Best Dating Advice Roundtable w/ Wilkin and Grear (TGC Video)

At this last year’s The Gospel Coalition conference, I was asked to sit down with J.D. Grear and Jen Wilkin to talk best dating tips for singles. I basically sat there and gave the one piece of advice I have (which I’ve written up here) and tried not to look foolish next to Wilkin and Grear who had some very helpful advice.

Here’s the video.

Soli Deo Gloria

12 Tips for Keeping It Clean In Your Dating Relationship

awkward dateSo, I work with college students. Sometimes they like to date each other. Being human, with normal, God-given (but fallen) physical desires they also want to do stuff together while they’re dating. You know–sexy stuff. Of course, most of them who’ve been around long enough have learned that the Bible says the sexy stuff is God’s good, beautiful, and pleasurable idea for knitting a man and a woman together in marriage. In the meantime then, I’ll have couples approach me wondering if there are ways that they can continue to build their relationships in holy, appropriate ways, and avoid temptation.

Now, I remind them that it’s not just about not breaking rules–it’s an issue of the heart. I remind them of the grace of the Gospel for any past or future failure, and that this is not the one, irrevocable sin.  I encourage them to look to Christ, develop their relationship with him, and all the good spiritual, foundational stuff. But then, well, I get “practical” and offer them a few (slightly humorous) tips that helped my wife and I during the (four!) years we were dating.

I can’t emphasize enough that these are not laws, but general guidelines that help you obey God’s laws for your good. These are not hard and fast unbreakable rules. They are wisdom, though. Some of them may seem childish or nit-picky. You might think read them, roll your eyes, and think “Really? Come on, I’m not an animal!” True, but you’re not an angel either, and following these can help you honor God in your dating relationship:

  1. Clothes are not optional. But seriously, stay fashionable–in your clothes.
  2. If no one’s home, you’re not home. This might narrow your hang-out options initially, but it forces you to be creative. I really can’t stress this one enough.
  3. Cars are fun when you’re driving. When stationary, you can get in an accident.
  4. Give someone you trust absolute authority to speak into your life and talk to you about this area whenever. Also, don’t lie to them.
  5. Consider the consequences on a regular basis.
  6. Pray at the beginning of your dates.
  7. “Napping” together is stupid. Falling asleep during a movie is one thing, but otherwise…nah.
  8. And God said, “Let there be light…”
  9. Private porn usage always makes a public appearance. Eventually, porn shapes the way you act with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Avoid it at all costs.
  10. Spas are fun group activities.
  11. God gave you legs for a reason. Run when you have to.
  12. Have this conversation often. Re-affirm and re-commit to biblical guidelines and standards for your relationship.

Above all of these, of course, is to constantly be chasing Christ. Tips and rules can help for a while, but it’s the deeper holiness comes through the Spirit of Holiness changing our affections from within through the grace of the Gospel.

Soli Deo Gloria

How Much Theology Should Couples Agree on Before They Get Married? (TGC)

cake-marriage-300x225I’ll admit, this isn’t a typical question most Christian singles, or even couples, are asking. Most are still stuck on, “Wait, I’m supposed to date Christians?” That said, once you’ve established the importance of marrying someone who will be your partner in the faith and has the mutual goal of encouraging you in your relationship with Christ, you may start to wonder, “Well, does it really matter what kind of Christian they are? How will our theology affect the way we point each other to Christ? I mean, does it affect things if I’m a Protestant and he’s a Catholic? Or what if we have different views on the end times? What about speaking in tongues? Can I date someone who ‘quenches the Spirit’ and thinks I worship with ‘strange fire’?”
As I’ve thought about the issue while talking with friends, considering my own marriage, and searching through the Scriptures, I’ve concluded there isn’t any quick, easy answer. Instead, I want to simply put forward three questions, and a couple of caveats, to help singles and couples navigate the dating and marriage decision.
You can read the rest of the article at The Gospel Coalition.
Soli Deo Gloria

Christian Guy, Stop Trying to Date Yourself

So there have been a couple of good articles on dating out recently, one of which was my buddy Brad Williams’ over at Christ and Pop Culture. He knows what it is to be a weird Christian guy who doesn’t have commitment issues, but courage issues, so out of pity, he offered up a few tips and a little hope to guys convinced they’ll always be alone. It was hilarious, wise, and pretty popular. Go read it right now, if you want.

Now, in the comments on Facebook, another friend (who shall remain nameless) playfully joked something along the lines of “But where am I going to find a girl who is into: a, b, c, d, e, and f quirky particular interests that I have.” To which I responded, “The point isn’t to date yourself, ______.” Again, we were joking, but it got me thinking, “How many guys do I know that are single because they’re so busy trying to date themselves, they won’t date the girls around them?”

(Before I go on to describe what I’m talking about, hear me loud and clear on this: I am not saying that if you’re a single Christian male, you must be doing this. If you comment and complain that your situation is different, and that’s not the people you know, and so forth, I’ll nod my head in agreement and say, “Good, I’m glad. I wasn’t talking to you.”)

