July 18, 2011.
We were leading a summer camp at the Boys & Girls Club. As the kids were eating breakfast, I shared that it was a special day for us. “Twelve years earlier,” I explained, “I asked Mrs Joanna to marry me, and she said, ‘Yes,’ of course.”
One 9 year old boy raised his hand. “Mr. Joey, I have a question.” Sure, go ahead. “If she had told you ‘no,’ would you have kicked her out of the house?”
It took me a second to realize that he was being serious. But he was staring right at me. I looked all around the room. I noticed 30+ pairs of eyes were waiting expectantly. Without saying a word, I knew that kids and leaders alike were awaiting my response.
I said, “Well, we didn’t live together before we were married.”
Now, it was this boy’s turn to be shocked. “What?! You didn’t?! Why not?”
Again, people were looking for my answer. Was this an opportunity to preach God’s truth, or to give a theology of marriage, or to share the Gospel? Maybe, but it didn’t seem right. Plus, I knew we would have a relationship with these kids for a while. So maybe I could lay a foundation that we could come back to.
“Why didn’t we live together before we were married? Because we didn’t think it was the right thing to do, and we still don’t think it’s the best idea for anyone else.” And that was the end of the conversation. For the moment.
I’m not sure if what I said stuck with him, but at the least, he would now know at least one guy who made the choice to not shack up with a girl before marriage. Maybe one day I can follow up with him. And maybe one day when he has that decision to make, he’ll remember the day he asked this question and got my answer.