There's a difference between the act of going on a date and dating as a way of thinking about and approaching romantic relationships. But dating is more than that. It's a lifestyle that involves our attitudes and values. And I want to encourage you to reexamine these patterns of thinking and acting.
I won't say that it's never appropriate to spend time alone with someone. At the right time in a relationship, if the motive is clear and the setting avoids temptation, going on a date can be healthy. In short, dating isn't really the point. But, you ask, isn't this book about dating? And I can understand the question. After all to extend the analogy between reading books and dating , you might have felt "attracted" to this book for any number of reasons--I'll list four: 1.
You just got out of a bad relationship, and you don't want to be hurt again. Not dating sounds like a great idea. You just haven't felt comfortable with dating, and you're looking for alternatives. You're in a dating relationship that is headed in the wrong direction. You're looking for a way to keep the relationship within God's boundaries.
You're in a great dating relationship, and you're curious why anyone would choose not to date. Can people coming from such different perspectives benefit from reading the same book? I believe they can. Because, though their experiences with dating differ, they each have the same Creator. And our Creator's will and plan for our lives is the real focus of this book. Our ultimate purpose is not to figure out if Christians should date and, if so, how.
Instead, as you read, I hope you look at the aspects of your life that dating touches--the way you treat others, the way you prepare for your future mate, your personal purity--and attempt to bring these areas into line with God's Word. So even though in one sense this book is about dating, in another sense dating isn't really the point.
The point is what God wants. Discussing if or how to date isn't an end in itself. Talking about it only serves a purpose when we view it in terms of its relation to God's overall plan for our lives. You may or may not agree with some of the things I write.
I hope that the ideas shared here will bring you a little closer to God's desire for your life. The small, picturesque church was crowded with friends and family. Sunlight poured through the stained-glass windows, and the gentle music of a stringed quartet filled the air. Anna walked down the aisle toward David.
Joy surged within her. This was the moment for which she had waited so long. He gently took her hand, and they turned toward the altar. But as the minister began to lead Anna and David through their vows, the unthinkable happened. A girl stood up in the middle of the congregation, walked quietly to the altar, and took David's other hand.
Another girl approached and stood next to the first, followed by another. Soon, a chain of six girls stood by him as he repeated his vows to Anna. Anna felt her lip beginning to quiver as tears welled up in her eyes. I'm sorry, Anna," he said, staring at the floor. What is going on? Then she woke up. How many times have I given my heart away in short term relationships? Will I have anything left to give my husband?
The jarring image haunts me. There are girls from my past, too. What if they showed up on my wedding day? What could they say in the receiving line? Those were some pretty lofty promises you made at the altar today I hope you're better at keeping promises now than you were when I knew you. And what a beautiful bride. Does she know about me? Have you told her all the sweet things you used to whisper in my ear? I do my best to forget. I laugh them off as part of the game of love that everyone plays.
I know God has forgiven me because I've asked Him to. I know the various girls have forgiven me because I've asked them to. But I still feel the ache of having given away my heart to too many girls in my past. If I wasn't dating a girl, I had a crush on one. This started in junior high when my peers and I treated dating as a game, a chance to play at love and experiment with relationships. Having a girlfriend meant little more than saying you were "going out.
My friends and I would go out with girls and break up with them at a frightening pace. The only worry was being dumped--you never wanted to get dumped, you wanted to do the dumping. One girl I knew had the fastest breakup routine ever: When she was ready to end a relationship, she'd say, "Skippy-bop, you just got dropped. Instead, we began experimenting with the physical side of relationships. Going out with someone came to mean you made out with that person, too.
I remember standing by as a girl I liked called her boyfriend and broke up with him over the phone. As soon as she hung up, she kissed me. That meant we were an "official couple. The physical intimacy of those junior high relationships had nothing to do with love or real affection. We just mimicked what we saw older kids do and what we watched in the movies. It seemed grown up, but in reality it was lust. I'm thankful that junior high didn't last forever.
In high school, I got serious about my walk with God and became actively involved in the church youth group. Unfortunately, youth group did little to improve my immature notions about relationships. Even in church we played the dating game with passion--more passion, I regret to say, than we gave to worshiping or listening to sermons. During Sunday morning services we passed notes about who liked whom, who was going out with whom, and who had broken up with whom. Wednesday night youth group meetings served as our own opportunities to play "Love Connection," a game that resulted in broken hearts littering the foyer.
