All About DATING and COURTSHIP(CHAPTER TWO & THREE)
Chapter Two –
A FATAL MIXTURE
Today's dating practices are almost entirely wrong. However, before we can understand how they are wrong, we must ask why this confused state of affairs. Why are so many people unable to correctly date, court, and reap the benefits of a happy marriage and family life? To fully grasp why the masses do not follow sound principles of dating and courtship, we must learn the underpinnings of society as a whole. The big picture must be examined.
To do this, we must go back to the beginning.
From the Beginning
Almost 6,000 years ago, the first man and woman were created. These two—Adam and Eve—were history's very first husband and wife, and lived in the Garden of Eden. As Chief Designer of marriage, God also explained this relationship to them, and the laws that govern it. He called it “very good.”
Touching on the high points, a summary of this account is found in the earliest chapters of Genesis. What is clear is that God taught this first couple His Way—the way that would bring peace, supreme happiness, abundance, prosperity and all the good things of life.
Yet, because of His infinite Purpose, God created these first human beings as free moral agents. Adam and Eve had the power to choose. God did not force His way of life on them, but rather taught them the right way, leaving the choice to them as to what they would do.
Genesis 3 records what happened in the garden with Satan tempting Eve. This account demonstrates the devil's cunning subtlety as he tried to discredit God and appeal to Adam and Eve's vanity.
There were two special trees in the garden. First was the “Tree of Life,” representing God's Way. Adam and Eve were instructed to eat as much from this tree as they wished. There was also the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” This first married couple was expressly forbidden to eat of the fruit of that tree. God told them that in the day they ate that fruit, they would “surely die.”
Understand. God—and God alone—decides what sin is. Man was not given the authority to decide what sin is but rather only whether he would sin.
Adam and Eve had a clear choice! Through Satan's subtlety and their rebellion, they rejected God and took of the forbidden fruit. They rejected God's perfect Law and rule—His government over all creation—and were taken captive by Satan and his way of sin. Because of sin, they no longer had access to God's blessings, guidance, protection or the free gift of His Holy Spirit, which they could have acquired by eating of the Tree of Life.
From that day forward, mankind has been cut off from God, having rejected God and His ways (Isa. 59:1-2). this is why mankind does not—cannot—know the truth about the purpose behind right dating and the purpose behind right courtship. He has chosen his own path—a mixture of good and evil—and the fruit of his choice is literally a “mix,” with some marriages working somewhat, others constantly riding the rollercoaster of extremes, and many not working at all. Therefore, all but a select few couples lack the supreme happiness and joy that God intended for every marriage!
Any mixture of good and evil is always fatal! If one mixes even a small amount of arsenic or cyanide into a cake, it will still just as surely kill those who eat it. However, a truer analogy here is that humanity is ingesting a veritable “ricin” (a poison 6,000 times more deadly than cyanide) of wrong thinking!
The Real Author of Modern Dating
Most assume that this world belongs to and is guided by God—that civilization as a whole is being supervised by Him. Is this true? We must ask, who is the real ruler over this world? Once this has been established, we will have identified the true author behind today's dating practices. In other words, to coin a phrase from a well-known song of several decades ago, we should ask, “Who wrote the book of love” so popularly followed by this world's masses?
It is critical to understand Satan's role! The serpent deceived Eve, starting mankind down the path away from God and His Law. By choosing the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve handed themselves and their descendants to the serpent's thinking.
Open your Bible and read these plain verses. The devil is the “god of this world” and he has “blinded the minds” of everyone in it (II Cor. 4:4). Satan is also called the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). The apostle John added that Satan “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Astonishing, but true—and most will never accept this statement, or that it could apply to themselves, much less that it could have any bearing on their dating practices.
Isaiah 14:12-15 tells a remarkable story containing many clues about where Lucifer (who later became Satan) once resided, what he did, and what happened to him: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell [the “grave” – verses 9 and 11], to the sides of the pit.”
Ezekiel 28:12-17 parallels and reinforces Isaiah 14 and is equally important to understand. This account describes one whom some scholars claim was a human “king of Tyrus.” However, careful reading shows this is impossible—and even ridiculous.
This passage speaks of one who “seals up the sum, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty,” who had also “been in Eden the garden of God.” No human has ever been perfect, and the devil was the serpent who beguiled Eve in the Garden. Verse 13 states, “you were created.” Satan is a created being. Verse 14 calls him “the cherub that covers.” (Exodus 25:17-20 describes the two remaining faithful “cherubs that cover[ed]” God's throne in the Old Testament tabernacle. Their wings covered the “mercy seat.”) No earthly king could ever fit this description.
The latter part of Ezekiel 28:14 states that this “king” was “in the mountain of God” and “walked…in the midst of the stones of fire.” This describes the area around God's throne. Verse 15 says, “Iniquity [lawlessness] was found in you” and verse 16 refers to it as “sin.”
