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Choosing God's Best: Wisdom for Lifelong Romance

(Paperback - Mar 2006)
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Overview

Is Russian roulette romance failing you? Dr. Don Raunikar, who worked extensively with singles seeking relief from the dark side of dating, shows you a better, biblical way.

Details

  • SKU: 9781590524589
  • SKU10: 1590524586
  • Title: Choosing God's Best: Wisdom for Lifelong Romance
  • Qty Remaining Online: 23
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books
  • Date Published: Mar 2006
  • Pages: 247
  • Illustrated: Yes
  • Weight lbs: 0.55
  • Dimensions: 8.40" L x 6.00" W x 0.70" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product, Illustrated, Bibliography
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical;
  • Category: SINGLES
  • Subject: Christian Life - Relationships

Chapter Excerpt


Chapter One

God's Antidote for Dating Disease

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

CAUTION: The principles of dating are man-centered and culturally determined; courtship principles are God-centered and biblically based.

Each of us has a God-given urge to seek out an intimate relationship-physical, emotional, and spiritual-with the opposite sex. In biblically based courtship, a couple eventually satisfies that urge through a process that results in a lifetime commitment. In dating, however, a couple's immediate goal is not typically to work toward a selfless, lifelong relationship, but to satisfy a short-term physical or emotional need. The result is an endless series of temptations that often results in guilt, disappointment, frustration, and heartbreak.

Too often, dating leads to disaster rather than happily ever after. Here's a startling illustration that shows just how overrated dating is by people who use it to "shop around" for the right spouse. Write your name on a piece of paper, then write the names of your two closest friends. If all three of you marry, two of you probably won't stay married to your original partners. You'll either find another partner or join the ever-growing population of single-again adults.

Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson began one of his recent Focus on the Family radio broadcasts by quoting researchers who predict that two out of three couples who marry this year will not remain together throughout their lifetimes. That means the majority of today's newlyweds won't be celebrating golden wedding anniversaries. Instead, they'll spend what should be the most relaxing, rewarding years of their lives picking up the pieces of failed marriages and trying to patch up broken homes. Without seeking and following God's plan, their marriages will falter.

The solution to the dating dilemma is so simple that people overlook it time after time, through one failed relationship after another. It reminds me of the little boy who was riding his bicycle down the street one day and noticed a big crowd up ahead under a railroad trestle. When he got to the scene he realized a big truck had tried to ease under the old, narrow trestle and had gotten stuck. The police were there but they couldn't do anything. Someone called a tow truck, but the big truck was stuck so tight the cable broke. Someone else called a construction company to see if they could raise the trestle with a hydraulic jack, but the trestle was too long. The fire department was there, along with the mayor, a man from the trucking company, a railroad supervisor, and the service manager from the local truck dealership.

While they were all standing around trying to figure out what to do, the boy rode up on his old Schwinn bicycle with multi-colored streamers dangling from the handlebars and playing cards fastened to the fenders so they made a flapping noise on the spokes. The boy jumped off his bike, walked behind the truck, and tried to talk to the puzzled men. But no one would listen.

After being ignored for a long time, the boy went home. For six hours the truck stayed wedged beneath the trestle, and traffic was detoured to the other side of town. Later, the boy came back and saw that firemen were preparing to cut the top off the truck. Worming his way through the circle of men, the boy finally shouted above the noise of the crowd, "Wait! Why can't you just let the air out of the tires?"

The simple solutions are sometimes the hardest to see.

After nearly a century of substituting dating for God's principles of courtship, we may think we're stuck with the disastrous results, that there's no other way to find a marriage partner. Christian singles by the millions have wandered down the treacherous streets of dating and found themselves in destructive relationships that affect their lives forever. We've been like the crowd of adults around the stranded truck who could see the problem but overlooked the obvious solution.

The best answer has been the most elusive: Ditch dating and return to romance God's way.

Dating vs. Courtship

Although the Bible never mentions the words "dating" or "courtship," it does give principles and guidelines for one-to-one, male/female relationships. The Bible says that after God created goodness all around, He looked at man and said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). Then He created woman as a helper suitable for man. At that moment, romance, marriage, and commitment became the very fabric of society.

