Your Match

When finding your match, it’s crucial that you know how to date well—God's way. The end goal is not to play for fun, but to play for keeps. In this message, we look at what God’s word has to say about who, when, and how to date in order to build a solid foundation for marriage.

Message Transcript

What's up, guys? What's up, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Northwest Arkansas, the Loft, Chapel, wherever you are tuning in from. We are continuing this series Matchmaker. If you're curious, we have not started a new dating app. It's all just a play off of dating apps. Let me start tonight by bringing you guys in a little bit of my world.

As I mentioned before, I have a 4-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter. The 4-year-old son is into two things primarily right now in his life: superheroes and dinosaurs. That's just all we're all about, all the time, all day long. One of the ways that his superhero fascination plays out is he is also into superhero Lego sets.

Do you guys remember Legos? Did anybody play with Legos as a kid? Yeah, they're still around, still doing fine. A couple of things I've realized about Legos. First, how much pain my dad must've gone through when he was putting together the Lego sets. In hindsight, I always remember trying to do it, but I've realized, "This is a 500-piece Lego set that my son has. He has no ability to put this thing together."

So it's like I'm doing IKEA furniture on a very small scale all the time with him. This is one of his Lego sets. It's Captain America and Hawkeye. We'll put this thing together, and he is all about it. The other thing I've realized is Legos are way more expensive than you ever remember as a kid. When you're balling on a budget, these things are not cheap.

All that to say this is one of the things that we'll hang out from time to time and put them together. We'll work together to put them together. Because he is 4, he will often lose the instructions that come with this thing. This is a 500-piece little tiny set. So if you do not have the instructions, you are up a creek with one exception.

You have the picture on the box to work with and try to figure out, "How do I put this thing together?" Again, because he is 4, it will just disappear or gets thrown away. I don't have the instructions, and I'm sitting there with him trying to put it together, but I do have the picture. So I get all the pieces and I'm looking at it and I'm going, "Oh this is how it works, and this is how it goes together," and I can continue to put it together.

What does that have to do with dating? Well, it may or may not surprise you, when it comes to the topic of dating, the Bible has very little, or actually nothing, to say. Dating is a relatively new invention. It's only 75 to 100 years old. So just like the Bible doesn't talk about Netflix and Instagram, it doesn't talk about dating.

But it has a lot to say about marriage, about the type of person you want to be married to, the type of marriage that you want to have, the type of spouse to not look for, and the type of spouse to look for. It tells us what God says is the point of marriage and what a successful marriage looks like. It gives us the picture, and from that we then take the truths from God's Word and we begin to put together all the different ways to build that marriage.

So tonight, what I want to do is I want to look at the way that with dating, just like in this Lego set, if you will, we don't have the instructions, but we have the picture and I work from there and I can put it together. We don't have the instructions exactly on everything related to dating, but we have the picture, which allows us to take the principles and go, "We can put together what God says marriage is supposed to look like and who you are supposed to marry."

We're continuing the series Matchmaker. We've spent two weeks on singleness. In the weeks ahead, we're going to talk about marriage. Tonight, we are talking about that season in between known as dating and what it looks like to put together the type of marriage that God says in his Word is the picture we are to pursue.

So we're going to look and really explore what it looks like to date well. If you're following along, in this entire series we've played off of dating apps. So we did Your Profile in week one. We did Your Search History. This is not an advertisement to use dating apps. We're just playing off that idea because it's increasingly common for people to be on dating apps.

Tonight, we are talking about finding your match. We are talking about everything that entails going on dates. What does it look like to date God's way and be in a dating relationship God's way? We're going to have to look at when to begin to date or when to match, if you will; who to match with; and how to match?

I'm going to fly through that. Another way of saying it would be when to date, who to date, and how to date. I'm going to fly through the first two relatively quickly. Famous last words. Then we'll camp on the third one. This is a crucial topic. We live in a world where so many people are carrying around scars and pain because of the problems that they have experienced related to not doing what we're going to talk about tonight well.

Next to who you worship, who will be your God, who will be your match or your mate is the biggest decision that you will make. My heart, and our heart for the series, is that you would experience the picture of marriage that God says in his Word. In order to get there, you have to go through the dating process, which involves the type of marriage you're going to have. So tonight, we are talking about dating.

1 . When to match? When is it appropriate or when do you begin to start the season of dating? Because you may be thinking, "What do you mean, when do I start? Could there even be a wrong time to start? I start whenever I find a girl who I think is so attractive and she is somewhat interested in me, and we're going to make this thing happen. That's when you start. What do you mean, 'When do you start?'" Incorrect.

When you start dating involves two things. When you are fully committed to Christ. I'm going to talk about exactly what I mean by that. And when you are ready to fully commit to someone. When you are fully committed to Christ and when you are ready to fully commit. What do I mean by "when you are fully committed to Christ"?

Maybe you just came back to your faith, and you're like, "Dude, I've been running and now I'm back. I love what's going on. God is working in my life." But there are some scars that you haven't dealt with. You haven't worked through. Like we talked through the past couple of weeks, this may not be the best time for you to start dating.

You should start pursuing the first and most important relationship that you have, which is your relationship with Christ. You should make sure that is a solid foundation you're going to build a relationship with someone else on. Because you will never get a relationship with a guy or girl right if you don't first have the relationship with God right.

