Friday, April 13, 2012

Casual Temptation~Dating, Courting, and Beyond (Tearing Back the Layers Series)


In life we’ve found we often, as Christians, blindly accept the way the world does things. We’ve been challenged by God to tear back the layers and start with the foundation (the Bible) on things such as dating . As a very smart young lady told me recently (thank you Lexi) when talking about another subject, “Why should we as Christians want to be like everyone else?”

We don't expect everyone to agree with us.  This is OUR journey (smile).


Now our first post in the series “Tearing Back the Layers”...

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We’ve all read the statistics on teens, dating, and sex.

We’ve all seen the arguments that teenagers, humans, can’t control themselves.

Ya, we don’t agree with that. You should see our teens on their soapbox when they hear someone say that. They don’t agree either.

It’s not naïve KNOWING our teens CAN control themselves. It’s acknowledging our teens are not animals and are capable of saying no.

I’m getting ahead of myself though

I was the typical dater. I guess you could call me a casual dater. I was not sexually active and (as always) I was madly in love with Jesus (as I still am). I thought of each date as figuring out what I wanted in a spouse. I rarely said no to a date. I didn’t want to say, “That is NOT my future spouse.” if I didn’t know them and didn’t know who God had chosen for me.

I was naïve.

I bought into the mentality of the world’s Christian view….instead of finding what a Christian’s Worldview should be.


Now that we have teens we have been on a journey to figure out what we believe about dating, dancing, and about everything I lived on when I was a teen. We’re still on that journey.

When I heard the word “courtship” it made me cringe. No offense to those that like the word, but to me it rang of covered wagons and old fashioned teens. I was looking not for old fashioned, but God fashioned.

Many will say the old fashioned idea of dating was correct. Part of it may be, but any time we need to figure out the “way we need to go” we need to go to the root. We need to go to the Bible.

I’m going to give you our condensed version. There is just so much that I may write more on this later. Two words have hit us hard when researching how God feels about dating.

PURITY


And

TEMPTATION


The Bible is very clear about striving for purity. Let’s assume those reading this know how God feels about sex outside of marriage (Genesis 2:24, Romans 12:1, I Corinthians 7:1-40, Ephesians 5:1-33, Hebrews 13:4).

Here are some verses that we feel apply to dating…

“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our MINISTRY WILL NOT BE DISCREDITED. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; IN PURITY, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
II Corinthians 6:3-10

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in PURITY. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. “ I Timothy 4:12-13

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute PURITY.” I Timothy 5:1-2


Yet where does that fit in our idea of a “casual dating” society…even in the Church.

Why are we dating in the first place?


Here are the three main trains of thought we see often in the Church.
Side Note: After this was written a couple of weeks ago, my teens had a class on dating. My teen daughter, having already read this, was not surprised at the fact that these three reasons for dating were the only reasons brought up

.
•We date for fun…high school and college should be fun and you can casually date without casual sex.

•We date to figure out what we want in a spouse with the ultimate goal of meeting and marrying your spouse.

•We date to meet our spouse/other half.


We had to ask ourselves as parents and as Christians, what is the dating attitude we should have IF our goal is purity and reflecting God in all our actions.

Again, please know, we don’t expect everyone to agree with us AT ALL. This is our journey.

When looking at the first reason for dating we immediately had a problem
.

•We date for fun…high school and college should be fun and you can casually date without casual sex.

We want our kids to have a blast…a pure, playing in the mud, laughing, and food fight blast. Not at the expense of purity though.

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t believe casual dating leads to casual sex, BUT we do believe it leads to casual temptation.

I don’t know about you, but as a dating teen (being BRUTALLY honest here) I was a walking hormone. I was there. I remember vividly. Even though I was committed to NO sex outside of marriage, I felt I could handle the temptation.

Isn’t that what we all feel? We can handle the temptation….until we can’t and it blossoms into sin. How many marriages were ruined because a spouse didn’t flee when temptation of an extramarital affair presented itself?

Remember what Jesus said when he found the disciples sleeping?
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Matthew 26:41 and Mark 14:38


“So, if you think you are standing firm, BE CAREFUL THAT YOU DON’T FALL! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” I Corinthians 10:12-13

We don’t think that, from reading the above, God wants us to walk straight into temptation purposely. Do we think He wants us to walk right into casual temptation purposely? Temptation will happen. Why deliberately choose it though? Why not CHOOSE to wait to date until you are close to an age where marriage is more likely?

Can we tell you what many of you already know? When you’re in love….it’s HARD to wait. If we choose to protect our hearts longer by not committing to a romantic relationship until we’re older, we are choosing to not walk readily and eagerly into temptation. We are choosing to not take temptation casually.

The second argument was my argument. I know it well. I also see as much of my thinking as flawed now.


•We date to figure out what we want in a spouse with the ultimate goal of meeting and marrying our spouse.

My rational was that putting myself in temptations way, even casual temptation, is ok if I’m figuring out what I want for the future….the right guy.

This took dating a lot of the WRONG guys.

Did I ever date a guy for attraction and nothing else, YES. I rationalized it with the above excuse too. I HAD to find out what I really wanted in a spouse. I wanted attraction, didn’t I?

I threw myself under the proverbial temptation bus.

My beginning mentality was at the core flawed. Who told me I had to date around to figure out what I wanted in a spouse? Who told me I should date ANYONE that I didn’t absolutely know, that wasn’t a close or best friend…. that I hadn’t known for a while…to the point of knowing many of their bad habits and crazy traits?

