We teach our kids about sex, we tell them what to avoid. But we don’t teach our kids how to engage in meaningful and eventually lifelong relationships with the opposite sex. We talk about how babies come into the world but fail to give them the practical tips to help them navigate the waters of dating and courtship.
As I think about my boys becoming men I want them to know how to treat women in a God honoring way. I want them to see women for who they are and for the means of God’s grace their future mate will be.
Before my boys start dating here are 4 things I plan on telling them.
- Talk first kiss later – The first girl I kissed was my wife is that the goal for everyone? I don’t think so. Does it make me more holy? No. But it did help me learn this little life lesson. The more you kiss the less you talk the less you talk the less you truly know someone. When you start making out on a regular basis you don’t talk you fill your time with well… making out. I found that in my relationships with girls I dated before my wife we talked I learned about them they learned about me. We found out what our hopes and dreams where. So rather than objectify the other person as an object for your pleasure find out first where their heart desires most. That only happens when they talk and you listen.
- Learn how to be friends first – Friends give to each other and expect nothing in return. True friendship is based not on performance or what I can get out of the other person but on mutual trust and generosity. There are few things that will strengthen your marriage like giving without expecting anything in return. Marriage isn’t a 50/50 partnership it’s loving the other with the same 100/0 love that Christ has for you and me.
- It’s better to be single than to wish you were – I first heard this from my friend Pastor Benny Perez 18 years ago. I have seen it played out over 2 decades of pastoral ministry. The church in America hasn’t helped with this as they make single Christians feel like second rate Christians. (side note: Youth pastors talking about the hotness of your wife and the frequency of your sex life doesn’t help this either.) I have seen far to many singles search desperately to find a mate only to desperately marry someone who doesn’t treasure Christ or them. A few years later they are broken and more alone than they were when they were single. Who you date or having a girlfriend doesn’t define your worth. Marriage isn’t the goal of the Christian life, God is. Marriage is tough but marriage is also very good.
- Don’t work on becoming a better you – It drives me nuts when people say I am just working on being the best me I can be so I’ll be ready when Mr. or Mrs. perfect comes along. Dating isn’t primarily to help you perfect you for your future perfect mate. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for marriage is treasure Christ and lay down your life for others. Being a better you feeds the narcissistic selfie part of us that sacrificial love starves. I love how Francis Shaffer describes the practical out working of loving God and loving others in the Christian life. He says that Loving God means you are satisfied in him alone. You have need of nothing else. Loving people means you are free from envy. Man does that preach. I so often struggle with both of those things. If you as a young person can find your satisfaction in Christ alone and are free from envy and the coveting of those around you. You will be more capable of the continual, sacrificial love a strong marriage demands.