So I’ve kind of come up with a dating philosophy as I’ve grown people-plants in my house. As I’ve observed and instructed, prayed and reflected, failed and grieved, and celebrated victories; I’ve gained some perspective and conviction.
Several things spurred on a conversation last night with people-plant #3 and #4 about dating and all that it entails. We have talked countless times in our home about such things but last night was even more specific as to why their dad and I have rules and convictions in the area of dating. Then this morning, #4 said I should write down what I said. She said it was so good she wanted her friends to hear it. Seriously, when my kids say something like that to me, I’m blown away. I don’t feel very smart or wise. Therefore, there can only be one conclusion: God said it and used my mouth. I’m humbled. Hopefully, I can repeat it.
Eek. Who wants to touch that, right? Me. I LOVE talking about life and the nitty-gritty details of every part of it and pouring God’s Truth all over it. Especially with my people-plants. I fail. Often. And ask God when my head hits my pillow at night to please fix my mistakes. Erase them. I don’t think He erases them but I completely trust that He uses them. And because He loves me and them so perfectly, He fills in the gaps.
So here’s a little of what I’ve learned along the way. I’m going to write just like I’m talking to my people-plants. So pull up a chair and imagine you’re sitting in my living room and I’m pouring my heart out to you on this hot, controversial topic. And please understand, I am a work in progress. I have failed. We have messed up and are still learning but that does not negate the principles that God puts forth and continues to teach me. Look past me.Let's start in Genesis. We have to start there because without Biblical truth, morality is subjective. Click To Tweet
First let me start way back, long ago, in Genesis. We have to start there because without Biblical truth, morality is subjective. It becomes what YOU decide is right or wrong based on YOUR feelings, experiences, up-bringing and culture. If we do that, we can never agree. It will never be right. The very fact we have a soul and conscience and will points straight to a Creator and this Creator gave us guidelines. I’ll stop there before I rabbit trail into a whole other state. But I believe we have been given guidelines for our relationships for our own spiritual health and safety. Marriage was intended by God to be one man and one woman for life. Forever. Anything outside of that is outside of God’s will. Flee from adultery and fornication. Bottom line.
With that in mind, our current culture and dating practices have made this a difficult task. Pornography, the media, American dating patterns, and the like have become dangerous pitfalls. It’s frightening how accessible images and connections are that can cause once-strong convictions to crumble. Solid relationships to fail. But can I add dating norms in America to the list? I know this may be stepping on toes here but bear with me. Think about it. Dating’s purpose is to find someone that you love, are compatible with and can spend your life with forever. Right?
Well, that’s my definition.
If we can agree on that, it’s foolish to start that process before you’re ready to think about marriage. Anything else seems silly and needlessly risky. Our kids are forming relationships and emotional attachments at young ages; ages well before they are ready for any kind of mature, lasting relationship.
What usually happens is a make-believe marriage. Two people decide they like each other. They make it an official relationship. They get physical and possessive. They have a few arguments and maybe make up. They ‘feel’ like they’re in love. Do I even have to mention what they do with all those raging hormones? Then most of the time, one of the two or both stop ‘feeling’ that love-like emotion so they break up. What just happened was a pretend marriage and then a pretend divorce.
Wait! Don’t give up on me yet. Hear me out.
I dated in high school and married my high school sweetheart. Some of my people-plants dated in high school. It wouldn’t be my first choice. Would I do some things differently? Yes. Did God work despite some bad choices? Yes. Do all situations look the same? No. I’ve been there. I know both sides. I’ve seen the damage that can come from the process.
What I’ve observed is that our kids are developing (usually unknowingly) a philosophy and emotional pattern of love and sexuality being based on feelings and in turn, dispensable. ‘Do what feels good.’ If you’ve been married for any amount of time, or even simply been an adult, you know that living any part of your life based on your feelings is bad news. Unfortunately, these kids are becoming adults that think marriage is for as long as it makes you happy and feel good. Divorce rates are at an all-time high. I don’t think we parents are helping in the slightest.
My philosophy is this in a nutshell.
First and foremost, develop a relationship with God that satisfies every need.
When those God-given feelings and observation of the opposite sex kick in (as they inevitably will), watch and learn and enjoy spending time together in safe environments without relationship status baggage. Use this time to look for the type of person God would have for you.
Don’t date until marriage is a possibility within the next few years. (Maybe more). When that time comes, start in groups and with your families.
Be diligently careful and cautious with your physical relationship. You belong to God and eventually your future spouse. You will NEVER regret saving all you can emotionally and physically for your marriage relationship.
Don’t be a tease – drawing someone’s attention for your own satisfaction and pleasure.
Take modesty seriously. Refer to my ‘saving all you can’ comment above. Don’t be the cause of someone else’s struggle.
Put other’s first.
Love well. Selflessly.
Trust God with your future.
Don’t be in a hurry.
Pray for the one He has planned for you.
Treat dating carefully, with respect.
I could go on and on. I am passionate about it. Especially because I’m in the midst of it. So to encourage, I say it can be done. I’ve seen it first-hand.
I long for my kids to have a marriage relationship that is a beautiful picture of Christ and the church; one that radiates with a deep, satisfying, God-glorifying love. Each picture will look different and carry mistakes, forgiveness, and redemption. They won’t be perfect but obedience is possible and the blessings are incomparable. I stand by that. It’s worth the long talks, ‘weird’ rules, the occasionally frustrated kid, relentless prayer, intentional caution, tears and joy.