In this decade of decisions, one of the biggest choices we are faced with is who to marry. None of us want to ruin our love life, but things don’t always go as expected. Who doesn’t want that all-the-feels-Rom-Com kind of love that will last a lifetime?! In this message, we look to the Bible for advice and talk about 10 things to avoid when looking for a love that lasts.
All right. Let's go! Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Phoenix; in Woodlands; El Paso; Nashville; Mint Hill; Austin, Texas; Houston, Texas; wherever you are joining and listening, all of the live locations and everybody who is here. We are continuing the series Roaring 20s. Tonight we are going to talk about relationships, dating, how to make sure you don't set yourself up in one of the biggest arenas of life to experience pain in the next 10 years of your life.
Let me start by asking this question: What is the greatest romantic comedy of all time? The Notebook? Is that a comedy? That's such a tragedy. You have to laugh more. What else? All right, I heard it. I'm going to go on record. I think the greatest romantic comedy of all time is How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Do you guys remember this? With Kate and Matthew McConaughey, 2003. The dress that set off a thousand prom dresses across the room and across the world.
If you don't know the story, let me catch you up. This is all going somewhere, by the way. It's not just me getting off my chest my favorite rom-com. The story is this. Kate was a columnist. She was working for this magazine. Think Cosmo, only they didn't name it that because of copyright. But she's working for this magazine. She has an assignment in the column. "Hey, I want you to write a column on how to lose a guy in 10 days. You have to make him fall in love with you, and then how to get out of that relationship in 10 days."
At the same time, Matthew is doing some diamond deal where he basically finds himself… In order to get a job, he had to convince his boss, "I can sell anything, including myself." His boss says, "All right." They're at the same party, coincidentally. His boss looks over, sees blondie, says, "Hey, I want you to go and make her fall in love with you." He's like, "Challenge accepted." So now they have this irrespective… She's going to try to drop him like it's hot. He's going to find a way to make her fall in love.
Kate Hudson then goes into this relationship and does all of the iconic things you would think a girl would do to try to make a guy be like, "Man, this is just too much. You are way too extra. I'm out of here." That included things like getting a dog very quickly into the relationship. It's like, "Oh, they have a dog named Princess," which is one of the more ugly dogs you've ever seen. Burberry and all. It included her coming over during the poker night with the game, if you remember this moment. There she is wiping his nose. All of the guys are over.
It included the famous love fern that he let die and then claimed, no, it was sleeping. I mean, there are some genius moments in the entire thing. Then, finally, they end up meeting at that party, and if you know the story… I won't go into all of it, but eventually, they decide they do want to be together. She doesn't write the column she would have thought of, and there they are with the iconic moment on the bridge. She doesn't go to Chicago for the job. Just greatest rom-com of all time.
It's one of those movies… There's some part of us that loves it because it's like, "Oh man…" Just this idea of these starstruck lovers, that even though they weren't trying to make it work, there was something inside of them that just couldn't keep them apart, and this amazing love story. It really resonates, because all of us want to have this love story, that no matter the imperfections and the challenges and the journeys we go along, we hope that one day we're going to bump into that person, and, "There they are, and here I am, and it's going to work together, and we're going to make it last forever."
We live in a culture that does anything but that or a culture where love that lasts…I mean, marriages that not just stay together but where two people come and really love each other, really enjoy being with one another, share the same values, where they don't end up in divorce…is increasingly rare. Let alone the stat of 40 to 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce, yet how many marriages, even the ones that don't, end up just in a loveless, sexless, unromantic life.
The God who's there doesn't want that to be your story. He doesn't want that to be my story. You may not know this. If you came into the room and you're like, "Man, I would love to be in love someday and in a marriage; I would love that to be a part of my story," the good news is, statistically, 75 percent of you will experience that by the age of 35. The even further good news is that the God who is there wants you to experience a romance and a marriage that exceeds any romantic comedy out there, beyond anything you could even hope for yourself.
He is committed to and desires you to experience that. But in culture, though they put up this lofty idea of "Man, this would be amazing," and we celebrate that romantic comedy, we also have been sold a bunch of lies that many of us have believed, many of us are living out, and they are keeping you from experiencing the type of love you want. So, what I want to talk about tonight… We're going to fly through. I'm going to cover 10 things about how to lose at love in 10 ways.
