Friday, June 24, 2011

Sex, Faith & Men: What I Never Knew About Dating.

"Why don't you date him? He's a good guy."

"Just give him a chance. You never know unless you take the risk."

"Go on a few dates. Just because he isn't a Christian doesn't mean he will be a bad boyfriend."

"God can change people. Maybe he's the one. You can make it work.”

"We're just hanging out, it's not serious. It won't go anywhere."

"You're not deciding to marry him right this second. Just see how it goes."


I remember being a freshman in high school and believing heart and soul that I would never date a "non-believer," much less ever have sex with one. Fast-forward five or six years, and I've dated a couple. Fast-forward another year or two, and I'm sleeping with one that I'm not even dating.

No girl wakes up and says to herself, "I'm gonna fall head over heels in love with a man I'd never marry today" or decides over lunch that sex is just sex is just sex, and none of it is a big deal anyway. I didn't. And you probably didn't, but both of those things happen to us.

“Your first perfect Christian boyfriend broke your heart. You weren't supposed to mess around with him, but you did anyway. Now you might as well mess around with the next one. You've been perfect your whole life. You deserve to have some innocent fun. It's just going out for a drink - that isn't committing to a relationship. Cuddling as 'friends' isn't wrong. Marriage is like, a decade away. What are you supposed to do for ten years - be bored? Everyone has sex before marriage. And everyone ends up with a husband and happy in the end. You need to experience everything before you settle down and only have sex with one man for the freaking rest of your whole entire life.”

I don't know how it happened to you, but that's a glimpse of what happened to me. And I was the girl with the best intentions, the highest standards, and the most reasonable head on my shoulders. Maybe you got there a little differently, but it ended us both in the same place.

Why did it happen? Because we're human. Because life happens. Because we get hurt. Because we're built for relationships, but we're born broken.

And because too often as Christian girls, we are given the rules with no explanations. We're told the No's without the Yes's. We're given the worst-case scenarios without a picture of the amazing fun-filled, purpose-filled, hot sex & crazy love filled marriage that we were created for.

As Christian girls, we're told that sex gets us pregnant, ruins sex with our future husband & is SIN SIN SIN. The church has steered us away from sex by way of guilt, shame & fear. The problem with motivating by guilt & fear (instead of truth & life) is that the moment another area of our life collapses (which it will), we give up on everything. Because sin is sin is sin, right?

We say, "What the hell." And we give up a little, settle a little, stop caring a little.

This is what I didn't know about relationships. About men. About myself. About sex. About dating. About marriage. About life.

This is what I didn't know, that had I known, I might not have become addicted to things that slowly began to destroy me.

This is what I half-knew, that I pushed to the back of my mind and heart, believing that I couldn't have or couldn't find.

This is why you can't date a man who doesn't love Jesus, if you have given your life to the God who created, treasures and adores you.


- Because Love isn't enough to get you through anything. You have to respect him, too. There is something in the heart of a woman who loves Jesus that knows she can't fully respect a man who doesn't have God as his number one priority. If you don't respect him as a man, get out. If you question it now, you can expect it to be wholly sabotaged when things get rough. A man knows when you don't respect him, and there are few things more dangerous, problem-causing & explosive than a man without respect.

- When we evaluate relationships, we forget to set the stage at its worst - we just set it for now. Last week, my man hit rock bottom. As the woman who is promising to love & support him (and invest my entire life in him) no matter what, I HAVE to know that God loves, protects, will provide for, and will strengthen this man in my arms. If a man doesn't love God with his whole heart, I can't be assured that what I'm comforting him with is going to be delivered. I can't have faith in a man who doesn't have faith. I can't strengthen the faith of a man who doesn't have any to begin with.

- If you are a woman who loves Jesus, a man who doesn't love Jesus doesn't know who you truly are.
Your identity is defined by God. You're lying to yourself if you think that your relationship with Jesus can remain in a box, outside of your romantic relationship. For a while, I told myself that if he understood every part of me except for the God part - that was okay. When you are created a new creation in Christ, ALL of you is "the God part." No part of you is untouched by your love for Jesus. And your man does not see that you - he sees a different woman.

- You need an anchor. One day you're going to fall apart. And you're going to need him to come to your rescue by way of God, not by himself. God is our rock, and our foundation. Max cannot be my savior. I cannot be his. And both of us need one. If you date a man who doesn't know his Savior, you are forced to fulfill that role, which as a human being, you cannot. And he will try to be your savior. And he can not. Everything will be okay because you believe in God, not because your boyfriend “believes in you.”