In my sophomore year, my involvement in the dating game took a more serious turn. That summer, I met Kelly. She was beautiful, blonde, and two inches taller than I. Kelly was popular, and all the guys liked her. Since I was the only one in the youth group who had the nerve to talk to her, she wound up liking me. I asked her to be my girlfriend on the youth groups water ski retreat. Kelly was my first serious girlfriend.
Everyone in our youth group recognized us as a couple. We celebrated our "anniversary" every month. And Kelly knew me better than anyone else. After my folks were asleep, Kelly and I would spend hours on the phone, often late into the night, talking about everything and nothing in particular.
We thought God had made us for each other. We talked about getting married someday. I promised her that I would love her forever. But, like many high school relationships, our romance was premature--too much, too soon. We began to struggle with the physical side of our relationship. We knew we couldn't be as close physically as we were emotionally.
As a result, we experienced ongoing tension, and it wore on us. Eventually, things turned sour. We both knew this was coming. Not quite "forever," as I had promised. My dreams of romance had ended in compromise, bitterness, and regret. I walked away asking, "Is this how it has to be? Give me something better than this! I thought He'd bring me the ideal girlfriend or totally remove my desire for romance. Instead, He revealed through His Word what it meant to submit my love life to His Will--something I'd never truly done.
I wanted God's best but hadn't been willing to play by His rules. Over the past four years, I've come to understand that God's lordship doesn't merely tinker with my approach to romance-- it completely transforms it. God not only wants me to act differently, He wants me to think differently--to view love, purity, and singleness from His perspective, to have a new lifestyle and attitude. The basis of this new attitude is what I call "smart love.
Smart love constantly grows and deepens in its practical knowledge and insight; it opens our eyes to see God's best for our lives, enabling us to be pure and blameless in His sight. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Many people do this. Instead of acting on what they know is right, couples let their feelings carry them away. I've engaged in my share of sentimental gush.
While dating, I made many decisions based on superficiality and ignorance. I could so easily say "I love you" to a girl, feigning selfless devotion, but in truth, selfishness and insincerity motivated me. I was primarily interested in what I could get, such as the popularity a girlfriend could give me or the comfort and pleasure I could gain physically or emotionally from a relationship. I didn't practice smart love. To truly love someone with smart love, we need to use our heads as well as our hearts.
As Paul describes it, love abounds in knowledge and insight. To "know" something is to understand or grasp it clearly and with certainty. With this definition in mind, let me ask you a few questions. Does love motivate the guy who sleeps with his girlfriend when it will scar her emotionally and damage her relationship with God? Does sincerity motivate the girl who leads a guy along then breaks up with him when she finds someone better? Both people exemplify selfish motivation. They need to "get smart" and realize how their actions affect others.
In recent years, I've tried to let sincere and intelligent love guide me, and as I've done this, I've come to some pretty intense conclusions for my life. I've come to realize that I have no business asking for a girl's heart and affections if I'm not ready to back up my request with a lifelong commitment. Until I can do that, I'd only be using that woman to meet my short term needs, not seeking to bless her for the long term.
Would I enjoy having a girlfriend right now? You bet! But with what I've learned as I've sought God's will for my life, I know that a relationship right now wouldn't be best for me or for the one I'd date. When our love grows in knowledge we can more readily "discern what is best" for our lives.
Don't we all desperately need that discernment? After all, when we engage in guy-girl relationships, we face some pretty hazy issues. Don't get me wrong--I believe in absolutes. But in dating, we don't only have to make wise choices between absolute wrong and absolute right.
We also have to evaluate all parts of our dating relationships to make sure we don't go too far, allowing ourselves to get pulled into something we should avoid. Here's an example. Let's say that someone at school asks you out. How do you seek guidance about what kind of person you can go out with? Try looking up "dating" in your Bible's concordance.
You won't get far. Or maybe you've gone out on a few dates with someone, and you just kissed for the first time. It was exciting. You feel as if you're in love. But is it right? How do we find answers to these questions? This is where "smart love" comes in. God wants us to seek guidance from scriptural truth, not feeling.
It looks at the big picture: serving others and glorifying God. In the past I made the starting point of my relationships what I wanted instead of what God wanted. I looked out for my needs and fit others into my agenda.
