by Hohn Chohe introduction to this series is here. As we look at a number of key biblical principles in the area of Christian dating, I'm going to start with the importance of Christian character. In many ways, this is kind of a "no duh" principle, and it's not uncommon for pastors preaching a dating series to lead with multiple sermons on this concept. So my goal in addressing it in this one blog post certainly isn't meant to be comprehensive.But just as there are matters of first importance in the Bible, there are matters of first importance with respect to specific issues as well, and when it comes to dating, nothing is more important than Christlike character. All through Scripture, we are called to imitate Christ, such as 1 John 2:6 and Ephesians 5:1-2. We also see calls to imitate faithful Christians among us, even as they strive to imitate Christ, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 11:1. So this concept of imitation, of Christlikeness, is very clear in Scripture.I'm initially going to aim this first principle inwardly: Are you displaying Christlike character, before you even start thinking about anything else? As a Christian, you really ought to be doing that to at least some degree, or else you probably shouldn't be dating at all. Without some minimum baseline of tested and proven Christian character, and the ability to demonstrate to others that your profession of faith is genuine, perhaps you should spend some more time working on yourself first.At the risk of being cliché, however, it's about direction, not perfection. Remember that historically, people got married both in general society and in the church quite a bit younger than the 2017 US median age of 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men, and today's modern trend of waiting longer and longer for marriage is actually both historically unusual and on some levels concerning, according to Dr. Al Mohler (a consistent warning he's sounded over the years) and numerous other Christian leaders.Although the idea of getting married before the age of, say, 25 might be an astonishing one to some Christians today, there's nothing inherently or biologically different between young people today and young people in the 1700's, or even young people in the Ancient Near East. Now, cultural expectations of maturity and overall life expectancy have certainly changed significantly, but even so, there's no reason to think that a spiritually mature 18- to 22-year-old Christian man or woman today couldn't get married. With that said, on a practical level, what are some ways that a young single Christian, and the key people speaking into that person's life, might be able to gauge his or her readiness for marriage?When I refer to gauging readiness for marriage, to be clear, my spiritual assessment of a 22-year-old single man isn't going to be the same type of assessment as a 45-year-old husband and father who's been a Christian for most of his life. Too often, I think, single Christians develop an unrealistically high expectation that their potential romantic interests need to match up to the godliness of their Christian parents, pastors, elders, and role models. And if anything, Christian parents, who are obviously going to want the best for their kids, and to protect them, can be even more stringent in this examination. And yet if we believe, as many of us do, that marriage and parenthood will be the most blessedly sanctifying experiences and relationships in our lives, then if anything, it's even more unfair to think that single people who haven't yet embarked upon those adventures ought to be held to the same standard of sanctification as older saints who are well under way on their journeys.Now, with that said, of course there are some assessments to be made in these areas, and some basic minimums ought to be satisfied. And it can get especially tricky when those minimums are considered on a case-by-case basis, by each individual romantic interest (and in some cases, by the parents of that romantic interest, as well). One young woman might look at a guy and say, sure, he's faithful and godly, I'd consider him . . . whereas another young woman and her parents might look at the same guy and immediately shake their heads. This helps explain both the intense desire within conservative evangelicalism for a standard "formula" and the (at times) messy and confusing results when the answer instead is that we need to figure this out for ourselves in our own Christian liberty, stewardship, and wisdom, as we mine the Scriptures for appropriate biblical principles to apply.For single Christian men, I suggest considering three key areas that are