But he loved hanging out with her. So, I just encouraged him to stay in proximity, to grow in his friendship with her, and to hope something would grow from there. Godliness is sexy to godly people. And so, if you get in proximity, and you see the godliness and character of a woman, you begin to take compatibility and godliness and gospel partnership more seriously than just physical attraction. In the first part of Mingling , I really address attraction as a good thing, but not at the level to where our culture has put it.
We are all wrinkling. Our nose and ears never quit growing. It is only a matter of time till that little component that we are basing so much on starts to vanish and must be replaced by attraction founded on character and covenant. When I got cancer, everything that was sexy about me vanished — my strength, my vibrancy, my sense of humor, my creative romantic pursuit of Lauren.
All of that was gone for two years. And my hair was gone. I became a shriveled up version of what I was before the cancer. Lauren entered into covenant with me, loved the character that God had formed in my heart, and now it was my character and godliness that fueled her attraction to me physically. I think we get it backwards. I think once character, compatibility, and godliness are there, those fuel attraction in the way that pleases God, and is much safer for our souls.
But at the same time, I want to protect the hearts particularly of young women from godly men teasing them with pursuit. So, pursue them as friends and hope that it grows into more. Want it to grow into more. And I am confident that, over time, character and godliness will win the day. Should a dating relationship reflect the complementary structure of marriage to any degree?
It seems biblically and practically wise, but it also seems covenantally inappropriate at this stage. What would you say? Yes, a boyfriend should lead his girlfriend in some ways, but definitely not to the degree that a husband leads his wife. So, what I possess, when it comes to the covenant I am in with Lauren in marriage, is headship.
I have been called by God to lead, to cover, to provide, to protect in ways over Lauren that a boyfriend is not. However, a boyfriend should be leading his girlfriend in regards to godliness, and encouraging her in regards to her giftedness. I think he should be encouraging her in prayerfulness and encouraging her towards an understanding and growing knowledge of the word of God.
I can get my own preferences mixed up in this, so let me just kind of put a little asterisk here. Keys to Sexual Purity in Dating Speaking of sexual purity, what are a couple of practical helps for staying sexually pure in a dating relationship that actually work? Maybe because I have been married for fifteen years, but this question of purity feels like common sense. One of the things I say at The Village, on repeat, is that nothing good has ever come from a boyfriend and girlfriend cuddling on the couch watching a movie from 11pm to 1am.
It has never ended in a discussion about cinematography in the history of watching movies on couches. To put yourself in that position to begin with is a foolish one. What works is being in public, guarding space alone, not putting yourself in situations.
I think singles have a tendency to think more highly of their own self-control than they should. So, I think dating in groups, or dating in public, is important, and we see that in Scripture. In Song of Solomon you see a growing desire to be physically intimate, and yet she describes their date as being under this canopy of leaves and this rug of grass Song 1: They are at a park.
They are in a forest. They are in the public eye, because they have a growing passion to be intimate physically. And so, they have positioned themselves publicly so as to not give themselves over to their lusts. When Should a Single Stop Dating? If a man or woman is trying to stop looking at pornography, but seems they cannot many Christian men struggle here , are they ready to date, or not? If not, what is the line between ready and not ready to date for a Christian porn addict?
This is an extremely complex question that is hard to answer outside of actually knowing the people involved. My knee-jerk reaction is: No, you are not ready. Where is mortification happening? Where is vivication happening? Are we saying that this guy, or this girl, stumbles once a year, or a couple of times a month?
And where are we in relation to frequency, healing, victory? I think all of those questions would come into play on whether or not I would encourage someone to be in a relationship while they wrestled.
And so, without that kind of information, it becomes hard to just lay down an answer. The truth is that every one of us are coming into our relationships with the opposite sex needing further sanctification, needing growth, needing our identity in Christ, and needing to have parts of our flesh mortified. Are there any other circumstances in which you, as a pastor, would tell others that they have no business pursuing a dating relationship?
When I am telling someone or leveraging my relationship with someone in regards to dating or not dating, I am always doing that within the covenant of me being their pastor and them being a covenant member of the church.
From the beginning, our relationship is not just one where I have a cursory view of their life, but also one where I know where they are. I have oftentimes recommended someone hold off dating until the season that they were in with the Lord has changed. I told a young man last year that, because of where he was in his relationship with the Lord, he should hold off pursuing a girlfriend until he had given himself back over to growing in his relationship with the Lord.
Guys were pursuing him and he was avoiding them. He had a relational conflict with some guys, and he was refusing to connect with them and reconcile. I recommended to him that this would be a really foolish time to date, and it would end in heartbreak — either his heart or the heart of some poor girl at our church.
Large numbers of men and women in the church represent this population. How does Jesus Christ help the unique struggles that those Christians face in a dating relationship and as they look forward to marriage? The home I grew up in was wrought with just about every type of abuse imaginable. And it does leave some marks, and it creates some baggage — not only for dating, but then into the marriage — that will need to be gospel-ed.
For the one that has not endured abuse, but is free from that type of baggage, the gospel should create patience, compassion, and empathy to walk alongside the person who has borne the brunt of this abuse. For the one that has borne the abuse, the gospel begins to reshape our identity, it begins to reshape our hearts and wounds, and it enables us to begin to trust again, slowly, but surely.
This is how the gospel has worked in my own life and in my own marriage. Lauren was able to be very empathetic and compassionate and gracious and not demanding while the gospel did its work of healing and repairing the broken parts of me. Many Christian singles who cannot find a spouse end up dating non-Christians and compromising themselves.
What would you say to them? First, I just want to totally affirm the desire to be married. I feel like so often, particularly single women — God bless them — they feel like the only message they get is: It may even be a desire woven into them by the Creator of the universe.
But like all desires, they have to be placed where they belong. I want to affirm the desire for marriage and I want to warn against the fear of loneliness becoming a desire so far up in your list of desires that you would be willing to compromise and put yourself in a situation that would be more horrific and far more lonely for you in the future.