Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Category: For Women (page 1 of 26)

I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Josh Harris)

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything related to love, dating, sexual purity or relationship issues in general. These topics were once the primary focus of my blog (and led to the publication of two books).

My life is much different than it was during those first few years of blogging. I’m no longer a single missionary living in the “University Belt” of Manila, and I no longer meet hundreds of new college students every year through seminars.

My writing has changed along with my life. I post here less frequently these days, and most of my posts are either devotional thoughts or just updates about life events.

One thing hasn’t changed: questions about relationships are what bring most new visitors to this blog. I see it when I check the statistics (search queries, most popular posts, etc.). I still receive relationship questions from the Philippines and other parts of the world. I’m grateful that what I’ve shared is still helping people who want to honor God in their relationship choices.

I decided to re-visit this topic today after watching a TEDx video by Joshua Harris. For those who don’t know, he is the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a book that has sold millions of copies.  Here’s the premise of the book:  Josh decided that dating was a completely flawed way to search for true love.  He committed himself to a different approach and shared his insights with the world.  For better or worse, his writing caused a shock wave in the Christian community.

I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye back in the early 2000’s. I thought Harris made some legitimate points about the mistakes young people were making when it comes to romantic relationships.  But some of his advice just didn’t seem practical or balanced to me, and I believe there are much better books out there (see: Top Three Christian Dating Books).

Perhaps the biggest issue with I Kissed Dating Goodbye was not the book itself, but the way some believers applied it.  I have encountered some that act as though a 21-year-old wrote an inerrant, universal guide for love, sex, and dating.

It’s now been 20 years since Josh’s revolutionary book was published, and the man who once wrote off dating has been re-thinking his position in a very public (and courageous) manner.  He’s been listening to those who were both helped and hurt by his book.  He’s now planning to make a documentary based on this experience called I Survived I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

Here’s the video about it from his website:

 

Encouragement for the Tempted

A Way of Escape

A Way of Escape

I’ll be preaching on 1st Corinthians 10:1-13 in a couple of weeks (Sunday, November 3rd at North Valley Church).  Paul refers the Christians in Corinth to the Book of Exodus, encouraging them to learn from the mistakes made by the Israelites.

I find the final verse in the passage to be extremely helpful.  1st Corinthians 10:13 has three encouraging truths for those facing temptation:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
-1st Corinthians 10:13

Truth #1: Your temptations are not unique.

I’ve read dozens of emails from people who are struggling with some kind of “secret” sin.  They often feel completely alone, which only adds to their sense of shame.  It’s agonizing to think you are the only person in your church who doesn’t have his/her act together.  The enemy would use this belief to shame you into silent suffering.

You may be struggling with lust, pornography, addiction, a sinful relationship or some other stubborn sin.  You are not alone!  Paul reminds us that all temptations are “common to mankind.” Take heart–we all struggle with sinful desires of one form or another.  Get some accountability in your life and break out of your self-imposed solitary confinement.

 Truth #2: God is in control.

The God who controls the universe is also sovereign over your particular situation.  You may feel like the allure of sin is just too strong, but God will never allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to make the right decision.

Parents do everything in their power to make sure their children are protected.  A loving father would never knowingly allow his child to walk across a busy highway–there’s no way the little boy/girl would safely make it across.  How much more will our heavenly Father watch over us and make sure we are not tempted beyond our ability to endure!

Truth #3:  There’s always a way out

A skilled architect will design building with several fire exits so residents can get out if there is some kind of emergency.  God has done the same thing as far as temptation goes–He always makes sure there is one or more ways to escape.  Sinning is never our only option!

But the fire exit only works if you are willing to take it at the first sign of danger.  This is especially true of sexual temptation–treat like a hand grenade and run!

 Remember these three truths the next time you are facing temptation. 

Interdenominational Dating

Church-christian-world-denominations“Is it OK to date/court someone who is from a different denomination?”

I’ve been asked this question quite a few times over the years and we even discussed it back when we were doing a podcast/radio show.  I’ll share a few things from personal experience and give you some practical questions to consider.

Mare Cris was a member of Victory Christian Fellowship when we first met. I was raised and ordained in a Southern Baptist church.  I actually had “Evangelical Christian” listed as my religion on Facebook when we first started communicating.  She wasn’t 100% sure what I meant by that label, so she asked me some basic questions about my beliefs (smart girl).  She wanted to be certain I believed in the basic, fundamental truths of the Christian faith (the Trinity, salvation by faith, etc.).

I’m mentioning the beginning of our relationship to highlight an important point: there’s a big difference between dating someone of a different denomination and dating someone of a completely different religion (that’s another topic altogether).   You can read one of my posts on discerning the truth for some general guidance on genuine vs. counterfeit Christianity.

Let me define things just to be clear: interdenominational dating means being in a relationship with someone who is part of a genuine Christian church/denomination other than yours.  Stated another way, you both worship the same God and believe in the same gospel.

