Tag Archive: dating


In the spirit of Valentine’s week we of course talked about love and dating that Emergency Ministries. While the younger students focused more on loving one another as Christ would have us love, we dove into relationships with the older students.

Inspired by a book written by Kris Vallotton entitled “Purity”, the main challenge of the night was this: anyone can get sometime expensive, but it takes sacrifice to get something valuable. To put it more poignantly, anyone can have sex, but it takes sacrifice (and many other things) to experience love and a healthy relationship.

Think of it this way: if I REALLY REALLY wanted an iPad, I could just save up and buy one. Now, I do really want an iPad…but just not bad enough to bump my other priorities. So, in essence, I am sacrificing my iPad to attain other things more valuable (like a new house for my growing familyJ).

When a sports team fights their way to the finale and eventually earn the title of champion it is not really the trophy that they are after, is it? I was informed this week by a student that the Vince Lombardi Trophy is actually made of platinum whereas the Stanley Cup is only made of silver; even still I doubt the excitement over the Super Bowl is all about platinum versus sterling silver. Instead, a sports team is fighting for the right to say that they had worked hard, achieved their best, beat their enemies and emerged on the top. That is valuable to them; and it took sacrifice to earn it.

Anyone can get something expensive, but it takes sacrifice to get something valuable.

I gave the students several challenges this Valentine’s week 2012. The first was that they would beat the odds of our culture and achieve relationships that last. I challenged them not to give into immediate satisfaction of their emotional desires but instead to sacrifice that in pursuit of ultimate love. I challenged them to define love less as a feeling in their stomach and more as a decision to make with their heads.

I reminded the students that everyone drops their trophy sometimes; everyone makes mistakes. It takes bravery to pick the trophy back up, dust it off, and carry on in the direction that God has intended for us. If it was easy everyone would do it…but because it takes sacrifice only the brave step up. In the end, however, it is worth it because….anyone can get something expensive, but it takes sacrifice to get something valuable.

 

Song of Songs 2:7 “…Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

 

So, here we are again with another segment of “what I meant to say”. I must say however that last night seemed to flow much better than last week; given the topics we talked about I am not sure why. Nevertheless, as I promised let me remind you of a few things we talked about.

Carrying on with theme of ‘almost sex’ practices that you ought to avoid if you do not intend to have a sexual encounter with your date (which I hope by now you are all thinking twice about), our next point is this:

4. The Great Depression (you think romance and sex are going to make you happy)

The truth is that a study of 8200 teens from across the US showed that those who are sexually active in with dates are actually more prone to be experiencing depression than those who were not dating and having sex (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 2000). Who would have guessed it? Sex and dating are not the keys to ultimate happiness!

When you get obsessed with romance it is likely because you are not taking enough time to cultivate other important relationships around you. These include relationships with your parents (I know they don’t make this easy for you all the timeJ), relationships with peers (i.e. the bromance), and relationships with other important family and/or role models in your life. When you are placing all of your emotional and mental need for love and acceptance into one relationship the results are going to be devastating: you are too invested and your life in unbalanced. You will end up giving more than you planned (i.e. having sex) or you will be completed crushed when the relationship ends and have no support system to help you through it. These are key times when teenagers begin to harm themselves or think of suicide.

So…..DON’T DO IT! Have many healthy relationships with many people so that your emotional and mental need for love is dispersed through a variety of healthy relationships. This will also help you keep proper boundaries in your dating relationships so that you don’t accidently give too much too fast.

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Here is some sound advice all summed up in one word: monogamy. Chose one person that is special to you and that you can commit to. Make that commitment to them and give your whole heart, soul, mind and body to them forever.

5. Self Service (you use masturbation and porn to help you keep ‘pure’)

Here is a doozy of a topic. When I asked you if you have talked with your parents about porn or masturbation in the past 3-6 months I was not shocked to find out that NONE of you had (well, expect two of you…and you know who you are). When I asked how many times you had talked to your friends about porn or masturbation in the past 3-6 months you also indicated that no one had. Thus, I can conclude this: your education about porn and masturbation is coming from popular media (i.e. TV, movies, music) which has no obligation to tell you the whole truth about the matter. This is why it is important for me to bring up this topic.

Porn does not keep you pure just because it satisfies your sexual drive without actually engaging in physical intercourse with another person. What porn does is fill your mind with unreasonable expectations of what sex will be like in the future, it gives you the unreasonable expectation that future relationships are all about fun and play and never about hard work and compromise. Basically, porn makes you believe that intimacy is easy and effortless; the reality of this is that intimacy between two people includes much more than sex and requires much more work than is portrayed. Oh, did I mention that porn compromises your mental and emotional purity?

Matthew 5:27-28
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”.

Contrary to what you may have been taught in school or what you hear from your friends, masturbation (while watching porn or not) does not provide you with consequence free sexual release. Relying on a regular diet of masturbation while you are a teenager will become a difficult habit to break once you are married. It will make it easy for you to become lazy and unwilling to work on intimacy and communication with your spouse because you can simply satisfy your needs anytime that you want to just as you have been doing. This leads to distant relationships that no one enjoys…and we wonder why divorce rates are up and why many more people are living in lifeless marriages.

Masturbation itself is not a sinful practice and my point is not to put guilt on teenagers. Having said that, if masturbation becomes a regular habitual practice in your life you are also opening yourself up to mental/emotional compromise (can you remain mentally pure every time you masturbate?).

6. No U-turns Allowed (you think you have gone so far…why not all the way)

If you have already gone all the way likely you have had difficulty sitting through these past two weeks at Emergency Ministries. Likely you feel one of the following emotions: guilt, anger, regret, confusion, frustration, depression, or adversity. Here is the deal: you can’t take it back and you can’t change it.

