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The common trends in dating today are more likely to prepare you to get divorced than to enjoy and persevere in marriage.

Dating is an intentional pursuit of marriage, not casual preparation for it.

Instead of making out in the basement or watching more chick flicks, we could find creative ways to help families we want to learn from.

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For instance, we’re often given this passage as a scripture about marriage: But tell me, guys, how can you present your someday wife as “holy and blameless” if you disregarded her sexual purity before you put the ring on her finger? Firefighters suggest you know and practice your escape route, just in case your house or building catches fire.

Or what could you possibly say to someone else she marries about your actions with her? And catching fire is exactly what high-intensity sexual desire can feel like in your body — so it’s time to get your escape plan together.

You can back off, take your time, and still make progress in the relationship.

And if and when you marry, you will be glad you waited. I’m on a campaign for myself and other wives in 2016 to memorize more scripture, because this is one of the best ways to arm ourselves with truth. Is staying pure until marriage impossible these days? Actually, Jacob waited for Rachel for seven years (see Genesis 29).

You sure wouldn’t want someone treating your eventual wife that way. This is the question most asked by teenagers, but don’t dating adults want to know too? If you spend your dating time at your house on a cozy couch, that’s all kinds of temptation. If you’re in a relationship, talk about this with your date. If you fail, you admit you’re human and need God’s help.

Take the long view here, knowing that whomever you marry should enter the marriage feeling respected, protected, and loved — as demonstrated by Christ. So you get to that moment where your God-created, sexually charged body is going nuclear with desire, and you’re somehow supposed to shut that off like a flip-switch. You need strategies (or tactics — I get those two confused) to keep from getting into that my-brain-is-mush moment. Unfortunately, it’s often the wrong question, because what you’re really asking is how close to the land mines can you get without being in danger. Rather, ask what level of affection is honoring to God and respectful of your date. But if you’re sitting across from someone at a dinner table or walking hand-in-hand through a museum, it’s not likely you’re going to get busy there. Things like “If I start feeling extremely turned on, I need a break. Does that mean you already crossed the line and should just give up and go for it?

I’m not discouraging you from dating, but encouraging you to date with clarity and purpose, and not as an experiment.

My advice is not necessarily to marry the first person you date, but to date in a way that serves the person you marry one day.

Again, dating is primarily pursuit, not preparation. Like other experiences in life, dating will prepare and mature us in one way or another, but we don’t date in order to prepare ourselves for someone else.

God prepares us for marriage in a thousand other ways that are not spring-loaded with the risks, obstacles, and difficulties of dating.

Unfortunately, many of us are being told we must date early and often if we ever want to be ready for marriage.

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