Summary: The Biblical keys necessary to successfully navigate the dating scene, glorifying God and finding the mate God created you to live your life with.

GODLY RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX - “God thought up and created two sexes. It is his idea.” – Dean Sherman. The Kingdom of God is based on relationships (and almost every problem on the planet arises out of bad relationships). Relationships are top priority to God (Mat. 22:37-39). Jesus came and died to restore a relationship between God and people. The entire Bible (both OT and NT) involves covenants, commitments, friendships and relationships. John. 17 - Jesus said the world would know his church by the love they have for each other. There are God given rules for relationships. Godly relationships are fulfilling, real, and produce good fruit. Selfish relationships (self on the throne) produce almost every problem on the planet. Jesus said the entire law is wrapped up in loving him and each other (Mat.22:37-40). God’s relationship rules (1 Cor.13:4-8): Love 1Is patient, 2 kind, 3doesn’t envy, 4doesn’t “parade” self (show off), 5isn’t puffed up (proud), 6isn’t rude, 7doesn’t seek own interests, 8isn’t be provoked, 9bears all things, 10believes all things (believes the best, not worst ~ gossip), 11doesn’t rejoice in evil (isn’t happy about others’ downfalls), 12rejoices in the truth (of who they are in Christ), 13hopes all things, 14endures all things (keeps on loving when it is hard to), 15Love Never Fails!! 4 different types of loves (C.S Lewis). 1Affection, 2Friendship (should be “Agape” or unconditional), 3Mariage (a married man and woman, this also involves agape, but there is more to it than that!!!) and 4Relationship with God. All 4 areas involve Attraction (Attraction is an emotion which involves admitting something is nice and beautiful compared to lust which is choosing to selfishly use, desire or gratify). You can be attracted to a pizza or to a kitten (Affection), guys and gals as friends, your spouse (I hope you will be) and God. Don’t Be Bamboozled!!! Fact: You will be attracted to different individuals. Attraction does not = Romance. Letting attraction lead you will get you into more trouble than you can imagine. You are not an emotion (you are a spirit, you have a soul (emotions, desires, feelings, thought life, intellect and appetites) and you live in a body. Knowing your true identity will affect your relationships. Fact: Attraction is a feeling, which can be good or bad depending on who is on the throne. Attraction should never lead you; you lead it (decide what you allow yourself to be attracted to God, to your husband or wife, to the Word; Not to a T.V model). Don’t be fooled by mystical feelings (“If I see her today I’m supposed to be with her”). Romance is God’s idea! God created the 2 sexes with a “need” for each other – don’t deny this but seek God’s wisdom in it (1Cor.1:25, James 1:5). Gen.2:18 - God describes the importance of the male-female relationship. The entire book of Song of Solomon discusses romance, marriage and sex. God says marriage and sex are great and satisfying (Heb.13:4, Pr.5:18-19). A romantic relationship between a man and a woman is why we’re alive and here tonight! God created us with romantic desires and He wants to fulfill those in the correct way – the best and most satisfying way. Trying to do romance our own way causes tons of problems. Divorce – no one ever originally plans on getting divorced. Unplanned pregnancies – force unexpected responsibility. STDs – which can affect you for the rest of your life. There are God given rules for sex – these produce the best and most satisfying sex possible. 1Cor.6:18 – Sex is reserved for a committed marriage. This provides the security and stability needed for a truly satisfying relational, emotional, spiritual, physical and progressive sex life. This sex life is safe and actually contributes to the overall relationship. No STD’s, ready, correct context for any possible pregnancy. God created men and women in His image (Gen. 1:27) and called them BOTH “very good” (along with all creation). They are very different though. Both men and women exhibit characteristics of God that the other sex does not excel in. Ex. Firemen and plumbers are equal but have different callings. You would never call the fire department to fix your toilet and likewise you would never send a plumber to fight a fire. They are equal in value but have different strengths and callings. Gal.3:28. God created women with unique qualities and abilities men don’t excel in. Women exhibit certain characteristics of God better than men do. Here are a few: Beauty (God is the author of beauty, just look at creation). Ability to look at the big picture. God’s nurturing and caring (Motherly characteristics). Emotions (God was very emotional in many different instances; Note: these were proper emotions). God Created men with unique qualities and abilities women don’t excel in. Men exhibit certain characteristics of God better