Thursday, February 25, 2010

Physical Morality ...

So are there any types of sexual conduct or physical intimacy which should be considered immoral? Yes in point of fact, but probably not based on what you have learned to date. What destroys intimacy in a marriage becomes the definition of immorality for that couple. Stated another way, my self interest cannot be allowed to become my motive in seeking, or focus in performing, sexual activity; at least not without the sacrifice of my morality. The feeding of self, leads to the destruction of the individual, and the decay of the couple.

Perversion could be defined as Satan’s attempts to destroy the foundation of marriage - intimacy. Perversion is the process of inserting self gratification at the center of our sexuality. With it, come ideas that make less and less logical sense, while stimulating more and more the baser passions and animal lusts that humans have the capacity to embrace. Satan relies on the chemical alterations that occur in our brains to permanently disfigure our sexual appetites, and more often than not, he is not disappointed. Men and women live lives where self gratification has been the core motivating principle when thinking about sexual exploits. This thinking warps the mind and the appetites so that what might have been considered weird, becomes normal. And there is NO limit to the degradation cycle this can lead to. There is no thought of intimacy in this regard, and all of this baggage will be brought into a marriage. Sooner or later, the impacts of living with this thinking will take a toll on the marriage relationship.

The trick then, is to find a way of escape from the lives of self-centered thinking we have embraced to this very day. If perversion has found its way into our sexual “norms”, we will be blind to our own misgivings. We will not be looking to change what we consider to be normal behavior. So as with every other aspect of our lives, we must again come to our Savior. To cleanse the self from our sexual thinking, we must submit even our sexuality to our Lord. What we want, may not be what is right for us, or what is tolerable to our partner. But our goal is not to change the thinking of our partner, or to convince the Lord we have a point, our goal is to find joy in the sacrifice of self, and the adoption of service as our primary motivation once again. As we submit our sexuality to our Lord, He will patiently undo the damage we have done over the years. Some things will begin to lose their appeal, while new things will begin to seem exciting once again. This is the process of healing we experience throughout everything in our lives, but perhaps nowhere more poignantly than in our sexual experiences.

As love must be a choice, so intimacy must be a choice as well. You cannot force someone to love you, nor should you ever believe you can force intimacy to occur in a marriage. The idea of rape then, is completely negated by this thinking. Care and concern for your partner’s needs above your own, preclude the idea of forcing sexual behavior. A couple who have achieved intimacy understand this is impossible. It is only where self still rules the lower brain, that forced sexual conduct seems acceptable.

Intimacy then requires the consent and effort of equals. You cannot achieve intimacy with someone who is incapable of returning the level of maturity and effort you invest. A child and an adult for instance, are not capable of achieving intimacy as they think about this concept differently. The child seeks a parental protection and reassurance, whereas the adult seeks a partner of equality. It is only where self is still in charge that the idea of dominance, manipulation and control seem acceptable forms of sexual expression with a child. Those with diminished mental capacity may find intimacy with each other as equals, but not with fully capable minds and hearts. It is only the effects of perversion that would consider a pairing of great inequality or that of beyond our own species to the animal kingdom. These kinds of ideas reflect an abandonment of the goals of intimacy, and an adoption of the “norms” of perversion.

Oral expression is often debated in purely conservative circles as to its implied morality or lack thereof. Indeed it is conservative thinking that pioneered the idea of the missionary position as the only one acceptable to God. This is of course counter to everything we know about God’s creation and creative process. Look at the variety in our world around us. No two snowflakes, fingerprints, retinal scans, or DNA strings are identical – almost infinite variety in creation – and yet somehow we are going to pigeon hole God to one acceptable position for intercourse? Crazy. In short, there are no unacceptable positions for intimacy, and no acceptable positions at all for selfishness. Where couples find joy in the intimacy of their bedrooms serving each other and making each other happy, God Himself can be found. For He is always there. To say that our mouths are not intended to express sexual joy, is to deny the most fundamental expression of love itself – a kiss. Intimacy is about why we do what we do, more than even about what that is.

