Everyone knows that they have “the list.” Or, at least we did in high school. Come on, you know I’m right. You know the list I am talking about – the list for a perfect significant other. I bet you still have it tucked away in your closet somewhere. Here is an example:
1. Will always be honest
2. Has realistic expectations
17. Saves the drama for mama
28. Doesn’t shop excessively
124. Is organized
Now, the question is, was that my list or someone else’s? Hmmm… we’ll leave that one unspoken. Well anyway, throw out that list because here are six (count them – six) things that you need to remember. And, as a side note, the perfect person you have in your “list” doesn’t exist.
These six things did not come from me, they came from an article here, written by Steve Shadrach, but it was a good article, so I am posting it as part six (how fitting). These are truly steps that are counter-cultural, but I think as Christians we are called to be counter-cultural (cf. Romans 12:1-2, Phillipians 3:20). If I have any additional comments to what the author says, I will write them in bold, although for the most part, I will let him speak for himself. Use these six steps as a way to build yourself up (by God’s standard), not beat yourself up (by the world’s standard).
1. Date Only Committed Christians
If someday you want a Christ-centered marriage (which clearly requires the commitment of two Christ-centered people), then you better start with the end in mind and take a close look at who you’re attracted to. Yes, I do believe 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” means not to marry non-Christians, but if I were you, I’d set my sights on dating and marrying someone who is more than just a believer.
The key is to build opposite-sex friendships with other committed Christians who have a vision and passion for following Christ, for becoming like Christ and for reaching out to others with the gospel. The only real way for you to know if these values will be true of them in the future is to look at their past. Check out their track record to see if their talk matches their walk, knowing that people are notorious for changing and adapting their goals to line up with their latest flame! Wow, what a statement! But this is a true, isn’t it?
2. Plan your Dates in Advance
Having the same goals is one of the essentials for any strong dating or marriage relationship. Not only does it take time to develop and live out those goals, it takes careful planning too.
I’d like to talk to the guys right now, because I believe you are primarily responsible for the spiritual leadership in a relationship. (This is completely Biblical.) Cultivate your and your date’s love for God, for the Scriptures and for others by planning enjoyable, but meaningful activities that will produce fulfillment and mutual respect for each other. If you come up with the what, when, where and how it will not only communicate that you care enough to do some advanced thinking, but she will respect you as a spiritual leader who knows where he’s going.
3. Save Yourself for Marriage
Here’s the vicious cycle that many couples go through each weekend: first of all he calls up, then of course, they must dress up, he then drives over to pick up, fully stocked to drink up, only to eventually throw up, but still later that night choosing to shack up, and with a headache the next morning they finally wake up, once again possessing a deep nagging feeling they’ve really messed up! (Wow! That was awesome!) I hate to break the news to my female readers, but many guys show love to a girl in order to obtain sexual access. But in the same way guys give love to get sex, there are an equal number of girls who are guilty of giving sex in order to get love. Our holy God, who thought up sex, didn’t say “Let the marriage bed be undefiled” in Hebrews 13:4 to rob us of physical pleasure, but instead to give it to us in fullness ─ and at the right time. Reading a classic together like Pure Excitement by Joe White or Choices by Paula and Stacey Rinehart will help you set up and stick to biblical standards, build trust and prepare you someday to have one romantic marriage!
4. Work on Communication
If you’re dating someone who wants a little less talk and a lot more action, you might want to check their spiritual pulse. Learn how to ask good questions, how to share facts and feelings, and how to listen. There may be a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth! Get to know their past and present, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, values and dreams. Most married couples are shocked when they realize 90 percent of their dating period was activities and only 10 percent communication, and that after the honeymoon, those percentages reversed themselves. Understand that God made men and women with a spirit, soul and body, then later handed us divine instructions how to connect with one another – in that order.
5. Throw Out Expectations
Sometimes pressure comes from within when one partner has stronger feelings than the other and wants to always “define” the relationship. Jealousy and possessiveness dominate many couples and the only brand of relationships some people know are the conditional kind that always says, “I’ll love you if…” or “I love you because…” Why let your heart be torn in half every time there’s a breakup? Let’s face it, every relationship you get into is going to end until the “right one” comes along. Relax, go slow, build a friendship, and beware of someone who, on your first date, peppers you with questions about how many children you want!
Pressure sometimes comes from others who are flashing their engagement rings everywhere or asking not so subtle questions like, “When are you two going to tie the knot?” or “Aren’t you going out this weekend?” Having to go on a date each Friday or Saturday night is a sign of insecurity and discontentment. Refuse to allow others to rope you into a dating pattern or relationship that you’re uncomfortable with. Take your time and don’t force it. Let God develop the feelings in both of your hearts, in His way and in His timing.
6. Focus on Becoming the Right Person
Looking for love in all the wrong places…the guys have replaced wife swapping with wife shopping, while many females go to college to get their MRS degree and, if they’re not engaged by Christmas of their senior year, hit the panic button big time. But if you’ll focus on becoming the right person, instead of finding the right person, (i.e. staying on the road by “seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”), the Lord likely will bring along someone who far surpasses your little checklist.
Are you willing to spend your college years (and maybe beyond) preparing to do it God’s way, instead of the world’s way? Truly, the riskiest decision you’ll ever make is who you’ll marry, and if this is true, then who you date – and how you date – can make you or break you.
Coming up in part seven, I am going to list the 13 levels of spiritual maturity as written by Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Keep with it, it’s almost over.
– Adam Smith