- When you've made the decision to follow Jesus, your perception of everything becomes wildly changed. Lifelong friendships are built not on similar interests, but on similar views of the world. Marriages are no different. It is said that marriages do not fail for lack of love, but lack of friendship. You're choosing a partner to take on the world with together for the rest of your life. You can't make it through the battle if he's seeing differently than you are. And you can't live with someone you wouldn't be friends with in the first place.

- He can't love you to the best of his ability if he doesn't love Jesus. I'm talking about the kind of love you need to survive a marriage. The love that lasts a lifetime. The lay-down-your-life-for-someone-kind-of-love. The world's definition is but a pale imitation of love. If you want to truly be loved by a man, you need to find one who has experienced unconditional, sacrificial love as is defined by God, the author of it. God created marriage as an image of Jesus' relationship with the church, and Jesus laid down his life out of love for his bride.

- You can't marry them, so why date them? Let's say you've already decided you won't marry a non-Christian - but what's wrong with "just" dating them? Your body is designed to bond utterly & completely with someone, through the release of dopamine & oxytocin. Dopamine is the chemical that drives you back to pleasurable things. In its most innocent form, it teaches a small child that puppies are awesome. In its most powerful form, it creates a natural addiction to the person you are physically involved with. You were created to be addicted to someone for the rest of your life. The addiction starts the moment dopamine is triggered and begins to flood your brain. The question is: are you created an addiction to something healthy, or unhealthy? (When Oxytocin is triggered, it teaches your mind to trust, and reduces fear. Consider the repercussions of programming your body to trust someone you know you shouldn't, and to be safe around someone you plan to break up with.)

It hurts. It's hard. You love him.

I'm not telling you to leave him because you're sinning, I'm telling you to go get addicted to a man you want in your life forever.

- - -

Want to talk about it? Email me. laurennicolelove [at] gmail.com. I've been there.

Want to read more about what sex does to you? Read my post "I Was A Prostitute."

Want some lighter talk on dating? Read my post "I Met My Man on Twitter & I'm Writing You A How To Guide On Dating"


And lastly, check out my Good Woman's Guide To The 21st Century over on MakeItMad.

36 comments:

Megan said...

Oh my gosh, YES! A man can't unconditionally love you if he doesn't know unconditional love himself! That is the TRUTH! This is so good. Thank you!

Jesse K. said...

At first, I thought this was crazy. Then, I read down to a point and it made sense. Essentially, to each his or her own.

Then I went back to my first disposition. I would consider the blatant generalization of "he can't love you to the best of his ability if he doesn't love Jesus" to be erroneous, sordid, and fiercely offensive. That is a dismissal of all of the successful relationships and marriages that were not founded on "Jesus." Spirituality is for some what it isn't for others, and that is OK. But the root of the problem, and what you should be saying, is that it is important, actually necessary, for two people to see eye-to-eye on the spiritual spectrum...and most every spectrum for that matter. There are notable people in contented marriages who see things differently, but the word that you're missing here is "acceptance." That is how they make it work...they accept one another. It is so fundamental and simple...by further complicating it, you lead women to believe that someone she sees as a good, Christian man and thus compatible for marriage in her eyes, is fitting and worth consideration. Nevertheless, you neglect the truth that Christian men are just as capable of hurting women as are "unbelievers," and many do. Let's play a game called Would You Rather...would you rather be emotionally abused by a Christian man, thus projecting abuse on your children, or would you rather go to Bible Study alone while you're agnostic husband stays at home doing homework with your kids?

Perhaps you should consider with your utmost attention this point: people love with their hearts, not with things they read that infiltrate their minds. By complicating what is to me the single greatest reality in our world (to love another human being unconditionally) you fail to see how simple love really is. And you offend people who know that unconditional love is a reality for them, not because of what they believe, but because they are human, just like you. 

I love you no matter what, Lauren. Even if you write things that are in essence a declaration that by not loving Jesus I cannot love a woman to the best of my ability. Because I love you, unconditionally.

Dori said...

I like your passion here, but I must admit I feel a little left out since I'm an atheist.



Then again I guess anybody who reads this who isn't a Christian would feel the same.



Despite my religious beliefs, I do believe that people who have different beliefs on existence can date AND get married. In fact, it happens everywhere. Why? Because that's exactly what beliefs are. They are BELIEFS. Every one of them could be wrong, there is no way to know for sure. What people all DO share is this human existence.