Over the next 10 years…listen to me very closely…you most likely will decide the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with. Think about that. Among the decisions that are most going to impact your life, few, if any, other than who you're going to trust as Lord and Savior, are going to be more important than who you marry and covenant your life to. There are some really clear things that culture is saying, "This is how you should date," and if you date that way, you can be sure you will lose at love in the next 10 years, and you'll lose at love in these 10 ways.
So we're going to fly through. I'm going to cover each of them for the next 30 minutes. We're going to go through very quickly how to lose at love. This is kind of a high level what not to do. We've done a lot of dating series. You can go check out any of those on the Porch app if you're interested in finding out more of the proactive things to do. This is like, "You need to avoid these land mines, because if not, you're going to lose at love in the next 10 years if your love life looks like one of these 10 ways."
Let me just read all of them up top. Here are 10 ways to lose at love in the next 10 years: date for fun; make exceptions if they're exceptional; play married; search for the best; jump from relationship to relationship; focus on chemistry over character; project past hurts; isolate your relationship; have sex when you're ready; believe love is something you fall into. We could close in prayer right there, just end it. All right. Let me go through them a little bit slower.
1 . Date for fun. Why do I say, "Date for fun"? Why is dating for fun a bad idea? What does this look like? This looks like dating is just kind of for sport. "I'm not really ready to get married yet, but I also don't love not having anything to do on a Friday night. I'd love to have somebody paying for my meals every now and then. That kind of sounds fun. And let's be honest. Attention from the opposite sex is pretty cool."
So you're just in that season where you're dating for fun. You're not really interested in settling down. You're kind of playing the field. You have 16 dating apps. You're swiping on Tinder. Why and how could that be a bad idea? The Bible says in Proverbs 4:23… Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. It says, "Above all else, guard your heart [protect your heart] , for it is the wellspring of life." Wellspring of life just means everything you do in life flows from your heart.
Solomon is like, "Hey, I wrote a lot of proverbs. I wrote Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. That was pretty cool, but above everything else I've ever written, I want you to listen: protect your heart." Why is it a bad idea to casually date? Because in doing so, you are training yourself to give your heart away, to give small parts of your heart away, give large parts of your heart away, and you are training yourself to break up and do and experience something God never intended your heart to experience: that breakup.
Everything you do in life flows from your heart. So every time you casually date and give a little bit of it away, you are giving away a part of your heart, and it's going to impact the next relationship and your future marriage. Solomon is going to say, "It's going to impact all of your life. Do not be a fool." It is foolish to casually date. You are training yourself not for marriage but for divorce.
Just practically, think about it. I get into a relationship. We're kind of together. We have all of these mixed emotions. We fool around, we hook up, and then we break up. You are experiencing something God never intended you to experience. You know, dating is a relatively new invention. It's around 100 years old. People have been driving a car and flying planes about the same length of time they've been dating.
We really haven't mastered this craft, so if the world around us says, "Just date around; kind of figure out what you like," you are taking your cue and advice, and it's going to end up with you experiencing losing at love in the next 10 years in 10 ways. So, the first one, dating around, dating just for sport. The truth is in this time you should be selective. If you're not ready to get married, you should not date. If you're not ready to get married in the next 12 months, you should not date.
2 . Make exceptions if they are exceptional. Now we are just getting up in people's business. This looks like: You're at work. You have that coworker. He's a cute guy. You're hanging out, and he's like, "What are you doing this afternoon?" You go on a date. You begin to talk about faith. It's important to you, and you're trying to grow in your spiritual walk. You ask him if he has a faith or where he's at in that, and he says something like, "No, not really, but I'm not opposed to coming to church."
You begin to go, "Oh man. But he's such a great guy. He's so nice and so kind, and he's open to coming to church. He's not following Jesus, but he's open to coming with me. I could be a good source of light in his life." Or it looks like you being the person who's like, "I'm going to make exceptions because I think this is an exceptional circumstance. I've been dating this guy. He cheated on his girlfriend with me when we started dating, but he wouldn't cheat on me like that, because we are totally different."
Or you're the guy… Maybe you're dating a girl, and people are like, "Dude, have you looked at her Instagram? Every other picture is her putting her cleavage out in the shortest dress you could ever see. It just doesn't seem like she's a girl who wants to be known for godly qualities," and you're like, "Yeah, you know. She dresses that way, but it's because she's a cheerleader, dude. You have to in order to get the job."