What is important to know is that it is never too late to change your pattern of behavior. No one has done everything right their whole life and the message of the church and of Jesus Christ is one of forgiveness and freedom from condemnation.

Romans 3:23 & 8:1
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

So, its time to fess up to God and then change your behavior. It is never too late to make a u-turn

Finally, surround yourself with good friends and people who you can talk openly and honestly with. We all need good positive friends that will pray for us when we need it, confront us when we go astray, and people that we can talk to when we have questions.

So, there you have it: date your mate, but don’t mate with your date. Enjoy friendships and the people around you. Go on group dates with people (when your parents allow you toJ). But make sure you keep proper boundaries up: don’t mate with your date.

This is likely the only place you are going to hear a message like this. Not many people in our pop culture live like this. Be brave and dare to do things differently!

Ok, so maybe everything did not come out the way I meant it last night at Emergency Ministries and maybe some of you walked away confused? I must say that keeping focus and speaking eloquently from 8:00-8:30 on a Wednesday evening is somewhat difficult when the whole day has crashed like a tsunami of things to do. That being said, I heard of a pastor once who wrote a Monday blog each week to tell his congregants “what he meant to say” the day before. So, here is my “TAKE 2” at what we discussed last night.

It’s a touchy topic to talk about the proper boundaries for a sexual relationship largely because our culture does not really use the word ‘sex’ and ‘boundaries’ in the same sentence. Ever. We tend to see sex as one of those things that is deeply personal (which it is) and therefore accessible when I would like and how I would like. I would like to hazard a guess that there is not a teenager alive who has not at one point in their life heard of the notion of waiting until they are married to have a sexual relationship. However, this notion seems to quickly slip through our minds as 50% of teenagers are sexually active prior to marriage and 34% of teenaged girls will have at least one pregnancy before their turn 20 years old (www.kff.org, publication #3040-02).

NOTE: My apologies for stating that 1/3 of you in the room would be pregnant by age 20…it was not meant to come out like that. What I meant to say was that statistics show that 1/3 of people your age would be pregnant by age 20. Sorry to those of you I offended.

I operated from the assumption that most of you have good motives when it comes to sex and you would want to spare yourself the medical issues associated with STDs, the physical issues associated with pregnancy during your teens, and the emotional issues associated with breaking up with your lover. So, for the rest of the evening I wanted to talk to you about staying away from the ‘almost sex’ areas of your dating relationships so that you do not one night accidentally find yourself slipping down the ski slope of sexual desire and crash landing at the bottom. 

Much of what I shared from this point on was drawn from Michael DiMarco’s book, Almost Sex: 9 Signs that you are about to go too far. Though written for guys I think this book has principles that we can all learn from. You can purchase your own copy or borrow it from the library if you want to read more deeply.

#1 Almost Abstinence

When we hear people talking about abstinence (avoiding sexual contact until marriage) or when we pledge abstinence ourselves we sometimes still flirt with the fringes of sex and engage in a whole number of activities I would call foreplay (things that naturally lead to sex). The key to is stay away from these things if you don’t want to end up having sex. These things include excessive handling/fondling of each other, excessive PDA (public displays of affection), sexting both words and pictures, and sleeping overnight together.

What I did NOT say last night was that you cannot hold hands or that kissing is disgusting and has no place in a dating relationship. However, if I walk around the corner at school (or youth) and find your tongues tied together or your tongue is roaming all over someone else’s face….THAT is what needs to stop! Not only do we not want to see it, what are you doing when no one is around if this is what you are doing when people can see?

#2 Professional Wrestling

What I did NOT say was that ‘professional wrestling’ was somehow bad or that if you were on a wrestling team you were being sexually inappropriate with other people. I took this term from Michael DiMarco as a cute way of talking about how touchy teenaged guys and girls can be. You know what I mean…the ‘post exam massage’ just because you were so stressed, the tickle fight where you end up rolling around the floor, the afternoon ‘spooning’ nap…need I go on? I did NOT say that you need to live in a bubble and be void of all physical contact with other people but there is some contact that is a RED FLAG and you need to back off if you value not sliding down the hill of sexual contact.

#3 Mr. & Mrs. Needy

What I did NOT intend to do was a commercial for Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman’s movie “No Strings Attached” or for Justin Timberlake’s forthcoming movie “Friends with Benefits”. Yes, I know that Timberlake is dreamy and Kutcher is a heartthrob. What I meant to point out was this: both of these movies portray sex as a NEED that MUST be MET once you become sexually mature. The whole idea of friends with benefits suggests that this is a way to meet the NEED of sex without the commitment of a relationship. But guess what: sex is not a basic human NEED. It is a normal desire that must be controlled or else it will control you. If you watch either of these movies please do it from the standpoint of see just how ridiculous the whole idea of ‘friends with benefits’ really is.

Consider these passages from the Bible that I shared last night:

1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.

Ephesians 5:3
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

Proverbs 6:25-29
Don’t lustfully fantasize on her beauty,
nor be taken in by her bedroom eyes.
You can buy an hour with a [prostitute] for a loaf of bread,
but [an immoral] woman may well eat you alive.
Can you build a fire in your lap
and not burn your pants?
Can you walk barefoot on hot coals
and not get blisters?
It’s the same when you have sex with your neighbor’s wife:
Touch her and you’ll pay for it. No excuses.

So teenagers, someday you are going to be someone’s husband and chances are that girl you are with is going to be someone else’s wife. Same for you girls; chances are that guy is going to be someone else’s husband and you are going to be someone else’s wife. Think about that.

There we have it: TAKE 2. Did it make any more sense this time around? I hope so. Just wait until next week at Emergency Ministries…I foresee another blog posting coming.