Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Bible Based Principles for Christian Dating - Part 4

1. Be careful of legalism and libertinism. Legalists love to make lots of rules in addition to what’s found in Scripture to govern male-female relationships, but they are simply man-made and unnecessary. I know a dating legalist. She is a woman who would date only in groups, and as a result no man ever got to speak with her one-on-one, which explains, in part, why she is still single. I know a man who considers the purpose of every conversation with every Christian woman to be courtship, so that he comes off way too strong way too early and likewise remains single. Libertines love to make themselves the exception to God’s rules that govern male-female relationships, and in so doing act like their own god. Examples of dating libertines include:
  • Those who cross physical boundaries
  • Those who will date anyone who believes in some nebulous “god.”
  • Those who fail to care about finding evidences of spiritual maturity in a potential mate, such as regular church attendance and Bible study participation.
  • And those who have snuggle sleepovers that they swear include no sexual activity but are beyond the scriptural bounds of the Song of Solomon, which repeatedly tells us not to arouse or awaken love until the time of marriage.
2. Marry someone who will be a fit for every season of the life that awaits you together. As I’ve mentioned before, Grace and I met in high school, married in college, and then graduated to start Mars Hill Church together a few years later. She then quit work to stay at home and be a mother to our now five children, and we recently celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary and a total of over twenty years together including dating. So far, together we have been through high school, college, ministry, and parenting. One day our five children will be grown, and we will grow old together. Grace does not get to travel with me often, but when she does, we talk frequently about how great our current season of life is but also how fun it will be when the kids are grown and we can travel together for ministry and also enjoy our grand kids. Marriage is about getting old and serving one another in every season of life. So marry someone with every season in mind. Too often, Christians marry only with children in mind and do not consider that one day the kids will be gone, but the couple will be together all the time; as a result, when the kids leave home, crisis hits the marriage because the kids were the glue that held things together. We love our children, but we also love being together and growing old together.

3. Pursue only someone you love. The Bible says that husbands should love their wives and that wives should love their husbands. It is grievous when people marry who are not truly in love or willing to work on safeguarding and growing their love. Proverbs 30:21–23 says that the world cannot hold up under the weight of despair that is wrought by a married woman who is unloved. If a man and woman do not love one another and are not radically devoted to that love lasting a lifetime, then they should not marry.

4. Do not have any sexual contact until marriage. As noted earlier, single Christians are prone to ask where the line is. That question is sinful because it is asking how to get closer to sin rather than closer to Jesus. The Bible says, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.” Paul says elsewhere that a single man should not touch any woman in any sexual way. The issue is not where the line is, but, as Song of Solomon often says, when the time is. That time is the covenant of marriage. Until then, the New Testament repeatedly says to avoid porneia, that junk-drawer term for all kinds of sexual sin. As my friend John Piper often says, by God’s grace and the Spirit’s power, “theology can conquer biology.” A marriage must be built on the worship of God so that spiritual intimacy can enable all other intimacy, such as mental, emotional, physical, and sexual, without shame and without sin.



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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bible Based Principles for Christian Dating - Part 3

1. Feel free to use technology wisely. While a Christian single should be careful not to troll Web sites and chat rooms where sexual sin is encouraged, there is nothing wrong with using online dating services. In the world of social networking, it is simply a new way for God’s providence to bring people together. Some Christians retain a stigma about compatibility surveys and Internet Christian-dating sites, but they should not. Many singles attend churches where there are few possible spouses, and with the confusion and perversion that persists in the greater culture, they should not feel bad for using technology to find someone who loves Jesus and with whom they are compatible. As a pastor, I could tell you of dozens and dozens of wonderful marriages that began online at a Christian dating Web site.

2. Invest in a romantic relationship only with someone you are entirely attracted to. This means more than the usual goal of finding someone rich and hot; attraction must be to the whole person. Are you sufficiently physically attracted to envision marriage to that person? Are you mentally attracted to him and enjoy talking with and learning from him? Are you spiritually attracted to her and her love for Jesus? Are you financially attracted to him so that you both agree on what lifestyle you will have? Are you “integrity attracted” to her and can see the Holy Spirit at work through her character? Are you “ministry attracted” to him and appreciate how he serves God in his ministry?

3. Only date someone who agrees with you on primary theological issues. It is not enough simply to marry a Christian. For the sake of peace and unity in your home, you need to have the same theological convictions on primary issues. For Grace and me, this means we agree on the Bible as God’s Word and our highest authority; we agree that God is Trinity and that Jesus died as our sinless God in our place for our sins; we agree on a Reformed Protestant view of the gospel. Our agreement extends to gender and family roles, and without this we would have an acrimonious marriage. We both believe that the husband is called to lovingly and sacrificially lead the family, that children are a blessing, that the wife should stay home with the children when they are young, and that solely qualified male elders should govern a church. If we disagreed on these things, even though we are Christians, we would not be able to build a life together. We would disagree on the blueprint and spend our time fighting over which one of us is right. As it is, there is great peace, unity, and cooperation in our home because we agree on primary and secondary theological issues, and as a result we are allies, not enemies.

4. Guard your heart. Getting to know someone takes time. If you give your heart away too quickly, you will find yourself either pushing to make the relationship work or being heartbroken when it falls apart. It is good to want to give your whole heart away. However, you must wait until you are in the covenant of marriage to do so, or you risk lots of heartache and trouble.