Let me just say this: if any relationship you're in includes you saying something like, "Yes, but…" you should get your butt out of that relationship. I couldn't be more serious. There's not a more significant human relationship you're going to have than your wife or your husband, and you thinking, "I'm going to make an exception here because they seem to be pretty exceptional…" Here's what I know: you are not going to be the exception to the rule. You will be a statistic, and you're going to lose at love in 10 ways.
The Bible says the qualities you should look for in a person are character, someone who fears the Lord. Proverbs 31:30 says, "Charm is deceptive…" Like, "Hey, they have charisma. I like being around them. There's a connection." "…beauty is fleeting; but a woman [or a man] who fears the Lord …" That means they know God. They walk with him. They live in light of knowing and walking with God."…is to be praised. Honor[them]for all that[their]hands have done, and let[their]works bring[them]praise at the city gate[in the community]."
Proverbs 14:1 says, "The wise woman builds her house…" Or you could have "The wise man," someone who's wise. This is who you should look for. "…but with her own hands the foolish one tears [it] down." Solomon says there are two types of people in the world. You have people who are wise, know God, walk with him. They're going to be someone that if you let into your life, you marry that person, you're going to have a house one day, a family one day that's all built up.
Then there's the home-wrecker. They're a fool. They don't know God. They don't walk with him. He literally says they wreck their home. He says you need to decide what you are going to look for, and if you're making exceptions because you think they're exceptional, you're going to end up with a home-wrecker. You're not going to win at love; you're going to lose at love in the second way.
3 . Play married. What do I mean by "play married"? This means we live together. We sleep together. We've moved in. We think the next step in our relationship is moving in and kind of exploring, "Is this something that could work out long term?" Let me first say I get why this is such an appealing thing. Rent is expensive. You're spending a lot of time together.
Some of you are listening right now, and you're like, "Yeah, but I'm spending the night over there a lot anyway. I have a lot of my stuff over there. We might as well move in and save on rent. My roommates all moved out. Where am I supposed to go? Where do you want me to live? It just makes sense. And we're ready to take the next step in our relationship. We need to see…"
Some of you may say, "I even have parents telling me, 'Hey, before you get engaged, you guys should probably live together a little bit and see if this is something you're really sure you want to move forward in.'" Why would that be a bad idea? The Bible says in Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed [having sex] kept pure [just for marriage] , for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral."
If you're living together, having sex together, giving your heart away, you're not honoring marriage. You're not preparing yourself for marriage, and you are setting yourself up to lose at love in the third way. Why do I say you're not preparing yourself for marriage? Here's what living together is, in case you think, "This will prepare us for marriage."
When you live together and you're in a dating relationship, it's more of a combination of your college roommate and a sex partner than it is a marriage. It's true. It's like, "Oh, we sleep together. You pay half the bills, I'll pay half the bills, and we can have sex." You're not walking through what it looks like to walk through infertility. You're not getting up in the middle of the night with kids. You're not saving up for retirement and income and having to work through conflict. It's not preparing you for marriage.
Statistically, living together (I know this is going to wreck a lot of people's worlds or anger a lot of people) is increasing the likelihood of you getting a divorce. There are studies that have come out and been like, "Oh, man, that's not exactly clear." The most recent studies that have come out have said it increases your likelihood of getting a divorce if you live together before marriage.
Here's why. People have begun to study, "How could that be? That's so counterintuitive." Non-Christians going, "It's so interesting. You live together before marriage. That has to be the next step. How could that not increase the likelihood of you succeeding? How could it have the inverse effect and make it likely that you're going to end up breaking up?"
Sociologists have termed one of the leading reasons they think is because whenever you begin to live together, you kind of slide into marriage versus deciding to get married. Let me explain it like this. You end up getting a house. You're there. You're like, "We're moving in; we're splitting rent," and you begin to make decisions that yoke and intertwine your life together that make it harder to decide, "I don't think this should keep going forward."
You get a phone bill, and you're like, "Man, this is too high. Let's share our phone plan." You get a phone plan together, and now you're living together. You're sharing your AT&T phone plan. Then you're like, "You know what? I saw these puppies at the park. I think we should get a dog." You bring home a dog and name it Princess. It's a little bulldog. Then you're like, "We're parents together." All of a sudden, your life gets closer and closer and closer.
