Stuff from last week

I haven’t been posting much recently, partly due to time and partly due to disinclination, but last week a came across a few things I found interesting, that I thought I’d share. The plan was for it to go up on Friday, but the Monday Morning Wife and I had our 10th Anniversary and I got distracted.

Russell Moore spoke on The Gospel Coalition Podcast about the obstacles of religious liberty. Depending on your perspective, it’s not what you think. I thought the points he makes about us looking too much for the government to help us and enforce our view of morality were really good; though he does fail to note the painful irony that some of the biggest pushers for ‘religious liberty’ and government enforced morality are often the most ardent anti-government.

Somewhat related, Theocast talks about losing a generation at church. I’m less concerned than most people, though probably not concerned enough, because I think it is inevitable. We were never a ‘Christian Nation’, whatever that means, but for the most of our history, we’ve been a solidly Christian culture, but we aren’t any more. This means we are shedding some of the cultural only hanger’s on. I guess I should care more, but I don’t.

The other thing that stuck out to me about this particular episode was the lack of political honesty. There is one quick mention/jab about not agree with ‘they younger people’ and their politics, but no real discussion about the impact politics has played on losing more and more young people. When I was growing up, Monica Lewinsky was the worst thing ever, a national moral tragedy. Many of the same people publicly deriding Clinton are now, 20 years later, some of the most vocal supporters of Trump. A democrat being immoral is cause for massive public outcry, but these people really don’t seem to give a shit how many hookers and pornstars a republican bangs. All these leaders have traded in the Gospel of Christ of the promise of power from Christian Nationalism, and we are the lost generation?

I could go on and on about this, because it pisses me off so, but if the ‘church’ keeps acting like questioning the Moral Majority or St. Ronnie is blasphemy, and cannot have adult conversations about political issues such as healthcare, minimum wage, income inequality, etc. without resorting to beating up tired old strawmen or just screaming ‘socialism’, we are going hemorrhage anyone under 65 faster than we can imagine.

Speaking of being somewhat bad with economics, I started a new book – Practicing the King’s Economy: Honoring Jesus in How We Work, Earn, Spend, Save, and Give
It seems really good so far, except they seem to think per capita GDP is useful measure, confuse mean for median, don’t accurately represent inflation, and ignore income inequality. I guess this isn’t surprising, because those things tend to get political, and they state at the beginning, they don’t want to do that, for, you know…reasons. Anyway from a Biblical prospective, it is pretty interesting so far, especially the focus on community.

I haven’t written many reviews lately because I’m still trying to power through this – 50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology I’m a big fan of theology, and the part where he gets rolling are really good, but it is slow going as it is a bit repetitive, a little redundant, and well, over 400 pages.

Lastly for books, I read Notes From the Underground, which is really interesting, but I have this copy – Notes From Underground And The Grand Inquisitor. I recommend against this as the second half of the books is an excerpt from The Brothers Karamazov (Everyman’s Library), which I already own.

Finally, you may have seen that we moved our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There is plenty written out there about the political consequences of this, but I found this article from a Catholic viewpoint to be interesting. If you didn’t grow up in the dispensational work, or studied your way out, Christian Zionism can seem really odd, so I appreciate the view from someone else.

That’s all for now, hopefully, I’ll have some reviews up soon.

10 Year Anniversary

I don’t typically post personal things, especially pictures or anything that could constitute ‘social media’, that’s not the point of a pretend theologian. However, today is actually my 10 Anniversary. Look at these young, sexy, jackasses:

There is a lot I could say here about the ups and downs of marriage; the struggles and blessings; expectations vs. realities; or even about marrying the greatest woman I know, but I’m going to take a hard pass on all that and just post the pictures. We dropped Sprout off with my parents today, to have a couple day staycation alone, and my parents live on the same street as the wedding venture in which we were married. So, after dropping her off, we swung by and took a picture in front of the alter.

The day we were married 10 years ago was a pretty, picture perfect day of 73 degrees, sunny, and probably only 60% humidity or so.  Today was hot and rainy and we didn’t really think ahead to dress up or anything, but here we are:

20180517_125320

Mrs. MMT is beautiful as always, and I look basically the same as 10 years ago, just older and fatter. I could write pages and pages about the years we’ve spent, and I still can’t believe it’s gone by so quickly, but for now, three cheers for 10 years.