Verse 16 also describes this cherub as having been “cast…out of” heaven. God also said He would “destroy” (Hebrew: expel) Lucifer from heaven. Verse 17 reveals that his “heart was lifted up because of [his] beauty” and that his wisdom was “corrupted…by reason of [his] brightness.” The verse ends with God “casting him down to the ground,” where the kings of the earth would “behold him.”
Lucifer was a brilliant being, an “angel of light”—as are “his ministers” today (II Cor. 11:13-15). The word Lucifer actually means “the light bringer.” This brilliant, wise, perfect being once brought great light to all that were around him. But he rebelled and sinned—thus becoming the “prince of darkness.” His rebellion turned him into a twisted, perverted, fallen angel. While of great intelligence, he has literally become insane—a being who no longer knows right from wrong!
Yet he is still the one in charge of—in control of—this world!
A lengthy passage in the New Testament offers more insight to the devil's authority and influence over the nations of earth. Matthew 4 contains the well-known account of Christ's confrontation with the devil after fasting forty days. The devil repeatedly tempted Christ by twisting scripture (one of his favorite devices). At one point, “the devil took Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said unto Him, All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me” (vs. 8-9). In a moment, we will see that this stunning event reveals more than meets the eye! Notice that Christ rebuked Satan (vs. 10) and quoted Deuteronomy 6:13: “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” At this point, the temptation ended and the devil departed.
Also notice! At no point did Christ say, “These kingdoms are NOT yours to give” or “Who do you think you are, trying to offer Me what is already Mine (God's)?” Christ said no such thing. Why? Because He knew that the kingdoms (governments) of this world are the devil's kingdoms. Christ clearly knew that they were Satan's to give. Therefore, He rejected the terms for receiving them from the one—Satan—who had the authority to offer them.
Stop and consider the implications here. This world's nations and governments, with “all the glory of them,” are still under the control of the “god of this world”—the “prince of this world.” This is the plain truth from your Bible! This world, with its ways and systems, is under the control of the devil! And this has a direct influence on—an overarching connection to—why the world cannot, of itself, ever come to the right knowledge about dating, courtship and marriage—and why this world's religions and educational institutions have failed so abysmally in teaching these things.
As mentioned, Satan “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). That's right—“the whole world.” This is a staggering statement—but there it is in your Bible.
How can the devil deceive over six billion people? Verse 9 concludes, “He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Notice that it says, “his angels.” These beings are referred to as demons. They assist Satan in his work of mass deception.
And if Satan has deceived the entire world, then it is not God's world. It has to be one or the other! Since the whole world is deceived—and since “the whole world lies in wickedness” (I John 5:19)—it becomes clear why it is cut off from God. Deceived people practice lives filled with sin. (Recall Isaiah 59:1-2.) For our purposes here, continue to view these passages in relation to the process of how people are influenced to date, court and select marriage partners.
No one enjoys being told that they are deceived, and no one enjoys hearing that they are ignorant of God's Purpose. These statements wound human pride, but not as much as remaining in deception wounds those who permit this.
If one cannot accept Revelation 12:9 as coming directly from the mind of God, any hope of breaking free of this awful deception will be lost! Such people will have chosen to remain under their captor for the remainder of the age. (If you doubt the Bible as the inspired Word of God, read our booklet BIBLE AUTHORITY…can it be proven? and take the time to prove its authority to yourself. This Book is the most misrepresented, misinterpreted, misunderstood book of all time. Yet, it can be proven to be the plain Word of God!)
Prince of the Power of the Air
Now consider the following vital scripture. Ephesians 2:2 speaks of the devil when it says, “…according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.”
This is a fascinating passage, with the thought continuing at the end of verse 3. The apostle Paul tells the Ephesian brethren that at one time, they “were by nature the children of wrath.” Who are the “children of wrath”—also called the “children of disobedience” in Ephesians 5:6? How do they relate to the phrase, “prince of the power of the air”?
Again notice Ephesians 2:2. It says that Satan's “spirit…works in the children of disobedience.” Did you see that? He has “power” to use the “air” to broadcast, through his spirit, an attitude of disobedience! He sends moods, feelings, attitudes and pulls of the flesh into people's minds, and this broadcast “works” within people's minds and thinking. This “air power” gives the devil tremendous influence, allowing him to send thoughts of confusion, deceit, anger, pride, hate, foolishness, vanity, jealousy, lust, greed, envy, rebellion and much more directly into people's thinking!
Let's continue examining the devil's influence through the use of an analogy. In a manner of speaking, Satan owns the largest radio station on earth, broadcasting 24 hours a day, reaching and deceiving the entire world!
Are you beginning to see from where the preoccupation with merely dating for sex comes—why so many singles seem to have so little else on their minds?
At this point, some vital understanding is necessary before continuing. A Christian obeys God, through His Law. Paul recorded that God has a spiritual law (Rom. 7:14). Christians keep it. When they do, it “keeps them,” so to speak. But when people break God's Law, similarly, it “breaks them”!