You cosign on a car you're going to lease, and step-by-step, without even realizing it, you're like, "I've just put so much relational equity into this. And I see some red flags. I'm not exactly sure they're the right person, but it just feels like we're already pop-committed. We might as well get married." Rather than going, "Hey, I can clearly think through this. They have the qualities I see in a person. They're a godly person. I will make the decision to get married," you just kind of slide into marriage.
They're saying that is likely the explanation for the greater divorce increase. What do I mean by that? There are certain things in life it's okay to slide into, and it's not going to be that expensive or costly in the end. Things like a subscription. This happens all the time, or it at least happens to me. Like, Disney+ when that came out… Any Disney+ people in the room? Four of you guys. When you have kids, that's your jam.
We signed up in November, got Disney+. It was like a seven-day trial, and then they always get you, because you put your information in, and then seven days go by, and you forget. "Oh, yeah. I signed up for that thing." I just kind of slid in without even realizing it, and now I have a subscription I still need to go in there and cancel. At the end of the day, me sliding versus deciding, "Honey, we're going to get the Disney thing" is not that costly. It's $7 a month.
You sliding into marriage is incredibly costly. The story you're going to have, the story you're going to tell your kids, the story you're going to live with, you are writing right now, and if it includes you living together and playing marriage, you are living disobedient to the Scripture. You are increasing the likelihood of you getting a divorce.
I know you're going, "Not us. That won't be our story." There may be some story out there that you're like, "Hey, my family did it" or "My parents did it, and it was okay with them." Being an exception to the rule doesn't mean your parents' marriage was thriving and experiencing everything God intended marriage to experience.
4 . Search for the best. This really applies to everybody, but people who are in significant relationships. What does this look like? Today, we live in a day and age where I can search for the best on virtually anything. If I want to go have the best seafood in town, what do I do? I pull out my phone, I go to Yelp, and type in "Best seafood around." Then I find the top 10 list and go to that one.
Highest reviews. I'm not going to any three-star. I'll go to a five-star. I go to that five-star and sit down at the restaurant. Then what can I do? I can find out what the best food at that best restaurant is. So I pull in tips, and I'm looking up all of the different things I can eat. We live in a time where it has never been easier to have awareness of what options are out there and select the best.
Amazon. There used to be a day and age where if I wanted a microwave, I'd go to Sears and be like, "Hey, which one of these will last hopefully beyond a year?" Today, I pull up Amazon, and I just go "Highest rated," and I pick it out there. Search for the best. "I'm not settling. I'm an American. Let's do this."
That translates to and can transfer over into the way a lot of us think about dating without realizing it. We begin to think, "I'm dating her. She's fine. There's something about her that kind of annoys me a little bit. You know, she's blond. I really like brunettes." I begin to go, "Maybe there's somebody out there who's better, so I'm going to go find this person," and I begin to search, going, "I'm looking for someone who's the most compatible person out there."
As we've said before, the reason that's a bad idea is, first, you'll never accomplish it. If you're looking for the single most compatible person on the planet, you probably won't find them. Statistically, they're in China. They have a billion people over there, so the odds are not in your favor there. Beyond that, there's always going to be something that is going to be wrong with them, just like there's always something wrong with you.
So searching for the best is a bad idea. Searching for someone who has the best qualities according to God is the best hope and option you have. Searching for the best is a bad idea, but searching for someone who has the qualities God says are best is your best option. Proverbs 31:10 says, "A [spouse] of noble character who can find?" That is rare. They are more valuable than rubies, or than wealth. They are of tremendous wealth. If you find them, you hold on to someone who has character.
I remember dating my wife. I remember being in a place where I was like, "Man, I just don't know. Is this the person?" I had a close friend who I was in community with, a godly guy who was like, "So, you're wondering if they are the most compatible. Let me answer: No. There probably is somebody out there who's more compatible in whatever way today, in this season, you define compatibility.
They may like the Astros close to the way you do or long-suffer with the Aggies in a way that you do or have whatever qualifications today as you define compatibility. So, yes, that person is out there. That's a terrible question. You need to ask, 'Does this woman have the qualities and characteristics I want to spend my life with, characteristics that God says are best?'"
If you're out there and you're dating and you're like, "Are we the most compatible?" that is a bad question. A better question is, "Does this person have the character of someone I want to marry, who I want my children to be like, who I want my children to be raised by?"