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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Bible Based Principles for Christian Dating - Part 2

  1. Do not have any romantic relationship with someone who is a non-Christian. The reasons here are almost limitless. Since you cannot marry a non-Christian, getting emotionally involved is pointless and only leads to sin and/or heartache. Since Jesus is at the center of your life, a non-Christian will not even understand who you are. Because you submit to Scripture and unbelievers do not, your relationship with one has no court of arbitration in which to resolve your differences. An unbeliever is not in covenant with Jesus, so he or she has no covenantial framework for any relationship with you. If he or she is not a Christian, you have no means of dealing with sin that will come between the two of you, because you do not both believe in the gospel of Jesus’ death for sin. Indeed, you can have non-romantic evangelistic relationships with non-Christians, but if the parties involved are single, the odds of attraction are high, and it is usually best to introduce the non-Christians to your Christian friends of the opposite gender so that an evangelistic relationship can form.
  2. You should be in a romantic relationship with only one person at a time. Ultimately, the goal of a Christian not called to singleness is not to have a boyfriend or girlfriend but to have a spouse. It is cruel to date multiple people at one time, having them compete for your affections. Furthermore, it is better preparation for adultery than it is for covenant marriage.
  3. He should initiate and she should respond. Because the Bible repeatedly states that the husband is to be the loving and leading head of the family, any romantic relationship should begin with the man taking initiative to kindly and respectfully request an opportunity to get to know the woman better. Too many Christian men are too timid and need to have more courage to risk rejection in their pursuit of a wife. Any woman who is not interested in, say, a group outing or a cup of coffee need simply say no, and the man should respect that answer.
  4. You need to look at who God puts in front of you. Too many singles are looking over people in their church and life who do love God in pursuit of a mythical person, who does not exist. Yet, in God’s providence, good potential spouses are right in front of them. Furthermore, while a woman should not chase a man, she can wisely put herself in front of him. This is precisely what happened in the story of Ruth and Boaz. Although God providentially put Ruth at work gleaning for food in the field of Boaz, Boaz did not consider her a potential wife until Ruth took the counsel of the older woman Naomi and got dressed up and went to the same big party as Boaz, where she did not chase him but did get in his way. The result? One of the greatest love stories in the Bible.

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Bible Based Principles of Christian Dating - Part 1

  1. Maximize your singleness for God. Accept that you’re in a season of life that affords some freedoms and benefits you will not have if and when you marry. It is a good season to finish your education, increase your theological knowledge, travel to serve in missions, give time to your church, work long hours to establish your career, and pay off any debt you may have accrued. In short, invest your single years in a way that they later pay a great return. Do not waste them.
  2. Do not pursue a serious relationship until you are ready to marry. There are many reasons why people should, for a season, devote their energies to something other than finding a spouse. Getting biblical counseling to overcome a habitual sin such as pornography or substance abuse, maturing as a Christian if they are a new or immature convert, or simply moving out of their parents’ home and taking on adult responsibilities are all good reasons to delay a serious relationship until a better season of life. Basically, until people are mature enough to marry, they should not be in a serious romantic relationship but should use their energies to mature.
  3. Be reasonable. Do not set your expectations too high or too low. If you set your expectations too low, you may marry and be miserable, having made the biggest mistake of your life. If you set your expectations too high, you may never marry, or you may marry the person you think you want but who may not be the one God would consider best for you. I discourage Christian singles from having too long a list of what they are looking for in a spouse. The truth is that most of these lists are simply idolatrous because they are comprised of the seekers’ resume and what they like and do, as if the goal of marriage is to find someone just like them rather than someone different from them so that together they can learn to love and serve one another. Few men are looking for a widowed, broke, and homeless gal from a family noted for incest who is a recent convert with a bitter mother-in-law in tow. But her name is Ruth, and Boaz was blessed to marry her, and through her came Jesus.
  4. Do not be legalistic about dating. There is a difference between a date and dating. A date can be two people spending time together, going out for a meal or coffee after church to get to know one another in a non-sexual manner. Dating as is practiced by non-Christians is not acceptable for Christians. Still, the word dating is not worth quibbling over, as Paul tells us not to quarrel over words. Whether we call it “a date” or something else, time together does not need to be considered a dating relationship. In 1 Timothy 5:1–2, Paul tells Christian single men to treat Christian single women like sisters. Thus, since adult brothers and sisters talk to one another, enjoy one another’s company, and occasionally enjoy a meal together, it is not a sin for two single Christians to enjoy time together, getting to know one another, so that they can see if there is the possibility of a more serious relationship that leads to courtship and marriage.


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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Keep The Peace - With a Positive Attitude

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE

“Good sense makes a man restrain his anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression or an offense.”
(Proverbs 19:11)
Every day, we have opportunities to get upset, frustrated or offended. Maybe you had plans that didn’t work out, or someone was rude to you at the office. Maybe you were doing something that should have taken one hour and ended up taking three. Life is full of inconveniences. Even though we can’t always control our circumstances, we can control our reaction. They say, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.”
We should always go out each day with a positive attitude, full of hope and expecting God’s favor. But at the same time, we should recognize that most days are not going to go exactly as we planned. However, we are created to live in peace. Peace is our position of power. If you get stressed because you got off schedule, or upset because your child wouldn’t eat his breakfast, or frustrated because somebody offended you, you are giving away your power. Instead, use good sense! Make the decision to release those offenses and disappointments so you live in peace. Overlook offense, release offense and move forward in the power and victory the Lord has for you! 
A PRAYER FOR TODAY

Father, today I release every care, concern, offense and disappointment to You. I choose to keep the peace that You have given me knowing that with You, my best days are ahead in Jesus’ name! Amen.