Theresa Rowe leads you through a series of Stability Ball exercises designed to increase your energy, strength, flexibility and endurance. Each exercise has a prayerfully chosen scripture to help strengthen our spiritual foundation.
I think the perfect date is having just a really good conversation over coffee. Probably a fall festival. You have a lot of activities. There’s a lot of things you can do, but you’re still talking and it’s not like going to a movie, anything that is outdoors and reveals character and allows for good conversation and laughter. Going to a concert and singing along with the music together. Just sounds perfect, driving in a car, listening to good music and then watching the stars. Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast, helping families thrive. Well, whether you’re married or not, you probably have some idea of what a perfect date would be. And maybe you’ve had a few of those or you’re looking forward to some perfect dates in the near future. Well, welcome to today’s episode of Focus on the family. We’ll be exploring the world of dating today and we’ll examine some of the current challenges and offer some hope. Your host is focused president and author Jim Daly. And I’m john fuller, john I have such great memories of when Gene and I began dating and I’m sure many of the parents listening right now can say the same thing. That excitement about getting to know someone you’re attracted to and those Early feelings of love and now we find ourselves watching it happen all over again with our young adults Trent and troy. You know, so it’s exciting. It’s an exciting time and you know, I get it. Not everybody is going to get married, but a majority of people probably will. I’ve also got some data here that I just saw the other day for ages 25-50 in 1970. Only 9% of that group was not married, 25-50. And then today it’s 35% are not married. And that represents about 39 million people. So there’s a, you know, there’s something going on where people aren’t desiring at the same rate to get married as uh as they once did. But today we’re gonna explore that. How to cultivate a healthy dating relationship, how to move toward marriage. Which is a good thing. Yeah. And this is this can be a troubling conversation and topic for parents who have raised their kids as christians. We have expectations. We have standards were thinking you can do better than the culture is offering. But it’s a difficult conversation to have. We don’t want to raise marriage up as an idol. And you know, when I was young I thought maybe I would go through life single. I was mentioned that commitment to the Lord. Then I met jean Lord. I’m sorry. I don’t think I could do that. And that’s the way it should be. And I’m looking forward to our conversation. And we recognize not all single adults are gonna be married, but the majority likely will at some point I wanted to do what you did with Gene. We have two great guests to really unpack this topic, lisa. Anderson is back with us. She’s our colleague here at focus and heads up focus on the family’s boundless effort which includes a podcast and broadcast and website and more for single adults to help them grow in their relationships and their relationship with God as well. We also have Jonathan Jpp Clodagh. We’ll call you J. P. I guess along the way here. He’s worked in young adult ministry for years. He’s the pastor of Harris Creek baptist church in Waco texas and has a book that we’ll be covering today. It’s called outdated Find love that lasts when dating has changed lisa and JP welcome. Hey, thank you guys for having me here. Yeah, it’s always fun. There’s so much energy in those single adults. I love it. There’s all kinds of energy, right? Absolutely. It’s fun to be back with you as well. Alright, let’s get into it in your book jp with and your work frankly with young adults. What are some of your observations about the dating culture? I’ve been married 35 years. How long it has changed substantial age and it’s hard, you know, with my boys 21 and 19. It can be hard for me to tell me again what’s happening. I mean it’s like, Wow, it’s not the same thing. Yeah. Let me just say this. If you’re listening and you’re single and you desire marriage. If you are in a relationship or if you are the parents of someone that you desire marriage for or they’re dating. Maybe you like their significant other. Maybe you don’t, I hope you’ll listen in and find something helpful here because it has changed our my Children. There’s a really good chance they’re going to meet their spouse through an app. Technology now plays a role in this. Whether we like it or not, it’s here to stay, it’s not going anywhere and we become more segmented. And so people are looking to the church wanting the church to help them find a spouse and everybody’s kind of throwing their hands out. You know, people are getting married later, they’re getting married less and marriages aren’t lasting. And so that’s really why this book outdated was born. Uh, so that we could, you know, give people a roadmap some help create a biblical worldview on this topic that shows up nowhere in the bible. So nowhere in the scriptures, genesis to revelation, will you find the word dating? Because it didn’t exist, dating is only about 100 and 20 years old. And most