5 . Jump from relationship to relationship. This one is hard, because if you're this person, you don't think you're this person. You're the person in the room who's always talking to somebody. You're on dating apps, probably right now, and you are always in a relationship with someone. You never have time where you're single, and if you are single, it kind of drives you nuts, because you're like, "Man, I'm just trying to get back into a relationship."
There's probably something, having done this a while, really unhealthy that you're feeding through those relationships, a codependency. A lot of times it comes out of a need that "I just need affirmation or attention from girls" or "I just need a guy to tell me I'm pretty." There's some type of discontentment and insecurity in your life.
If you're jumping from one relationship to the next, you're never healing, and you're probably going to miss out because you're not healing on becoming the type of person, the type of godly guy or godly girl who has the character that a godly guy or godly girl is going to be looking for. The Scriptures say that contentment is a mark that…
Through a relationship with Christ, we as believers know, "I'm not defined by having a dating status on my Facebook. I'm not defined by having a relationship. I don't need somebody to define me. I know my identity is secure in Christ, and I'm content." Paul in Philippians 4:12-13 said, "I have learned the secret of being content [whether I'm single, whether I'm married, whether I'm employed, whatever the circumstance, in every situation] , whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through [Christ] who gives me strength."
One of the qualities and characteristics of a godly spouse… If you're looking for someone, you should ask the question, "Are they jumping from one relationship to the next to the next to the next? Like, did we start talking when they were still dating somebody?" If so, you should be concerned.
6 . Focus on chemistry over character. "Chemistry" is the nicest way I could put a combination of electricity, and they have good curves, and you like some of their personality, and when you're around it's like electricity is moving back and forth between the two of you, and there's just something there. When you focus on that over character, you are focusing on a thing that will not be a part of your relationship always and will change with different seasons in your life.
Why do I say that? Chemistry, whether that means the sex is really good or just "There are butterflies constantly when I'm around her," will not be something that lasts and is strong enough to make a relationship last. In other words, that won't always be there. Hopefully you guys know that, but think about that. If that's the reason you're like, "Yes, every time we're together it's such good vibes; I just feel the energy," that's not going to be there.
Think about in dating relationships. If you've ever dated somebody and you've broken up, you've seen that, yeah, chemistry can come and go. There's somebody that when you first… You're at the movie theater, moving your hand toward each other, just touching pinkies, and it's overwhelming. You date a little bit, and then all of a sudden, you're like, "I don't want to be in a relationship anymore," and you don't feel anything toward them. You're like, "Dude, I don't care. I feel nothing other than bitterness," probably. That chemistry came and it went.
That happens in marriage. There are seasons. There are times where you're going through life, and it won't always be there, but what will be there is character. In Proverbs 12:4, Solomon warns young men. "A wife of noble character is her husband's crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones." That's Solomon's nice way of saying if you have a wife who doesn't have character, it's going to be like you're dying on the inside for the rest of your marriage.
If you have a husband who doesn't have character, it's going to be like a slow death from the inside for the rest of your marriage. We've said before it is so much better to be lonely and single today than lonely and married tomorrow. There are a lot of people who get married, and they are experiencing an even deeper loneliness in that marriage, because there's no hope of "Man, maybe someday this will be fixed." You can lose at love if you focus on chemistry over character.
7 . Project past hurts. This one is huge if you are in a dating relationship. You have to work through past hurts, whether they be from family or friends or past dating relationships, because if you don't practice forgiveness, you're not ready to get married. Marriage is one long "I forgive you" after "I forgive you" after "I forgive you," and it's all toward someone who deeply hurts you whom you deeply love.
If you can't forgive whatever things are part of your story today or in your past, you're not ready to move past that. You have to deal with that baggage or else that baggage is going to come back up again. Some of us in the room carry around stuff. Understandably, you were wronged and you were really hurt. You haven't dealt with that, and you haven't forgiven that person. When you carry that, it's like you carry a bag of bitterness around with you.
The more you have a bag of bitterness around, it makes it easier to pick up other things and put them in there. Some of us have walked through life, and the things you're holding on to represent past relationships. Like, a guy cheated on you your sophomore year of college, and you don't trust people anymore. Every time you're dating, you're like, "I need to see your phone. I need to see it right now. I saw you talking to Sandra over there," and they're like, "Well, Sandra is my cousin." You have to deal with it.
For others, maybe some of the hurts… I get it. They're all understandable. They come from family or parent or father wounds or a mom who wasn't around or maybe a dad who never said they loved you. You carry that scar, and it manifests itself in different ways, but you've never dealt with it. You've never forgiven your parents. Before you take the next step, you need to forgive…family, siblings, parents.
I mean, forgive like, "I forgive you; you never came to my sport games. I forgive you that you were never around. I forgive you that you were angry all the time. I'm choosing, because God in Christ has forgiven me and the Scriptures command me I have to extend forgiveness, and I forgive you like I was forgiven."
For others, it may be related to trust issues in general or broken trust from friends who betrayed you, who lied about you, who left you out, who hurt you. Whatever those hurts are, walking through and walking through. "I'm going to choose to forgive. I don't want to carry around the bag, because if I carry that bag around, I'm going to bring it into marriage." I promise you. You're going to put things into that bag.
Maybe the hardest one is going to be working through abuse. Statistically, one in four people in this room were abused in some way, and it wasn't your fault. It wasn't right, and forgiving them doesn't make it right, but you're going to carry that into marriage, and it's going to impact your love life and your sex life and your marriage life and all that. And you know what? That's not fair. It's not, but it's also true.
The best gift you can give to your spouse today is beginning to say, "I'm going to work through some of the baggage. I don't want to carry this anymore. I don't want to bring this into my marriage, because I know if I'm holding on to stuff now, I'm going to hold on to stuff later." Colossians 3:13 is one of a ton of verses that say, "…forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
8 . Isolate your relationship. If you are the only person in your life other than the person you're dating who is celebrating and excited about and knows about your dating relationship, you should be concerned. If you're the couple… We all have seen this couple. They come together, and they start dating, and it's like they submarine. They disappear. They'll resurface at some point, and you haven't seen them in forever. They just become the couple that only hangs out with one another. They're constantly around each other.
It's not a bad thing to like being with each other and like being around each other, but if no one else in your life knows the relationship, is celebrating the relationship, if there's no godly counsel in your life or community that is celebrating, saying, "Hey, this is a good thing. Yeah, I see you guys working well together. I think this is a great relationship. I celebrate that," you should be concerned, at best.
Proverbs 18:1 says whoever isolates their relationship, or isolates themselves, seeks their own desires. They break out against all sound judgment, or all rational wisdom. They kind of lash out against that, because they're like, "I'm going to do what I want to do." If you are isolating your relationship, you should be concerned.
9 . Have sex when you're ready. This feels like the nicest way for culture to say, "Just don't be a hussy. Have sex whenever you think it's best." What does that even mean? I feel like I was born ready. By 12 years old, I was like, "I feel like I'm ready. All right." The answer all of us would give across the room would be entirely different. What does that even mean? "Have sex whenever you're ready."
That's a terrible standard, yet if you turn on and listen to any pop culture today, the most throttled version of sexuality is Colton from The Bachelor. "I'm waiting until I find that right person, and then I'm in." That's a terrible idea. Biblically, it's a terrible idea, because the Scriptures say that at a soul level, every time you have sex with someone, you are touching that person and they are touching and impacting you at the deepest part of your heart, unlike any other sin in your life. First Corinthians 6:18-20 says:
"Flee [all sex outside of marriage] . All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."
Biblically, God is not anti-sex. He's so pro-sex. Here's what I'm confident of: married people have way more sex than you guys if you're single. It's true. God is not opposed to sex. He wants you to experience that, and because he's so pro-sex, he wants it to be in the confines of a marriage that is safe and secure, where you don't have to put out in order for somebody to stay but where you lovingly give yourself to one another in the context of an unbreakable bond and covenant. Having sex when you're ready is a terrible idea. Having sex within marriage is a great one. If you want to lose at love, you should have sex.
10 . Believe that love is something you fall into. We talk about love in a funny way. We're like, "Man, I just fell in love," as though it's like a puddle or something you kind of drifted into, this unstoppable force that kind of came out of nowhere. "There I was. I was just doing my life, running along, and then I saw her, and, whoa! We spent time together, and now all of my hobbies have changed and the hills are alive with the sound of music. I just fell in."
The reason that's a really bad idea is if you believe love is something you can fall into, you also believe love is something you can fall out of. The reason the divorce rate is as high as it is is because our culture believes, "Man, I just fell out of love." Love is something you can fall into and you can fall out of. Biblically, love is not something you fall in or fall out of; it is something you live out, and you particularly live it out in the context of marriage. It involves acting.