But the fabric God wove is unraveling in today's culture.

We don't have to look very far to see a distorted picture of what was supposed to be a divine lifetime plan: one man and one woman committed to each other for life. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). God's intention for a husband and wife was monogamy. Together they were to form an inseparable union with "one flesh" being both a sign and an expression of that union.

God's solution for man's aloneness is marriage, not dating. Just as marriage became the first one-on-one, male/female relationship, the home became the foundational structure for the rest of society, and a committed relationship became the foundation of the home. In fact, God instituted the home before He created the church.

The principles of courtship are God-centered and biblically based. Courtship is a biblical process of finding and choosing a mate while glorifying God and honoring and respecting each other. Dating, on the other hand, is the world's alternative to courtship. Its principles are man-centered and culturally determined. The words "Christian" and "dating" don't go together because their principles are exact opposites. Christian dating is an oxymoron.

The primary distinction between dating and courtship lies in the intent of the relationship:

When a couple begins a courting relationship, they both know the purpose of the relationship is to consider marriage. Conversely, casual dating is a romantic linking of a couple simply to enjoy each other's company for the present. In dating, both parties understand that while marriage may be possible in the future, neither person is seriously considering it at the moment. As a result, immediate pleasure is the whole purpose for dating, even for Christians who draw the line at sexual immorality.

Courting has a long-term end in view. There are no casual "tryouts" in courtship, and it is reserved only for couples spiritually and emotionally ready for marriage.

Courtship is not merely a Christian way of dating. When we date, we often have a window-shopping attitude that has "self" as the base: How will we look "wearing" our prospective partner . having him . holding him . owning him? We try on another person for size and see whether their style suits us. In contrast, someone in a courtship relationship says, "I believe God has led me to you above all others and I will honor, cherish, and marry you." No broken hearts. No painful baggage. No walking out.

Courtship In The Real World

Camille was a thirty-five-year-old mother who had been married thirteen years before her divorce. Even though her ex-husband had remarried and she was eager to be part of a two-parent home again, dating in midlife wasn't an appealing thought.

When men from her singles Sunday school class asked her for a date, she would go and then be sorry she went. The problems inherent in dating only multiplied the daily difficulties she faced as a new single mom. Eventually, she dated one person for several months, but the relationship didn't last. Camille's children had grown attached to the man, so when they broke up it hurt not only her but the kids as well.

"I started praying for God's protection because I just didn't want to live like that anymore," Camille said. "I prayed He would keep away anyone who wasn't the right one."

Camille had seen what prayer had done for a friend of hers who had recently married after trusting God to bring "the right one" into her life. She had watched God protect her friend from the pain of wrong relationships and knew God could help her the same way.

Camille's best friend had also sought God's help and protection. "She was very intelligent and attractive, but after that prayer she didn't get asked out very much," Camille said. "It was just God's protection of her. Eventually, a wonderful Christian man came into her life and they married."

Camille believed God honored her friend's prayers because she had a desire for purity above all else and a need to be a pure vessel in the presence of a holy God. She wanted that purity in her own life.

Camille prayed her own prayer of protection. Afterward, no one asked her for a date for three months. That had never happened before. She was attractive and popular. Men had always been attentive to her. To her own surprise, Camille wasn't bothered by the lack of social interaction. Even though she still had a desire to marry again, Camille was becoming content with being single and involving herself in church and community activities.

All of a sudden, God opened the floodgates. Three men asked her out at the same time. She told all three the same thing: "I don't date. I believe in courtship." Two of the three never stuck around to find out why. The third was an exception. Wade was familiar with the courtship concept and responded, "Any guy with his ear to God's mouth wouldn't be scared by it."

"Wade called a few times, and our friendship grew from acquaintance to casual friendship through interaction at church activities," Camille continued. "After our first conversation, I thought, 'Wow, what a godly man!' He had a desire for God that was what I wanted in a husband."

Wade understood her attitude toward dating and courtship. They spent that month praying about whether to enter into a relationship, particularly since Wade wasn't sure if he would ever marry.