In Acts 5:32, Peter referred to “the Holy Spirit, [which] God has given to them that obey Him.” Take time to turn to this verse and read it carefully. True Christians understand and practice—fulfill—its meaning. God's Holy Spirit is given upon repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). This Spirit helps Christians obey the Ten Commandments!
A Sexless Being
There is a central aspect of Satan that has a direct bearing on dating and courtship.
Consider the design of all angels. The Bible explains that these beings do exist and that they are on a higher plane than men. God created man a “little lower than the angels” (Psa. 8:5).
Notice how Jesus spoke of how the future Sons of God will have a certain parallel to angels: “…they neither marry, nor are given in marriage…as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. 22:30). Although angels invariably manifest themselves as men, they are neither male nor female, and are therefore without sex. The devil—a fallen angel—is also sexless. He has no ability to reproduce himself and is completely unable to experience the marriage and family relationship, including sexual relations, made available to human beings! He resents its great purpose and potential, offering men a “Son of God” status that he can never receive. He resents the marriage institution. It is therefore in his interest to twist and pervert the institutions of marriage and the family. This includes inspiring the growing acceptance of alternative unions and “marriages.”
In contrast, God has given human beings the marvelous ability to reproduce. In the correct atmosphere of a wholesome family, this brings unparalleled joy and happiness. And, as parents rear their children correctly, those children will grow up to be wonderful parents themselves.
Grasp this all-important truth. Satan can never experience the wonderful blessings that God has given to mankind. Hence, the catastrophic mess the family has become through his influence. Recall the awful statistics listed in Chapter One.
Brilliant in intelligence, Satan understands the law of cause and effect. He knows that to ultimately defeat the fulfillment of happy marriages and families—and to destroy the values of children and teens before they reach the age of marriage—he must begin at the cause. One way he does this is by attacking the foundation—right dating and courtship!
For 6,000 years, the devil has been relentless in guiding mankind off track. All that you see around you today—your community, your country and every institution within them—have faulty foundations.
You must come to accept that this is not God's world—that He is not the author of its governments, religions, cultures, education systems, family values, and “alternative lifestyles,” practiced by ever-increasing numbers. These are all humanly-devised institutions and ideas, created and developed by men under the sway of the devil. While some of these things are not completely evil, they are, at best, the mixture derived from the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
Take a hard look at the world around you. Search your local newspaper. Visit the magazine section of any large bookstore. Scan through television channels. At best, most of what you will see is semi-lewd, and filled with an emphasis on physical beauty, excess, grossness of culture and driven by lust. These are the messages—and influences—that are competing for your attention, and the attention of young people moving toward the dating age. Recognizing them sets the stage for understanding their effect on the modern dating culture.
Further, the western world is drowning in communication devices such as mobile phones, pagers, handheld computers, e-mails—possessed by people who must be instantly, and continuously, linked to each other for fear of being “out of the loop” for even a moment.
Then there are those who, wanting to rebel against mainstream society, choose to wear “character” clothing outfits to “express themselves.” Today, large numbers of middle and upper class teens dress as though they are no more than hardened urban street thugs. It is as though they want to reflect a culture that is trapped in an endless cycle of poverty, violence and hopelessness.
Some who are “depressed” about growing up in a two-parent, middle-class family dress in black “Goth” styles, also wearing black and white makeup and black lipstick in the most garish fashion. Others fill their lives with endless parties, including parties after the parties, all the while pouring a virtual pharmacy of drugs—often on top of alcohol—into their systems. Seeing no hope or purpose in their lives, large and growing numbers live to “get high,” refusing to face the sober realities of life. Needless to say, the large majority of singles are left completely unprepared to choose lifelong mates or to understand what such relationships mean if they found one.
But let's continue. A visit to virtually any independent music store reveals another subculture of the modern world: A generation of youth full of pride and vanity, yet “pure in their own eyes” (Prov. 30:12). With hairstyles resembling everything from spikes to “lions' manes,” to unkempt, unwashed and undesirable, today's teens and twenty-somethings collect the latest “underground record.” Such lyrics set to noise could be rock, rap, punk or hip-hop, but to a young person, it does not matter—as long as his peers approve. So many idolize whatever is the most popular band to unleash crashing wails labeled as “music”—but more accurately described as howling shrieks emitted by people who must be in some kind of severe pain.
Also observe any music-award television show. Notice how so many in the audience wear tight-fitting, virtually painted-on outfits that are flashy and attention-getting. They reveal parts of the body that were meant to be concealed, and often make those wearing them look like aliens from outer space! Yet, almost an entire generation has come to consider such garish dress and outlandish behavior to be normal—even chic and fashionable.
Next, notice the way people walk, especially in the inner cities. They swagger as if to say, “Don't mess with me.” Full of haughtiness, arrogance and a kind of bravado, they are often covered in tattoos, body piercings and outrageous hairstyles. Worse, however, is that endless television commercials explicitly promote this culture by a daily bombardment of an entire generation of young people who are watching—and copying what they see. The almost endless—and outrageously crude—sexually suggestive beer commercials alone tell you this.
