How About Healthy Conflict?

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,  but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.“ – Proverbs 15:18

Is there such a thing as a healthy conflict? Is it possible to have a fight with your spouse and do it well? That sounds like a trick question, but it isn’t. Most married couples would think it is far better to eliminate conflict rather than do it well. Minimizing conflict is admirable, but it is also unrealistic. There really is such a thing as “healthy conflict” in marriage.

There are basically three belief categories for married couples about marital conflict. One is the couples who enter marriage expecting an unrealistic level of agreement and perfection in their relationship. If they’re truly happy and meant for one another, they believe, there shouldn’t be any conflict. That’s not a very realistic view of human relationship.

Another group of couples understand they’ll have conflict, but they believe the solution is to put the gloves on and go at it until they vent all of their anger at each other and somehow arrive at a solution. There’s a lot to be said for making your point and getting important issues on the table. But just going at one another is potentially very damaging.   

In fact, there’s a lot of research to show that poorly handled conflict impacts more than just the couple themselves. For example, children; here are the two most important people in a child’s life, and here they are yelling and being nasty to each other. Seeing their parents arguing and being uncivil to each other causes stress and confusion. Our children function best with emotional stability and safety in the home.

And that leads to the third group of couples. If you find yourself in either of the first two groups, our goal of Sunday’s message on conflict is to move you closer to this third one. The third group are couples that resolve conflict in a way that honors God and builds up their relationship rather than eroding it.

How do we go about doing conflict well? Here are a few things to consider. Try to listen better.  Many couples are so determined to get their point across they don’t really listen to each other’s thoughts and feelings. They want to win the argument instead of resolve the problem. Secondly, try to harness your emotions and stay calm. No matter how passionate they feel about their disagreement, healthy couples avoid getting nasty. Not only will overreacting not solve anything, it’ll drive a wedge between a husband and wife. That causes even further conflict down the road.

Finally, never threaten divorce: Emotions can run high in the midst of a conflict. If you find yourself in that situation try to walk away to calm down. Then come back and continue the conversation. But do not make threats to end the marriage. At best it may help you manipulate the situation to get your way. But at worst, could damage the relationship well-beyond the conflict the couple finds themselves in. 

Here is the bottom line: We can develop or improve our communication skills and learn how to disagree with our spouse without being disagreeable. It is possible. Remember that even couples with healthy, happy marriages disagree. But, also remember those marriages remain healthy and happy because they treat each other with respect even in the midst of conflict. It is not about the husband or wife winning the argument, it is about resolving the problem while protecting the relationship.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Healthy conflict resolution requires knowing, accepting, and adjusting to your differences.  Agree or disagree?
  2. Healthy conflict resolution requires defeating selfishness. Agree or disagree?
  3. Healthy conflict resolution often involves loving confrontation. What does this mean to you and what is the difference between loving and regular confrontation? Healthy conflict resolution requires forgiveness. How can we use forgiveness to resolve a conflict?
  4. Pray and ask God to help you develop a godly, loving way of dealing with conflict.

Conflict in Marriage

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” – Victor Frankl

William James said that “Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is how we react.”  I agree with him. It is all about reaction. Our reaction should be based on a fundamental question: Is the issue causing the conflict important enough to fight about?

Here’s the thing: Circumstances themselves cannot cause problems. Our emotional reactions are what ultimately cause problems, because negative reactions often escalate the situation. 

So while it is impossible to eliminate all possible causes of conflict in marriage, it is possible to pause and consider our response to them. If a husband loses it and explodes on his wife unfairly, it will be the wife’s response that will define the outcome. She can escalate the situation or she can defuse the situation. This also works in the reverse situation – if it is the wife exploding at the husband.

Matthew 5:25 tells us, “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.” How much more should we agree with our spouse quickly?  Finding agreement is the key to preventing escalation of conflict.

Try waiting until all the heated emotions and verbal sparring settles down before seeking agreement. I’m not suggesting you ignore any issues that pop up between spouses. I’m simply suggesting you wait until things quiet down and you have some perspective. Romans 6:11 says  “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” We are to be dead to sin and we are to live the reality of our position in Christ. Restore your spouse in meekness and humility, knowing you also need that same grace of Christ on a daily basis.

Then push the conflict into the past. We have to ask ourselves how badly do we want to avoid fights? Badly enough to yield to the Spirit of God and to forgive and forget and maintain happiness in your marriage.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are the issues that result in conflict? What kind of faults in your spouse do you tend to not tolerate? What faults in yourself create conflicts with your spouse?
  2. What keeps you from compromise in your marriage conflicts?
  3. What is the difference between trying to change your spouse and trying to resolve a conflict?
  4. Who is responsible for fixing the conflicts that need resolving.

The Song Of Solomon Today

“My dove, my perfect one, is the only one, the only one of her mother,  pure to her who bore her. The young women saw her and called her blessed; the queens and concubines also, and they praised her. “Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners? –  Song of Solomon 6:9-10.

The Song of Solomon was written and inspired by God to bless the lives of every man and every woman regardless of their age or upbringing by teaching them how to find true love, enjoy a lifelong partner, and build a successful marriage. The Song of Solomon is talking about love, sex and marriage. The question is whether “love like the dawn and beautiful as the moon” is still relevant today.

Love, sex, and marriage is very relevant in today’s culture. It is hard to pick up a magazine, regardless of the target audience, that does not have one or more articles on one of these categories.  We are inundated with messages when it comes to themes like love, sex and marriage. All these were created by God. He is the creator, the designer, the architect, He owns the copyright. So it makes perfect sense that we would hear from Him on the subject.  In Song of Solomon you find the beauty and depth that God had in mind for love, sex and marriage.   

The Song of Solomon shows that God cares about the daily lives of his people. Ideally, if a couple today learns the Song of Solomon, then they can lay the proper foundation in dating for a joyful marriage. The story gives some of the best advice available for dating couples. It teaches a woman how to choose a husband and a man how to choose a wife so that they might live full, married, lives. The ones who learn what God expects of them before marriage start off with fewer problems. When problems do appear, they know how to handle them instead of just reacting to them. It will work as well today as it did thousands of years ago.

But there is another reason why the Song of Solomon is still relevant today and why we are talking about it in the Unforgettable Love Story series. It is never too too late for those of us who are already married. The Song of Solomon teaches how to lay the foundation for a happy marriage at every stage–courting, newlywed, and silver or golden anniversaries. At whatever stage a couple happens to be, they can examine their relationship, and more importantly they can build on it. To make it better. It’s not too late to enjoy the happiness displayed in the Song of Solomon or the marital love that God designed.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the ways that the Song of Solomon expresses the nature of a right relationship between husband and wife?
  2. What can you learn from the Song of Solomon that will help you in your marriage?
  3. What can you learn from Solomon or his bride on how to be a better spouse?
  4. If you need to take a step or two of growth in dating, marriage or relationships, what might that look like?

Intimacy Outside The Bedroom

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered..” – 1 Peter 3:7

While true intimacy requires two people, this devotional is targeted to men. 

Gary Smalley, the marriage expert and author, says that when it comes to sex, men are like microwave ovens and women are like crockpots. Just push a few buttons, he said, and men are ready to go. Women, on the other hand, take a long time to warm up. I think this is intuitively true and as a result causes a dilemma for men. To solve the dilemma, we men have read books and articles promising unbelievable sex if we only do this or that. But there is no simple or completely effective solution. Why? The solution is knowing our wives and having a servant mentality. 

Our wives are truly incredible women who have a lot going on in their lives. And all those things going on do not cease to exist when she walks into the bedroom. If she is working, she is thinking about projects and deadlines, and the meeting tomorrow just as men do about their profession. And there is other stuff going on in her life as well that doesn’t stop simply because she’s walked into the bedroom. If she is a mother, she’s thinking about the kids, their schedules, homework, etc. She may be thinking about relatives, or getting enough exercise and sleep. Or she may be thinking about finding enough time or margin in the day. And, if we are lucky, she is also thinking about us somewhere in all of that.

Here’s the thing. If we are the husband who demands attention, has high expectations and pouts when we don’t get our way, we are just another person who needs something from her. In some cases she may find it difficult to decide whether we as husbands or the children are the more needy. Even if we only slightly resemble this scenario, we need to change.

We need to start by changing our thinking. We begin by understanding that every part of the relationship and every part of the day contributes to intimacy. Here’s what I mean by that. You can’t act and talk one way in the bedroom and another way in every other environment of the house. If you want her to respond to you in the bedroom, you need to respond to her in all the other parts of the house. That means taking the garbage out. Or paying the bills. Or doing the dishes. Or complementing her dinner and how well she is doing on her job or as a mother. Or helping with the kids. Or giving her downtime by herself.  Or sending her flowers and holding her hand at church. That lets her know how much you love, cherish, and care for her outside of the bedroom.  And it shows the servant mentality that God expects all of us to have. 

There is a time in every marriage when it is enough just for the two of you just to be together; when you couldn’t get enough of each other. As husbands, we want to recreate that moment for our wives.   

Discussion Questions:

  1. Men are called to love/ be servant leaders. What does this look like? Why can this be a challenge?
  2. How much are we committed to the relationship outside the bedroom? How well are we connecting emotionally to our wife outside the bedroom?
  3. How can you let your wife know that you cherish and care about her outside the bedroom? In what areas do you need to take more initiative outside of the bedroom? Are we missing opportunities to meet her needs?
  4. Pray and ask God to help us be the type of husband He desires us to be inside and outside the bedroom.

What is Love?

“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has often been hailed as the greatest love story ever told. Two young lovers, in their desire to be with one another against the wishes of their feuding families, ultimately take their own lives, each unwilling to endure the cold, hopeless wasteland of a life without the other.

While it has brought tears to many eyes, the problem is that the story takes place over four days. It is hard to believe they could really get to know each other in four days. They marry the day after they meet, and two days later they are willing to kill themselves over the loss of a person who wasn’t even in the picture five days ago. The lines about love in Romeo and Juliet are beautiful: “With love’s light wings did I o’er-perch these walls; for stony limits cannot hold love out,” for example. But did they really know what love is? Do we know what we are saying when we say, “but I love him/her?” 

The apostle Paul wrote a passage in a letter to the Christians in the city of Corinth that has come to be known as the “love chapter.” It provides an explanation of what true, godly love is at its core. Among other things, we are told: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud…Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, NLT).

Does that sound like what Romeo and Juliet had? By the biblical definition, what they felt wasn’t love. It was something else. What many  people are calling love isn’t love. Our culture has confused love with infatuation and sex with love.  In every media, it views love as something we fall into. Sometimes unexpectantly. Sometimes accidentally. But Biblical love is a conscious choice one makes—an action, not an accident. And it is a choice that takes time and effort.

After we’ve taken the time to get to know the other person, to understand his or her values, personality and character as objectively as possible, to seek and consider God’s guidance as well as input from trusted friends and family members, and after we’ve come before God to commit ourselves to that person for the rest of our days, then there is love and a foundation for marriage. 

So important is true, godly love that Jesus emphasized it as the defining characteristic of Christians everywhere: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you define love as it pertains to marriage? What does love look like on a daily basis?
  2. How would you rate love in your marriage? How can you improve the love in your marriage?
  3. Read 1 John 4:7-21: What do those verses mean in marriage or in other relationships?
  4. What would you say are the five most important elements of a marriage relationship?  If you had to rank these elements, where on the list would you place love? Sex? What is the reasoning behind your ranking?
  5. Pray and ask God to help you love better in your marriages/relationships.

Real Intimacy Does Not Result From a Physical Act

“Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still.”  Robert Sternberg

I said in the message on Sunday that sex is more than just a physical act. And real intimacy is more than sex even though many people equate intimacy with sex.  The two have become somewhat synonymous in our culture. This is what results from people believing that sex is proof of love and intimacy. Many of us men require sex as proof of love and too many women have consented to sex in the hopes of love. And too many people view and use sex as a means of reducing our loneliness.  We all long for intimacy, and physical contact can appear as intimacy, at least for a moment. But the physical act of sex is not intimacy because the emotional and spiritual connection we seek with the other person will not be there. 

Real intimacy is not found through just a physical act. Jesus said, “and the two shall become one. . . ” and I believe He meant more than just the physical.  A married couple can share their bodies, but do they share their heart? Sex is a God created vehicle for physical expression between a husband and wife, but is not the source of intimacy. No matter how hard you try, no matter how often you try, if real emotional and spiritual intimacy does not exist before sex, it will not magically appear after sex.

Real intimacy can seem like the Abominable Snowman, you see the tracks, or the indications of its existence, but never the thing itself. That is because real intimacy is hard to achieve but it is worth the effort. Real intimacy makes us feel alive and connected like someone finally took the time to peer into the depths of our soul and really see us there. Real intimacy means we look outward without any expectations, or needs or wants. Because we can miss out on true intimacy when we predetermine what we think we should see when we examine our life, heart, personality and walk with God. If we focus on what he or she is not, we could easily miss what he or she is. When that happens, intimacy is undermined because intimacy flows out of feeling wholly accepted just the way we are.

Perhaps you are looking at your life and wondering how you can improve the intimacy in your marriage or in other relationships. This is necessary because I believe real intimacy also requires that we know ourselves.  Our spouse cannot see our fears, dreams, hopes and desires unless we let them in. I know that giving our spouse that type of access is not easy. It can be a risk, not to mention being uncomfortable exposing the deepest parts of ourselves. My advice is to do it slowly as you build trust with your spouse. 

And while you are on this journey don’t forget the importance of intimacy with God. God made us, He intimately knows us better than anyone can. With God, we can experience intimacy in an indescribable way. Intimacy with God through His Son Jesus has been the most rewarding and life-changing thing I have ever experienced.

My hope and prayer through this series on the Song of Solomon is that you will first experience the joy that comes from having an intimate relationship with God and that out of that love you have experienced with Him, that you will find intimacy with a special someone that you can share this journey of life. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do you define intimacy? Do you see intimacy as a physical act?
  2. In your mind, have you achieved real intimacy?
  3. What steps can you take this week to improve intimacy with your spouse?
  4. What steps can you take this week to improve intimacy with God?
  5. Pray and ask God to heighten your intimacy with Him and with your spouse.

Let’s Talk About Sex

“[About sex]: If we’re not intentional about pursuing God’s best for our marriages, and grasping the tremendous role intimacy plays in that relationship, what was intended to be deeply enjoyed – a passionate, life-giving love affair… alight with laughter, fiercely protected, and drenched in freedom – becomes a stuffy, awkward thing to be endured.”  – Joy McMillan

In the 1998 movie Pleasantville, Tobey Maguire plays a modern-day teenager fascinated with late-1950s America, he sees through the miracle of Pleasantville television black and white re-runs. The high school kids of Pleasantville are as bright as their smiles; the basketball team never loses because they never miss a shot. Houses, cars, and groceries are cheap. Dates are fun and wholesome; chivalry is alive and well; marriages are cherished and healthy. But then color changes Pleasantville. It is as if color makes the people of Pleasantville see who they really are.

Yes, it will be uncomfortable and challenging to talk about sex because people are not used to hearing this subject talked about at church. I think in the Christian world, there are so many people who are uneasy about sex and sexuality. But, if we want to know who we really are, we need to talk about relevant issues facing people and marriages today. We need to talk about sex and by talking about it provide greater honesty about what drives men and women sexually.

Why? Because our culture is throwing all these cues, all words, all these pictures of what sex is to our children, to couples to spouses, to husbands and wives, and it is often contrary to God’s design. It’s not working out well for marriages. Somewhere, somehow, Christians are being viewed as living life in dull, blah black and white existence. We are born, lived, married, multiplied, and died. The end. As just one example, Christians are left out of the “fun sex” loop? Then we read the Song of Solomon and exit from blahville by the end of Chapter 1.

Church might be the last place people would expect to talk about sex, but I believe pastoral teaching and preaching about marriage is necessary for proclaiming the whole counsel of God. We should not be silent about something God has not been silent about at all. Sex and marriage are not taboo subjects. God is pro sex, pro marriage and pro joy. 

Marriage is a subject close to my heart. The fact is that marriage is hard. If you’re married, you know what I mean. If you’re single, you’ll probably know sooner or later. We need to be encouraging married couples to keep working on their marriages, even when it’s difficult. We need to remind people about the purpose of marriage so they don’t lose sight.

Talking about sex can be awkward. It is easy to become tongue-tied at the mere mention of anything sexual. The only way we are going to become more comfortable talking about sex is to actually talk about it. The reality is that sex has become such a mainstream part of wider culture, you can hardly go through a day without being bombarded with sexual messages. Television commercials are sexualized, magazine covers are right at eye level as you go through the checkout line at the grocery story, and catalogs that come in the mail are sexier than they once were. We have to be talking about sex or we give culture permission to override what God teaches about sex, love and intimacy.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are we talking about this subject too much? Or too little?
  2. Do you regularly talk with your spouse about the physical aspect of your marriage?
  3. What would you say are the five most important elements of a marriage relationship?  If you had to rank these elements, where on the list would you place sex?  Why did you rank sex the way you did?
  4. What are your individual assumptions and expectations with regard to the sexual side of marriage?  How do they compare with your spouse’s?
  5. Have there been shifting “seasons” in your sexual relationship? What can you do to change that?

Dating Sounds Boring For Christians

“… I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10.

“Marty, I enjoyed the message on dating, but I have a question. There is one thing missing from all you outlined on Sunday – fun. It seems like the date would involve keeping track of all the don’ts like –  don’t have sex until you are married; don’t be tempted, etc. So here’s an observation. Christianity can sound like a rule book, which when followed, would make dating pretty mundane regardless of what season I am in.”   

Many people have the perception that religion is nothing more than a bunch of old, stuffy people pushing their moral views on a younger, more enlightened generation. They view faith as a tradition, not something that will change your life. As a result, everything in the Christian world is viewed as boring.

Many people have told me that before they were saved, the idea of going to church put them to sleep. On a surface level, it seems that non-Christians are having more fun because they have so many more dating options because some of those options are sin to the Christian.

But that is the point: We have different priorities and standards. The things many people look at as fun may not be good or right if we are following Jesus. Some of those fun things can damage our relationship with Jesus. As a result, the so–called “fun” often ends up not being fun at all. If we as Christians didn’t understand the big picture reasons behind why we do what we do, many of us would have a different perspective on dating and relationships. We would be a lot more fun at least in the world’s eyes.

I don’t think Christians are boring. Nor do I think they have to undergo a fun and personality bypass when they become Christians. That is not what God intended at all.  The Christian life can be exciting if you are doing it right. Yes, there will be trials and downtimes, but that doesn’t mean that there will not be fun times, and that includes dating.  We all know Christians that have a whole lot of fun and that can include dating. It’s not like you have to just sit there and hum Gregorian chants when you are on a date. 

Christians have cheesy introduction lines just like everyone else: “Now I know why Solomon had 700 wives… He never met you!” Or “Is your name Faith? Cause you’re the substance of things I’ve hoped for.” Christians go to the movies, out to dinner, take classes together, etc. They laugh and cry, share stories and connect just like everybody else. There are just some rules of conduct that God set forth in His word that He expects us to obey. 

Dating can be confusing, exciting, difficult and really fun all at the same time. But it’s time to change the subculture of fear we as Christians have sometimes created around it. It’s time to stop worrying about dating and see it as an opportunity for connection and growth. It’s time to take the pressure off of “finding the one” and instead learn to glorify The One through every interaction that we have with those around us—dating included. And don’t forget the fun. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. If real life were like a romantic comedy or an action thriller, what percent of your life would be exciting?
  2. If your main goal in life were to have fun, what would you do with your time right now? What do you think God wants you do with your time right now? Why do you think He wants you to do that?
  3. Are you willing to be bored for God and others if that’s what you need to do to love them well?
  4. Is there anything you need to accept about life? What can you thank God for in this situation?

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14.

Dating can bring closeness that goes beyond simple companionship. Sharing time and yourself with a boyfriend or girlfriend involves that person becoming a major part of your life. Little by little, you start to define yourself in terms of this relationship. There is a closeness and dare you say, warm and fuzzy love is in the air. You start talking about marriage and that’s when things go south.

