I Really Want a Ring: Why I’m Gonna Call It a Marriage Ring.

Someone made a joke to me the other day that I was the only adult or one of the few adults in the room without a ring on. It was funny because my wedding is only a few days away, but it also reminded me how desperately I want one.

Good gracious, I want a ring on my left hand. It’s something that I’ve wondered about, something I’ve wished for for a long time. Sometimes I’ve slipped little pieces of string around that finger. Sometimes I’ve wrapped a rubber band around it.

I’ve longed for it. And when I finally got to purchase it a few months ago, I wanted so bad to put it on my finger and just wear it around.

In a few days, I’ll get to wear it. It’s commonly called a “wedding ring,” but I’m insisting to my fiancée on calling it a “marriage ring.”

The ring symbolizes unity, togetherness, permanence. So many things. Men and women wear them when they get married. They get them at their weddings, so they’re referred to as wedding rings. But I want to continually refer to mine as a “marriage ring.”

My ring is not a reminder that I was in a wedding once. It’s a reminder that I’m married. It’s a reminder that there is a girl that I have committed myself to. It’s a reminder that I have sworn before God and man that I’m committed to loving my wife until death do us part.

When I go out in public and wear my ring, I’m saying to all the women out there that I’m taken and that I’m not looking for anything. I’m giving myself an accountability system, to remind myself to not look and to not lust. There’s only one woman for that.

I was trying to find something to compare it to, and eventually I thought of, well, circumcision. OK, before you get a little grossed out, let me explain my point.

It was a symbolic act of identifying yourself with God. All males among God’s people were circumcised eight days after their birth. It as a reminder of the covenant they had with God, that He would be with them and protect them, and that they would devote themselves to Him. (For more, check out Genesis 17.) The idea was that it was a physical sign of commitment.

Now that I’ll never be able to separate circumcision and my marriage ring…

When us men slip on our wedding, er, marriage rings in the morning, or after we shave after work, or when we drive away from our church league softball games, whenever we do it, we’re reminding ourselves of the woman we’ve committed ourselves to. We’re not reminding ourselves of a day; we’re reminding ourselves of a promise we made, a promise we made before God and man for the world to know. And it’s sealed in yellow gold/white gold/platinum/palladium/tungsten/titanium.

And there’s something incredibly symbolic in the way that I will get my ring. My wife (wow, so awesome to say it that way) will give it to me, put it on my finger. In the same way God gives His commitment to me and I respond with my commitment to Him, my wife promises to commit to me as I will commit to her.

As I reflect on what I’ve written, I think of Ephesians 5, and how Paul says the mystery of marriage “refers to Christ and the church” (v. 32). How there’s a double-commitment. How we commit to one another in marriage. How God pledges to do what’s best for us, and we pledge our lives to Him.

So yes, it’s a ring that reminds me of the marriage, of the commitment I’ve made to my wife and the commitment I’ve made to God. So I will call it a marriage ring.

Won’t you too?

What I’ve Learned About Faithfulness in Romantic Relationships from Popular Music

How many popular songs have you heard that talk about avoiding faithfulness in a relationship?

The ones that come to my mind primarily are “Leavin” by Jesse McCartney and “The Call” by the Backstreet Boys. In “Leavin,” Jesse encourages a girl tell her man that she’s “leavin, never to come back again.” The plea is primarily based on his ability to please her better sexually. In “The Call,” the man is making a call to his woman at home about some vague place he’s going. What he doesn’t say is that he’s going to be with an unnamed woman.

Faithfulness in romantic relationships is a foreign concept to half of America these days. True faithfulness is the reason that marriages end in death of one of the spouses. I’ve seen true faithfulness in my parents’ marriage, in the marriages of many others.

I must admit, I often wonder how in the world this happens. How do we get to the place where we can repel those temptations from people other than our spouses? What must we learn?

Surprise of surprises, I’ve learned some pointers from popular music. Here’s three lessons I’ve picked up from three different songs. Two are popular tracks from this past year, and the other is a little harder to come by but definitely worth a listen.

1.Don’t deny the temptations. Recognizing them is the first step to beating them.

