God grows people up through dating relationships in the same way that he grows them up in many other life activities. The question isn’t whether or not you are dating. The questions are more along the lines of ‘Who are you in your dating and who are you becoming in your dating? What is the fruit of your dating for you and for the people that you date? How are you treating them? What are you learning?
→ It’s mainly about your character growth and how you treat people.
Dating doesn’t hurt people → but dating in-out-of-control ways does.
(Colossians 2:20-23) “You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the Spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as ‘Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!’? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” → Paul cautioned the Colossians that making rules and abstaining from certain practices would never develop the maturity they needed to live life.
→ Human problems are matters of the heart, the soul, one’s orientation toward God and a whole host of other maturity issues. As Paul says, avoiding certain things you could engage in destructively doesn’t cure your basic problem of immaturity, which is internal not external.
You may be immature and not able to handle dating, so you abstain from dating. But, unless you do something to grow up, you will STILL be immature, and you will take that immaturity right into marriage.
*Avoiding isn’t the way, the cure is learning to love, follow God, be honest and responsible, treat others as you would want to be treated, develop self-control and build a fulfilling life will ensure better dating.
Get to know someone well before you commit to marriage.
A few of the benefits seen in dating:
1) Dating gives people the opportunity to learn about themselves, others and relationships in a safe context.
2) Dating provides a context to work through issues.
-Dating offers people a place to find out that what they think they value in a person might not be what they value in the long term. Lots of people look good until there is a real relationship day after day.
3) Dating helps build relationship skills.
It can be a time of growth and discover. Like whether you have some serious insecurities, or lack in communication, vulnerability, trust, assertiveness, honesty, self-sacrifice and listening.
4) Dating can heal and repair
-God uses relationships to heal us and change us. People can have good dating relationships where they learn, are healed, grow, and are stretched, even when the relationship doesn’t lead to marriage. It has value in a person’s life.
5) Dating is relational and has value in and of itself.
-People who are not married DO NOT give parts of themselves; they restrain from sexual union. When two singles love each other, give to each other and share something in life although the relationship has limits of both body and heart, it has value as well.
6) Dating lets someone learn what he or she likes in the opposite sex.
-Dating gives people a context to meet and spend time with a wide variety of people. They can find out what they like, what they need and what is good for them.
7) Dating gives a context to learn sexual self-control and other delay of gratification.
-This delay of gratification teaches something very valuable for marriage.
(Ecclesiastes 11:9 “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgement.”)
Putting lots of emotional investment into a relationship can be dangerous. Thus, dating works best between two responsible people. Dating is ultimately about LOVE. People seek it through dating. When they find it, and it matures, they often make deep commitments to each other. Freedom and responsibility are necessary for love to develop in dating.
These two elements are necessary for any successful relationship.
Boundary is a property line → You can’t see your own boundary, however, you can tell it’s there when someone crosses it.
Boundaries serve two important functions.
1) They define us
-Show what we are and are not. What we agree and disagree with, what we love and hate. Dating goes much better when you are defined. When you're clear about your values, preferences, and morals you solve many problems before they start.
2) They protect us.
-They keep good things in and bad things out. when we don’t have clear limits, we can expose ourselves to unhealthy and destructive influences and people. Boundaries protect by letting others know what you will and will not tolerate.
Several limits we can use in dating.
- Words: telling someone no and being honest about your disagreement.
- The truth: bringing reality to a problem
- Distance: allowing time or physical space between two people to product or as a consequence for irresponsible behavior.
- Other people: Using supportive friends to help keep a limit.
Boundaries surround the life God has given you to maintain and mature, so that you can become the person he created you to be.
Somethings boundaries define and protect.
- Your love: Your deepest capacity to connect and trust
- Your emotions: Your need to own your feelings and not controlled by someone else’s feelings
- Your behaviors: Your control over how you act in your relationship
- Your value: Your need to have your life reflect what you care about most deeply.
- Your attitudes: Your stances and opinions about yourself and your date.
Good boundaries help you know how much to give, and when to stop giving.
*Boundaries help you be yourself, instead of losing yourself in someone else.
