07 September 2007

Dating: when words and choices clash

by Dan Phillips

[This is yet another one of my occasional serieses. In this, I write for our readers who are yoots, for their own benefit; or for parents, to share with their yoots. It'll also work for pastors, especially yoot pastors. Previous examples include A word to Christian yoots, and Why God gave you parents, etc.]

Coarse but pointed joke-that-you've-all-heard-anyway alert in 3... 2... 1....
So this iconic guy's talking with an iconic girl, and asks whether she'd be willing to engage in carnal acts for $1 million.

She considers, shrugs, says, "For a million dollars? I guess."

"Would you do it for $5?" he follows up.

She is shocked, and deeply offended. "What do you think I am?" she rages.

His classic retort: "Oh, we've already established what you are. Now we're haggling about price."
And now, a moment's pause while Pyro readers wonder where this could possibly be going. Play the overture from Handel's Messiah in your head. Daaaa.... da-daaaa....

Now, why is that joke funny to most folks? It's funny because of the surprising clash. In the punch-line, the woman is deeply offended, because she wants to say that her virtue is precious, and he's cheapening it with his $5 suggestion. But the man counters that he already knows her virtue not to be beyond price to her. She can be bought. What she says now is one thing; what she has already said, another.

So you, unmarried Christian reader, start dating an unbeliever. What are you saying?

"What?!" you splutter. "We haven't had sex!"

This isn't about sex. I'm asking what you're saying, what message your choice is communicating.

To whatever degree you're concerned at all about this person's soul, you're trying to tell her/him about Christ, right? You're trying to tell this person that Christ is the One in whom all things hold together (Colossians 1:17), the source and reason for all the universe (Colossians 1:16), the most important celebrity anywhere, ever (Philippians 2:9-11). You want to persuade him that Christ is Lord of all. And you want him/her to believe that Jesus is all these things, and that He is all these things to you.

But you've already told him that Christ isn't all that. You're just haggling over price.

(Or am I assuming too much? Are there some who are not even concerned whether the people they date are or are not saved? In such cases, the kindest I can say is that such are clueless, loveless, and faithless, and they really need to reconsider the big question, for themselves.)

Let me approach the issue another way.

Would you date a child molestor? Oh, of course not. Instant deal-killer. Thief, murderer? No and no. Rapist? Never. Those are really bad things.

But not as bad as being an enemy of God (Proverbs 15:9; Ephesians 2:3)? I think we have some seriously skewed priorities.

See, if you are in a dating relationship with someone who doesn't love Christ, you've already said the Christ-issue isn't the issue to you. Her looks, his job, the way she treats you, his sense of humor — whatever; these things matter more to you than Christ does.

You want this person to believe that he is a sinner, under God's wrath, and deserving His judgment. You want him to know that his righteous deeds are as filthy rags, that everything he can produce is not enough for God.

But you've already communicated, by your choice, that what he has is enough for you. That you and he share enough values, goals, aspirations, and affections to create (or even consider) an exclusive and intimate relationship.

See? You've already dealt a death-blow to your own credibility. You really might as well stop talking. Your priorities, your choices, have drowned out your words (cf. the principle of Titus 1:16).

I would think this would be clear-cut to any Biblically-instructed Christian, and am constantly surprised to find that it apparently isn't. But let's extend it a bit.

If someone can credibly check the "Christian"-box, are you all-done? All that remains is attractiveness and basic compatibility, then go buy the dress and rent the tux, chapel, preacherguy?

Well, yes and no. As far as a moral issue, yes. Since the Bible doesn't teach a third "will" of God, by which we (for instance) must discern mystically and ookily what one girl/guy in all the world is The Chosen One for us, basically we may morally marry any (A) available and (B) willing (C) Christian (D) of the opposite sex (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:39). (Sad I have to add all those qualifiers, but here we are.)

But what of wisdom? I heard somewhere it was the principle thing (Proverbs 4:7, CSB).

Here is where churches often depress me. I know of a ladies' group that considered studying The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace. The idea was rejected, because they didn't want single women to "feel excluded."

My wife and I both thought, "Huh? They're exactly who should be studying this!" The single man/woman is exactly the person who should be looking long and hard at all that marriage entails, before making that next-to-unconditional commitment.

Consider this illustration:

What would you think of a man who spends his free time going from car dealer to car dealer, checking out luxury cars that he will never buy?