Song: “Honey, I’m Good.” by Andy Grammer 

This song, Grammer’s most popular record, revolves around him being in a bar and seeing women around him who are tempting him. He acknowledges that they are good-looking, but he’s got someone much better at home.

“It’s been a long night here, and a long night there, and these long long legs are d*** near everywhere. Hold up now, you look good, I will not lie, but if you ask where I’m staying tonight, I gotta be like oh baby, no baby, you got me all wrong baby, my baby’s already got all of my love.”

Grammer acknowledges the attractiveness of the woman he’s speaking to. He’s not trying to deny it or ignore it. He even says that “better men than me have failed, drinking from that unholy grail,” that people have slipped in this area. He’s also aware of his own weakness, that if he stays he “might not leave alone.”

He uses these reasons to say that he’s gotta get the heck out of there. Grammer told the Miami Herald this about the inspiration behind the song:

Well, you know I’m married now. So when I go out on tour, well, there are always hot girls around. The song’s about staying honest and being like, “Yes, you are smoking hot, but I’m good. I got a lady at home who is incredible. It’s worth staying truthful.”

As with any temptation to sin, recognizing that they exist is the first step. If you recognize that there is a chance you will slip up, you’re more likely to set the safeguards in place to avoid falling to the temptation.

2. Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean you should.

Song: “Wanna” by Christon Gray feat. JGivens

The first verse of this track focuses on Gray spending time in a club or restaurant or bar and seeing a beautiful woman. He shares the thought process he goes through in this time.

“I feel like it don’t matter anymore, getting used to the way the world turns. But I must say it’s spinnin’ really fast when I look at her. I just. If I was just a few years younger, girl I could be your boy wonder, you could be my prima donna, when I’m away from my wife and my daughter.”

He talks about how the wedding ring on his finger feels so heavy, and it would be so easy to slip it off. The chorus repeats, “Shouldn’t but I wanna, shouldn’t but I wanna.”

Just because we want to do something doesn’t meant we should do it. The word “should” can be a dangerous word because it could lead us to legalism or doing things we don’t necessarily need to do. But within marriage, you should not cheat. You say in your vows, “‘Till death do us part.” That doesn’t mean, “‘Till there’s someone else who looks better. ‘Till there’s a time where she doesn’t fulfill me. ‘Till there’s a moment when he doesn’t love me as he should.” There’s nothing wrong with saying “should” here.

There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.

3. Your spouse is your cheerleader, and she should be cherished as such.

Song: “Cheerleader” by Omi

 

“All these other girls are tempting but I’m empty when you’re gone. And they say, ‘Do you need me? Do you think I’m pretty? Do I make you feel like cheating?’ And I’m like, ‘No, not really.’ Cause, oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader, she’s always right there when I need her.”

If you’ve chosen to settle down with someone for the rest of your life, hopefully you’ve seen something in that person that is worth giving the rest of your life to. What I’ve learned that I need to remember is that my future spouse is the best I’ll ever have, and because of that no one else is worth it. She’s my cheerleader. She’s the one who will support me until I die.

And this is the best reason to not cheat. If you’ve married well, you’ve married someone who will give everything they’ve got to the marriage. Will they be perfect at it? No. But they’re worth not cheating.

The song continues: “She gives me love and affection. Baby, did I mention you’re the only girl for me? No, I don’t need a next one. Mama loves you too, she thinks I made the right selection. Now all that’s left to do is just for me to pop the question.”

The best part about marriage is that you choose the person to spend the rest of your life with. Things will not be perfect, will never be perfect. But the point of marriage isn’t to have a perfect situation. It’s to have a partner to wander through the rest of your life with, together, seeking after the best.


If you’re a Christian, you’re challenged to love and cherish your spouse. They’re your No. 1 priority. You’re called to sacrifice for and serve them. This isn’t an optional thing. This is the real deal. It’s a real deal I’m stepping into pretty soon, and I’m so excited. I can’t think of cheating on my soon-to-be-wife.

But I can’t assume that I’m immune. As Andy Grammer said, “Better men than me have failed.” I’ve got to keep these things in mind so that I can stay true to my lady love.

