The grand finale of the inaugural CityFamilies (CFAM) Conference took place during weekend service timing. Senior pastor of City Harvest Church Kong Hee and his wife Sun answered many hot seat questions on singlehood, marriage and parenthood over the two days.
It is not easy to manage the different aspects of life and do well in all of them, even more so for Christians who desire to be good disciples of Jesus. They have to excel in the marketplace, serve God in church, be good spouses and parents at home or maintain purity as singles, all while trying to earn enough to provide for their family.
“That is why in City Harvest Church, we want to champion family life. For singles, we want to champion your desire to walk in love and holiness. For married couples, we want to fight for your marriages. That is the whole purpose of CityFamilies,” explained Kong Hee, the senior pastor of CHC.
Last weekend (6 and 7 Aug), CityFamilies (CFAM) concluded its first ever conference with special weekend services. The whole church was transformed into a family-friendly space. It was hard to miss the aroma of fresh popcorn that permeated the air once one stepped into Hall 605—excited children lined up in front of the popcorn stand that stood in the middle of the hall.
Just as exciting were the photo booths set up in Hall 605 and outside Halls 603 and 604. Bright, cheery backdrops adorned the booths which attracted many families and friends waiting to capture memories of the special weekend.
At the heart of it was the special service, where Pastor Kong and his wife Sun answered questions on singlehood, marriage and parenting while Jeremy Choy, the pastor that oversees CFAM, Bernard Loh and Jaslynn Khoo served as facilitators. Over the two services, the pastors offered honest answers and provided insights into how one could navigate the different seasons of life and thrive in every situation.
HOW TO REMAIN PURE IN SINGLEHOOD
For the singles, the number one question was, “How do I know if someone is right for me?” Pastor Kong advised that a single needs to look out for the 4Cs—the character of the person, the chemistry and compatibility between them and their commitment to the relationship. He also emphasised the importance of first asking God, and then seeking the counsel of parents and church leaders before starting a relationship.
Sun also cautioned singles not to be too stubborn to listen to advice. “If you have family members who love you, you must give an ear to listen to what they have to say and be humble enough to take in the advice,” she said.
Many singles struggle with loneliness and wonder what is wrong with them that makes them unable to find a partner. Pastor Kong defined loneliness as an emotional condition of feeling empty in one’s soul. “Now you can be single and lonely, but you can also be married and feel lonely,” he noted.
The only One who can satisfy one’s soul fully is God. While it may sound like a cliché, Sun asserted that the love relationship a person has with God is the most satisfying one can have. If one has a close relationship with God, he can hear from God clearly and understand the unique purpose He has for him.
“You will feel so connected to God and to the people that God asked you to serve, your life will be so meaningful that you have no time to be lonely,” she said.
The pastors also encouraged singles not to worry about their future spouse, but to concentrate on loving God. When they do that, God will work in their lives and prepare them for a relationship. At the right time, He will bring the right person into their lives.
“Be the best version of yourself—be the fabulous you!” the pastors encouraged.
While the pastors commented that they have no qualms about singles using dating apps to look for a potential spouse, they advise singles to be mindful of the 4Cs. Pastor Kong also noted that it is important to find someone with the same spiritual temperature. This means that the person must have the same passion and fervency that one has for God so that together, they can serve God in the long run. The pastors also stressed that it is important to build an authentic face-to-face relationship and not settle for a cyber romance.
When it comes to dating, the pastors were clear that it is important to respect each other. If one party was to develop feelings for someone else while in the relationship, they should cut off contact with the new person immediately, then take time to work on their current relationship and seek God for counsel.
In the case that the relationship does not work in the end, the couple should end things well and wait for some time before they start a new relationship, out of respect for the person they were recently with. In addition, Pastor Kong advised, “Give yourself some time for reflection and allow yourself time for healing.”
It is also important to be able to have open conversations in a relationship. One question that came up is what a girl should do if her boyfriend does not propose after a long period of dating. The pastors’ advice was that the couple must have an honest conversation about where the relationship is going.
Another question that came up was the appropriate level of intimacy. Pastor Kong reminded the church that while most things are permissible, “any behaviour that is arousing is a strict no-no.” Presenting a “sexual ladder”, Pastor Kong noted that a couple can hold hands while dating and they should stop at giving each other a peck on the lips.
While the church does not want to be controlling and define exactly what can or cannot be done while dating, Sun shared that setting boundaries is important. “A counsellor once said that once a boundary is broken, it is not there anymore. The scary and sobering thing about breaking boundaries is that it is very challenging not to push it further and further,” she said.
The pastors also reminded the church that sex outside of marriage is a sin and creates many problems. However, if a couple has already been sexually intimate, they need not feel condemned if they stop.
