Often times in dating relationships it’s easy to follow our feelings and ignore red flags. In the book of Judges, the story of Sampson is an example of what happens when we do what FEELS right instead of what IS right. Spoiler alert: it never ends well. In this message, we talk about the warning signs for when you should exit a relationship.
Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Phoenix, Northwest Arkansas, Tulsa, Cedar Rapids, wherever you are joining us from. We are excited to continue this series. Has anyone been on vacation here recently? Nice. I just got back from vacation. It was awesome. I'll tell you about the first day on our way to that vacation to give us some traction where we're going.
It was last Saturday. I had planned a vacation with my wife. First time with no kids in a long time. We're going on vacation, going to Mexico. It's going to be great, just her and I. Go get some sun, get to hang just the two of us. So excited. Months in advance thinking about this, talking about this. It's going to be great. Just so stoked. The day comes. It's Saturday morning. We load up the kids and take them to Grandma's house.
Whenever you have little kids, there are a million different things you have to get Grandma equipped for. So we're bringing over Pack 'n Plays, which essentially are like a movable crib, and a bunch of other toys. We're getting her all set. Got all of the things done. It ends up taking us a little longer than we thought to tell Grandma, so now we're running a little bit late. That's okay. We're going to Mexico. It's going to be awesome.
We get in the car. We're driving. We're headed to the airport, and we're trying to make up time. It's Saturday morning. As we approach the airport, DFW, what begins to go through my mind… My wife is driving, and I begin to think, "Man, there's an exit up here, and if you don't see the sign it's really easy to miss the exit to go over here, but I'm sure she won't do that. She's much smarter than I am, so I'm sure we'll be fine."
We're getting close to the exit. We're getting close to taking it. The sign is right there. I see it happen, and my wife just continues driving. We've completely missed it, and what's going through my head… It's actually a very proud moment, because normally… Gentlemen, let me give you a little free advice. The time to criticize your wife on her driving is not while you're sitting in the car together. It never goes well.
Thankfully, for whatever reason, what went through my head of, "Oh my gosh. I can't believe it. I saw that coming literally miles away, and we missed it…" After she said, "Oh no! I missed it," I was like, "Oh, it's okay. It's easy to miss." It was the biggest moment in marriage history for me. I just have to get that off my chest. So tonight I want to just teach you my ways. No, that's not it at all.
Anyway, we keep going. In missing the sign, we missed the exit to the airport. So of course we scramble. We try to find the next one to get off and get back as quickly as we can, because we're already running late. Because we missed the sign, we missed the exit to our destination or we missed getting off at the right time.
What does that have to do with what we're talking about? Well, tonight we're continuing this series Before There Were Kings where we're looking at the book of Judges and these different men and women in the nation of Israel's history and their stories and how God's principles through them connect to our lives today. Tonight, we're going to look at the story of the most famous of all of the judges, without question.
He was a guy who, though he was incredibly strong on the outside, had a weakness for the ladies. He had a couple of relationships that in going along the journey he missed the signs that "Hey, buddy. You need to exit right now. This relationship needs to end. There's a sign. You need to exit. You need to get off. This shouldn't keep going. It should never have begun," in one of the cases.
We're going to look, because some of the things he failed to identify that would have told him, had he seen those signs or had he known, "This is a sign that means I need to exit the relationship; I need to break it off," would have prevented all kinds of pain in his life and the lives around him. Tonight, we're going to talk, as it relates to you and me inside of our dating relationships, about some of the exit signs that you need to exit this relationship right now.
If you are dating in the room, if you hope to date in the room, if you are engaged in the room, wherever you are in terms of relational status, this is applicable to you, because God, who cares about you, wants to make sure you don't wind up at the wrong destination. He wants to make sure you exit when you see the sign. There are some very clear ones that would indicate "This is a relationship that should end."
Before I go there, let me just acknowledge this: dating is hard. You may be sitting there being like, "What do you know? You've been married. You don't know how hard it is in general." Even though I've been out of the dating game for a while, I still know there are some challenges that come as it relates to dating. In fact, I had a friend who sent me a couple of these memes this week that show the "foreverness" of dating.
Here was one of them. Here's what dating is. "Welcome to dating. These are your two options: stay together forever or break up. No pressure." It's like, "Thank you." I mean, it is. It's like, "Oh man. This is such a big deal." And it is a big deal in life. Here's one that I'm not familiar with the territory related to not seeing the exit signs, that I'm going to hold on and make this thing work and try to avoid seeing this sign because I don't want to get off yet.
Here's probably the most twenty-first-century one as it relates to Bumble, for any Bumblebee ladies in the room. "My roommate went on a Bumble date…" What I love about this… You have to know that she's saying her roommate; it's definitely Syd who did that. She is saying "My roommate." Dating is hard, and it is a thing where it is easy enough to miss the signs that you should exit. The good news is God has given some clear instructions.