What Christmastime Has Taught Me About Love and Marriage

One word that is associated very much with Christmas is “give.”

It’s all over the place. We give gifts to one another. We give time towards hanging out with family. God gives Jesus to us for the salvation of our sins.

It’s all indicative of sacrifice, showing giving up something for the better of someone else. We give our money to stores so we can give gifts to others. God gives up His Son so we can find eternal life one day.

One thing that being engaged during this season has taught me is that, within marriage, I need to act like it’s Christmas all year round.

Ephesians 5:25 says: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That simple idea of a husband loving his wife like Christ loved the church, giving of Himself for her, is what marriage is supposed to look like in a nutshell. There’s a continual attitude of sacrifice and love, echoing the love that God showed for us in Christ on the cross.

And Christmas is a great time to reflect on those things. We can think about the gifts we give to our spouse/finacé(e)/significant other as a reflection of the gift God gives to us. We can think about going with them to the in-laws/future in-laws not as a chore, but as a joyous occasion to celebrate the season and to celebrate the bond of family.

By the way, I love my future in-laws. It’s not a chore for me at all. Just wanted to clear that up.

Christmas is a season of giving. So let’s see how we can echo the giving spirit of Christmas within our own romantic relationships not just in December, but year-round.

Don’t Give Up: Even When Relationships Are Stressing You Out

“Actually, there is a word for that. It’s love. I’m in love with her, okay? If you’re looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it’s love.”

I’ve mentioned before how one of my favorite shows is How I Met Your Mother. Just in case you’ve missed the posts where I’ve mentioned it before, it’s a show about Ted Mosby, a young guy living in NYC trying to find the woman of his dreams, the mother of his kids. It’s narrated by an older Ted Mosby to his two kids. It’s him saying to his kids, “Hey, here’s how I met your mother.” Classic.

Ted Mosby is a romantic. Easily. Throughout the whole series you see him pining for different women. Sometimes it’s a mess.

But one instance that strikes me so deeply is early on in season one. He’s dating a girl named Natalie, someone with whom he has a messy history, for the second time. The first time he broke up with her, he dumped her on her birthday via a message on her answering machine with a bunch of people in her apartment waiting to surprise her hearing every word. After they restart dating, Ted suddenly says, “I have to break up with her…She’s terrific but I have to break up with her…I should be in love with her, but I’m not feeling that thing. It’s ineffable.”

They had only dated – this second time around – for three weeks. Ted’s issue in this episode was that he was basing all his decisions on feelings and giving up really easily. It reminded me how easily people give up on relationships.

True, Ted is kinda clueless half the time. But just look at the statistics on divorce. Some studies say it’s 50 percent of marriages, some say it’s less. Either way, people give up on relationships all the time.

Sometimes giving up on relationships is what needs to be done. Sometimes it’s just not going anywhere. But there are two instances when giving up isn’t an option.

When you’re married, you don’t give up.

There are specific exceptions that are really hard and messy to deal with here, but 99 percent of the time, you say, “Till death do us part,” and you stick with that.

The American Psychological Association says that 40-50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. That’s crazy. That’s a lot of people giving up.

I can’t speak specifically to the difficulties that come within marriage because I’m still a few months away from experiencing it myself. But all that I’ve heard is that marriage is hard, and that it can be somewhat easy to want to ditch it.

But all I’ve heard about quitting marriage is that it’s not worth it.

As I’ve thought about the possibility of being married, I can think of several reasons why one would want to quit: arguments that never seem to end, the financial difficulty of managing money for two people, and many more. But when you say, “I do,” you’re committing for life.

One thing I’m learning about love is that it’s more about commitment. When you say, “I love you,” it’s more than a feeling. It’s saying, “Hey, I’m committing to you. I’m promising to stick with you, no matter how I feel. Even if I don’t feel the love.” Love means commitment more than anything else. Yes, there are feelings in there too, but it’s more about a promise. Love is a promise. What I’ve heard is that going through the tough times will only make your relationship stronger.

Don’t give up.

Don’t give up just because you’re scared.