Money and Church Buildings

A few weeks ago, I wrote a short series on money (parts 1, 2, 3, & 4), and one of the things I talked about was, what to do with it? I realize I’m in a somewhat unique situation in wondering what to do with extra money, but it will make more sense if you just read those original posts. However, I wrote all those posts (though the publishing overlapped) before our pastor made an announcement one Sunday that caught us all be surprise.

Our church meets in a public elementary school, which has been our meeting place for six years or so (I’m not entirely sure, we’ve only been members for about three years). Our current contract takes us through this August with a one year open to take us through the summer of 2019. Our pastor indicated that there was a new principle at the school was not interested in the option year or a contract renewal, and therefore we would need to be out the first week of August. Also, it wouldn’t really be August because renovations to the school were to take place over the summer, so, actually, we had until Memorial Day. This all came up in the middle of March.

We also rent some office/meeting space in an industrial area down the street. Providentially, the same week that we find out we are not longer to meet in the school, the landlords of our office space stop by one day and tell the staff that the space across the parking lot (roughly 17,000 square feet) will soon be available, you know, in case we are interested.

I skip through the meetings, drama, stress, rushing around that ensued over the next few weeks, but ultimately, we decided to go for it. The idea was to find our own space in the next two or three years, but, it appears, God had another plan. All that to say, it was going to take some money. The space was actually two spaces, one was an office/warehouse type use and the other was basically a call center/cubicle farm. Estimates for renovating the space came in at around $900,000. Now, we are a church of 300-350 people or so, or about 120-130 families, with probably about 80-85 of which are regularly attending, money giving members. Realistically, a pledge of $12-15K per family (average) isn’t terrible, that is, when you are fundraising for two or three years.

We had about six weeks. Not only did we need to ‘raise’ that money in six weeks, we also needed a little more than a third of it in cash, in May (by today, actually). Again, I’ll fast forward through the sleeplessness of the elders and staff team, the endless meetings, the tireless efforts of a few volunteers, and the arguments/debates/conversations about other possible cheaper options. Two weeks ago was what we called commitment Sunday, where everyone wrote down what they were committed to bring in up front cash and what they could give over the next year and yesterday was the culmination of that phase as people brought their first checks. Ultimately, we fell slightly short of the goal, but people committed to give roughly $862,000 over the next year. However, the we do have some reserve funds that we can easily commit to cover the gap, so the project moves forward.

Construction drawings have been produced and submitted and hopefully work will begin soon. The target date for us to have our first service will be the first Sunday of November. In the mean time, after a few great meetings with the school staff, we’ve worked out an agreement in which we will still meet at the school through October. Luckily, there are never any problems with contractors or construction timelines, right?

It was been a fascinating few months for out community. The discussion among people regarding money, giving, finance have been incredible and have grown and matured us as a body. The church community itself is not very old (maybe around 20 years) and has meet in a few random places over the years, with no specific place as home. Now, we will have an actual space, that is ours all day every day, and for the next 10 years. This will be longer than we’ve ever been in one place as a church. It is longer than we’ve ever been in one place as a family (our ten year anniversary is in three days). So, there is a lot of faith and trust that this is where God wants us (community and family) to be. It has changed the mindset of the community for what commitment looks like, with time (specifically long term thinking/goals) and obviously money. Some of the stories that have some from this have been incredible. Two quickly, one woman is retired and living on a pension, she has decided to take a job and give the entire entire salary over the next year (I could write a whole post on this story) and one of the build/design professionals we contacted was so impacted by our story that he actually gave our pastor $1,000 to go towards the building fund.

That was really the point of me writing this post, which has now rambled on longer than anticipated. We prayed that God would guide us in budgeting a giving out of what He has blessed us with, and now, giving to the building fund alone will be a largest budget category over the next year, followed by our mortgage, and then our regular giving. To be honest, it is kind of scary. It is a lot of money, and a huge commitment for us. We are sacrificing a few things here and there, mostly notably holding off on replacing an old car. You can actually hear Mrs. MMT discuss this here (she tells our story in an interview style interaction one morning with the pastor and one of the elders, who also shares a story) if you are interested, and you can even go to the main page here to see the entire timeline with updates as we received them as well as more stories of people discussing giving and commitment to the church.