than women do. Here are a Few: Physical strength. Analytical determination (naturally analyze every situation). Ability to zone in on one thing (problem solving). God’s protection and provision (Fatherly characteristics). Both are equals but were created with different strengths to accomplish different tasks (this is His plan). Together (as the body and in marriage the two sexes will exhibit all of his characteristics (if Christ is on the throne). Men! You can’t and never will be mothers. I promise. Women! You will never break the world bench press record. Remember: God made us different for a reason, to live in harmony, glorifying Him, reflecting His characteristics. You will be most happy and fulfilled doing what you were made for. Men are not more important than women. Women are not more important than men. Cherish each other’s strengths and be patient with each other’s weaknesses. Don’t think your sex is better!!! Don’t think your strengths are better. Christianity is a team, different roles but the same goal. Men and women must learn how to treat each other in a way that reflects Christ, which requires that each sex know who they are and who the other is. Know who the real you is and who the real other person is. Relate based on what is true not based on society’s ideas. Men, Be real men. Women, be real women (Social roles vs. Godly roles). Men you have to bench 250 lbs., eat like gorillas and watch Rambo flicks. Women must have perfect curves, eat like birds and watch princess flicks. Godly roles are clearly outlined in scripture. Believe truth not a lie. Remember: Social roles attempt to be liberating but produce nothing but bondage stress and pain (have you ever met a happy feminist?). Social roles are developed in the worldly perspective, which believes you are nothing but a body and soul (Spirit is dead) and that God is non-existent. Know who God made you to be, as a man or woman and don’t strive to be the other. Your true identity, is found in Jesus alone. The way you men should treat the women in the Body of Christ (“Agape” or unconditional love). Guy-gal Friendships are wonderful and fulfilling. They are not the means to romance but are an end in themselves. Female friends can impact and bless you in ways other men can’t. She is your sister!!! Respect, Protect & Love her (put her good above yours). Do not Manipulate them (acting in a certain way to obtain a type of action or decision from another person). Saying and doing what they want to hear and see in order to get them to do what you want them to. Remember: Men are sight oriented; women are feeling and touch oriented. Keep your hands off your sisters in Christ, it is manipulating their emotions. Be careful with actions you men are completely comfortable with and think nothing of (wrestling, massaging, leaning on, etc.). These often provoke very strong feelings in your sisters in Christ and are ways of manipulating them. Treat them as sisters in Christ, as equals, loving them unconditionally. Don’t do anything that might possibly manipulate them!! Don’t hold them to a standard of good looks, intelligence or popularity. Be careful how you joke with them. Teasing them in ways you treat your guy friends can often cause them real pain. Be a blessing to them. The way you ladies should treat the men in the body of Christ (“Agape” or unconditional love). A friendship with a brother in Christ can be very incredible and fulfilling. Men are built differently than you. They don’t think like you and you must be careful to understand that. Remember: Learn how to NOT encourage guys romantically. We don’t need the encouragement, BELIEVE ME. Guys think that almost any gesture implies possible romance. Make sure your brother in Christ understands the difference between friendship and romance. Guys will take almost any gesture of friendship from the female to mean, “That girl likes me.” Do not manipulate them (clothing, words, emotions). Ex. “We don’t have to go there.” Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated. Uncomfortable with his actions - say “NO!” Don’t hold your brothers to a standard of good looks, intelligence and popularity. Be a blessing to them. Remember: Men and women, don’t be afraid of godly friendships. Don’t use friendships only as a means to romance. Develop quality godly relationships. Love each other as brothers and sisters, serve each other, communicate clearly (Do not play stupid guy-girl manipulating games, “I’ll wait till the 4th ring to pick up the phone”). Develop friendships not romances, that comes later. Don’t be eager to be in a romance. Christian dating. A date is defined as a pre-arranged social engagement. It can be either: A group setting – smart low commitment way of getting to know each other. One-on-one – More serious, needs a much more serious foundation. The seriousness of the dating relationship depends on the communication and honesty of the two people between themselves, each other and God. What type of person should you consider dating? Single