He takes them out on a long "test" drive. He floors the accelerator, he jams down the brakes. He swerves around sharp turns, cranks the stereo, kicks the tires, slams the doors, asks question after question about the engine, the wiring, the electronics. He talks to the mechanic. He makes the salesman invest much of his day, and then goes through the whole process of credit checks and dickering about price and bargaining...

...then airily says "Wow, that was fun! Thanks!"

And leaves.

Next day: rinse, and repeat. Another dealer, another car. Another hapless sales staff.

What would you think of a guy like that? Selfish lout, right? Cruel? Jerk? Immature, thoughtless, loveless, graceless, without compassion? World revolves around him? Other people are his toys?

I totally agree.

So what of the person who's dating someone (s)he knows (s)he has no business considering as a spouse?

Brother, you know Ephesians 5:25-33, 1 Peter 3:7, all that? You know that God will call you to love, cherish, serve, protect, and lead your wife. You know you will need to provide for her, honor her exclusively from your heart, and with your body. You will be obliged to lead her in holiness, guard her, lay down your very life for her. You know that a bad choice will have very rough consequences (Proverbs 12:4b; 21:9; 25:24; 27:15-16).

But what if the girl you're dating is vastly more mature than you, or vastly less? What if she is disrespectful, rebellious, and sees no need of a leader? What if she particularly does not respect you, is constantly correcting and bossing you? What if you absolutely dread the very thought of having to cross her will, to any degree? What if disagreements become arguments, and go on and on? How could you put on her a yoke she so obviously is not ready to take? How could you subject your future children to such a household?

What, you never thought of that? Then what have you been thinking about?

Sister, stop nodding for a second. What of you? You know Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Peter 3:1-7, and all that? You know, do you, that God calls you to respect your husband from your very heart, in the way you think and act? You know that, under God, your husband will be the human authority in your life? That you will be obliged before God to love him, respect him, subordinate yourself to him? That you will be his helper, called to aid him in fulfilling what God has called him to?

So what if the man you're dating does not have what it takes to lead you? What if you find yourself constantly telling him what to do? What if he knows God less well than you, because he knows the Bible less than you? What if he is not prepared to lead you on, because he hasn't even caught up with you yet? What if your spirit is independent, and the thought of subordinating yourself to this man is either unthinkable (because he is so unready), or barely tolerable (because he is so passive and pliable)?

In either case, how can you be so cruel as to lead this woman or man on, letting him or her give this portion of his life to you in exclusion to others, when you know you have no business considering a future with him or her?

Is that loving (Matthew 7:12)?

"But he's started reading his Bible now!" "She's started going to Bible Study!" Great. But know this: what is most telling about another person is what he or she is before taking any interest in you. That indicates her or his heart.

If deathbed conversions are "iffy," dating conversions are doubly so.

This long post could be even longer, but I'll (almost) close with a few summary questions.

Would you consider marrying someone who never, ever washed his body? Yuck! No way, right? What if (s)he never, ever had his heart and conscience washed (Hebrews 9:14; 10:22)? Evidently yes? Hmm.

Would you consider marrying someone who never listened to a word you said? No way. What if (s)he never listened to a word God said (Proverbs 28:4, 9; Romans 10:17)? Evidently yes?

Would you let someone drive who didn't care much for traffic laws or signs? Not likely. But you'd consider marrying a man who has no Christian walk, or had none before he got interested in you? Or a woman who hasn't yet taken to heart what God says about her and her role?

And in neither case, if you'd not consider marrying, why date? Just a harmless test-drive?

REAL-LIVE FINAL THOUGHT: I know exactly what some readers will think. They will think, "Well, my (friend/relative) married an unbeliever, and later the Lord saved him, and that worked out great! So I'm just trusting God to save/mature/sanctify my unsaved/immature/rebellious little dew-drop!"

To that, two responses:

First, so if someone sins or does something stupid, and it works out all right, you should do the same? Dude. Seriously. Grow up.

Second, as long as we're trading stories, I've heard stories about people who've pointed guns straight at other people and pulled the trigger, and the gun jammed. Neat, huh? So if God wants someone to live, he can jam a gun, right?

And if you loaded a pistol and went out to see who God wants to live, and who He wants to die... would that be a good thing?

Or stupid, bad, reckless, insane, and sinful?