Then listen to how people speak. Even those with master's degrees curse and use slang words as though they have little more than a third-grade education. It is as though some have chosen to “dumb down” themselves to be accepted by people whose opinions never used to count. Others love to copy those who cannot form complete sentences without cursing or using God's name in vain.
Take a look at mainstream entertainment and media. So much of this is little more than what has been described as “what's hot, what's new, what's next”—the latest hit movie or sitcom. Today, entertainment means “how far can we go?” in pushing (or blurring) even past human boundaries of decency and good taste. Never mind what God thinks, or what His standards are. Most want more extramarital sex, more violence, more blurring of the lines between good and evil, less morality, less common sense, less decency, and the promotion of situational ethics instead of having to choose between right and wrong.
Desperate to show how sophisticated their tastes are, many embrace the world of independent films—a subculture of absolute sickness and depravity passing itself off as intellectually fashionable.
The music, dance, dress, language, books, plays, conduct and other trends that are underground and cutting edge today invariably become mainstream tomorrow. This drives the underground scene to be even more extreme, knowing that today's extreme is tomorrow's mainstream!
Across college campuses, and in high school and middle school hallways, the air is charged with sexual tension, mixed with peer pressure and bad judgment. Using a “band-aid” approach, adults turn a blind eye to the misadventures of the next generation, which is sexually active, jaded and always ready to move on to the next perversion, generally translated as the latest “trend.” Sadly, many are in awe of homosexuality and lesbianism, thinking these to be “cool,” and as something to experiment with. More and more early-teenage girls are adopting the trend of having a casual lesbian relationship with a school friend on the side, while simultaneously—and actively—remaining heterosexual.
So many have gone from periodically visiting the sewer to living in a cesspool—and the cycle of perversion will continue and grow worse, until this world mirrors the times of Noah and of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:26-30).
This is the world you live in—and it is trying to instill in you every wrong principle of dating and courtship. But Satan's world is not the only roadblock to a happy marriage.
Human Nature—Whose Nature?
Recall Satan's influence. Before the invention of radio, his power—as arch broadcaster and prince of the power of the air—could not be as easily understood. Now you can comprehend!
We can now better understand the “children of disobedience.” Like Christians, these people are also inspired and guided by a spirit—but that of the god of this world. Satan broadcasts a spirit of disobedience—through attitudes—into humanity. Ephesians 2:2 is plain. But a deceived world knows nothing of this understanding!
If you listen to radio, you usually select a station that plays what you desire to hear. Of course, today, people more often “surf” television stations. Eventually, something interests them, and they stop at a station of their choosing. In every case, stations are selected by choice. People have control over what they hear or watch.
It is not the same with Satan's “radio station.” No one decides to tune into the devil's broadcast. And no one ever sets out to be deceived! But every human being on earth is automatically tuned to Satan's wavelength! His wickedness, hostility, rebellion, deceit and selfishness are continuously “on the air.” Though you cannot see it, anymore than you can see radio waves or television signals, the air around you is literally charged and “crackles” with the power and energy of Satan's broadcast.
Therefore, it is really Satan's nature that is being labeled as human nature. In fact, once injected into people, the devil's nature becomes natural to them. It becomes their nature—now human nature!
It is critical to realize how this spirit works in people. It is the single greatest key to understanding exactly how Satan can deceive and manipulate almost six and one-half billion people.
Although we now understand that human nature comes from Satan, we must also understand that it is not inherited—but rather acquired! A parent who loses an eye, hand or leg does not produce children having only one eye, one hand or one leg. When God used one of Adam's ribs to create Eve, it did not mean that all men ever after would lack one rib. Also, the Bible refers to their son Abel as “righteous Abel.” Their disobedience did not prevent his obedience.
Adam and Eve were adult “babies.” Just like babies born today, they were pure at the time of their creation (“birth”) but were quickly exposed to a “broadcast” they were not able to resist. They were created on the sixth day of the week (Friday), rested on the Sabbath (Saturday), and were seduced by Satan (Gen. 3:1-6) probably the next day (Sunday)—at the age of two days old! Thus, Satan was waiting for “baby” Adam and “baby” Eve. No two-day-old child can discern right from wrong. Like so many young people, Adam and Eve just thought they were grown-up enough to make their own decisions.
Think of it this way. Again, like most children today, Adam and Eve chose not to listen to their Parent, God. Instead, they believed Satan's lie that they would not “surely die.” Once again, in so doing, they rejected the rule of the government of God in their lives. If Adam had obeyed God's instruction, he would have qualified to replace Satan and restore the government of God on earth.
Notice this New Testament evidence of how human nature is acquired, not inherited: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted…” (II Cor. 11:2-3).
Paul was writing to people who lived 4,000 years after Adam and Eve. He recognized that the devil was still alive and active. The Corinthians were adults capable of being deceived (“beguiled”) in the same way as Eve, and Paul warned them to be on guard that they not return to following the ways of human nature. Just as Eve's nature was not evil and hostile to God (see Romans 8:7) before she was deceived, neither was the nature of the Corinthians after they were converted.