We have our timeline off. The timeline most people have is, "We dated. We fell in love. Then we got married." A better timeline is, "We dated. We saw this as something that we were both on the same page…character, the qualities, all of the things God said, 'This is the right move.' Others around us celebrated that relationship. We got engaged. We got married." And you know what happens then? Then the loving begins, because love is something that takes sacrifice, that takes work, that takes all types of descriptive terms, biblically.
The best passage, the most extensive passage on love (you've probably heard it at a bunch of weddings) is this. First Corinthians 13:4: "Love is patient…" Think about these things. You don't fall into patience; you choose to be patient. "…love is kind." Kindness. "It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs."
That means love chooses, "I forgive you. I'm not holding this against you." That is entirely action. That's what that means. "There has been a wrong, and I'm choosing, despite the fact that I was wronged, not to hold on to that." It's not some emotional-led decision. That is "I'm deciding to do that." That's what love is. It's something you live out, not that you fall in.
"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes [believes the best] , always perseveres. Love never fails." Love, biblically, involves these attitudes and actions in your life, not this emotional overflowing and feeling. The idea of "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby carriage…"
It's we date, we get married, and then love begins, because it's in that context that I have to choose, "I'm going to die to myself and put your needs before my own," and my wife dies to herself and says, "I'm putting the needs of the other person before my own." You can't even fully live out love until you're married. We get the progression off. Once you get married, that's when the love begins, in deciding, "I'm choosing to die to myself, to love you." Biblically, that's what love is. It's not some emotional overflowing experience.
Do you know how the apostle Paul ends this passage? It's really fascinating. He's talking about love, and then out of left field, he begins to talk about his childhood. He's like, "Love is this and love is this," and then he's like, "When I was a boy…" Here's what he says: "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."
In other words, in the context of love… It's almost as though Paul is saying, "Hey, there are a lot of myths people believe about love. They believe in the fairy tale. Got Cupid over there firing arrows. There's a lot of crazy stuff people believe, but when I became a man, I put those away, and I began to accept the truth. I put childish things behind me." Love is a decision I make to die to self in the context of marriage over and over and over and over. It's not always easy. It doesn't always come easily, but that is what marriage is.
I know I'm ready for marriage when I decide, "I'm ready to love through the actions Scripture calls me to." Here's the summary one more time. If you want to lose at love in 10 ways, date for fun, make exceptions because they're exceptional, play like you're married, search for the best, jump from relationship to relationship, focus on chemistry over character, don't deal with past hurts, isolate your relationship, have sex when you're ready, and believe love is something you fall into.
One of the biggest lies is some of you are believing you can reject and do as many of those as you want and not lose at love. You have bought a lie. Someday you're going to wake up, and you're going to go, "How did I get here? The love story I hoped I would experience is not the love story that's getting written around me. I feel like I may even be past the stage of even when I would fall into that love story."
Others of you are in the room, and you believe that because you've broken one of these, you're too far and you're too damaged goods and the love story God has for you can't be something where, if you will turn and surrender life and your love story to him, he'll write one out of that more beautiful than anything you could have imagined. You think you're too damaged of goods. The God who's there doesn't look at it like that. The choice is yours and mine. Am I going to decide to follow his way or not?
It's like this. My wife and I have been on a mattress search. We've had the same one for years. We came across the bed-in-a-box thing, mattresses they'll ship right to your door. Really interesting. We've gone through four of them. We went through the Purple, the Leesa, Casper, Helix. Here's the deal. You get them, you're going to sleep on them, and you get a 100-night trial totally free. If you don't want it, no questions asked…return. A 365-day trial on one of them. No questions asked…return.
We went through it, and we were sleeping on these different mattresses, and each time the same thing happened. It's really interesting. We call, and it's like, "This one is too hot, and this one is too cold." You know, porridge, three little bears. But we call, and we're like, "I want to return this." They've said the same thing each time. They're like, "Okay, great. Well, if you just donate it to a charity of your choice and send us a receipt, that's fine."