If you're not in a place where you are fully committed or healthy and spiritually mature and ready to date, you do not need to be dating. Maybe you just got out of a relationship where it was everything. It was a train wreck. It ended in a way that you're still kind of picking up the pieces of your own heart. This is not the season for you to date. It's a season for you to heal.

If you're not fully committed to Christ, and that's the priority of your life, the first thing you have to get in order is that, or you're not ready to begin to date. Underneath that would be the idea of just being complete in Christ. There are so many young adults who spend their 20s and they go from one relationship to the next. You don't know what it's like to not have a dating relationship.

I just want you to ask yourself, especially if you look in the rearview mirror and it's kind of one train wreck after the next after the next…Are you okay being single? Is there something a part of you where you're like, "I don't feel like I'm complete without somebody else in my life. My relationship status is like my identity. I have to be with somebody."

It could be that because you're not okay not dating, you're not ready to date. In other words, if you can't not date, you probably should not date. That's not just some tweetable thing. It is a truth that if you're not in a place where, "Regardless of who I've locked arms with, I'm holding hands with, I'm spending the weekend with or spending my time with, my first relationship is with Christ, and I'm okay whether I have someone or not because I have him," Then you're not ready.

So not just being fully committed to Christ, but you are ready to fully commit. Now this is going to blow everybody's mind. You're going to think I'm lying. We're going to get some email now, "I can't believe you said that." When you are not at a place where marriage is on the horizon where you could actually get married, you should not be dating.

I'm not saying you have to be able to get married tomorrow. Like, "Hey, if you're not ready to get married tonight, right now, you shouldn't date." That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying if you're going, "There are no ifs, ands, or buts. There's no way in the next 18 months I'm getting married. I have to finish grad school. I have to get out of debt. I have some career priorities."

Whatever those things are, right or wrong, if marriage is off the table, dating should be off the table for you. You are not meant to go in long relationships with someone else and mend your hearts together for years and years and years. Some of you guys, you've been dating for like eight years. Some of you guys have been dating since your freshman year in high school and you're 26. That's like 11 years. There are kids in middle school today as old as your dating relationship.

Think about that! You need to… I can't even use that phrase. But get off the pot! Make a decision! You're not made to be in this relationship where your hearts are just connected and temptation is only going to increase and increase. So if you're not at a place where you are ready to fully commit, you should not be dating.

Jesus says this in Luke, chapter 14. He says if you can't finish what you start, you should not start it. Dating, as we've said, is the process or the path to move toward marriage. That's what Christians believe. That's what Christian dating is. It's not playing for casual fun. It's playing for keeps. So it's the process by which I move from evaluating, "Is this a person I want to move and progress toward marriage with?" That's what dating is.

You should not start it if you cannot finish this. He says in Luke chapter 14, verse 28, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won't you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, 'This person began to build and wasn't able to finish.'"

Jesus' principle and point there relates to dating in that you should not start what you are not willing to finish. I'm not saying you have to know that that person is who you're going to marry right now. I'm saying if marriage is off the table in the near future for you, 18 months or less, you should not be dating. You're messing with your heart. You're just going to increase sexual temptation.

So you should make the decision, "I'm open to that. We may not get there, but I'm not just saying, 'I'm going to date for the next four years.'" It's foolish. In Proverbs, chapter 24, verse 27, it says, "Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house." In other words, get your business in order and then make the decision, "I'm going to begin to build my home."

If you're not ready to build your home, or you don't have your stuff in order in a way that you're like, "I could actually see myself getting married," you should not be dating. As I said, if marriage is off the table, dating should be. This past week, I experienced an illustration, or really a reflection of this, in my own life.

Is anyone familiar with Zillow in here? Zillow is something you do with houses, find rent, find different places. Zillow used to have this thing called Make Me Move. What is Make Me Move? You could list your house on there, and it would be for people who are like, "I'm not really interested in selling my house, but if you give me this, we'll move."

They took it down. My old house used to be on that. So I went this week just kind of out of curiosity and maybe boredom and probably something mentally wrong, and I was like, "Man, I want to put it back on Make Me Move." I found out Zillow doesn't do Make Me Move anymore. I was like, "No big. I'll just throw my house on the market and put on there, in all caps THIS IS MAKE ME MOVE even though Zillow doesn't do this anymore."

My wife came home, and I was like, "Hey babe, I threw our house on the market." She was like, "You put our house on the market?" "Yeah, I mean we're not actually going to do it, but if somebody wanted to buy it for that, but if they buy it for that, babe, we'll move. We'll figure it out. Okay?" She was like, "That's the most impulsive thing I've ever heard in my life."

"First, ouch. Secondly, I'm just trying to get you a place you love." Just blame it on them. That's what I result to whenever… No. Anyway, I wasn't even thinking. I was like, "Man, nothing is going to happen with this." My phone has been non-stop ringing for the last seven days with people saying, "Hey, we'd like to come by. We'd like to see it. We'd like to do a little…"

It's the most inconvenient, foolish, "What was I thinking? Why would I put my house on the market when we aren't planning to move?" Why would you put yourself on the market if you're not planning to marry? So you should not be putting yourself on a dating app if you're not in a place to marry.

If it's off the table, you should not be dating. Because when to date is when you are ready to move in the direction of marriage. If you're like, "Look, I can't do 18 months. I could do 19 months." Fine. At least tell yourself what the number is that you're waiting for or tell the person who you're with.