Fear of commitment/relationships is one of the most powerful fears out there. I’ve experienced it in my own life, and had to overcome it to start pursuing my now-fiancée.

Fear can be a powerful motivator, but it can also be a powerful de-motivator. It can suck the life and desire and drive out of you.

I know how terrifying commitment can be. You’re offering to give yourself up for someone else.

But I can tell you from personal experience that it’s worth it. The months that I have spent dating and now engaged to my fiancée have been hard sometimes, but they’ve also been incredibly joyful and rewarding. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.

So if you’ve got the opportunity to pursue a romance, but you’re sacred, please, don’t give up. Push on.

Don’t give up.

Why Are We So Scared to Be Blunt About Sex?

I taught a Sunday School class for men this summer. Older men, not just young guys like me. One Sunday, I decided to go off-script. I asked the question: “What comes to mind when you think about Jesus and sex?”

“Nothing,” one person said. “He didn’t have it,” another said.

“OK,” I said. “What about Christianity and sex?”

Similar responses. It was there that I felt most truly lost. I figured that, in a church environment, with grown men, this would be something we could talk about, this is something we could be real about. As someone who is now engaged, trying to wait until marriage, trying to think about this properly, I’m seeking answers.

For the most part, all I get is: wait until marriage.

Shouldn’t we do better than that?

As Christians, we claim to be the people that have all the answers, the ones that have the solution to every problem. Yet in most churches, when the issue of sex is brought up, the answers are brief and bland. People got all hot and bothered about Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together and its blunt discussion of sexual activity within a marriage relationship. If the word “sex” is said in a sermon or a small group setting, the blushes start coming, the stuttering is audible if there’s any noise whatsoever.

Why in the world are Christian so afraid to talk honestly about sex? A Yahoo Answers questioner posed the same question:

It seems that Christians don’t want to talk about sex at all besides sex is only for marriage. They hate people doing sex before marriage or talk about sex and masturbation to teens. You can’t discuss about male and female private parts or sex toys.

The answers mostly revolved around the idea that it’s a “private” or “intimate” thing that doesn’t need to be talked about openly. But perhaps the best answer came from user Nick (answer edited for grammatical correctness just because).

It is because they don’t have the balls to speak up on topic[s] like sex. Many [C]hristian[s] in my town do have sex but they are a bunch of p***y[s] to talk about it because they are scare[d] to get judge[d] by society.
Many people are only [C]hristian because it is conformity not because some psychopath in the sky is watching them.

Regardless of if you view God as “some psychopath in the sky” or not, I think Nick has a point. I think Christians engage in sexual activity because they’re humans and they love their wives/husbands, but we don’t like to talk about it because we’ll afraid we’ll get judged, mainly by the Christians around us, for being honest and open about it.

Here’s where this is the biggest issue: there are thousands of believers who are 30 and younger who don’t know how to think about sex other than “don’t have it until you’re married.” There are so many nuances when it comes to sex, so many different thoughts and fears that run through people’s minds. And we want to be faithful and honoring to God. But we (it might just be me, but I’m guessing it’s more) are so confused and don’t know what to do, and we’re afraid of judgement if we bring it up in a church setting, so we don’t say anything.

So this is me saying something. What the heck am I supposed to do to stay a virgin until I get married next year? What’s acceptable in this in-between time? How do we manage these desires? What about within marriage? How do kids think about sex properly when they’re being bombarded by all kinds of crazy messages from media and their peers?

I’d like to hear the church’s response. And not, “You can’t talk about this in public.” If we can talk about how bad homosexuality is and the nuances of it in public, we can certainly talk about pure, biblical sex and its nuances in public. My generation is looking for answers.

At the very least, let’s talk about it. Honestly, bluntly, personally.

Refocused Romance, Pt. 3: It’s About Commitment, Not Feeling.

Perhaps one of my favorite movie romances is between Will Hunting and Skylar in the 1999 film Good Will Hunting. I love the movie, but the romance is quite interesting.

Will hails from the dirty streets of Boston, while Skylar is an English lass who has come to America to get an education at Harvard. They couldn’t be more opposite. Will is a janitor at MIT who has a penchant for getting in fights and hangs out with a group of guys you’d avoid on the street. Skylar is intelligent, beautiful, gives piano lessons and is planning on going to medical school at Stanford.

