Christian dating in the teen years, Part 2

 

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In Christian dating you choose carefully whom you date, where you go and when, what you do.

The Bible warns us, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. What fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) What kind of influence would dating someone who is not following Jesus have on your thinking, your behavior? Of course, in casual dating you are not “yoked together” as you would be in marriage, but even a one-on-one dating relationship in high school is a special relationship in which you do influence each other.

In Proverbs 7 we read of a young man who did not make wise choices about who, where, what, and when. He was “lacking sense,” the Bible tells us: he was purposely taking the road to the home of a “loose” woman, at the end of the day. He allowed the woman to kiss him, to persuade him “with seductive speech”, and he followed her right to her bed. This young man was seeking out the wrong person, going where he shouldn’t have gone, at night — when one is more easily tempted. At any time he could have reconsidered, turned around, said “No”, but he didn’t.

In Christian dating you set boundaries on intimacy, both physical and emotional.

What are the limits of physical intimacy in Christian dating? The Apostle Paul says, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity” (Ephesians 5:3). If you’re honest, and you are praying about your relationships, you know when you’re in danger of crossing the line. “How far . . .?” is the wrong question. The right question is, “Will what I’m doing, or what I’m about to do, draw me closer to God or make me want to hide from him?”

Job, the Bible tells us, said “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1), and Jesus said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

In Christian dating, there should be no physical or emotional intimacy intended to arouse desires in the other that cannot legitimately be fulfilled outside marriage.

In Christian dating, you exercise self-control.

You can, because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), and the Holy Spirit lives in the believer.   Our emotions aren’t under our control, but our actions are.

In Christian dating, you focus on getting to know the whole person.

John Holzmann, pastor, counselor to young adults and author of Dating with Integrity, committed himself as a teenager to think of all girls as his “sisters in Christ” — and to treat them as if they were his “sisters in the flesh”, his biological sisters. This helped him distinguish friendly, up-building behaviour from behaviour that would stifle and destroy relationships. “It enabled me to get to know them better, too — better than almost any of their boyfriends ever knew them.”

I once overheard a teen girl telling her hairdresser about her long-term relationship with her boyfriend. The boyfriend was overseas, and she hadn’t seen him for a long time. The hairdresser said, “Oh. That must be difficult for you.” “Actually, no,” the girl said. “It’s really neat. When he’s here, all we do is make out. Now we talk on the phone, and I’m getting to really know him!”

*** If your teens are dating, do their dating rules reflect God’s values? Is their dating “Christian” dating? ***

    

“Christian” dating in the teen years

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Should teens date? And if so, what would “Christian” dating look like? How would it differ from the typical one-on-one boy-girl relationships we see among the young people we know? Does the Bible give us any help in answering these questions?

Given the culture in which our teens are growing up, these are exceedingly important questions. In our super-sexualized society sexual intimacy is taken for granted, even at an early age. Hooking up is now considered the most common way young people relate intimately to each other, beginning as early as age twelve or thirteen. By the time they get to college, or into the work force, this may be their definition of a relationship. But this is definitely not “Christian” dating.

What is “dating” anyway? Jeramy Clark, a pastor, youth ministry leader, and author of I Gave Dating a Chance: “If it’s prearranged and social, it’s a date.” And what makes dating Christian? “Whether deliberately chosen or not,” Jeramy says, “your dating rules will reflect either the world’s values, God’s values, or a dangerous combination of both.”

Teens need to consider carefully what makes Christian dating different, distinctive. To do that, they need to begin with the purpose of Christian dating. What is its goal?

The purpose of Christian dating

In Christian dating, as you listen to and interact with another person, you can get to know and appreciate the uniqueness of each individual.

In Christian dating, you can get to know how men and women differ from one another, learn to accept and appreciate these differences, and practice dealing with these differences – intentionally built into us by God. In the beginning, as God created the world, he saw that what he had created “was good”. We read this in the first chapter of Genesis, the overview of the narrative of the creation. After he had created man and woman, he “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But when we “zoom in” on the creation story in the next chapter (Genesis 2:18-23), before the creation of Eve, God said something was “not good” – it was “not good that the man is alone”. It was Eve, someone different from Adam, a “helper fit for him”, complementary to him, that made “not good” into “very good”.

