RATING YOUR DATING WHILE WAITING FOR MATING
A Time to Chill
November 10, 1996
It is the week of Thanksgiving and you are dreading the trip home because you know the moment that you walk through the front door well-meaning relatives will start a full frontal assault on your marital status. They will ask you questions like, “Are you dating anyone, yet? Jenny is engaged. Did you realize that?”
You find yourself shopping for low fat groceries to keep yourself attractive to find that special someone. The bridal magazines seem to mock you and taunt you as you go through the checkout lines, singing “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with you? Life will have no meaning until you say, ‘I do.’”
A just-married couple invite you over for a home-cooked meal. While driving back to your cold condo alone, you say to yourself, “Man, I could get used to that. I need to find someone who will cook for me!” Then, frenzied female friends rush up to you with their ring-finger high, making you feel like a piece of unclaimed luggage on the carousel at DFW Airport.
Our society heaps a lot of pressure on those here who are unmarried to walk the carpeted aisle to the pace of the wedding march. Instead of ignoring the pressure, most singles become frantic, frustrated, and susceptible to making dumb decisions.
Speaking of dumb decisions, last Sunday afternoon I was standing in my front yard with my wife and four children and my mother from out of town. We were talking, and I noticed a skateboard at the top of our driveway. So without thinking, I walked over to the skateboard and stepped on it expecting a smooth ride down the slight incline. The skateboard flew out from beneath my feet and I landed on my back and my wrist. I was in pain and I was embarrassed. I had to get my wrist X-rayed, and I had some strained ligaments.
I made a misstep, a faux pas, if you will. Too many single adults see marriage as a blissful glide on the skateboard of life. I can just skateboard into the chapel and skateboard into marriage and skateboard throughout the honeymoon and then throughout the next 25 or 50 years. But too many single adults make frantic faux pas and they end up choosing the wrong lifetime partner.
That is precisely why we are launching a brand new series this weekend entitled “Rating Your Dating While Waiting For Mating.” I heard someone say that dating is leasing with an option to buy. And that is true. It is so important. The stakes are sky high. Next to your decision to follow Jesus Christ, the choice of your spouse is hanging there in the balance. It is the second most important decision you will ever make. Research reflects the fact that 90% of Americans will get married at least once in their life. Make sure you are here during this entire study. We will have a good time. I think that we will be convicted and we will learn a lot from God’s word on this subject.
Right now I want to run through five frantic faux pas that singles make when they select a mate. If you have a pen or pencil, just use the bulletin to note these down. Scores and scores of singles make these mis-steps and they have some serious falls. First, you marry a golden retriever. I am not talking about his or her appearance, I am simply saying you marry a golden retriever and that is a faux pas. You see, you deal with loneliness and you want companionship so you find someone who will be the ultimate companion, you look for that golden retriever. You believe that you will never be lonely again.
Some of the loneliest people I know happen to be men and women who are married. The unhappiest people I know are not singles who wish they were married, they are married people who wish they were single. Yet this loneliness thing drives us. The Bible says that we all were created for two levels of community. Most of us are aware of the first level. The first level of community that we yearn for is the community of relationship, a deep friendship, a courtship, a marriage. When we have level one met, then we are feeling great about ourselves.
Most of us, especially single adults, are unaware and unconscious of the role the second level plays in their obsession to find a spouse. The second level of community that we yearn for is community with God. You see there is a hole in our hearts that can only be filled through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you take level one, of which we are conscience, and then take level two, of which many of us are not conscience, and mix them together in a single person’s life, they are really frantic and focused to find that mate. They believe that if they have a companion then they will have community. But here is what happens. They meet someone and Level one needs are met. Everything is fine. They date for about three months. Then they get married. About six months later they look at each other and they are still lonely and they wonder what the problem is. Here is what happens. We put on the other person’s shoulders the level one and the level two need. So we are asking a human being to do something that a human being cannot do which is to meet the need that only God can meet.
About four hours ago, I flew in from Las Vegas, Nevada. A generous friend took me to see Mike Tyson fight Evander Holyfield. Just 10 hours ago I was standing in the casino in the MGM Grand. I was not gambling, please, no letters. I was watching a bunch of people play Roulette. They would play for a while and then change to another Roulette table. They were hoping to hit the jackpot, moving from Roulette table to Roulette table to Roulette table. If you marry someone to solve your loneliness, you are going to play a wicked game called Relational Roulette. You will say that if you hook up with this golden retriever, then you will hit the jack pot. But it doesn’t happen. It can only be solved by knowing Christ personally, by having Him fill that hole in your heart and then you hook up with someone, only as God leads.