You're like, "Look hey, I have to finish grad school. I have three more years. So I'm going to make you wait three more years. I just want to be abundantly clear about that." And make sure they're okay with that. But you'd better watch out, because three years of you growing in intimacy and hormones flaring, you were not made to do that. So when to date? First one, really quickly.

2 . Who to match with? You need to know who you're looking for. Specifically, there are three characteristics that the Bible talks about as it relates to a husband and a wife of who you should be looking for. So these three would be, "Hey, this is a potential candidate. If they don't have these characteristics, they are not a potential candidate."

First, they are a Christ follower. They love Jesus. Not they are a Christian. Not they were raised in church. Not they believe in God. They love Jesus. Listen to this verse from Paul in 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, verse 39. "…she [or he] is free…" He is talking about marriage and singles. "…to marry anyone [they wish] , but only if he [or she] loves the Lord."

Paul says, "Hey, here is the criteria. If they don't have this characteristic, marriage is off the table. You should not marry that person." Not that they like the Lord. Not that they grew up in church. If they don't love the Lord, you are not free to marry them, Paul would say, or you should not marry them.

It doesn't say, "If he loves that you love the Lord…" Or "If you love the Lord enough for both of you." It doesn't say, "If someday he may love the Lord because you missionary-date him and try to get him to convert." It says, "Only if he or she loves the Lord." You should circle that, if you write in your Bible. You should underline it and highlight it and circle it again five more times, and then put it on your mirror to look at every single day.

So you know, "This is who I'm looking for. Only if he or she loves the Lord." How do you know if they love the Lord? How do you know if somebody loves anything? How do you know if somebody loves the Cowboys? What do they talk about? "Ah, dem boyz. Come on, man. Dak. Zeke. Oh dude, this is going to be our year! I'm going to the games. They have only 15,000 people there."

He is spending his time. He is spending his money. He is talking about it. He can't not. He loves dem boyz. If you're not from Dallas, you have no idea why I keep talking like, "Dem boyz." That's what he talks about. How do you know if somebody loves anything? They talk about it. They spend their time. They spend their energy. They spend their money. They're going to pursue it and they're going to talk about it and they're going to be about it no matter who comes with them.

How do you know if they love the Lord? If you're the person who is dragging them to church and you're the person being like, "Hey, how was your quiet time? Just keep being your accountability partner…" If you're the person who is spiritually directing their life, they may not love the Lord. You deserve, if you love Jesus, a command for you and for me, and the best shot for the picture of marriage God wants you to have is you to have someone who loves Jesus.

It's just so important, this one characteristic. Because you are picking your future family. You may have heard the expression of, especially when people have just crazy family members. The crazy uncle or, "My sister. She's a little off." Or, "These are my parents. They're a little uncomfortable. This is it." Hey, you can't pick your family, but you can pick your friends.

That's not true. You will pick your family when you pick your spouse. You need to pick very, very carefully. You are picking the father of your children. As you navigate dating, think about that. You're picking the mother of your children. Think about the impact your parents' decision when they picked the family that you're a part of has had on your life, whether for negative ways or for positive ways.

Some of your greatest things are traced back to the fact that your mom… None of us ever think this way because we think of our parents like, "They're so old. He has a mustache, and he has no hair. My dad is so weird." But your parents, once upon a time, it was like Tom and Barb. Maybe that's their names.

It was Tom and Barb. They were driving around in the '70s in his Bronco. They were a lot thinner. They were dating together, and they struggled with, "We're snuggling on the couch, only watching a giant deep TV (18:07)." And they wrestled with all the things you wrestle with. Maybe your mom saw some red flags or maybe your dad saw some red flags, or whoever it was, they made the decision, "We're going to keep moving together," and they shouldn't have.

Maybe they shouldn't have because they both weren't solid. They didn't love Jesus. Maybe one of them did. You can trace a thread of pain in your life because that marriage fell apart. Because when they were picking their family, they didn't use God's criteria for the picture.

On the flip side, some of you guys may have amazing families. Your parents are still Tom and Barb, and he still has the mustache, and Dad is a little whatever, but they love Jesus and they loved you, and you loved being home. Because they picked their family carefully. You cannot be careful enough. You are picking your family. You are picking your son's daddy. You're picking your daughter's mom or dad. Choose carefully on who to date. So there's someone who loves Jesus. They're a Christ-follower.

Secondly, someone whose character attracts you. You may be wondering attract, but they have to be more than just character attracts me. Other things attract me. I'll touch on that in a second, but the Bible says this as it relates to character. That's their integrity. That's they are trustworthy. That is the invisible part of them on the inside is that part of what attracts you to them.

Proverbs, chapter 12, said this. "A [spouse] of noble character is [their spouse's] crown, but a disgraceful wife [or husband] is like decay in his bones." It's like it's rotting him from the inside. Proverbs 31, verse 10 says, "A wife [or husband] of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies."

Rubies would've been one of the most extreme exquisite valuable things you could possess. This man says, "Far more valuable than that, than any riches in any amount that you make or your future husband or wife makes, is their character." It's part of what attracts you to them, your character.