especially important for husbands: readiness as a leader, a protector, and a provider, as Tim Challies lays out in an excellent series. For over a decade, Chris Hamilton, the chairman of my church's elder board, has also identified the same three traits of leading, protecting, and providing as fundamental in Scripture for raising boys into young men. And all of this matches my own examination of Scripture on this topic.So as a future leader in the home, does the single man have some kind of goal or vision in terms of what he's thinking and planning with respect to a future wife and family? Proverbs 29:18 is clear on the wisdom of having such a vision, so what is that vision for the single man's future family, and is that vision biblical, in accordance with the Word of God? Having that vision and being able to articulate it to others would be incredibly helpful in terms of discerning how the single man would lead.As a protector, I'm not talking about just physical protection. Buying a gun doesn't check off this box! But will the single man be able to protect his future wife and family from error, from the dangers and deceptions of this world? 2 Timothy 3:1-7 warns about lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful arrogant revilers, haters of good, lovers of pleasure, who are nevertheless holding to a form of godliness. And we're told to avoid them, lest they enter your household and captivate the people under your care. Can the single man identify dangers such as these and guard against them?As a provider, Scripturally this isn't necessarily the highest bar to clear, because as 1 Timothy 6:8 says, we ought to be content with food and covering. Remember, most Christians throughout the history of the church have been relatively poor and would probably view today's modern abundance with a mixture of awe and even apprehension per Proverbs 30:8-9! But food and clothing and a place to lay your head all still cost money. Is the single man able to lay down a security deposit and first and sometimes even last month's rent, and pass a credit check? Even more importantly, is the single man a hard worker, and will he be able to earn some kind of living moving forward?For single Christian women, Scripture directly informs us in Genesis 2:18 that wives are to be helpers to their husbands. Titus 2:4-5 also speaks more expansively about the importance of young women being, among other things, lovers of their husbands, lovers of their children, and excellent workers in the home . . . not necessarily a worker at home only, this verse does not forbid jobs outside the home, and we see a clear example of a godly wife in Scripture working outside of the home in Proverbs 31:16-18. But the example does assume, and display, that the wife is being an excellent worker within the home, as well. And I can again recommend Hamilton's message about how fundamental the traits of being lovers of their husbands, lovers of their children, and excellent workers in the home are for raising girls into young women.So as a future lover of her husband and helpmate to him, does a single woman know what that entails? Does she have any role models in her life in this regard, has she seen how a godly married couple behaves toward each other? Has she ever worked alongside others closely in a team environment, in a support role? Proverbs 31:11-12 is a helpful passage here, is she trustworthy and benevolent, seeking the good of others even more so than herself (which is a general call to all Christians, per Philippians 2:3)?As a lover of her children, has a single woman spent any time with children, either with younger siblings or babysitting or observing a godly family with each other? Proverbs 31:25-28 paints a picture of a strong, dignified, wise, kind, conscientious, and diligent mother whose children "rise up and call her blessed," a classically maternal image. And again, we're not looking for perfection here, especially in a single woman who has yet to bear any children, but are those traits at least in progress, or anywhere in view? For that matter, in our modern day and age, does the single woman view the development of these characteristics, and even the very notion of motherhood itself, as desirable (or as a blessing, as we see in Psalm 127:3) to begin with?As a worker in the home, does a single woman know how to be an excellent at that, how to manage a household? Is she industrious? How is she with money? Given a certain level of provision, can she supply her household with its basic needs? Once again, we see a helpful passage in Proverbs 31:13-15 on this topic, even as I also feel the need to reiterate that the portrait in Proverbs 31 is of an