Friday, November 25, 2005

Habits of Highly Defective Dating, Part 1

1. Dating tends to skip the Friendship stage of a relationship.
In real friendships, you’re not pressured by knowing whether or not you “like” the other person or that they “like” you. You’re free to be yourself and to be able to do things together without spending 3 hrs in the front the mirror. In dating, romantic attraction is often the cornerstone of the relationship. The premise of dating is, “I’m attracted to you; therefore, let’s get to know each other.” The premise of friendship is, “We’re interested in the same things; let’s enjoy these common interests together.” If romantic attraction forms after the friendship, it’s an added bonus. Intimacy without friendship is superficial. A relationship based solely on physical attraction and romantic feelings will last only as long as the feelings last.

2. Dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love.
When we consider that our culture as a whole regards the words love and sex as interchangeable, we should not be surprised that many dating relationships mistake physical attraction and sexual intimacy for true love. Just because lips have met doesn’t mean hearts have joined, and just because two bodies are drawn to each other doesn’t mean two people are right for one another. A physical relationship does not equal love. Focusing on the physical is plainly sinful. God demands sexual purity. He does this because He is holy, and He does it for our own good. Physical involvement can greatly distort two people’s perspective of each other and lead to unwise choices. Physical involvement in a dating relationship does not equal love; it equals lust.

3. Dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships.
By its very definition, dating is about two people focusing on each other. Unfortunately, in most cases the rest of the world fades into the background. In a relationship where both people are serious and are prepared to move toward marriage, then giving the relationship primary attention is not wrong. However, for people who really aren’t ready for commitment, this dating tendency is especially detrimental. Why? First, because when we allow one relationship to crowd out others, we lose proper perspective (Prov.15:22), therefore we have a much higher risk of making poor decisions. Second, if two people haven’t defined their level of commitment, then they’re particularly at risk for getting hurt. In Passion and Purity Elisabeth Elliot states, “Unless a man is prepared to ask a woman to be his wife, what right has he to claim her exclusive attention? Unless she has been asked to marry him, why would a sensible woman promise any man her exclusive attention?” Dating isolates a couple from other vital relationships like with their parents, siblings, friends, and fellow believers in Christ. Friendship, not dating, is a much wiser and safer route to go until you are ready for commitment.

Typical American Dating: Is This Really God's Best for Teens Today?

I can’t speak for most youth pastors in general or even most evangelical youth pastors, but for me personally the issue of dating is an extremely hot topic and burden on my heart regarding today’s young people. I strongly discourage young dating (under the age of 18) for several basic reasons.

First, because I have “been there-done that,” and I can speak from first-hand experience that not only is it a big waste of time, but it’s also a dangerous mind-field, loaded with the potential to destroy teenagers physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Also, typical dating not only hurts individuals, but it hurts the unity of the youth group and church as a whole. There’s just nothing like a bunch of failed, romantic relationships in the youth ministry to destroy the effectiveness and unity of the group.

And finally, as followers of Christ, we should desire God’s best, and I am absolutely convinced that typical, American dating is far from being God’s best. But I guess what grieves me more is that most Christian teens (and adults for that matter) seem to just blindly accept the ways and methods the culture claims to be the norm when it comes to relationships without first asking, does God have something better for me now? Is this really God’s plan? Is this really what He has in mind for me? I submit that typical American dating is not God’s best, and in fact is highly defective for everyone that participates. God has a far better plan for us concerning relationships, if we will only be honest enough and care enough to take the time to find out.

In the next couple of posts, I will give 7 reasons that typical American dating is highly defective. The resource that I have found to be a wonderful resource on this subject is a little book entitled, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. In this book, which I strongly recommend, Harris takes a good hard look at typical dating from a Biblical perspective, and makes some very honest conclusions.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Living a Life of Genuine Purity

This post is a recap of a recent lesson that I feel is absolutely vital to today's young people. With the maddness of our culture the way it is so crazed with sex, and with the whole "Whatever feels good, do it" philosophy abounding today, God's Word still speaks right to our need. In 1 Thes. 4:1-8, we find the Apostle Paul pleading with the early believers to excel the area of purity in their lives. And though we are not living in the 1st century any more, God has not changed and neither has his standards for our lives. And so from this passage, the Spirit of God speaking through the Apostle Paul is calling all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ to excel in the life of purity! But the question is how do we do this? What does a life of genuine purity look like? Well, from this passage, I find at least 5 marks of a genuinely pure life.

1. A life of genuine purity recognizes the Lordship of Jesus Christ. (vs.2)
+Do you recognize that Jesus is Lord of your life?
+When you have to make decisions, do you stop and ask what would God want me to do, or do you just do what you want?
+Do you ever read and study God's word to find out exactly what Jesus demands of us?
Those who are serious about living pure before God will recognize His Lordship.

2. A life of genuine purity is not satisfied with just getting by (vs.1)
+Regarding the area of personal purity, are you happy just getting by, or do you pursue holiness and righteousness with all your heart?
+Do you see purity as a line that you can go racing up to... trying to do as much as possible without feeling guilty?
+Or is your heart's desire to flee as far as you can from sin and compromise, in order to be as close to God as you can be?
-Purity isn't a line; its the direction of our heart away from sin in full pursuit of the knowledge and holiness of God .

3. A life of genuine purity disciplines itself to keep natural desires under control. (vs.4-5)
+By His power, are you able to subdue & conquer those natural, unholy desires that we all have?
+Would you consider yourself in control of your actions and behavior, or do you find yourself too often loosing control?
-The key of course is knowing God in a personal, intimate relationship through Jesus Christ.
-No man (or woman) has the power to conquer his own sinful nature without the grace and power of God working in his/her life.
-As Gal.5:22 states, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,... and self-control."

4. A life of genuine purity demonstrates genuine love for others. (vs.6)
+First, how do you define love and is it the proper definition?
+Do you see love as a mental illness or condition of the heart that removes responsibility for our choices and actions? (Ex: "I was madly in love, I just couldn't control myself.")
+Or do you have a Biblical definition of love? Which the Bible defines as a choice to be kind to others and to seek their well-being even above our own, regardless of what they do.
+Second, if you genuinely love others, how will that effect the way you treat them?
-Example: A guy who genuinely loved a young lady would not pressure her to have sex.
-Likewise: A girl who genuinely loved a young man would not wear seductive and alluring clothing, that is going to make him stumble b/c of temptation.
+Is genuine love demonstrated in your relationships?

5. A life of genuine purity reveals a true commitment to Christ. (vs.8)
-The Spirit of God was crystal clear in the passage, that the things he was writing was coming from the Lord Jesus Himself.
-It was and is today God's will for His people to be pure, separated, and holy in all of their relationships; especially with the opposite sex outside the covenant of marriage.
+Based on this passage, does your life reflect a genuine commitment to Christ?
-If so, Great!
-If not, the Bible says "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
+Do you need cleansing today?
-God is waiting to hear from you.
-May God help all of us to seek to live lives of genuine purity!