Copyright © 2000 Jeramy Clark.
All rights reserved.
Introduction: To Date or Not to Date I Know What You're
1 The Drive to Date Nature, Love, and Especially God.7
2 According to Webster You Call That a Date?14
3 Dating by Whose Rules? For That Great First
4 Choosing Your Date First Things First.29
5 Relationship Interviews Getting Personal39
6 Quality Control Someday My Prince (or Princess) Will Come.50
7 Timing Is Everything Ready . or Not?60
8 Compromising Who You Are for What You Want Mediocrity
9 Defending the Emotional Zone Guarding tour Heart82
10 Getting Ahead of Yourself Did Somebody Say "Marriage"?.90
11 The Physical Fence How Far Is Too Far?.98
12 Living in the Light Finding Help in Accountability
13 Just for Girls, Just for Guys A Closer Focus122
14 Inquiring Minds Want to Know More Questions . and
Think It Over For Personal Study and Group Discussion.163
The Drive to Date
Nature, Love, and Especially God
* * *
"The tragedy of our age," my wife once heard a pastor say, "is that we're at a crossroads, but all the signposts have fallen down."
You're at a crossroads when it comes to dating. That's why you're reading this book. You're a Christian who wants to serve the Lord and understand His will. You want to keep your dating life under His control. But you've probably been confused by all the fallen signposts around you.
The world's way of dating definitely doesn't suit you. It's full of mind games and usually ends in heartache and burned bridges. You can't follow those directions.
No wonder a whole movement against Christian dating has gained popularity. Some Christians say that since romantic feelings can lead to sin, the only godly course for young people is not to date. "Courtship" is acceptable, they say, but only when a person is ready for marriage. In their eyes, casual one-on-one dating will only distract young people from their walks with the Lord.
These Christians who discourage dating have good motives, and their goalto keep young adults pureis a great one. But their approach, I believe, is imbalanced. I believe we can apply the Lord's truth to our romantic relationships as we date. We can find a workable strategy for dating and getting to know others, all to God's glory.
Can you please the Lord and still date? I'll answer that question with an emphatic yes! There is a godly alternative to "kissing dating good-bye."
It's a Natural Thing
562-694-26 . Click.
C'mon! I can do this.
562-694-266 . Click.
Darn it. I'm twenty-six years old. Why am I still sweaty-palmed and freaked-out that her dad will answer?
But if her dad does answer, I can't risk the possibility of Star 69 or Caller ID. I'll just have to ask if I can talk to her.
You may laugh, but this really happened to me. And it wasn't that long ago, when I was trying to make a call to the woman who's now my wife.
Did I finally get through all ten digits of her phone number? Yes, and you'll never guess one of the reasons why: a TV commercial, of all things.
An old man and his grandson were sitting on a porch swing. The grandpa asked if his grandson ever intended to get married. The young boy reacted as most boys his age would, with horror and complete disgust. He thought falling in love was about as unnatural as eating broccoli.
Luckily his porch-swing partner knew better. "Falling in love," the grandfather said, "is the most natural thing in the world."
That bit of wisdom reassured me I wasn't crazy for wanting to get to know someone special. It was natural to feel the way I did, to have that aching desire in my heart to spend the rest of my life with someone, to feel unsatisfied with being on my own, to really want to find the right person.
Don't get me wrong; I wasn't desperate, and I felt content in my relationship with God. I just had this drive in me that wouldn't let me alone.
I wanted to fall in love"the most natural thing in the world." Think about it.
The Drive to Date
I didn't care much for science until my sophomore year of high school, when I had biology with Mr. Carlson. A six-foot-six all-star athlete, he would literally walk on top of our lab tables and randomly thwack desks with his lecture stick to keep our attention.
He sure kept mine. Under Mr. Carlson's teaching, I became fascinated by the details of all life forms, from plants to pigs. Ever since then, I've loved and appreciated the natural order in God's creation. Things make sense, and life follows patterns that we can study.
There's even a pattern for the development of a drive to date.
For starters, the drive and desire I felt (and that you probably feel) to get to know and spend time with someone special is completely normal. It's one of the natural things that happens as you mature, like no longer being scared by cooties. Curiosity and interest in the opposite sex electrifies you, and you long to pursue male-female friendships.
What's the source of this desire to date and what awakens our romantic feelings? I believe both are prompted by our God-given need for companionship. As Stuart Briscoe writes in What It Means to Be Real, "Scripture makes it very clear that our lives are lived in terms of relationships: with God and with human beings."
