Archive for the ‘Dating’ category

The Weight Of Beauty

30 June, 2007 EUTC

Michael Lawrence has come out with 2 articles on attraction here and here. The context is single men not dating godly women who they do not find attractive enough. As I’ve tried to understand what he’s saying I’ve come to represent it mathematically:

B = k E + (1-k) I

B represents our perception of Beauty on others, E represents external beauty, I represents internal beauty or conformity to Christ, and k is a number between 0 and 1 that represents the weight given to E. This equation is a gross oversimplification, but the idea is that the world and sin lead us to believe that k ought to be close 1, but really in line with true biblical beauty it ought to be much smaller.

Michael also speaks about how culture defines external beauty, based on the book The Beauty Myth (extract); however other research indicates that there is a substantial consistency in some of what is considered beautiful by different cultures. Similarly, what Michael has in mind when he speaks of how our view of the image of beauty is corrupted may also be overstated.

Michael is excellent in discussing that we can encourage and help develop in others biblical beauty as well as improve our appreciation of it ourselves. The need to challenge the messages of the culture is well made and illustrated by these articles, we do well to consider that instruction carefully.

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Replacing ‘Defrauding’

18 April, 2007 EUTC

The principle of defrauding often plays a central role in courtship frameworks. While I tend to agree with the conclusions, I do take issue with how they are derived from 1 Thess 4:3-6. To look at this I’ve taken quotes from elders at my church who have written articles for boundless.org at various times that include references to that passage. While the differences may reflect differences between their current opinions, they may also represent progression of thought within the group as a whole.

Matt Schmucker’s teaching about defrauding was a precursor to the core seminars on courtship. In this article Schmucker writes (emphasis and bracketed comment mine):

Second, Christian men are called to protect their sisters in Christ, not take advantage of them. Consider 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NIV):

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

Where the NIV says, “no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him,” the NASB says, “no one should defraud.” [NASB translates the NIV’s “wrong” as “defraud”.] Defraud means “to deprive of something by deception or fraud.”

What do I mean by defrauding in this context? Simply put, a man defrauds a woman when, by his words or actions, he promises the benefits of marriage to a woman he either has no intention of marrying or if he does, has no way of finally knowing that he will. The four authors of this chapter often speak on this topic because we know that brothers in Christ in our church and yours are defrauding (taking advantage of) sisters in Christ, and as the apostle James says, “My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10).

Executives from the corporate giants Enron and WorldCom were recently on trial for fraud. They had painted a picture of business health, growth, and prosperity when in fact it was all false. The single men in our churches must be encouraged to ask themselves, “in your relationships with single women, are you painting a false picture and committing fraud?” What may be considered innocent — holding hands, putting an arm around her in the pew, some “light” kissing, long talks over Starbucks coffee — all send the message to a sister that reads, “You’re mine.” Single men must be careful here. A Christian woman is first and foremost a sister in the Lord. I trust none of us would do anything inappropriate with our own flesh-and-blood sisters. How much more a sister in the Lord! She may or may not become the man’s wife. But she will always be a sister. Her heart, the “wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23, NIV), must be guarded as if it were the man’s own!

This follows the way Scott Croft has argued regarding defrauding in the core seminars that he has developed and taught. In his articles (1, 2, 3) he defines defrauding as “implying a relationship or commitment by your words or conduct that does not actually exist”, “implying a marriage-level commitment where one does not exist” and “to imply a commitment that does not exist by committing acts with someone that are appropriate only in the context of a particular relationship (i.e., marriage) in order to satisfy my own ‘passionate lust.'”

The passage is primarily about sexual immorality, but there is also a valid application to inappropriate behaviour beyond that. However, the concern with the primary application is surely the sinfulness of the physical act itself, not deception and hence an equivalent interpretation is required for secondary applications. Looking into the Greek, it seems to me that the passage is about going beyond what is appropriate and so gaining an advantage at the other person’s expense. This is basically the meaning of fraud, but without the explicit reference to deception, though obviously deception could still be a factor.

Scott said after writing on defrauding that “Now, one obvious
counterargument to the point I intend to make is that the Scriptures
I’ve cited above just beg the question of whether kissing and other
sexual activity violate those passages.” This illustrates another problem with the concept of defrauding. It says that you shouldn’t do things that imply marriage if you’re not married, but does not explain how to determine that something implies marriage. For example, why does holding hands imply marriage? I don’t even know what the concept of implying marriage means. While I can see how actions said to imply marriage are bad in themselves, not knowing what it means, I don’t understand how implying marriage constitutes wronging the other person. Surely understanding why its wrong makes it easier to obey.

Michael Lawrence’s approach avoids these problems. In the boundless article where he considers 1 Thess 4:6 he doesn’t mention defrauding, but he comes to the same conclusions in a different way by focusing on taking advantage instead.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:6, Paul warns the Thessalonian Christians against “taking advantage” of their brothers or sisters. The larger context in the first eight verses makes clear that what Paul primarily has in view is sexual immorality, in which you take from one another a physical intimacy not rightfully yours.