Did I find fulfillment? No, I only found compromise and heartache. I not only hurt others, I hurt myself, and, most seriously, I sinned against God. But when I reversed my attitude and made my main priority in relationships pleasing God and blessing others, I found true peace and joy. Smart love unlocks God's best for our lives. When I stopped viewing girls as potential girlfriends and started treating them as sisters in Christ, I discovered the richness of true friendship.
When I stopped worrying about who I was going to marry and began to trust God's timing, I uncovered the incredible potential of serving God as a single. And when I stopped flirting with temptation in one-on-one dating relationships and started pursuing righteousness, I uncovered the peace and power that come from purity. I kissed dating goodbye because I found out that God has something better in store! This purity goes beyond sexual purity.
While physical purity is very important, God also wants us to pursue purity and blamelessness in our motives, our minds, and our emotions. Does this mean we'll never mess up? Of course not! And yet this grace doesn't give us license to be lax in our pursuit of righteousness. Instead, it should urge us to desire purity and blamelessness even more. Ben started dating Alyssa during his senior year in college. For quite some time, he had planned to marry the summer after he graduated.
Since he and Alyssa were both deeply attracted to each other, he thought she was "the one. Alyssa was another story. While Ben had never so much as kissed a girl, kissing was practically a sport for her. Unfortunately, Alyssa's values won out. Their relationship soon became almost entirely physical. They maintained their virginity but only in the technical sense of the word. But what about Alyssa? Yes, God can forgive her, too. But I wonder if she ever realized she needs that forgiveness.
When she passes Ben in the hall at school or sees him in the cafeteria, what goes through her mind? Does she realize she played a part in tearing down his purity? Does she feel pangs of guilt for breaking his heart? Does she even care? I've shared with you how God has changed my perspective on dating. I've described how I've chosen to live my life and to interact with women until God shows me I'm ready for marriage.
But why write a book about this perspective? What would make me think that anyone would want to hear what I have to say? Because I think God would like to challenge you, too. I believe the time has come for Christians, male and female, to own up to the mess we've left behind in our selfish pursuit of short-term romance.
Dating may seem an innocent game, but as I see it, we are sinning against each other. What excuse will we have when God asks us to account for our actions and attitudes in relationships? Everyone around us may be playing the dating game. But at the end of our lives, we won't answer to everyone.
We'll answer to God. No one in my youth group knew how I compromised in my relationships. I was a leader and considered a good kid. But Christ says, "There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known" Luke Our actions in relationships haven't escaped God's notice. But here's the good news: The God who sees all our sin is also ready to forgive all our sins if we repent and turn from them. He calls us to a new way of life.
I know God has forgiven me for the sins I've committed against him and against the girlfriends I've had. I also know He wants me to spend the rest of my life living a lifestyle of smart love. The grace he has shown motivates me to make purity and blamelessness my passion. I'm committed to practicing smart love, and I invite you along.
Let's make purity and blamelessness our priority before our all-seeing, all-knowing God. First, never shop when you're hungry-- everything will look good and you'll spend too much money. And second, make sure to pick a good cart. I've got the first rule down, but I haven't had much success with that second rule. I seem to have a knack for picking rusty grocery carts that make clattering noises or ones with squeaky wheels that grate on your nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.
But by far the worst kind of cart you could pick is the "swerver. This kind of cart has a mind of its own. You want to go in a straight line, but the cart wants to swerve to the left and take out the cat food display. The shopper who has chosen a swerving cart can have no peace. Every maneuver, from turning down the cereal aisle to gliding alongside the meat section, becomes a battle--the shopper's will pitted against the cart's.
Why am I talking to you about shopping carts when this book is about dating? Well, I recall my bad luck with grocery carts because many times I've experienced a similar "battle of wills" with dating. I'm not talking about conflicts between me and the girls I've dated.
I mean that I've struggled with the whole process. And based on my experiences and my exploration of God's Word, I've concluded that for Christians dating is a swerver--a set of values and attitudes that wants to go in a direction different from the one God has mapped out for us. Let me tell you why. He told a heart-rending story about Eric and Jenny, two strong Christians who had actively participated in his youth group years earlier. Eric and Jenny's dating relationship had started out innocently--Friday nights at the movies and rounds of putt-putt golf.
But as time went by, their physical relationship slowly began to accelerate, and they wound up sleeping together. Soon afterward they broke up, discouraged and hurt. The pastor telling the story saw both of them years later at a high school reunion. Jenny was now married and had a child.