We were not originally designed with waste disposal as a bodily requirement. Our original diets and pure foods were completely converted into the energy our bodies needed, without waste at all prior to sin. But with the embracing of evil, decay in human physicality became a norm we must live with. Thus our waste disposal systems were activated. Sadly, given their proximity to our sexual reproductive stimuli, men have been given to confuse one with the other. While this makes no logical sense, it has none the less developed over time to become almost socially acceptable today. We have been undeterred by the inherent health risks of exposing parts of the body with no natural defenses to areas where human waste is produced. This is not sensible, nor practical, and the long term consequences should be enough to deter us from thinking this was a good idea. But some persist to the detriment of themselves and their partners. Perhaps when we return to the perfection we were designed for, the absence of human waste may make exploration of this area more viable, but for now, we should respect our condition, protect our health, and avoid what simply does not make sense. As with all things, when we submit our will to the Lord, He can direct us where He wants us to be.

With intimacy as the goal, sexual situations beyond a committed couple would not be considered. Groups, even of equals, do not seek the service of others as their primary goal. In general, toleration of this kind of sexual thinking is all about increasing the intensity or frequency of orgasm. The concept of open marriages involving voyeurism, or third party participation, is focused first on physical stimuli, last on deep vulnerability. Finding harmony between two people is difficult enough and requires submission of the will to Christ to even begin to achieve it. Harmony beyond two people to three or more is simply impossible, as it distorts the image of intimacy marriage was supposed to teach us about God. Being out of His design, we cannot expect Him to accomplish a perfect merging of purpose and intimacy between larger groups of people. His original design was one intended to offer us the best portrait of a perfect union of three where God Himself was at its core or center. We should aspire to maintain the model He setup.

Intimacy requires commitment. Not the kind of commitment that is made casually, or will fade at the first sign of disagreement – no intimacy needs the kind of commitment that intends not ever to be broken. Sexual expression then without the confines or protection of marriage destroys our ability to find what intimacy truly means. It damages what is supposed to be a fragile part of ourselves, a delicate piece of our humanity intended to be sheltered from the evil this world would perpetrate. We often refer to the “innocence of a child”. This sentiment is drawn largely before a child becomes sexually active. Lack of intimacy, and the prevalence of perversion, makes us think that once sexually active, all traces of innocence disappear from the child. But if we protect that most private part of ourselves until safely able to share it within a marriage, we maintain a state of innocence that God intended us to dwell within. The baggage of sexual history many bring to a marriage serves only as a curse, never as a benefit. It is inexorably linked to a focus on self gratification and trains the mind to pursue this course whenever sexual thoughts arise. Satan feeds this beast ideally until it destroys us completely. But God would offer us freedom from our past, and protection from our future, with the simple act of allowing Him to do so.

Many are deceived to think that even while in a committed marriage, love for another may yet arise. Since we believe God is the author of all love, we naturally assume He has given us love for this other person, and are then free to pursue an extramarital relationship, be it romantic or physical. The idea that one can love more than a single committed partner is inherently illogical. If pleasing our spouse is our first priority, then destroying the trust we have with them could never be in “their” best interest. If we already are committed to a spouse, we could never offer another the level of intensity or prove through our actions we are worthy of trust. Thus no relationship in our lives could truly be called intimate or even true love. It is false love. It is a chemical attraction and accompanying good feeling pheromones that distort our judgment and intend to wreck our lives, and the lives of many others in our circles. The only love demonstrated by the cheating heart is sent facing the mirror. We lie to ourselves, to our partners, to those who would accept less of us to have some of us. It is deception designed to destroy and it is remarkably effective.

The world presents extramarital sex as offering benefits to your marriage. It recites well rehearsed lies such as “adding spice” to your sex life. But the spice is anthrax, and the results are terminal. Premarital sex does not make one a better lover, it makes one a worse lover. Instead of learning how to give, and honor only one, we learn only how to take, and move on quickly. There are no benefits to seeking sexual expression outside of the confines of marriage. There is only destruction painted with shiny wrappers and pretty bows. But the presents we think we can have contain desolation waiting to annihilate entire families, damage children perhaps irrevocably, and cause pain to all who care. It requires great forgiveness to move past a betrayal of this fundamental core. It requires a master creator God to recreate a worthy heart within us, where now rests only a dead one made of stone. But He has repaired worse. While we have hope in His skills, we would do better to heed His council and avoid the need of forgiveness.