people don’t realize that that as we, as we do this thing that is completely commonplace now, uh, that it is, it’s a new idea. And I’m not trying to kiss it, goodbye if you will, but I am trying to say, hey, let’s work in some biblical ideas to help us here. Well, I know that’s serious what you just said. But Boy in my experience meeting Jean, I’m Glad I was born in the time. Was that 120 years. I mean, that’s amazing because it was really fulfilling for us and I think we did a good job. I mean, gene and I, you know, we contained all those appetites and all those things and really I felt like honored the lord through it. And you know, it was a good thing, lisa, let me give you a swing at what I asked JP in terms of what you hear back from boundless readers and listeners about, you know, their thoughts on marriage, the dating culture. What do you hear? Yeah, I I really think there is a lot of frustration gym because it’s, you know, if you talk to our parents, our grandparents, it was this idea of like, there was just a natural progression of dating. Like you think of the average church, you went to youth group, then you went to the college group. And then the next thing was like the young marrieds group, so you just got married and your peers did too. And it was just kind of the thing you did, but now it’s kind of like some people go to college, some people don’t, then you can be in a small group and it might be for people who are believers and ride Harleys or you know, whatever. They’re just so many things that are like segmented and it’s no longer Assumpta tiv as this is what I do because I’m now 23 clearly I’m just gonna be dating, looking for someone getting married and for those that want to get married, they do get frustrated because finding someone who wants the same thing and is pursuing it in the same way is like the holy grail, you know, one of the things as a parent now of kids in that dating age range and this is probably a more toward the younger adult. As I say this, you know, we have our experience as parents, right? That’s what we did. And I can just hear that conversation with the 21 year old who’s not found that dating relationship yet or not, found that someone buoyed by 20 you know, by 21 I already met your dad and you know, this is already happening, what’s your problem? And I think we, as parents have to be careful not to project our experience of, you know, 2030 years ago on to our kids because it is different and you know, in many ways it’s unfair. Yeah, even as you pray for your Children. And so at an early age, you’re praying and I pray, I pray for their spouse, but what if they don’t get married? And I think we forget that the scripture calls singleness of Gift paul says that in first Corinthians chapter seven and he’s actually plagiarizing the words of jesus in Matthew 19 where he says there are some who are celibate for the sake of the kingdom, not everyone can accept this, but those who can should, by the way, paul, single, jesus also single and and we have this idea from that comes from, you know, I think jerry Maguire back in the day this you complete me, which really sends a signal to singles that you’re not whole, that you’re you’re just a half a person. And uh you know, jesus, certainly the most complete human being that has ever lived as God. Uh you know, he wasn’t incomplete, he wasn’t a half a person. And so we’re not trying to find our soulmate or star crossed lover or all of these ideas that actually come into our culture from greek mythology and we don’t realize that. And so absolutely, I know lisa and I’ve talked a lot about that before, let me let me move to some of the data that’s a little concerning or I should say very concerning uh, some statistics and surveys are showing that within the christian community, so I’m not talking about the world, but the christian community Um research shows that 47% of young evangelicals are saying they would live together before marriage, kind of try it out 47%. And I guess the right question is why are christians compromising in this way and falling for it. I think the other data point is about half of those that live together end up not getting married, that’s right and that’s that’s double trouble. It’s I think well there’s lots of statistics out there. One that I looked at was even much more than half And the success rate of cohabitation, one that I’ll share is about 2%. And so that’s crazy or and you can find statistics that venture off that a little bit. But think about if 100 people live together, a significant portion of them are not going to get married. And then another significant portion of them that are a significant portion of those that get married end in divorce. And so this whole try before you buy is not working and it’s like there’s a God and he has these uh you know ideals and these desires for us and and they actually work out for our good. And so I think as we begin to apply those, well we’ll find life not as a promise. Certainly hardships can happen in this fallen world, but as we pursue the things that he desires for us. He’s the one that invented marriage. You know, he he invented relationships. He made them male and female. He he knows how this works better than anyone else. And so as we as we looked at him, I think then we we find the path. But