Love gives, Lust takes

by: ellis j. still 

I participate in a youth ministry group with kids ages from 13 through high school once a month. This past weekend, we had a conversation about dating and marriage. Over the past few days I realized that many adults are having similar questions and issues as it relates to dating, so I figured I would share part of the conversation and some additional thoughts.

The concept of “dating” is a relatively new concept. Up until the early 20th century, people used courtship as a way to find one’s spouse. Courtship is a way to ensure that the man and woman are equally yoked. The object of courtship is to start slow with friendship, with the goal being  marriage. When a couple dates, they tend to show the best side of themselves so as to impress who they are dating. Starting as friends allows both people to get to know each other without any pressure, and you get to see who a person is in every season of their life and how they react to those seasons. Are they violent when things do not go right? Are they impatient? Is their walk with Christ really what it appears to be? Do they have emotional or psychological scars from previous relationships that could carry over into another relationship? It there untruthfulness? All of these things, without prying or asking questions, will come to light in time. Therefore, being patient and starting out as friends is an important part of finding out who you would want to spend the rest of your life with.

Dating to find your mate is a relatively new concept. Dating is nothing more than experimentation. The idea is that you try this and you try that and you will find what you want somewhere in there, but that almost never happens. You see other people date, and you want to try it out, but what you don’t see behind the scenes is how much dating hurts. Peer pressure to have sex (and drugs, etc…), lowering your standards (giving in and having sex), STD’s, the hurt feelings and emotional trauma from being in and out of relationships that are not equally yoked, being gossiped about, and not being used to sticking by one person no matter what (lack of commitment) are all byproducts of dating which leave scars that will follow you into marriage and often causes divorce. Dating is designed to make marriages fail. In our mind, we tend to think that dating is about being with just one person exclusively, but more often than not, there is no endgame in mind and as a result, we do not identify and stick to standards within the relationship and we kind of go with the flow.

Dating leads to intimacy, not commitment, and often mistakes physical relationships for love. Love gives, and lust takes. The definition of love is “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This is the true God given definition of love, yet most people for some reason do not believe, or truly buy into the notion of real love in their heart. Instead, we use the word love haphazardly and casually, which cancels its power and deteriorates its true meaning.

Many of the things that adults deal with emotionally stem from decisions they made as a teenager or in grade school. This was also the case with me. I had to conquer emotional baggage, low esteem, fear, and a host of other issues as a result of not only being in and out of relationships, but being in and out of relationships with the wrong people and not having a relationship with Christ in my life. When I rekindled my relationship with Christ and started back going to church, I didn’t want to date. I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wanted to heal. I wanted the scars to go away. I was tired of living how I was living, and I wanted to be right with God. But while I was I the midst of growing and not looking for a relationship, God sent me an angel… God sent me my wife.

On Saturday one of the kids asked “how do you know when God is speaking to you”? You just know. When Tina and I first met, it felt natural, as if we knew each other since the third grade. There were no airs, no false pretenses… just us being us having a conversation, which grew into more conversations. We had a discussion early on that our goal was not to date, but to see if this is something that could lead to marriage. We were patient, and our first kiss was on our wedding day. I know some you have heard me tell this story before, but I never get tired of telling it. God really kept me through all I went through in my life, yet when I finally woke up and made the decision to do things His way, extraordinary things started to happen to and for me in my life.

Till death do us part  :- )

Question: Have you set a standard from which to live your life, or are you slowly killing yourself by following behind what everyone else around you is doing? When is the last time you asked yourself, “what did Jesus say about…”

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved 


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