Secondly, you marry a Home Depot person. There is a lot of brokenness in our world today. A lot of us come from families where verbal and physical abuse was present. We have dealt with alcoholism, drug addiction, and we are broken. We are tattered and shattered and battered. We search the aisles of life hoping to find some human being to fix us. It is kind of like the Six Million Dollar Man syndrome. Remember that? It kind of dates me. Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive. We are going to rebuild him. We are going to make him stronger, better.
We look at other people. “Oh, there is a Home Depot person. He can fix me. She can fix me. I am kind of like the Six Million Dollar Man, just rebuild me. Make me better and cleaner and sharper and nicer and sweeter.” Don’t do that. Don’t make that mistake. If you are broken, marriage will not heal your brokenness. If you are going to buy a boat or a car or a home and it has been lived in or used, you are going to check out the maintenance records and see what all has taken place. If something is cracked or broken, that doesn’t always keep you from buying the item, but you have got to know what you are dealing with. That is why in the dating relationship, you have got to see what you are dealing with.
Yes, that person whose hand you hold under the table, that person who looks so irresistible in candlelight, comes from a flawed, fallible family. That person comes from parents who were not perfect. They had brothers and sisters who messed them around. They have taken some hits along the way. You have got to realize that, recognize that, and own that and deal with all the broken stuff this side of the marital equation. Don’t wait until you have already heard the wedding march and you have gone on the Cancun honeymoon. Settle it and deal with it prior to marriage.
The third frantic faux pas: you marry Walt Disney. Question. What do Peter Pan, Aladdin, and Pinocchio all have in common? They lived happily ever after. We say, in our minds, “If I get married it will really simplify my life. It will make everything easier. I will not have problems to deal with, everything will be hunkey dory. Everything will be A-OK. I will have a little picket fence and a dog named Rover. I can throw a football with my son and play Barbies with my daughter.”
I highly recommend marriage. It is great. But marriage complicates your life and we will talk about that more in a little while. Think about marriage. It adds problems to your life. You have got financial challenges to deal with. You might handle money one way, your spouse another. You have got romantic challenges. Rarely are both of you in the mood at the same time. You have got recreational challenges. He likes hunting, she likes to play tennis. Spiritual challenges. One wants to make every session of this series, the other does not. It goes on and on and on. To sit there and say that marriage will let you live happily ever after and that it will solve your problems is not the case.
The fourth frantic faux pas: they marry an alarm clock. You get married because of the tick tock of the biological clock. You say to yourself that you need to get married to take advantage of the child bearing years, which won’t be forever. Most of us get married too young. Most of us get married too fast. Development experts say that we are not fully formed until we are about 25 years of age. Up until that point we are doing some identification work. We are establishing who we are and where we are going. We are doing some individuation work, establishing our own autonomy and independence. We are establishing some core values and doing some spiritual work. Too young and too fast. Don’t let the tick tock of the biological clock drive you into hooking up with the wrong lifetime partner.
The fifth frantic faux pas that unmarrieds make is that they marry a romance novel cover model. You know, the Fabio-type person, or a Pamela Lee-type image. And really, to cut to the core, it is the sexual drive. They fall in lust and not in love. The hormones are raging, the temperature is rising. Sex is a great part of marriage. It is very important; however, you can’t get married just for sex. You do have to have chemistry between the man and woman and we will talk about that next week.
In fact, I am going to stop talking about sex right now because our next message will be entitled “Dangerous Binds,” and it will be about sex and the single adult. But let me say again, unequivocally, based on the authority of God’s word, don’t get married because of the hormone factor. The Bible also says that we are to wait until we get married to have sexual intercourse. I will explain all those implications next week. So we will see you back here at one of our four services.
So, we have the five frantic faux pas. There are probably more. So what? How can I stay away from these faux pas, from these missteps. You know, as our own John Wright says, “What are the deliverables? What is the take home?” I am going to talk to you singles about some things you can do right now based on God’s word concerning loving and honoring God because of your singleness.
View your value. God’s word says to view your value. I am going to read this text. It is the most unpopular verse in the Bible for singles. When I read this verse, most of the potential prospects are eliminated regarding spouse selection. 1 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” Now, right up front you have got to ask if God was having a bad day when this was written. “Is He trying to cause pain and anguish? This is pretty brutal, is it spiritual apartheid?” God’s command to only date Christians is a command from His loving and generous and caring heart.