yeah, the cohabitation, it’s a real issue and I think it’s just the the way that we think we’re there’s a, there’s a spirit of selfishness in the air and I don’t want to commit. Why commit If I can just have a roommate and I can have the friends with benefits and I can get the, you know, quote unquote benefits of marriage without the commitment. But it doesn’t go well. So true. Well and I think that’s where you know, for women gym, it’s very easy for women to choose to settle on this front because for them, the assumption is if I choose to live with this guy, it’s gonna drive him towards commitment. And what happens is exactly the opposite. They think that if they just bide their time, wait it out, build more connection with this guy that he’s gonna stay. But then what we find is, you know, all of a sudden they’re sharing a rent or maybe in some cases sharing a mortgage, then they’re sharing a dog and then eventually they might share a kid or two and at that point they might be in a really bad toxic relationship. But it’s so hard to extricate themselves from that that they just stay in it and just wait it out and end up in a really bad situation sometimes for years because they just realized, well, I paid my dues. I put my time in. I guess I’m just gonna leave it. The status quo, Your cohabitation will keep you in the wrong relationship too long and it will keep you from the right relationship. You see that more and more this is focused on the family with jim daly. I’m john fuller and our guest today, R. J P pac luda and lisa Anderson and we’re so glad to have them. We’ve got JP’s book as the foundation for our conversation today. It’s called outdated, find love that lasts when dating has changed And get in touch to get your copy. Our phone number is 800 the letter a in the word family and the link is on your screen JP the challenges that many single adults face with dating today are part of your journey. I mean this is your testimony and I’m sure it’s you know that old adage that your passion is born out of your pain. You speak from that experience when you say don’t make the same mistakes that I made, explain how you viewed dating before you were christian. What age did you become a christian? It was an adventure. It was this, it was the manic. So dating for me and I’ll go back to something you said earlier where you talk about you and your wife dating and really being a benefit to you. But we almost have to define that word now because it means so many different things to different people for a lot of people when they hear dating, they think, oh, it’s this emotional experience and that’s what it was for Monica and I or even before I met Monica, the manic highs and manic lows going on the adventure kind of like the bachelor, the bachelorette, if you will, let’s go experience all the things together. And I called myself a christian. I was raised in the church, but really I wasn’t making any decision that was rooted in christ or God’s word. And then I was at a club 20 years ago and someone invited me to church, I sat in the back row hungover. I smelled like smoke from the night before and ended up giving my life to jesus. And I really had to realize that I wasn’t a christian to become one. And when that happened, everything changed. I sat Monica, my, my girlfriend at the time we sat down and I just said, what do you believe about God? And we had thought about faith up until now, but she said, I believe that jesus died for my sins and raised from the dead. I said, I believe that too. Let’s build on that. And oh by the way, I think we need to stop the physical stuff. It seems like that’s not God’s desire. And so we pulled the parking brake on that, that was really challenging. As you can imagine. So then I was like, we should probably get married. And so shortly thereafter we got married, but I will say, I’ve never met, I’ve done a lot of marriage counseling, a lot of pre marriage counseling. I’ve never met someone with marriage problems. I they’ve always been single people problems that they’ve brought into marriage. And then and the marriage just throws a giant magnifying glass on it. And that was my story. So there was you know pornography, I was I was a a sex addict of of certainly addicted to pornography. And so I needed to go through a season of healing before I brought someone into my problems and challenges. And so now as I look back, I think you know, there is a way to date like you said like you experienced jim that’s really God honoring that is is a method that I think a lot of times he blesses you with a healthy marriage, not an easy marriage but a healthy marriage. And so that is your right. I mean my passion is born out of that pain and let me, you know, I had difficulties in high school and early college. But you know the Lord really spoke to my heart about the right way to go. And I remember after Gene and his first date, I shook her hand because I just said to myself, I’m not going any further. I mean, the irony of ironies is that with that is one of the things that caught jeans attention and makes a great guys not coming after. And it was very sincere. I didn’t do it for any other motivation. I just knew if I if I do anything else, it’s going to take us down the wrong path and you know that the thing about that men, even if you’re 