To be moral in our sexual expression is to seek the happiness of our partner for our entire lives. It is to put their needs above our own. It is to honor the commitments we make and the relationship we have asked God to be the center of. To be moral is to be logical, to be willing to change what we do not even recognize requires a change, and to bend our stubborn will to His own. This is the basis for morality in our marriage. And the only way we have of achieving it, is to accept the gift of it, He would give us.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Physical Intimacy ...

Could you have sex in front of God? Most people do not relish this idea, though upon consideration we realize we all do it. If there is even the mildest discomfort in the idea of having intercourse in the presence of God it should quickly beg the question - why? Is it our nudity, or our passion that makes us uncomfortable? Is it our thoughts that betray us? Are we selfishly engaged or selflessly engaged? Are we trained to think this act requires privacy that even God would not be welcome within?

God created us, and knows every inch of our bodies. He knows what our faces look like in the mirror after a shower and a shave, and He knows what we smell like when covered in waste we could not control. We like to think that God only pays attention to us when we are “normal.” We like to think He is not watching so closely when we are naked, vulnerable, sick, pathetic, going to the bathroom, or engrossed in self-inflicted pain. But He is there, no matter the condition we are in. He sees all and knows everything about us. The fat we try to hide, the wrinkles or blemishes we try to cover, the hair we comb over, He knows about all of it. Our concept of privacy is good when applied to each other, but meaningless when applied with God.

Before we can begin to grasp the lesson we are learn from the creation of physical intimacy, we must return God to the position He must hold in our marriages and in our lives. We should not be embarrassed that our Lord created intercourse, or that we have the desire to engage in it. This was His design, His creation, His intentions. Who are we to criticize? Married couples should not experience guilt in coming together physically as guilt was not at all a part of His perfect creation. Embarrassment and guilt are indications that what you have learned about physical intimacy probably lacks the intimacy part of the equation.

What makes your partner happy? I do not limit the scope of my question to simply physical contact, rather I include everything under the sun. For me, it is root beer to drink with lots of ice in a huge cup, a simple pleasure. My current kidney stone would probably argue the merits of root beer with me, and right now it would decidedly win the fight, but in time when the pain has subsided I am likely to return to drinking what makes me happy. My wife, without asking or prompting, can find my large glass, clean out the remnants of my last drinking venture, fill it with ice, poor the root beer over it, and bring it to me wherever I happen to be. This simple random act of kindness reflects a level of intimacy others would hardly appreciate. In the scheme of things, bringing me a soda is NOT such a big deal. Compared with say, world peace, who cares? But to me, the act is neither small nor meaningless. It is as big as the great outdoors, for you see; it is my great fondness for root beer that truly drives my appreciation for the kindness she has done. It means more to me, than great wealth, or even the same thought but with Coke instead of root beer.

It is the fact that she notices which drink I prefer. It is the fact that she takes action without prompting. It is the fact that she brings me the drink I want, not the one she wants, not the one on sale, not the one already opened, not the one closest and easiest for her to get. But the one I want. She does this for me, and inside my mind I am a king whose throne can hardly be seen with the naked eye. It sounds stupid to other mere mortals, but they miss the point. It is the level of intimacy between us that allows her to know when to offer such a kindness. It is her attention to the details of what makes me happy. This is why intimacy is the precursor to physical contact. This is why intimacy is the goal of physical contact, not the result of it.

With the wills fully submitted to Christ, we enter our bedrooms with the sole purpose of discovering what pleases our partners in the physical realm. Do not be misled to think that only sexually explicit contact is what can make a partner happy. Massage of tired muscles and aching joints or head can sometimes be as rewarding as any other type of physical contact. Beyond the mere realm of intercourse, intimacy is much broader than what we have conceived of. Achieving intimacy takes effort. It takes attention to details. It takes active observation. It records success and notes failure without criticism but with education in mind. It is specific as it is based on an individual – one individual – your partner and only your partner. We must not fail to allow our partner to discover what truly makes us happy, nor divert our attention from the full goal of determining what brings them joy. This is the beginning of intimacy, not of orgasm.