“Stop the lifestyle. Ask and receive forgiveness from God and from one another,” Pastor Kong advised. “And then exercise abstinence until marriage.” While it is hard to do, the couple can consciously avoid situations where they will be tempted, such as going on a holiday and sharing a room. They could also seek help from trusted church leaders and stay accountable to them.
HOW TO KEEP MARRIAGE STRONG
The pastors were asked for their views on divorce. While God gives grace to those who are already divorced, the pastors were adamant that God hates divorce, and that married couples should avoid it at all costs.
The three exceptions in the Bible that makes divorce permissible are sexual immorality, abandonment and abuse and violence in the marriage. Even then, Pastor Kong urged the church not to walk away from the marriage too easily. If there is still room for repentance and restoration, the couple should try to make the relationship work.
Sun noted that she has counselled many couples where one spouse has been unfaithful for many years, but husband and wife manage to work through their problems and restore their marriage. However, she emphasised, if there is violence and abuse in the marriage, that has to stop.
“The ultimate purpose of marriage is for God to change us,” Pastor Kong taught. “There are many moments where you have to go through challenges and work through problems to become better people,” Sun added. “If the person asks me about wanting to move on with their lives, I will ask if they think God is done working in their lives concerning this marriage.”
The pastors also remind the church that divorce breaks a covenant love, and that action will impact the next relationship they go into.
One interesting question that came up was: What was the biggest fight Pastor Kong and Sun had had in their marriage? Sun candidly shared about an incident where she got so mad at Pastor Kong that she drove off in the middle of the night. She turned off the phone and was uncontactable for hours while she tried to calm down in a quiet place.
She admitted that while her intention was to create a time-out so that they would not start a big fight, driving off without first informing her husband was not a responsible thing to do. When she finally turned her phone on, she realised that her son Dayan had been deeply worried because he could not reach her.
After a few days of cooling down, Sun finally let the argument go. But she openly communicated to Pastor Kong not to say the same thing to her again as it was a trigger point.
There were also questions about sex. Sexual intimacy is a big part of marriage life. What if a couple has different sex drives? Pastor Kong noted that while there is no standard as to how many times a couple should have sex in a month, marriage requires loving compromise. Both parties need to understand how the other feels and be open to talking about it so that they can meet each other in the middle.
When it comes to finances, as with other things in a marriage, couples ought to be a “100 percent” comfortable talking about it. There should be no secrets when it comes to their real financial situation. “We must be totally honest with each other,” Pastor Kong taught. “Honesty is not the best policy—it’s the only policy.”
The same principle applies when it comes to friends of the opposite gender. A person should be able to tell their spouse everything that they do with and say to a friend of the opposite sex. If they find that they are doing something they would keep from their spouse, they are probably crossing a line.
The pastors also note that once a person is married, their spouse should be their closest friend and confidant. If that is not possible, then the best friend should be of the same gender. Sun warned that if a person is more emotionally attached to another person than they are to their spouse, that itself is being unfaithful.
Moving on to spiritual matters, the next question was, What should a person do if he or she finds that his or her spouse is no longer on fire for God? The pastors encouraged them to be patient with their spouse, to pick a good time to talk to them and pray with them. “Don’t show your disappointment, don’t be judgmental and don’t be angry. Don’t nag at your spouse, just be patient and pray,” Pastor Kong advised.
When it comes to disciplining their son Dayan, Pastor Kong and Sun shared that they are always on the same page. The pastors noted that discipleship starts at home and urged parents not to leave it to church leaders to disciple their children. “We can help but at the end of the day, your children are looking to you and you’re the best person to disciple them,” Sun said.
Inculcating a culture of faith at home is also important. Pastor Kong highlighted that he does it not by what he preaches, but by how he lives his life. He also emphasised that his words to Dayan are important. He always assures Dayan that he is proud of him and declares that Dayan is a person of destiny. They also pray together often. When one of them is sick or when they go through challenges, they will always come together as a family to pray.
Sun also shared that it’s important to remember that while Dayan is their son, he has his own questions about his faith. As parents, they encourage him to ask questions and to not be afraid of being rejected if he asks certain things.
The next question was about how much freedom teenagers should be given. Sun said that not only should parents give their teenagers freedom, they should also show them respect. This means giving them space to explain their world to the parents. Even when the parents disagree with their children, they ought to respect them and understand that their values are different.
“Freedom is what makes us human,” Pastor Kong pointed out. God gave Adam and Eve freedom even when He knew the consequences to their mistake. Even when they made a mistake, God came to them lovingly and covered them. “Parents should be like that,” the pastor taught.
The service ended with Pastor Kong inviting married couples to the front to renew their vows.
Both CFAM Conference services featuring many more questions are available on The CHC App.