What I want to do tonight is, as best I can, remove some of the signs. You may blindfold yourself and you may still miss it, but to whatever degree I can, say, "Hey, these are some clear indicators from God who loves you. He's crazy about you. He cares about you. He cares about your marriage. He wants you to experience a marriage that's beyond anything you could believe, better than you could hope for yourself. That's what he wants for you to experience in marriage, and he has given some clear exit signs it's time for you to get out."
So, we're going to look at two relationships from the story of Samson. You may know some things about Samson. You probably know the most famous of his relationships, a girl by the name of Delilah. Man, live in infamy. He also had a broken engagement. Samson was engaged, had a fiancée, and we're going to look at both of these relationships. Quick recap in case you're joining us for the first time.
Before There Were Kings. Why are we calling the series that? The series is looking at the book of Judges. What is a judge? A judge was someone who didn't look like Judge Judy and have a gown and gavel. It was someone God raised up. Essentially, it's the word deliverer in Hebrew, someone God raised up. The nation of Israel would sin and rebel against God. They'd find themselves basically enslaved, and God would raise up a deliverer to go and set them free.
This deliverer is by far the most infamous of all of them and is the only one with supernatural power. He is the Old Testament version of the Hulk. Samson had supernatural strength from a very young age. You probably know that. You probably know Delilah. What you may not know (and this is relevant to what we're going to look at today) is that Samson had been set apart in a unique way by God from his birth.
In other words, God shows up. An angel comes to his parents. His parents are having trouble getting pregnant. The angel shows up and says, "Hey, you're going to have a baby boy. This baby boy is going to be different than all other baby boys." He has three to-dos for the rest of his life that God has placed on him, or three things not to do, really, that God wants him to do. He gives him a Naziritic vow. What's that? It's just basically God saying, "This is a child who is special, unlike others, so I have some special things I want him to do."
Three requirements, Samson. They were, "You can't cut your hair." Likely he had dreads. The most unusual of all of the things, probably. "You can't have alcohol." No Mambo Taxis, margaritas, Corona. None of that for Samson. Then the final one was "You can't touch dead people." In that time it just basically would defile, but God said, "You're special. You're set apart. These are three things I want you to not do." So his parents told him, "These are three things that are off limits for you."
We're going to look at Samson and his life, particularly these two relationships, and extract some of the principles from God as it relates to finding the right person or exit signs that if this applies to you, you should exit now. What I'm going to do is I'm going to play the movie of his first fiancée, pull two takeaways, and then we're going to look at that famous girl Delilah and pull a third takeaway as it relates to when you and I should exit the dating relationship. This will be from Judges, chapter 14, and we will pick it up on Samson's story. I'll start in verse 1.
"One day when Samson was in Timnah…" That's just a town. "…one of the Philistine women…" The Philistines are like the villains in the story. They're the enemies of God. "…caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, 'A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.'" Samson is a "right to the point" kind of guy.
"His father and mother objected. 'Isn't there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?' they asked. 'Why must you go to the pagan…'" That just means people who don't have a relationship with God. "'…the pagan Philistines to find a wife?' But Samson told his father, 'Get her for me! She looks good to me.'" Literally, it translates, "Hey, she looks hot. I like the way she looks. She's the one I want to marry. Go get her for me."
Samson believed in the modern form of Tinder dating. "Swipe right. She's for me." So Samson's parents begin to set up the conversation. Samson, we're told, is on his way to go meet her for the very first time. He knows nothing about her other than, "She looks good in jeans, and I like that." (They didn't wear jeans at that point. Whatever they were wearing, he liked it.) He was on his way to meet her, and all of a sudden, we're told, Samson is attacked.
He's with his parents, and a lion comes out of nowhere. Samson is supernaturally strong. The text tells us that he grabs the lion and tears it apart. I love this next part of the verse: "as one would tear apart a young goat." So many questions. Who is tearing apart all these young goats, and what does that even mean? But it says he tears it apart, and he continues to go. He meets the girl, and he again uses the same phrase. She looked really good to him.
His family goes to make preparations for the wedding, and the reason the lion thing is important is because he walks along the road and sees the carcass of the lion. A little time goes by. He's going to be a part of the wedding week, and on his way there he sees the carcass of the lion he killed. Inside of the carcass of the lion a beehive had formed and had created honey and there were bees swarming around.
Samson goes up to it, sees the beehive, and is like, "Man, that honey looks great." He reaches in and begins to eat some of the honey. It's gross, but the author includes it because he's pointing out Samson, early in the game, is already breaking part of his vow. One of his vows was he was not supposed to touch dead things. Samson takes the food. He eats. It says he brings some to his parents. He doesn't tell them where it's exactly from, and he continues to the wedding week.