Kid, life's not a game. For every reason in this world and the next, wise up.

Dan Phillips's signature

73 comments:

DJP said...

I know, I know.

Longest. Post. Ever.

Dave said...

as a quasi-yoot who leads a Sunday Bible study of collegiate and post-collegiate yoots, thanks for this. I already know of one person I will be forwarding this link to.

David said...

Great Post. Completely Agree with every aspect.

As a side note, our problem (wife and myself) in talking about this issue with our kids, is I was one of those people who got saved after my wife (then a christian)had gotten engaged (When your 19 your really not very smart)((some may say I still have that issue))

Daughter says - Mom, if it worked for you, it will work for me.
Mom says - you think were stupid in everything else, why do you think we were right on this issue?

Been there, done that - Dan is completly correct and don't ever stop talking to your kids about it.

DJP said...

Mom's pretty funny, David. (c:

Try the jammed-gun analogy.

And maybe ask, "So do you think David taught his sons, 'I committed adultery, had a guy killed, shamed the name of God forever — and I got forgiven, had Solomon, and maybe even Messiah will come from that line someday! So don't worry too much about what you do!'?"

I don't think so. That God can bring good out of sin says great things about Him.

It doesn't say great things about sin.

david rudd said...

hammer - nail - head

when is the follow up?

So what of the person who's dating someone (s)he knows (s)he has no business considering as a spouse?

the sad thing is that so many people start out saying "This isn't someone I'd marry, it's just fun"...

2 kids later, ring or no ring...

Sewing said...

Thoroughly reading all the prooftexts—plus all linked posts with their comments—would take a few hours, but from what I've already glanced over of your earlier stuff, it would be a few hours very profitably spent.

Even So... said...

Providentially perfect timing...

Dan, I am taking 14 youth on an excursion (mostly pleasure, fun, fellowship, etc.) today, and I was just about to leave, and then I decided to read this...

Now I have written similar things but this one is truly excellent, and again, perfect timing...

The trip we are going on takes 2 hours to get there, and we are travelling together, so my kids will all be reading this on the way...

I'll tell them my friend from California wrote it...

Thanks friend...brother...fruitful witness...

Stan said...

Oh, sure, it's easy for me as a married man to agree with all of this stuff. After all, it's biblical. But do you really expect my unmarried friends to appreciate it when I forward it to them? I mean, they didn't like it when I said it. Maybe they'll like it better coming from you? Sigh. But, I guess that's what love does -- it speaks even the hard truths.

Phil Johnson said...

Good stuff. You should send this to a Christian publisher with a book proposal. I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find a publisher willing to pursue it.

Mike Riccardi said...

Forwarded this to three people before I could even read the comments! One of them was our church's Senior High youth leader, so hopefully it'll go out to even more.

Thanks Dan. This was great.

DJP said...

(I've been holding off commenting because I made a secular predication to P and F about the first ten comments. I was wrong. Whew! Glad I don't claim to be a prophet! There'd be rocks in my near-future!)

At first, I thought we might have an all-Dave comment thread. Or all-D.

Rudd, that comment is the single-person's equivalent of the married fool's "It doesn't hurt to look."

Stan, I know what you mean. One person Proverbs keeps reaching out to, again and again, is the peti, the naive young person. As my pastor says (in turn quoting another pastor), experience may be the best teacher, but the tuition is mighty high. Young folks are fools if they don't listen to our experience. It is far from inerrant, but it's something.

Even So, that sort of comment is one of the main things that keep me doing this with joy and hope. God is good.

Phil, that is so kind of you. Know anyone? (c;

Mike, that is PRECISELY one of the things I hope is done with this. Thanks. Let me know of any feedback, would you?

Kim said...

My dear, darling hubby began to pursue me (or, was it allow me to pursue him? don't remember) I was not saved.

His mother was quite (and rightly so) upset. I became saved about six months after we started dating. He was lucky. It doesn't always work out that way.

Our kids like to point that out to us, that I was not saved, and they think that just because it worked out for us, it would for them.

I have a sneaking suspicion that had I not become saved, over time, my dear Buggy's fascination would have waned.

I also got drunk in highschool, but I'm not recommending that to them.

DJP said...

Again, jamming guns, and David.