But the text also suggests that there are other ways you can take advantage of one another in a dating relationship. And one of the primary ways men do this is to elicit and enjoy all the benefits of unending companionship and emotional intimacy with their girlfriends without ever committing to the covenant relationship of marriage.

He goes on to refer to the cost of emotional and spiritual wear and tear caused by inappropriate intimacy. He also contrasts not “taking advantage” with the positive teaching to love one another (Scott in his 3rd article has more on this).

The issue regarding what is appropriate intimacy seems to be this. Intimacy carries with it risk, in terms of temptation, distrust and also emotional pain if the relationship ends. It limits the benefits of other uses of time. On the other hand, certain forms of intimacy play a role in moving a relationship along towards potential marriage and intimacy is also created by things that are good in themselves, such as in serving one another or doing ministry together. There needs to be a balance. This takes wisdom, including counsel from others. It depends on the individuals involved and the circumstances. The concept of defrauding, as best as I can tell, is designed to forbid behaviour that creates unnecessary intimacy, but I believe that it is more effective and biblical to address the issue directly.

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The Courtship Song

4 April, 2007 EUTC

Elnwood has a post up on the Courtship Song, which he wrote the lyrics for a couple of years ago with a little help from his friends.

The Story Of The Proverbs 31 Song

5 February, 2007 EUTC

Elnwood has added a post recounting the behind-the-music story for the Proverbs 31 song.

It is my hope to organise another coffeehouse soon to include new material to go with some of the material from last time. So if you attend CHBC, get thinking. Hopefully I’ll have some more material to post here before too long.

Proverbs 31 Song

18 January, 2007 EUTC

For lyrics and video clips of a performance go here.

Scott Croft and Rick Holland on Biblical Dating

18 December, 2006 EUTC

Boundless magazine has published part 1 of a series of articles on ‘biblical dating’ by Scott Croft. It looks like it is based on the first of CHBCs core seminars on the subject, so I suspect the remaining articles will follow the rest of that course. Since there are various views as to what biblical dating should look like I am sure the various reactions expressed in the comments to the various biblical dating blog posts are only a taste of what’s to come.

The article first applies the principle of the sufficiency of scripture to the issue of dating, establishing the need for a description of what biblical dating is. This should not be controversial, though Christians don’t always take it as seriously as they ought. Secondly he outlines the principles he intends to discuss by distinguishing between biblical dating and modern dating according to a number of features that he says are always present in biblical dating and may not be present in worldly dating. By modern dating it appears he means modern secular dating, where biblical principles are not intentionally used, rather than Christian dating, where proponents believe a different set of principles ought to govern dating. Scott now prefers to use the phrase ‘biblical dating’ rather than the word ‘courtship’. I’m fine with him leaving out the word courtship because it miscommunicates various ideas. I am also OK with him speaking of biblical dating, since that’s what he believes he has described, even though he may get things wrong, as long as he does not consider his optional suggestions to be necessary parts of biblical dating.

In the course of revisiting my thoughts on this subject I discovered that Rick Holland’s view on biblical dating is available online in a series of articles. He contributed a chapter to the book 5 Paths to the Love of Your Life which has been serialised at crosswalk.com: Part I, Part II, Part II – continued, Part III, and Part IV. The material is based on his relationship series. I understand that he is also writing a book based on his ideas. I tend to prefer Rick’s content and presentation to the way Scott has taught ‘biblical dating’ in the past, though I hope Scott will make some good changes this time.

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To date or not to date: that is the question…

14 September, 2006 EUTC

I wrote this, enjoy!

To date or not to date: that is the question:
Whether ’tis better in this day to follow
The teaching of him who kissed dating goodbye,
Or to give dating a chance as others say,
And by opposing Harris? To hurt: to harm;
No more; and by to harm we mean
The heart-ache and the thousand selfish acts
The flesh inclines to, ’tis a situation
Devoutly to be shunned. To hurt, to harm;
To harm: but is it so: ay, there’s the rub;
For with due care and clear intent cannot
Wise boundaries protect the daters’ hearts?
But let us pause to now respect
The father’s role as God has so decreed;
To be his daughter’s true authority,
Until such time as he release his charge,
To one approved by him that she would take;
And so ’till then his oversight remains
Applied to matters of such personal import
With such a duty should he trysting ban
Where there is no intent to ascertain
If it should lead to leaving Neverland?
So through the scripture men have sought to find,
Support for dating or another way,
Some say that courtship only be therein,
In principle, though not in narrative
And does God’s word teach me the way to go?
Indeed! For now at last I am resolved
To act as Abraham for Issac did,
To send a servant to my kith and kin,
And there find me a wife.

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