In Christian dating, you seek to bless each other: to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32); to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11); to “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24); “through love to serve one another” (Galatians 5:13); and in countless other ways. Christian dating can help you become more Christlike.

In Christian dating you recognize and treat the other as a person of value and you expect to be treated as a person of value.

You are of inestimable value, first because you are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and then because Christ died for you – you are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).   Therefore you never “use” another person for your own satisfaction or pleasure. Neither do you allow yourself to be used. Rather, “be devoted to one another in love, and honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).

To be continued 

April 30, 2015 - 3:29 pm

Sue Lenihan - I’m not sure how anyone else feels about this but I truly appreciate how the teens on 19 Kids and counting court, date, then are engaged process is. There’s always a chaperone there as well as they appear to set some pretty strict rules physically for themselves while going thru the process.

I find it a breath of fresh air compared to my generation and now the last few generations

May 25, 2015 - 3:08 pm

Barbara Kohl - Thank you for this. I just recently attended the wedding of a couple who went through the courtship process. As I listened to their story, as told by their parents, siblings, and friends, I was impressed by the beauty and purity of the process.

    

Bringing back dating!

34i5izm

As human beings we are designed for relationship. Each of us has a deep inner longing for an intimate, lasting relationship with one other person, and the most intimate relationship between a man and a woman includes sexual intercourse. But young people’s experience with the hook-up culture has proven that sex on its own doesn’t satisfy the need for intimacy. And young people involved in the hook-up culture don’t know the way to any other kind of intimacy. They know only the hook-up script.

Observers of youth culture are concerned. Laura Sessions Stepp, a journalist who researches and writes on adolescents and young adults, recognizes that “the need to be connected intimately to others is as central to our well-being as food and shelter. In my view, if we don’t get it right, we’re probably not going to get anything else in life right.” If young people are so used to intentionally avoiding intimacy, she wonders, will they be able to become intimate later in life? They will never have learned how to build a relationship. And most of the young women interviewed by Stepp said that they had never even had a conversation with an adult about love, or even about what true companionship is.

Enter the Love and Fidelity Network, whose mission is to equip college students to uphold the institution of marriage, the special role of the family, and sexual integrity and Kerry Cronin, philosophy professor at Boston College in Massachusetts.

Rediscovering the Social Script of Dating

This year’s Valentine’s Day campaign of the Love & Fidelity Network was “Bring Dating Back”. The purpose of the campaign was to provide a few “tools” and a “gentle push” so college students “can learn first-hand that there are viable (and fun) romantic alternatives to the world of hook-ups. “How to ask someone out” posters were plastered all over campus http://www.loveandfidelity.org/2015/02/10/dating-101-ask-someone/ and a web site listed ideas for casual dates. http://www.loveandfidelity.org/2015/02/14/9-casual-date-ideas-think-outside-box/ Thirty-one American college campuses participated in the campaign.

Professor Cronin teaches a course in which she requires every member of the class to ask someone out on a date. Why? Nine years ago she was meeting with eight graduating seniors. When she tried to get them to talk about their relationships they were strangely silent. Finally one of the students said, “My life’s a mess. I’m incredibly lonely. I have hundreds of Facebook friends, but nobody knows me.” Another said, “Professor Cronin, please fix me!” All eight of these graduating students confessed that they had no idea what they wanted, or what to expect, in terms of love and romance. And they didn’t know what to do about it.

Requiring that her students date, and providing instructions on how to ask (in person, not a text!), where to go, and what to do (and who pays!) is Kerry Cronin’s attempt to reinstitute dating on college campuses in the United States. She has found she needs to be specific because without a “dating script” they have no idea how to go about asking someone for a date, or what to do on a date. They’re terrified at the very thought! Nor do they know how to move a relationship forward. They need to learn that the meaningful relationship everyone longs for is built on getting to know each other. http://www.loveandfidelity.org/resources/kerry-cronin-hanging-hooking-case-lost-social-script-dating-college-campuses/

We fall in love with personalities, not profiles. Romance is a story, not a tweet.

    

He is Risen Indeed!

