More questions from my Kaleo small group:
What are the bigest mistakes you see Christian dating couples make?
1. Going too fast. Aside from your decision to follow Christ, and what church you attend, this is the third biggest decision you will ever make in your life. Why rush? Is it wise to rush into something that has such huge ramifications on the rest of your life and your children's lives? Are you leaving enough time to seek enough Godly council? Have you been with this person long enough to see them during a crisis, or a life altering decision, and been able to watch them deal with it in a God honoring way? This is the man you will submit to for the rest of your life, is moving quickly going to give you enough time to see him in every aspect of his life with Christ?
2. Mature Christian women who date immature Christian men. This happens all the time, and can lead to spiritual demise for some, but for others a more subtle diminishing of ones spiritual life that you may only notice once you get to heaven and see what you sacrificed for "that lovin' feelin' ". Nothing is going to matter more when you stand before God, than your maturity in Him and your relationship with Him. How does your significant other (or potential significant) spur you on to be more like Christ? How does he teach you and guide you spiritually? Is he helping you grow in Christ? A family will be in danger of spiritual ruin if the mother is the spiritual leader of the household. A mother can not lead the same way God has designed the husband to lead. Men do not become more spiritual when they get married. I feel this is the thought of many women who date immature men. They see huge potential in these men. They think once he has the responsibility of being a husband and father he will become this huge spiritual giant they always dream and imagine he can be. This is a myth. In fact, if anything, a marriage can take a immature believer and squish them till they are hardly believing at all and just going through the motions. Marriage is not for the immature believers. It is for the solid believers who are growing, in which case it can be used as a tool by God to further sanctify us. Many spiritually immature men will never get to the place spiritually that a spiritually strong woman desires. This will create a marriage full of unfulfilled expectations, and a woman constantly trying to change her husband. This is not a fun place for either spouse to be in!!! It is worth noting that this can go both ways. A strong man should not settle for a spiritually immature, emotionally unstable Christian woman. She will be the major spiritual influence on his children and should consider this when choosing a wife!
3. A Christian couple who becomes self absorbed with their relationship and pules out of fellowship with the church. This happens all the time. A couple is so enamored with each other and wants to be alone constantly. This is a dangerous situation. Your walk with Christ involves your personal relationship to Christ as one foot and your relationship to the body of Christ as the other foot. If one is lacking, you will be limping along at a slow, spiritually handicap pase and you will eventually wear down and stop growing altogether. Satin loves to get people out of fellowship with the body so they are vulnerable and weak to stand against the evil forces of this dark world. If you don't have time for church and dating, cut out dating, not church. God will honor your choice and will bring you someone at the right time in your life where you can grow with the church and your future spouse.
4. Getting cheap council. Or not listening to council. When the leaders of your church tell you your relationship is not healthy or that you should not date but watch this person longer... or when they tell you this person is not as spiritually mature as yourself.... LISTEN!! Don't just think that you know better. The leaders may know things that you do not. They may have seen things in this person that you have not seen. Do not put on your lovie dovie blinders and dismiss everything because you think this person is perfect (and has great potential). Expensive council is council from someone who cares deeply about your spiritual growth and knows you and the other person on a spiritual level. If there is no leader who fits this category... that is a warning sign!! Does anyone who is spiritually strong know this person? Does anyone with a deep knowledge of the Bible really know you well? Be in fellowship with the Body of Christ with this person and there should be multiple people who are spiritually strong who know you both. Cheap council would be from your friends who have never called you out on any sin in your life. Or from your mom who he brought flowers to, and she thinks he is handsome, polite, and has a great job. Or the other people who sing in the choir with you. You told them about him and how great his is, so they are excited for you. This is cheap council. It has nothing to do with His heart before the Lord and his readiness to lead a family spiritually and emotionally.
5. Sexual sin. Doing anything with your significant other that you would not do with a brother or sister. You would not do it with a brother or sister because it is a sexual act, and not being sexually pure. It is hard enough, when dating, to keep your mind pure. So keeping your hands and lips pure is the start to keeping your mind pure. No one can french kiss someone and remain sexually pure. Set boundaries, don't be alone, find other ways to express your feelings. Write notes. Any spiritually mature man will not put himself in temptations way, and would not defile you as a sister in christ and cause you temptation. If he can not remain sexually pure outside of marriage, what is to say he will be able to control himself and remain sexually pure inside of marriage? My favorite little dating jingle: "Hands off... lips off." :) There will be plenty of time for that later.
6. Internet dating. When dating on the internet, people can put their best foot forward and do and say anything. They can be who they really want to be, but are living a lie. You need to be able to observe the person in the context of their life in Christ. What is their reputation? See "Thoughts on Christian Dating Part 1: Things to Observe" You can't see these things if your relationship is over the internet or long distance.
* Disclaimer: this has worked for some people. I am not saying the Lord can't use it... I am just saying I do not think it is a wise thing to pursue, it is risky, no one can deny that. Do you want to pursue marriage in a risky way? Not advisable.
Question: What if our theology doesn't match up?
Answer: Get to the real issue of why they don't match up. Who is he getting his theology from? Where are you getting yours? Are you both listing to those with the appropriate education and credibility? Or is he making up his own thoughts on theology, or listening to something on the internet or a pastor who is not valuing the Word of God? In order to create credible theology, we must go back to see what the original Bible manuscripts say and then translate them to English. This is difficult and requires a lot of studying. Is he backing himself with ancient Greek or Hebrew or by someone who knows these languages? Does he really even know scripture? Otherwise it is just mear speculation on his part and not a wise way to peruse and perceive truth. Wise men who know ancient Greek and Hebrew disagree on minor issues, so there may be minor differences, but major salvation issues must be worked out. The big question is: where are you both getting your theology, and why. Is it a wise way to peruse the truth or not? This is a great question and can have huge implications for your faith. Do you want to follow a man who is leaning on his own understanding instead of humbly seeking wisdom from those who are trained in it? Does he think he knows more than a pastor you respect? He could struggle with pride. If he is not going to be humble and teachable, God will not use him to his full potential, and this will cause struggles in your marriage in more ways than one. This prideful attitude may also be passed down to your children. People who trust in their own opinions and thoughts about God can be ones who often never fully understand or accept the true gospel.