He gets to the wedding week, and we're told he breaks a second part of his vow. We're told he throws a mishteh,which is the Hebrew word… He throws a party. It's basically a drinking party. So he gets his guys together. It's the wedding week. They have seven days. He's given 30 companions or groomsmen from her hometown, her relatives and all those guys. He gets them together and decides to throw a kegger.
He's hanging out with his guys. They're drinking, and they do what guys do when they drink. Now, we can be stupid in general. When you introduce alcohol, it doesn't get any better. He's hanging out with these guys, and he begins to go, "You know what? I have an idea. I just met these 30 groomsmen. We're going to bond over this. I have a riddle for you." Here's what the riddle was. He gives them a riddle and says, "Here's what's at stake."
"Samson said to them, 'Let me tell you a riddle. If you solve my riddle during these seven days…'" The seven pre-game days. "…of the celebration, I will give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing." Clothing was a big deal in that time. Basically, "I'll give you 30 sets." "'But if you can't solve [my riddle] , then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.' 'All right,' they agreed, 'let's hear your riddle.' So he said: 'Out of the one who eats came something to eat; out of the strong came something sweet.'"
These guys have seven days. Their clothes are on the line, literally, and they're thinking over, "What could this possibly be?" Day four comes. They go to his fiancée and they're like, "Hey, if you don't tell us what the answer is, we're going to kill you." That escalated really quickly. So she begins to nag Samson and say, "Tell me the answer. You haven't told me. I'm your fiancée. You won't even tell me the answer." He says, "No."
This happens day after day until the seventh day she so persists that he gives her the answer. She goes and tells the men this was the answer, and they come to Samson and say, "Out of the one who eats, the lion, came something to eat…" They basically say, "It's a lion and honey you're talking about." Samson realizes what has happened, and he responds with not a great example of how to talk about your fiancée.
Here's what he says: "If you hadn't plowed with my heifer, you wouldn't have solved my riddle!" There are so many takeaways. Men, what's the moral of the story? Do not call your fiancée a heifer or let other men… I'm not even going to go there. He basically says, "If you hadn't used my fiancée, you wouldn't have answered it." So he's now really angry at her and at the men.
We're told that he goes and in rage… This is not what God is saying to do. This guy was messed up.He goes and kills 30 men, and he takes their clothes and brings them back to the guys. Again, the author is showing us he broke his vow. How do you get clothes off of a dead body? You're touching dead corpses. Samson, time and time again, was unfaithful to the things that God said, "This is who you are. You're going to be set apart and different in the way you behave."
He's so angry he skips his wedding with the woman. He goes home to his parents, and he's like, "I'm done with this." His fiancée ends up being given away to the best man in the wedding. Yeah. It's tragic. He never should have been in the relationship with her at all. It never should have begun. It never should have gone where it did.
One of the first missteps Samson took that is still so common and prevalent today is the first exit sign that he should have exited before this thing ever began, and if you are in this situation you need to exit immediately. If you are in a relationship with someone and they are not following God, you need to exit. It was true for Samson. His fiancée was a Philistine. Basically, she worshiped a different god.
God told the people of Israel, "You are not to marry any other nations, because they worship other gods and will lead your heart astray." It was very clear. Deuteronomy 7 tells us "You are not to marry outside of that." But it wasn't just applicable to Samson. You are not to marry someone… I'm going to talk more specifically what I mean by following God, and if they're not you need to exit. The same principle applies to Christians today.
The apostle Paul, a thousand years after Samson, would write this in 2 Corinthians 6:14: "Do not be yoked…" I'll explain what that means. "…together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?" Which is essentially a false god. "Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?"
"Do not be yoked together with an unbeliever." "What are you saying? Yoked? Are you talking about eggs? What does that even mean, a yoke?" Basically, at this time, a yoke was something you would put on cattle and oxen. There would be two oxen or two cattle right next to each other. You would put a harness, or a yoke, on them to allow them to pull the carriage, to help plow the field, to pull something forward.
If oxen were unequally yoked, it meant one of two things. It meant one was able to pull much faster, farther, and stronger than the other. One was much weaker than the other. Or it meant they were pulling in different directions. The apostle Paul says if you are a Christian, as it relates to your relationships, partnerships, and specifically, at least more clearly, your marriages, you should not be unequally yoked together or partnered together with people who are not on the same page spiritually or who are headed in different directions in terms of faith, in terms of what they believe.
If you are dating someone and they are not following God, if they are in a season where they're wrestling and are still not exactly sure what they believe and are figuring it out or if they're of another belief, you are not to date them, and you need to exit the relationship now. If you don't have the same trajectory of faith, you are headed in two different directions. Here's the deal. If you marry someone who doesn't share your faith, you are guaranteed three things. Listen to me really closely. I want you to hear this.
In doing ministry for the past 10 years, the most painful part of my job is seeing some of the stories of broken relationships with people who never should have been together, but they fell in love. One person in the relationship thought, "Oh man, I'll help and I'll work with them and they'll get there. I'm going to be the light in their life." And with tears in their eyes, as their heart is ripped apart, because they never shared the same faith, which meant they didn't share the same values, which meant they didn't see the world the same way.
