My friend wrote a helpful blog post on dating that got my writing juices flowing. I haven't written down most of my thoughts on dating and pursuing marriage. I have many lessons I've learned from others and from pastoring high school, college, and post-college brother and sisters in the faith. I’ve also learned a lot from being married that would make me do things differently if I could go back. I've seen many hearts broken, bodies and souls violated, consciences deformed. I’ve felt the grieving and anger of God. I've also seen hearts guarded and restored, bodies honored, consciences cleared and strengthened. I’ve felt the joy and approval of God. Sometimes I've seen both sides in the same relationship. There is much wisdom and truth for dating learned by those who've gone before and it is in this spirit I pray it helps you walk in the advice of the righteous not wicked, stand in the path of saints not sinners, and sit in a group of worshippers not mockers.
10. GET TO THE SIN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CONFLICT AND THROUGH THE SIN TO GOD'S GRACE
Maybe I should first say that it is important to disagree and have conflict when dating. I met a brother who was excited that he dated his girlfriend for over a year and they hadn't fought! Not even once. That was bad news. If there's no conflict then 1 or both of you are not expressing how you truly feel about some things or you're both sinless. James tells us that fights and conflict comes from someone sinning (James 4.1-3). So when in conflict, keep God in the middle of it and try to identify the sin. You are brother and sister in Christ and not enemies when fighting. Sin is the enemy and you need to identify it and apply God's grace to it. Call for repentance. Ask for forgiveness from God primarily, then your boyfriend or girlfriend secondarily. Extend forgiveness. A common sin is elevating your preference to the point of Word from God when it's really personal preference. That's elevating yourself to the status of "god" which is the sin of idolatry.
11. RUN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY
This is a common sin and pitfall for dating so there should be plans in place to fight sexual sin. Sit down with your parents or pastors and go through a discussion on sex and principles to keep pure in abstinence. Define sin and sexual immorality as more than just the sex act to include all lustful activities. Make sure it includes a lustful and scheming heart and mind. Randy Alcorn has a good outline of principles I plan on going over with my kids and their boy/girlfriends when it's time. Give hunting licenses out inviting parents, pastors, and other members of your church to ask you about your purity. If they don't ask you, tell them how you're doing and remind them to ask you. Don't be passive here. If you sin, confess your sin to the point where you're really uncomfortable with it so that you feel the uncomfortability and sinfulness of the sin. Set boundaries. Keep them. When you break them, confess sin to God AND others and receive the grace of forgiveness and growth. Keep fighting. Get married quick. Or break up quick.
You should also run from sexual immorality individually. Jesus tells us we can be sexually immoral in our heart and that is sinful before God (Matthew 5.27-30). So fight lust, pornography, and personal stimulation and masturbation. Fight for self-control of the body, mind, eyes, and internet usage. And keep accountable to others in this regard as well. Women, be aware that most men struggle with pornography and this will be an issue in your marriage so make sure he fights and kills his personal sin in this area now so you know he’ll be killing it when you’re married to him. Marriage helps fight lust, but it doesn’t eliminate the temptation or automatically kill the sin.
12. INTERVIEW MARRIED PEOPLE
I am amazed at how many couples dating plan their married lives by their mere observation of married couples around them. Go to the married couples in your church and ask them questions! Ask them how they fight and resolve conflict. Ask them what they wish they knew when they were in your position. Ask them how it was to fight lust when dating and what changes, if anything, when married. Ask them to evaluate your values of what you think will make a good spouse. Ask them about the joy and challenge of having kids and how their partnership affects that. Ask them how they work together to make disciples. Ask them what they think about your relationship. Ask them what they think about your interpretation of your relationship. Ask them who else they should talk to. Ask, ask, ask!
Remember that you would do the last 5 years a bit differently if you knew then what you know now. Why not try to get that knowledge now and not just learn it in retrospect? Your best access to a broader perspective on your current situation in light of the future is to ask those of you who are ahead of you in age and experience.
[tweetthis]You would do the last 5 years a bit differently if you knew then what you know now.[/tweetthis]
13. EXAMINE YOURSELF WITH THE NECESSARY HELP OF PARENTS AND CHURCH FAMILY
When applying any of these principles its important that you examine yourself. Check yourself honestly to see if you're being faithful to glorify God in your dating relationship. Self-deception is always a problem in life. Hebrews 3.12-13 tells us that we are being hardened by sin's deception and therefore we should encourage each other daily. If you allow me to extend the idea of sin's deception out to self-deception about your read on your dating relationship, it is helpful to get godly advice from others. Have people examine your motives. Have them weigh in on your assessment of your potential spouse. Listen to them and don't be defensive. Don't write off their insight right away. Be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen and think. Keep your pastor-elders in the loop. If you have wise and godly parents, get their thoughts on your relationship often. Let them hold you accountable.
 James 4.1-3: What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.
 Matt 5:27-30: 27 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!
 Hebrews 3.12-13: 12 Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
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