Religion in Relationships

July, August, September 2004

Want to learn more about Religion in Relationships? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.

Lesson 1: Created for Community (Genesis 2, Matthew 7)
Did God create us to worship Him or to help others? If the answer is "both," what does God expect of us in our dealings with others? Our lesson this week is entitled "Created for Community" and we start out with our most immediate "community" - the family. Let's jump into our study!

Lesson 2: Honor Your Father and Your Mother (Exodus 20, Ephesians 6, Deuteronomy 21)
Have you ever had someone compliment you and afterward you wondered if was a compliment or a criticism? Today, in our continued study on relationships, we study God's plan for the relationship between parents and children. God gives a wonderful promise to children who have the right relationship with their parents. When we examine that promise we find that it is more than simply a promise. Is it a promise and a threat? A promise or a prediction? On the other side of the relationship, what obligations to parents have to their children? Let's dive into God's Word and find out!

Lesson 3: Parenthood - Joys and Responsibilities (Psalms 127, Proverbs 19, Luke 15)
Last week we studied the responsibilities of children to honor their parents. At the same time, we looked at the responsibilities of parents to lead and encourage their children to obey their parents and God. This week we continue our study of what God has in mind with this whole "having children" thing. Let's jump in and see what lessons we can learn!

Lesson 4: Marriage is Not Out-of-Date (1 Peter 3, Matthew 19)
Last summer, when I was in Canada, the lead stories in the newspapers were the forest fires and homosexual marriage. Not long after I returned, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, a court I have argued before many times, ruled that homosexuals had a constitutional right to marry. Right now the U.S. Congress is wrestling with the issue of defining marriage. What does God say about marriage? Is He flexible? What is His ideal? What does He allow? Let's turn to the Bible and find out!

Lesson 5: Friendship (Various Proverbs, 1 Samuel 20)
Have you heard the old saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed?" Lately, I've heard it modified to "A friend in need is a pain in the neck!" Is there common ground between these two statements? Does the truth of the saying depend on whether you are the "needy" friend? What, really, is a friend? How should you select friends? What counsel does the Bible give us on friendships? Let's jump into our study and find out!

Lesson 6: Religion in the Workplace (Genesis 2, Colossians 3, Ecclesiastes 9)
How do you view your work? Is it an unpleasant requirement? Is it your favorite thing? Is it meaningless? Is it blessing in your life? Is it a means to bless others or just yourself? What connection is there between our work and our commitment to God? Let's jump into the Bible and see what counsel it gives us about Christians at work!

Lesson 7: Respect for Authorities (Romans 13, John 18, Genesis 41)
In the United States, we have important elections coming up this November. Unlike many other democracies, we have only two major political parties. A very interesting fact has come out of the two-party system. Polling shows that Christians who attend church regularly overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans. People who do not attend church regularly, or not at all, generally identify themselves as Democrats. This raises some very interesting questions. If the righteous primarily identify with one political party, should this translate into party political activity? Or, is the involvement of religion in politics a bad thing? How does God want us to act when it comes to politics? Does the Bible speak to the issue of Christians and politics? Let's jump into the Bible and find out!

Lesson 8: Christ's Other Sheep (John 10, Mark 9, 1 Corinthians 3)
Why do we have so many Christian denominations? For that matter, why do we have so many religions in the world? Is this God's plan? Does one denomination have all of the correct doctrines? All the truth? If a person is a Christian, is there any reason to try to convert that person to a different Christian denomination? Let's jump into our study this week and see what the Bible says about "other sheep" and their education!

Lesson 9: How to Relate to Non-Christians (Acts 4)
"All roads lead to heaven." Is that true? The modern culture rejects the idea of absolute truth. Instead, the idea is that every person's opinion is equally valid and equally true. Spirituality of any stripe is good. When the singer Madonna forms a "prayer circle" before her performance, and then prays to herself, popular culture notes that she is indeed a "spiritual" person. What does the Bible say about the way to heaven? Let's dive into the Good Book and find out what the official map says!

Lesson 10: Loving Our Enemies? (Matthew 5, Romans 12)
Mat Staver, a prominent American religious liberty lawyer, likes to tell a story about me that centers on Matthew 5:44. That text tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. How do religious liberty lawyers who are fighting "the bad guys" do that? Mat suggested that when he entered into legal battle he prayed for his opponents - that they would be confused! That struck me as being inconsistent with the theme of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5. But, one day I decided to follow Mat's advice when I was cross-examining a fellow in a deposition. The deposition went wonderfully for "our side" because the fellow testifying against us was confused - confused enough to tell the truth! I reported to Mat that he was on to something. What does Jesus have in mind in Matthew 5? Did David love Goliath? What, exactly, is our Biblical obligation to people who are hurting us and the gospel of Christ? Let's jump into the Bible to see what we can learn!

Lesson 11: Brothers and Sisters in the Faith (1 Corinthians 12, Galatians 3, Matthew 20)
How do we deal with differences among members in the church? I recall being a member of a church constitution and bylaws committee and being told that our job was to decide on the qualifications of members of an administrative committee. The suggestions were that we needed a certain number of people who lived in various geographical areas, we needed a certain number of people of a certain gender, we needed a certain number of people of a certain race, we needed a certain number of people who were employees of the church and a certain number of people who were not. This made me scratch my head and wonder about our goal. Was our goal to bring a diverse group of people together? Or, was it to bring together a group of people who knew something about the task at hand - which was administration? What should be our goal? Does the Bible speak to the issue of diversity? Let's dive in and find out!

Lesson 12: Supporting Our Leaders (1 Samuel 8, Matthew 20, 1 Timothy 3)
We naturally think that any successful organization has leadership. Is this also true for the church? If so, what kind of leaders should they be? Should the leaders of the church model themselves after leaders of the world? Leaders of industry? Does the church need leaders at all? Isn't Jesus the only leader we need? Let's jump into our study and find out what the Bible teaches us about leadership in the church.

Lesson 13: Embracing the World (Mark 2, John 17, 2 Corinthians 5)
This is our last study in our series about religion and relationships. When Christians speak of "the world," aren't they referring to sin? Should we embrace sin? What kind of relationship, if any, should we have with the world? What is God's mission for us in the world? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!

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