Once called and converted, having received the Spirit of God, one has put off the old human nature of his past life. Paul also added in Ephesians 2:3, “Among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” These statements follow, and are actually part of, the passage identifying Satan as the “prince of the power of the air.”
Think for a moment. It would be grossly unfair of God to inject newborn babies with human nature and place them under His “wrath.” Do you see this point? Human nature is acquired—and this puts people under the wrath of God!
The following is the same scripture from the Phillips translation of the New Testament (1962 edition). It better describes how all people have acquired human nature from Satan—and the influence driving all modern social practices. The parenthetical portion is part of this translation: “You drifted along on the stream of this world's ideas of living, and obeyed its unseen ruler [Satan] (who is still operating in those who do not respond to the truth of God)…We all lived like that in the past, and followed the impulses and imaginations of our evil nature…like everyone else.”
How true! Most people simply drift along in life following whatever impulses and ideas (“imaginations”) strike them from moment to moment. All of Ephesians 1 is Paul's accounting to those brethren of their calling into God's way of life. Take time to read it, possibly using the Moffatt translation of the Bible. The Ephesians had come out of the course of this world and were no longer “by nature” the children of wrath and were no longer yielding to the “prince of the power of the air.” They had begun to “dis-acquire” human nature by yielding to God instead of the impulses, pulls and temptations of Satan's wavelength.
With the understanding of Satan the devil, society and self, one must realize the great danger we all face. Step back and recognize the pulls that have affected you throughout your life.
Realize that you live in a world completely devoid of the right way and therefore unable to produce happy, successful marriages. Realize that you have absorbed many ideals—and perspectives—of the world around you. These have conditioned you to assume the characteristics and values—the nature—of society. But, like the Corinthians, you can also dis-acquire the world's values.
Combining Satan and society with human nature creates a dangerous, explosive situation, especially in regard to dating. For those with eyes to see, the world has proven that it does not know the correct way—God's Way.
Are you now willing to examine the world's wrong form of dating from God's perspective?
Chapter Three –
LUST AND INFATUATION—THE WRONG FOUNDATION
Satan has counterfeited virtually all aspects of God's Way. Think for a moment. Everyone understands the crime of forgery. A forger's goal is to create a counterfeit that is indistinguishable from the original. For example, if one is going to make twenty-dollar bills, it would make no sense to produce forgeries that will not be accepted.
Consider. If you want to counterfeit Christianity, you would not offer Buddhism. You offer something that looks, feels and seems to be exactly like Christianity.
The Bible describes three forms of real—true—love. To confuse and trap the unsuspecting, the devil has produced counterfeits to these, which, among other things, form a faulty foundation for dating today.
Let's now closely examine one of the biggest counterfeits produced by the greatest “forger” of all time.
Various definitions and misconceptions about love abound. Some feel that it is devotion, others feel that it is sexual passion, and still others feel that it is affection. Then there are those who feel that it is adoration, or respect, or caring, or admiration or even warm feelings. Still others see it in poetic terms—or as a mystery that cannot be explained.
So then, what is love?
By looking at so many bad marriage results—separation, divorce, and the endless cycle of cohabitation for those who at one point thought they were “in love”—it is evident that the world simply does not understand true love. The problem is that so many initially felt that a relationship was right, when it was not. So many thought that they were in love, only to find out that their feelings were little more than “easy come, easy go.”
Society often bases its values on the opinions of the least-qualified voices—those of the entertainment industry. One such “voice,” Madonna, a famous pop icon, said, “The most important thing is to have love…that happens with a marriage, without a marriage, with a single parent, whatever.” What does this statement really say—other than give license for people to define love any way they wish?
Then there are those who want to hear what the “experts” say. Here is one example:
“What is love? Is it the same as lust? Tough question. There are many different kinds of love—romantic, parental, platonic. Mostly, love is feeling emotionally attached to another person. You want to be close to that person. You want to share things with her, understand her and have her understand you. You want to care for her and have her care for you. Romantic love usually comes with a strong physical or sexual attraction. You want to hold, touch and sometimes become sexual with that person.
“Lust is physical attraction. Lust can sometimes turn into love. Often, when two people are first getting together, they have a really strong physical connection. When two people fall in love, lust may fade over time but it is replaced with a deeper, more intimate emotional connection.
“When you're falling in love, it's often tough to tell the difference between the two. Usually, time tells.”
This definition certainly sounds nice. Everyone wants to be close, to share, to understand and to care for each other. All of this appeals to the listener or reader because many of these are good qualities. But the “experts” remain terribly confused about the exact definition of true love. As a result, they offer opinions that are a mix of right and wrong.
We see these explanations of “love” throughout society. For example, look at the scenarios in so-called “romantic comedies.” Many feel warm and happy when seeing typical “romance” between couples. No matter how skewed the Hollywood picture may be, it makes people dream of true love when the leading man tells the leading lady that he wants to be “close to her, understand her and care for her.”
