The Dating Game--Part 1
The Mrs. degreedont leave college without one!
While the completion of this degree was more common in previous generations, the path to achieve it has remained the samedating is, and will always be, the big game on campus.
Were taking this interlude now because dating and the first Pillar of Peril share plenty of common threads. For the Christian, dating and moral purity should go hand in hand. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Aside from sexual immorality, the dating game is often characterized by emotional turmoil, academic distraction, broken hearts, parental conflict, petty jealousy, vicious revenge, and even physical abuse. The game can be nasty.
Just as problematic, many Christians continue right on struggling with hurtful dating relationships after college into their twenties, thirties, and forties. Worst of all, marriage doesnt solve the problemthere is very little difference in the divorce rate of Christian couples and non-Christian couples. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.
So what is the problem? Better yet, what is the solution? And most important, how can you avoid being relationship roadkill in college? Read on.
Before we talk dating, lets glance ahead at marriage. Just as God designed sex for marriage, He designed marriage primarily for companionship and procreation. If a man and woman choose to marry, the divine standard is that they stay married until death do us part. But just as sinful man perverted sex to include all the immoral manifestations outside of marriage, so man has done the exact same thing with marriage. Marriage is no longer until death do us part, but rather until something gets in the way or until someone better comes along.
It should come as no surprise because this is exactly what the dating game has trained men and women to do. Heres the typical scenario: A man and woman start dating, but things just dont work out, so they break up. Then they each start dating someone else, but in time they lose interest, so they break up again. The next time around, theyre sure they have found Mr. or Miss Right but then they meet someone else who seems even more like Mr. of Miss Right, so they end up breaking up again. Get the picture?
As they cycle through one relationship after another, they could be having premarital sex, living together, bearing children out of wedlock, or having abortions. Its all part of the dirty little secret of the dating game.
But then the stars finally align! They find that perfect person. They have a grand wedding. Everyone is smiling. Married life is great. Perhaps they have kids. They live in a nice home.
Unfortunately, the inevitable occurs. Life happensfinancial problems, all-consuming careers, child-raising challenges, interfering in-laws, long business trips, alcohol abuse, another love interest... and the list goes on.
What do they do? Well, what did they train themselves to do during the dating game? If things werent working out, or if it didnt feel right, or if there was a better option, or if they didnt love each other anymore, they broke up. They got through lost love before; they can get through it again.
So they break up, which in this case means they get divorced. And then they jump back into the dating game and start the whole cycle over again. It is really no wonder that more than 50 percent of marriages (Christian and non-Christian) end in divorce. Theyre all playing the same losing game... the dating game!
Whats a guy or gal to do? Is there a way to date but not get caught up in the game? The answer is yes, but you must abide by a complete set of standards that are contrary to the culture, the media, your peers, and even your own desires and feelings.
You must commit to following five fundamental principles of a different kind of dating. What kind of dating is that? Divine dating.
Date to Marry
To avoid the repetitive and destructive cycle of the dating game, your perspective on dating must go beyond enjoyment, fulfillment, and romance. Yes, dating can be exhilarating, comforting, loving, and many other things, but that should not be the primary purpose of a dating relationship. Dating for the sake of the little picture (i.e., the benefits) is a sure way to miss out on the big picture (i.e., a good marriage).
Dating should have one primary purposemarriage. In other words, date only someone you can envision yourself potentially marrying someday. But wait, you say. How will I ever know if I want to marry someone if I dont date them? Im glad you asked. My answer is look before you leap.
Youve heard the expression Love is blind. Aint that the truth! Once you get emotionally involved in a dating relationship, your ability to see the situation clearly drastically declines. Everyone around you may see you are in a relationship with someone who is not right for you, but you are totally blind to it. So you carry on and set yourself up for a big hurt down the road. Then, after its over, you ask yourself, What on earth was I thinking?
Your one chance to see a person clearly is before the dating relationship begins. This is what I mean when I say, Look before you leap. Ask yourself the following questions before you start dating:
Answering these questions will take some time and perhaps a few dates. If you come up with several negative answers to the questions, save yourself the misery and dont get involved. If you come up with plenty of positives, proceed ahead, but with your eyes wide open.