First Peter, chapter 3, talks about two types of beauties. There's an outer beauty and an inner beauty. Peter basically says make sure you are marked, and they are marked, by an inner beauty. The reason this is so important is as hot as that person is right now… I know there are beautiful people all over the room and the Loft and Stage 2 and in the Chapel. They're here tonight.

You're like, "But dude, she is so hot! She is like a 4 on character, but she is a 10. You can get better character. You can't get better body, if you know what I'm saying." That's how you think about it. You are setting yourself up for a lot of pain because that 4 character and 10 body becomes a 10 honeymoon sex, but a 4 marriage.

The Bible teaches, you want to find someone who has character. Studies have shown that the importance or the impact, and even the magnetic-ness, of infatuation and external and physical attraction fades within 18 months. Think about that, 18 months. As hot as you think they are and as hot as you think she is and just, "Wow! We're so in it together." That can only last about 18 months. So if that's all your relationship is built on, that's all the time, even secular studies would say, that's as long as it will last.

This is why, when you look at celebrities who are married to supermodels or celebrity girls married to supermodel guys, they end up having an affair, and you're like, "You were married to one of the most beautiful women on the planet according to the world! How did you cheat on her?" It's because that fades. All that wow… That doesn't last. So a relationship that is built on that will not last. So you should look for someone who is a follower of Christ. Who to date? Character marks their life.

Thirdly, someone who you enjoy being with, a lifelong companion. One of the words the Bible uses to describe husband and wife and spouse is the word 'alluwph. Proverbs, chapter 2, verse 17 is one of the examples of this. The word 'alluwph is a word for best friend. Marriage is a friendship. A lot of marriage is just ordinary moments together.

Do you enjoy being together? Do you actually enjoy being around one another, or is it uncomfortable? Marriage is not just one long sexcapade. There's a lot of like, "Oh yeah, you're sitting on the couch just reading a book. Catching up about your day and, 'Oh, how did that go?'" It's a lot of ordinary moments. Do you actually enjoy them, like the Word, the Scripture, says?

Do you see them as a friend, or is it just, "Man, the make-out sessions are really great, but we really don't like each other." Or, "I really don't enjoy being with them that much." Because you're going to spend a lot of time together. Are they someone who you enjoy being with? They have character. They're a Christ-follower, and they could be a lifelong companion.

You notice I didn't say anything about someone you are physically attracted to. I didn't for a couple of reasons. First, no matter what I say about should or should you not be physically attracted to that person, you're not going to listen because you're going to do whatever you're going to do. Either it really matters to you or it doesn't really matter to you.

If I brought that up, it's not like anyone would be like, "Oh, and you should be physically attracted to them." Like anyone would be like, "Really? Oh my! Physically attracted? I enjoy how they look? I had no idea! I was in danger of marrying…" Sorry! I was going to say a name, which would not help me. I would not be talking about anyone specific. So that's one reason.

And, secondly, because no matter where you came in and however important it is to you, it's as important as it should be or not as it should be as it is to you. It shouldn't be the most important thing in your life and that you look for. Someone who follows Christ, who has character, and can be a lifelong companion. Those are the who to look for and the characteristics that you should be looking for.

It's like this. I mentioned earlier. I'm just talking about my kids' games today. My son also loves dinosaurs, so he has these matching games. I thought about trying to explain this game without actually doing it. But I knew it would be like "You know that matching card game?" and everyone would be like, "Are you talking about poker?"

So it's these games where you have these cards and they have a match on there. You lay them out and we'll set them down, and he just loves the dinosaurs. So there are different things that you match them up with. He'll go and he'll look. We've had to teach him, "Hey, you need to look for… There are specific characteristics that mark this dinosaur. You look, and your match is one that shares those characteristics. Not a match. Not a match. Match."

That's how you play the game. When it comes to dating, it's not as simple as you're looking for the person to complete you or reflect you or be the perfect exactness of you. But you're looking for the characteristics that God says in his Word. Then you know you have a potential match. There is someone who has character, there is someone who follows Christ, and they could be a lifelong companion.

Let me just address the elephant in the room for anybody who is single. You're going, "Huh, well that sounds great. Where is this land of a thousand godly men and a thousand godly women out there? Because I don't know where they are!" Might I suggest part of the reason that is a challenge is where you are looking for your match.

Is the sum of the places where you're finding your relationships, is it at the bar? Is it at the club? Is it on Tinder? Is it on some friend group of sorority sisters from college? They're not following Jesus. Is that where you're meeting your potential options? Or are you connected to a local church? Are you plugged into a young adult ministry like this one? Are you plugged into environments where godly people are going to be around?

Because if not, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but that might be a good option for you to meet other godly people, if you're a godly person. People are like, "There are just so many fish in the sea, and I just can't find them. Every guy who I end up with is not a great guy." It may be that you're swimming in the wrong sea. You're swimming in the sewer.

You know what's in the sewer? Fish full of crap. You're swimming in the wrong sewer of dating. You know what's in the wrong sewer of dating? Full of crap. You have to make sure. Where are you looking? Where are you connected? Where are you plugged in? Are you in environments where other godly people are running after Jesus?

Because as Tommy Nelson, who was a pastor up in Denton, famously once said. He said you need to be someone who puts yourself in an environment where you're running with others alongside of you, and you're running hard after Jesus. You're running and running and eventually hopefully because you're around other people doing the same, you just look over and there she is. You're going, "Man, I like the way she is running and the way she looks. Do you want to run together?" You just lock arms and run for the rest of your lives.

