June 14, 2013

Help! I'm A New Christian. What Are The Rules On Dating? (1)

I am having conversations about Christian women more and more with our new Christian men. What sort of woman should they ‘look out’ for? How do you know if she’s the ‘right one’? How do you know if they like you or are just being nice to you?

According to one of my men:

“When I first came to church I found the women a bit confusing. I thought they all fancied me because they kept talking to me and asking me stuff about my life. Where I come from, that means a girl fancies you. I thought I was a right stud with all these girls after me. Then I realised they didn’t fancy me, they were just being nice and polite. Now I have no idea how to talk to one. How do I know if I should ask a Christian girl out?”

MY advice is usually a combination of both spiritual and practical considerations.

1. Are they strong and disciplined in their walk with Jesus? Baby Christians from schemes usually come with an airport terminal full of baggage. In the early days they need to find their feet spiritually before anything else happens. The ‘itchy’ period usually comes about six months in. Men, who have been particularly sexually active pre-conversion, are driven almost to distraction by sexual urges. Many of our young men fall at this hurdle and put a roll in the hay over the spiritual discipline of following Christ in chaste obedience. Usually they will go back to an old partner or some previous conquest to satisfy these urges. 100% of the time they regret it and many (not all) come back feeling guilt and shame. Strong accountability and discipleship is required to ensure our new believers are keeping their eyes on Jesus and walking with him daily in his Word. Prayer is an absolute necessity. Regular, consistent study of God’s Word from the off is another key. We are constantly preparing our men here against the wiles of the evil one in the early years. I don’t think men should be thinking about dating within their first two years of conversion. If they have proven to walk faithfully with Jesus in a disciplined way, and have been producing consistent fruit in keeping with repentance, then maybe they should begin to ask God what his will for their life is in regard to the opposite sex.

2. Is the attraction to a woman lustful or spiritual? 100% of the time it is lust in our male converts. My advice to my young believers is to not rush into any situation. Often, any half decent looking girl with a heartbeat can become a bit of an obsession for a sex starved man. If the girl in question lacks maturity, or has her own issues (which she almost certainly will), then this can become confusing quickly, and we end up with a real recipe for spiritual disaster for both of their souls. It is easy to confuse lust with love, and once a line has been crossed, there is no going back without causing a mess.

3. Have they had a test for venereal diseases and/or HIV? Most of the men and women in our areas have been sexually active from the age of 12. They will have had countless sexual experiences, often with both sexes. They must get tested as a matter of course and peace of mind to all parties.

4. Do they have any children from previous relationships? Where are they and have they tried to be reconciled to them? More than anything, our discipleship has to incorporate fatherly responsibility once a man comes to Christ. Often situations are complex and emotional. Many women, for instance, do not want to know even if the man comes to Christ. Because of previous history, be it violence, drug abuse, etc., they are not easily convinced by the ‘now I'm saved’ story. As far as is possible, their job is to seek reconciliation and put as much of the past in order as they can before they move on in their lives. The same for young women. More than a few will have children in care, be single mothers and/or be well known to social services. Where is the father? Is he contactable? Is he reasonable? Often, the answer is no. But, as long as that avenue has been investigated, then the conscience is clear and the person(s) can move forward with their lives.

Dating here is not as simple as it seems and is not be the ideal scenario often sold to us in the media. More tips tomorrow.

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