In order to avoid the nasty divorce they watched their parents go through in the ‘70s and ’80s when divorce rates peaked, many couples today are deciding to live together, have kids, and maybe at some point down the road – if they really feel the need, say, for insurance or something – they go ahead and get married … maybe. Most of us know a couple or family who fit this profile. But it’s a trend that Christian couples can’t join in on.
This leaves dating, which, to be honest, is a dying trend these days, but one Christian couples are doing their best to pursue. Today, we’ll talk with Andy, a 21-year-old college student at the Ballard campus, about what it means to date a woman within the context of a Christian relationship, i.e. one when you’re not living together or sleeping together. In Christian parlance, he is in what he refers to as a “”http://ballard.marshillchurch.org/2010/04/29/gods-definition-of-dating/“>courting” relationship with his girlfriend, Naomi, also a 21-year-old student.
How is your relationship with Naomi different than your friends’ relationships?
Let me lay a foundation here—there are selfish reasons to date and God-honoring reasons to date. This [unmarried, cohabitating couple I know at work] is in a self-serving relationship: all the benefits, but none of the commitments and responsibilities of being in a marriage.
For me and Naomi, we are wanting a relationship that is honoring to Christ. What it looks like practically, for instance, is our level of expression of affection, emotionally and physically, corresponds to our level of commitment: you don’t have sex before marriage for instance. Also emotional boundaries: I can’t be the one who she attaches herself to; she has to protect her heart because [the relationship] might not end in marriage.
Read the rest of the interview – and watch a 2008 sermon on dating that includes a full-grown man inside a plastic bubble – after the jump:
So for our relationship, it means getting to know each other in groups, at her parents’ house, at my parents’ house. We get to know each other’s friends. This Thursday I’m meeting her dad in Centralia and we get to sit down and chat.
I guess it should also be said that our case is ideal in that we’re 1. we’re both Christians, and 2. we both come from Christian families. So, her dad’s input – because he loves God and he loves his daughter and wants her best – is something I value.
If you do get married, how do you think this plan might impact your kids, your family, your legacy?
The first thing that comes to mind is—right now, what we’re doing, we’re trying to be as wise and as intentional as we can, knowing that we’re laying the foundation for a potential marriage. Step by step in prayer, seeking counsel from our parents, people we look up to—trusting that that will lay a solid foundation—a good foundation…and as far as our kids go—I definitely hope to be able to say to my kids, "Here’s how I did things, you might be able to learn from this—not saying that it’s going to be perfect, but, uh, but I want to be able to point to this as an example as a godly dating—courting—relationship.
Dating is usually about meeting a selfish need: I feel lonely, so I’m going to date. Courting is about intentionally building a foundation for a marriage. It’s not just about not feeling lonely anymore; it’s about, “C an we work well together in a Christian marriage?”
Manhood is one thing. Biblical manhood is another. We’ve been taking a long look at this over these last few weeks on the blog. Check out more teaching from pastors on biblical manhood and more stories of guys working to figure out what it means to be a man in Christ. Stay tuned in coming weeks as we shift to biblical womanhood.