When I was in high school (over 20 years ago now!) there was a very popular book in Christian circles about dating. The title was eye-catching and thought-provoking: I Kissed Dating Goodbye. It was probably in every youth pastor’s library. I can think of several guys and gals in my church youth group who read the book and were strong adherents and converts. I myself don’t remember actually reading it (I’m not the biggest reader…wasn’t then and still am not). But I recall hearing much about the book and it’s basic premise: don’t date just to date. Seek out a mate with intention and be willing to wait for the right one.
Opinions about the book aside, I think there are some good truths we can mine as we start out today. I’m not here to promote that book or any other specific book or author about this topic. Today I really just wanted to dig into the matter of dating; realizing that it is still the primary means we use to find a mate; to find someone to marry. We live in America where the culture talks about dating all the time. It’s at the checkout lane in magazines like Cosmo: “How to get that guy to go out with you.” It’s on our Facebook feeds with news stories about who’s dating who in Hollywood. It’s in movies, TV shows, and every aspect of media. We are a dating people…there are some who honestly never stop dating and never get married (ahem, Taylor Swift).
Today rather than take the normal path most of my blogs follow, I want to touch on several main points in rapid succession. I thought of 10 main things I would say to my own kids about dating. This week will be the first 5 points of that list. Really, I have no reason for 10 specifically. It was just a round number and each of these can be further drawn out and discussed beyond this post. You may have others you’d include and that’s great…please feel free to share. When it comes to dating, I think there is a godly way to do it and again, the following all comes from a Biblical-worldview. If these are helpful for you now, great. If not, perhaps they will be someday or they can be of benefit to someone you can share them with.
Here we go with Part 1:
1. Don’t be known as a player or flirt
It’s tempting to be flirtatious as a means to find a potential date or even spouse. But most of the time the people who come off this way are in fact very much unsure about themselves; using these displays as a front. A flirt or player may feel better in their identity knowing someone has noticed them and given them attention. But a Christian doesn’t need to have this label attached to them (“Oh he’s a player” or “She’s such a flirt”) because what of it glorifies God? Our God doesn’t flirt or play with our emotions. We need to be the same in our dealings with the opposite sex.
2. Don’t feel like you have to get through “x number of dates” to find the right one
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Galatians 3:26
This goes back to the idea of not dating just to date. If we are dating with intentionality, we won’t feel pressure to always be in a relationship thinking that’s what we need. Much of this comes back to identity and knowing that either in singleness or in dating, who we are is not based upon whether we are in a relationship. Our identity is from God and He knows our need. He reserves His best for us and that often means passing on what is good and choosing instead to wait for what is best. Endless dating will not get you any closer to that.
3. Date knowing that this person might not be the person you marry, so treat them with respect
We must go into any dating relationship striving for purity. Just because a person might not become your spouse doesn’t mean they won’t be someone else’s. That consideration should cause us to step back and outline clear boundaries within every dating relationship. If it starts going too far, realize there is still an opportunity to repent and change course. The culture will always say “If it feels good, go for it.” Reject this as a lie and commit yourself to staying pure with whomever you date.
4. Sexual intimacy outside the bounds of marriage is sin
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18
Again, we aren’t going to hear about the pitfalls and downfalls of pre-marital sex anywhere within the media (movies, TV, etc). We see characters jumping into bed time and again with successive partners and think this is the norm. If a relationship hasn’t moved onto sex by dates 2 or 3, what’s going on? But there are repercussions and fallout from this behavior. A quick list would be: possibility of STDs, pregnancy, potential messy relationships down the road (even divorce) and opening oneself up to a world of emotional hurt and pain. God’s plan is for our good and our benefit. He calls us to reserve sex for marriage.
5. But God can forgive your sin
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12
Broken is the man or woman who, after coming to an understanding of Christ, realizes their sexual sin and its weight. So many Christians struggle with this and find it hard to move forward. Yes there is hurt and pain and real tragedy can accompany giving our sexuality away before marriage, but here’s the good news: God can restore what has been broken. I’ve heard the term “recycled virgin” and I think it’s a wonderful picture. God can take the mistakes you’ve made and remove your sin as far as east is from west. He can lead you back into purity and to find the person He has for you.
I think this is a perfect place to close this week…talking about God’s redemption and the fact that He can restore our brokenness. Inevitably, we experience brokenness even in our dating relationships because 2 sinners are always involved. With our own sinfulness and self-centeredness, there is a lot of hurt that can come into play. Dating is just one more way in which Satan can have a victory over our lives if we allow him. What I’m hoping this week and next week accomplish gives us the opportunity to stand firm on God’s word and to stay pure in our dating relationships. If that means saying no to a potential date or even ending a relationship, so be it. Better to make a stand on God’s firm foundation than to place our hopes on something that is shaky and unstable.
Guys let’s dig in again next week as we hit Part 2 of Intentional Dating.
As always, I love walking the journey with you.
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17