You with a wig on.

You with a wig on.

In my time as a twenty-something male, hanging out with twenty-something males, and pastoring them, I’ve noticed that a number of them are convinced they need to find a female version of themselves to date and that anything else is “settling” or won’t work. In their minds, dating is this project where you attempt to find your long-lost second self who shares all of your habits, quirks, taste in movies, and political views.

This is nonsense and should be dropped immediately.

Obviously, I get the desire to have a person who understands all of your loves and joys, the things that stir your imagination, and so forth. Marriage is, at least, a type of friendship. And friendships are based around common or shared joys and commitments. At some point, though, finding someone you can be friends with crosses over into finding someone you could confuse yourself with.

If I had to lay down a principle here, I’d say this: some overlap is good; total overlap is unnecessary and maybe weird. What you need is someone who is okay with you being you on the personality stuff, and willing to encourage you to stop being a sinner when you need it.

I’ll take my own marriage as an example, mostly because it’s the one I know best at this point. Beyond Jesus Christ, McKenna and I share enough things in common to make life enjoyable. There is a certain overlap in movie tastes (although we frequently watch things by ourselves that the other doesn’t want to), and music (she doesn’t like country and will listen to certain metal with me), food tastes, etc. What’s more, I know that she would never forced me to sleep in the dirt or climb a big rock, or something similarly horrible. We also have a shared sense of humor, which is important.

That said, she is by no means a theology nerd, which is probably my greatest passion and hobby in life. I mean, she knows the faith and will let me babble on about whatever I’m reading about, but she’s not pulling the latest text in trinitarian theology off the shelf to discuss with me. I on the other hand, will listen to her talk about the things she writes on for her beauty blog, used to watch ‘Project Runway’ with her when we had normal TV, and have learned the names of some important designers, but I don’t sit there looking up previews for the Fall or Spring line-up like she will. I’m a morning person, she’s a night owl. I could watch comic-book movies for days, and she likes art house films where everybody dies and is unhappy at the end. I could go on for days here, but we are very different people in many ways.

The great thing is that we’re okay with that. McKenna is happy to let me babble at her about theology, and I’m happy to let her babble about beauty stuff at me,  but neither of us expects the other to be as interested as the other in those things. I mean, marriage changes you and so over time we’ve become more interested in each other’s hobbies. At the same time, we’ve become more comfortable acknowledging our differences and it’s been healthy.

Here’s the thing: happy, God-glorifying couples come in all shapes and sizes. Some seem like two peas in a pod. Others look outwardly like they’re worlds apart. Others are kind of a blended middle. While I’d suggest a certain amount of overlap of interests for a healthy friendship, don’t get caught in the trap of passing by a great girl simply because she won’t play video games with you, or whatever sine qua non you’ve chosen as your must-have quality. Try to find a girl who shares the main thing with you (Jesus), is okay with you being you, and then everything from there is gravy.

Soli Deo Gloria

P.S. Since writing this, it’s become clear that this is not simply a male phenomenon. Ladies, obviously, feel free to rework the grammar and apply this to yourselves.

7 Tips on “How to Meet Reformed Men”

church_dating

Ah yes, the classic “let me show you a verse” move.

I’ve written enough articles over the last few months that I now get readers coming to my blog off of random Google searches. Sometimes they make sense, others not so much, and a few make me laugh. One particular search caught my eye the other day: “how to meet Reformed men.” Apparently there is at least one single Christian woman out there, looking for a man with a sound grasp of the doctrines of grace. Now, I’m not sure she found what she was looking for here, but in the spirit of brotherly love, I thought I’d list a few helpful, possibly humorous, suggestions from friends and family on “how to meet Reformed men”:

    1. Go to a local Reformed church and look for one. 
    2. If no Reformed church is available, look for the guy in the back of your local non-denominational church, furiously writing notes during the sermon in order to write the pastor an email filled with corrections.
    3. In that same church, mention words like “covenant”, “doctrine”, “election”, or “fatherly hand” in conversations with any single men and look for the twinkle in their eyes. (HT: Sean McLeish)
    4. Frequent local coffee shops with a copy of Calvin’s Institutes lying out on the table. Make sure you’ve read some of it, though, and include sufficient highlights and underlining.
    5. Repeat #4 in local breweries and pubs (unless Baptist).
    6. Move to Louisville, walk around Southern’s campus without a wedding ring on. (Reformed Baptist; HT Lauren Rambo)
    7. For those favoring the online approach, ReformedSingles.com offers to fill the gap. Unlike other dating sites this is a place where: “Our members are prepared for marriage by reading a wide variety of articles on marriage, dating pitfalls, courtship, divorce and remarriage, and more. Our Members’ identities have been verified by their pastor so people you meet really are who they say they are. Finally, our members know that their futures are predestined by our heavenly Father and rest in His kind hands.” (HT: Alan Noble)

Although I’ve limited myself to 7 tips, on biblical grounds, I’m sure our sisters would love some more (appropriate) suggestions from the readership in the comments. Blessings on the search.

Soli Deo Gloria