Casual Christianity

Excerpt taken from this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/23/im-pastor-and-want-to-quit-church-now.html

“Only 39 percent of active believers consider the Bible as the literal word of God. Only 5 percent have shared their faith with a non-believer. More than half of all church members attend church once a month or less.

If we quit the casual way we approach God’s principles can you imagine what would happen in our personal walks of faith and in our community of believers?

My conversations over the past several years revealed the spiritual habits necessary for personal and church growth and revealed the “why” behind disengagement in the church.

The truth is, if we don’t feel passionate about something we don’t do it. If we don’t like something that happens in the church, we find another one. If the spiritual practices don’t fit our lifestyle, then we don’t do them.

This mindset permeates our “I want it now and I want it my way” culture and is only enforced through social media, website choices, TV options and countless other platforms that have risen in prominence in our lives. This is not the way God intended the church to live.

Jesus felt the church was worth dying for – it should be our mission as Christians to value living for it.”

Treating Others as Objects

An Excerpt from “A Culture of Freelance Relationships”

 

“An article entitled “Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/opinion/sexual-freelancing-in-the-gig-economy.html) appeared in the New York Times. Its premise is this: economics influences dating.

And here’s where things get interesting: the article argues that dating simply “applies the logic of capitalism to courtship. On the dating market, everyone competes for him or herself.” Hold on. Is this really the way we view dating? Honestly, I think we have to own it: We do, in fact, tend to treat people as objects instead of people. But is this the way it should be?…Many of us treat relationships like unpaid internships: We cannot expect them to lead to anything long-term, so we use them to get experience. If we look sharp, we might get a free lunch.

What can we do, then, to confront a worldly attitude that promotes using other people? I think we must start here: as single people looking to date other single people, we must take each other seriously. People are not to be invested in for the simple return they may yield to us.

Jesus’ words are hard to hear: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25); “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In the topsy-turvy ethic of the Kingdom, true life on this planet looks more like losing an investment than gaining a profit. Love looks more like the cross than the crown. Meaningful relationships look more like the servant who washes feet rather than the master whose feet get washed.

In other words . . .

Meaningful Relationships Are Costly

We need to steep ourselves in the truth that meaningful relationships cost time. In an age of instant gratification and constant distraction, simply finding the time to talk meaningfully about life is rare.

Meaningful relationships also cost the facade. The thing about the freelance mentality of relationships in our culture is that this constant shopping around helps us avoid the true vulnerability that comes with meaningful relationships, where we are both known and loved, not simply for our accomplishments but for our failures as well.

Does the prevalent view of humanity we pass to singles look more like the gig-relationship mindset that pervades our culture? Or does it look more like Jesus, who takes us and our lives seriously from the outset, who served us that we might be washed, and who sacrificed Himself that we might have life in Him?”

 

Source: (https://www.harvestusa.org/culture-freelance-relationships/)

Singles and Church

This is an excerpt from Barna Trends:

There are more married people in church than single people. You probably already know this just from looking around every Sunday—but here’s some data to prove it. According to a recent Barna study, less than a quarter of active churchgoers are single (23%).

The same Barna study found the majority of singles who are not active in or committed to a church are searching for meaning and purpose in life (55%). In fact, almost two-thirds of these singles (65%) are looking for ways to improve themselves and nearly one out of six (15%) would be motivated to go to church for the opportunity to find out more about God.

One in five (21%) singles who are not active in or committed to a church are interested in going to church to have support during difficult times. One-quarter of singles (23%) would be motivated to go to church if they simply knew that anyone would be welcomed into the church community.

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/single-minded-church/

Dating Advice

Excerpt from this article: “The Golden Rule in Christian Dating”

“Have you ever tried to list out all the different dating advice you’ve heard….from other Christians?

  • Date for at least a year.
  • Don’t date for any more than a year.
  • Date exclusively in groups.
  • Make sure you get plenty of time one on one.
  • Put clear boundaries into place.
  • Don’t try to follow everyone else’s rules.
  • Spend lots of time together.
  • Be careful how much time you spend together.
  • Date a bunch of people before getting serious.
  • Don’t date anyone until you’re ready to marry them.

I could go on…

The first rule in dating is the first rule in all of life: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). You will not truly love anyone else if you do not love God first and most. And no one will truly love you if they do not love God more than they love you.