God created us with the capacity for companionship, including the capacity for romantic feelings. These feelings are natural and can teach us a lot about ourselves and others. Without them, we could easily get caught up in ourselves and never invest in relationships. We might become terribly selfish and neglect our need to grow in humility and service to others.
So you don't need to feel bad because you want to date someone. It isn't sinful to have romantic feelings. God knows the desires of your heart. Even better, He wants to fulfill those desires when you walk with Him. Look at Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." You did read that right. God longs to fulfill the desires of your heart.
This verse isn't an assurance that your every wish will come true; just because you desire to date a certain person doesn't mean God will send him or her knocking on your door. But God does want to see you contented and fulfilled. And He knows better than you what you need and should want in a mate.
Just think: In this area of your life, as much as in any other, you have the all-knowing, all-wise Creator of everything as your Guide. That's so reassuring and refreshing.
Because God Is Love
But it really isn't enough just to say romantic feelings are natural. It's not even enough to say God knows you want to date. Romantic feelings are acceptable because God Himself is love, and He created us to experience and reflect this aspect of His personality.
Maybe you're familiar with Genesis 1:27: "God created man in his own image." Our bodies and minds reflect the nature of God, who sees, hears, and feels. Because God is love, we can feel love.
More important, however, being created in His image and reborn as Christians means our spirits are modeled after God's Spirit. Because God is love, we can and must love.
In 1 John 4:7-8 we're commanded to "love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." Pretty clear, isn't it? The Lord wants us to love. He isn't talking in those verses about romantically loving everyone. But our Father has given us the desire and drive not only for brotherly love but also for romantic love. Why?
Because in the Scriptures we learn that romantic love, in a deep and mysterious way, is intended to reflect God's love for the church, Christ's bride for eternity.
In fact, your romantic love toward another person can honor God because it shows Him that you consider His precious creation to be valuable and worthy, just as God does.
God wants us to love, and as part of that love, He wants us to experience romance. He designed it, modeled it, and made it to last!
The Strength of Love
But what exactly is this great thing called "love"? Dictionaries define it with phrases like "a warm liking or affection," "a tender or passionate affection," "a warm feeling," "a strong liking." To me, those descriptions sound a little weak.
When we look at God's definition, however, we see more clearly why love is something everyone desires and seeks: True love "always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).
True love is tough! To really love, you've got to be willing to sacrifice. As Jesus told us in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." That's some serious commitment.
Maybe you feel you can never live up to that kind of true love in a dating relationship. Don't worry; you don't have to be able to love perfectly in order to date. But if you're willing to work at knowing and following God's guidelines, you can learn to love appropriately.
Yes, romantic love is a wonderful part of human life. And if it weren't for sin, we would be able to love purely and to experience romantic relationships perfectly. Unfortunately, sin has corrupted God's perfect design for love and companionship on this earth. Because we're sinful creatures, our love can be sinful and often is.
But Christ died to redeem us from our sinful desires. By His power and strength within us, we can choose to live holy lives full of love and God-honoring romance. As long as we rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us, we don't have to be afraid to pursue romance in dating.
Instead of denying or repressing your romantic feelings, you need to learn to bring them under the Lord's control. All your thoughts on this subject can be in line with God's perspective as you "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).
God created you with romantic feelings, and now He wants you to give them back to Him so He can help you date and learn to love according to His standards. But godly dating doesn't happen automatically; it takes work. Even though your desire for romance isn't sinful, your response to these deep feelings can cross God's boundary lines. You can date foolishly. You can be drawn into compromising with the world. If you become involved in inappropriate emotional or physical intimacy, you can and will sin against God.
So we have to be careful to guard against any sin, small or great, that would steal our affection from the Lord. By paying attention to the principles you'll see in this book, you can stay within God's boundaries and date to His glory.
Looking Ahead .
So here at this crossroads in your life, it's time to put the signposts back up. We need solid directions for issues such as .
· knowing what a "date" really is.
· figuring out what to do on a real-life date and how to treat the person you're with.
· meeting your responsibilities before, during, and after a date.
· determining when you're ready for dating.
· following God's standards and knowing what will result if you door if you don't.
· establishing good boundaries, both emotionally and physically, and learning how to protect them.
These are just a few of the places we're headed in the chapters to come. I trust you're as eager as I am to start the journey.