Eric was still single. But both came to him separately and expressed emotional trauma and guilt over past memories. Eric expressed similar feelings. We all sat waiting for some sort of solution. We knew the reality of the story he told.
Some of us had made the same mistake or watched it happen in the lives of our friends. We wanted something better. We wanted the pastor to tell us what we were supposed to do instead. But he gave no alternative that afternoon. Evidently the pastor thought the couples only mistake was giving in to temptation.
He seemed to think that Eric and Jenny should have had more respect for each other and more self-control. Although this pastor encouraged a different outcome--saving sex for marriage-- he didn't offer a different practice. Is this the answer? Head out on the same course as those who have fallen and hope that in the critical moment you'll be able to stay in control?
Giving young people this kind of advice is like giving a person a cart that swerves and sending him into a store stocked with the world's most expensive Chinaware. Despite the narrow aisles and glass shelves laden with delicate dishes, this person is expected to navigate the rows with a cart known to go off course?
I don't think so. Yet this is exactly what we try in many of our relationships. We see the failed attempts around us, but we refuse to replace this "cart" called dating. Eric and Jenny probably had good intentions, but they founded their relationship on our culture's defective attitudes and patterns for romance.
Unfortunately, even in their adulthood they continue to reap the consequences The following "seven habits of highly defective dating" are some of the "swerves" dating relationships often make. Perhaps you can relate to one or two of them.
I know I can! Dating leads to intimacy but not necessarily to commitment. Jayme was a junior in high school; her boyfriend, Troy, was a senior. Troy was everything Jayme ever wanted in a guy, and for eight months they were inseparable. But two months before Troy left for college, he abruptly announced that he didn't want to see Jayme anymore. Even though they'd never physically gone beyond a kiss, Jayme had completely given her heart and emotions to Troy.
Does Jayme's story sound familiar to you? Perhaps you've heard something similar from a friend, or maybe you've experienced it yourself. Like many dating relationships, Jayme and Troy's became intimate with little or no thought about commitment or how either of them would be affected when it ended. We can blame Troy for being a jerk, but let's ask ourselves a question. What's really the point of most dating relationships? Often dating encourages intimacy for the sake of intimacy-- two people getting close to each other without any real intention of making a long-term commitment.
Deepening intimacy without defining a level of commitment is plainly dangerous. It's like going mountain climbing with a partner who isn't sure that she wants the responsibility of holding your rope. When you've climbed two thousand feet up a mountain face, you don't want to have a conversation about how she feels "tied down" by your relationship. In the same way, many people experience deep hurt when they open themselves up emotionally and physically only to be abandoned by others who proclaim they're not ready for "serious commitment.
But He has made the fulfillment of intimacy a byproduct of commitment-based love. You might say that intimacy between a man and a woman is the icing on the cake of a relationship headed toward marriage. They usually lack a purpose or clear destination. In most cases, especially in high school, dating is short term, serving the needs of the moment.
People date because they want to enjoy the emotional and even physical benefits of intimacy without the responsibility of real commitment. In fact, that's what the original revolution of dating was all about. Dating hasn't been around forever. As I see it, dating is a product of our entertainment-driven, "disposable-everything" American culture. Long before Seventeen magazine ever gave teenagers tips on dating, people did things very differently.
At the turn of the twentieth century, a guy and girl became romantically involved only if they planned to marry. If a young man spent time at a girl's home, family and friends assumed that he intended to propose to her. But shifting attitudes in culture and the arrival of the automobile brought radical changes. The new "rules" allowed people to indulge in all the thrills of romantic love without having any intention of marriage.
Author Beth Bailey documents these changes in a book whose title, From Front Porch to Backseat, says everything about the difference in society's attitude when dating became the norm. Love and romance became things people could enjoy solely for their recreational value.
Though much has changed since the s, the tendency of dating relationships to move toward intimacy without commitment remains very much the same. For Christians this negative swerve is at the root of dating's problems. Intimacy without commitment awakens desires-- emotional and physical--that neither person can justly meet.
In 1 Thessalonians KJV the Bible calls this "defrauding," ripping someone off by raising expectations but not delivering on the promise. Pastor Stephen Olford describes defrauding as "arousing a hunger we cannot righteously satisfy"--promising something we cannot or will not provide.
Intimacy without commitment, like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making us sick. Dating tends to skip the "friendship" stage of a relationship. Jack met Libby on a church-sponsored college retreat. Libby was a friendly girl with a reputation for taking her relationship with God seriously.