This entire story has really reinforced to me the importance of how we handle money as Christians. I wrote about the importance of budgeting, because without it, we don’t have the flexibility to be able to give more when called upon. I realize many people struggle and their income just isn’t there to give what they’d like, but my focus is on those who have the means, but don’t pay enough attention. The amount of people I’ve heard from over the past few months who looked back through their spending (some for the first time) or made budgets for the first time, and were in shock over the amount of money they wasted on certain things has been surprising. I know many people don’t pay attention, but this is really some poor stewardship as a whole church community. People were finally looking, and coming to me saying, I can’t believe I spend $2,000 a year in cable, or I can’t believe I spent so much money on going out to eat. They were essentially finding hundreds of dollars a month in their budgets.

Obviously, this is something we as Christians should talk about more. Money should be much less of a taboo than it is, especially considering the amount of time Jesus spent discussing money. He is our example, and if we take that seriously, we are clearly failing. I think it is a topic I will try to write on more, here on this site.

Anyway, it is an exciting and scary time of us as a family here at MMT (the term of our lease will have sprout entering as a pre-schooler and leaving as a teenage) and for our church community. God has blessed us and given as an opportunity to pour much of that back in to our community, so I just wanted to write that our and share with the few of you who still read this. More updates to follow, I’m sure. It should be fun.

Book Review: We’re Pregnant

This book will be released next Tuesday (April 24). I was excited to be contacted by a new publisher (or publisher’s agent) to request a review. Obviously, that means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

We’re Pregnant! The First-Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook

My Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Quick, easy book. Reads much shorter than the roughly 275 pages.

Summary
If you are looking at it, I’m sure you’ve figured out it is a pregnancy book. It is definitely more ‘handbook’ than most other pregnancy handbooks and guides out there. The book is broken into four parts – the three trimesters and what he calls the ‘fourth trimester’. Within each part is a chapter for each month, and each month is broken into weekly subsections.

Each part has an intro to the trimester and a summary checklist for things to have accomplished for the trimester at the end of the part. Chapters (months) likewise have a shorter intro with a stats page with things like size comparisons and ‘new gear’, which is things the baby will develop that month (lungs, toes, etc.). The write-up for the week is about a page and has a separate text box with info such as baby stats, mom stats, and not-to-miss appointments.

The remainder of each sub-chapter is ‘family goals’, which include things like ‘plan ahead’, ‘budget savvy’, and ‘home CEO’. In the intro to the book, Kulp explains each of the 13 family goals that come up. However, each week only has two to four.

The ‘fourth trimester’ is a section devoted to the first three months of the baby’s life. He follows the same format as the other trimesters, which leads to funny comparisons as fruit no longer does the job (for 2 month old, he reference a house cat or Thanksgiving turkey).

My Thoughts
As mentioned above, the is the most handbook style pregnancy book I’ve read. I’d recommend buying the book as soon as you are pregnant and reading through the whole thing. Then, as each week comes up, flip back through and review the stats pages and text box, as well as family goals sections. The trimester checklist at the back of each part is incredibly useful, though it really should be in the front. As you enter each trimester, skip to that end and make yourself aware of the checklist and things you need to accomplish.

Kulp’s writing style is funny and quick, I had never heard of him before, but apparently he is big in the dad blogosphere. The book is a useful guide, the strength is probably the family goals. I didn’t like the names of two of them, because I don’t like the word ‘doula’ and I really dislike ‘daddy daycare’, because the implication being that a dad is not a caregiver. I would just call this parenting. However, the phrase was likely chosen for the alliteration, as Kulp is a stay at home dad with four children, I doubt he sees himself as being stuck on ‘daycare duty’, as I’ve heard to referred to before.

The ‘fourth trimester’ section is a novel concept, most books take you to a few weeks, maybe a month, after birth, if they don’t stop with birth itself. Similarly, the sub-chapters for weeks 41 and 42 are pretty funny, especially if you’ve had a child (or no of one) that stayed too long and the overwhelming feeling of the mom who just wanted to get the baby out of her. I like that he mentions the heartbreak and struggle of miscarriage, telling his personal story; this is a topic often skipped in most pregnancy books (and really life in general, as I found out when we went through one). I also appreciated his focus on keeping an eye on your wife after the birth for signs of  post-partum depression that can be much more serious than the typical ‘baby-blues’.

When I found out we were pregnant, I think I bought six books. I’ve since read and reviewed another four or five, and probably have to put this as the top two or three. Overall, it is a good book, and well written, and I particularly like the guide style, which makes the book very practical with useful tips. There is nothing in there about pre-pregnancy or trying to conceive, so if that is your focus, look elsewhere. He has geared the book to those dads who just found out there are pregnant. So, if that is you, put this on your list.