In one of the movie’s many pivotal scenes, Skylar and Will have an intense argument which ends in them breaking up. Skylar asks Will to move to California with her, and Will says no. Skylar asks him why, asks him what he’s scared of.

“You live in this safe little world where no one challenges you and you’re scared s***less to do anything else because that means you’ll have to change,” Skylar says.

Will emotionally responds and ends the relationship. He’s clearly being led by his feelings. He’s afraid to commit, afraid to devote himself to something. He lives his life on emotion, he makes decision based on emotion. Earlier in the movie, he picks a fight out of nowhere with a guy who bullied him as a kid just because he felt like it.

So often, high schoolers approach relationships that way. Their relationships are based on how they feel. We lament the world of teenage dating because it’s so temporary and so fleeting. Well, look around at adult dating and marriage. How many marriages end in divorce? How many times is it because of “irreconcilable differences” where people are living off their feelings instead of the commitment they made?

It’s not necessarily the high schoolers’ fault that they think relationships work that way. That’s how things are displayed on television and movies and in songs. And often we don’t even take the time to explain it to them.

Here’s the crux of this: commitment, not feeling, is the center of any romantic relationship.

Some people might think that so far in this series I’ve been a little lax on things. Let me toughen up a bit.

Dating is not something to be messed around with. It’s not something you take lightly. It’s not something you flippantly enter without prayer, thought and counsel. It’s not something you do just because you want to. There’s got to be serious reason and foresight and purpose behind you dating someone. It’s a serious deal.

That’s why commitment is important. Feelings come and go. They are strong one day and weak the next. Feelings can be the start of something, it’s what can draw you into a relationship initially, but at the end of the day romantic relationships are all about commitment. There are going to be days you don’t want to pursue romance. There are going to be days you’re overwhelmed with other things that you don’t want to invest in a relationship. There are going to be days you simply don’t feel like it.

You don’t need to wait until you get to college or adulthood to be thinking this way. You can start right now. It’s simply an echo of how Jesus relates to us, a commitment.

Something to think about though: if you’re thinking about a relationship, you don’t need to be ready to make a lifelong commitment before dating someone. All you’re doing is committing to seeing if this is something you might eventually want to make a lifelong commitment.

And that’s why dating is a serious business. It’s a good thing, it’s a great thing. But we shouldn’t take this flippantly. And that’s one reason I’m writing this series. I want to help people take this more seriously, but not so seriously they never try. It’s worth it.

Refocused Romance, Pt. 2: High standards, not impossible ones

Author’s Note: This is the first part in a 5-part series called “Refocused Romance,” in which I explore different aspects of dating that often get little attention, particularly in the high school context. By this, I hope to simply bring up thoughts and questions by which we as a body of Christ can grow in our understanding of one another and of how we can honor God in the dating realm.

This second part is about how high standards are important to have, but not impossible ones when it comes to dating.

One of the most common things you’ll find as part of the discussion of dating in the Christian world is how to handle your “negotiables” and “non-negotiables.” Negotiables are the things that you’d ideally want in a spouse, but aren’t required and can be changed. Non-negotiable are the things that are requirements.

For example: a negotiable for me would be that the person I marry would be a soccer fan, particularly of my favorite team, Arsenal FC. That’s something that I could get over if she wasn’t. Fortunately, my lady is! Well, she became one. One of the reasons I love her.

But there’s really only one non-negotiable for believers, and this gets to my point.

Setting impossible standards for who you’re going to date is a waste of your time because you’ll never find anyone. The only non-negotiable that Scripture commands of believers is that they marry someone who is a Christian. That’s it.

I used to end up in this rut where I would have to evaluate the girl I was interested in by so many categories and so many things that I thought she “had to have” or “had to be.” Is she enough of this? Does she believe exactly this set of doctrines? It was overwhelming and exhausting.

What this kind of thought process often leads to is an impossible set of standards that absolutely no one can stand up to. We begin to expect perfection, and expecting perfection in a relationship is a waste of time.

