thumb licks [9.25.11]

Baptizing Heathen Words. What words have Christians redefined?

How to Get the Most Out of Your Pastor’s Preaching.

50 Rules for Dads of Daughters. As a new father for a daughter these perked my attention.

Acts and Baptism: Implications for Parents. Before baptizing your children consider this.

Four Steps to Kill Sin. Sinclair Ferguson tackles the mortification of sin.

Homeschooling Blindspots. Some interesting insights as we consider homeschooling overseas.

Love Tap. Encouragement for the timid [watch video below].

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love & relationships 101

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WITHIN RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Who’s in your drivers seat?
  2. Why preparing for marriage matters?
  3. What about sex before marriage?
  4. Dating, courting, or waiting?
  5. Is true love possible?
  6. How to choose the right relationship?

GOD’S ANSWER & HIS HIGH STANDARDS FOR RELATIONSHIPS

  1. Both of you must be faithful followers committed to Jesus Christ
  2. Marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship
  3. Sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only
  4. Every relationship is to be viewed as sacred
  5. You cannot get a refund on your relationships
  6. Seek someone with Christlike character

JUST FOR FUN

When Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers as Head Coach the team was a mess. The team did not function as a team. They were confused by complicated schemes and lack of discipline. During one of the first practices Lombardi gathered the men together and said, “This is a football.” It is not that they didn’t know what a football was, but they had forgotten the basics of the game. That summer Lombardi gave his men a 101 course in the fundamentals of football and their dedication helped them to become world champions.

Bookstores are lined with relationship advice. The internet is bogged down with sites sharing the newest dating and marital tips. You could spend over a thousand lifetimes reading all the love and relationship information in the saturated media-sphere until every orifice of your body is oozing relationship factoids. You might be a self-proclaimed expert on relationships and win the love and romance categories on Jeopardy, but in real life your relationships are flunking.

More information is not the answer, rather it is living as your were called within your relationships. Let’s make it simple, pull off your dusty Bible from the shelf and see what the wise inventor of human relationships has to say. God has high and helpful standards for our relationships. If God’s has a high standard for relationships so should you.

dating, courting, or waiting?

Dating is a big business—the Internet is littered with dating sights giving any kind of advice under the sun. Google “dating” and you will retrieve over 500 million hits. Dating is a hot topic. When it comes to being a Christian and dating you are in a pickle because the Bible does not talk about dating. This is lack of information has caused Christians to settle for the modern standard of dating, which has some obvious deficiencies that contradict God’s perspective of relationships. Can today’s way of dating be redeemed? Is there a better way to finding the “one”?

Thus far we have discussed three of God’s standards for relationships. First, both partners must be faithful follower committed to Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 6:14-16]. Second, marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship [Ephesians 5:25-28]. Third, sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only. Today we will discover from the Scripture that every relationship with the opposite sex must be viewed as sacred.

Statistics show Christian daters mimic non-Christians daters in terms of sex outside of marriage, living together before marriage, and adultery and divorce after marriage. The church and the world are mirrored images when it comes to relationships. This is a dishonor to Christ and the glory of His Bride—the church. In my opinion, the modern dating has a lot to do with this.

What are the Deficiencies of Modern Dating?[1]

First, dating often skips the friendship stage of the relationship. Second, dating often mistakes the physical relationship for love. The dating game assumes several test-drive relationships. Infatuation is not a true measure intimacy. Nor does sex equal love or commitment. Dating often fails to adhere to physical and emotional guardrails or purpose to run from temptation.

Third, dating often isolates you from other vital accountable relationships [friends, parents, teachers, pastors, etc.] making the one you are dating an idol. The idea of the man seeking the approval of the father has become a way of the past [Numbers 30:3-16]. Fourth, dating can distract you from preparing for the future. The biblical perspective of all relationships is for mutual encouragement to help one another become God’s kind of man or woman and preparing yourself for marriage.