member of the opposite sex. 2Cor.6:14 – Another believer (Ex. Solomon and his wives). Someone with similar maturity – benefits are obvious. Someone who would be a possible candidate for marriage – don’t date anyone you wouldn’t consider marrying. When are you ready for a “special dating relationship”? When the right guy or gal comes along having a godly relationship (friendship only) with that significant other will provide the best foundation imaginable for a future romantic relationship (but don’t develop the friendship as a means to romance). Here are the “pre-requisites”: You are not needy – 2 halves don’t make a whole. The other person can be a commodity (if you are needy) or a blessing (if God is your all). Bread and water vs. a steak dinner. God must be number one in your life. Don’t make the opposite sex an idol – do you think more about her or God? Patiently and trustfully waiting for His timing (James 1:17, Ps.31:14-15). You have a solid identity in Jesus alone. You are maturing in Christ and have matured to a place where you’re ready. You are walking in the Holy Spirit. You can bless that other person as God desires. You can exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in that relationship. You are encouraging positive growth in each other. You have the right motives for the relationship (AGAPE). You have developed an agape only relationship with that person first. This is the best foundation for romance (do the AGAPE right first). Lk.16:10 - Faithful in smaller things  faithful in larger areas too. This takes time. No one should date someone they barely know. It is unwise to allow a stranger that type of intimacy). Knowing someone for at least a year before you date is very wise. Prov.12:26 - says, “a wise man is cautious in friendship” – don’t rush it! And when you’ve prepared correctly and think you are ready: Fast and pray about it, then seek confirmation of God’s will from your accountability. The relationship test: 1Are you individually and as a couple growing and maturing in Jesus and encouraging growth in each other? 2Are you having your Q.T.s, an effective prayer life and obeying His will for you (sharing faith, encouraging the body of Christ, fellowship)? 3Are the Fruits of the Spirit increasingly evident in your relationship? If you are lacking in any of these three areas you should seek God about whether you should be in this relationship. How and why you should date? The goal of dating should be to glorify God and strengthen each other. 1Cor. 10:31 – Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Finding the right person vs. becoming the right person (35/65). This will enable you to make a wise and informed decision about marriage. Fight the urge to prematurely assume you’re going to marry this person. Give the relationship time to grow without that type of pressure. If you realize this person is not someone you would be able to marry gently communicate and end the dating relationship, before further emotional involvement. Date in a way that if you do break up you won’t have regrets (2Cor.1:12). Don’t date for physical pleasure – treat that person respectfully as a sibling in Christ. Heb.13:4 - Save sex for marriage. Mat.5:28 – Lust is equal to adultery! We are made to stick together like duct tape – when we stick and peel apart we cant stick together as well the next time. When are you ready for marriage? Not after 6 months of good feelings, because you really feel this is the one. When you’ve learned to do the agape and romance correctly. And spent adequate time developing the relationship (just because you know they’re the right one doesn’t mean you’re ready for the big jump. Waiting will not kill you. If you can’t wait, you are not ready). Are you circumstantially ready? Still in college? Getting married in college can be very rough. Have any debt? If you love that person will you tie them to your debt? Are you ready to walk the marriage role God has provided for you (provide, protect, be a mother)? Responsibility is vital!! Are you emotionally ready? Are you needy, seeking marriage as a security blanket? Are you spiritually ready? Is Christ your all? Are you growing in Him through this? Are you developing His calling on your life or is the relationship distracting you from that? Have you sought God’s will and had confirmation? If you haven’t sought God’s will for an extended amount of time and received un-doubtable direction (not just really feeling that this is the one) you aren’t ready. If you don’t have complete confirmation of God’s will from your leaders and accountability, you aren’t ready. Bottom Line: Start and continue treating each other the right way (Agape), don’t pursue romance (it will come soon enough), glorify God in every relationship. It is possible to do relationships the right way. Decide now that you will. If you mess up He will forgive you, don’t keep messing up but get back on track. Be examples of the way men and women were made to interact, reflecting Jesus in all your relationships.