Jack and Libby wound up chatting during a game of volleyball and seemed to really hit it off. Jack wasn't interested in an intense relationship, but he wanted to get to know Libby better. Two days after the retreat he called her up and asked if she'd like to go out to a movie the next weekend. She said yes. Did Jack make the right move?
Well, he did in terms of scoring a date, but if he really wanted to build a friendship, he more than likely struck out. One-on-one dating has the tendency to move a guy and girl beyond friendship and toward romance too quickly. Have you ever known someone who worried about dating a long-time friend? People who make statements like that, whether or not they realize it, recognize that dating encourages romantic expectations. In a true friendship you don't feel pressured by knowing you "like" the other person or that he or she "likes" you back.
You feel free to be yourself and do things together without spending three hours in front of the mirror, making sure you look perfect. Lewis describes friendship as two people walking side by side toward a common goal. Their mutual interest brings them together. Jack skipped this "commonality" stage by asking Libby out on a typical, no-brainer, dinner- and-movie date where their "coupleness" was the focus.
In dating, romantic attraction is often the relationships cornerstone. The premise of dating is "I'm attracted to you; therefore, let's get to know each other. Intimacy without commitment is defrauding. Intimacy without friendship is superficial. A relationship based only on physical attraction and romantic feelings will last only as long as the feelings last.
Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love. Dave and Heidi didn't mean to make out with each other on their first date. Dave doesn't have "only one thing on his mind," and Heidi isn't "that kind of girl. They had gone to a concert together and afterward watched a video at Heidi's house. During the movie, Heidi made a joke about Dave's attempt at dancing during the concert. He started tickling her. Their playful wrestling suddenly stopped when they found themselves staring into each other's eyes as Dave was leaning over her on the living room floor.
They kissed. It was like something out of a movie. It felt so right. It may have felt right, but the early introduction of physical affection to their relationship added confusion. Dave and Heidi hadn't really gotten to know each other, but suddenly they felt close. As the relationship progressed, they found it difficult to remain objective. Whenever they'd try to evaluate the merits of their relationship, they'd immediately picture the intimacy and passion of their physical relationship.
But did they? Just because lips have met doesn't mean hearts have joined. And just because two bodies are drawn to each other doesn't mean two people are right for each other. A physical relationship doesn't equal love.
When we consider that our culture as a whole regards the words "love" and "sex" as interchangeable, we shouldn't be surprised that many dating relationships mistake physical attraction and sexual intimacy for true love. Sadly many Christian dating relationships reflect this false mindset. When we examine the progression of most relationships, we can clearly see how dating encourages this substitution. First, as we pointed out, dating does not always lead to lifelong commitment.
For this reason, many dating relationships begin with physical attraction; the underlying attitude is that a person's primary value comes from the way he or she looks and performs as a date. Even before a kiss has been given, the physical, sensual aspect of the relationship has taken priority.
Next, the relationship often steamrolls toward intimacy. Because dating doesn't require commitment, the two people involved allow the needs and passions of the moment to take center stage. The couple doesn't look at each other as possible life partners or weigh the responsibilities of marriage. Instead, they focus on the demands of the present. And with that mindset, the couple's physical relationship can easily become the focus.
And if a guy and girl skip the friendship stage of their relationship, lust often becomes the common interest that brings the couple together. As a result, they gauge the seriousness of their relationship by the level of their physical involvement. Two people who date each other want to feel that they're special to each other, and they can concretely express this through physical intimacy. They begin to distinguish their "special relationship" through hand holding, kissing, and everything else that follows.
For this reason, most people believe that going out with someone means physical involvement. Focusing on the physical is plainly sinful. God demands sexual purity. And He does this for our own good. Physical involvement can distort two peoples perspective of each other and lead to unwise choices. God also knows we'll carry the memories of our past physical involvements into marriage. He doesn't want us to live with guilt and regret. Physical involvement can make two people feel close.
But if many people in dating relationships really examined the focus of their relationships, they'd probably discover that all they have in common is lust. Dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships. While Garreth and Jenny were dating, they didn't need anyone else. Since it meant spending time with Jenny, Garreth had no problem giving up Wednesday night Bible study with the guys.
Jenny didn't think twice about how little she talked to her younger sister and mother now that she was dating Garreth. Nor did she realize that when she did talk to them, she always started her sentences with "Garreth this By its very definition, dating is about two people focusing on each other. Unfortunately, in most cases the rest of the world fades into the background.