Fifth, dating can discourage you from God’s gift of singleness [1 Corinthians 7]. As you become older you might think settling for any relationship is best because your biological clock is ticking. Maybe you think a relationship will cure your loneliness and make all your dreams come true. Human relationships are wonderful and helpful, however, no person can fill a relational void or loneliness quite like God. Your primary relationship will always be God. Therefore, waiting in singleness is not a waste of time; rather it is in moments of waiting that God’s infuses you with His courage and strength. Before meeting my wife, Sarah, I was a single man for many years. There were many moments when it was hard to wait, but God used my time of waiting to mature my faith and grow my faithfulness.

Sixth, dating can create an artificial environment to evaluate one another’s character [i.e. today dating is viewed as recreational—for the fun of it!]. Daters will ask, “Is there chemistry between us? Are they good looking enough? Are they fun?” This is the most important question you must ask, “Do I see myself committing to this person for life?” Finally, dating becomes an end in itself.

Is there a better alternative to dating?

Yes, I would propose courtship. Now many can argue that the Bible has nothing to say about courtship too. They are correct. Both dating and courtship were not part of the pattern of society in biblical times. Courtship and dating did not appear on the relational radar screen until the Victorian Era and WWII Baby Boomer Generation. Why choose courtship over dating? Courtship chooses: solid friendship before marriage, purity, and seeks wise counsel of parents, mentors, and mature Christians friends. Courtship does not pursue a romantic relationship until you are ready for long lasting love. Courtship prepares you for the permanent relationship of marriage, and it is content with singleness in times of waiting [Philippians 4:11-12].

The motives are often different between dating and courtship. Courtship focuses on being the right person, while dating focuses on finding the right person [cf. Matthew 24:38; Luke 20:34-35]. Courtship is the best move towards a marriage relationship today because it adheres to the most biblical relationship standard.

How do I come to this conclusion?

I believe the Bible is completely sufficient to give counsel for all areas of life, including relationships. Although the Bible would be considered ancient literature written in a different culture than ours, I believe the Bible transcends culture and people are just as sinful today as generations past. I believe the Bible is without error, authoritative, and inspired by Holy Spirit, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” [2 Timothy 3:16-17]

So how does the sufficiency of the Bible apply to our relationships? Christians today have bought into the current cultures standard for relationships, while the Bibles standard has become ignored or misunderstood. Even though the Bible says zilch about dating or courtship, it has a lot to say about personal relationships. Here are some key passages that talk about biblical relationships:[2]

  • I Corinthians 6:9-7:19 This is a command to be pure, and an exhortation on the seriousness of sexual sin and instructions regarding marriage. Biblical commitment precedes sexual intimacy.
  • I Thessalonians 4:1-8 It wrong to defraud one another in relationships—by implying a relationship or commitment by your words or conduct that does not actually exist.
  • Song of Solomon 2:7 “Do not awaken love before it pleases.” In other words, before the proper time, which is marriage.
  • Proverbs 6:20-7:27 This is a warning to avoid sexual sin and foolish relationships.
  • James 1:13-15 This shows the slippery slope of giving into temptation.
  • Romans 13:8-14 This is a command to love others, work for their soul’s good; don’t look to please self.
  • Romans 14:1-15:7 It is important to favor others, not self. Value what is good to their souls.
  • I Timothy 5:1-2 This is a command to treat single women as sisters in Christ, with absolute purity.
  • Titus 2:1-8 It is critical for young men and women should focus on self-control and godliness.
  • John 14:15 “If you love Christ, you will obey His commands.” Even above your own desires.

I have counseled couples before and after marriage. A common theme between each conflict within the relationship is not having a high biblical standard of the relationship before marriage. Sin complicates relationships. The Bible says that this kind of relationship can be restored through forgiveness and a commitment to change by following the example of Christ.