Book Review: Real Love in an Angry World

Real Love in an Angry World: How to Stick to Your Convictions without Alienating People

My Rating – Put it on your list

Level – Quick, easy read; short book

Summary
A good, quick summary of this book is somewhat hard to do. Bezet’s main idea is that there are unhappy people out there who are mad and/or judgmental towards Christianity. Additionally, these people come from both ends – those opposed to Christianity, and Christians (or at least those who would call themselves as such, like Westboro Baptist) themselves who think your Christianity isn’t good enough. He spends a little time on Christian who have drifted away from historic Christianity, i.e. denying the validity of the Scriptures, miracles, etc. However, most of the time is spent on the two more angry sides, the non-believers and judgmental believers (for instance, he relates a story of taking his wife to see a Celine Dion in Vegas, and losing a few church members once they found out he was in Vegas).

The book is broken into nine chapters that kind of bounce around on different topics. Everything from picking our battles to loving your neighbor (and just who is your neighbor) to then loving you enemy, to a little bit of history on the Bible. He touches on politics a number of times, but not necessarily specific topics or policy points, mainly just that Christians can disagree with each other while still be Christians, and Christians can disagree with non-Christians while still showing love and understanding. I don’t know how long he has been working on the book, but as it was published near the end of 2017, I assume it is at least partially motivated by the rise and election of Trump.

My Thoughts
Overall, it is a good book. Bezet is a good writer, very personal, and I thought, very humorous. I struggle with exactly who should read this book. For most Christians, it is probably worth your time to read, especially because it is so short. It reads quickly and is funny, his points on how to listen to people and how important it is to really listen, and his continual emphasis on the need to truly love others, are great reminders and points weakness for most of us. I especially like his point about loving others being the second great commandment. He points out that on the liberal Christian and non-Christian side, there is often the comment that we just need to love each other because that is what Jesus said and that is all we need. Bezet rightly points out, this is the second great command, this first is to love God. Part of that love means being faithful to God and His Word.

While all is helpful, I think the best use could be for those Christians on the extreme end of the non-loving judgmental side. Those who are the most angry and often express hate. The problem is, of course, I don’t think the people who need it the most would actually read it, and if they did they’d likely just disagree. I guess you never know how the Spirit will move some people, but I remain skeptical. Either way, it might be helpful for you to recognize some issues in your life, and if you see some of these issues in others, it might help you in reaching out to them and helping them to show the love of Christ, while retaining the love for God.

*I received a free copy of this book for an honest review

Easter 2018

He is risen!

We celebrate Easter today and commemorate the Resurrection of Christ. Jesus isn’t dead, and did not stay in the grave, but instead we worship the living Son of God whom is seating at the right hand of the Father. He conquered death, so that we will never truly die, but will one day be brought up with him. There is no sting in death, no victory for the grave, as Christ is victorious, and we will now live.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Mystery and Victory

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

 

Good Friday 2018

Matthew 26:36-42

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

 

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch[a] with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 

 

Propitiation of our sins and Substitutionary Atonement, means that Christ took the Wrath of God for us. Every sin of every person, past, present, and future, was laid to rest on Him that day. The sky went dark and the Son was separated from the Father. We call today Good Friday because it was good for us. He took on death, that we may live. However, we should remember, on this day especially, the seriousness of sin and the wrath of God. Jesus even prays, in the verses above, that if there is any way other than to drink the Cup of God’s Wrath, to please let that happen, but if not, He will do God’s will. He consumed that cup for us, taking the full measure of wrath, that He who never sinned, would become as sin for us, so that we would become as righteous before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

He was distressed until it finished
The pain endured was not diminished
Until the vict’ry’s sound and was won
“Not My will but Yours be done.”

He drank it all, the cup of God’s wrath

Book Review: On Pills and Needles

On Pills and Needles: The Relentless Fight to Save My Son from Opioid Addiction

My Rating: Put it on your list

Level: Easy, moderate length (250+), but reads quickly

Summary
A detailed summary of the book is difficult to do. The subtitle more or less says everything you need to know about the book. Van Warner writes a first hand account of watching is his son struggle with addiction to opioids, starting as a teenager and extending through his mid twenties. The book is broken into 25 broad chapters that generally follow a chronological pattern of thought, but not always. There are a few bits of information regarding the pandemic that is the opioid crisis, but these are mostly scattered throughout the narrative of his son’s life. If you seeking answer to the problem, or even just the ‘Christian response’ (the publisher is Baker Books, after all), you will not find any in this book. However, if you are somehow lucky enough not to know anyone with this addiction, it is worth the read, if for nothing else than to gain an understanding of what happens, what addiction look like, and the impact of family and friends of the addict.