 

 

We live in a throwaway world. So said my husband after finding out it would cost over $700 to replace the parts on our ailing washing machine. We were told it had outlived its usefulness at 8 years! Yes, you heard correctly; apparently such major appliances are not designed to last even that long anymore unless you want to pay three times the amount. It was suggested by the repairperson that we use it till it dies. So that’s what we’re doing. Then we will throw it away at the curb.

Recently the glass jar on my blender got broken. Rather than try and replace just the jar, though the rest of the appliance worked fine, it was simpler to go out and buy a new blender…and cheaper!

Two months ago when our basement rec room was flooded more stuff had to be thrown away. Stinky soaked carpet and crumbling drywall went to the trash heap. Since insurance covered the damage, we decided to do some renovations. Old stained and mismatched drop ceiling tiles and several fluorescent light fixtures were added to the pile of throwaway items.

Then two weeks ago one of our garage door operators gave up the ghost! Granted, at almost thirty years old, it had lived beyond its life expectancy. It will also be replaced and thrown away. It’s cheaper than fixing it I was informed

Two thousand years ago there was One who walked this earth that many people wanted to do away with. He wasn’t old, or broken, or ailing. He never hurt anyone, never cracked under pressure, and never outlived His usefulness. But unlike my ailing washing machine, cracked blender jar, ruined carpet, and broken garage door operator, My Jesus will never be replaced!

My Jesus was hated and despised by His own people.

My Jesus was denied by one of His most faithful disciples.

My Jesus was rejected by those who should have know He was their Messiah.

My Jesus was betrayed by one who had walked with Him for three years.

My Jesus was arrested in a garden as He prayed for those He loved.

My Jesus was mocked, spat upon, and beaten mercilessly.

My Jesus was forced to bear His own cross to His own crucifixion.

My Jesus was stripped, humiliated, and nailed to that cross.

My Jesus was hung high on that cross between two criminals.

My Jesus was left to die while His grief-stricken mother watched.

My Jesus DIED THAT DAY!

He was taken down, buried in a borrowed tomb, a stone was rolled across the entrance, and a seal was applied to the stone.

In most eyes My Jesus was dead, gone, THROWN AWAY!

But wait! Yes, Jesus had Himself said, “IT IS FINISHED!” However, it wasn’t His life that was finished!

“There in the ground His body lay

Light of the world by darkness slain:

Then bursting forth in glorious Day

Up from the grave he rose again!

And as He stands in victory

Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,

For I am His and He is mine –

Bought with the precious blood of Christ.” [i]

It was the curse of my sin that was thrown away! The penalty of eternal death and separation from Christ was thrown away!

crossqc_01

(c) Kathy Lai

As the apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:14, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

It’s Sunday. EASTER Sunday! As a Christian it is the most important day of the calendar year because it signifies the day My Jesus rose victorious from the grave! Though the old hymns are not sung as much as they once were in many churches, I always looked forward to joining my brothers and sisters in Christ singing, slowly at first,

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,

waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord! 

Then the tempo increases and the volume rises,

 

Up from the grave He arose!

With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;

He arose a victor from the dark domain,

And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.

He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

The tempo slows again as we sing softly,

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior,

Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;

He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

And then we erupt with that glorious chorus again,

Up from the grave He arose!

…Hallelujah! Christ arose![ii]

My Jesus is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!!

Until next time,

Kathy 

 


[i] http://www.ap0s7le.com/list/song/1181/Stuart_Townend,_Keith_Getty/In_Christ_Alone/

[ii] http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh322.sht

    

Whatever happened to dating?

 

34i5izm

Once upon a time there was dating. How many generations ago was that? Do you remember those days? By a certain point in high school – Grade 10, Grade 11 – you looked forward to being “asked out on a date” by a nice guy, maybe someone you had been interested in for a while. You went to a movie. Or for pizza. He took you home. If you had fun, you hoped he would ask you out again. You probably went out with other guys too. But after a while you started “going steady” with one special guy. Maybe you wore his class ring.

If you weren’t dating, you were waiting and longing for that first date.

What happened to dating?

