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Showing posts with label Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm. Show all posts

Friday, April 23, 2010

Multiplying a Godly Heritage

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born...that they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments. Psalm 78:5-7

One of the best ways to mirror God's image is through a line of godly descendants-our children-who will carry a reflection of His character to the next generation. God's original plan called for the home to be a sort of greenhouse-a nurture center where children grow up to learn character, values, and integrity. Psalm 78 instructs parents to teach their children to carry the message of who God is to the next generation. Through these lines of godly descendants, Satan's kingdom would be defeated.

Today, however, we can observe a problem with many Christian couples regarding child bearing and child rearing: They conform more to the world's standards than to God's. First, many families comply with the popular slogan "Two and no more." And many other couples opt for no children at all, even though they are perfectly capable of conceiving. All families need not be large. Nor is it wrong for a family to be small. But I do believe some Christians are becoming unduly worried about "overpopulating the world." The world needs Christians who are willing and ready to produce godly offspring. If Christians don't replicate a godly heritage to carry biblical values and Scriptural truths to the next generation, then other philosophies and religions will fill the vacuum.

Consider the kind of impact you want to have on the world through your children. Petition your heavenly Father to help you raise children who will grow up to love Jesus Christ with all their hearts and turn their world upside down for Christ!

~ Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

Friday, March 12, 2010

Privacy as a Biblical Concept

Can the Bible teach us anything about the notion of privacy? The law has been concerned with privacy quite dramatically over the past century, wrestling with questions such as: What is privacy? When does private conduct receive public protection? How does the law regulate these?

American jurisprudence has indeed based many rulings on this notion of privacy, and has expanded it dramatically over that process. The Supreme Court of the United States has relied on privacy interests to rule in Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), and Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925) in favor of parental rights; in Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) regarding martial privacy; in Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972) regarding contraceptives for unmarried individuals; in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), regarding abortion, and Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) regarding privacy for consensual sexual conduct in one’s own home.

Consider Genesis 3:8. Adam and Eve thought they could seek privacy. But is there any privacy from God? No, He is omniscient. There is nothing hidden from Him. He knows all, then and now. So is privacy a biblical concept? Consider Romans 1: 20- 2:1. God has kept nothing about Himself private, not even His wrath (v.20) but freely reveals all He is if we seek Him. Indeed, Paul notes in v.21 that God has made it all plain to us. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” And precisely because we are without excuse, true believers do act as set forth in Romans 1, and we simultaneously have no excuse to pass judgment (2:1). So why is privacy such a mystery to lawmakers? The Bible offers great insight into this mystery of privacy. Consider Psalm 25:4-14:
Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths, guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.

Remember, Lord, Your great mercy from and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways, according to Your love remember me, for You are good, O Lord. Good and upright is the Lord, therefore He instructs sinners in His way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant. For the sake of Your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity though it is great. Who then is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity and his descendants will inherit the land. The Lord confides in those who fear Him. He makes His covenant known to them.

God knows all, even if we think we can keep something private from Him; furthermore, He desires for us to know Him, and wants to afford his protection, and blessings in our lives. Privacy is something to be guarded for good. And God wishes there to be no privacy between us and Him, for “the Lord confides in those who fear Him, He makes His covenant known to them.” (v.14). There is no privacy between God and those He loves – which is every one of us. The biblical concept of privacy reveals that He knows all, and desires for us to know all through Him. And through Him, we are free from any notion of privacy that might expand into a trap. “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare.” Psalm 25:15. Yes, privacy is a biblical concept – one that can be easily twisted by human nature, but freely reveals all knowledge of Him.

~ Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hardened Hearts? Guard Your Marriage

In Matthew 19: 1-9, Jesus Christ was confronted by the law makers with the concept of divorce, the legal dissolution of marriage. “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (v. 3) and “Why then…did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (v. 7) they asked.

Moses performed such divorces routinely, quite similar to modern no-fault divorce. Nothing has changed in three thousand years. Marriage is still a challenge, and divorce is still an easy way out. Marriages of Christian lawyers are not immune from this concern.

Every state, except for one,* has a statutory method for dissolving marriage “for any and every reason,” where just one party must initiate the divorce proceeding. No-fault divorce allows any person to deem his or her marriage as “irreconcilable,” or “irretrievably broken,” or to simply leave and end the marriage, unilaterally, even if the other spouse disagrees. Yet statistics show that such divorces are opposed by the remaining spouse in four of five cases.** Although the marriage had been willingly entered into by two people, one can unilaterally terminate it.