Are you around other Christians? Do you have that group? If not, you have to get connected to a church. You have to get connected to where God's people are. Don't assume they're at The Porch. There are a lot of people who carry a Bible. There are a lot of people who look like they know a couple of Bible verses, and they're wolves.

We know they're even in here. So I wouldn't assume anything unless you're connected and they're connected and you have other people. He is a known person. She is a known person, not just someone you met on a Tuesday night here. So there is someone who has character, they're following Christ, and could be a lifelong companion.

Thirdly, and I'm going to fly through this. This is going to be a fire hydrant. I'm going to move really quickly, but I'm going to go through 10 things on how to date.

3 . How to date. Call this the rules as it relates to dating.

First, guys ask girls out on dates. I'm not picking on the guys. I know the guys in the room probably feel like they're getting picked on. I want to walk through what I mean very specifically. Ask them on a date. Use the word date.

Not, "You want to do rock climbing this weekend?" Not, "Hey, what do you have going on anytime soon?" Not, "Hey, I'm about to watch a movie. You want to come over?" Say, "I would like to take you on a date." Then this is the second part. Man, this is so huge. If you do this, dude, you're going to be in the top 10 percent of men who have ever lived when it comes to women, because you are going to set yourself so far apart from the pack, which is not that hard to do.

But you have to be more specific, and you have to drive for clarity. I promise you, you're going to get married and I want credit. I want to hear about it. If you name your child after me, I'm okay with that. Okay? So here we go. Be specific; have a plan. You're going to go up to her. You're going to say, "I would like to take you on a date."

Then you tell her, "This Saturday night at 7 o'clock to dinner, and then this show after." You are very specific. You show her you have a plan. Women love that. They want to know you've thought about this. You give her and you communicate and you drive clarity into the relationship.

By doing so, you give her the ability to decide and understand what you're asking. When you go, "Hey, you want to hang on Sunday?" she doesn't know what you're talking about. She's going, "Like, just me? Or with a friend? You just slid into my DMs, and I don't know who you are. No, I don't want to hang out with you this Sunday."

Drive clarity and say very specifically, "Here is the plan." By doing so, you give her the ability to evaluate, "What are you asking me to do?" It also gives her the ability to decide something that you have been thinking about at least longer than she has. Because she is getting it in the moment. You've been thinking about it.

You've been asking your other guy buddies, "Here's the plan. I'm thinking about taking Sarah out to Olive Garden. Olive Garden is bad? Okay, no Olive Garden." You're walking through, and you have the whole plan. You go up to her, and you pop the question and she is like, "Oh, I don't even know what you're asking me to do right now."

But if you give her specifics, she can process the information, process the ask, and give you an answer. Or say, "I'd love to get back to you on that." But drive clarity. If you do this, I promise you… Ladies, am I wrong right now? Thank you. There you go. Drive clarity into the relationship. I have to keep moving. I have two more things.

Can you DM her? Sure. Is it best? No. I'm just going to speak on behalf of ladies. I think I'm right here. In fact, I know I'm right, but I'm just going to say, I think… Here would be the priority of communication. The best option you have? Go up to her in person and ask her on a date. The second best option is to call her on a phone.

The third best option is text and DM, which are borderline not a real form of human communication, but you do you. If you're going to text or DM, I would DM just to say, "Hey, can I have your number? I'd love to ask you a question." Then you call her on the phone and you ask her. Here's the hard thing.

Ladies, you don't know this about men, but we hate being rejected. We hate it. Any risk of rejection? We don't want to do it. If we can avoid it, we're going to. But men, when it comes to this, step up. Be courageous. Flex that courage muscle and risk getting rejected. If you do, I am so stinking proud of you because you did what men do.

You stood up. You risked rejection, and you should take it as a tattoo on the arm that, "Yeah, I got turned down, but at least I'm in the game. All these other guys are sliding into DMs like, 'Yo, you up?' and I'm over here trying to actually be a man." There you go. All right.

Secondly, girls, say yes to dates. Pretty 101. Yeah. There you go. Thank you, gentlemen. Girls, say yes to dates. This is two-fold. What do I mean by that? Don't say yes to, "You up?" Don't say yes to, "Rock climbing on Sunday?" Say yes to a date. If the guy says, "Do you want to go to brunch?" you say, "Like as a date?" You force him to be clear.

You say yes to dates. You are so much more valuable, and you should not settle for anything lower than clarity. Also, you should also say yes to men who are godly men when they ask you on a date. This is my humble opinion. You can take it or leave it. I think if a godly guy who you know is a godly guy asks you on a date, you should go on at least a date with him.

You may be thinking, "No, there's no way. I'd never want to marry him. He was hit with the ugly stick." You don't know that. I'm just kidding. There's no one I'm talking about. Character is the most important part of a person. So even going on a date, you'll have a chance to know, "Man, I actually enjoyed being with this person." Character is the most important part. That's my opinion. I would say yes to only dates. I think if a godly guy, not a guy you met at The Porch. If a godly guy, who you know is a godly guy, asks you on a date, I think you should go on a date with him.