As the “sexual revolution” of the 60s progressed, having sex outside marriage began to lose its stigma in society. Some young people started to believe it was okay to have sex if they were dating someone they liked. School sex education programs told teens that sex was perfectly okay as long as it was “safe sex”. In the 90s a Christian high school student in Halifax said to me, “I can’t think of any of my friends from school who view sex as anything besides a pleasure thing. No one even gives waiting till marriage a thought.” An assembly speaker at our sons’ high school said that “the normal high school student” would have four sexual partners by the time they graduated. Teens had “friends with benefits,” the “benefit” being sex. Sex had become a normal aspect of dating.

And then came the “hook-up” culture, casual sexual encounters detached from relationship, love, or commitment – and sometimes even from liking. You could spontaneously decide to have sex with someone you had just met, or you might go out in the evening looking for someone with whom to have sex. Implicit in the hook-up culture is the understanding that however far you go sexually neither of you should become romantically involved in any serious way. You intentionally avoid intimacy. Dating, as we once knew it, essentially disappeared.

Why?

Why has the hook-up culture become so pervasive? What is the attraction?

Relationships, especially of the boy-girl variety, take time and emotional energy – the hard work of give-and-take, communication, and learning to deal with someone who is different. In a hookup, which goes straight to sex, you don’t have to develop a relationship. “Sex is more tangible than love,” said one college girl, “and it is much, much easier than taking the time to get to know someone.”

The problem with the hook-up culture

But hook-ups haven’t satisfied. Young people are left feeling sad, empty, lonely, and disillusioned. They think they leave their feelings at the door, but physical and emotional intimacy can’t be separated. Many would like to escape but don’t see a way out. The title of a book by Laura Sessions Stepp says it all: Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both. Her book is primarily about the young women she interviewed, but she saw that young men are as dissatisfied with the culture as the young women.

What is the solution? Is there a way back to emotionally fulfilling, non-sexual relationships?

March 31, 2015 - 3:29 pm

Amy Grace - I am a 26 year old, married for 4 years to the only boyfriend I had dated which makes a total of 8 years we have been together. We both had “waited” till marriage to have sex.

All that being said, the 4 years we “dated” in the format you are describing did nothing to prepare us for being in a real life marriage in the culture and spiritual climate we live in now. For those of us kids who grew up in the 90s in church raised homes with the ‘focus on the family’ mindset and material, we have had to shake some of these perspectives off well into our mid-twenties in order to find what God wants for our generation.

I believe God wants sexual purity in all generations, but how we talk about it and adapt to the language of each generation is huge. There are huge gaps of relating to the younger ones with this type of language you are using, and it concerns me. Especially now as I will give birth to a daughter in a few weeks I know that I want to be extremely cognizant of the generation she will be apart of and how my language and expressions will affect her and influence her for the good or unintentionally for the bad.

For me, I was a teen who wanted Gods will for my life. I was a ‘hardcore’ bible reader and devotional girl who also read every christian dating book and marriage book I could get my hands on. I was determined to carry my purity out and see what God would do with it.

But thats where we get it all lost in translation.

God isn’t interested in how much we ‘preach it’ about purity, or how pure we are. Because if He was … My husband and I would have won the medal and not have gone through an almost divorce over the amount of shock we had through ‘purity’ not being enough to keep us together on the day we got married.

Purity isn’t enough.
Dating isn’t enough.
Marriage isn’t enough.

Only Grace and the Cross are enough.

So, with that in mind, I would soon rather focus on talking about how we can love on the generations who are seeking intimacy, fulfillment and love through sex.
The ‘Hook Ups’ you are describing are nothing more than a search. The sex that teens are having are a search. All the condoms on the floor, empty pregnancy test boxes, sexting, naked pics being sent back and forth, the porn … Its all a cry for Grace and the Cross.

Instead of seeing the hook ups as ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’ , I see them as acts of seeking the deepness of Christ. It looks bad, yes, but take it from the girl who kept sex for marriage and blew it all to pieces after.

“Dating and Waiting” mean nothing, because anyone can do that.

The question we need to be asking is not how to get teens back to an emotionally fulfilling non-sexual relationships, but how can we raise them up to seek out the deeply intentional sexual relationship with Christ.

Because God made us to be sexual, and that intimacy that we get in sex is that much more when met at the communion table.

April 6, 2015 - 6:04 pm

Barbara - Thank you for your reflections. It is very true that saving sex for marriage doesn’t automatically ensure a happy marriage and that only an intimate relationship with the living Christ can satisfy our deepest needs.