Sex and Dating: You’d be hard pressed to find a hotter topic among college students and 20-somethings. After nearly 8 years as a college-age pastor, I’ve noticed that most of the people who really damage their hearts in dating don’t ask the right questions at the beginning of the process.
In Proverbs 4:23 we are warned to vigilantly watch and guard our hearts. Granted, there is just no way to completely remove the element of RISK inherent with any relationship (courting and arranged marriage is no exception). However, if we could figure out how to diminish that risk, we’d be foolish not to. After all, this is our hearts we are talking about here. Frankly I am sick and tired of seeing people I care about, people who deeply love God and want to follow him passionately, get sidelined for months by a needless heartbreak. What if we backed up a couple of steps and asked the tough questions before we ventured into the dicey waters of dating? What if we did some, if not all, of the following...
#1. Think “group” first!
A few years back, I had a student approach me after I spoke to introduce herself. When she shook my hand she let out a muffled gasp. When I inquired about it she said, “Brad...you just look different up close.” Our new high definition cameras make this a none-issue now, but back then I could (although weird) understand her reaction. She probably didn’t notice my crooked noose, yellowing teeth and large facial pores from 50 feet away. The point is, she had a moment when the reality of what I really looked like settled in. In dating this is undoubtedly part of the problem. You see someone you think looks good, start dating them, get close to them and then begin to see who they really are. Spending time in groups FIRST helps have a much more realistic picture of the person they are considering pursuing a relationship with. This is HUGE. Half the nasty break-ups wouldn’t happen if people would just take the time to observe how people interact in a group setting first! Save yourself the heartache by weeding out people that simply don’t yet have the character to date.
#2. Know your deal-breakers
It’s crazy but some of us don’t have clearly defined dating “deal-breakers.” We’ll jump into and stay in a relationship with just about anyone so long as we feel enough initial “connection” (not to sure what that word means other than two people that find each other extremely physically attractive). Believers dating non-believers. Sweet innocent women dating abusive addicts. Solid Christian young men dating promiscuous women who have no intent of re-evaluating their behavior. Connected and solid people who decide to date the isolated and lethargic cynics who show no desire to change or grow. WHY??? People don’t decide beforehand what removes some off their “date potential” list. As a follower of Jesus (assuming you are one) you probably shouldn’t be pursuing a relationship with the following...
-A non-believer (you might be a part of bringing this person to Christ but don’t use dating to do it)
-A person who is struggling with an addiction (they need time to recover, not time with you!)
-A person who is known to lie and deceive (look for a pattern)
-A person who likes to date for the sport of it. They aren’t looking for a real relationship but simply to have fun (hmmm...fun might not be so fun when your heart gets involved they are ready to move on a find the next thrill)
-A person who is sexually promiscuous and shows no signs of change or growth.
Is the person bitter with life, extremely apathetic, recovering from a major life tragedy or isolated from others? This person will only pull you into their mess and isn’t capable of being a strong partner in a relationship. GIVE IT SOME TIME! Ask questions about timing, maturity and motivation. Ask these questions of your self and the person you are considering dating.
#3. Put God in the middle of the process! (from the start)
Far too many people start a relationship and don’t invite God to be a part of the process until something goes wrong. Don’t let this be true of you. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit for a reason; we all desperately need his guidance. Far too many of us are ignoring his counsel because we get caught in the vortex of hormones and emotions stirred up by rushing into something. Give God time to speak to you about a relationship BEFORE you ever commit to it. God will speak through his word, through wise friends (not the one with 20 botched relationships under their belt) and through the rest and peace given to us deep inside when we wait on God. How is it that we trust God with our eternal salvation but don’t trust him when it comes to dating?
God wants to write your love story. Don’t rush ahead of him! He’s got a plan and you can trust him in this area. If you’re a follower of Jesus then this area of your life needs to reflect that. Let God reassure you that if you’re truly patient and allow him to lead you through this process you’ll be rewarded with the amazing gift of a godly wife or husband or the reassurance that you’re called to a life of singleness.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus states, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
Do you think that verse applies only to things we’ve previously labeled in our mind as spiritual? In other words, does Jesus want to teach us how to pray, tithe and care for the hurting but when it comes to dating we’re on my own. NO! Jesus came to give us life and life to the fullest. A big part of most of our lives will be a relationship with a special someone. And you better believe that God wants to show us a better way...his way.
Boundaries in Dating by Cloud and Townsend
How To Ruin Your Dating Life by Turner and Pomarolli
Undressed by Jason Illian
Wait for Me by Rebecca St. James
Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliott