Youth Conference 2015 Q&A - Part 4

Q1

How old should you be to date?

As Christians the purpose of dating (or courting in this case) should be marriage. If that's the purpose then you should date when you're ready for marriage, or just about ready. To be ready (or best prepared) for marriage I believe that a person should be over 20 years old as the last parts of your brain develop between the ages of 20-25. These parts have to do with decision making and critical thinking - important stuff for any person making life altering decisions. They should also be stable financially to be able to support a family and spiritually. If you're not ready in these areas, then don't just sit around - begin working on them!

Q2

What is your opinion on gays/lesbians?

I don't like identifying people by their sin. The Bible clearly states it's point of view on homosexuality in both the new and the old testament so I don't think that's the point of discussion, (Romans 1:26-28, Leviticus 20:13) rather we're talking about people who commit sin. What do I think of them? It depends on context. In the context of their actions, I think that it's sin and sin ultimately leads to spiritual eternal death. (Romans 6:23) In the context of our treatment of homosexuals, I think we need to respond with love towards them and rejection towards their sin. Understand, Jesus loved sinners. No, let me say that again in case someone didn't get it - He LOVED sinners. If any Christian cannot grasp this simple truth, than you cannot understand how to work with people struggling with sin. It's not an intellectual help people need, it's the Love of Jesus that transforms. Jesus didn't accept their sin He condemned it, no doubt about that, but He still loved them. It's like a father who loves his son who's making poor choices. He loves his son but can't endorse his choices as good he has to call them what they are - sin. 1 Corinthians 13 is clear that it's not our deeds or faith or supernatural responses that are the catalyst - it's love. If we don't love people like Jesus did, then what we do doesn't impact and ultimately matter. Also, I don't think that the majority of the Romanian American church exemplifies this kind of love towards sinners. We need to put our Christianity before our culture - Jesus did.

Q3

How do you know a girl is "the one?"

Before you can identify if a girl is "the one" you have to ask yourself - "am I the one?" If you're not ready to meet her, and ultimately ready for marriage, then meeting her will end up in disappointment for both of you. Remember, the right girl at the wrong time is the wrong girl. Let me give you an example, my wife had feelings for me 3 years before we ever started courting and she surrendered those feelings to the Lord praying that He take them away if they weren't right. The Lord took them away because it wasn't the right time. I was just as wrong for her then as any other guy would have been. Now after 3 years those feelings came back and my wife prayed the same prayer, this time the Lord grew her feelings and we got married and we've had a lovely and wonderful marriage over the last 8+ years. Now, what to look for specifically? I answered this a little more in depth in Q.6 in Part 3 of the Q&A series, click here to go there now. Now, what if you're with a girl, love her and you just don't know if she's the one? I would honestly consult with your parents. Really, they love you and they want your best, as long as their reasoning isn't against scripture (like draped in pride or something) you should do well. You could also ask unbiased individuals for their counsel like a Christian mentor you may have, your youth pastor, small group leader, etc. I think with this kind of decision it is important to take into account all wise counsel around you. Most importantly pray and fast. I'm sure you already are praying and fasting about it, but understand - you need to surrender her to Jesus. Put your WHOLE trust in Him, and He'll see you through.

Q4

How do you resist not having sex with someone you love and you can't get married yet due to school and money?

So I know you already know this, but for our readers sake let me just say it - you're in a fairly difficult place. Here's why - you want to be in a relationship with this person and not cross over boundaries that are intended for marriage. That's like an alcoholic wanting to be in a bar and not drink - but worse. Worse because at least the person suffering from alcoholism is an adult with a fully developed brain. (Seriously, I'm not saying that jokingly, your brain finishes developing around 20-25.) So if you're not ready because of 'school and money' than you really shouldn't be in a relationship. Being in a relationship with someone you love before your ready for marriage will be full of temptation. My honest advice is this: you have 1 of 3 options. I'll list them below.

1. Continue being in a relationship before you're ready for marriage. This is the worst of the options because you're putting yourself in a place you're not equipped to handle. We weren't built to be in relationships outside of marriage for long periods of time. That's why 2 Timothy 2:22 says "Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts." So do you think a relationships with a girl/guy before you're ready qualifies as something that "stimulates youthful lusts?" I think that's clear. Look, I want to be straight with you because I care about your soul. You need to understand that you can't do this your way, it's the Gods way or no way. There is no version of this where you can be in long term relationships, live in sin, and have God be pleased with you - not if you want to be a healthy Christian that is. You can't have your version of Gods will. That's why it's God's will, because it isn't mine or yours. Realize that sin will always ask for more than you even wanted to give, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and take you farther than you ever wanted to go. Sex? On day one you probably thought that was so far away, because it was. But holding hands? That's a step away. Holding each other? Another step. Kissing, then making out, then.... and now sex isn't such a far off idea is it? How do you climb on to a roof? With a ladder it's one step at a time. It's the same with sin. Don't be fooled, you can't plant in temptation and expect holiness to grow. (Galatians 6:7-8) Look back at how long you've been together, are you where you were when you started? Or are you climbing this ladder that's closer and closer to a lifestyle you don't want? I want to make this really clear because I want you to understand how important this is. Do you think you'll be able to not live in sin until "school & money" make it possible? How long is that, a few years? Sin says enjoy today and pay tomorrow, but holiness says pay today and enjoy tomorrow. So make the hard choice today, and live blessed tomorrow. I pray that God gives you wisdom and doesn't let your partner influence you otherwise. Stand strong, make the hard choices and be blessed.

2. Break up. If you're not ready for marriage yet, then you could just break up and wait to court at the right time. You jumped the gun and made a mistake, you can still walk away, remain friends and grow in Christ. It's kind of like a band-aid, it'll hurt now all at once but it won't hurt constantly for the next few years.