ideal, of a woman who has been at this whole "wife and mother" thing for quite some time. (And for another thought-provoking take on Proverbs 31, here's an interesting piece by Jasmine Holmes.)Of course, there are many other character traits in Scripture which are critically important for single Christian men and women, such as purity, humility, love, teachability, contentment, willingness to serve and put others first, and most of all, a love for Christ and His church. Again, this article is not intended as a comprehensive word on the importance of Christian character in (or prior to) dating. But prayerfully it will serve as a helpful and practical encouragement. And now that you've considered this question with respect to yourself, next in the series we'll consider this question in connection with the person you're interested in, with our second principle being to cast off consumerism.
Dear Friends,If you pay much attention to what everyone is talking about these days—what some might call “news”—it’s easy to pick up on a troubling pattern. Kyle Smith at National Review has pinpointed it well: it’s “a culture of enmity.” It’s something that both liberals and conservatives are guilty of—a near constant state of indignation, usually aimed at someone who said something “hateful,” that must be made publicly known. As Smith observes, it can be easy to fall into the trap of fighting hate with more hate: “Any uneasy feelings about hate are washed clean when that hate is obviously justified. Hating haters, these days, produces a kind of ecstasy. It is easily mistaken for love.”As Christians, we are called to something higher. Even when we feel that we are justified in “calling out” someone for something that they have said or written that we find offensive, we need to slow down and give our response careful consideration. As David French has observed: “If you truly hate the offensive speech in question — if you truly believe it’s hurtful — why share it far and wide? Why amplify the offensive voice? Arguably, the worst rebuke for a troll, the worst punishment for the self-promoting radical, is indifference. I have my own standard for engaging bad ideas — First, I wait. I ask myself: Are these ideas gaining traction? Do they threaten to make a material difference in the marketplace of ideas? If the answer is yes, then I engage. If the answer is no, I let the offensive speech die a natural death.” In other words, ignoring offensive remarks can often be the most prudent course of action, especially in our current cultural climate of ubiquitous outrage.At the risk of sounding a little bit trite and naïve, it’s time for Christians to start a revolution of positivity by infusing the public square with truth, goodness, and beauty. Instead of pontificating about the latest outrage on Facebook, share an insightful spiritual quote you heard from last Sunday’s sermon, or share a link to an inspiring story about the adoption of a needy child. The authentic Christian life should not solely be focused on exposing the darkness of evil. Our primary goal should be to magnify the lightness of good.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesThe Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act: Ensuring a Free Marketplace of Adoption Providers – Travis WeberParents Stand Up for Children in Sex Ed Sit Out – Cathy RuseMore Sex Ed and Even More Stalinism at the Local School Board – Cathy Ruse and Austin RusePompeo: A Proven Leader for the State Department – Ken BlackwellPompeo Is Ready to Lead – William G. BoykinWhy the Alfie Evans Case Is a Full-Blown Example of Forced Euthanasia – Om NarayananCan You See Me? – Patrina MosleyFaith-Based Adoption Providers Must Be Allowed to Serve Needy ChildrenState Department Defends Actual Human Rights Instead of Made-Up Rights – Travis Weber12 Resources to Fight Sexual Exploitation, Part 2 – Peter Sprigg12 Resources to Fight Sexual Exploitation, Part 1 – Peter SpriggWho Owns Free Speech on the Internet?