In summary, the Bible is our baseline for all relationships—dating, courting or waiting. God’s high standard for relationships is not to flex His divine muscles to crush our hopes and dreams, but to fill us with great Hope of His purposes and plans, which are for our good and His glory. First, the biblical goal of dating or courtship is marriage. Second, the biblical view of dating or courtship is purity and the spiritual growth of one another. Consider your relationship with the opposite sex as your brother and sister in Christ [cf. 1 Timothy 5:1-2]. Third, the biblical practice of dating or courtship is commitment always precedes intimacy. All of your relationships are sacred and an opportunity to shine the gospel to a sinful world.

quick question concerning dating & courtship:

How far is too far when it comes to sexual intimacy in dating or courting? This is not the right question. The right question ought to be, “How far should we keep one another away from temptation?” A counselor I know compares temptation to Niagara Falls. Your goal if swimming in the Niagara River is not how close to the falls before you reach the point-of-no-return. The Bible says the boundary is to do not touch or put each other in tempting situations. For the good of one another and the glory of God keep as far from the point-of-no-return as possible.

Great Resources for Both Men & Women on Relationships:

Great Resources for Both Men & Women on Singleness & Waiting:

Great Resources for Women on Purity:

Great Resources for Men on Purity:


[1] Adapted from I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris [Multnomah Publisher, Sisters, OR. 2003, 38-46]

[2] Adapted from Biblical Dating [Scott Croft]

who’s in your driver’s seat?

The first two cars I owned were hand-me-downs. When I was 16, I bought the 1987 Dodge Daytona from my stepmother for $500. She lasted about 6 months before she gave up the ghost. My second car I bought while in college—a 1989 Chevy Corsica from my grandmother. She was a fairly reliable 4-door sedan. I named her Angus, mostly because she was black and I wanted her to have a bold name for the complex I had while driving her.

Angus had issues. First, my door got stuck. I felt like one of the Duke brothers climbing through the window of the General Lee to get into my car. Second, the ignition broke, so I had a buddy hotwire a toggle switch to help start the car without a key. I was embarrassed to take dates in this car because I never knew what would happen next. On one occasion I took a gal out for dinner and it started raining really hard. I turned on the wipers to full blast and they rocketed off the windshield never to be found. I spent the rest of the ride with my head out of the window like a panting dog to see where we were going. Nothing like that to dampen your date!

I did upgrade to nicer cars, but never really got the car of my dreams. If you could have any car what would you drive? Many people desire the German BMW or Mercedes, while others adore the Italian Lamborghini, Ferrari or Bugatti Veyron. I would settle for a Ford Mustang Shelby. I often daydream about what it would be like to drive one of these hot wheels around town, feeling the roar of the engine; proud of wow-factor I get from people I zoom past.

Have ever realized how much cars and relationships have in common? The next few weeks I will share a series on dating and relationships. We are going to approach this topic from the biblical standpoint. You might be thinking, “I know what the Bible says about relationships, it’s so old fashion and culturally irrelevant.” Stay tuned. You might be pleasantly surprised how practical and helpful the Bible is when it speaks about relationships with the opposite sex.

you get what you pay for

There are two ways to look at buying a car: either you get something really cheap that quickly breaks down or you get something nice that will last you a lifetime. There is no middle of the road. When it comes to relationships, God is in it for the long haul for “nothing can separate us from the love of God” [cf. Ephesians 3:17-19, Romans 8:35-39, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7]. He has put the miles in for you and He expects you to go the distance with those you committed.

Jesus says marriage—the chief earthly relationship—is a visual illustration to the world of Jesus’ commitment to the church [Ephesians 5:25ff]. Never will He abuse, neglect or separate Himself from His Bride. The love binding together Christ and the church is eternal. He has a covenant relationship with His followers built on sacrificial love for His followers. Relationships are no small matter or a place for shallow commitment.