If you've ever felt like a third wheel hanging out with two friends who are dating each other, you know how true this is. Granted, of all dating's problems, this one is probably the easiest to fix. Yet Christians still need to take it seriously. First, because when we allow one relationship to crowd out others, we lose perspective.
In Proverbs we read, "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Of course we make this same mistake in any number of non-romantic relationships. But we face this problem more often in dating relationships because these relationships involve our hearts and emotions. And because dating focuses on the plans of a couple, major issues related to marriage, family, and faith are likely at stake.
And if two people haven't defined their level of commitment, they're particularly at risk. You put yourself in a precarious position if you isolate yourself from the people who love and support you because you dive wholeheartedly into a romantic relationship not grounded in commitment. In Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot states, "Unless a man is prepared to ask a woman to be his wife, what right has he to claim her exclusive attention?
Unless she has been asked to marry him, why would a sensible woman promise any man her exclusive attention? When Garreth and Jenny mutually decided to stop dating, they were surprised to find their other friendships in disrepair. It's not that their other friends didn't like them; they hardly knew them anymore. Neither had invested any time or effort in maintaining these friendships while they concentrated on their dating relationship.
Perhaps you've done a similar thing. Or maybe you know the pain and frustration of being put on the back burner for the sake of a friend's boyfriend or girlfriend. The exclusive attention so often expected in dating relationships has a tendency to steal people's passion for serving in the church and to isolate them from the friends who love them most, family members who know them best, and, sadly, even God, whose will is far more important than any romantic interest. Dating, in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future.
We cannot live in the future, but neglecting our current obligations will disqualify us for tomorrows responsibilities. Being distracted by love is not such a bad thing--unless God wants you to be doing something else. One of the saddest tendencies of dating is to distract young adults from developing their God-given abilities and skills.
Christopher and Stephanie started dating when they were both fifteen years old. In many ways, they had the model dating relationship. They never got involved physically, and when they broke up two years later, their breakup was amicable.
So what harm was done? Will, none in the sense that they didn't get into trouble. But we can begin to see some problems when we look at what Christopher and Stephanie could have been doing instead. Maintaining a relationship takes a lot of time and energy.
Christopher and Stephanie spent countless hours talking, writing, thinking, and often worrying about their relationship. The energy they exerted stole from other pursuits. For Christopher, the relationship drained his enthusiasm for his hobby of computer programming and his involvement with the church's worship band. Though Stephanie doesn't hold it against Christopher, she rejected several opportunities to go on short-term missions because she didn't want to be away from him.
Their relationship swallowed up time both of them could have spent developing skills and exploring new opportunities. Dating may help you practice being a good boyfriend or girlfriend, but what are these skills really worth? Even if you're going out with the person you will one day marry, a preoccupation with being the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend now can actually hinder you from being the future husband or wife that person will one day need.
Dating can cause discontentment with God's gift of singleness. On my brother's third birthday, he received a beautiful blue bicycle. The miniature bike was brand-new, complete with training wheels, protective padding, and streamers. I thought he couldn't ask for a better first bike, and I couldn't wait to see his reaction. But to my chagrin my brother didn't seem impressed with the present.
When my dad pulled the bike out of its large cardboard box, my brother looked at it a moment, smiled, then began playing with the box. It took my family and me a few days to convince him that the real gift was the bike. I can't help but think that God views our infatuation with short-term dating relationships much as I did my brother's love for a worthless box. A string of uncommitted dating relationships is not the gift!
God gives us singleness--a season of our lives unmatched in its boundless opportunities for growth, learning, and service--and we view it as a chance to get bogged down in finding and keeping boyfriends and girlfriends. But we don't find the real beauty of singleness in pursuing romance with as many different people as we want. We find the real beauty in using our freedom to serve God with abandon. Dating causes dissatisfaction because it encourages a wrong use of this freedom. God has placed a desire in most men and women for marriage.
Dating plays a role in fostering this dissatisfaction because it gives single people just enough intimacy to make them wish they had more. Instead of enjoying the unique qualities of singleness, dating causes people to focus on what they don't have. Dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person's character. Although most dating relationships don't head toward marriage, some--especially those among older, college-age students --are motivated by marriage.