In any other legal contract the party who breaks the contract is accountable to stiff penalties. Although the Federal Constitution under the 5th and 14th Amendments requires that “no person be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law,” every unilateral no-fault divorce is always granted, as the “fundamental right of marriage”*** allows for the right to adjust that most fundamental of relationships - even unilaterally. Divorce is the result of a hardened heart. But it was not this way from the beginning.

“Haven’t you read, Jesus replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (v. 4-6) ...Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not his way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for martial unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (v.8-9).

Hardened hearts lead to broken marriages. Broken marriages led to broken families. Broken families lead to broken societies.

Don’t allow your heart to get hard. Keep your marriage the way it was from the beginning, as God created it, united as husband and wife in one flesh. Guard your marriage, and don’t allow your heart to harden against God’s design.

If you are married, do not seek to be unmarried (I Corinthians 7:10-11, 27). Give God your heart, and your marriage, and he will soften both, for His glory.

~ Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

* Only New York State requires bilateral agreement for a no-fault divorce. NY Dom Rel L § 170 Divorce.
See Michael McManus, How To Cut America's Divorce Rate in Half: A Strategy Every State Should Adopt, Marriage Savers (2009).
*** Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Relationships and Priorities: Master, Mate, Mission

When Christ reminded the expert in the law with “the greatest commandment in the Law,” He was spelling out for us all how to live our lives.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37

This passage lays out the priorities of life, or what I call Master, Mate, Mission. And a new year presents a perfect opportunity to readjust yours, if needed. Every day presents challenges in keeping the proper priorities in every area of our lives. For each of us, regardless of calling or position, the very first priority in our lives needs to be Christ, our Master. That means spending time with God as the priority above all others, keeping Him above all else, indeed, “loving Him will all your heart, all your soul, all your mind.”

The second part of the greatest commandment deals with the rest of our priorities: “loving your neighbor as yourself.” These could be characterized as the other relationships in your life. Included in these are those in your family (spouse, children, parents, siblings) and your mission (calling, vocation, church, etc.), or Mate and Mission.

The key to all of life is having your priorities in order. For lawyers who work from 6am to 11pm to meet billable hours, or to achieve the best outcome in the case, and for law students inspired by their calling, this warning should be taken all the more seriously.

If you are married, your order must be Master, Mate, Mission. This means God is first in your life, your spouse and children are next as your first neighbors, and your calling is your third – in that order. Too many lawyers and law students fall prey to being consumed by their mission, to the detriment of their master and mate. A married individual must keep this order of priorities, in obedience to Christ as the greatest commandments, and to thrive in life (I Corinthians 7:33-35). When children come along, the order is even more important – Master, then Mate, then children, then mission. As a woman and a lawyer I know how easy it is to put your children above your husband, a sure mistake in priorities, or to put work before family. Women are good at multitasking, but we must keep these priorities. It is equally if not more important that men guard these priorities, keeping certain that family, wife then children, come before work. Men and women know how easy it is to let mission crowd out master and mate. Guarding these priorities is the key to thriving.

A single person, by contrast, is not (yet) weighed down with family concerns (again I Corinthians 7:32-35), and can keep a different order: Master, Mission, Mate. This means that as you keep your Master first, you are free to make your neighbor the mission. And, as you are carrying out your mission, if God desires He will bring along your mate in the process of your mission, in His perfect time, as part of His perfect plan for you. This means that as a single you are free to thrive in your mission, not needing to “look for” that mate, knowing God will choose a mate for you, if it is His will, in His perfect timing, as you are carrying out that second commandment, “loving your neighbor as yourself.” This is the secret to thriving in obedience to Christ.

Relationships and priorities: Master, Mate, Mission or Master, Mission, Mate. The key to all of life is having your priorities in order, the Greatest Commandments.

~ Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

Friday, August 14, 2009

Orphans and Families

More than 127,000 legal orphans are in America's foster care system today. That's a lot of lonely kids with no permanent, loving, secure place to call home. Yet Scripture sounds a call to destiny for orphans. In John 14:18 Jesus promises “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

And Scripture sounds a call to believers on behalf of orphans. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:28.

The Adoption and Safe Families Act, Pub. L. 105-89, 111 Stat. 2115, codified as amended at various sections of 42 U.S.C., was enacted to encourage adoption of children from state foster care agencies just overflowing with children who need permanent families. The law opens up greater adoption paths and options for kids who have been waiting in foster care for one year or more. Adoption fees cannot be paid for a child. Rather, expenses may be paid for adoption services rendered, and adoptive parents may be allowed to pay for reasonable medical expenses of birth parent(s). Most exciting is the federal tax credit available for adoptive families up to $15,000.

