We established last weekend, the question shouldn’t be, “Can you,” but, “Should you?”
“Can I,” is about what’s possible or permissible. “Should I,” is about what’s BEST.
As I already confessed, when it came to dating I never asked, “Should I?” I simply found myself in a place where the right kind of dating candidates (i.e. girls who were both believers and beautiful) were readily available and I went into business.
Indeed, in spite of the upright intentions and pure dating practices highlighted on my spotless relational résumé, I have come to recognize some deficiencies in “dating by the book.”
For one, I realized I was treating my relationship with God like a business contract. He gave me the job description of a good Christian dater and I followed the rules and submitted a weekly update (with the correct TPS cover sheet).
It wasn’t until my Sophomore year, when I fell head over heels for a fine-looking Freshman named Danielle,* that I recognized I was relating to God like my heavenly boss who needed a report, instead of my heavenly Father who pursued a relationship. He wanted me to personally ask Him (in prayer) about specific “persons of interest” instead of just going down a Bible-based checklist. He wanted me to intentionally seek His wisdom in regards to how I could bless each young lady I dated instead of simply staying out of trouble.
How about you? Are you dependent on your checklists or on Christ?
In Proverbs 3:5-6 we’re instructed, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
We’re to submit to Christ not checklists. Sometimes we submit to Him by obeying His word, but the Pharisees were famous for following the law, but didn’t recognize their Lord when He was standing right in front of Him. I was guilty of that in my legalistic dating.
Guidelines and checklists aren’t bad. They can help us keep on track and avoid obvious faux pas (and even dangerous missteps), but there’s nothing personal about them. Imagine if I had treated my date like I was treating God. (“Hey look, I took you to the dollar movie and then bought you a pizza, but it’s not like I want to spend a bunch of time hearing about whatever it is you wanted to talk about.”)
Secondly, dating “by rules” instead of “for relationships” developed an undeniable vanity in me. I wasn’t asking “How far is too far?” I was above all that. I was the good guy. The safe date. (And a prideful little cuss too.) Every success bred more (over)confidence. I believed I was large and in charge of my dating life and how it would work out. I was “leaning on my own understanding.” Until Danielle.*And since I was going out with so many stunning damsels in-need-of-a-date, I got a good ol fashioned ego boost every time I could say, “Guess who I’m going out with this Friday?”
Wow. I’m embarrassed to admit that. I mean, I wasn’t the guy trying to bed the girl. Not even close! But I had the same kind of pride about how many girls I merely dated.
Is there another dating legalist out there who can maybe smell a little spiritual or carnal pride in the mix of their praiseworthy standards and rules?
If you’re wondering if you might be a dating legalist, ask a good friend who:
1. knows and loves you well
2. knows and loves God well
And be sure to give them permission to tell you the truth as they see it.
See anything else lacking in sheer law-abiding dating? Let me know your lessons learned and then I’ll finish out this discussion with a couple more of my own next week.
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
Here’s something you should be doing for sure: intentionally and intelligently preparing for relational success when it counts – BEFORE you fall in love. That’s precisely why I wrote the the LoveEd study guide series, Beyond Sex & Salvation. Don’t wait until the love chemicals kick in and you have a relationship to defend. Check out Part 1: Three Critical Life Lessons for Relational Success NOW on iBooks, Kindle or Nook.Dug this weekend’s DNA? Tell your friends by liking or commenting on our FMU Facebook page or on your own Facebook page by clicking the button below. And subscribe to our RSS feed to know precisely when next week’s Date Night Advice hits cyberspace.* Not her real name, but trust me. She was real. You can ask my wife. She remembers her.