If you are dating someone who is not a believer or not following God with their life (not just that they say they're Christian or non-Christian…not following God), you are headed to one of three destinations. You are guaranteeing that you'll be one of these places. You will cap your intimacy with Christ. You are guaranteeing that you're going to cap your intimacy, because you're going to be constantly around somebody who's not prioritizing God.
He's not spending time in God's Word or she's not spending time in God's Word. She's not spending time in prayer. She doesn't value things that are biblically minded. She doesn't think it's important to be a part of living for Christ inside of our city, having a home be a place where they're inviting neighbors in and caring for the lost around them.
You are guaranteeing you're going to cap your intimacy with Christ or you're going to live out all of those different things and you're going to cap your intimacy with your spouse because you're marrying someone who's like, "They're doing all this stuff. I don't know why they're doing that. That's silly." The intimacy and the unity God wants you to experience in marriage… You're capping what you can.
Or the third one would be that you're ultimately headed to a place where the relationship can't last and won't last, because you're getting into a covenant relationship with someone who doesn't first have a covenant relationship with God. If anyone has anyone or anything as their first love other than God, you are stepping into dangerous territory, and you should exit now.
Is it a bad idea just to date? Maybe we're just kind of dating, and who knows? Maybe I'll be a step in his journey. Yes! It is a bad idea to date. Here's why. Is it possible for you to fall in love with someone who doesn't love God? If you love God, is it possible that you could fall in love with someone who doesn't love God? Yes! Absolutely.
So you're going to yoke your heart… You are setting yourself up for tremendous heartache for a future that doesn't involve being a part of a marriage where the values are the same and the commitments are the same, where we're going to raise kids the same way and we see the world the same way. You are setting yourself up for tremendous heartbreak.
As painful as it can be or you can imagine, "Man, all the relational equity I've already put into this, and I've already pot committed," you should get out now. You should not even date and step in that direction, because your heart can fall in love with someone who doesn't love God. If you're going, "Man, but I love him," you clearly love him more than you love God if you are willing to say, "I will live in direct rebellion to you, God, to get what I want, what I love."
The God who's there is not mad at you. He's mad about you. He's crazy about you. He doesn't want you to experience that. He wants you to experience a relationship that's not marked with being on different pages as it relates to the most important part of your life, which, if you're a believer, is Jesus and your relationship with him.
The second danger to be aware of inside of this is it is also… I'm not saying date someone who says they're a Christian. There are a lot of people who say they're Christians. By and large, if they're not Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, or an atheist, you're going to get a lot of people who say they're Christian, and they're not following Jesus.
The direction of their life is not moving toward Jesus as it relates to how they date, how they live, how they handle work, how they see the world. They're not actually following Jesus. They just say they're a Christian. I mean in this room. I wouldn't be like, "I met him at The Porch; he's for sure a great guy" or "I met her at The Porch; I'm sure she's a follower of Christ." She may not be.
It's not enough to say, "I'm a Christian." What does that mean in their life? What do they mean by that word? They may be meaning something that is different than what the Bible says a Christian is. They may be meaning something that's different than someone who is following Jesus. So knowing not just if they are a Christian but what they mean by that. Here's an example. You could say something, and it means one thing to me and something very different to you.
Like if I was to say, "Hey, look. He may be the greatest artist of this generation. Y'all know who I'm talking about…Justin. He's an amazing dancer. The dude has vocals like you wouldn't believe. He has shoe game. He seems to be happily married. He's got a lot going for him. A really talented guy, one of the most talented musicians maybe, a once-in-a-generation kind of talent, and by far he was the best member of NSYNC. Am I right?"
Half the room is going, "Ah, you're talking about JT. I thought you were talking about JB." All of the believers in the room. When I said the word Justin, you thought something different. In the same way, it is possible for you to say, "Oh yeah, I'm a Christian." It is not just saying the word; it is what that means. You don't want to be on a different page. "Oh, I thought this is what they meant."
You need to make sure they're not just a Christian in name but they are following Jesus with their life. The direction of their life is moving toward Jesus and following him as it relates to all of the different areas and arenas of their life. Just because their dating profile… It's more relevant than ever, candidly, because their dating profile is like, "Oh, they're a Christian. This seems like a great guy," and you will begin to convince yourself, "I think they're a Christian. They're serious about God. Please."
You are headed toward dangerous territory if the trajectory of their life is not moving toward Jesus. As Christians, as we've said a ton of times before, we don't believe in "the one." We believe that if you're a Christian, there are a bunch of ones you could marry. If you're a Christian guy who's following Jesus, who are those ones for you? A Christian girl who's following Jesus. That's pretty much it. If you're a Christian girl, the same is true for you.
