What a great Purity Conference we had! Thanks to all of you who made it possible. Here’s the requested notes from my session:
7 Habits of Highly Defective Dating
Definition of dating vs. “Christian” dating: Seeking to find a partner with which to honor God with your lives, enjoy His love together, reflect Christ and the church, and reproduce godly offspring (whether natural or supernatural)
Romans 8:32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Note: I took a lot of ideas from I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
1. What is more important: intimacy or commitment?
Bad Habit: Dating leads to intimacy but not necessarily to commitment –
1 Th 4:6: that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
The idea here is of defrauding or promising something you know you can’t do.
Intimacy – seeking closeness with another person (I’m using this more in an emotional sense)
Commitment – promising to provide the needs of the other person at cost to oneself
The idea here is that Christians should see intimacy as the reward of commitment. The world sees commitment as an outgrowth of intimacy. Intimacy, however, then becomes self-serving – I become intimate in order to see if you meet my needs my way. Love is not for the fulfillment of self but for the good of others and the glory of God
Example: telling my wife “I love you” only when I was ready for the commitment those words mean.
Having more “define the relationship” type conversations not less is a sign of maturity, esp. when initiated by the guy. It shows that you’re are both committed to one another’s welfare not just what feels good.
I will wait to pursue romantic relationships until I’m ready for marriage.
Caveat: This doesn’t mean stop getting to know, be friends with and spend time with members of the opposite gender. It means that I won’t communicate something that I’m not ready to back up.
2. What is more important: friendship or romance?
Bad Habit: Dating tends to skip the “friendship” stage of a relationship
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
Without developing a friendship, once the feelings of intimacy have faded you have nothing left. The relationship was too superficial. Understanding this will help you avoid starting to “date” someone and then not be able to be friends later on because of the hurt and frustration of too much intimacy too soon.
A typical dating mindset traps you into viewing people as potential mates/not mates. Young men, you can save yourself a lot of intimidation if you realize that God wants you not to impress a young woman when you meet her but to seek to be friends with her. Most young women would rather have this type of interaction anyway.
Think of relationships along a continuum:
Casual friendship ?? deeper friendship?? purposeful intimacy?? engagement
I will seek to appreciate who the person is before seeking to know if they “fit” me.
3. What is more important: physical intimacy or love?
Bad Habit: Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love –
Song of Solomon 8:4
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases.
God has made our bodies to respond physical and chemical stimuli. If we stir up physical love before we are ready for that commitment, we will only confuse ourselves. Many relationships that are on and then off, on again, off again, are struggling with this problem of confusion because they remember the highs of physical intimacy and seek to return to that without understanding the role that it has for married relationships. Love is not governed or measured by feeling
I will not allow physical attraction to confuse me about God’s will.
I will seek the purity of the other person more than feeling good myself.
4. What is more important: the friends you have or the friend you may have?
Bad Habit: Dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships
My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
he violated his covenant. ;
Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
As you meet a new, exciting person for the first time, a dating mindset will struggle with leaving everything for the potential of the “new” relationship. After all, this could be the “one” who completes you. Christians understand that God completes us first and that God gives us everything we need. We also understand that the prior relationships we already have are commitments that we need to maintain. The family and friends God has given to us already deserve love and time from us, even at the expense of “going slower” with a new found friend.
Those friends are also there for advice and counsel. In the multitude of counselors is safety. Your parents are a huge resource in this area. Unfortunately a dating mindset too often looks for people with opposite characteristics of things you don’t like about your parents more than appreciating strengths in your parents and seeking to match those. Your parents also have your best in mind (most often) and should be used for advice not kept out of the loop. Maturity uses wise counselors.
I will appreciate the relationships I already have as God-given before I seek deep intimacy with someone new.
5. What is more important: finding a mate or building a foundation for life?
Bad Habit: Dating, in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.
Prepare your work outside;
get everything ready for yourself in the field,
and after that build your house.
Marriage is not the finish line. It’s the beginning of the rest of your life. Train for it and prepare for it. Love is not something that is out of our control. Attraction may be, but love always does what is best and is therefore under control.
I will give myself to preparing for life not just finding that special “someone.”
6. What is more important: romance or obedience?
Bad Habit: Dating can cause discontentment with God’s gift of singleness.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
A typical dating mindset is often more about your feelings than about God’s will. It’s often demanding something now versus really depending on God’s goodness. Not that your feeling aren’t important; but do you pursue them before asking God what he wants? God is perfect at giving gifts. What may be some reasons why He is asking you to remain single right now? Will you decide to be content in whatever state you are in?
1 Co 7:32-35
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
I will seek contentment with God’s gifts and wait on His timing.
This has more to do with your attitude than your activity. But it affects why you go to social functions, church, school, etc. Are you going to minister to others or to hopefully maybe this time find that special person?
7. What is more important: image or character?
Bad Habit: Dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person’s character.
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
In seeking a companion for life, character matters more than appearance. Unfortunately dating usually is an artificial look at someone’s character. Dating is seeking compatibility rather than character. This is more self-focused than loving.
What should I look for in character? No one is perfect but they should be seeking to grow in Christ and should evidence some basic characteristics: obedience, humility, industriousness, & contentment/hopefulness. This can only be seen over time
You can determine character by:
1. how a person relates to God
2. How a person relates to others especially authority
3. Personal discipline with time, money, body
How do you build character?
Primarily by making promises and keeping them. As young people you will grow the most when you commit to things and complete them even when it costs you. The other important element of character is not maintaining an image before people that isn’t what you really think or feel. It’s called integrity.
I will seek to evaluate character not just find out if I’m “compatible.”
If you go out on “dates” for special events, don’t view them as opportunities for romantic attachment but as opportunities to together have fun and get to know people.
Get the advice of your parents before “dating” anyone. “Meet the parents” should happen early not late in the relationship.
What practical ideas do you have? Leave them in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you think.