But after embracing and applying the first and greatest commandment, I have found that the golden rule in dating is this:

Lean hard on the people who know you best, love you most, and will tell you when you’re wrong.

It’s not the first rule, because in absolutely every area of life — every decision, every calling, every relationship, every dream — we must start with what we think about God. Do we love him more than anything? Will we obey him, even when it will cost us? Are we willing to set anything aside for his sake? Will we trust him, even when we want something else for ourselves?

Today more than ever before, we’re faced with a never-ending buffet of opinions and advice that has something to say about everything and yet lets us choose the answer we want… The scary reality is that we can find an answer somewhere to justify what we want to do — right or wrong, safe or unsafe, wise or unwise. The advice we choose might be from a book by a doctor, or a random conversation with someone at church, or a blog post by a teenager, or just something we found on Pinterest. For many of us, if we’re honest, it really doesn’t matter who’s offering the advice as long as it confirms what we thought or wanted in the first place.

Real friendship, with real life-on-life accountability, may not offer the same amount of information or advice, and you will not always like what it has to say…The people willing to actually hold me accountable in dating have been my best friends. I’ve had lots of friends over the years, but the ones who have been willing to press in, ask harder questions, and offer unwanted (but wise) counsel are the friends I respect and prize the most.”

 

Source: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-golden-rule-in-christian-dating

What We Don’t Want to Hear

Things not to say to your single friends:

“YOU WILL MEET SOMEONE WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT.”

“YOU MUST HAVE SO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS!”

“SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MEET PEOPLE?  ARE YOU PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE?  HAVE YOU TRIED ONLINE DATING?”

“IF BEING MARRIED IS A DESIRE OF YOUR HEART, THEN GOD WILL GIVE IT TO YOU.”

“YOU’RE JUST TOO PICKY.”

 

Source: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/life/ten-things-not-to-say-to-single-people/

Dating Criteria

In an interview in 2017 Tim Tebow explained what he is looking for in a future wife: Tebow said, “I’m looking for someone who loves Jesus and loves people. Someone who makes me want to be a better person for her. And she has to want kids, and has to want to adopt. That’s a requirement. Of course I want a woman who I’m attracted to.”

What about you, what are essential characteristics you look for?

 

 

Source: https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/tim-tebow-says-his-future-wife-has-to-love-jesus-and-want-to-adopt-kids.html

History of Dating

“When one tries to understand how dating has changed over time, and most importantly, how we arrived at the system of courtship and dating we have today, one must realize the monumental cultural shift that occurred during the 1940s, primarily due to World War II.”

“In the late 1940s, Margaret Mead, in describing this pre-war dating system, argued that dating was not about sex or marriage. Instead, it was a “competitive game,” a way for girls and boys to demonstrate their popularity. Men’s popularity needed outward material signs: automobile, clothing, fraternity membership, money, etc. Women’s popularity depended on building and maintaining a reputation of popularity: be seen with popular men in the “right” places, turn down requests for dates made at the last minute and cultivate the impression that you are greatly in demand.”

‘So, that is the system in place prior to World War II. After World War II the norms within the dating system began to change. By the late 1940s and early 1950s demographic realities began to sink in: There was a shortage of men. After World War II, due in part to the fact that 250,000 men never came home, for the first time in the United States, women outnumbered men.”

“Due primarily to this scarcity of men, two things happened in the United States after World War II pertaining to marriage: Marriage rates climbed, and the average age of those marrying went down. However, the most striking change in postwar courtship and dating was the ever-earlier age at which children and teenagers entered the courtship and dating system.”

“One sociologist wrote in a July 1953 New York Times Magazine article that each boy and girl ideally should date 25 to 50 eligible marriage partners before making his or her final decision. At the center of this 1950s youth dating culture was the act of “going steady,” according to Beth Bailey.  In her book, From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America, Bailey says that,

[I]n earlier days going steady had been more like the old-fashioned ‘keeping steady company.’ It was a step along the path to marriage, even if many steady couples parted company before they reached the altar. By the early 1950s, going steady had acquired a totally different meaning. It was no longer the way a marriageable couple signaled their deepening intentions. Instead, going steady was something twelve-year-olds could do, and something most fifteen-year-olds did do. Few steady couples expected to marry each other, but for the duration of the relationship, acted as if they were married. Going steady had become a sort of play-marriage, a mimicry of actual marriage. (p. 49)

So, during the 1950s, going steady (or going out) had completely supplanted the former dating system based on popularity. And this new system had its own set of rules and customs. For instance, there had to be some visible token (class ring, letterman’s sweater or jacket) given to the one with whom you were going out. Additionally, the relationships were exclusive: Neither boy nor girl could date or pay much attention to anyone of the opposite sex. Obviously, most of these steady relationships did not result in marriage, oftentimes not lasting more than a few days or a few weeks.