You're not there looking for star-crossed lovers. "Who could they be? Maybe they're in India." You're not looking for that. There are a bunch of ones that God says inside of his Word, "Here are the ones who could fit. Here are the ones I could yoke with, and here are the ones I could not." Are they following God or not? Samson made the decision, "Despite the fact that she's outside of my people, that God says this is wrong, I don't care." He misses the first exit sign.
The second exit sign is related to it and very similar. It's that he decides, "What's the primary criteria that I'm going to decide whether or not to have a relationship with? It's how she looks. If she looks a certain way, if she's hot…" We still do this today. We're like, "Hey, I don't know where she is spiritually, but she's hot. And it's a lot easier to become a Christian than become hot. Am I right?" It's how we think.
I don't know if it is true, but it's still misguided thinking, and it ended tragically for Samson. That's what he does. He looks, and the Hebrew word is basically, "She looks really hot, so I'm going to work with her on anything and everything else." The defining characteristic and criteria for him was unbelievably shallow. When you date or marry with purposes that are unbelievably shallow, it will end in regret and pain every single time.
The second exit sign is if all the criteria or all of the things that are attractive to you about that person are shallow, you should exit now. Stay with me, because you're like, "Yeah, no duh. I wouldn't do that." This is so relevant. If you're dating someone in the room, if everything you are attracted to in that person is shallow, you should exit that relationship. What do I mean by shallow? I mean the things that attract you to her or him are how they look on the outside, how tall they are, how they dress, how much money they make, any of those things.
If those are the primary, driving criteria of "This is why I'm attracted to this person," you should exit the relationship now, because those are the things that are going to be the fastest things to go away. If the criteria that's driving your relationship or keeping you together is sex, how sexy they are, how much money they make, how they look… All of those things are bad criteria to stay in a relationship. If they are shallow, you should hit the exit button or approach the exit fast.
I want you to think, truly, if you're dating, what are you attracted to in them? Truly, if you're dating someone in the room, why are you attracted? Begin to think through it. If the list is like, "Well, I like the way he looks, and I like how tall he is, and I like that he always picks me up on time and drives a nice car, and I like that he comes from a wealthy family" or "I like the way she looks in that dress" or "She's really hot and she looks like a model…"
If those are the criteria, if you can't come up with anything that is not fleeting or anything that is not shallow, if the things inside of you are not like, "I like her character. I see the way he cares for people when no one else is watching. There's something about him. Clearly, the Spirit of God is at work in his life, because he's not focused on himself and making much of himself; he's focused on other people all the time. It's unlike anything I've ever seen…"
If you can't think of anything you are attracted to that is not superficial or shallow about the person you are dating, you should be concerned, because all of that other stuff is going away. I mean, truly. Everything you're like, "Man, they're just so hot…" Dude, all of those things are leaving. What you are going to be left with is the character, the integrity, the spirit of that person. What are you attracted to in them?
Guys, let me try to drive this home. You're going to marry someone. Lord willing, you have kids. Their body is going to change. It's happening. And your body is going to change. Your hair is going to disappear here and start showing up here. It's going to transform, and their body is going to change. You're going to have children and stretch marks. Curves will not stay the same. I can guarantee it.
So if you are committed to curves or characteristics rather than their character, you should hit the exit button. You're not healthy enough to date, and you're not ready to date. If something happened, if they were marred by a fire and you're like, "Man, their personality, their character I'm kind of repulsed by," you should break up, because physical characteristics are going away. There's only so much Botox a person can do, and then they start looking like they were made in a plastic factory. Truly. I mean it. I'm grieved.
I can think of names and friends who married the hottest girls of all time, guys would say, and they're miserable. The problem is not they were pretty on the outside; it's that they had no character on the inside. Ultimately, what matters most, ultimately the thing that will last is not what you see on the outside; it is what is seen on the inside. Looks can be deceiving, and if you don't take into account what is on the inside because you're just focused on the outside, it's going to cost you.
It's like this. What's your name? Yeah, both of you. Solomon and Logan. Logan, I have two bags here. There's a treat for each of you inside of these two bags. These bags represent your future wife. So inside of there their name is actually written. We're going to do the ceremony… No, that's not true. Which bag, Logan, would you like to pick? Tom Thumb. Logan would like to bring Tom Thumb, a marginally overpriced grocery store, to wed with his life.
This leaves our leftover Nordstrom bag. Inside of the Nordstrom bag we have something and inside the Tom Thumb bag we have something. Inside of the Tom Thumb bag, Logan, you picked correctly. I think you knew where this was headed. You have just won $100 just for sitting in that seat, Logan. Maybe if you're dating someone you can take them out on a nice date with this.
Solomon, you were given a nicer bag, a very pretty bag on the outside, Nordstrom's, a great retail store, and you've won three cans of sardines, also for a date. Unfortunately, though this bag was much nicer on the outside, what mattered more or was of more value was clearly what's on the inside. In the same way, if you fail in selecting your spouse to take into account what is inside, you lose, because that is the thing that will last.
