Myth #4: All guys want is sex. (It’s not possible to date without it leading to sex before marriage.)

505841_99073813This is the fourth myth in the 5 Christian Dating Myths.

Many women don’t have a clue about men. But one thing they know: men constantly have sex on their minds. This idea is clearly and consistently taught.

While men must deal with the reality of sex on their minds, girls deal with the pressures of being told they need to keep themselves pure. Often young Christian girls are involved in purity rites and given jewelry in exchange for promises that they will protect their purity and save themselves for marriage.

Esteeming purity is a great thing, as God’s design for sex is solely within the bounds of marriage. But much of what we teach about sex, leads to fear about dating. The message many girls receive is: dating is dangerous, men are dangerous, they will be aggressors, users, and you have to be your own protector. Should you fail, the consequences will be devastating and life-long.

So when faced with living out those purity promises in the in the real world, how do you actually do this? Particularly in the days where dating in our culture often means sex after the third date.

For many girls, the answer is simply to avoid dating altogether. This is often not a conscious decision. If you talked to many of these girls, they are in tears about not dating. They long to be asked to the prom, to be out on a Saturday night, etc. But their fears keep them safely guarded against the possibility of failure. Their fears may range from fear about men’s intentions, their own abilities to stay pure, fear of having to set boundaries, of looking or feeling awkward, not wanting to disappoint someone, their fear of looking prude, etc. And this is not just the girl who has never been kissed before, this can also be the girls who has sexual sin in her past, but has a desire to stay pure in the future.

Fortunately, God has some very practical answers to these anxieties. For example, in my own journey, God made it clear to me one day that despite my past failings, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17) I had known that I was a new creation, and saw my desires for sex change when I became a believer. But it was years before I understood that I was also a new creation in the sense that I had new abilities to abstain from sexual sin through the power of the Holy Spirit. You see I did not really believe I was a new creation with the ability to do new things. I knew that I could believe new things, but actually do them? I had never tested that ability when it came to sexuality. Was it possible for me to date without succumbing to sexual sin?

By meditating on that verse, not only did God affirm my own identity as a new creation, He affirmed the men around me as new creations as well. As a believer who wanted to date other believers, God’s word provided me the assurance that the men I would be acquainted with also had the same desires and abilities as a result of their faith. Therefore, I could go forward and confidently date, knowing that there would be men who would be gentlemen with abilities and interests that went beyond sex.

God taught me this, but then I had to test it. What I found astounded me. I found that there were men who would take me on many dates without expectation of physical intimacies. This was a brand new experience for me, and it was so fun and refreshing! I also found that the conversations which I dreaded about sex were actually not that hard, were well received and not nearly as scary as I had believed.

Sex is a very real fear for many women when it comes to dating. But there are so many other fears that keep men and women from pursuing a mate with confidence and freedom. Jesus’ most often repeated command in the four gospel accounts is “Do Not Fear.” God longs for us to live confidently in the knowledge that He is a loving, sovereign and ever-present Father.   His message extends beyond just our confidence about where we will spend eternity, but also to the practicalities of our every day lives, even our dating lives!

Challenge yourself to identify the fears that are holding you back, and pray that you would begin to believe and act on God’s truth. Living in your fears may keep you safe, but Christ came to set you free. (John 8:32)

Written by Kristine Newton Sung, Licensed Professional Counselor, Heritage Counseling & Consulting, Dallas, Texas.

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Is Dating About Marriage?

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This is the fourth article in my series of 5 Christian Dating Myths. This addresses Myth #3: Dating is about marriage. (I should only say yes if I suspect there is potential down the road.)

 I had a very serious boyfriend in high school. We were convinced that marriage was in our future and so were my classmates, voting me first to get married in my senior yearbook. But like many young romances, we broke up.

As I went to college, I assumed more dates would follow and a new gentleman would sweep me off my feet.  Unfortunately, just the opposite happened. No one was asking me out.

Looking back, I think my expectations about dating changed. In high school, I looked at dating as an opportunity to go to a dance, be taken out to dinner or go to a movie. And if someone asked, I generally said yes. In college, I saw dating as way to find my potential spouse. I think subconsciously, I didn’t want another painful breakup, so I was picky about who I even allowed myself to be interested in. My seriousness about dating, and my pickiness about men, did little to encourage the opposite sex to see me as a fun, safe, dating prospect.

When I became a believer in my mid-twenties, dating took an even more serious tone. I learned things in church like ‘dating was just using each other’ or a means of ‘practicing for divorce.’ I learned ‘serious Christians’ should be courting, not dating.

The more I studied scripture, however, the more I saw that the bible has very little to say about dating. So for the Christian, is dating okay? What is the purpose of dating? Is dating just using other people? Is it okay to say yes to someone if you don’t think you have an interest in marriage with this person?

I found the best answers to these questions about dating in a book by Henry Cloud, entitled  How to Find a Date Worth Keeping. As a Christian psychologist, he identified and addressed the high-pressure view of dating I had developed over the years. Rather than see dating as a way to find a mate, Dr. Cloud suggested to see dating in the following ways:

  1. A time to find out about other people and what they are like.
  2. A time to find out about yourself and how you need to change.
  3. A time to have fun, experience new things, learn.
  4. Opportunities to love and serve others.

I encourage you to read his book. It changed my life.  For a briefer look at some of his thoughts, here is an article he wrote for Crosswalk.

When I changed my view of dating, not only did I get asked out more often, I had more fun in life. I experienced new people, places and things. Not every date was fabulous, but there was progress, and that felt good.

Most surprisingly, God helped me realize that my previous attitude about dating was more about self-protection, and little to do with loving others well or trusting God. By changing my view of dating, I found myself more open and accepting of others and thus better fulfilling Jesus’ command in Matthew 22:39 to “love your neighbor as a yourself.”

  • Questions to consider:  What is your view of dating? Is it biblical? Is it helping your dating life? Are you growing as a believer in Christ as a result of your dating view? Are you loving others well in the process of dating? Are you trusting God in the process? Where/how could God be trying to stretch you as you work through singleness?

Written by Kristine Newton Sung, Licensed Professional Counselor, Heritage Counseling & Consulting, Dallas, Texas.

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