Many women and men get “played” because they don’t thoroughly know a person before dating. This is not saying that knowing someone one a long time will guarantee there are no surprises, but insuring that there are prayerfully fewer. Many will carry memories that can’t be erased for the rest of their lives. All in the name of dating to find out what they want.

Casual Temptation….


Many (me included) date(d) those we knew we wouldn’t marry.

Here’s what I have to ask? Why should we date someone before we even know marriage is a possibility (by knowing them well before dating)? Why should we be willing to knowingly put ourselves in temptations way without knowing he/she is worth it ahead of time?

Dating is not like food. We don’t need to taste to find out what we like. Friendship should give us that “taste” without the intense temptation. Friendship should show us what we desire in a spouse. Watching and talking to married couples is very helpful as well.

“How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.” Psalms 119:9-10


The most important way, though, is through prayer.

We give God so much in our lives…only to deny him authority in the area of our spouse.

Now we head to the third idea that was put forth.


•We date to meet our spouse/other half.

If we are truly doing this, if it is our ultimate desire to keep ourselves out of temptations way and to keep ourselves pure, we need to set ourselves some Biblical guidelines. We need to avoid casual temptation.

I want to ask those who are teens and reading this? I know you feel the sexual temptations even without dating. It’s hard. If you start dating three, four, five years before you ever consider marrying and you fall in love….how hard do you think it will be to retain the purity God wants for us until you marry? Let’s be honest….

This is the journey that God has, thus far, brought us on.


•We encourage the kids to NOT start dating until they are close (maybe within a couple of years?) of when they would consider marrying. This means if they meet the man/woman they are going to marry and they fall in love, they will not throw themselves into a state of a temptation that is almost out of control. Love does amazing things to our rational. Many will start thinking, but we are engaged…we are going to be married. The contract is in marriage, not engagement. Engagement is a promise, not the contract.
•Do not date someone that is not one of your closest friends first. You want to marry your best friend, don’t you? Why put yourself in the way of temptation for someone you aren’t even sure you like as a friend?
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” I Corinthians 6:18

•Do not date someone you know you would NOT marry and end it if you realize it while you are dating them. We hope this person is “it” for you, but if you discover they are not…protect their hearts (and yours) by ending it.
•Do not put yourselves in a situation where you are alone in your house/apartment or intimate area with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Because you love or care for them, the temptation will be so much worse. Date, as much as possible, in public places where you can have intimate and private conversations, but are protecting your bodies. Talk a lot by phone, email, and text….but don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in person. Keep your speech pure as well. You can still have intimacy and purity at the same time. It’s easy to wade into sexual speech and hard to not let the body follow.
“It (love) always protects…”I Corinthians 13:7a

•Find and adult Christian couple to hold you accountable. Your parents are great if you can talk to them, but accountability helps.
•Write down and discover where your physical limits and discuss them with your accountability partners. If you don’t marry this person, someone else will. RESPECT THEM ENOUGH TO PROTECT THEM.
•Listen to others in your lives. It is ultimately your decision once you reach a certain age, but if those around you have concerns…prayerfully consider them. Maybe you should too…maybe….
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15

•Boys, ask the girl’s parents if you can date their daughter (after finding out if they would like to start a more serious relationship). Girls, if someone wants to date you, have them ask parents. This adds a seriousness to the relationship and, more important, a respect.
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

•Make it CLEAR before dating anyone that you take dating seriously. Let them know your reason for dating.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” Matthew 7:12a

•Be seeking God before you date this person, when you are dating them, and LISTEN if God says it’s time to say goodbye. NO PERSON SHOULD BE MORE IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE THAN GOD. Your boyfriend/girlfriend and future spouse should love God more than you.
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’
‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Mark 12:28-30


We’ve tried to seek God in these things. They’re outside of the box when it comes to what the world says. There’s still a rebellion that pops up once in a while and says that this is crazy.

These guidelines aren’t perfect. They are our journey. What we suggest is that you have an open mind and seek God yourself. Erase what you know about dating and start there.

A great book to start with (after the Bible) is “Boy Meets Girl” by Joshua Harris. He was 20 something when he wrote it and not a 40 year old like me (smile). We didn’t agree with everything in this book, but it did make us think about how we view dating. It’s a good discussion starter on what the Bible says.

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Post Script: Our kids know we won’t even talk about them dating until the age of 16.This includes group dating. Once our teens get to a certain age, we can only give them the information and they will have to make the decision themselves. We actually created a Study for our teens to help them discover what THEY believe the Bible says about dating themselves. Our goal is for them to come to conclusions themselves and to “tear” ideas down and rebuild them based on the God’s Word.

3 comments:

  1. AMEN SISTER - PREACH IT!!!!

    Totally know this is an area we are really searching God's Heart for!!! It is wayyyy more important than the world "tells us"....aw just let them do whatever, but isn't that saying our kids are too stupid? I won't even go there!!!

    LOVE IT!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Funny--I was going to say "PREACH IT SISTER!!" and then I read the above comment and it felt weird. . . :)

    I agree with what you're saying so much! I love your focus on 1) purity and 2) avoiding temptation. While you mention it, I also tend to include as a #3) readiness. Why date when you aren't ready to marry??

    Soooooooooo, how do you feel about arranged marriages? We have several we could pair up! giggle

    ROFLOL

    grin

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with this. We have taught our kids not to date until at least 16, and then only group date until 18, or old enough to be preparing for marriage in their lives. (Ideally, post mission) Some of ours have still gotten into trouble... in young adulthood, and we have seen the sorrow that brings.

    Can I also say the for my 50 year old eyes, light, or too bright, floresent looking, colors on a blog are really not readable, so I get only half.
    April in AK

    ReplyDelete

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