3. Wait. You and your boyfriend/girlfriend can make an active decision for your future. Be aware, I would definitely make this decision with the help of a youth leader or mentor who can be a part of holding you accountable to this decision. Make an active decision to be just friends who are waiting until you come of marriage age. So that means that you're still exclusive to one another (as in you won't flirt with/ date other people) and you both focus on growing spiritually and preparing for marriage. But you two are no longer boyfriend and girlfriend, you don't treat each other like a boyfriend and girlfriend - that means no holding hands, no late night talks every night, no fantasizing about what you could be doing, etc. This is important, because if you have the "boyfriend/girlfriend" titles you'll treat each other that way and end up in places you don't want to be. The goal here is to be where you're supposed to be: focused on pursuing "righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy[ing] the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." (2 Tim. 2:22) That's the second half of that verse that says to "Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts." It's what your supposed to be doing after you turn your back and run away from youthful lusts. This time is very different than being a couple, because you won't be one. You're simply waiting and now have a motivation to focus hard on school/ work/ spiritual growth. This way you're working towards your goals without all the temptation. This is the option I'd recommend for you and anyone else in this scenario.

Q5

How do you then have a growing relationship?

By "then" I'm assuming you mean in marriage. In Galatians 6:7 Paul says "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." What He's saying is whatever action you take will have a reaction. Or another way to look at it is, you can't plant tomatoes and expect corn to grow, it simply doesn't work that way. So how do you have a good relationship in marriage? By investing in growth. Read scripture together, attend Bible workshops for marriage (even if it doesn't necessarily apply to you, it can very much give you a broader understanding about marriage.) You can also read different marriage books by christian authors. Here's a few resources I can recommend - For Men Only and For Women Only by Jeff and Shaunti Feldham, The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, my pastor also often recommends Love & Respect by Emmerich. I also think personal spiritual growth affects marriage greatly. Already pray, fast, read the word and want more? Check out Celebration of Discipline by Foster and Why Revival Tarries by Ravenhill. You can also check out Focus on the Family as they have really good teaching, testimonies, and references for family life. Another way you can grow is by creating what I call investments and boundaries. Some investments could be date night once a week and later on in life when the kids come you can change one date night a month to family night. Or you can commit to reading through a book together with your spouse. Another investment is taking a day a week to fast together for your family, make it a permanent thing where for example "Thursday" is your families fasting day. Boundaries are also important, they help protect your family. Some boundaries could be that you'll never go to sleep angry, or you won't let a fight go on all day. Another could be that regardless of how angry or frustrated each of you get you'll never use specific words with one another. There's many ideas on boundaries try and create some of your own, experiment, pioneer, pray, fast, and ultimately just be on the journey of marriage together.

Q6

What does it say about touching your loved one?

Don't. lol jk. Seriously though, if you're not married, don't. This question is a little difficult to answer, but let me try and give some context to my response. If by "loved one" you mean spouse then you two should define your physically intimate life together. The Bible is clear that physical intimacy should be just between the two of you and no one else. I also believe that this part of your life is intimate and should not be public. If by "loved one" you mean your girlfriend/ boyfriend - that's a whole different story. Scripture says that if a man lusts after a woman in his heart, he has committed adultery. (Matthew 5:27-28) So what does that mean about touching your boyfriend/ girlfriend? It means that you shouldn't. The Bible also says that you should flee your youthful lusts. (2 Timothy 2:22) So if you're not ready for marriage, then you need to walk away from this relationship. See Q4 above.

Q7

How do you if she's the right one.?

See Q3 above.

Q8

So if man and women become one on earth and in the eyes of God does that mean in heaven they will be one?

In the afterlife men and women will not be married. In Matthew 22:30 Jesus answered this question to the Sadducees. So in heaven we'll still be ourselves but we won't be married. What the Bible is talking about when it says "the two shall become one" refers to the covenant that is being made between man and woman while here on earth.

Q9

How do you convince your loved one that she is beautiful to you, regardless of how she feels about how she looks?

I believe that every woman has her own beauty, God doesn't make junk. What you can do as a man is see the beauty that she has, whether that is in her character, her laugh, her smile, her eyes, etc. and help her see it too. She may have a misconception that only specific items are beautiful because they're trending now, or hollywood is promoting them but God made beauty in many forms. Help here see how beautiful she is in spite of what media says is nice today. She doesn't have to look like supermodel x or actress y to be beautiful, she has her own beauty and should instead focus on her traits. I would also encourage you and her to find a woman who's a strong confident lady and have them talk with about it. Our senior pastors and youth leaders wives are often times a great resource. Also we have female Marriage and Family therapists in our churches. I know of one in Phoenix and one in So-Cal that are both amazing at what they do. No one can understand a woman's heart like another woman. 

Q10

Is it ok to asking porocu (a prophet) to get married?

I think it's fine, however, I don't believe in basing your whole decision on this medium. I've heard of quite a few horror stories of false prophets encouraging 2 young people to get married who were terrible for each other and quickly ended in divorce. Or other scenarios where "prophets" told 2 people they were meant to be but they were brother and sister or were already married. So I would advise extreme caution when it comes to placing your lifelong decision in the hands of another. How did I know Simida was the one for me? I prayed about it, I talked to God often and asked Him to show me who she really is. I talked to my parents about her, to my Pastor, to my leaders/ mentors and they all encouraged me. I also waited to see what she was like under pressure so when we went on a mission together I was watching closely - she came alive on the mission and radiated the love of God. That's when I fell in love and knew she was the one. It's ok to ask a prophet that is reputable and well known, but I don't think it wise to put all your eggs in that basket. Take your time and don't make a lifelong decision hastily. You're the one who has to deal with the consequences of your decision, not anyone else, so make them with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.