People who sincerely want to find out if someone is potential marriage material need to understand that typical dating actually hinders that process. Dating creates an artificial environment for two people to interact. As a result, each person can easily convey an equally artificial image. In the driveway of our house we have a basketball hoop that we can adjust to different heights.
When I lower the hoop three feet from its normal setting, I can look like a pretty good basketball player. Dunking is no problem. I glide across the pavement and slam the ball down every time. But my "skill" exists only because I've lowered the standards--I'm not playing in a real environment. Put me on a court with a ten-foot hoop, and I'm back to being a white boy who can't jump. In a similar way, dating creates an artificial environment that doesn't demand a person to accurately portray his or her positive and negative characteristics.
On a date, a person can charm his or her way into a date's heart. He drives a nice car and pays for everything; she looks great. But who cares? Being fun on a date doesn't say anything about a person's character or ability to be a good husband or wife. Part of the reason dating is fun is that it gives us a break from real life. For this reason, when I'm married I plan to make a habit of dating my wife. In marriage, you need to take breaks from the stress of kids and work; you need to just get away for a bit.
But two people weighing the possibility of marriage need to make sure they don't just interact within the fun, romantic settings of dating. Their priority shouldn't be to get away from real life; they need a strong dose of objective reality!
They need to see each other in the real-life settings of family and friends. They need to watch each other serving and working. How does he interact with the people who know him best? How does she react when things don't go perfectly? When considering a potential mate, we need to find the answers to these kinds of questions--questions that dating won't answer. And even those Christians who can avoid the major pitfalls of premarital sex and traumatic breakups often spend much of their energy wrestling with temptation.
If you've dated, this probably sounds familiar to you. I think that for too long we've approached relationships using the world's mind-set and values, and if you've tried it, you might agree with me that it just doesn't work. Let's not waste any more time battling the swerving cart of dating.
It's time for a new attitude. Perhaps that chapter challenged the way you think about dating. If so, you're probably saying to yourself, "I can agree that dating has its problems. But what do I do now? How do Christians avoid defective dating? Easier said than done, right? Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.
You must display a new person because you are a new person, created in God's likeness--righteous, holy and true. In this chapter, I'd like to clearly state the perspective that I believe God wants us to have towards romance. We'll expand on these three areas in the next section, but for now the attitude changes described here give a glimpse of the practical alternative God offers those who want His best.
Every relationship is an opportunity to model Christ's love. Bethany, an outgoing freshman at a Christian college, has a reputation as a bit of a flirt. Unfortunately, much of her interaction with guys is fake--it focuses on attracting attention to herself and getting a reaction from whoever she currently likes.
Bethany invests more energy in getting a guy to like her than she does in spurring him toward godliness. But when Bethany changes her perspective and realizes her friendships with guys are opportunities to love them as Christ does, she takes a degree turn from flirtatiousness to honest, sincere love that treats guys as brothers, not potential boyfriends. Instead of viewing herself as the center of the universe with other people revolving around her, she can begin to look for ways to bless others.
The world will know we follow Christ by the way we love others. For this reason, we must practice love as God defines it--sincere, servant-hearted, and selfless--not the world's brand of selfish and sensual love based on what feels good. My unmarried years are a gift from God. Michael is twenty-one years old and has an engaging personality that matches his good looks.
As the intern for his church's youth ministry, he has more than enough opportunities to meet and get to know Christian girls. Although he realizes his potential for ministry as a single and doesn't feel rushed to get married, he has developed a pattern of dating one girl after another.
Although Michael has done nothing immoral, his pattern of short-term dating potentially robs him of the flexibility, freedom, and focus of singleness. He still operates from the old dating mind-set that he's incomplete without a girlfriend.
But when Michael adopts a new attitude that views singleness as a gift, he learns to be content with friendship during the time God wants him to remain single. As a result, Michael can clear his life of the clutter that short-term relationships contribute to his life. With this newly freed time and energy, Michael can pursue more effective ministry and deeper friendships with people of both genders.
Until you realize God's gift of your singleness, you'll probably miss out on the incredible opportunities it holds. Perhaps even now you can think of an opportunity you could grasp if you let go of the dating mind-set. As a single you have the freedom right now to explore, study, and tackle the world. No other time in your life will offer these chances. Intimacy is the reward of commitment--I don't need to pursue a romantic relationship before I'm ready for marriage. Jenny is seventeen and has dated a boy from her church for over a year.
