we decided that it was better just to leave rather than remain within the system.  The theological currents within the ELCIC was too powerful, especially in its leadership level, so I was under no deception about this.

Despite these huge changes, many of my former fellow colleagues in ministry chose to remain in the same denomination (since they are mostly life-long Lutherans).    I know how hard it is to leave a denomination they have known all their lives.  It takes a lot of courage, perhaps too pressure to stand alone for most.  [but to my Lutheran colleagues and brothers and sisters who choose to remain, I pray for them God’s richest blessings. ]

For me, it was a much easier decision to leave because I was already very familiar with the evangelical church.  I had grown up a classical pentecostal assembly (PAOC) in Vancouver, and was baptized by immersion in a Christian & Missionary Alliance (C&MA) Church in Ottawa in my early 20s, and had fellowshiped in evangelical churches most of my life.  (…yes, I’ve been on a theological-ecclesiological journey.)  So to return to the evangelical fold was no problem at all.  Our family packed up our belongings and moved from the prairie towns to the Greater Toronto Area in eastern Canada.  We finally feel more settled now.  We’re recently in the middle of a transition, but overall, this move has been a spiritual pilgrimage back to our evangelical roots.  In looking back I think this pilgrimage has also stretched me in  ways to become a better pastor. I have recently served as a pastor in a Baptist Church (CBOQ).

Do you support your pastor’s family?

Do you support your pastor’s family? To many people’s surprise, the pastor’s family might be one of the most mistreated families in the church.  The expectations of the pastor is that he/she ought to give, give, and give, and if there’s more to give, then squeeze him dry. The only thing pastor is expected to receive is a salary-paycheck, afterall, that’s what he’s paid to do, right? On top of that, the pastor’s spouse and kids are also expected to serve their hearts out too as a good example to the rest of the church, and also be under the microscope of the people full-time.

These are unrealistic expectations.  A website article (read more: Ministry Matters) suggest some things you can do to show support to your pastor and his family.  Here’s several:

1. Temper unrealistic expectations of the pastor’s family.
2. Make a pastoral support group a priority.
3. Support a sabbatical.
4. Protect your pastor’s sabbath day.

Do these look like something you or your church does to support your pastor?

 

Rev. Matthew Harrison defends rights of unborn

Before the House Committee in the U.S. Congress, Rev. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, defends the right of the unborn–he’s calm, cool, and collected but firm in his convictions.  There are not many people these days, including pastors, who openly defend the rights of the unborn.  Thank and praise the Lord for men of God like him.  As Christians, we must pray for leaders like him who are standing up for righteousness and justice in our world. [Video quality isn’t great but it’s current and relevant: “Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Conscience?” ]

Pastors and ministers are not immune to divorce

These days, divorce is high, especially in the western world, and conservative evangelicals and charismatics are not immune to it.  Pastors are not immune to divorce either.  Televangelist Pastor Benny Hinn is being divorced by his wife Suzanne Hinn.  This is truly sad.  Here is the letter (PDF) he sent to supporters concerning his divorce situation. Is there anyone to blame?  Perhaps there is no one is to blame?  If you take a look at Benny Hinn’s ministry schedule (which is public) you’ll see that it is pretty tight.  It leads me to wonder if he spent enough time with his wife?  It seems that Pastor Benny is married to his work-ministry. Suzanne Hinn is not a nun.  She is a regular woman, wife and mother who needs her husband’s attention and love.

If I may be facetious for a minute, the only clergy immune to divorce are Roman Catholic priests. Perhaps this explains why the Roman Catholic Church chose to prohibit priests from getting married.

For clergy families, finding quality family time together is a big challenge.  It should not surprise anyone who is, or who has been, in ministry that it is not easy for us to separate our work life from family life.  It is too easy to be married to ministry. It will be wise to understand that the work of ministry is a never-ending drain of  family time so we must divide our two worlds.  Family is family.  Church  ministry is work.  We ministers will have to learn to say “no” to some demands of ministry. If the two worlds are melded together without any clear boundaries of separation, the minister’s family will inevitably be hurt due to our neglect of spouse and children.  I have personally faced this problem before.

I am learning and still learning how to practice what I preach.  I’m trying to learn to balance family and work and separate my ministry from my family life.  You may have noticed that I have been blogging less than before.  It’s been a real time drainer in the past.  Therefore, I have decided to spend more time with our daughter in the evenings while my wife works in the evenings.  Yes, she also works to help pay the bills.

To my fellow bibliobloggers and ministers… and there are many out there…  I hope and pray that God may give you wisdom and inner strength to do what is right for your family by putting them first.

Focus on Marriage simulcast very helpful

I spent Saturday with my wife at a live simulcast of Focus on Marriage (hosted by Focus on the Family).  The speakers were great. The encouragement, wisdom and education we received was amazing. I learned that as a Christian couple and family, our focus on Christ will help us have a good marriage. Also, that forgiveness is key. It helps save marriages.

I would encourage all married couples to check this out for next year. It will benefit your marriage whether you already have a good marriage or want to improve it.  Better to keep a good thing going well than to wait until you have to fight a forest fire.

Focus on the Family also has a live simulcast for Focus on Parenting.  I know I could always use help in this area.

Whitehorse, Yukon: the most northern parts of Canada




I have been away from blogging for over 2 weeks and I loved it. I have been away at a bible camp doing some speaking, and also returned from the Yukon, which is located way up north next to Alaska. Yes, Saskatoon, SK, Canada is north, but Whitehorse, Yukon is even further up north. I can say that this is the furthest north I have ever been. I was up there for a national youth gathering of about 1,200 youths from across Canada.

I also took some pictures of the travels through the northern Rocky Mountains. They were not as majestic as the Rockies around Banff, Alberta but they were still beautiful. Northern Canada is truly a very beautiful country. It was my first time up in the Yukon and I savored the beauty in creation. I took a lot of photos and videos of the Rockies on the bus going up to Whitehorse. I even saw herds of buffalo (Yes, those are pictures of real buffalo taken from outside the bus window!). These are some of my shots. Enjoy.

I have also tried to upload videos of some awe-inspiring mountainous landscapes but it failed to upload. I don’t know why. Maybe I will try again later.

Our Christmas gift

I am proud to announce to the world that I am a new dad. On Friday morning, December 21, 2007 at 9:41 a.m. my wife gave birth to our baby daughter Julianne Hannah Sam. We have been getting things ready for our baby’s arrival into this world and she came at a most profound time–just before Christmas. Thank you Lord!