I feel like no matter how hard I hit this, many of you are not going to believe me. Marriage is challenging, but even as challenging as marriage, life is hard. You're going to walk through life, and it's going to be painful, and you're going to have friends or you're going to experience infertility, cancer, death of family members, little kids who will drive you nuts. They're the greatest thing ever, but it's also like, "The yelling… I can't take it."
If you don't have a relationship that is yoked together or you don't have someone you're walking with who has character, who's going to be an amazing mom or an amazing dad who can come alongside of you… My wife and I don't have a perfect marriage, but we have a marriage, and I am so lucky and so fortunate that I married someone of character. We had conflict last night. Generally, almost all the conflict is because of me. Truly. That's not me just saying that. She is the closest to Jesus person in our family.
It is her character that allows us to walk through that, to come alongside, to call me… "I'm not going to allow you to lead in that way," and call me forward to be a better husband. You want to marry someone who has character. As much as all the different world around us is saying, "What really matters is how hot they are," if you don't take into account what's on the inside, you will lose, and you can take it to the bank.
If you are only dating them or if the sum total, the primary total… You know it's true. If you can't think, "Their character is what attracts me to them," you should exit the relationship now. Ladies, if you catch a guy with your body, you're going to lose him for your body. There was a study done not long ago that showed that the attraction ages of men and women are so various. For women, basically, there's a kind of continuum of the age they find attractive.
They basically found that if you're a woman, the ideal age of attraction… They surveyed thousands of women. They basically found out based on the age you are, here's the age you're ideally attracted to. A lot of pictures of men. If you were 21, you were attracted to 23-year-olds. At 30 you were attracted to 30. Women, if you're 42…39. Here's kind of the age of attraction. The women are on the left.
Then they surveyed the men. They found if you're 20 you like a 20-year-old and if you're 49 you like a 20-year-old. Now this is not all men, and it's definitely not godly men who are saying, "Ultimately, this is what I'm looking for in life," but it is a lot of men, and if you date someone, if you marry someone, or if you're in a relationship with someone who really wants you for your body…
I had someone tell me not long ago that when they were getting engaged or married, their now husband was like, "Hey, here's the deal. If you gain this much weight, I'm out." She should have said, "I'm out." If you are dating someone or using your body to get a date with someone, you should hit the exit sign now, because just like you got him because you're 22, you are going to lose him to a 22-year-old, because he has already said, "This is what I value most in life." So if the person you're dating doesn't see character or you don't find character to be the quality that is driving and attracting you, you should exit the relationship now.
So, Samson finds out his fiancée marries another man, and things go downhill from there. He ends up sleeping with a prostitute. He gets into this big feud with the Philistines. At one point he takes a donkey bone and kills a thousand of their guys. I mean, Samson was savage if nothing else. His relational life just doesn't get much better. Eventually, he falls in love with the most famous of maybe all women inside of the Old Testament, Delilah, and here's what happens in verse 4 of chapter 16:
"Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek." So the Hulk loves a Valley girl. A tale as old as time. "The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, 'Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver.'"
Basically, 1,100 pieces of silver was the equivalent of between 15 and 20 million dollars. They basically are like, "Hey, we will give you enough to retire if you will find out what makes this guy so strong." She is the definition of gold digger, silver digger.
"So Delilah said to Samson, 'Please tell me what makes you so strong and what it would take to tie you up securely.' Samson replied, 'If I were tied up with seven new bowstrings that have not yet been dried, I would become as weak as anyone else.'" The same thing begins to happen over and over. So, seven bowstrings. She goes and gets them. He sleeps. She ties him up. Then she says, "Samson, the Philistines are upon you! They're here."
He wakes up, snaps the bowstrings, and she's like, "You lied to me. You lied to me. I can't believe you lied to me. Why won't you tell me the truth?" The same thing happens over and over again. He says, "Oh, I was kidding. If you tie me up with brand-new ropes that have never been used, I'll become as weak as anyone else." He goes back, takes another nap. She ties him up with new ropes. "Samson! The Philistines are here!" He wakes up and snaps the strings.
At this point, if I'm Samson, you have to be a little concerned, where you're like, "This woman keeps tying me up." She basically says again, "Why do you keep lying to me? Why won't you tell me what it was?" He says, "If you weave my hair into a loom, it will make me as weak as any other man." He goes to sleep. She does it again, and she says, "The Philistines are upon you, Samson. Wake up!" He wakes up and snaps his hair out of the loom.
Again, you have so many questions. This brother loves some naps. Three naps in a row, man. She finally says, "Samson, you hate me. You don't love me," and she begins to nag and nag and nag. She says, "How can you say 'I love you' and not tell me?" This is verse 15. It says he finally shared after she nagged him.
"'My hair has never been cut,' he confessed, 'for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.' […] Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap, and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair.