When orgasm is not the goal, or the yardstick to measure the quality of intimacy by, a new kind of relationship is possible. One that is MORE rewarding, not less. The physical response of an orgasm will definitely bring one momentary joy, but it is decidedly not the only thing that can. I am fairly certain I have had at least as many root beers as orgasms in my life, and I can enjoy them in public venues (the root beers that is). I am not trying to make an equal comparison but simply to note that there are a great many ways to demonstrate love, and to achieve intimacy that transcend just our physical needs. All of these other methods do not lessen the intensity of our physical experiences, they in fact enhance them. When bringing each other pleasure on any level, becomes our life goal and daily routine, the stress of the world melts away. Husbands and wives look forward to getting home from work, as home becomes a solace from the world. The home where service is the priority is one filled to overflowing with joy that has no end. The demands that weaken our body and mind placed on us at work are lifted by the tender caring attention of a spouse who finds joy in the lifting. But this is only possible when human will and weakness is submitted to God and replaced by divine strength, guidance, and wisdom.

The complete lessening of stress by daily attention to intimacy removes the many mental barriers that affect our “sex” lives. Neither men nor women are quickly able to walk away from daily stress and think romantic thoughts of physical intimacy at the flip of a switch. But when intimacy is the yardstick of quality in a marriage, patience is made manifest, concern for another becomes paramount, and stress itself becomes the casualty of the day. With stress defeated, or reduced to a far lesser role, physical contact becomes much more viable, and in fact wanted. But to maintain a life of service, is to maintain a submission of the will to Christ, and a trust that the 3rd party to our union is always faithful in His role to reform and renew what must be done in our minds and souls.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Marriage for Dummies 101 ...

There is no reason to seek Christian council or advice while our marriages represent all the same evil found in the world around us. If we are not drawing strength and comfort from our marriages, then we have nothing to offer others in the way of advice. It is time for a fundamental change in the most core relationship we are ever going to have on planet earth. It is time we abandon the language of Marriage and take back the meaning of Marriage so that our lives are visibly altered by what we do. In short, it is time our marriages make a difference, or we should not consider ourselves as married at all.

It begins and ends with intimacy. The entire structure of a marriage relationship was created by God to give man a living illustration of the kind of intimacy and joy our God wishes to experience with each of us. We have lost complete sight of this and have focused our attention on marriages on ourselves (sound familiar?). In so doing we write God out of the picture entirely, or put Him on such a back burner we only consult Him in times of great distress. This is the first part of our thinking that must change in order for marriage to regain its true meaning. Intimacy was the lesson. Intimacy with God was the original goal and can be again. As our God is represented as one God in three manifestations, so our marriages were designed to unite 3 entities in singular purpose. Marriage in effect, is a symbol of the Godhead, and COULD function in a similar way if we allow it to.

There is a meat company that used to advertise their hot dog products by saying … “We’re Hebrew National, we answer to a higher authority.” The intent was to convey that the typical rules of the USDA certifications for their beef hot dogs were not nearly enough for the quality standards of this company, as God was its supposed authority figure. The analogy applies well to our thinking on marriage. We have allowed social convention to define our marriages. We have allowed the laws enacted in family courts to define our marriages. We have allowed television to give us images of Ozzie and Harriett, Desperate Housewives, and Modern Family – to begin to define our marriages. And so we have settled for the constraints they have to offer, instead of going back to the source of all marriages, and to seek the meaning of marriage in the first place. Our marriage was supposed to tell us something of our God.

But how do creatures who are raised in different backgrounds, by different parents, with different genetic leanings and inclinations, become perfectly united in purpose in a relationship located in our real world? This almost seems like too high a goal to shoot for these days. We have been taught that it is unattainable. So we drift into the myths of 50/50 relationships, give AND take, compromise. But is this how the Godhead works? Does God the Father become the authoritarian figure and mandate what will occur over the whining objections of His child, and nagging protests of the Holy Spirit – NO! They are perfectly united in purpose. But then, They are not burdened with the curse and disease of self interest. They are in fact the antidote for self interest. And as such can agree on how to best serve, as the discussions are not ever about what can be gained, but on what can be given. Our marriages as symbols of this Holy Trinity could learn much by refocusing the same ways.