“Suicide Machine” Shows Us Why Combating Euthanasia Is Crucial to the Pro-Life Cause – Om Narayanan Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareNew California Bill Could Ban Sale of Some Christian Books (Yes, Really) – Mark Meckler, PatheosSchool District Forbids Parents From Opting Kids Out of LGBT Lessons – ToddStarnes.comSenators are failing the religious test for office – Jeremy Dys, The HillThe Unsoundness of Silencing Hate – Elizabeth Scalia, Word On FireSchool District Bans Principal From Inviting Parents to Pray at Flag Pole After Atheist Complaint – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post US Christian who refuses to pay taxes until abortion is defunded has first big win in court – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsIowa Senate refuses to confirm Board of Medicine appointee over post on LGBTQ issues – William Petroski, Des Moines RegisterSouthern Poverty Law Center Quietly Deleted List of ‘Anti-Muslim’ Extremists After Legal Threat – Jack Crowe, National ReviewSatanists Declare War on Arkansas Ten Commandments – ToddStarnes.comInternational Religious FreedomState Dept. Convinced Andrew Brunson Is Innocent, Says Turkey Lacks 'Credible Evidence' – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostAttack on Nigerian church kills 15 worshippers – Onize Ohikere, WORLDTrudeau: ‘We will not apologize’ for valuing abortion over free speech – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsMilitary Religious FreedomBaptist Army Chaplain Faces Punishment for Religious Beliefs – ToddStarnes.comSan Diego-based admiral declines to probe Bible placement at Okinawa hospital – Carl Prine, The San Diego Union-Tribune LifeAbortionHouse passes bill banning abortions based on Down Syndrome – Liz Navratil & Angela Couloumbis, The InquirerState Department: Abortion ‘is not a human right’ – Joel Gehrke, Washington ExaminerPro-Choice Movement Opposes Abortion Alternatives in South Bend – Alexandra DeSanctis, National ReviewCecile Richards Finally Leaves Planned Parenthood After 12 Years and 3.5 Million Abortions – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNewsAdoptionAdopting Priorities – Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Stream10 things that will kill your church's orphan care ministry: Part 1 – Rick Morton, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionFinally a family: Inside the adoption process for three Bedford County sisters – Siobhan McGirl, WDBJ710 things that will kill your orphan care ministry: Part 2 – Rick Morton, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionBioethicsThe State-Ordered Killing of Young Alfie Evans – John O’Sullivan, National ReviewAlfie Evans’ Death Illustrates The Monstrous Logic Of The Welfare State – John Daniel Davidson, The FederalistAlfie Evans and Our Moral Crossroads – Charles C. Camosy, First ThingsObamacareRepublicans have a long way to go toward fully repealing ObamaCare – Rachel Bovard, The Hill FamilyMarriageHealing a Hookup Culture through the Goods of Marriage – Timothy P. O'Malley, Family Studies“The Flash,” Fear, and the Kenosis of Marriage – Rachel Bulman, Word on FireDwayne 'The Rock' Johnson should put a ring on it — for his kids' sake – W. Bradford Wilcox, USA TodayEffective Marriage Preparation for the Next Generation Is More Important Than Ever – Tiffany L. Clyde and Alan J. Hawkins, Family StudiesThe New States’ Rights: Is Parenthood Defined by Biology or Government? – Adam J. MacLeod, Public DiscourseA Marriage Restored – Thomas Jeffries, Focus on the FamilyFor Most Couples Who Stay the Course, Marriage Gets Better With Time: An Interview with Paul R. Amato – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesEconomics/EducationAnti-homeschooling bill defeated in California – The Desert ReviewWhy Christian Higher Education Still Matters – Chris Hazell, Word on FireNew National Test Scores Show Betsy DeVos Was Right About Public Schools – Mary Clare Amselem, Intellectual TakeoutHow Colleges Are Ripping Off a Generation of Ill-Prepared Students – Walter E. Williams, The Daily SignalFaith/Character/CultureWhy you should encourage your child to befriend the kid who’s “different” – Adrian Buntin, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionMake It Easy for Your Kids to Love God – Ray Ortlund, Desiring GodFrom the Depths of John Krasinski’s Catholic Past: A Quiet Work of Art – Sarah Perry, Benedict XVI InstituteWhen God Shouts – Pat Flynn, Word on FireChristian, choose hope in an age of cynicism – Jason Duesing, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionHuman SexualityThe School System Corrupts And Sexualizes Our Children And Calls It 'Sex Ed' – Matt Walsh, The Daily WirePromiscuous America: Smart, Secular, and Somewhat Less Happy – Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family StudiesHow the New Corporate Elite Sold Same-Sex Marriage to the American Public – Scott Yenor, Public DiscourseEncouraging Intentional Dating in a Hookup Culture – Meg T. McDonnell, Family StudiesHuman TraffickingThis Man Rescues Children From Sex Slavery And Wants You To Know This About Backpage – Bre Payton, The FederalistPornographyJesus’s Compassion for Those Who Love Porn – Mo Isom, The Gospel CoalitionWhy redeeming our thoughts matters – Liz Wann, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
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