This one’s mainly for the teens and young adults, but maybe for some of the older single adults as well…you never know. This world can be a lousy place to live. It can be especially lousy to live life without that special someone in your life. You sit on a hillside over looking the city below as fireworks light up the Fourth of July night sky. The crowd oooohs and aaaaahs over the phenomenal display of pyrotechnic pageantry. You well up inside with so much emotion that you are about to burst. You turn to your special someone and…UGH!!! You don’t have a special someone in your life. That fantasy I just described has come to an all too familiar screeching halt. You’re alone and
you don’t like it.
So what do you do? Well, if you’re a well meaning Christian you’ll pray to God to send you someone and then look at EVERY member of the opposite gender around you as THE ONE God created for you. Am I wrong? They don’t even need to be saved. You can have an attraction for that boy in algebra class, and because of that strong attraction that just has to be divinely placed in your heart, you’re convinced all you need to do is lead this boy to the Lord and begin setting a date. Why do we do that? I too did that while I was in high school.
But there are so many problems that are borne through casual dating, even if it’s dating with the intention of becoming “exclusive” and eventually engaged and married. Some cultures have arranged marriages, even today. Many centuries ago the world witnessed the first arranged marriage. Long ago, God created a mate for Adam, and her name was Eve. Adam had those same unmet desires as you have sitting alone on the Fourth of July, and yes, he went to God and prayed, and he was given the one God had prepared for him.
Just think about Mary and Joseph and what the Lord knew was going to happen once Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit. God foreknew the problems facing that young betrothed couple. He knew Mary would be in a position to be ostracized by her family and society at the mere mention of her pregnancy as soon as the words were uttered by Joseph. But God knew the character He had created in Joseph. Joseph was a just man (Matthew 1:19). He didn’t fly off the handle and rush to condemn Mary. His demeanor allowed God time to send an angel to Joseph to straighten out the matter. What would have happened if Mary dated several men and settled on anyone other that Joseph? We’ll never know, because Mary and Joseph were put together by the divine work of God. I believe that to be the inference, though the Bible doesn’t actually spell it out with a chapter and verse reference.
Well, actually, there is a chapter and verse that strongly suggests God is the one to put the right two people together divinely, without any assistance from us other than to be open to His guidance. “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). That verse does not imply that when we FINALLY find a spouse after years of searching and countless dates with the “wrong” ones, that we can claim to have been blessed by the Lord. No! On the contrary. That verse implies that we have done nothing to “find” our spouse.
In the original languages, that verse implies that we “stumbled upon” our mate. The word “findeth” in this case is analogous to stumbling over something of value. Imagine walking down the street and getting hungry. Boy you could go for some food right now, but alas, you’re wallet is empty. As you turn the corner, you happen across a twenty dollar bill on the ground. You weren’t walking around town looking for money, but rather God blessed you with divinely placed money. That’s the spirit of Proverbs 18:22. We are not to be searching high and low for our future spouses. We should wait until we happen upon them at God’s appointed time.
And not doing things God’s way is always loaded with peril. There are many problems with “dating.” For example, in high school, I was absolutely infatuated with new relationships. I enjoyed the novelty of a new relationship. I wasn’t planning on marrying anyone I dated in high school, so as I look back on it now, what was the problem. Here’s the big problem…the more you date, the more you set yourself up for future failure. You will, if you’re not careful and exercise good wisdom, fail. Fail how? Fail by marrying the wrong person for the wrong reasons. I believe that dating creates huge potentials for failure.
Let’s say you get your first serious relationship and the emotional intimacy and friendship is out of this world. That’s great! I’m happy for you. Now you’re in trouble. Because now that you have a taste for what an exclusive relationship can bring you emotionally, you will always crave and desire that. Now if you’re one of the few that marries their high school sweetheart, that’s good. For the rest of those people who do not, there is a void where that intimacy once was. Now you have no one to share those special moments with next Fourth of July. You now know what you’re missing out on…BUT…had you not dated when you shouldn’t have, you wouldn’t know what you were missing and you’d probably be content.
Imagine that you have just eaten a full meal in a restaurant. Now suppose it’s an hour later and someone offers you a can of peas. Peas are the most vile food on the planet. Would you eat those peas? Of course not! Now it’s dinner time, and you’re hungry again. You have the option of any restaurant in town to eat at. Again, after dinner, I offer you a can of peas, and you politely decline. After all, your belly is full with a good meal. Now, you lose your job. You have no money. You can’t afford to eat out like you would like to. You can’t even afford groceries after a while. Now, you’re starving and can’t go another day without eating. Now I show up again with that same can of peas you kept turning down. Only now, guess what! You eat those peas! Why? Because you’re hungry and desperate and will take anything to satisfy that hunger.
It’s the same with dating. You experience the pleasures of emotionally intimate relationships. You have come to rely on those for fulfillment. Then, after a breakup, the needs are still there but now there is no one able to fulfill those needs. The more you date to satisfy those needs, the more and more you will crave that fulfillment. The only problem with that is that the longer you go without any prospect of finding that person to satisfy your longing for exclusivity and emotional intimacy, you will begin getting desperate until the devil tempts you with that “can of peas.” That “can of peas,” though not to your liking, will serve its purpose.
That “can of peas” is a terrible substitute for the one God has planned for you. But you know what? You don’t see it because your too busy looking at them through rose colored glasses. You’re needs are met. You’re no longer hungry. The fact that my hunger headache dissipates helps me to ignore the bad taste the peas leave with me. So too will you look past the blatant flaws in that person’s character that makes them not suited for you at all. Remember the story of Mary and Joseph. What if Mary had been a serial dater and settled on someone who didn’t have the character Joseph had.
Now, the only thing worse than serial dating, is serial dating and fornicating at the same time. Sex will only take the rose colored glasses and exchange them for blinders. You will not be rational in evaluating these people as potential mates. It’s kind of hard to focus on their spiritual life when you’re doing other things at the same time. Not only that, but can you imagine how much more hungry you will be after a relationship has terminated if sex was involved. That’s why sex is reserved for a married couple who are committed to each other for the rest of their lives, because it’s so powerful and is designed to keep each seeking after the other, ideally never to face that hunger again. Again, Mary and Joseph weren’t involved sexually until after they were married (Matthew 1:18, 25).
You not only owe it to God to have Him play matchmaker, and you not only owe it to the one God has prepared for you, but you also owe it to yourself to avoid the pitfalls of the dating game. If you play the game by the world’s rules, it will lead to failure. If you play the game by God’s rule (Proverbs 18:22) you will win, but you may have to get out of the game you’re in right now. Are you in a committed relationship that is designed by God and you both are honoring Him in you relationship? If you are, that’s great! If you’re in a committed relationship that is not sanctioned by God you’ll need to get out. If that’s you, fear not! Next week I’ll give advice on getting out and staying out of the world’s dating game.
There’s much to lose. Wouldn’t you rather have a God-ordained never-ending lifetime supply of sweet tasting cranberry sauce (my favorite) rather than making the best of it with the never-ending lifetime supply of a bitter “can of peas” (blech)? The two don’t compare.