The point is to guard your heart before jumping into a dating relationship. Make your decision to date based on sound mental reasoning rather than on just emotion. Ask others who know you bestyour parents, and close friendsfor their opinion and counsel. And dont forget to pray and ask God for discernment. Remember, once youre emotionally entwined, becoming untangled is like taking gum out of your hairtheres no easy and painless way.
This is not dating for the sake of dating. This is dating for the sake of marriage.
Possessors Only, Please
Did you notice the first question to ask yourself about a potential marriage partner: Do we share the same beliefs and values? In other words, Does this person share my Christian faith? This is by far the most important foundation for a dating relationship and marriage.
Who you are as a person is defined by your thoughts, actions, and motives. Guess what dictates your thoughts, actions, and motives? Your spiritual beliefs. If you are a possessing Christian, your thoughts, actions, and motives are going to directly align with the teachings and principles of the Bible
How does this relate to dating? In every way! A Possessor will be committed to sexual purity before marriage because that is Gods will. He will be truthful and aboveboard because that is Gods will. She will desire the best for the other person in the relationship because that is Gods will. He will raise children with love and discipline because that is Gods will. She will prioritize daily Bible study and Christian fellowship because that is Gods will.
And last, but not least, he will only dateand thus marryanother Christian because that is Gods will:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial [Satan]? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God...
Therefore Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you (2 Cor. 6:14-17).
This short passage says a lot. The Apostle Paul makes the point that believers and unbelievers are completely different beingsdifferent animals, if you will. The unequal yoke represents a farmer who tries to plow his field with a donkey and an ox under the same yoke. It just wont worktheyll never plow straight lines because they have completely different natures.
According to this passage, God considers believers to be righteous, light, Christ-followers, and His temple. What union could a believer have with an unbeliever whom God considers to be just the oppositelawless, dark, Satan-followers, and idol worshipers? There are only two familiesGods and Satans. Everyone is a member of one or the other, and they dont mix at all. A very stark contrast indeed.
And Gods command is clear: Come out from among them and be separate. Dont date or marry a non-Christian! The apostle Paul reiterates this point in 1 Corinthians 7:29, where he says a Christian should only marry in the Lord. In other words, Possessors should marry only other Possessors.
I know what you might be thinking: Wait a second, I am going to help my non-Christian boyfriend or girlfriend so he or she can become a Christian. For the one case where this actually occurs, there are 999 examples where the opposite happensthe Christian is almost always pulled down spiritually by the non-Christian.
Now, of course, believers must have acquaintances and friendships with unbelieversChristians are to be salt and light in this dark world. But dating and marriage relationships are much deeper than mere acquaintances or friendships. Go ahead and pray for that person. Invite him or her to church or Bible study. Just dont date or marry that person unless he or she truly becomes a Possessor.
Missionary dating is not just a bad idea, its a spiritually dangerous one. Remember the verseChristians should not be unequally yoked with non-Christians. Gods will is that Christians date, and thus marry, only Christians.
Check Your Appearance
All right, so you have found another Christian whom you can envision yourself potentially marrying someday. You start dating. Now what?
You check your appearance.
What does that mean?
The Apostle Paul wrote that Christians should abstain from every form of evil (I Thess. 5:22).
Avoiding every form (literally appearance) of evil means that you dont give anyone else grounds to think something sinful is going on in your relationship.
God wants not only purity in your dating relationship but purity in the appearance of your relationship too. You see, God is very protective of His name, His holiness, His reputation. He doesnt want those who say they represent Him (i.e., Christians) appearing to behave in such a way that would tarnish His reputation.
This means you must conduct your dating relationship to a much higher standard than unbelievers do. If people see you and your dating partner hugging and smooching in the hallway, you are giving them reason to think, If they are doing that in public, I can only imagine what they are doing in private. Or if they see you drive off together for a little weekend getaway, theyre going to think, Hmm, hot nights ahead for those two.
The reality might be that everything is aboveboard with you and your dating partner, but you are giving the appearance that it is not. Of course, some people will suspect sin due to the mere fact that youre dating, but never give them any appearance to confirm their wandering imaginations.
Part 2 Continued Next Month
From: The University of Destruction, by David Wheaton