Kiss Dating Goodbye
It is not enough for me to be a vocal opponent of the prevalent practice of wide-open divorce and remarriage in the Church today. I want to nip divorce in the bud, before it starts. Modern dating practices are a breeding ground for divorce. According to Joshua Harris in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (Multnomah Books, Sisters, Oregon: 1997), defective dating creates seven destructive habits, which can lead to increased divorce: (1) dating leads to intimacy, but not necessarily to commitment, (2) dating tends to skip the "friendship" stage of a relationship, (3) dating often mistakes a physical relationship for love, (4) dating often isolates a couple from other vital relationships, (5) dating, in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future, (6) dating can cause discontentment with Godís gift of singleness, (7) dating creates an artificial environment for evaluating another personís character.
Twenty-three years old and good-looking, Joshua Harris has renounced the common practice of dating. Instead, he engages in group activities with youth and adults, until he is later going to seriously contemplate marriage. He relates his trials and struggles with his own hormones, and his firm reliance on God to help him discover the one woman he should marry for life. I am amazed at Joshuaís wisdom and sound principles. In practical, down-to-earth terms, Harris holds up Godís Truth that young people should have fun now, but maintain their sexual purity in deed and thought, until marriage. All too many today, as with President Clinton, define an improper relationship as "going all the way." However, the emotional trauma involved in modern steady dating, dumping, and dating someone else seriously again, is not sexual purity, it is mental and emotional rape.
This is an important book that you should strongly encourage a teenager or young adult to read. Youth today need this Biblically-based advice and help.
Even more, married adults need to learn vital principles of godly relationships. Improper "dating" goes on today in the Churches of God, and by this I mean destructive relationships between brethren, and between brethren and Church leaders. I am not referring to sexual relationships per se, but human relationships. The type of relationships fostered in many Church organizations leads to division, dissention, and spiritual divorce. I have been "dumped" several times by Churches, and the trauma still hurts myself and my family. It was 140 miles over the mountains to the nearest Church group with beliefs similar to ours. Our two cars are 12 and 13 years old, and we just paid tens of thousands of dollars to send our oldest daughter to college, and were facing college bills for our second daughter. We could not afford to make this trip very often. When we did, were we welcomed by the congregation? The young people taunted my youngest daughter with the sneering question: "What are you doing here?" In a question and answer session with the visiting regional director, a person asked the question, "Should we allow someone to attend Church who doesnít come almost every Sabbath?" Shortly thereafter, this group decided to change affiliation, because they believed their former headquarters was not doing enough to preach the Gospel to the world. I was informed, when I called the pastor, that our family would not be welcome unless he was assured that all of our beliefs were in sync with his. Previous to this phone conversation, to my knowledge, we had never discussed any doctrinal differences with him, nor with anyone in the congregation.
If this group does attract new people as the result of mass media television and radio programs, what would happen when these new people started attending services? Would the newcomers be treated with the same contempt as we were? If so, why bother "preaching the Gospel"? To date, not a single member of this congregation has contacted us to extend a right hand of fellowship and friendship. I can relate other stories about my experiences and otherís along this line. If the Church of God has the Truth of God, it will demonstrate John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."
Relationships between the brethren are important, and we are doing a terrible job in enhancing spiritual fellowship. Todayís Sabbatarian churches are often breeding grounds for spiritual divorce, broken friendships, broken associations. If we are in the same spiritual family, then we need to make it priority number one to improve our relationships with the brethren. The principles of Godly relationships given in Joshua Harrisí book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye can benefit young people in their relationships with the opposite sex, and adults in their relationships with others in the Church. Donít read this book only once. Read it again and again, and put its Godly principles into practice. I Kissed Dating Goodby, (retail $9.99) is available from Giving & Sharing, PO Box 100, Neck City, MO 64849 for a suggested donation of $8.50. Every teenager, young adult, and Church member needs this book!