Plus perhaps, "Do you think I tell you about my past sins so you can admire and emulate them? You are not listening! Should we go around crucifying innocent men because it worked out so well for us that one time? Grow up!"

Not, you understand, that I have strong thoughts on that subject.

Janet said...

Thank you brother! I'll print this one for my 15 yo girl and 14 yo boy! Very good, Godly, and wise council!

Garet Pahl said...

Spot on Dan, I'll be forwarding this to many of my friend's in yoot ministry. (btw, the term yoot betrays what you're tuned into 9-12pst):-). I agree with Phil that this would be an excellent book. Let me know if you need any anecdotal true stories to bolster your points- I have gobs.

I've known so many women disastrously hurt my "missionary dating". "He's a nice guy" they say, "I'm just trying to influence him to go to church and love Jesus." I get pretty riled up when I hear that nonsense. God may weave our stupidity and poor choices sovereignly into his plans for good, but I can't find seem to find a proof text to confirm it's a viable alternative to obedience and righteousness. I also point out God's sovereign role in salvation, stating that if God wants to save Joe Sixpack here, he can do it without you compromising your standards. Of course, that isn't very incarnational.

Garet Pahl said...

Let me amend a phrase in my penultimate sentence.

"he can do it without you compromising his standards."

ezekiel said...

The only thing I would add if you get to the book stage...

Just because you meet them in church and they are a member of said church, don't make them saved. Better examine that fruit real close before buying.

Returning that fruit to the store is just not an option when the fruit that she bears turns out to be the sweetest most precious thing closest to your heart. Kids that is...

That is when "testing" and "refiner's fire" takes on a whole new meaning.

I am sure you can find a better way to say it.

DJP said...

I don't know, Ezekiel; you said it pretty well.

david rudd said...

"It doesn't hurt to look."

i once worked with a guy who counselled wives to not get so upset about their husband's "roving eyes"...

i don't work with him anymore.

agonizomai said...

Phil: I'd be very surprised if you couldn't find a publisher willing to pursue it.

It's good enough and and true enough and and uncompromising enough that I wouldn't be surprised in these days if Dan couldn't find a Christian publisher willing to pursue it.

I'm not even sure if that wasn't really your point in the first place. Dry humour?

Brilliant, Dan.

centuri0n said...

Phil:

It's cruel to bait Dan like that.

[...as I finish a draft proposal and send it off to Crossway...]

DJP said...

Okay, I'll be afk for much of the rest of the day.

You kids behave.

("Behave well," I always have to clarify for my own.)

centuri0n said...

On the road to 1000:

I think you're all hypocrites for saying nobody after you is allowed to have a sinful, shameful past.

Let's see if that sets off any fireworks ...

Daryl said...

Can't think of anyone who doesn't have a sinful, shameful past...or present.

can you?

Daniel said...

Every now and again, a post comes along that will actually be used in ministry somewhere, and by many.

Great job Dan.

bi0dr0ne said...

I agree with what you said here, but i wanted to add a caution: Just because you marry someone who is a committed christian doesn't guarantee your marriage will go well. Actually there's no guarantee that your spouse will stay faithful to God and you may end up with an unbelieving wife or husband with all of the difficulties that it entails. A person in that position may take a different opinion of dating no-christians. But I hope thats a minority of cases, and shouldn't be an excuse for dating or marrying a non-christian.

MarieP said...

Amen Dan! And ezekiel's comments were excellent as well.

About that book...

For a title, may I suggest "I Kissed Missionary Dating Goodbye"

jbuck21 said...

Spot-on.

The real kicker is the "If you REALLY loved him/her, your FIRST concern would be their soul, not a relationship."

The fact that so many will not listen is a clear indication of the power of the culture in the minds of our kids. Scary to think that the 'young Christian mind' is mostly controlled by the Ted Turner's and Dave Matthew's of the world.

Scarier though, is the Christian parent who thinks it's AOK to missionary date. Yikes.

Makes me wanna go to heaven - quick.

Tim Bertolet said...

Great post, I've already past in along to my youth leader.

How about this for a title: "Janie's Got a Gun: When Christians date non-Christians"

Great analogy by the way. Keep up the good posts.

Kristina said...

Excellent post.

David said...

Be careful when telling yoots to "examine the fruit".

ezekiel said...

biOderOne,

That would be found here:

1 Cor 7:28But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.

david,

Come to think of it....thats where all the trouble started....