Why? No one will ever be perfect. No one will ever be able to honestly say, “I am without sin.” 1 John 1:8 precludes that – “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” If we expect the person that we date or marry to be perfect, we’re deceiving ourselves, we’re ignoring truth.

So when you’re looking for a date or a mate, don’t look for someone perfect. You won’t find them.

Most posts would end there, but I want to add something: don’t expect yourself to be perfect either.

Like I said earlier, there can be a lot of pressure to feel like you have to fit a mold or be somebody specific before you get married or even start dating. You won’t be perfect either.

Of course, there’s some ideals you’d like to get to. When it comes to dating, it’s ideal that you’re able to afford to drive your date somewhere and you can pay for dinner. But besides that, there’s really no honest biblical restriction. Expecting yourself to reach perfection before you start dating means you won’t date, you won’t marry.

One thing I want to emphasize: dating when your identity is in that person instead of in Jesus is scary and potentially deadly. I’ll talk about that more tomorrow.

As a teenager, there’s a lot of pressure from Christian sources as far as who you “have to be” before you start dating. You don’t have to be anything. You’re going to face a lot the same struggles in teenage dating that you’ll face in adult dating: placing God before that person, physical interaction temptations, arguments and disagreements, etc.

Don’t expect yourself to be perfect or even good at relationships. I hope I never get to a place where I think I’m good at relationships.

But I always want to be learning, striving to know more, be more, grow more. My lady, and my God, deserve more. Just because we won’t ever be perfect doesn’t mean we can’t grow. 

This is the Gospel displayed: God doesn’t ditch us because we’re not perfect. But He desires better for us. And it’s a good idea to bring into the dating world.

Refocused Romance, Pt. 1: Dating in High School is a Good Thing. Here’s Why.

Author’s Note: This is the first part in a 5-part series called “Refocused Romance,” in which I explore different aspects of dating that often get little attention, particularly in the high school context. By this, I hope to simply bring up thoughts and questions by which we as a body of Christ can grow in our understanding of one another and of how we can honor God in the dating realm.

This first part is about how dating in high school is a good idea. 

I remember not even as long as a year ago, maybe even six months, that I’d never allow my kids to date in high school. I said, “Not in my house.”

Since then I’ve realized two things. First, sometimes it doesn’t really matter all that much what you say as a parent. Kids will do things behind your back and “dating” in your eyes might be different than what “dating” looks like in your kid’s eyes. Second, dating in high school is a good thing.

Full disclosure: I had three dating relationships in high school. One lasted three months, one lasted three weeks and one lasted over a year. These were all Facebook official relationships, and they were cornerstones of my high school experience. I’ll share bits from them throughout this series.

Of course, one of the things to keep in mind when you talk about something like “dating” and “relationships” in the high school context is that there are different definitions for different people. For the sake of this piece, this is my working definition of relationship: you have romantic affection for one another and it’s mutually agreed upon that, at least for the foreseeable future, you’re not looking for anyone else.

OK cool. Now that we’ve got that established, let’s get into the real stuff.

One of the main reasons Christians give for not dating in high school is the “distraction” idea. Bloggers can go crazy on this idea. One blogger I read wrote this:

For the Christian teenager this whole business of dating can be very distracting.  As Christians, our primary focus, especially in our single years, should be on our relationship with God.  Rather than spending their energy pursuing the Lord, they are distracted by the dating culture.  Rather than spending their evening in prayer with the Lord, they spend it texting their girl friend. (FYI, Teens don’t talk on the phone anymore, they just text)  Teenage dating is unwise because it can distract you from pursuing the Lord.

First of all, I don’t know if anyone spends their entire evening in prayer with God. If you do, please know you don’t have to do that. God doesn’t judge us or our faithfulness based on how many minutes we pray.

Second, and this is the bigger point: every single situation in your life is going to have distractions. If you’re going to have this caveat that you can’t get into something if it’s going to distract you from your walk with Christ, might as well not get a job, get married, have kids, own a pet, have a hobby, etc. Maybe this is a logical fallacy, but if we follow that line of thinking to its logical conclusion, from my perspective at least, we shouldn’t do anything if it distracts us from following Jesus. Eating can distract us, going to the bathroom can distract us.