Thirdly, honor them, on both sides. There is so much trashing of one another in the midst of the process. The world has totally gotten us bankrupt. People are using and abusing one another in the context of dating. As Christians, honor each other. Flex the honor muscle. I'm going to choose to be considerate of how I communicate with you. I'm going to drive clarity.

From the guy, I want to be very clear about where we are in terms of our relationship. "I'd like to take you on a second date." If you're the girl, and you don't want to go on a second date, then you honor him and you say, "I don't want to go on a second date. Thank you for asking me on a second date. Thank you for the first date, but I'm not interested in going on a second date."

You're kind. You're polite. You're considerate, and you honor one another. This means that along the way at some point, you have a DTR, which means define the relationship, where you don't live in the no man's land for a while where you're like, "You know, what's going on with you and Kevin?" "Oh, you know. I don't really know." You're sitting there with the other person. The same thing happens every time.

The girls are asking the one girl who is dating Kevin, and the one guys are asking Kevin the same thing. They're like, "What's going on with you and Kevin?" "I don't really know." Then she brings it up to Kevin. "People keep asking, 'What's going on with us? I'm like, 'I don't really know.' What would you say?" It drives it into a DTR. Don't ever let it get there. Communicate where you are.

Honor one another. Honor is such a lost value. As Christians, honor one another. Don't lead each other on. Don't ghost or disappear and resurface. That's on both sides. Guys and girls do the same thing. It always feels like we're hitting the guys. Dude, some of you girls are shady, man. I have stories of it. It's not honoring. This guy has dated one of you apparently. But honor one another. Oh, man.

Fourthly, expect them to honor you. Require it. Don't settle if they don't. If they do not honor you, if they're disrespectful, if they ghost you, if they treat you poorly, if they talk down to you, if they are unkind to you? Break up. You do not stay in a relationship that settles for anything less than honor. You should honor them. Anyone who dishonors you, you get out of that relationship.

They are going to think, "Oh man, you think you're better than me? You have to break up? Apparently, I'm not as good as you want me to be?" Yes, you are better than that. You deserve better than that. You should get out of that relationship. Any guy who treats you with dishonor doesn't just disagree with your perspective of you deserve honor. He or she disagrees with God's who says, "You are a child of mine."

If you continue in this… Man, this makes me so sad because what I'm about to say happens. People stay in really dysfunctional, messed-up relationships, and they get disrespected and dishonored. They dishonor sometimes because they have codependency problems or they just grew up in a family environment where they were disrespected all the time by something, but for whatever reason they stay in there.

You know what happens when you do that? You begin to think that you are a dishonorable person who is not worthy or deserving of honor, and you begin to buy the lie. Because God says, "They're not just disagreeing with you when they disrespect you. They're disagreeing with me. Because this is who you are."

In fact, there is a slide that we threw up of, "Here is what you are if you're a follower of Jesus. You're someone who is created in God's image." Some of you guys can take a screenshot of that. That's the only thing that you needed to hear tonight. "This is who I am. I'm not going to settle for any guy or girl who treats me less than that. I expect, I demand, I won't settle for not being honored. They're not going to disrespect and ghost me. I'm out." Because if they do, they don't disagree with you. They disagree with God.

Fifthly, guard both of your hearts. Guard both of your hearts. I know that's the most Christian cliché of all time, but here's what I mean by that. Do not mentally take the relationship farther than verbally you have mutually agreed to. Let me say that again. Do not mentally, as in your mind, take the relationship farther than you have mutually discussed verbally.

In other words, if you've been on two dates together, here's who you are. You are two-date girl. Don't begin to go through your mind and be like, "I'm picking out wedding decorations and I'm saying yes to the dress right now. And I have it all going…" No, you're two-date girl. If he has not said, "I want you to be my girlfriend, and I'd like you to marry me," you're two-date girl, and that's okay.

Everybody has to be two-date girl or two-date guy at some point in life. It's part of the dating process. But do not mentally run down that road and begin to territorially, on the girl, be like, "I can't believe that she is not planning to hang out with me on Saturday." You guys went on one date. You went on one date! She can't have the expectation or you can't that now every Saturday is yours. That's insane!

Do not mentally take the relationship farther than you have talked about mutually or communicated verbally with one another. Guard one another's hearts. Biblically, there is not a category for dating. There are two categories as it relates to people of the opposite sex: you're either their husband or wife or brother and sister in Christ.

It doesn't not recognize anything in between. So until you move from brother and sister in Christ to husband and wife and on that path more seriously in engagement, do not take the relationship further mentally than either of you have discussed verbally.

Sixthly, date one person at a time. It feels pretty straightforward, but date one person at a time. Let me be clear, because some of you guys this week feel like I'm throwing shade at you because you went on a date with a guy from Bumble, and then from Hinge in the same week.

I'm not saying that you can't go on a date with somebody and then decide, "I'm not interested in going on another date, and it just so happens that I got asked on two in one week. I haven't been asked on any for six months, but when it rains it pours, and now I have multiple dating options. Are you telling me that I am in sin if I say yes to both?"

No, I'm saying if you are dating, going on multiple dates with multiple people, you're not doing what the Bible says in Philippians, chapter 2, which is being considerate of the persons you are dating. It says, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…" So do not date multiple people or go on multiple dates with multiple people at the same time.

Seventhly, date in community. How to win at dating? How to make sure that you set yourself up for success? Date in community. By community, if you've been around here, you've heard us talk about it a lot. That means have a small group.