In practical terms it is impossible for humans of such vast differences to come together perfectly, until they are willing to submit to the Lord. There are then no successful marriages of 2 beings, only successful marriages of 3. God Himself becomes the uniting focal point of any marriage. God Himself not only seals the bonds of marriage during the ceremonial process on our wedding day, He actively is invited to participate in the daily decisions and actions of our union for as long as it exists. He cannot be placed on a back burner only to be thought about in crisis, He must be placed on the forefront, at the lead of every crucial crossroads. His council constantly thought of, His guidance sought by both when natural differences arise, His forgiving Spirit invoked when the pain of self-interest cuts its scars in the bonds that unite us. Our God must become an active part of our thinking when we consider what marriage truly is. Once we bend our will to His, it is possible for that which is different, to become that which is united in perfection. Our perfection is found only in our God, without Him, we struggle for mediocrity at best.

It begins and ends with Intimacy. Intimacy implies trust, love, commitment, unity, and permanence. How can I truly experience intimacy if I hold you at bay emotionally because I am afraid of being hurt? The commitment of marriage itself should allay this fear. How can I trust you to be faithful to me with so many who will seek you out for selfish purposes of the flesh? Submission of your will to Christ, will allow our God, our third party to the marriage, to keep you from the harm evil would seek to inflict. I do not have to trust your human weakness, I can put my faith in His divine leadership and intervention. How do I know you will love me in the many years to come? I know it as surety, because the author of ALL love is the center of our lives, thoughts, hopes, and aspirations. We are never far from an overflowing fountain of love, as we build our lives in concert with Him. In short, no human can promise the kinds of things that make a marriage last. But God has already a proven track record of delivery of all of these to us individually, and will continue His perfection in our marriages if we but return to basing them entirely upon His will and not our own.

Our marriages were intended for so much more than any TV portrayal has yet to proffer. The state making laws about marriage makes as about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine. The state makes laws about property rights, not marriages. The state makes laws about violence, not about marriages. The state makes laws about equality, not marriages. We comply with state laws as it is our duty to do, but the state has no idea what it is like to experience the perfection of unity, or the beauty of intimacy. There are no laws, no poems, no songs, no speeches that can begin to define the peace that can be drawn from love that has no end. When we submit our wills, we open doors to a marriage that words can scarcely describe. When we replace God in our unions of 3 to His rightful position, our marriages become bonded with the glue of heaven, and rely no more on human weakness or wisdom. This is the beginning of truth. It begins and it ends with intimacy.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dating for Dummies ... (Part 3 of 3)

continued from (part 2 of 3) ...

6.) It is best to meet new people at a bar. Untrue. The best place to meet viable potential dating partners is at your local church. This gives you time to see people interact with others and with family. How a person interacts with family and friends is a good indicator of what you can expect to see from them over time with you. It gives you time to learn about them, before you decide to increase the level of socialization through dating. And finally, it gives you at least a cursory chance that you share some values and ideas common to your religious thinking, although as stated before, do not assume to know too much in this arena before extensive conversations and observation.

Meeting at social clubs such as a health club, gym, sports team events, etc is likely your next best location for date selection for similar reasons. Dating people where you work is less preferable as most people do not have the social maturity to maintain quality professional working relationships if a personal one ends or ends badly. Singles bars, drinking parties, and the like are the worst places to meet serious dating candidates as judgment is often impaired during these types of outings, and intentions can easily be misunderstood due to the surrounding environments. Where you meet does not destine a relationship for success or for failure, but where you look for one is an indication of what you are looking for and of what you intend to offer.

7.) It’s OK to date someone who is already in a committed relationship with another person. Untrue. People tend to rationalize the situations they create for themselves, often by blaming another. Bad marriages, accusations of an unfaithful partner, accusations of abuse, etc.. are all used as reasons why a person might show themselves as available for dating while not yet un-entangled with the perceived source of their pain. This represents a lack of judgment on their part, and may be an indicator of a particular personality weakness they are prone to. If they are willing to “cheat” on their existing partner, they are willing to “cheat” on you. No one likes to believe this at first, but over time the axiom proves true almost without exception.

Everyone who enters these kinds of “complicated” relationships thinks that theirs will be different. But this is mere self delusion. The entangled party should free themselves of the other BEFORE thinking they have 100% of themselves to offer another. If they enter dating knowing this cannot be true, they doom themselves to failure.