We can be with one another no matter what we believe happens "after we die".

Just felt like expressing that..


Dori

TheIntern said...

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

Although I have not had sex, I've come far too close far too many times, and it's all been in the name of someone knowing me intimately and connecting on an emotional level.

Thank you for naming what I've been feeling for all these years.

Your sister in Christ
Lisa

Amanda said...

Bravo again dear LLove...Beautiful...

sjbodzo said...

What a nice post :) I'm a guy so I feel nosy, but a friend of mine linked this on Facebook and I just ended up checking it out.

I dated a girl back in high school, and I tried to be her Superman...It just doesn't work out when God isn't put first.

I watched a series of sermons on dating, and decided to take a year off entirely from dating... but now I wonder if that's putting whatever may happen on my own terms, and not on God's.

At any rate, good luck to the both of us at finding somebody :)

acp1004 said...

Lauren, I think this is beautiful. Thank you.

Rebekah Ward said...

It's 2AM. A girlfriend just left my house because we were having an in depth discussion about many of these "rules" that you speak of. It's as though the Christian community has this formula for "dating" (but we can't call it dating because it's not holy enough, so we call it courting, when that's so undefinable that we just pray for the day we can say "I'm engaged" so everyone will be on the same page). If you do (or don't do) A + B + C it will equal a happy, safe, heartbreak free marriage... or else. When did this become the goal?

Every word you say resonates with me. Because I have seen so many friends hurt by the same pattern you describe.

And who am I kidding? I am hurt by this! As a 22 year old woman who's never been kissed, I've woken up from nightmares of loneliness, sobbing in my sleep. And believing there is nothing I can do about it. I'm just supposed to sit here... and wait... I can't tell you how many times it has crossed my mind, "If I weren't in this church, I might have some chance of meeting someone." It's only by the mercy of God that I haven't compromised.

The modern church is trying to sell Marriage like it sells Salvation: "Just say this prayer and everything will be a-okay!" Except it's: "Don't have sex and your relationship will be wonderful!" When the fact is that it's not that simple. We need a reality check. And your honesty provides a great place to start. Thank you.

paz said...

you are one hell of a woman lauren. thank you for your honesty, it's refreshing.

Caitlin said...

Lauren,
Thanks for sharing the whys. As a Christian girl, it's easy to settle for sloppy seconds. Probably because when we really believe we're "worth more than rubies" we fear that we smack of pride.
I love your honesty, even when it can't be fun to share some of the things you did. But thank you for sharing! There's a lot for me to mentally chew on.

Cheers,

Caitlin

Rachel said...

Wise words!

Lauren Jean said...

I think I may just have to print this blog out on little flyers so I can pass it out to every single person who asks me 1, why I'm not in a relationship, 2, why won't I date Him? He's so nice (but not saved) and 3, to the guys who ask me out and then wonder why I say no when we have nothing in common.

And to Rebekah Ward, I'm a 23 year old whose never been kissed, felt like I was the only one out there, and I have those exact same thoughts!

Anyway, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

When it is right, its right. I hadn't kissed until way in my twenties and my dream was to have my husband be the first one. I have to say that I didn't make it. However, God told me to break it off with that Christian man I was seeing and I didn't do it in time. Hold onto that.....it can be a precious gift for your future husband if you are dreaming of being married one day. And believe me I recently found out what true love is and why it is well worth the wait! Besides why spend your time with men that are not the one. You just get hurt and it is not worth it! Get involved in your church or find a hobby. There are plenty of other things to do out there then dating. Volunteer somewhere. There are plenty of places that could use your talents and abilities! God didn't forget about you! He has just the one in mind. He knows you better than you know yourself. Who would be better to listen to in this area of life! Listen to God in the small things! I did and that is how I met my husband. He is the man of my dreams! He was well worth the wait! Our momentary and light afflictions are working on our behalf.

suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} said...

smart, lady.

you are right that the Church needs to do a better job teaching what a God-honoring sexual ethic looks like. i'm so thankful that my parents/church/camp didn't go the shame and fear route, and i lived a different story. thank you for sharing yours here so boldly and speaking up for Truth. broken hearts are crying out for something so much better.

Emmy said...

I really needed to read this Lauren - thanks. I might re-read it a few times. lol. :D

Overthinking Mama said...

this is perfect.. you have said everything that i have felt in my heart for so long.. I wont settle anymore for anything less than the Christian man I know I deserve... sadly, not having any Christian friends, I have no one to talk with about it.. and most of them think i have too high of standards and don't understand exactly what I want.. :-(
thank you for sharing this!!!