The person you want to spend the rest of your life with is not sure they are ready to get married. They’re not sure they are willing to commit themselves to joining with you for the rest of your lives. They also are not sure they buy into your concept of sacrifice and selflessness in marriage or the roles and duties of husband and wife. They read Ephesians 5:22-31 and to be kind, freaked out.  So what do you do now?

You risked your heart. You shared your life. You bought the gifts, made the memories, and dreamed your dreams together — and it hit a pretty big snag. Do you continue anyway or do you break it off and risk being back at square one and lonely. 

Every situation is different and I would not presume to know the answer to that question in every occurrence. I also know that no one begins dating someone hoping to break it off someday. The wiring in most of us has us longing for a lasting relationship that culminates in marriage. We’re looking, sometimes it feels frantically, for love, for affection and security and companionship and commitment and intimacy and help. After all, God seems to want most of us to be married.  For example, Proverbs 18:22 tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” 

This doesn’t mean every dating relationship should end in marriage. It is better to suffer the hurt of a breakup than to get married to a person who is not right for you. 

Knowing and embracing God’s design for marriage and dating will help us take healthy next steps in our pursuit of marriage.  I hope you realize that God has never abandoned you, and he will never abandon you.  There’s no circumstance facing you that He’s not engineering to give you deep and durable life and freedom and joy. He loves our lasting joy in Him much more than He loves our temporary comfort today.

God does know what you need, and He’s never too slow to provide it. One way God provides for us through breakups is by making it clear — by whatever means and for whatever reason — this relationship was not His plan for our marriage. 

Trust Him to provide for you each day whether you get married or not. If you do get married, know that He will bring the person you need.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever broke up with somebody? What was the experience like?
  2. When did you set your dating standards? How well have you stuck to them?
  3. Why is it important to know what God thinks about dating?
  4. How can we know when it is time to break off a relationship? What are some valid reasons for breaking off the relationship?

In Season

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Timing is everything. There is a great deal of truth to this common phrase. For example, timing is often critical when dealing with people. You don’t ask for a raise when the business is losing money. You don’t ask someone to cover for you when you didn’t cover for them last. Timing is important in cooking. That beautiful steak you bought was left on the grill too long and now it is like shoe leather. And one last example, timing is important in finance. When you buy a stock and when you sell a stock is the difference between making money and losing money on your investment. Selling the stock at the right time is critical. And as I talked about on Sunday, timing is important for your dating life.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, Solomon tells us that life is really a matter of timing, for timing is everything. It is hard to argue with that since we have calendars and schedules and clocks with us wherever we go. What would we do without our smart phones? Timing is everything. If there is a season, a time for everything, how do we apply that to dating? Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is not about how we view the various seasons of life, but how we view God in the various seasons of life. In Sunday’s message I talked about three seasons.

The Season of Perfection: We’ve been groomed by society to look for the “perfect man” or the “perfect woman.” Reality shows portray groups of contestants vying for the heart of one person believing they are the “perfect” person. In this season we believe the person may be perfect, and why not. The person pursued me, and I couldn’t wait to enter into a relationship with him or her. This is where parents or the person in the relationship must exercise caution to make sure it is not just a temporary euphoria. We can slow the process down by limiting the time the couple spends together, not getting ahead of yourself or the relationship by saying “I love you” prematurely and by limiting the opportunities for temptation. 

The Season of Preparation: This is the area where we do the due diligence on the relationship. This is where we assess what we want and what we expect in a relationship. This is where we establish our deal breakers. This is where we get a handle on what’s happening and evaluate where you are headed as a couple. And we need to do all of this introspection through the lens of biblical standards. These are high standards and we need key people in our lives actively involved to help us meet those standards as best we can.

The Season of Purity: This season is pretty self-explanatory. Sex was designed to be a deep bonding experience between a husband and wife. So if you’re going to develop a healthy dating relationship and make a wise decision about getting married or not getting married, you’re going to have to draw away from this obsession with the sexual part of the relationship for the season of dating. This is the area where we should not compromise.   

Discussion Questions:

  1. How important is timing in the seasons of life?
  2. Did you think the person you were dating was perfect? Why or why not?
  3. How important is preparation before marriage? What did you do to prepare for your future relationships?
  4. How did/do you deal with temptation in dating and relationships?