God knows that the deepest element in our soul is the spiritual element. God wants us to be able to share that which is most precious to us with our lifetime partner, with our spouse. If you marry someone and you are not on the same page spiritually, it will rip your heart apart. I have talked to thousands of people over the years, counseled hundreds of couples and conducted hundreds of weddings and I base the above statement on all that accumulated experience. You need to hook up with someone who holds the same spiritual core values as you. I am not talking about someone who goes by the label of “Christian,” I am talking about someone who has a dynamic personal relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. You have to set those values now. You have to say that you are only going to date those men or women who know Christ personally. You can fall in love with the wrong person. You can. Again, the stakes are sky high. View your values.
Also, take it slow. In other words, move off the Autobahn and drive in the school zone. I will go ahead and show you my hand. I just got back from Vegas, I will show you my hand. I think that the minimum period of time that you should date someone before you consider marriage is at least 12 months. I have said that many times before. Most of you have broken that rule. If you want to do that, it is your choice, but I will tell you, minimally 12 months.
You can say, “Give me a break! This is the 90s.” Let me tell you something. You have got to have enough time to see the person in a wide range of activities, in a wide range of emotions before you make this critical decision. Every month you wait is going to help, not hurt. Every month you wait is going to help, not hurt. It will either build more confidence in this person or the confidence will erode and you will say whoa. I am so glad that I didn’t walk down that wedding runner with that person. I talked to a young woman a couple of days ago who looked me in the eye and said, “Ed, I am thrilled that I did not marry _______. I would have married him had I not dated him a long time prior to the decision making time.” Take it slow. It will help, it will not hurt.
Another suggestion: celebrate your singleness. Far too many unmarrieds think about what they don’t have instead of what they have. 1 Corinthians 7:28, “But those who marry will face many troubles in this life.” Do you agree with that? If you are not shaking your head that means you are single. The Living Bible says that they will face many problems in this life. Celebrate your freedom. That is the first thing that the Bible tells you to do. 1 Corinthians 7:32, Paul speaking, “I would like you to be free from concern.”
1 Corinthians 7 is one of the most misunderstood and misquoted texts in the Bible. Most people think incorrectly that Paul was saying that it is best to be single and not married. Paul was not saying that. The context of the letter he wrote is simply this: the recipients of Paul’s words were dealing with a lot of tough stuff. They were dealing with drunkenness at the Communion Table, immorality and idol worship. Paul said that the last thing that they needed to worry about was getting married. Paul was saying, it is a time to chill. Back-burner the marriage thing for awhile, celebrate your freedom. As a single adult, you have more freedom than I, Ed Young, do. You have more time, more opportunity. Are you taking advantage of it? “Oh, I don’t have marriage. I don’t have this companion. I don’t have a boy and a girl. I don’t have someone I can play Barbies with and someone I can toss a football to.” Celebrate your freedom.
Also celebrate your attitude. Philippians 4:12, “Be content in every situation.” I have noticed one thing about single adults. If they think too much of themselves, if they become too meistic, they get self-absorbed and don’t get outside of themselves to help others. Are you other-centered or self-centered?
Also celebrate your ministry. Romans 14:19, “Concentrate on harmony and fellowship together.” My brother is 33 years of age and pastor of the largest singles ministry in the United States of America. We at the Fellowship of Las Colinas have one of the largest singles ministries around. I have noticed one thing about singles. The good thing about singles is that our church could not function without them. We have many singles who are so committed, who celebrate their ministry. We couldn’t do the weekend thing and the midweek thing and the small group thing without the involvement and the engagement of single adults. It is beautiful and I thank you. I love you. You mean so much to me and to our staff.
But, and here is the problem, singles know this dance called the church hop. And they cycle through this church and other churches and other ministries. They are driven by the hormone factor. They never plant their roots down. You see, the funny thing is, they don’t think the leaders in this church and others know about it. I know church leaders all across the Metroplex. We kind of laugh at the single adults who cycle in and out. They are kind of checking out the availability. “He is cute. She is neat” Singles, I think that it is wonderful to make yourself available. Go to Bible study, go to conferences, but make sure you find a local church you can plant your roots deep into and use your ministry. If it is this church, we would love to have you. We are partial. But there are many fantastic fellowships around the area. Don’t hop. Don’t shop around the clock. Get connected and get involved. You can do things for the ministry that I can never do just because of your time.
Also, singles, celebrate your relationships. There is a fantastic verse of scripture in Proverbs 18:24, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Do you realize that as a single adult you can have many more close friendships than I can have? I have two or three in my life. You can have 10. And that is something else. You can have a friendship with someone that can be deeper, the Bible says, than even a marriage. I am not talking about anything sexual. I am talking about a friendship, a David and Jonathan type situation.
So, singles, right now is the time to chill. God is going to lead most of you to get married. He will take care of you. Celebrate your singleness and let Him take care of the rest.