This idea of love is a classic mixture of good and evil. Remember, Adam and Eve chose the knowledge of good and evil. The kind of good described in this way of life, however, is primarily selfish. People generally do good things because they expect something in return. In short, they give to get.
God's way of life is different—it is selfless!
Recognize that Satan's goal is to make his counterfeit seem right—feel right—seem and feel natural. However, close scrutiny will expose the counterfeit—the common misconceptions—and lead you to understand true love.
Many speak of finding “true love.” Though opinions abound as to what it is, virtually all people would say that they are seeking this. Sadly, many spend entire lifetimes looking for true love but never finding it. You have probably heard the question, “Is it love or infatuation?” The fact is that most do not understand the difference. Why? Society is missing the vital dimension of knowledge that would make it clear to them.
Do you understand what true love is? Or, are you willing to accept the fact that the world and your own nature have conditioned you to only think you do? Remember that what seems right can lead to disaster (Prov. 14:12; 16:25)!
The difference between true love and infatuation requires honest examination.
Let's begin with the definition of infatuation. It comes from the French word “fatuus,” meaning fool—or foolishness! Webster's Dictionary defines it as: “To make foolish; to affect with folly; to weaken the intellectual power of; or to deprive of sound judgment.”
Therefore, in one sense, people who have become infatuated might be considered fools! However, few would admit that the choices they make are foolish, and fewer still would ever consider themselves to be fools.
Why? Because they ignore the signs of infatuation. Actually, they do not even see them, because they are caught up in the feelings of infatuation, which usually begins with a “crush” or “puppy love.” Tragically, parents often promote this, thinking childhood boyfriends and girlfriends are cute, and encourage pairing off, starting with young children. This is dangerous thinking, often ingrained into children beginning as early as kindergarten!
Infatuation can involve very powerful attraction. Never underestimate it. While it stirs up the emotions and feelings that make couples think they are in love, infatuation is nothing more than a starry-eyed experience—a romantic daydream. But, at this point in a relationship, it is nearly impossible to convince anyone of this. Reason and logic seem to magically disappear as people feel they are going through a wonderful, even divine, experience that will last forever.
All of this understanding is of no use if one cannot recognize the beginnings of infatuation. How then can you know if you are becoming infatuated?
The biggest symptom of infatuation is an almost complete reliance on emotions—to the exclusion of almost everything else about a person—allowing these emotions to first lead, and then dictate, your actions. In the earliest stages of a relationship, ask yourself the following questions:
What is your major attraction to the person? If infatuated, your main interest will almost certainly be physical appearance. On the other hand, if you truly love the person, you will—among many other things—be interested in his or her total personality, and this will come to include the person's character.
How did the attraction start? While infatuation almost invariably happens quickly, love always develops more slowly. “Love at first sight” does not exist, and should more properly be called “lust (or infatuation) at first sight.” Anything of worth takes time. But, when it comes to one's own life, most fail to see—let alone apply—this simple truth.
How consistent is your interest? Infatuation is like a rollercoaster ride—rising and falling, often on trivial events, fluctuating between high peaks of certainty and deep valleys of doubt. With love, one's interest becomes deeper and more consistent with time. Infatuation involves feelings, comparable to hot and extreme, while love involves character, reflecting balance and temperance.
How do you see the other person? The infatuated live in a one-person world. Their attraction is like the earth's attraction to the sun—their whole universe revolves around the other person. Seemingly nothing else matters, and both are completely wrapped in each other's orbit—and this almost invariably turns to being wrapped around each other's bodies.
During this stage of infatuation, many become blind, rendered almost completely unable to see anything wrong with the other person. While danger signals might be everywhere, the infatuated person does not recognize them—any of them. He tends to see what he wants to see rather than what he needs to see. (Consider this: Studies reveal that no more than two percent of people counseling for marriage will even consider that they may be incompatible. Even fewer heed counsel urging them to actually break it off.)
Now ask: How do others see you? If you are infatuated, your parents and most of your friends will most likely not approve of your relationship. Their objectivity can allow them to see a range of potential difficulties, when the infatuated person often cannot see even the most obvious problems.
The Role of Emotions
Let's repeat for emphasis: Emotion is the bedrock of infatuation. Do not misunderstand—emotions can be good, even wonderful, and certainly perfectly normal in the right circumstances. However, the emotionally immature are incapable of controlling emotions and, as a result, quickly become infatuated.
Obviously, physical maturity takes time—from birth to adolescence to adulthood. Also—and most generally recognize this—coming to mental maturity is a process, similarly involving much time. Yet, few realize the importance of emotional maturity.
Most think that “love” is an emotion that takes over a person. This is one reason why the counterfeit feels and looks so much like true love. This kind of “love” never lasts, because it is built on an improper foundation! This is not to say that an emotionally mature person suppresses emotions, but rather that he properly exercises them. As with anything of value, emotional maturity takes time and effort to acquire.
Let's look realistically at what happens with such emotional “love.” Too often, it begins with a high that dominates and controls a person. Remember, however real they seem, these feelings will not last! If couples base their marriage on these emotions, the relationship will quickly crack under stress.
