Monday, August 15, 2011

The Dating Game, Sort Of

In hearing some conversations being bandied about, I see that the issue of Christian dating is still an important one to address.  Countless Christians have been led away from their purity, their families, and even their faith by choosing foolishly in whom they choose to enter a romantic relationship with.  We all know the main verse regarding Christian dating.
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among [them]. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."  2 Corinthians 6:14-17 NKJV
I know we know the letter of the law.  I know that we know that we are not supposed to date outside of the faith, but I think we often take the wrong approach of making sure we adhere to the letter of the law and completely ignore the spirit of the law.  The first and foremost concern we should have for anyone is whether or not they know Jesus, this is especially true for those whom we choose to be romantic with.  In other words, the first and most important thing on our minds should be whether or not that person loves Jesus.  Unfortunately, we often make that an afterthought and an area we are willing to compromise in when other factors fall into place. 

One should never have to be immediately defensive regarding the faith of their partner.  If someone asks if they know Jesus, the answer should be an easy "yes."  If you have to explain or add a disclaimer, you are probably not dating someone in love with the Lord.  I remember when I met my wife and the guys from my men's group went out to dinner after our meeting.  The first question any and all of them asked was whether she knew Jesus.  The answer was an easy "yes" and they all noted what they observed in her those times she visited our church.  There was no need to make an excuse for her.  Her faith stood for itself.  That is how it should be with anyone we choose to be romantically involved with.  If someone asks if he or she is Christian, the answer should never be "he is open to Jesus," "he grew up in a Christian home," "He is sort of a Christian," "He comes to church,", or anything other than simply saying "Yes."  If there is any other answer then that person is not qualified to date or marry you. 

Sadly, too many times that is not the case.  We prioritize looks or how well we get along with someone over and above their position in Christ.  I am not saying that attraction and compatible personalities are not important, but they are not the most important at all. If looks are the most important, then you are completely shallow.  If personality is most important, then you are spiritually shallow.  Both indicate that our goal is to satisfy the flesh.  If you are sowing to the spirit, then someone who is spiritually compatible will be the most top priority in meeting someone.  The mistake we make is in choosing to ignore the idea of spiritual compatibility and hope that it will not be an issue or that it will resolve itself as time goes on.  The truth is that it will not.  If you sow to the flesh, you can not reap rewards of the spirit. 

How that mistake presents itself is that we see someone we are attracted to and who fits in with our personality, but we see they are not where they need to be spiritually.  We then stretch the rules to maintain the letter of the law and ignore the whole idea behind what Paul says in 2 Corinthians.  We make the excuses that we can lead him or her to the Lord by our witness (which we already ruined by compromising our values).  We figure if they are a backslidden Christian, we can get them to come to church and God will deal with them.  The fact is that God has been dealing with them all along and they ignored it.  Any change at all is suspect as it most likely is just window dressing to impress you.  We figure that they may believe differently, but that you can somehow harmonize that difference.  If you are a man, you will not be able to order a woman to believe like you.  If you are a woman, you will be in a position to submit to ideas you disagree with.  This will only lead to struggle in your relationship.  Missionary or Discipleship dating is not Scriptural and is a terrible idea.  For the man, this leads to a situation where you first act as a leader is to compromise your values.  For the woman, you are leading the man you will one day submit to spiritually.  In other words, when the times come to submit to your husband, you will find that very difficult to do.

The other issue that needs to be addressed is the question of what if we find ourselves very attracted to someone who is not in the faith?  I am not just talking about looks, but also about personality.  What if we have too much in common with that person to ignore and get along so well that it just seems natural to enter into that relationship.  For that I refer you back to 2 Corinthians.  The assumption in that passage is that a believer and an unbeliever will not have that much in common.  In other words, if you are in that situation, you have a serious problem with your relationship with God.  If you find yourself getting along with the worldly and if you find yourself compatible with the spiritually dead, you really need to ask yourself why.  The fact is that you should not.  The fact that you can be comfortable in that kind of relationship is not a positive thing.  Embracing a relationship in that condition is embracing your worldly desires and seeking after the satisfaction of the flesh. 

Before I close, I need to address those in the church who encourage those relationships.  Shame on you!  If you set your Christian sister or brother up on a date with an unbeliever, your are not a friend at all.  You are doing the work of Satan in trying to compromise the values of a child of God.  If you encourage someone in that kind of relationship, you are merely denying the Word of God and speaking lies into the life of someone you claim to love.  You may not be doing the work of Satan, but you are encouraging it.  

In the end, what we have is a matter of pursuing the flesh over pursuing the spirit.  If one was truly pursuing the things of the spirit, there would never even be a question of compromise. Someone not on fire for the Lord would not be attractive to us at all.  We would have no fellowship with the spiritually dead, we would want no fellowship with the spiritually backslidden worldly Christian, and we would spew out of our mouths someone who was lukewarm for the Lord.  For that person, stimulating the spirit would be so much more important than satisfying the flesh.  For the carnal Christian, this is not so.  The carnal Christian seeks to satisfy the flesh while making justifications to the spirit.  That is why these relationships are so dangerous.  They are premised on a compromise made with the flesh and further compromise is almost inevitable.  Sadly, that is a tragedy that plays itself out time and time again in the church.  One has to wonder if we will ever learn that nothing good will ever come out of sowing to the flesh.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV

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