In this way she began to bring him down, and his strength left him. Then she cried out, 'Samson! The Philistines have come to capture you!' When he woke up, he thought, 'I will do as before and shake myself free.' But he didn't realize the Lord had left him. So the Philistines captured him and gouged out his eyes. They took him to Gaza, where he was bound with bronze chains and forced to grind grain in the prison."
It's tragic. You read this story, and it's like, "Samson, how could you be so foolish? How did you not see this coming? Four different times she's like, 'Hey, tell me your strength.' You clearly have to believe. She does it one after the next after the next. What did you think was going to happen? How could you be so stupid? How could you make such a stupid, poor decision?" The reason was because Samson was unhealthy. He was spiritually unhealthy. He had been for a really long time.
It was clear that his commitment was not to God first. Think about the story in progression in his life. He didn't get there overnight, in other words. He wasn't like, "You know what? Today I'm just going to tell the world my kryptonite as Superman, and I'm going to give a girl the power over that." He got there slowly. He was unhealthy, and unhealthy people make unhealthy decisions. Dysfunctional people make dysfunctional decisions.
Samson got there one step after the next. Think about the different ways that all along his story he rejects the vow of God. He touches dead bodies. He's throwing an alcohol kegger party for his friends. He goes and kills 30 men. He touches dead bodies again. He sleeps with a prostitute earlier in this chapter. Just one decision after the next after the next. Samson was not in a good place. The whole point of the story shows us that. The whole point of the story was to show what happens when you walk away from God.
The third idea or the third exit sign or the third time that you should exit (candidly, this is going to be the most relevant to most of the room) is when you are not healthy you should exit the relationship. If you're in a place where, like Samson, you're unhealthy… Here's the truth. Dysfunctional people date dysfunctional people and they do so dysfunctionally. So if you're in a dysfunctional relationship, things should probably be a little bit more clear now. That's what happened to Samson. His aim was off. He was like, "Here's the kind of girl I want in life."
Inside of the room, the reason I say it's the most relevant is the thing many of you need to do more than anything is not look for a spouse or get on another online dating profile. You need to get healthy. You need to spend this season right now… God has given you this season and wants you to experience a season of singleness. He may be calling you to break up so you can get healthy for the sake of your future marriage, for the sake of the children you're going to lead someday, for the sake of the parent he wants you to become.
You'll never get there if you don't begin to get healthy. What do I mean by "begin to get healthy"? I mean you need to get in community and walk authentically in relationship with other believers. If you're not in community, if you don't have a group of men around you if you're a guy, a group of women around you if you're a girl, who you can be authentic with, who you're being open with your struggles and confessing sin with, you are not going to get healthy.
The Bible says confession is a part of the process by which God brings healing. You're not going to get healthy. Unhealthy people make unhealthy decisions and unhealthy dating decisions. They begin to think, "I'm kind of damaged goods, so of course I need to settle for this person." If you think that way, you're not healthy and you're not thinking like God thinks.
Some of you may need to go to re:gen on Monday nights. I couldn't encourage it more highly. I've been going through re:gen, which is a 12-step discipleship process we have on Monday nights, for the last 10 months. It is a chance for you to go through the journey of your soul and heart in ways… People you need to forgive, amends you need to make, sexual baggage you need to confess and deal with.
This is the time. Before you ever get into that serious relationship, you need to begin healing. Am I saying you have to break up or you can't heal at all? No, but I'm saying there are a lot of you in the room who are not going to heal and you will not get healthy if you're staying in that relationship, and you need to break up and get healthy. This is your exit sign. All the equity you've built, and you've spent these three months together and you have a song and it's amazing…
If you are unhealthy, the best chance you have is to exit now, because you're going to date in an unhealthy way and you'll likely date unhealthy people. Your relationship will be as healthy as the least healthy person in it. How do you know if you're unhealthy? Here are some of the ways. If you're having casual sex, you're unhealthy. If in the last relationship you had the word codependent came out by the other person or maybe by your friends around you or maybe by yourself, you're probably unhealthy.
If you're looking at pornography, you're unhealthy. If you're abusing medication or alcohol, you're unhealthy. The God who's there is not angry at you. He's not done with you, but he wants you to use this season to get healthy. He's saying, "If you will come to me, trust in me, trust in the process I've given by which you can take steps to get healthy…" He's not promising you a marriage at the end of that, but he is promising that you will be in a place to step toward, if God has it for you, a marriage in a healthy state, and you'll be more likely to date someone healthy.
If you're owned by anxiety, you're unhealthy, especially if you're walking through it alone. If you have an eating disorder and you're hiding it, you're binging and purging, you're unhealthy. If you're in a perpetual dating relationship where you guys… Some guys have been dating for like 17 years. That's not healthy. You need to break up or get married. If you are not in community or part of a local church, you're not connected to a church and you claim to be a Christian, you're not healthy. You're at least prideful…let me say that…which is kind of unhealthy.