One of the reasons you date is so that you can learn how to be a Christian and to be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. It can be a delicate balance, but it’s a balance you’re not going to learn by sitting on the sidelines.

Another reason some give is the temptations for sexual intimacy that come in dating relationships in high school. I can speak from personal experience – it’s not like it gets easier once you get older. I’d argue that it gets harder. If we ran away all the time because of that, we’d never get married.

Yet another reason I saw is that “break-ups are messy” and they’re likely to happen. Yet again, if we spent our whole life avoiding awkward situations, we’d never grow and we’d be nice, sheltered little Christians who never took risks.

Not dating in high school just because you might sin or you might do something bad is a cop-out of the highest order. We encourage kids to take this route in order to “follow God” when really we might be scaring them out of one of the most beneficial and beautiful experiences of their lives.

Let’s be honest: the only difference between dating in high school and dating in college and beyond is the age and the likelihood of marriage. Everything else is exactly the same: overanalyzing text messages with your friends, awkwardly wondering when to go in for that first kiss, the nervousness of meeting the parents, the goofy nicknames, all of it. A dating experience is all about learning about yourself, your significant other and how to love someone, whether or not you use the word “love” in the dating relationship. And those are skills that are best developed, oftentimes, within the context of a dating relationship.

What we’re often afraid of is that our kids “can’t handle it” or “they’re too young” or “they don’t know what they’re doing.” I got engaged last week, and I don’t know what I’m doing.

The point of having God on your side is that He can help you through everything through His Holy Spirit, through His Word and through fellowship with believers. Even you teenagers who are dating in high school, pursuing things with your boyfriend/girlfriend in a godly way can be an exciting and challenging thing that, by God’s grace, you can learn a lot from.

Yes, odds are your relationship will fail. But that doesn’t mean it’s pointless.

The story is told about Thomas Edison when he invented the incandescent light bulb that he failed 999 times to get the construction and engineering of the bulb just right and succeeded on the 1,000th time. A reporter asked him what it was like to fail that many times. He reportedly responded with something like this: “I didn’t fail 999 times. I just found 999 ways to not make a lightbulb.”

If you date 30 girls and marry the 31st, you didn’t waste the 30 relationships prior. You just found 30 girls you weren’t going to marry.

Dating in high school isn’t a waste of time. I promise. And I hope over the next few posts to share some wisdom I’ve gotten, however little, in the dating scene, based on questions and thoughts I’ve heard from real teenagers about dating.

I think the Church has often failed youth on speaking to the real thoughts, real difficulties and real questions about dating because we treat it so superficially. There are people who do tackle it properly, who do go about it the right way. But it’s rare, so kids are still left with these questions.

Let’s go for it.

Refocused Romance: A New Blog Series Coming Starting Oct. 12

YES.

I know what all of you have wanted from me is a blog series on dating.

But now that I’m engaged, I wanted to share some things I’ve learned in hopes that I can help those who are single or dating, particularly those in high school but also those outside of high school.

It will be a week-long series that will explore five different questions/thoughts/topics in dating that we don’t talk about a whole lot in the Church when it comes to dating. A lot of time is dedicated to discussing marriage but little time is given to the days and weeks and months leading up to that special day (the wedding day) that kicks off the marriage process.

I call it “Refocused Romance” for a couple reasons:

  1. It’s the first catchy name I came up with.
  2. It sounds awesome and intriguing.
  3. I want us to refocus the conversation we have surrounding dating and relationships, particularly in the high school/college realm.

For those of you that don’t know, I love high school kids. That age group is perhaps my favorite ministry setting. I want to speak into their lives as they navigate the waters that are dating and relationships and give them something different to hear that will actually apply to the issues they’re facing, not just “don’t have sex” and “maybe you should wait until college.”

So starting Monday, we’ll dive in. I’d love for this to be an interactive experience. I’d love to hear your criticisms and complaints about my thoughts, and if you agree, I’d love to hear from you too!

Can’t wait to see how this goes!