Now let’s get to some practical guidance.  I believe there are two crucial questions to ask yourself if you are dating someone who is part of a different denomination:

Question #1: are you compatible in terms of doctrine?

Denominations exist in part due to different interpretations on issues such as spiritual gifts, eschatology (the last days), church governance, order/style of worship, and the list goes on.  You and your boyfriend/girlfriend should discuss your beliefs and see where you stand.  Here’s a general rule: you’ll be more likely to have a successful relationship with someone who has similar doctrine/beliefs.

Questions #2: are you compatible in terms of dedication?

Are both of you equally committed to Christ?  This is an important question in any Christian relationship, but I think it also factors in this discussion.  You may meet someone who happens to attend a different church but seems much more passionate about his faith than the single guys in your own congregation.  Equal levels of dedication can play a huge role in whether or not you have a successful relationship.

Here are a few final words of advice:

1.  Talk over these issues and don’t assume they’ll just work themselves out “as long as we love each other.”

2.  A husband and wife should be members of the same church (in other words, the two of you will need to agree on one church to attend once you are married).  Keep this in mind since the whole point of dating/courtship is to find a spouse.

3.  Never settle for someone who has serious problems with his/her character or doctrine.

How Important is Physical Attraction?

HoldingHands

We live in a world that is obsessed with physical beauty. The evidence is everywhere: commercials offer products that claim to help you look young, thin, and gorgeous (or handsome). Everyone wants to look beautiful. Just go to a public restroom and you’ll see what I’m talking about—a line of people carefully studying themselves in the mirror.

Physical appearance is the first thing we notice, but we know that a relationship requires more than this to go the distance. We also know that a beautiful soul is ultimately more important than a beautiful face. So where’s the balance? Is it shallow to desire an attracive spouse? My desire is to help you put physical beauty in its proper perspective.

Attraction is a Gift

The Most Basic Link between Man and Woman is Physical

God knew what He was doing when he designed our physical bodies. Adam instantly fell in love with Eve because of the way she looked. She was like him (human), yet not like him (female). God designed men and women to be physically attracted to each other. Without this basic physical link, we’d never be interested in each other.

Physical Attraction is Affirmed in the Bible

Read the Song of Solomon and you’ll find plenty of references to physical beauty. Here’s one of many examples.

You are beautiful, my darling,
beautiful beyond words.
Your eyes are like doves
behind your veil . . .
You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
beautiful in every way.

-Song of Solomon 4:1-7

The Song of Solomon couple frequently complimented each other’s physical attributes. If physical attraction was irrelevant (or evil), God never would have allowed it to be celebrated this way in His Word.

With these things in mind, we have to recognize that attraction is an important, God-given aspect of relationships. I would never advise a man or woman to pursue a relationship if there is no physical attraction. My mentor’s wife often gives this advice to young women: “Never marry a man that you have no desire for.”  This same principle applies to men looking for a wife.

Attraction has Limitations

But the biblical authors also advise us to look beyond one’s physical appearance. Here’s a verse that every young man and woman should memorize:

Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.

-Proverbs 31:30

There are three important truths we can learn from this proverb.

First, beauty can be deceptive. All of us have met someone who is gorgeous until he/she starts talking. Maybe the campus crush is a little too aware of his killer looks and is quite arrogant. Maybe that beautiful girl has spent so much energy on her appearance that she forgot to grow a matching brain and personality. Sometimes beauty is only skin deep.

Second, beauty is temporary. Bill (one of my former campus ministers) was a thirty-year-old newlywed when I first met him. He married a stunning brunette, but he also advised us (students) to think long-term: “When you marry a girl, keep in mind that one day she’ll look like someone’s mom,” he said. The proverb and my campus minister are correct—our appearance will inevitably show signs of aging. Remember this as you search for a mate.

Third, internal qualities are ultimately the most important. The proverb reminds us that a woman’s character and relationship with God are what give her true, lasting beauty. This is the kind of beauty that radiates from the heart and does not fade.  One of the most beautiful women I know is Jo Randall. She’s now over 80 years old (she was in her 60’s when I first met her—she was then one of my campus ministers). As you can imagine, Jo would never be chosen to be on the cover of a swimsuit magazine. Her beauty is in her heart for Jesus. From the time I first met her until now, she is a joy to be around. She has found the secret to true beauty.

Practical Application

Let me give you some advice based on these Biblical truths:

1. Do your best to be attractive for the opposite sex. We should not be obsessed with our appearance, but we should do the best with what God has given us physically. Take good care of your body (through regular exercise, a healthy diet, good hygiene, etc) and learn to present yourself with confidence.

2. Keep physical attraction in perspective when looking for a spouse.  There should be some kind of physical chemistry in a romantic relationship–don’t pretend that it is completely unimportant (such a notion is neither biblical nor realistic). At the same time, you should understand that inner qualities are the source lasting beauty and promote long-term relationships. Lifelong relationships are built on friendship, not physical attraction. Keep this in mind so that you will not put too much emphasis on good looks.

Note: This article is one of many you’ll find in my book: Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions.

Older posts