Many cultural commentators have argued that this going steady system has greatly contributed to our modern culture of divorce.”

“So where are we today? Do we have a dating/rating system that values the number of dates, and has popularity as its goal, or do we have a going steady system that values what is called “serial monogamy” — a succession of exclusive and serious relationships, as a practice for marriage? Or do we have a combination of the two?”

“It appears that the “script” that has developed in the closing decades of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st is, “anything goes.” And, although for many years this was sold under the heading of freedom, I believe young adults over the past decade have discovered that, in fact, it has caused cultural and relational vertigo — not knowing for certain which way is up or down, and not knowing in which direction to move. For many it’s utter confusion.”

 

Source: All information was taken from this article
http://www.boundless.org/relationships/2007/a-brief-history-of-courtship-and-dating-in-america-part-2

 

Online Dating

A few struggles that online dating presents.

Some interesting thoughts taken from this article: http://timharford.com/2016/02/online-dating-swipe-left/

We badly want to believe that after giving a website a list of our preferences, hobbies and answers to questions such as, “Do you prefer the people in your life to be simple or complex?”, a clever algorithm will produce a pleasing result.

Because these pleasing results seem elusive, wishful thinking has gone into overdrive.

It is crazy to believe that someone’s eye colour and height, or even hobbies and musical tastes, are a basis for a lasting relationship.

A simple survey that Norton conducted with two other behavioural scientists, Jeana Frost and Dan Ariely, revealed that people were unhappy with their online dating experience in three obvious ways. The first was that the “online” bit of the dating was about as much fun as booking a dentist’s appointment. The second was that it took for ever. This was the third problem: people tended to have high expectations before the dates they had arranged online but felt disenchanted afterwards. To adapt a Woody Allen joke: not only are the dates terrible but there are so few of them.

Given that online dating tends to be tedious, time-consuming and fruitless, it is no surprise that we seem hungry for a better way.

Soul Mate

Is there really only one perfect person for each of us to marry, and if you don’t marry that person than you won’t be happy? Some thoughts to consider:

If this is true, than what about Christians who have married non-Christians? The Bible is clear about the truth that Christians should marry Christians (because what we believe affects how we act and live). So if a Christian married a non-Christian, what happened to their perfect soul mate? Are they left out because their perfect soul mate married someone else?

What about a death of a Christian spouse? I know faithful Christians who have lost a spouse and eventually remarried later in life. Did they have two perfect soul mates?

If we each have a perfect soul mate, than how do we know when we have found the right one?

May I suggest that the idea of a perfect soul mate, may be erroneous? Biblically speaking the most important thing is finding someone who is a Christian who truly fears the Lord, or desires to do what is pleasing to God above all else. Love and marriage is not about how perfectly people fit together. Rather, love is a willful choice. God loves us not because we are easy to love, but because He simply graciously chose to love us. The same goes for our relationships; no one is easy to love, but we can choose to love them and remain committed even when things aren’t perfect.

Perhaps it’s not about finding your perfect soul mate, but rather finding a committed Christian who together are willing to make it work.

Christian Liberty

“A majority of single Christians are rejecting biblical doctrine by choosing to have sex before they are married. Sixty-one percent of self-identified Christian singles who answered a recent ChristianMingle survey said they are willing to have casual sex without being in love, while only 11 percent said they are waiting to have sex until they are married.” https://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-dating-culture-part-1-majority-of-single-christians-reject-idea-of-waiting-for-marriage-to-have-sex-114422/

While Christians would agree that sex before marriage is wrong (fornication), something has to change to help believers practically live out their faith. For one I think there is a misconception about Christian freedom and liberty. Freedom in Christ is not about seeing how close we can get to “the line” of sin without sinning, but rather it is a freedom to live rightly. Once we put our faith in Christ we can actually do things that are pleasing to God by the strength and help that the Holy Spirit provides.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. -Romans 8:2

I also think Christians need to be more open and honest with each other. Encouraging and helping each other in the battle. There are temptations all around us and we all struggle with purity of the mind, heart, and action.