Note to self....NEXT TIME focus on examining the right fruit!

Phil Johnson said...

See, I think the best book idea using this material would be a series of articles like this based on various tidbits of wisdom from the Proverbs. Not an entire book on the missionary dating issue (though MarieP's title is a real winner), but a book of basic wisdom for yoots.

I'd buy them as gifts for yoots entering (or dropping out of) high school.

Helen said...

This post makes a lot of sense to me. (please don't retract it because of that :))

Of course some people end up dating, getting serious and then rationalizing "it would be ok to get married".

What they never think about is the day their spouse says "NO you can't take MY children to YOUR church - are you crazy?"

It's one thing to think "I can take care of my faith no matter who I'm married to" but it's quite another to find out that the other parent of your children doesn't want you actively share your faith with your children.

(Not that that ever happened to me - I've just read about the anguish of parents whose spouse has different ideas from them about whether their children are raised in church, hearing the gospel, or not)

wifey said...

Thank you for this wisdom. Oh how I pray youth leaders would preach this. In my youth group, the message was, "Don't date non-Christians and don't have sex." It's true, but how's that for helpful advice? Oh the church most return to preaching the whole counsel of God and providing biblical counsel.

I was one of those women who unfortunately, but unintentionally dated men I thought were Christians because they went to church. My husband was one of those men. A few years ago God gloriously saved him (It was news to me, I thought he was!) and has given me the marriage I've always dreamed of, but how it did hurt to get here!

I so am grateful to God for replacing erroneous teaching with expostional preaching and the doctrines of grace. It has radically transformed our lives and our marriage.

I appreciate all the pyros for boldly proclaiming Truth!

wifey said...

"I was one of those women who unfortunately, but unintentionally dated men I thought were Christians because they went to church."

I meant that I didn't possess discernment to know that probably most of men I dated weren't Christians even though they went to church. I really thought they were okay because they could "check the box." I didn't realize the prevalence of false converstions. Oftentimes, examining the fruit following conversion takes more effort than just cursory glance.

carolczech said...

Isn't the whole premise of dating, whether "missionary" or two Christians - unless in the context of heading toward marriage - wrong to begin with? If you are going into a relationship knowing that it will NOT end in marriage, you are going into it knowing one or both people are going to be hurt when it ends. Should any Christian enter such a relationship? Is it....sin....to hurt someone in a premeditated way? Seems hard to defend.

John Haller said...

I agree with Phil. This needs to be published.

My wife helps lead our women's ministry. I'm forwarding this on to her.

Sadly, one of the ladies in my flock asked me to pray for her daughter's upcoming wedding to a non-Christian (but he's a really good guy). I told her I would rather spend my time physically stopping the thing and I would not pray for something that was clearly prohibited in scripture. She said it work out. Now I see her daughter coming to church, just herand the children, every Sunday, very faithfully, and it's really heartbreaking.

Mike Riccardi said...

John,

Maybe you or your wife should go to her to confront that issue, before it becomes too late (I'm assuming she's not married yet). If she is married, maybe one of you should go to her anyway to try to 'put sense into' her (noutheteo, 1Th 5:14) about that relationship.

The potential misery is heartbreaking and the potential victory is glorious.

Johnny Dialectic said...

A well placed article reaches more people than 90% of the books out there. Expect to sell 8k - 10k of a first book. Thus, you might consider starting with articles, Dan.

étrangère said...

It's what I was telling some female Christian students just yesterday. They were concerned about friends going out with non-Christians. One said her friend was justifying it by saying she spoke of Jesus to him the whole time. My points were two-fold:
1 - my principle concern is not that they're going out with non-Christians. That is the symptom. They think, "I won't drift: I'm strong in my faith." But that's not the ultimate concern (though it probably will happen): that's the symptom. The principle concern is that they are treasuring being in a relationship, or this relationship, or this man, more than they treasure Christ. That is my main concern - so I'll tackle that in talking with them, studying the Bible with them. The problem is idolatry: putting a right desire (that for relationship, marriage, etc) in the controlling place of the heart, where only Christ should reign. To merely say, "But you shouldn't go out with a non-Christian: you'll drift" falls far short of addressing the problem.

The 2nd thing I said was that it doesn't matter tuppence if the girl goes on to him incessantly about Christ: what she is saying with her life is that he / the relationship is more important than Christ. He doesn't hear "Jesus is Lord" but "You are Lord - and Jesus is a nice optional extra."