That means you, if you're a girl, should have other girls in your life who hold you accountable. They can talk about your relationship with you. You can go there to process how you're feeling, the emotions that you're having, where you guys are maybe stuck or had a conflict. You have girls in your life.

If you're a guy, you have the same group or you have a group of guys in your life who you can go to and process and they can hold you accountable in purity. They can hold you accountable in terms of the next steps of leading your girlfriend. They can be a place that speaks into, "Is this a good relationship? Should this continue moving forward?"

If you don't have a group or a small group or Community Group here at Watermark or at your church, you should not be dating. The Bible says that plans fail for lack of counselors. You're setting yourself up to be in relationship where you're all on your own. In olden days…I think we talked about it before…there used to be something called arranged marriage.

So as crazy as it was, there wasn't a time where you would decide to get married or go through the dating process. Your family and your community decided. Your dad showed up one day, and was like, "Hey, Carl, we've decided to trade two oxen and a bull for Carly down the road, and you guys are getting married on Sunday." It was like, "Okay. Well, there we go." It had its pluses and some minuses to it.

Today, we've swung in the entire other direction where instead of others in community speaking into who we marry, we make that decision all on our own. It can be incredibly destructive to make the most important decision, next to Jesus, you will make all on your own, just you and them and your heart. Because your heart, biblically, can lie to you.

It will make you say, "Look, you guys were made for each other. You have that song together. This is made to happen." When other people are going, "This is not a good relationship. There are so many red flags. I'm concerned about you." It'll make you go, "The world is against us because we're destined lovers." And you have been deceived.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things…" It will lie to you. Proverbs 3, says do not trust in your heart. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart…" His Word and his people. That's what that means. So make sure you're in community.

Eighthly, don't have sex. Pretty straightforward. Why? Because as the coach in Mean Girls says, "…because if you do, you will get pregnant and die." Let's move on from there. No, why? Because the Bible says… And if you've had sex, you've experienced this. Sex is intoxicating. It was made to be that way.

It's like putting drunk goggles on. In the way that it is a bad decision to drink and drive, it is a bad decision to get drunk and sex and date. It will lower your inhibitions and your ability to evaluate. You may be like, "What? The Bible doesn't say that." Proverbs, chapter 5, says this. "…rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love."

Beyoncé stole that right out of Solomon's mouth. "Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man's wife?" Or with a woman who is not your wife. "Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?" Anyway, we've all been there before, right? It's saying sex is intoxicating. The reason it's dangerous to bring into a dating relationship is it will lower your inhibitions.

You'll stay longer than you should stay in a relationship where, had sex not been introduced, you would've been like, "This just doesn't work." But because it was introduced, it's like, "Man, I'm just so tingly when we touch. We're just on fire!" Then eventually it wears off, and you find yourself walking through the heartache of a breakup that should've taken place three months in, not three years.

Don't have sex. If you have already had sex… You're in this room and you had sex together, you're listening and you had sex together, you need to repent. That's a really churchy word, but it means, "I'm going to confess. I'm going to bring that into the open. I'm going to have accountability in my life."

She or he needs to have accountability on both sides in a small group. "We're going to set boundaries. We're going to seek to do this God's way." If you can't keep those boundaries, you should break up.

Ninthly, don't date forever. As in, if you have been dating for years and years, what are you waiting for? What more are you trying to figure out? What qualities are going to push you over the edge? Dating should not be hasty. You shouldn't just meet somebody and be like, "Let's do this!"

You should evaluate and go through the process, because that's what dating is. It's a season for you to decide, "Is this someone I want to spend my life with?" So there should be evaluation. First Timothy, chapter 5, is basically teachings on when it comes to an elder, don't be quick to lay hands… And by that, it doesn't mean throw 'bows.

It means to put in a position of leadership, which is what an elder is, a leader of the church. Don't be quick to put a new leader in a position of leadership without getting to know them and seeing an extended season of faithfulness in their character. An elder is a leader of the bride of Christ. That's the church.

In the same way, as it relates to you putting a position or moving toward marriage and having a leader of the bride of you or having a bride to you, you should have a season of evaluating their character with others around you where you can see, "I know what I'm getting into here." But it should not be a season that lasts until 2024, if you're in it right now.

At some point, you have to go, "I feel like I know enough." If you're perpetually dating, you're doing it wrong. Let me say it this way. If you're perpetually dating, you're probably not doing it God's way. Because dating is not… When you're pursuing purity, when you do everything the Scripture says, it's not the greatest thing ever.

It's like, "Yeah it's 10 o'clock. Yeah, I'll see you later. Good to see you," versus marriage, where it's two coming together. Marriage is not any better and has its own challenges, but it's amazing. If you're in a dating relationship, what are you waiting for? How much longer? Because it should not be something where you just are perpetually dating.

Finally, don't be afraid to exit. Don't be afraid to exit. Dating is a road, as I started, that is taking you in a path toward a promise toward a lifelong pursuit. That's what dating is. It shouldn't be just perpetual, aimless wandering. It is, "We are getting on this thing. We are evaluating, as we drive along the road, are we going to end up at the destination of marriage?"

If along that road, you realize, "This is not someone I can marry. This is not someone who I want to be the father of my children. This is not a godly person. I love them, and I want to stay. We've had so much emotional capital built. I can't even imagine life without them, but I don't think we have the same faith or share the same vision for our future," you have to exit.