If you are not in a committed relationship, and choose to date someone who is, it is you that compromises your own self-worth. You effectively give license to date only a portion of the other person, knowing you do not have access to the whole. You will not get the attention, respect, or time you need to build a lasting relationship, because the situation of entanglement will prevent you from having it regardless of intentions. Relationships that start out on such shifting sands are doomed to end in a crashing heart. Best to avoid them, and wait until you are able to give and receive 100% attention from your dating partner.

If we had learned how to date properly, to value others properly, and to submit our own wills over to Christ so that He might lead us and change us into who He wants us to be, our marriages would be the epitome of happiness found on this miserable planet. With proper foresight, we would not be entering into divorces so often or so casually. We would have been properly armed with a better understanding of who we were committing to, and what that would require of each of us. And so as with all things good, evil creates myths to infect our thinking, warp our judgment, and send us headlong into a tunnel of despair. But it need not be so, with those who have discovered the beauty of surrender to Christ. For those who do, there is an entire world of discovery waiting to be uncovered.

So in summary, the purpose of dating is more about preparing us for a life of giving to another, sharpening our social skills, and teaching us what it means to explore interests that were not our own. Even young children can experience the joy of socialization and should be guided by parents, peers, and teachers to respect others, learn how to communicate effectively, and learn to experience new things and interests in a group social context. Our lives become enriched as we avoid the pitfalls, and warped thinking of evil. And the relationship of marriage that we prepare for throughout the dating process becomes something we can enter into knowing we are bringing a submitted heart, and the experienced set of hands and feet of a servant.

topic ends ...

Dating for Dummies ... (Part 2 of 3)

continued from (part 1 of 3) ...

3.) The three date rule applies. Untrue. The purpose of dating is NOT sexual intimacy. Dating should not be considered a “try it before you buy it” concept. The idea that you need to determine is you are sexually compatible based on experience is yet another myth. Sexual intimacy will be discussed in much greater detail in the marriage section on relationships, but for now suffice it to say, that giving to another, and respecting someone else should mean valuing them enough to refrain from becoming needlessly hormonally dependent on another person with little or no commitments or intimacy involved.

Once sex enters the picture, it clouds the mind with pheromones and radically affects the judgment of both parties. Where before logic would have foretold impassable differences on the horizon in values, intellect, emotional maturity, etc., now hormonal need enters and postpones these concerns until far into the future when they will become much more painful to experience. Many potential couples would move on to explore other possibilities, and much faster, had they not engaged in sex prematurely.

Sex tends to enslave the mind of the uncommitted. It reinforces the thinking that people are mere objects of pleasure, rather than valued individuals. And ultimately, sexual promiscuity deforms the thinking until YOU are the one with nothing to offer in a relationship, as it is your mind that no longer has any ideas what it means to give more than to take. In short, sex without the confines of marriage creates and fosters selfish tendencies that may remain in effect over an entire lifetime. As hard as it may seem, forgoing sex is the best way to determine real compatibility in a relationship, and is a better indicator of long term viability.

Guys who think they can spend enough money on a date that she should feel obligated to sleep with them – are viewing women as objects that can be purchased – in short whores. Women who buy in to this concept see themselves in this way as well. Sexual intimacy cannot be purchased, it must be a gift. Becoming a good lover does NOT happen due to the variety of people you sleep with; it has to do with the care and interest you take in really knowing who you are trying to please. Having casual sex with 100 selfish idiots is not going to improve your “skills”. It is going to turn you into the 101 selfish idiot.

The idea that sex may only be exciting when it is “new,” is part of the same thinking that separates the intimacy, trust, and vulnerability from sex and tries to turn it into mere biology. “New” can never replace “trust” where it comes to sex, relationships, or anything else of value. Again, the best way to determine compatibility of life-long partner is to abstain from sex while dating, and reserve your trust until someone is willing to commit the entirety of theirs to you as well.

4.) Love at first site is real. Untrue. Chemical attraction at first sight is real. Desire at first sight is real. Having that indescribable feeling of wanting to get to know someone else at first sight is real. But none of this is love, and most of this will not last very long. Love as we said earlier is about what we give to someone else, not about what we take. How can we truly love someone without knowing what it is they care about? How can we claim to love someone, who we are clueless about how to please? Loving someone is about learning these things and practicing them.