Encouragingly, one student told of a friend who had persistantly refused the attentions of a man who wasn't a Christian, telling him why. He then did become a Christian, quite genuinely, and they're now married: her witness played a major part.

It's encouraging to come back from chatting with these students to find you saying similar things to young people 'out there'.

It's all an idolatry issue: they think the ultimate aim is a nice, middle-class marriage. Not realising the ultimate aim is the glory of Christ. Perhaps, Dan, you could write a follow-up article for Christian parents & couples, on how to model & teach young people that the latter is the case, not the former. When culture is saying the opposite, the message needs to come clearly by example in the church, and I'm not sure it does...

candyinsierras said...

Dan. If you throw in some stuff about cessationism, you won't have to waste the great title you came up with in a previous post. You know, the "I Kissed Tongues Goodbye". title.

I would love to give this post to my daughter.

SolaMeanie said...

Amen to the kudos, Dan. Great post.

Although my own ministry seldom crosses into the youth area, I have had to confront this issue occasionally. How many kids have had the example in their family histories of one parent not being saved when they began dating their future wife/husband. The unsaved one eventually came to faith in Christ, but later on the kids (when cautioned against getting involved with unbelievers) invariably point to their parents' example as an excuse to date the unbeliever in whom they are interested. What ought to be an exception becomes the template in these kids' minds. I see it pretty frequently and it's troubling.

John Haller said...

Mike:

Too late. Our advice and counsel was rejected. They got married and now have children. She's active in the church, but she's always there sans husband.

That's what is so heartbreaking. I just know there is trouble ahead.

My sister did the same thing and she knew better. It was a train wreck.

Gnosis said...

I think there's a lot of different issues here that are being dealt with all at once. Sure, the issue of leadership and submission in the family is an important one that needs to be considered when entering into marriage, but I think that perhaps your original point gets lost a bit in the ensuing development. At least one person I forwarded this to got lost in the latter points, though I think if they had been able to read the first bit on its own, they might have been more receptive to it. Just a thought in case you do plan to develop this into a book or an article series.

ddd said...

Thanks for the excellent article.

DJP said...

May be true, Gnosis. I have once or twice gotten the criticism that I try to say everything that can be said, in each sermon.

But what does my wife know?

(c;

Angus said...

Brilliant - simply brilliant...

nope said...

You made an excellent point with your post, but I have to admit, I wish you had chosen a different example to open up with. Crude joke and one that lets the 'john' off the hook. Isn't the whoremonger just as bad as the whore?

With that out of the way, I too have seen people dating others who were for one reason or another, out of their league. We're not to be unequally yoked, and that doesn't just mean Believers/unbelievers. It also means same strength, same morals, same goals and same love. Compromise is the enemy of the Christian and I find the biggest temptations to Believers isn't compromising with the world but compromising with each other for own selfish reasons.

Okay, back to lurking for me.

opinion-minion said...

Missionary dating=stupid.

Missionary dating=stupidstupidstupid

I love the point about how you're already showing your true priorities when you're dating that person. I've seen how hard it is for someone to give up the idea of romance because someone is of another faith. Their integrity amazed me.

I disagree with the idea that men have to exclusively watch out for bossy girls and women have to look out for passive men, because it'll be hard for a man to direct a bossy woman, for a woman to follow a passive man, blah blah. Historically, women need to watch out for domineering men, because those men kill/beat/hurt women. Men are hurt by passive wives who simply want to 'follow' his leadership, and put 2 tons of pressure on Dad to be Mr. Perfect Christian Head of His Household.


If you're a guy that wants to have veto vote in your marriage, I agree, don't marry someone who is strong willed, it won't work. If you're a woman that wants a strong leader, avoid guys that can't even decide where to go for lunch.

I, personally, would be slightly repulsed by the idea that the guy dating me was checking me out to see if I would be nice and submissive and a good follower. One, I would score lousy (argumentative pighead personality) and two, I would never marry someone like that.

Anyway, I almost hate to post the comment, simply because I read teampyro every day, and find it to be 99.9% great (there's not a lot of reformers out my way, and I need the support!) Here's hoping that I managed to knitpick with some decorum,

opinion-minion

Lon W. said...

