Resurrecting dating

Over at the Desiring God blog, Marshall Segal has a wonderful article entitled, When the Not-Yet Married Meet: Dating to Display Jesus. His opening words are:

Dating is dead.

So says the media. Girls, stop expecting guys to make any formal attempt at winning your affections. Don’t sit around waiting for a boy to make you a priority, communicate his intentions, or even call you on the phone. Exclusivity and intentionality are ancient rituals, things of the past, and misplaced hopes.

I beg to differ. It’s not that this new line of thinking is necessarily untrue today, or that it’s not the current and corrupt trend of our culture. It’s wrong. One of our most precious pursuits, that of a life-long partner for all of life, is tragically being relegated to tweets, texts, and Facebook pokes, to ambiguous flirtation and fooling around. It’s wrong.
[emphasis added]

1415226_embracing_coupleAfter helpfully opening up the natural of dating (“where does marriage come from?”) he then goes on to write several paragraphs under each of these headings, explaining how one should date and how dating ought to look forward to marriage:

1. It really is as simple as they say (reminding us that “marriage really is less about compatibility than commitment”).

2. Know what makes a marriage worth having. (hint, it has to do with helping you learn more about God)

3. Look for clarity more than intimacy. Here’s the whole of this incredibly wise section (soak up that second paragraph) —

The greatest danger of dating is giving parts of our hearts and lives to someone to whom we’re not married. It is a significant risk, and many, many men and women have deep and lasting wounds from relationships because a couple enjoyed emotional or physical closeness without a lasting, durable commitment. Cheap intimacy feels real for the moment, but you get what you pay for.

While the great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy, the great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity. Intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity. The purpose of our dating is determining whether the two of us should get married, so we should focus our effort there.

In our pursuit of clarity, we will undoubtedly develop intimacy, but we ought not do so too quickly or too naively. Be intentional and outspoken to one another that, as Christians, intimacy before marriage is dangerous, while clarity is unbelievably precious.

4. Find a fiancé on the frontlines. (this refers to finding someone who is serving God too)

5. Don’t let your mind marry him before the rest of you can. (Here Marshall writes, “The trajectory of all truly Christian romance ought to be marriage, so it should not surprise us that our dreams and expectations, our hearts, race out ahead of everything else.”)

6. Boundaries make for the best of friends. (“Boundaries are necessary because on the road to marriage and its consummation, the appetite for intimacy only grows as you feed it.”)

7. Consistently include your community. (He says make sure other people [eg, church] are involved as you develop your relationship).

8. Let all your dating be missionary dating. (No, he doesn’t mean date non-Christians; rather, “dating that displays and promotes faith in Jesus and his good news, a dating that is in step with the gospel before the watching world.”)

Now, go read the WHOLE THING HERE for your own benefit, or to share with another. I pray for all who want God’s will for their relationships (and marriage) will think along these lines.

Touring Milwaukee, Wisconsin

After an unforgettable Fathers’ Day in Janesville, the family and I enjoyed a wonderful day here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We arrived last night at the grand old hotel we used for our wedding (the Marc Plaza is now a Hilton Hotel!), and saw the fancy Monarch Ballroom which we used for our wedding reception. Laurel’s parents gave us a much treasured memory there!

Today started for me at 5:00 AM, when I got up to send Andrew off to the airport (he flew to California to visit with a friend). Mid-morning, the rest of us toured several places where I grew-up, learned to ride a bike, walked/rode a city bus to grade school, the beautiful Milwaukee lakefront, and, the church where Laurel and I were married 26 years ago this week! Lots of stories for the kids to hear….

We spent the afternoon at a the Milwaukee County Zoo — a world-class zoo, which we almost had all to our selves! Great animals and good weather. And, we saw a little of the Miller Park (home of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team) after that. Lots of fun — and tired feet!

I am very thankful to a gracious God for the past, and for the present.

Concise Marriage counseling

Jim Elliff put this out on Twitter…

Be kind to one another” — Eph 4:32.
A marriage seminar in a phrase.


Simple thoughts on a spectacular thing

4896_103270385068_637930068_2531260_4855171_sMarriage is a spectacular thing! Having just marked my 25th Wedding Anniversary only reinforces this! And it spectacular far beyond my abilities to describe in writing (especially in a short blog post! But I do have a couple simple thoughts, that might encourage or edify others…

GOSPEL MYSTERY. When our Pastor, Dr Dick Sisson preached from Ephesians 5 at our wedding, he began by stating his wonder: how can a boy from Wisconsin win the heart of a girl from Boston? How do those “so different”(!) come together to enjoy the covenant relationship of marriage?? This mystery is a picture for us of the gospel itself — a picture of how men come to be in a relationship with God through Christ Jesus! In Ephesians 5 we read this (emphasis added)…

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….
31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Profound indeed! But by the common grace of God men and women do get married — and, by saving grace, men and women can be redeemed by Christ and enter into a covenant relationship with God! I am so thankful for BOTH graces at work in me and in my marriage.

pdb at Castle Hill Lighthouse, Newport, RI

pdb at Castle Hill Lighthouse, Newport, RI

STRENGTH TO CLEAVE. 25 years is a long time. Where does one find the inner strength to maintain a marriage? When I stood with my bride on our wedding day, and repeated my vows to her before God, I added a verse of Scripture (Psalm 73:26, my life’s verse) that has since proven true time and time again:

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

My strength to be a husband comes from God. He is faithful to those who call upon Him, trust Him and serve Him.

I thank God for all that I have learned while being married to Laurel — about the joys of marriage, the real nature of love, and, the significance of grace. God is very good.

yours (and Laurel’s) by divine mercy,