My Thoughts
Van Warner is a great writer in a narrative sense, and I found myself compelled to keep reading this book just to see what happens next. It is an emotionally enthralling book, and if you have normal level of empathy and emotions, it is likely you will not get through this book without crying multiple times. That being said, be aware that there is little else to this book than the story of his son. I’m not really sure what I expected when I ordered it, but there isn’t really any resolution or response to the issue. No ‘warning signs’ or way to prevent this from happening. Nothing along the lines of, how to help those hurting or what we should do as a church. All of  which is fine, it is clearly not the intention he had in mind while writing this, but be aware if that is the type of book you are looking for.

Outside of the lack of resolution, the only thing I didn’t like about the book is the typically evangelical hypocrisy of being anti-government, while blaming the government for not doing enough. While he rightly attributes the initial problem to the Pharma Companies, specifically the one that falsely claimed Oxcy was non-addictive, he does lament the government hasn’t done enough. He also point out that Florida is ground zero of the crisis, with an astonishing 93 of the top 100 opioid prescribing doctors working there. Of course, FLorida is notoriously lax in government regulation and I’m sure this and the low tax (meaning less government) environment is partly what brought him there from New York. He himself doesn’t necessarily rant that much against government in his book, but it is odd to read from the perspective of evangelicals, knowing that most of us are heavily pro-business and anti regulation, inexplicably claiming that the free market couldn’t lead us astray, and then, when they inevitably do, we wonder why the government didn’t help. Those critiques are a little past the realm of this book review, but if you become aware of them while reading, it tends to gnaw at you.

Likewise, he blames ‘bureaucracy’ for his son spending two months in county jail, while he supposed to be transferred to another county jail. All this happens in context of his sons possession and intent to distribute charge being dropped. Being dropped. He doesn’t seem to realize how lucky he is that his son is well off and white. Poor people and minorities don’t tend to have felony drug charges just ‘dropped’, but instead spend years in jail.

I’m hesitant to leave that in for just a book review, but the author does seem to be misguided often. Regardless, his story is revisiting, if lacking insight in to solutions. I have a colleague whose son is currently in the grips of heroin addiction, after starting with Oxcy. The things the author writes about, the stories, the pain, the interactions with counselors and police, could have come from her. There is a shocking amount of similarity. I’m sure that is the same for many others out there. If you are looking for a story to help you internalize the crisis, this is a must read. It is probably helpful for anyone in pastoral ministry, counseling, or youth/child workers. There isn’t a list of things that parents/teachers can look for as far as signs of drug abuse, but there are gleanings from the detail of his story. For those with any interest in the epidemic that is currently among us, this is a book you need to add to your list.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Christians and Money – Money in Marriage

I’ve been rambling for a few weeks about Christians and money, it started when I was flagged on my taxes for giving ‘too much’ money to charity, then I jumped to budgeting and how poor most of us are as stewards of what God has given us, before finally getting to my originally planned post about what to do with an abundance or living with plenty. The logical next step in the progression is to talk about Christians and retirement (as it is practiced in most of America), as that is kind of the end of money. Instead, I’m going to take a bit of tangent and talk about money in marriage.

I listen to a few personal finance podcast, and one of them has a recurring type of episode called, ‘Ask Paula’, where the host respond to emails, voicemails, etc., often with a guest host to help weigh in. On this particular episode, the guest was a relationship expert and one of the callers had a question about handling money with her boyfriend. She was a pretty high earner with a good savings rate, and he was a low earner with student loan debt. They had no religious or cultural reasons to get married, and didn’t plan on having kids. They lived together and planned to spend the rest of their lives together. Her question was, should she pay off the remainder of his debts.

Astoundingly, neither of the host thought it was a good idea (well, with some caveats; one of the way in which the caller suggested to help pay off debt, the host said she wouldn’t recommend doing that in general, let alone this situation and the guest hosts recommended against paying off the debt, unless she had some sort of contract or at least realized that she might just be throwing money away, but it if felt good, then do it.) Now, the host, as far as I can tell, is non-religious and it didn’t seem the guest host was either, regardless, this was a personal finance expert pairing with a relationship expert to give advice about money in a relationship. So, my point isn’t they should be married, covenant, lack of commitment, blah, blah, blah, because the fact is, many married people, even Christians (you know, those who are ‘one flesh’) have this separated view of money.