Every mile you keep going on that road, it will become harder and harder to take an exit. As crazy as it sounds, it's not going to get any easier in the future. If you know it needs to end, you need to end it. Be willing to say, "I think we need to break up. Maybe it's the wrong time, but I need to end this relationship." It's the most important decision you're going to make. It is far better to have a broken heart in dating than a broken home in marriage. God doesn't want you to experience that. You don't want to experience that.

So in conclusion, when it comes to when to date? When marriage is on the horizon. Who to date? Someone who has character, is a Christ-follower, who can be a lifelong companion. How to date? Those 10 things. I'm not going to repeat every single one of them.

As I've said, and I'll close here, my son can't put this together. He is 4. I could leave him for six weeks with all the food and candy and time he wants and come back. He would not be able to build that. He doesn't have what it takes. He needs the help of his father. When it comes to the picture of marriage that you want and God wants for you, and I know you want it…

It is of a family and future that's not marked by divorce and pain and heartbreak and heartache, but marked by a healthy relationship that's not perfect, but it's you and her or you and him, and you're together for the rest of your lives. You don't have what it takes to build that, to find that picture, but your heavenly Father does like a father helping his son with the Legos, and build that into what God wants to help you.

The way that he does that is through his Word and you walking in that and through living with his people. That is the only hope you have for a marriage that experiences everything that God wants the picture of your marriage someday to look like. It's the only hope I have for my marriage. My marriage is not immune and not some, "Oh, I'm in ministry so everything is perfect and always will be and everything is great and always easy."

No! The only way that I can have the marriage that God wants me to have for the rest of my days is for me to be someone who takes the help of my Father. "God, I don't have what it takes. I know what sin lives inside of me. I know the lustful thoughts, the angry thoughts, and all the different dysfunctional brokenness in my own life and selfishness. God, I need your help.

I need your Word. I need people in my life called your people, God's people, to encourage me and call me to be the man who I want to be. Because if I'm going to have the marriage that looks like the picture you call me to in Scripture, it's going to take you. It's going to take your help." God wants you to have that. There's no magic formula. You can.

If you and that person who you end up dating or pursuing marriage together are both saying, "We are going to put the Legos in our Father's hands. We're going to put the marriage in our Father's hands. We're going to do what our Father says. We're going to live with our Father's people," you can. That's the formula. Dating is to lead us to marriage.

You know what's funny? Biblically, marriage is supposed to lead us to something. So dating leads to marriage, but what does marriage lead us to? Paul, in chapter 5 of the book of Ephesians, verse 31 and 32, says this. He says here's what marriage leads to. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

It's a really pretty verse. You've probably heard it at a wedding. Paul says, "This is a profound mystery…" For years, I read that, and I was like, "Oh, he is talking about two becoming one. That is pretty crazy, Paul. Two become one flesh." But I'm talking about Christ and the church. That's the mystery. The mystery is not two becoming one in marriage.

The mystery is how marriage… Just like dating leads to marriage, marriage was meant to lead us to Jesus, the picture of Jesus and his relationship with his bride called the church. You're not going to have the right type of marriage relationship someday if you don't have the relationship with the one whom marriage and life is all about.

If you're in the room, and you've never put your faith in Jesus and what he did on the cross… He came into this world. God became a man, and he died for you and he died for me. He died so that every person can be in an eternal relationship with him. It's though, as it were, that's marriage. It's certainly, Paul would say, what marriage points us to.

It's about a far more important, far greater relationship. If you've never trusted in Jesus as the payment for your sin… His death on the cross paid for your sin, for your abortion, for your sexual sin, for your baggage in dating relationships, for everything, every look at pornography, and every time you've abused another person. He paid for all of it. That's why he came.

Then he rose from the dead. Do you know what that showed? Check cleared. That moment when you're paying out for groceries at the store, and you're waiting. "Is the card going to go through? Is it not?" Then you get back and, "Oh, man. The payment, I had more than enough in there." That's what the grave, the resurrection, showed the world was more than enough. It's covered. I got you.

Tonight, your decision is not who to date. It's who are you going to worship as your King, your Lord? Are you going to receive that free gift in Jesus? That's the most important relationship decision you'll ever make and that you need to make. You'll never get the other ones right or the marriage right until you get that one right.

For the rest of us, we have some work to do or decisions to make, some hard ones. Should this keep moving forward? Maybe I need to pull back. Maybe I need to spend some time healing. Others of us, it's time to move. You have to get married, and you have to take the next step, because you know. Here's how you know. You and she both know, you know what marriage is all about. It's not about you. It's about Jesus. Let me pray.

Father, thank you that left to ourselves, every relationship we have would fall apart. Every marriage, including my own, has no hope of being all that you want it to be and all that it could be without you and your help. I pray that you would create amazing, godly marriages and homes through every person listening right now, some of whom have to first be in right relationship with you, and they've never done that. They've never had a moment. So would tonight be their night.

I pray for couples who know they need to break up, that you would meet them there as they walk through the painful decision that, "I think this needs to end." I pray for wisdom and clarity and courage for couples who need to take the next step and move in the direction of marriage. Thank you for sending your Son, the ultimate relationship that we were made for. We worship you now in song, amen.

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