When my sister and I were young, we used to stay up at night naming our future kids, designing how they would look, drawing our bridesmaid's dresses, considering wedding colors, and whether a big or little ring would do. Its in our blood.
As children we make baby gowns out of lint from the drying machine, and white veils our of sweet-smelling dryer sheets. Paring up the beanie babies into happy families.
We go through great pains to decorate the doll house just right, and might a little play mate come over, we must make sure that they don't move so much as a plastic flower from the matchbox table. How many times when you go a-baby sittin' are you reminded of when you would tie the little pink apron around your neck and get to work on the gourmet supper at your cute pink kitchen set out of plastic toast and painted asparagus. Or when "taking care of baby" is the only thing that settle down a tired little girl - yes, even "changing their diapers".
Assuming your a girl reading this, I can pretty much bet that you have thought about this at least... oh... say, 100000 minimum times about your future wedding and/or husband. That is, if I was a betting man I would. (betting woman, I mean.)
And if your a guy reading this, I wouldn't hurt, I guess. It'll shed a little light on the whole dating/relationships/longing/marriage/female thing. Believe me though, we are too complicated to understand completely.
Face it - all of us girls want to get married. And if culture downs marriage, we want a boyfriend.
But when we have morals that forbid anything physical with a boyfriend, what is the point of having one? Just to feel loved and fulfilled for the time being. But no matter how much willpower we have, what seems perfectly satisfactory now, (whether just going out, or holding hands) eventually we will want more! I'm not saying that dating is a sin... I'm just saying that it can lead to sin that could be avoided by "singleness".
Dating is fulfilling for us, but what I believe is that these are the years that we must learn to serve others and find all our fulfillment in Christ. How many of you think that your very first boyfriend (or, guys, your very first girlfriend) will be the one you marry? How about the second? Third? The average number of "relationships" before marriage in America is Seven. Many say that three is the ideal before marriage. Some say that it is vital to live together, or "test them out" before committing to marriage. But studies show that 90% of couples who premaritally coinhabit are likely to break up before or shortly after the promises at the alter. There children, or the children from a previous relationship are likely to do the same thing - but that's not all; they are more likely to abuse their partner and/or offspring; more likely to abuse drugs, alcohol, sex, and/or tobacco. 95% of couples have premarital sex. Yikes.
Whoa... hold up a minute. But what if I'm a Christian? What if I would never do that? What if my boyfriend (or girlfriend) and I have high standards of purity?
Well, well, well. I would say congratulations... start serving God together. And if your relationship is distracting you from that work, I'm sure that if your significant friend who you find a strong enough Christian to date, that he/she would be strong enough to let you go for God's will's sake.
Arn't we just in it for ourselves? Is that what dating is?
When will we be mature enough to stop looking for what we can get from a relationship, but what all we can give? To tell you the truth, I'm not there yet. Just being honest.
What about finding all your fulfillment in Jesus Christ? Would you be late for your date or even miss it if your little brother needed help with his homework? Or if mom needs assistance cleaning the bathroom? What if the neighbor needs a visit out of the blue to cheer her up?
This is serving. This is what God commands us to do. This is what brings true fulfillment, believe me!
But wait just a second there! What if I'm not dating for that reason? Its not just for me! What if I am encouraging my "friend" to walk closer in the LORD? What if we are edifying each other? What if we are just trying to get to know each other better like dating is supposed to do?
Again... congratulations. Way to go! I'm proud of you - just don't forget that you can do that without dating.
Emotion binds us, girls! We cannot see. We cannot perceive warning signals. We think that parents are just to overprotective. We are caught in the clutches of... love? What is that word? We use it for so many things. We can fluctuate so quickly. When we love our $80 rainbow Converse in one breathe and then proclaim we are on fire for Jesus - often with much less enthusiasm; much less often
I've heard it put this way:
You don't know what love is until you stare into your husband's eyes with a deep understanding and tender devotion over a bucket of soapy water after your 5th child got the flu all over the bathroom floor in the middle of the night. When you are finished yelling over what to do with the mortgage bills and its time for one of you to drive each child to separate game practices all at the same time after a hard working day on top of two hours of sleep.
Does dating prepare us for this? Does dumping an old flame after they go for another seem like a good practice round for marriage? Or when they just get to boring, or if they suddenly start wearing glasses, braces, and get a bad hair-cut? Yeah, I think you can agree dating isn't an amazing tactic. And although I think some harm can be done by physical dating, the battle is primarily in our brains; mental dating. Dating sin and temptations such as vanity, hatred, lust, longing, dept, and dirty thoughts.
And that is overcome with God alone! Get to know Him!
Let me introduce you to the concept of courtship - in Part 2 coming soon.