As a quick aside, I will say I disagree with the hosts, but from a practical reason. If you really do spend your entire life with someone, and you both hit 70, it isn’t actually like one of you has saved well while the other is broke. When he doesn’t pay is part of the rent, what will you do, kick him out? If you have savings, but she is debt, and you want to take a vacation, but she can’t afford the plane ticket, are you going alone? That would be the logical conclusion; I really don’t understand what people are thinking.

However, I see this is marriages, and with Christians, constantly. It just happened this past Sunday, I was telling a guy about the general rule that you should save 15% of your income. His first question, ‘is that 15% each, or just one of you?’ Well, you each want to retire, right? But the bigger issue, is he had the focus on each. The income between the two of you is your income. You are supposed to be one. If you have an income of $100K, you need to save $15K total, period. It doesn’t matter if one person makes three fourths of that, all of it, half of it, or none of it. Like I said above, what good is it for you to save and your spouse have nothing? The money needs to be viewed as one, not two pots contributing to one. We have a situation where Mrs. MMT doesn’t have a 401(k) at work. We make similar incomes, so I save almost 30% of my check, while nothing is taking from her. It doesn’t matter, though, all our paychecks go to one account and we pay all the bills from it, and we have a monthly budget based on that income.

Not everyone sees it that way. A guy at work is in the same situation. He was asking me about investing one day, and mentioned he only did 7%, as this was what was required to get the match. As I tell everyone, I told him he needed to put in 15% and his wife needed to be doing the same. After telling me his wife doesn’t have access to a 401(k), I told him he needed to double up. His response was, ‘and then she just gives me some of her money, so I have something to spend.’ I told him, you are married, there is no ‘his’ or ‘her’ money. See, they had two different bank accounts, and they split their bills. I think she paid for their rent, and he would transfer money to her to ‘cover his share’. That is a roommate. That isn’t marriage, at least as we see it from a Christian world view.

If you look at the relationship and finance expert opinions, they typically see three different ways to handle money in relationships. One is the roommate plan, where you have two different bank account that ‘your’ paycheck go into and one person pays bills with the other person ‘paying them back’ or splitting up the bills. My parents actually do this. They’ve been married 30 something years, and I’m pretty sure they’ve never had a joint account. On the other end of the spectrum is having just one account. All the paychecks and money go in, and all bills are paid out.

The latter is clearly preferable, as you really need to look at everything as one. However, there is middle ground approach, that might be alright, depending on how you use it. The third option people talk about is a hybrid, where you have a joint account and your separate account. Practically, that is one idea, but I’d split it up as to how you use it and it all depends on that joint account. If you have your own paychecks go into ‘your’ account and then move money over to pay the bills, you are just technology efficient roommates, you still aren’t one. However, if you have a joint account where everything goes in and out, but have separate accounts that are individual spending accounts, I think that can be alright. Sometimes this just happens practically.

When the Monday Morning Wife and I were first married, we had already been working and had out separate accounts, so we went to the bank and set up one joint account. The original individual accounts acted something like an allowance, but mainly we didn’t want to close accounts before buying a house, because you need credit history. My account consistently had problems after Wells Fargo bought out Wachovia, so we did close it, but Mrs. MMT’s old account become her music business account.

I can see the appeal of keeping the one pot with the two original, but eventually it gets to complicated and if you don’t need the credit history, you might as well fully merge. We are just an individualistic society that it is hard to not want to have our own money. Once we moved to one account, we budgeted an ‘allowance’ for each of us, that way we could have some free spending that we didn’t have to think about. We eventually dropped this practice as well, as after a few years, her budget was negative on near monthly basis and I had, well, about a few years’ worth of the budget there. Actually, in the interim, we just made a budget line called Mrs. MMT, but we’ve left that as well.

In the end, if you are married, you should have on account and not view things as ‘mine’ or ‘yours’. God says have become one flesh, so there is not more his and hers, there is just your family budget. You need to budget together, plan your spending, saving, and giving together. Not only from the practical standpoint of what will you do 50 years from now, but from the spiritual element as well. If you are committed to your family, you need to be 100% committed, and act as one.