Monday, March 09, 2009

The Pendulum: Christians and Defacto Guests

Duncan and I were having a long discussion on the weekend about a possible dilemma we could soon face.

Since we're in the middle of nowhere, when guests come to visit from Perth or elsewhere they really have no choice but to stay with us. There is no other accommodation in Buntine and Dalwallinu is about 50km away which isn't practical if we want to spend time with them.

The issue we were discussing is what do we do when a defacto couple want to stay with us?
Obviously, we're Christians and we believe sex is for marriage between a man and a woman but how do we relate to defacto couples with both grace and truth? Should we put them in separate beds (we have two spare rooms) or just let them have the double bed? I realise this issue might be different if we had adult children who were in defacto relationships and wanted to bring their partner with them to stay with us. In this instance we, as their parents, have some authority over them because it is our house and they are to honour our wishes. But if the couple are two adults who are family or friends, what do we do then?

One on hand, I am leaning towards just letting them have the double bed even though I don't agree with their lifestyle. They are adults and it's their lives and how they choose to live is up to them. It makes me feel preachy or like a mother figure telling them what to do.

But on the other hand, I am wondering if just letting them do what they want is like giving a thumbs up to sex before marriage or indicating that while I have my beliefs, I don't care about how they live. Also it is our house and I guess we do have some rights to enforce limits on our guests like asking a smoker to smoke outside for example.

Basically I want to love these couples and do what is pleasing in God's sight. Obviously my main prayer is for them to know God. What would you do in this situation? Or have you already been in a similar one? Please vote in the poll on the right.


Middo said...

For me I would allow them to sleep in the same bed. It is a tough one.

I don't mean to say I advocate a 'free for all' but I guess, if you make a stand in that area then what other 'activities' would you have to crack down on? Would you be able to let mates drink at your place? What about getting drunk at a party? What about coarse jokes? What about so many other things?

You may be unlike me and not have friends who get involved in these 'other' area's when visiting. Maybe they happen to me because I allow them? I just don't know if the alternative, that people don't feel able to come visit, is better?

I guess for me it comes back to this. My 'take' on being salt and light is that 'I' am the salt and light. I live differently. For me the idea is that, regardless of what they may get into, I am to be an example of Godly living.

I don't, however, insist on Godless people living a godly lifestyle. In this case, would they be following God's commands because they choose to, or because they are forced to?

Another question it raises for me, where are our spheres of influence? If we have authority at our home to hope for and expect people to live a certain way, why would we then suddenly, outside of those 4 walls, stop expecting people to? Would people feel able to be real around us? Can we categorise places?

Also, does it then go further? Do people feel comfortable at church because they've not felt comfortable at church going people's homes? Or is this an entirely ridiculous link?

Some food for thought:)

Jillian said...

I agree with Middo...
It is a tough decision to make, but I guess, what would you rather more? The friends refusing to come and visit you because you wont let them sleep in the same bed, or the opportunity to witness to them a how a Godly marriage and relationship works, the difference it makes in your lives?
We had the same issue with one of our house-mates, however they weren't living together before she moved in. We told her the expectations or the rules for our house from the beginning, but it didn't stop it from happening.
I guess the other thing to consider is whether they're already living together or not. If not, then separate rooms, if they are, then same room...
Dunno if that helps..

Sarah said...

Thanks Jill and Middo

The problem I see with the housemate situation is that everyone is ‘equals’, all paying rent etc and therefore it becomes difficult for one housemate to enforce ‘rules’ on another. Whereas when a guest comes to stay, you hope they would do nothing to upset or disrespect the household. I’m not referring to sex here rather pointing out that we do have SOME ‘rights’ to ask our guests not to do such and such if they are hurting people in the house such as smoking inside or trashing the place.

The couples we are referring to have all been living together for quite a few years now. What grieves me is that in some cases, one partner used to be Christian and was a significant influence in bringing me to know Christ. Now they seem to have wandered away, got non Christian partners and live defacto, live for worldly stuff, no longer fellowship with other Christians or even profess to be Christian. I guess I am to refer to them now as unbelievers, I don’t know.

What I want most is a chance to be in their lives to witness to them. For some of these couples, we are the only Christians they know.

Judie S said...

Hi, Sarah.
You don't know me, I'm a friend of Wendy's, & found your blog through her reference to 'Turning Japanese'.
I was in a similar position to you, but I thought mine was worse. My only child lived with her now-husband for two years, & had two gorgeous daughters, before his divorce came through and they could marry.
The situation compounded because my husband went into a nursing home just after they were made homeless and came to live with us, still unmarried.
I finally decided it was more important to state my beliefs and welcome them than to rant about how sinful they were being or turn them away.
(The fact that none of us could afford rent alone may have been a contributing factor, & I still wonder sometimes whether that was my real reason.)
It's a new world, Sarah. I thought my girl was a strong Christian but she did it. She, hubby, girls & I go to church together most weeks, & he was studying 'Christianity Explained' while they were engaged, but hasn't kept it up (I don't know who called it off).
Do you have a good enough relationship with your friends to actually talk to them about your dilemma? You may find a 'speaking the truth in love' moment improves your friendship. If you manage not sounding self-righteous, that is!
It certainly would give you a chance to share God's standard, and maybe find out a bit about their journey away from Him.

Sarah said...

Hi Judie,
Welcome! I wrote that post over three years ago now and I've done quite a bit of thinking since then. I've come to the decision that if a couple are not Christian then we are fine with them sleeping in the same bed. BUT if one or both are professing Christians, then I will not allow it under my house and would want to talk to them about why they want to. The key passage in helping me to come to this decision was 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 As Christians, we are not to judge the world and that means not insisting godless people live a godly lifestyle because that's how I think they should live. What's more important is sharing Christ with them if they are interested, and not insisting that they stop sleeping together first. Godliness flows out of a relationship with Christ - not adopting certain 'morals'. But there is a responsibility on all of us to keep each other accountable in the church. I think Paul is pretty clear here that we rebuke and confront fellow Christians out of love. Some Christians think this is judging, but saying nothing actually shows a lack of love.
Thanks for your comment.