I've preached forcefully on this topic before. What a great illustration and post. Thanks!

DJP said...

opinion-minion, I do hope you're "up-front" with any Christian men who think about dating you, that these Biblical categories are really upsetting to you.

sheshe said...

Are you going to stop here? Would appreciate you writing more on the subject! Out of 11 kids, our eldest daughter is married to a wonderful and godly young man, but we have nine teens and an 11 year old that we are still working on at home. Keep this good stuff coming!

RazorBlog said...

Bro, you are RIGHT on the money with this one. Show of hands who have 'scars' for being wrong on this....

Thomas said...

Thanks Dan. That was thought provoking and (dare i say it) "relevant".

I started "dating" a girl who got converted around the same time we first met (i might have influenced that a little) - we went out about 7 months into her new life.

Now, she has grown much and we seriously consider marriage.

The question i have now has got to do with the obvious "unequal yoke". I have been wondering whether i made a mistake by not aiming spiritually high and sort of doing the dude checking out cars thing, hoping it might come off well.

A friend of mine told me this once "aim spiritually high" (by then i was already in the relationship and committed).

So, the question is really: what do you do with people that are still growing (fully knowing that you yourself had to grow). The fruit of the spirit check yields, in young Christians, initially small results. Is it a good/bad idea (if you like a person) to go with them and hope they catch up with you (i.e. trust that god will grow them even above where you are?)

I kinda know what you will say, but i'll take the chance...

Again, thanks for the post. And ditto on the book ... i would really buy it!

(if i didn't follow up on your avatar i could have sworn you are holding a pool stick in your hand)

DJP said...

"Pool stick" -- thanks for the first chuckle of the day.

Well, growth is a very relative idea, isn't it? By the very nature of the word?

A person who's just been converted, is learning his/her Bible, growing in faith and obedience, praying — though (s)he's just a week old in the Lord, (s)he's just where (s)he ought to be, right?

So, in the first place, I'm talking about (A) non-believers, or (B) guys who have been Christians, professedly, for some time, but have grown very little through laziness or what-have-you, or equally (C) girls who are repelled and offended by what God calls them to be... situations like that.

The more I think, the longer this comment could get. It mightn't be a terrible mis-match for a guy to marry a less-mature, but where-she-ought-to-be lady, if her heart is where the Lord wants it to be. He's to lead her and guide her in maturity, anyway.

But for a sister to marry an immature brother? Have to wonder whether she has any clue what she actually needs, and what God is calling her to, in marriage.

Overall, marriage is very demanding. I wouldn't really advise any couple to marry, unless both have put in some serious miles with the Lord, and know how to humble themselves, repent, and grow in obedient faith. Because marriage will call on those qualities, a lot.

Thomas said...

"thanks for the first chuckle of the day" - always ...

Thanks for the clarification and pointing out the obvious (submission issues).

keep it coming. write the book and let us know when Phil has found you a publisher.

Even So... said...

Update from my 7:24 AM, September 07, 2007 comment:

We read the post, handed out copies to all the yoots and leaders, then asked them to discuss it...excellent conversation, confession, conviction, and prayer, etc., ensued.

Gave copy to my wife, her office buddy read it and wanted a copy, and made a copy for another lady at the office...

Gave copies to parent's of the yoots, they responded positively, to say the least, and it brought much Q&A and personal anecdotes, etc., as it did with the yoots...

The yoot leaders used it to teach the rest of the yoots in Sunday school...again, more conviction, confession, etc...

More ripples are bound to come, as we are spreading this to another 2 church yoot groups...

They all reminded me of what I had been saying for some time now: he's gotta love Jesus before he loves you...

DJP said...

That is really wonderfully encouraging. Praise God. Thanks, J.D.

Sewing said...

Re Even So's story: How providential!

I gave Phil's series on Elijah to someone who was doing a "guest sermon" on Elijah at another church, but he'd already prepared his notes. As it happens, they asked him soon after to shorten the sermon significantly, so he had to rewrite the entire thing, and was able to draw on some of Phil's material after all.

Kristine said...

This was great. I mean, really great. I'm going to be spending an entire school year in front of a class of young women, at the church, preparing to enter into high school; this is an issue that will be addressed multiple times by me.

I'm planning on printing this out and making notes of my own for them.

Your analogies were awesome.

Thank you!!

gitanita said...