It will take more than a lifetime to ever try to fully know anyone. But this fact leaves open the idea of virtual newness, new discoveries about the object of your affections that will happen over a lifetime. While age may change your physical appearance, and prowess, it may also bring new insights into just how deep love can run. The longer you date someone, the more chance you will have to experience meaning with them. Chances are higher over time you will need forgiveness, even from the object you are trying so hard to please. Chances are higher over time that shared experiences will become treasured memories, and that a life shared becomes more valuable to you than a life spent alone.

5.) Age does not matter when dating. Untrue. How old a person is radically affects their perspective and degree of experience in living life. A younger person who chooses to date a much older person may appreciate the wisdom, maturity, and vision of their partner; but may also be drawn to them for their wealth, power, and prowess. But in choosing someone substantially older, they yield up a degree of control over themselves to a person who has the means to use it.

The older person may not consciously manipulate the younger, but the potential to do this exists, as the skills learned over time make the older person much more formidable than the young. People of vastly difference maturity levels should ask themselves what it is about the relationship they seek that makes them happy and brings them fulfillment. Love must be a choice, if it can be manipulated, then it can never be real. How many years different in age is the right number? ,,, is the wrong question. This is considered better in realizing the maturity differences between two people, and avoiding the pitfalls of manipulation whether by intent or by accident from either party.

to be continued ...

Dating for Dummies ... (Part 1 of 3)

The most important aspect of dating to consider is the phase or age of the person considering entering this social construct. Dating for those under 12 or 13, or perhaps better stated for children not having arrived at puberty, is less about dating and more about socialization. This kind of dating is different than 13 to 17 year olds or perhaps better stated School age dating. Next would come college age or 18 to 23 year old dating, followed by early career dating 24 to 30. Past 30 years old, most people are engaged in serious dating meaning they are looking less at socialization for fun, and more at potential life partners. Obviously there are exceptions to the goals and desires of each individual at any given age, but the general construct we discuss here should apply fairly well to whatever your desires may be presently.

There are many myths even inside of Christianity at large that have developed over the years related to dating that need to be debunked if we are ever to have longer term successful relationships. These myths include …

1.) We should only date people we would want to marry. Untrue. In any dating scenario the first goal of the experience is to sharpen our own social skills and interactions with someone who interests us. This means our first goals should be to learn how to listen to someone, really listen, and figure out where we are alike and not alike. We must learn how to talk to someone and effectively communicate our own desires, ambitions, values, and beliefs – WHILE carefully insuring we do not offend them or imply criticism in theirs. We must learn how to read non-verbal cues to determine if we are listening or communicating effectively. If you really want to impress someone, listen to them. If you want to impress them further, step out of your own comfort zone and embrace doing something that interests them, not you. In so doing you broaden your own horizons and make your own life more full, even if it is to merely reinforce your current opinions on the topic. The effort of trying is important – to you, to your own growth and viability as a dating partner.

Next it is important that we create an enjoyable experience for both parties on a date. Beyond mere effective communication, this takes active participation. It means we value the person we are trying to get to know, more than the food we eat on a date, more than the movie which vies for our attention, or any other distraction we may choose to engage in to help us become better at our social skills. The idea that anyone would even know who they want to marry, before having MANY successful social encounters with a wide variety of people is simply counterintuitive. We do not know what we do not know. Dating is a way to educate us, while we learn really well, how to read and please another person,

2.) We should only date people of like faith, or like values. Untrue. Dating is not intended to be marriage; it is intended to be for better socialization. And people do not generally wear their true values, religion, or faith on their sleeves. What someone does under pressure is a better indication of who they really are. This would take time and effort to see, it could not easily be done on a mere casual date. Just because a person shares membership in the selected denomination of your church does not mean they share the submission of their will to Jesus, as you may be doing. It does not mean you can assume you know what they think or believe on any “accepted” doctrine of your faith. With a wide variety of differences between us, you cannot logically assume we are all on the same page spiritually or at the same point on our journey. This is what the dating process helps to reveal. You should not exclude or include anyone based on a cursory review of some title they apply to themselves. This kind of narrow judgmentalism leaves only you at a loss and puts unnecessary restrictions on your potential dating pool.

to be continued ...