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February 01, 2022

Dating Right-Side-Up in an Upside-Down World

When I was a teenager, my dating advisors were people I'd never met. I was eager to learn about love and romance—and I didn't really have any other input in this area—so I'd voraciously read the "do and don't" lists in women's magazines and listen closely to the words of nearly every love song on the radio so I could find out who I was supposed to be and how I was supposed to act with the opposite sex.

At age 17 I didn't know that the voices behind the love advice in the media didn't necessarily have a biblical worldview—and they surely didn't have my best interest in mind.

I know better now.

Over the years I've learned a few things about dating, love, and romance. And I've found a new source for my love advice. Now I choose to live my dating life—my whole life—by the transformative words of someone who loves me (and you) more than we will ever know: God Almighty. He is the One who created us and crafted us for His good purposes. He is the love advisor who definitely has the best in mind for us.

I learn about life and love by talking to God in prayer and by reading God's Word, the Bible. It is the ultimate source for all things love-oriented. Plus, God doesn't just know about love, He is love. And God's truth never changes or fades away. (Check out Isaiah 40:8 and 1 John 4:7-21.)

Here's the thing: As we make choices about our dating life and marriage, we can choose to listen to the world or to the Lord. Each path has vastly different outcomes.

We live in an upside-down world that thinks sex before marriage is OK, and being a virgin is odd. Years ago, the opposite was true. Today, seeing singles hooking up seems to be the standard in most movies and TV shows—and in real life.

But just because something is popular doesn't mean it's right.

In God's economy, He wants us to wait until marriage. (Hebrews 13:4) Why? Because the One who loves us most really does want the best for us. Outside of marriage sex can lead to heartbreak when you break up, or an unwanted pregnancy, or a sexually transmitted disease. All of those are incredibly hard and hurtful things.

People who wait to have sex with the person they marry experience happier marriages (according to a 2010 study from the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology). And, this should be a good reason to wait, too: because we love God and want to do the right thing. It pleases God when we observe what He asks of us—to keep what's intended for marriage for marriage.

Here's a helpful illustration: A fire in a fireplace brings beauty, warmth, pleasure, and comfort. It's a good thing. But when fire goes beyond the boundary of the fireplace it burns down the house and causes massive amounts of damage. Likewise, sex in the context of marriage is a good thing. It brings beauty, warmth, pleasure, and comfort. But outside of the boundary of marriage, it causes hurt and destruction.

OK, so maybe that topic doesn't apply to you. Maybe you're more concerned about the guys who just want to "hang out" and never have the courage to ask you on a real date. Or, perhaps you're tired of singles who just won't commit.

So how do we date God's way, right side up, in an upside-down culture?

One choice at a time. With integrity and intention. And a hefty supply of self-respect.

We get to know ourselves enough to know what we want and don't want in a person to date—and perhaps one day marry. We decide ahead of time what we will and won't do on a date. We have standards. We plan times with others or in groups so we're not tempted when we spend long hours alone. And when we're in the heat of a potential moment we make hard choices.

We say no, and we pray hard.

We expect that a guy will have enough respect for a girl that he is clear with his intentions; that he is asking her on a date, not just to eternally hang out. And, we garner the self-respect we need to know that the right guy will love us for who we are, not for the physical favors we can give him. We learn the difference between love and lust.

Mostly, we weld God's truths so deep into our soul so that when we face tough choices we make wise choices.

Despite the upside-down culture around us, we choose to follow the way of righteousness and right living because we know that God is not withholding good things from us; He is protecting us. On that, we can rely—and find joy.

Prayer:
Lord, teach me to follow you and not succumb to the ways of the world around me where wrong seems right and right seems wrong. I want to follow Christ, not popular culture, in my love life and in my whole life. Will you give me the wisdom to make wise choices in dating and find real and lasting love? I want the best. And I choose to trust You. In Jesus' name. Amen.