So when a person can put a checkmark in the "Christian" box that means they're all set? Just because they've said one particular prayer or agreed to predetermined dogma? What of the fact that none of us have arrived -- that we are all still BECOMING Christians?!

I'm not an advocate of any marriage which pairs two people of different beliefs/convictions, simply for the fact that it requires that one (or both people) compromise in order to remain in such a relationship without causing serious friction. The problem is, this compromising causes friction within oneself which, I believe, leads to disappointment in oneself and resentment of the other.

I think two people create a really nice but impossible illusion when they tell themselves that differences in beliefs are surmountable if they share enough common ground in other areas of life. However, I also think it is narrow-minded and self-deceiving to imply that just because two people are "Christians" (having arrived at that classification by means as various as the people themselves, from praying a prayer to just attending church, or even just having grown up in a "good" family) they are well-suited to be together and have the approval of the church at large. That would be missing the point. Those of you who spoke of the FRUIT one bears are hitting the matter at its very core.

dmkaye said...

Thanks Dan. TK and I are planning on starting a discussion with our kids, using this article as a beginning. DMK

DJP said...

Thank you, dmkaye, and glory to God. It's feedback like yours, and others', that keep me sowing the Word with hope, in these posts.

Tim said...

Hi Dan,

A person who's just been converted, is learning his/her Bible, growing in faith and obedience, praying — though (s)he's just a week old in the Lord, (s)he's just where (s)he ought to be, right?

I was just wondering...Should I be lamenting the eclipse of the masculine pronoun? ;)

DJP said...

You would have cause to do that if I ever used "they/them" with a singular verb.

In that case, you could also get a sympathy card for my wife.

Me. said...

I agree wholeheartedly with this post, but a passage of Scripture pops out at me, and I would like to hear someone with a good knowledge of the exegesis of this section to explain it:

1 Corinthians 7:12-16

They are not justified through their spouse, but are sanctified...but why are they yoked in this way with an unbeliever? Is this a corrective verse? Please help! :-)

Tim said...

Mr. Me,

Two things about that.

1.) Why are they unequally yoked? Either because the believing spouse converted after they were married, or because the believing spouse did the dumb/sinful thing and married an unbeliever.

2.) I'm not sure anyone knows precisely what it means that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified through the believing spouse. Keep in mind that "sanctified" doesn't have to be a technical term for the "being saved" aspect of being conformed to the image of Christ. (Even Paul uses it differently in 1 Cor 6:11, as a past event instead of an on-going process.) In this case it may mean something like, the unbelieving spouse is living with a witness to Christ 24/7. Or he/she may receive some of the kingdom blessings of Christ's rule through that connection to the body of Christ.

Me. said...

I'll have to let my wife know that she is dumb...she already knows she's sinful :-P

Thanks for the comment, when I get some time, I'll sit down and try to exegise that bad boy.

Keep up the good work, you guys have a great blog here.

--Jason Long
http://aletheuo.blogspot.com

Stan said...

So, Tim, (or anyone else who can offer an answer) ...

"or because the believing spouse did the dumb/sinful thing and married an unbeliever."

So, which is it? Dumb or sinful? And, of course, why?

DJP said...

Both. See the post.

Tim said...

Mr. Me,

Well, I'm glad to hear it worked out for you and your wife! (You implied that you have since become a believer.) It's always great when God saves us from our mistakes. :)

Joshua said...

Great post. Am I right that this is a common problem? But as I think through my friends, I hardly know anyone who has married a lost person. So I'm wondering why. And I think it's because (1) I and my friends went to a Christian school (then Christian college) and hung out with mainly Christian people; (2) I and my friends were in strong Christian families with enforced rules and good role models; (3) I and my friends were in churches that encouraged us not to be like the world (i.e., churches that were rigid, legalistic, yada yada yada -- you know, the kind of churches that don't understand grace and small swimsuits and alcohol consumption and dancing).

Now, I know that this environment kept us from being "salt and light" in public schools and at nightclubs. But -- before anyone makes the salt and light argument, consider this -- parents shouldn't expect kids who are still in spiritual / physical / emotional / intellectual formation to do battle in a hostile environment that's trying to shape young minds.

So what I'm saying is that maybe mixed marriages are SOMETIMES the result of a parenting philosophy that immerses kids in environments where most of the people the kids are friends with or even know are lost.