If you are trying to help someone and he is lying to you in some way, there is no relationship. Trust is everything in a helping relationship, and when it is broken, it becomes the only issue to work on. Either fix it or end the relationship.
→ The real problem is that when you are with someone who is deceptive, you never know what reality is. It makes you question everything, you’re not standing on firm ground and the ground can shift at any moment. Ephesians 4:25 → “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.”
*It is one things to have loved and lost, it is another thing to have loved and been lied to. Do not lead someone on, or allow them to deceive themselves by anything that you are doing.
Once a pattern of deception is begun trust is difficult to re-establish.
You will have a good relationship to the degree that you are able to be clear and honest about everything.
Two important reasons you need to be honest about conflict:
- Being honest resolves the hurt or the conflict
- When you are honest, how the other person responds tells you whether a real, long-term relationship is possible.
A lot is lost in not finding out who the other person is and where the relationship could really go, if one or both people are facing hurt and conflict directly.
People who can handle confrontation and feedback are the ones who can make relationships work. (Proverbs 9:8 “So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you, but correct the wise, and they will love you.”) (Proverbs 15:12 “Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.”) (John 3:19-21 “And the judgement is based on this fact; God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”)
Your relationship with God is the deepest, most profound and most important part of your soul. Through many experiences, conversations, and questions. We settle in on a person who loves God as we do, one who can help us grow even closer to Him.
→ The issue is not how to fit our spiritual life into our dating life; rather, it is how to fit our dating life into our spiritual life.
The one who designed emotional connections knows best how they are best conducted, in a way that is satisfying for us and glorifying to Him.
Ask yourself how your dating relationship impacts your Spiritual life. Does it bring you closer to God, or push you further away?
- Are you drawn to the transcendent God through that person?
- Do you have an alliance with the other person in your Spiritual walks?
- Do you experience Spiritual growth from interacting with that person?
- Does the other person challenge you Spiritually, rather than you having to be the impetus?
- Is the Spiritual connection based on reality?
- Is the person authentic as well as Spiritual?
- Is the relationship a place of mutual vulnerability about weakness and sins?
Your values are the architecture of who you are. They’re what you believe is most important in life in accordance with these beliefs. → Values are a major part of dating.
Failure, loss and learning experiences are part of the life of faith. Anyone who’s been a believer for any amount of time knows this. To know a person’s spiritual walk is also to know the times they stumbled in the darkness.
If you don’t know your date’s spiritual struggles, you can’t honestly say you know your date.
Some struggles people who are dating can talk about to each other:
- Periods of being unsure God’s care or existence.
- Living life apart from God
- Spiritual adolescence, challenging everything you have been taught
- Times of self-absorption when you neglected your spiritual growth
→ No one grows without experiences of loss and failure. The Bible teaches that mature people have lots of practice dealing with the good and evil in life. (Hebrews 5:14 “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”)
You need to be Spiritually autonomous that is, you have your own walk with God that you pursue on a regular basis, regardless of your circumstances. Also, you need a date who is spiritually autonomous when you yourself fall. You’ll need someone who is depending on God and living his life in God’s path for those times that you are weak, falling and doubting. Nothing is worse than to be in dark spiritual waters with a person who is himself also drowning. (Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”)
Spiritual autonomy also has to do with what have traditionally been called the Spiritual disciplines: regular bible reading, meaningful prayer life, church attendance, visible identification as a christian.
What Character is all about → integrating the realities of God’s ordinances into everyday life.
A righteous person stays connected to God, his source. But when he slips and falls, he’ll take correction well and will reconnect himself back to God.
You are initially attracted to a person’s outsides, but over time you will experience his insides. His character is what you will experience his insides. His character is what you will experience long-term and be in a relationship with over time.
“All sin is sin.” → WRONG. The Bible teaches that all sinners are equally guilty before God, and that we all stand in the same state of guilt before Him, but not that all sin is equal. Some sins are more damaging than others.
(Matthew 23:23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important things.”) (Psalm 101:2-8 “I will be careful to live a blameless life- when will you come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. I will allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the Lord from their grip.”)
the Bible tells us over and over that some people are worthy of trust and some are not. (Matthew 7:6 “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”)
Staying away from certain people may well protect your heart and life.