Many never come to recognize that marriage is much more mental than emotional. As one well-known author has stated, people too often “think” with their hormones and sex organs instead of sound logic! Marriage (and dating) is a mental decision, something that should be objectively thought through over a period of time. But there is also a spiritual dimension to those who seek God's guidance in finding a suitable lifelong mate.
The real proof of emotional maturity is not whether one “falls in love” (becomes infatuated). The true test of maturity is how you handle situations, circumstances and relationships—what you choose to do about them!
Falling in Love?
Most are familiar with the many clichés surrounding the idea of “falling in love.” Endless songs carry lyrics such as “just can't help falling in love” or “I get a feeling I just can't control…falling in love with you, baby.” Many movies depict couples falling in love at first sight, and novels and magazines are filled with this scenario. Even our everyday conversations often include such terms!
This is seen everywhere, and everyone, to a certain degree, accepts it as natural. But the truth is that one cannot “fall” into love! Real love is not something that happens by chance. It develops over time, based on the all-important foundation that the Creator has given us.
People do not fall in love, but rather they fall in lust!
Falling in Lust!
Remember that human nature is naturally hostile toward God (recall Romans 8:7). This is because the arch-broadcaster is filled with vanity, jealousy, lust, envy and greed, and he instills these feelings within each human being. His way can be defined simply as the “get” way of life, and lust is a foundational building block of this way. Lust has purely selfish motives, and is concerned only with fulfilling its own desires and wants.
The advice offered by social programs, such as Planned Parenthood, which places little emphasis on abstinence or self-control, but rather only on being careful when one is sexually active, only serves to fuel this selfish desire. Teens wondering when to have sex have already been told by society (probably many times) to “always do what's good for you—do what will help you enjoy your life—and fulfill your plans for the future.” This translates into “Think only about yourself.”
Here is what Christ inspired John to write: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16). John divides all that is in the world into the following three categories: Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life! Pause and think for a moment. The three phrases in this passage, describing the world at large, sum up how so many people typically date, court and, consequently, get married!
One of the most powerful forces behind dating today is little more than the basic sex drive. While God did instill the sexual desire in human beings for a pure and holy purpose, the world, held captive by Satan's influence, has turned this into lust. Sizing people up for sex has now become a common practice. For decades, “girl watching” and “boy watching” have been national pastimes. Millions routinely lust after men and women to whom they are not married.
Today, God's most basic commands are routinely broken. Notice: “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). Throughout society, people are confronted—even bombarded—with the temptation to lust.
Almighty God created sex. In the right setting, it is one of the most wonderful physical experiences that a man and a woman can share. Yet, Satan has twisted this God-designed pleasure, reducing it to a sinful act, practiced almost universally between virtual strangers. He has used sex to preoccupy young minds so that, in time, it destroys character and ruins any potential for a happy, wholesome, lifelong relationship between a husband and wife.
It is easy to understand what John meant by “lust of the eyes.” Today, people would think of this in terms of what is considered “hot” or “sexy.” Many discard their virginity after a night of “clubbing” (hopping from one singles' bar to another) merely because someone seemed “sexy.”
Lust is deeply entrenched within human nature! Paul wrote, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would” (Gal. 5:16-17). This describes the Christian's everyday battle.
Understand! Those who seek to please God are not to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Yet, millions do this exact thing when dating, and do it almost non-stop. So few use even the most basic common sense—which tragically seems to be not very common anymore—but rather follow their hormones into wrong relationships!
A Simple Greek Lesson— Pornos
In today's world, lust is the fuel for sex, and vice-versa, and the right use of sex in a happy marriage has become so perverted that virtually an entire generation no longer knows even the rudiments of right and wrong. Many simply do not understand that pre-marital sex is harmful—and is SIN—ruining otherwise potentially healthy relationships. Anything and everything goes as teens today practice sexual immorality on a grand scale!
Paul describes more thoroughly what people lust after: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like” (Gal. 5:19-21).
Many seem to understand how terribly destructive adultery is to marriages. But what about fornication—a term rarely used anymore, and even more rarely understood? If you challenged someone with “You are committing fornication,” he or she would lampoon and ridicule you as “old-fashioned”—and that you need to “get real and grow up to the higher level of freedom that society has achieved today.”
What then is fornication? In the simplest terms, it is sexual relations outside marriage. Looking up the New Testament Greek word for “fornication” reveals an interesting point. This word is pornos—and the English word “pornography” is derived from it.
At least on the surface, society generally seems to admit that pornography is lewd and vile, and ruins lives. (Yet, ever-growing millions secretly view it.) But fornication is even more destructive! Incredibly, many now believe that it is good for a relationship, even helpful in learning whether a couple is “sexually compatible” before committing to marriage.
This is never the case! God designed sex to be within marriage. When sex occurs outside marriage, it destroys relationships—and ultimately the individuals involved!