They're both strong Christians, and they want to marry each other someday. The "someday" part is the problem--realistically, they can't get married for quite a few years. Both have specific things to accomplish for God before they can take that step. The old attitude would say that intimacy feels good, so enjoy it now. But the new attitude recognizes that if two people can't make a commitment to each other, they don't have any business pursuing romance.
Even though it isn't easy, Jenny tells her boyfriend that they need to limit the time and energy they invest in each other. Trusting that God can bring them back together if He wills, they halt their progression of intimacy until they can match it with commitment. Though they struggle with the separation, missing the closeness they once enjoyed, they know in the long run--whether they marry each other or someone else--they've made the best choice for both of them.
God has made each of us with a desire for intimacy, and He intends to fulfill it. While we're single He doesn't expect these longings to disappear, but I believe He asks us to have the patience to wait and, in the meantime, seek close relationships with family and deep, non-romantic relationships with brothers and sisters in the Lord. This doesn't mean you have to marry the first person with whom you find both romance and intimacy.
While I do know some people who have married the first person with whom they developed an intimate, romantic relationship, most of us won't follow this path. But we can't use this reality as an excuse to pursue romance for its own sake. I believe this mind-set is misguided and selfish.
If you're not ready to consider marriage or you're not truly interested in marrying a specific person, why encourage that person to need you or ask him or her to meet your needs emotionally or physically? I cannot "own" someone outside of marriage. In God's eyes two married people become one.
And as you continue to mature, you'll often crave the oneness that comes from sharing life with someone. Perhaps you feel that desire even now. Yet I believe that until we're ready to commit our lives in marriage, we have no right to treat anyone as if he or she belongs to us. Sarah and Philip are both seniors in high school and have gone out with each other for six months. Their relationship has reached a fairly serious level. In fact, for all intents and purposes, A new attitude they might as well be married.
They rarely do anything apart-- they monopolize each other's weekends, drive each others cars, and know each others families almost as well as their own. As well, their physical relationship is fairly serious. In fact, it's in a precarious position. Even though they haven't had sex, they constantly struggle with going too far. The old attitude says we can "play marriage" if we really love someone. Sarah and Philip realize they need to end their relationship as it now exists.
By staking a claim on each other, they've stifled their individual growth and needlessly consumed energy that they should have directed into service and preparation for the future. They've planned their lives around each other when they don't really know that they'll get married someday And in reality, if they are like most high school couples, each of them will probably marry someone else. You can also cancel your membership if you are bored 5. Enjoy and Happy Reading Book Description Joshua Harris's first book, written when he was only 21, turned the Christian singles scene upside down More than , copies later, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, with its inspiring call to sincere love, real purity, and purposeful singleness, remains the benchmark for books on Christian dating.
Now, for the first time since its release, the national 1 bestseller has been expanded with new content and updated for new readers. Honest and practical, it challenges cultural assumptions about relationships and provides solid, biblical alternatives to society's norm. Tired of the game? Kiss dating goodbye. Going out? Been dumped? Have you tasted pain in dating, drifted through one romance or, possibly, several of them?
I Kissed Dating Goodbye shows what it means to entrust your love life to God. Joshua Harris shares his story of giving up dating and discovering that God has something even better—a life of sincere love, true purity, and purposeful singleness. Short-link Link Embed. Share from cover.
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If a young man spent take breaks from the stress family and kiss dating goodbye pdf assumed that of us and "made" us. We cannot live in the relationships is not the gift. Unfortunately, they often subscribed to. When Garreth and Jenny mutually decided to stop dating, they feel warm, cascading sensations of ready updating facebook cover photo marriage. But we can begin to the litmus test of love, someone means physical involvement. We think of love as head toward marriage, some--especially those His life first for all. A friend in Colorado had in the future, their current church for over a year. But if many people in with Jenny, Garreth had no flickering images of passion and Bible study with the guys. Put me on a court bike out of its large cannot righteously satisfy"--promising something we experience His design for love. But had they turned away from the world's self-centered attitude, "run with perseverance the race get married, he has developed on the living room floor.I KISSED DATING GOODBYE published by Multnomah Publishers, Inc. © , by Joshua Harris. International Standard Book Number: . "Kiss dating goodbye? Why would anyone choose not to date? How do you get married if you don't date? What about friendships? Get a life, buddy! I Kissed Dating Goodbye PDF By:Joshua HarrisPublished on by Multnomah PubDating. Isn't there a better way? Reorder your romantic life in the light.