The God who's there is not angry. This is the best thing you can do with these years right now: to put yourself in a position where when it comes to who you're going to decide to date, you're not going to fall for Delilah, because you're like, "Are you crazy?" Samson ended up going there one step at a time. All of a sudden, his aim got off and who he was looking for was off because he wasn't healthy, because he was off.
If he could come forward in time, I'm confident what he would say to you is "Don't fall for the Delilah. Don't be one. Don't fall for one. Get healthy, and don't be a Samson." The exit time is now to exit, break up, and find healing. It's not dissimilar to this. I have a friend. Not long ago we went out to his ranch, and there was a shooting range at his ranch. Because we believe in the second amendment, we were out there shooting. We had pistols and were shooting on the ranch.
All that to say, we're hanging out, we're shooting, and I began to realize the sights on one of them… I'm like, "Is this right?" I'm aiming, shoot, Boom! I'm not a quick draw or anything very impressive, but I at least know "I don't think this is shooting where I want it to go." I'd aim it, shoot, and then it would go in a direction that was like, "Clearly something is off here." I'd even get closer and closer and closer to be like, "No. I thought it was me from far away. Now I can tell there's something off here."
Come to find out, the sights on the end of the gun, the thing you look through, was all off. So even though I thought, "I'm aiming at the right thing," it was bent in the wrong direction, so the shot was not going where I thought it would go. It was off. The only way to fix that is you have to fix that sight. You have to make sure you align with reality the sights, which is the thing at the end of the gun. You have to make sure your aim is not off.
Even in your best attempts that "Hey, I want to be married someday and have some great things…" If your aim is off, if you are not healthy, you are not going to hit the target you want to hit. You're not going to select and choose the person you want to date. The best decision you can take right now is to align yourself with what God says.
"This is who I'm going to look for in a spouse. I'm not going to fall for the lies of the world around me and Hollywood, as though they knew anything about what they were talking about as it relates to marriage, because I'm going to trust in what God, the one who created marriage, who ultimately marriage is all about, says matters most." I want this so badly for you. Will you heal right now? God is not done with you. Whatever your story is…
If you're sitting in the room and you're like, "A godly woman, a godly guy never would like me," you've bought a lie, but the truth is you have to take time to heal. There's no limit to what God could do with you. In the pages in the story, the tragedy of Samson is that if you just continue walking down that road to unhealth it will end up only costing you and hurting all those around you and hurting that relationship.
The God who's there is crazy about you, and he doesn't want that for you. The decision is yours. You have to exit. No one can make that choice but you. This is the time. As painful as it can be, it is so much better to be lonely and single in your 20s or in your 30s than to be lonely and married in your 40s and your 50s and your 60s. If you don't set yourself up and you don't partner with the right person, that is where you're headed.
When we were driving along the road, when we were headed toward the airport and we missed the exit and kept going the wrong way, we had to decide, "We have to get off of here as soon as possible and turn around. We're not headed in the right direction toward the right destination. We have to exit as soon as we can." So we drove and we looked for the exit, we got off, and we turned around.
There's a word in the Bible that actually signifies "Get off and turn around." It's called repent. What so many of you need to do is you need to relationally begin to repent and say, "God, I'm not going to do it my way anymore. I'm not trusting in my way, what I think is right, how I think I should date. 'This is kind of my opinion. Yeah, that's good for you, but really, I think that's a little narrow-minded.'"
You have to repent and decide, "I'm going to turn around. God, I really am going to trust you. You invented marriage. You're all about sex in the context of marriage. You're all about relationships being healthy, being one, being intimate, and you've given a model and a mandate for what that's to look like. I'm going to trust in your way. Not in my way, not in The Bachelor's way, not what society around me says, not what my work buddies say marriage is all about, but in your way."
You need to exit, and when you do and if you do there's no limit to what God will do and can do through you and in whatever future marriage maybe he has for you. But he's not going to force your car off the road. You have to choose to exit. Let me pray.
Father, I pray for all of the relationships inside of this room that need to end, the relationships of friends who are listening that need to end. Would you right now, in the stillness and the quietness, as we bow our heads, as we pray, as we listen to you, direct us, God? Would you help us? Breakups are horribly painful.
So in the midst of that, if that is where you lead us, God, will you surround us with your people? Would we tangibly feel your love, that an awareness of you would be present in our minds and our hearts? Would you help us walk through breakups and help us to not walk through divorce? Would we exit now before exiting in a way of just seeing a total collision take place?
I pray that you would heal all of the areas of our hearts in this room where we need you to heal us, God, we'd be a part of experiencing that through confession, and we would begin to live and date and marry in a way that brings honor to you, that showcases to the world we know what marriage is about because we know the one who created it, Jesus. Would you form relationships in this room that have not yet even formed between godly men and godly women? Would we be your people? We love you and we worship you in song, amen.