"If he knew he was never going to get married, I didn't even want to start anything," Camille said.

Then Wade went away for a three-day weekend to pray and ask if Camille was God's choice for him. When he returned, their courtship began.

"I saw he was very interested in me and that I meant more to him than having to go through the obstacles," Camille said.

Obstacles? "Safeguards" may be a better word.

One of the most important safeguards was an accountability couple. Both sets of parents lived too far away to provide direction and guidance for the relationship, so Wade and Camille asked a godly couple from their church to serve in the major role of an accountability couple.

"We went to their home one evening, and Wade talked to the husband almost like he would have talked to my father," Camille said. Together they discussed the need for setting some boundaries to keep the relationship from moving too fast at the beginning and to allow both Camille and Wade to think clearly and hear God's voice.

"Our friends sent us to separate rooms in the house and told us to pray about how much time we should spend together at the beginning," Camille said. "After praying, I didn't have a sense of what our time together should be, but Wade came out saying we should see each other once a week for three hours and spend one hour a week on the phone. So with the blessings of our accountability couple, we began our courtship."

During those early days of the relationship, Wade wrote to Camille and she began to know his heart more through his letters than their conversations. "When we started spending more time together, I dragged him around to all my older married friends and he did the same to me. We did this because we knew our friends would detect red flags that might not be obvious to us," she said. "We even went to pre-engagement counseling with my pastor, who likes to talk to couples before they get engaged." Their relationship had developed from an acquaintance and now was heading into an intimate friendship.

The two of them became involved with other couples in group activities and began attending a home cell group. In time, Wade also began joining in activities with her children. As their time alone became more limited by circumstances (work responsibilities and a long drive between houses), they no longer needed artificial limitations on their time. After a ten-week engagement, they were married.

How much time did the courtship process take? The time it took to develop a friendship, one month of prayer, one month of hardly seeing each other, two months of leading each other all over the city to visit friends, and a ten-week engagement. But it took a lifetime of learning to seek God's counsel.

"More and more I see how Wade is just the perfect person for me," Camille said. "The children were very excited and supportive. If they had not been, I would have considered that as my counsel against the marriage.

"It's so important not to try to pick someone and make it happen but just to let God work in the situation. God is in control and desires what is best for us."

Courtship Characteristics

Courtship can be defined by eight basic assumptions a courting couple makes that embrace a lifestyle, values, and priorities completely different from dating:

Assumption One:

We view the marriage relationship not as a contract between two people but as a covenant between a couple and God. His divine intention is an inseparable, monogamous union. Becoming "one flesh" is both a sign and expression of that union.

Assumption Two:

We decide not to date or "shop around" but to save ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the one person God would have us marry. To exchange dating for courtship is to demonstrate faith in God's will and in His power to bring that will to pass in our lives. We wait on God's timing and God's revelation, believing that He will show us what to do and whom to marry.

Assumption Three:

While we wait for God to reveal His choice of a mate, we concentrate on being the right person instead of finding the right person. We do this by involving ourselves in ministry, fellowship, and friendships that help us focus on our value and identity in Christ instead of our value to someone else. We learn to treat our friends in Christ as if they were brothers and sisters and to distinguish biblically appropriate behavior from behavior that compromises our physical and emotional integrity.

Assumption Four:

Once we have developed an intimate friendship with another person and believe they may be our intended partner, we enter a courtship with the understanding that marriage is the expected end result. Unlike dating, we aren't casually "trying out" another person until we find a steady dating partner.

Assumption Five:

Because we enter a courtship relationship with a view toward marriage, we may have to delay considering courtship until we are in a position to marry and have laid a responsible foundation. God expects us to spend our season of singleness preparing ourselves and laying the foundation for His blessing. For younger singles, this may mean no courtship during the high school years and perhaps not until after college.

Assumption Six:

We begin a courtship with the full knowledge and approval of both sets of parents or, if parental involvement is not possible, a spiritual accountability couple. Accountability in the relationship is desired and created through the involvement of parents, another godly couple, or both. Courtship includes time spent with the entire family and allows an accountability couple to provide protection, correction, and direction.

(Continues.)

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