Do not settle for anything less than the best. What is the best when it comes to relationships? God says the best is for both partners to be committed followers of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, believers are commanded to set their relationship standards high, “Do not be yoked with unbelievers.” To understand this verse you must learn from the farmer. Back in the day, farmers used oxen to plow their fields. They would match up two animals that were similar in size and strength to get straight rows. A smart farmer would never match up a goat and Clydesdale, or wild stallion with an old donkey. If so he would simply spin in circles getting nowhere. Do you see the illustration God gives to us about relationships? A believer and non-believer pull each other in opposite directions, in fact, the relationship will spin in spiritual circles if both parties are not committed to Christ.

beware of lemons

Beware of the dodgy deals from the used car lot. In other words, be careful of the worldly messages you hear and see on TV, Internet, or romance novels. The message is of compromise not commitment, “Dating is just for fun and sex.” Also, be careful of ungodly advice from friends who are sinful sympathizers. His or her message is listen to yourself not your God, “You should be with someone who makes you happy or makes you feel fulfilled.”  Lemons are sour deals that as you think back on them you regrettably know you have bought into a lie and you should have been cautious enough to search under the hood of that person’s heart before you signed the paperwork. Here are common lies and excuses about dating a non-believer:

“He or she is really nice person and is very good to me.” This is admirable and chivalrous. Some non-believers truly have better character than believers. However, if they are not in Christ their motives in the relationship are always selfish. Use your friendship as a God given opportunity to share with them the gospel. Let them know that Christ wants to reconcile an eternal relationship with them.

“Don’t worry, I will share my faith inside our relationship.” Missionary dating is sin. You have already compromised the relationship. How can you tell your partner to obey God when you are not being obedient to God by dating them? It is never God’s will to sin, even if it feels so good and right.

“If God was loving He would let me date who I want.” Remember, God is the standard. What He commands is for my good and His glory. God is not being cruel when He commands you to date believers and steer away from non-believers. He is protecting your heart. Take the time to read the story of Sampson [Judges 13-16] and Solomon [1 Kings 1-11]. You see how quickly love blinds their hearts from their God to the idols of their women. God warns about inter-spiritual relationships because He knows how distracting and spiritually detrimental they are for both parties.

In order to prevent yourself from getting a lemon you need to do some research into the person you want to partner. When buying a car you will get an inspection from the mechanic, check under the hood yourself, or go to carfacts.com to see the specks and history of the car. When it comes to our relationships we must go to the Word of God. The Bible says by their fruit you will know the kind of person they are [Matthew 7:16-17; John 15:8; Galatians 5:22-23].

How can you see someone’s fruit? See how they handle conflict [Proverbs 9:8-9], probe their passions, and ask x-ray questions: First, who is driving your life? If they give you a shallow answer or they are offended you asked this should be a red flag. Second, what is your relationship like with your mom and dad? You can tell a lot about how someone will treat you by the way they treat or speak to their parents. Third, are you involved at church? If they are serving others and loving the church this gives you a seek peak at their passions and priorities [cf. Philippians 2:4]. These are not fail proof questions since people can put up good fronts or change, but they are a starting point. [Note: more on danger signs for relationships next week].

no more backseat driving

Backseat drivers are annoying. They whisper or wail in your ear what they think you need to be doing. They are never satisfied and always complaining about your driving style. Are you a backseat driver to God? Do you say to Him things like, “Stop telling me how to run my relationships,” “Can you get going already? I am tired of waiting for the right guy or gal to come along,” Now if I were God I would be like the parent who says, “If you do not stop it right now I am going to pull this car over and give you something to think about!” Good thing I am not God, but if you say that God is in your driver’s seat let Him drive.

quick Q&A about concerning biblical relationships

Just because someone is a Christian does that mean I should date them even if I do not like him or her? What if never meet a Christian that I am attracted to? Waiting is never a bad option. In fact, while you wait, your primary relationship—between you and God—can be growing some great fruit. Also, pray to God asking Him to provide you a partner that will love God more than you.

What if you are in a relationship that you are convinced is second best? Repent and respond by doing the right thing. Speak honestly with your partner and break off the relationship until you are both faithfully committed to Christ.

How can you tell who is behind the wheel when it comes to your other relationships? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Surround yourself a great examples of faithful followers who have done it right. Take good notes.
  2. Learn from the examples of failed relationship. Don’t let history repeat itself.
  3. Keep accountable to someone wise while dating. Ask them to assess your relationships often with objectiveness.
  4. Listen to the advice of your parents and heed the warnings of the Word of God.