Saturday, July 24, 2004
I think one possible example might be the "New Updated Edition" of I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. Whether you get the pun or not, I'll move on.
I'd heard about the book before, and figured it might be a good time to actually read it, as I'm at an age where I could reasonably expect to start seeing someone in a relationship devoted to more than just having fun and hiding my own insecurities. I'm currently slightly less than halfway through, and the amazing thing is that I think that Harris and I are seeing things along the exact same lines. Now, his background is different from mine, and he's gone far more in-depth with this than I had, but his basic conclusions are the same as the ones I'd reached several years ago when I first started thinking about girls and how I ought to act with them.
My old Bible Study leader and I were talking one day, before I was in Navigators, about my views on things. He knew that I was a Christian, but not knowing me all that well at that point, was basically sounding me ought. One question he asked was what I thought was appropriate between a boyfriend and girlfriend. I thought for a second, and asked him to imagine that he was married, and that the girlfriend wasn't his wife. My view was (and is) that if you're doing things with her that you would consider to be cheating on your wife, then you shouldn't do it with your girlfriend. You've probably heard this expressed better and more concisely as the idea that every woman is someone's wife (recognizing that some people are meant to remain single, like St. Paul, of course).
I keep seeing this, and I suppose I shouldn't be surprised any more, but it is constantly amazing to me how God has watched over and protected me. And, to be honest, I don't know how much of this is sheer dumb luck on my part and how much might have been God working through a willing heart (I flatter myself to think that I do have moments where I truly offer my heart to God). I look at the times I've been shot down in the past, and I look at each one and realize that it could have been a disaster if any of the girls had said yes. I'm thankful that I've been given the chance to get to know girls in group settings, and to see so many of them truly shine.
It has recently occurred to me that building a lasting relationship (i.e. marriage) is like building a house in a climate that could turn violent at any moment. You need that house to be as sturdy as it can be, and a huge part of that is God's blessing of it. If you skimp on laying the foundation, that house is going to get destroyed by the next hurricane or earthquake, and you're going to be in deep trouble. Just as there are days when the weather is too bad to go outside and work on building your house, there are seasons for each of us when we can't be in a relationship. In seasons such as those, we need to prepare ourselves for whatever God's work may be, and that often includes eventual marriage. If we have a girl in mind, but don't feel ready to actually start seeing her, then we need to be praying for her and considering her needs as we seek to strengthen our friendship.
I never really liked the idea of "dating," but considered that if I to ask a girl out, then the idea was to see if the two of us would be suitable for marriage one day, which is known as courting. This was also a problem, I later realized, because I sometimes asked a girl to do things like go to lunch which all of the world except me apparently considers to be a date. By sending confusing signals, I was accidentally messing with girls, with the end result typically being that they either distanced themselves from me or got mad and weird towards me. While I had figured that if I were courting someone then I needed to be prepared to go as fast or as slow as things required, this meant more than I'd considered. The most obvious concern is that the two of you will go too far and end up in compromising situations. I'm relatively sure that I would seek to avoid pushing to go that fast, but I hadn't really thought about the extremes. If courting, then I should be prepared to get married the very next day if circumstances required it. Also, I should be ready to simply wait if the time isn't right. Am I prepared to do these last two things? Right now, I don't think so. This may change in a week, a month, or ten years, but it's where I am at the moment.
I had a few other things I was going to say here, but I got distracted. Look for either an update or a related post eventually.