Forms of Dating
There are numerous wrong forms of dating today. In addition, the vast majority of people seeking marriage partners lack quality social organizations and places from which to draw potential partners, as well as recognized social institutions that can correctly teach them how to date. Many freely admit that the following popular, trendy forms of dating are not the right solutions—that they do not really work. Yet, singles and teens are left with no choice but to accept what is offered for those “looking for love.” Here are a few methods of choice:
Clubs: Perhaps one of the most common settings for young people today is meeting people through so-called “dance clubs.” This involves trying to find potential dates—or more often, one-night sex partners—in an atmosphere of loud, pulsating music mixed with drugs and alcohol.
The atmosphere in these establishments causes participants to lose all semblance of self-control. Typically, young women are scantily clad, and it is common and considered perfectly normal for men to grope and fondle their bodies at any time while “dancing.”
The dancing occurring in these settings is little less than an orgy set to music!
Further, the noise is so loud that audible conversations are practically impossible. Could anyone in such an environment, filled with alcohol and focused on the thrill of the moment, possibly employ sound reason and logic to make right dating choices? The clear answer is no! Rather, they are focused only on fulfilling sexual urges and desires!
The entire picture revolves around selfish lust and hoped-for instant gratification!
Astrology: Others “consult the stars” about dating. Lacking true knowledge, they seek their “romance forecast.” To do this, they go online to find out if they are truly compatible by taking five-minute quizzes that are supposed to solve all their dating confusion!
Online dating: This exploding trend involves a simple Internet search to select one or more of the many—seemingly endless—dating services that all claim to be able to “help find love.” Those looking for “a date, sex or a relationship” have “found the right place!” These sites profess to “bring passion and excitement to your life.”
The following statistics show that fast-growing numbers are caught up in this kind of dating: The “Personals/Dating” category surpassed both “Business/Investments” and “Entertainment/Lifestyles” on the Internet, and is one of the largest paid-content categories available. Revenue quadrupled from $72 million in 2001 to $302 million in 2002—just one year. Some websites see 10,000 registrants a day!
Advocates of this type of dating have gone so far as to say that online dating could actually fix what is wrong with marriages today. Astonishing!
This trend has turned dating into a “science” in which the person fills out a questionnaire often including hundreds of different questions. After a close analysis, couples are matched.
As a direct consequence, however, sex crimes have also dramatically increased. In Japan alone, sex crimes due to online dating nearly doubled between 2001 and 2002.
Needless to say, newspapers are filled with accounts reflecting the danger of meeting strangers through the anonymity of a computer or the classified ads, a similar type of dating.
Speed dating: Another recent trend is the practice of “speed dating.” This is billed as being able to “put an end to your lonely nights” because, apparently, it is seen as a more efficient way to increase your chances of finding “love.”
Simply described, it involves a group of people who sign up for the “speed event.” All gather and spend five minutes with each person in a continuing rotation. At the end of the evening, they choose whom they would like to date.
Only five minutes is the basis for their decision! Physical appearance obviously turns into the main consideration—and many are now beginning entire relationships like this. The rat race that continues all around us has even taken over dating, with singles now able to be “efficient,” rather than “wasting time” on getting to know one another through a gradual process.
A November 2003 USA Today cover story described the enormous shift in the way young adults date and select mates. Introduced with the statement “Courtship is out as today's cupids shift to 'speed' dates, online connections and action plans,” the article described in detail the trends we are discussing. Notice:
“When it comes to finding that special someone, [name] waxes analytic: In 16 months, [he] sped through 2,500 three-minute HurryDates, at about $1.45 a date, not to mention 100 'real dates' that lasted at least the length of a cup of coffee…
“[This man's] method, though perhaps systematic to the extreme, illustrates what experts are calling the most significant shift in American dating culture since the mid-1960s. Back then, there existed something called courtship, in which couples came together with the help of college mixers, church socials and meddling parents, and were often engaged before their 21st birthdays.
“These days, twenty- and thirty-something singles who spent their post-college years focused on their careers instead of their love lives don't have such matchmaking resources. Nor do they have the time to look for a mate the old-fashioned way—or wait for one to stumble into their lives.
“So they're shunning the serendipitous, sweaty-palmed aspects of courtship and embracing efficiency in the form of 'speed' dating, on-line dating and 15-step dating action plans.
“Speed-dating events take singles through a series of three- to 10-minute mini-dates, often at bars. At the end of the night, suitors designate whom they'd like to see again, and if there's a match, the wooing begins…
“Online personals have all but shed their stigma, evolving from a last resort to, as one Internet dater put it, a first line of defense.”
Obviously, dating in the 21st century has radically changed from just a few years ago—and the concept of courtship has become all but extinct.
Space does not permit the listing of all the wrong forms of dating that have resulted in what we see today. But realize that you have much to unlearn! Most of what you have learned and been conditioned to believe about dating is not correct! It is founded on wrong feelings of lust and selfishness! Accept that as fact!—and realize that looking to the all-powerful Creator for the correct way is the only path to long-term happiness!