In other words, they're like, "Because you used it, that thing is so worthless to us now that we won't even come get it, so just get rid of it and do whatever you want with it, and that's it. We don't even care to come and get it back. You've been sleeping on it. It's used. It's not worth it." In so many ways, that's such a reflection of the dating culture we live in. Our world that wants you to have that romantic love story at the same time also chastises you and makes you feel like damaged goods.
If a part of your story didn't always work out the right way…you had an STD, you had an abortion in your past, you had sexual dysfunction in your past, or maybe there was sexual abuse…you can feel like damaged goods, that, "Everyone around me reiterates I'm used, I'm worthless, I'm abused." The message of the Bible is that despite any of these being broken in your past, your story doesn't have to be over. A godly guy or a godly girl is not exempt from you.
Listen very closely to me. No matter your story, it does not have to be the case that a godly guy would never have interest in you or a godly girl would never have interest in you. If you believe that, you have bought a lie, because the New Testament tells us that anyone who's a godly guy is going to act like Christ. How did Christ act toward people who had sexual dysfunction in their past? We're actually told.
He looked at a woman who had sexual dysfunction taking place in her present. He's teaching one morning. He's at the temple in John, chapter 8. He's sitting there and teaching, and they bring this woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, caught in the midst of having sex with not her husband, with some other man. They drag her and throw her in the middle of Jesus' message right in front of everybody.
How does the Son of God respond to a woman clearly guilty of sexual sin, dysfunctional relationship? How does God respond? We're told that he looks at the men, and the men yell out, "The law says we should condemn her to death!" They call for the death penalty. "How do you respond, Jesus?" Jesus kneels down on the ground. He begins to write something in the dirt. We're not even told what he wrote. He draws with his finger, and then he stands up.
He says, "Let him without sin throw the first stone." Then he kneels back down and starts writing on the ground. "What?! Jesus, she's an adulteress! She's ruining a family's life. She's caught in the middle of having sex with somebody else, and you're perfect, Holy God. You look at her, despite the law calling for the death penalty, and you say, 'Hey, if you're without sin, you can do it.' You know the answer. You know they have sin in their life. They can't do that."
He kneels back down and begins writing in the dirt. We're told that the oldest to the youngest, they walk away. Now it's just Jesus and the woman. He's kneeling on the ground. He looks up, and you have to think this woman is covered in tears and who knows what else. He looks her in the eyes and says, "Does no one condemn you?"
She responds, "No one," and Jesus says, "Go, and leave your life of sin. I don't condemn and I don't condone, but I'm going to be crucified on a cross for sin like this, and there is no sin that makes you so unwanted by me." You're not used and damaged and abused goods, and a godly guy and a godly girl will see you with the eyes of Jesus. I so desperately want you to hear me.
Your story is not done, but you have a part in that story of saying, "God, I surrender. I want a love story that you write. I give you the pen. Write it all over my life. Take it. Use it. I'll date however you want me to date. I don't want to write a story like my parents' story. I don't want to write a story like so much of Hollywood's dysfunctional crap. I want a love story that lasts, God. Everywhere I look, the best shot I have in culture is a coin flip, so if that's possible, God, I surrender. Take it."
A godly guy, if you turn, and a godly girl, if you say, "God, I want to walk with you. I'm going to walk with you. I'm going to date like you call me to," he's going to look at you like Jesus looks at you…forgiven, new, whole. But you have to make the decision what you're going to do. Are you going to keep driving your own life?
If so, you're never going to heal, and you're never going to have that godly guy around. You're going to buy the lie that you're damaged goods so you just have to settle for "Damaged Daniel." You don't have to. You have to decide. Are you going to have a decade that roars as it relates to your love life or are you going to lose love in every way when it doesn't have to be so? Let me pray.
Father, thank you that you don't condemn sexually immoral people like me. You don't condone those with sexual brokenness in our past and sexual sin and sexual relationships, yet also you don't condemn, because you were crucified, taking all the condemnation on you. I pray that tonight anyone in this room who has bought that lie (and there are many) that they're too far gone, that their story is too far to be woven back and made new and redeemed, that your Spirit would overwhelm them now and help them reject that lie.
I pray for anyone who has never trusted in what you did on the cross, the perfect expression of love, that they wouldn't lose that love by not accepting it tonight. We pray for dating relationships, God. Protect those of us who are dating in the room. Protect us from living in our own ways, dating as we see fit or the world says to. Stop marriages from happening. Break couples up right now that need to. Form marriages that need to. We love you. We worship you in song, amen.