Scripture reveals that adoption is a thoroughly biblical paradigm; it is God’s plan for orphans, and the examples are numerous. Exodus 2 details the interracial, interreligious, and culturally radical adoption of Moses – as part of God’s plan for His people. The Book of Esther explains how the Lord worked through Mordecai’s adoption of his niece, Esther, for the rescue of the Jewish people from extermination. Matthew 2 and Luke 2 reveal Joseph as the adoptive father of Christ, and our adoption as believers couldn’t be more clear in Scripture. “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace which He has freely given us in the one He loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6. And Romans 8:23 says, “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the spirit, grown inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” From these Christian foundations, adoption for the sake of the child has arisen as a uniquely American concept.

Though an orphan’s childhood can difficult and full of disappointment, believers can be used by God to steer an orphan’s way through life for His glory. You can help an orphaned child find a permanent Christian home--and provide the support an adoptive family needs to care for their child.

This year Focus on the Family® will sponsor a number of special half-day conferences called Wait No More™, where Christian families can explore whether the Lord may be leading them to get involved in assisting orphans. Whether from foster care to a Christian foster home, or to a forever family, or through financial support, believers can make a difference in the lives of orphans. These events help families learn more about adoption, about kids who are waiting, how to adopt from the foster care system and meaningful ways they can support adoptive families.

Believers can give forgotten orphans a reason to hope.

For more information and some Adoption Resources for Christian Attorneys:
Bethany Christian Services – or 1-800-Bethany

National Adoption Center –

National Adoption Information Clearinghouse – - statutory summaries, adoption tax credit information, forms, etc.

Embryo adoption – Night Light Adoption Agency, CA –

Lynne Marie Kohm, What’s My Place in this World? 35 CAPITAL U. L. REV 563 (2007).

Lynne Marie Kohm, Tracing the Foundations of the Best Interests of the Child Standard in American Jurisprudence, 10 J. L. FAM. STUD. 337(2008).

~ Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

Friday, June 26, 2009

Marriage Battleground or Marriage Building? (Part 2)

Marriage and its meaning and definition have been the subject of much case law and legislation around America, particularly in the past decade. Americans, however, seem to not be able to understand how to make a marriage work. What a paradox. We idealize marriage, yet we’re so bad at it. God’s Word has so much to say about marriage, and sets out a foundation for beating this paradox, and winning this spiritual battle.

Some important points of action for married couples:

1. Who Meets Your Needs? Soul Oneness. Part 1 of this devotion provided the objective of marriage in oneness, and discussed the first part of that oneness as Soul Oneness. The next two aspects of marital oneness are equally important.

2. Ministry or Manipulation: Spirit Oneness. Everything a spouse does in his or her marriage boils down to “Ministry” or “Manipulation.” Ask yourself, “Do I love him to get something? Or to give something?” or “Do I want her to do something for me? Or am I called to do something for her?” God’s love is unconditional. Marital love should likewise reflect that unconditional love.

Love your spouse to minister to him or her, rather than to manipulate. Crabb warns, “Commit yourself to ministering to your spouse’s needs, knowing that however he may respond can never rob you of your worth as a person.” This type of mindset comes from a sincere conviction that as a married person you are God’s chosen minister to your spouse. Jesus Himself exhorts us to be servants, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26. Marriage is your lifetime opportunity to minister. Choosing ministry over manipulation results in Spiritual Oneness.

3. Intimacy: Body Oneness. The human need for intimacy is twisted in a culture that has set relationships up as “personal fulfillment,” rather than oneness that results from obedience to God and His Word. Your relationship with God is the only relationship that will completely fulfill your need for intimacy. God’s design for marital oneness, significantly, is a reflection of Christ and the church – the “great mystery.” Dr. Crabb calls this “Body Oneness: Physical Pleasure with Personal Meaning.” Scripture gives clarity to this concept. Galatians 5:13 calls us to “prefer the other in love.” As a spouse, challenge yourself to outdo the other in love. For example, if I want or need something, can I first think of what my spouse wants or needs, providing for him or her first, then providing for myself second? Furthermore, physical intimacy requires understanding how to meet your spouse’s needs. Many men do not understand how to bring their wives pleasure in body oneness. Maybe this is why Deuteronomy 24:5 calls a man who is recently married to “stay home for one year and bring pleasure to his wife.” I don’t think that means telling her jokes. [For further review, consider Intended For Pleasure, by Dr. Ed and Gaye Wheat.]

Body Oneness is sexual pleasure between a married couple who depend on the Lord to meet their needs and are committed to being used of God in meeting each other’s needs. It is sexual pleasure that grows out of a commitment to minister to one’s spouse in the physical realm that provides a shared experience of sensual excitement and sexual satisfaction. Ultimately, body oneness heightens each partner’s awareness of their unbreakable bond in marriage.