Joy Eggerichs said...

once again - so well said. I need to learn some writing skills from you. Have you rad "hooked?" It's a really user-friendly book by two doctors for parents to understand the hook up culture and what it does to us scientifically. I like to recommend it to people who want to understand the dopamine/oxytocin phenomenon more. If you like it, might be a good resource for your readers.

Matt Shedd said...

As I always try to teach it. You shouldn't date a non-Christian:

-for your faith (are you sure you are strong enough to stand against the scrutiny?)

-for your future (If God desires equally yokedness, why set yourself up to fall in love with an unequal?)

-for your family (as a Christian parent, would you want your kids dating non-Christians?)

missy. said...

this post was amazing. i LOVED IT. so true about the church and what they do to us. thanks for posting this.

not a minx, a moron, or a parasite said...

I came to this post via twitter. Very timely and astute. I wish all Christians ladies would read this!

HereBeDragons said...

Amazing.
Thoughtful.
Thanks.

Hello There. said...

I appreciate and fully respect your openness. This is what being a Christian is about and it's far more important than putting on the mask of perfection. Showing who we really are knowing that we are given grace every step of the way, is the true heart of salvation.

Hello said...

It's great to read something that really, really reminds me why I don't date Christians. This is a thorough and thoughtful example of all the things that just don't mesh with my own value system, and it helped me a lot. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I could not have said this any better!!! amazing! you wrote what my hearts been trying to say all my life! thank you! :)

Amber said...

You are such a beautiful soul. I read through lots of posts tonight, and they are just what my hearts been needing.
Amazing lady, you.

Anonymous said...

This was great ! I've been struggling with this topic but you have put me in a right directions.

Jennifer said...

I read this post last summer, when I'd never been in a situation even remotely similar to the ones being described here, and I thought "Duh! Of course this is so right. Easy peasy." Then I read this post again a few months ago when I sent it to a friend who was wrestling with liking this guy who didn't share her beliefs, and she was so thankful for it. Finally, I've read this post again three times through today, after finding myself in a situation I never thought I'd be in, and that -- tame though it is at present -- deep down I *know* I need to say no to and get out of before it gets worse, however much, I feel like I don't want to. I think this, my fifth reading of your excellent and eloquent exposition, has finally given me the conviction to stop doing something I know is going to lead to no good.

So, thank you, Lauren. Thank you so much.

Brianna said...

I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!
This is such the truth and is what young people, especially ones who claim to follow Jesus, in our world need to hear and adapt into their lives. I am so thankful to be able to live these things out in my own life and pray that these truths would spread like wildfire in this generation! Thank you for sharing such wise words from the Lord! :)

sex questions and answers said...

Showing who we really are knowing that we are given grace every step of the way, is the true heart of salvation.

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walkingbarefoot said...

Dear Lauren, I got so much out of this blog post this morning. I came upon it seriously by God's will in a way that was divine. I had to write my own post about it and put a link up to this post, I hope you don't mind. I see that you have moved to wordpress, I will be following you very soon, I think I like your heart very much. I also read your "I was a Prostitute" post and wept in grief over myself, over women, and over our society. God help us all. I also, just now, saw your modesty blog post where you rebuked the spirit of lust and rape, prostitution, etc. God bless you. Out of your ashes, He has formed a beautiful soul. I LOVED the modesty post, but understood why your comments was turned off. God bless Him, I just only recently stumbled upon your blogs, but I see He has done and is doing a good work in and through you. Yes, indeed, I think I like your heart very much. :0)

african woman said...

I learn alot for this post!I love it.
Well, I do agree with you that you can't love a man who never know who is his Savior because in such cases like that you will end up being hurt and left alone. You know what if you really have to hand it over to God everything will surely be alright and you will have a fruitful life.


Loving someone is natural because Love is the basic need of human nature, for without it life us disrupted mentally and emotionally. But there are some instances that when you love someone he will never love you back for some reasons.

So be strong and have in God.

Rebecca said...

Lauren,
I am a huge fan of the Good Women Project. I can't imagine the insane number of hours you have put into it, but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. The articles on there have literally changed my life for the better. Also, this post is so beautiful. I can relate in so many ways to your story and I am immensely comforted by the fact that I am not the only one. Keep doing what you are doing. You are truly making the world a better place and glorifying God in ways greater than you know.

Rebecca

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