Therefore, the goal of Marriage is Oneness – of Spirit, Soul, and Body:
Spirit Oneness – Trusting in Christ alone to meet your personal needs for security and significance;
Soul Oneness – Ministering to your partner in a way that enhances an awareness of his or her worth in Christ;
Body Oneness – Enjoying sexual pleasure as an expression and outgrowth of a personal relationship.

This type of thinking turns the battleground of marriage into marriage building - with a very strong foundation.

“…so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…” Philippians 2:15-16

~ Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

Friday, June 19, 2009

Marriage Battleground or Marriage Building? (Part 1)

Marriage and its meaning and definition have been the subject of much case law and legislation around America, particularly in the past decade. Americans, however, seem to not be able to understand how to make a marriage work. With rising divorce rates, the casualness of cohabitation, and the rarity of lifetime marriages, America’s relationships appear to be in some chaos. Yet, marriage is nevertheless an American ideal. We are the only Western nation that actually spends government money to support it. The 2005 federal Healthy Marriage Initiative is still allocating $100 million a year to promote marriage. It doesn’t seem to be working; marriage rates are declining precipitously, though most Americans are still expected to marry. Andrew J. Cherlin recently published The Marriage-Go-Round, noting the paradoxical state of marriage and the family in America today. To read this provocative account is to think that Marriage is a battleground – and particularly a spiritual battleground.

What a paradox. We idealize marriage, yet we’re so bad at it. God’s Word has so much to say about marriage, and sets out a foundation for beating this paradox, and winning this spiritual battle. Indeed, the Apostle Paul devoted a large portion of his first letter to the Corinthians to the difficulties and challenges of marriage in I Corinthians 7. We should not be surprised that marriage is a spiritual battleground. The key is to understand the objectives of marriage as part of God’s great design.

The central goal of marriage is oneness. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24. Our need for relational intimacy is at the heart of all Scripture. Christ’s prayer for oneness is clear in John 17:21, that the body of Christ may be one as Jesus and God the Father are one. Intimacy begins with God. Marriage provides a convincing demonstration of the power of Christ’s love to enable people to experience true relational oneness. Additionally, our significance and security are in Christ, rather than in a spouse. Hebrews 13:5 assures us that God will never leave us or forsake us. An individual’s security must be in Christ to lay a solid foundation of personal maturity for marriage. These truths are discussed at length in Dr. Larry Crabb’s book entitled, The Marriage Builder: A Blueprint for Couples.

Some important points of action for married couples:

1. Who Meets Your Needs? Soul Oneness. Ask yourself, “Who am I expecting to meet my needs - God or my spouse? Crabb writes, “[t]he goal of oneness can become almost frightening when we realize that God does not intend that my [spouse] and I find our personal needs met in our marriage.” Rather, God meets your needs, not your spouse. Your marriage relationship should validate the claims of Christianity to a watching world as an example of the power of Christ’s redeeming love to overcome the divisive effects of sin. True relationship with God leads to authentic marital oneness, and that type of living witnesses to a watching world. (Phil 2: 12-16). This is soul oneness.

Part II will continue with the second and third points of action for experiencing marital oneness.

~ Professor Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Fresh and Radical Newness in Family Law?

As part of a family law governing body with the Virginia State Bar I received an email last week from a judge which ended with this encouragement:

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how HIS ways will really satisfy you. -------Romans 12:2

What great advice to any Christian attorney, law student or legal professional. The Apostle Paul’s admonition to the believers of Rome is just as vibrant and relevant today as it was two millennia ago. As a family lawyer and law professor whose worldview emanates from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, nearly everything I teach and counsel and publish is radical to our culture today. And in fact, that’s a very good thing.

Practicing law, and particularly family law, from a biblical perspective is a cutting edge uncompromising call. When governments flounder to discern the meaning and purpose of marriage, the call to believers is to “be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think.” In fact, the broken state of the family in culture opens up incredible opportunities for the body of Christ to offer new hope to a struggling world. That begins with our own lives, and our own families.

Romans 12:2 sheds light on an understanding of the desperate need for Christian lawyers and for those lawyers to be healers of human conflict. Scripture releases an understanding of what is happening with the breakdown of the family from a biblical and legal perspective, helping lawyers to discern what can be done, both personally and legally, to restore the family to that complete design God originally intended. Wherever you are, be a new and different person… experiencing how His ways will really satisfy you.

~ Prof. Lynne Marie Kohm, Regent University School of Law