1920 21 you gotta be a man at that point and and demonstrate what this is going to grow into. And don’t fall into the trap. It’s hard, Yeah, it’s difficult. We’ve been there, but you’ve got to find a way to make your commitment to christ first and then the relationship second, and that’s just the way it is lisa there can be a lot of confusion about dating because men and women have different goals, maybe expectations. I think today we’re being told that maybe they’re not so different, women are wanting physical intimacy as much as men. I mean, that’s what’s being said, right? Um explain why it’s important for single adults to be more intentional in their dating. I think it’s very easy to get caught up in just the clutter of what you assume relationships are what you want them to be. So you have many options of, you know, we we see people quote unquote, hanging out, we see people hooking up, we see people dating intentionally or what I would call Biblical dating of really moving along a progression, a trajectory of of what would be a great way to get to know someone, but no one has really, you know, I jokingly say to boundless listeners, it would be awesome if we could open up the bible and look for 1st and 2nd dating and just get all of our instructions out there, but the fact is that doesn’t exist. And so as a result, we have to script some principles of what it means to honor someone as a brother or sister in christ and until you are married to this person, that is all they are. And so they’re obviously like, as you start dating or expressing interest in someone, you’re gonna do that. Hopefully be, you know, very explicit about that, like, I’m interested in you. But the fact is now, with all the muddiness in our culture, we’re actually having to give that kind of instruction to young adults of like, this is what it looks like to actually ask someone out. This is what it looks like to not just get caught up in what I call a friend relationship of using this person for connection for affection, for attention. And so we really have to be a lot more and and you know, young adults are here for it. I mean, they’re kind of like, please help me navigate this space, help me figure this out because I don’t know what I’m doing and my, you know, my parents are either like telling me not to get in a relationship or they’re pushing me towards a relationship and so they just want some clarity. Let me, let me ask you this, the kind of, the group gathering and I think Trent and troy at least my observation, I’m sure I don’t know everything, but the observation that I have is that they did lean into kind of the guys and the girls kind of going out together in like a pack of about 8 to 10 and that felt comfortable as parents to Gene and I again, I don’t know that all the behavior was, you know, perfect. But what about that concept for particularly teenagers in a christian home, The parents saying, you know, that’s a, that’s an area that seems right for 16, 17 where you go out with a bunch of friends and you’re learning to be comfortable around the opposite sex. I mean that’s that’s what they’re learning, right? And I would say this here that I think dating the way the world does, it is really the enemy of marriage. And so if we, if we reframe it as hanging out with other followers of jesus, other christians and you start to observe people and you think, you know what, there’s something special about that you, you begin to kind of feel your heart moving towards them and but you but you and you know about them because you’ve hung out for a season, hey, they really are following jesus. So now let’s redefine dating as in a way that I think is God honoring, it’s a path to a promise. It’s a path to a promise. So when I enter into a committed relationship with them, meaning we’re not dating other people really, all I’m trying to do is identify? Are they who I think they are? Or would they make a good husband, would they make a good wife, would they make a good father? Would they be a good mother? Do they have these character qualities there? And I’m just trying to identify that honestly as quickly and effectively as I can assuming that I’m at an age where I’m ready for marriage prior to that like lisa said it’s it’s brothers and sister relationships, we’re hanging out, we’re having fun, you know guarding your heart which I know sounds archaic because it is a couple of 1000 years old. Still very effective. Very good formula. Where did we get this idea that we should just all be dating any age, any stage. I mean all it’s gonna do is set you up for a lot of heartache and or you know a downward spiral or getting caught into a vortex of sexual activity or whatever. I mean I’m like you know I have friends of mine you know with 13 year olds that they’re like oh go get a boyfriend, meet a boyfriend at school and I’m like what are we talking about? I mean and you know I really believe that dating is for the purpose of finding a marriage partner and you do that intentionally. You do it well you do it in community and you’re gonna have a lot better chance of finding that person successfully? Let me ask you J. P. You have an across stick that I actually sent to my son today because I thought it’s so good. This idea of cross and what each element C. R. O. S. S. Means in the dating relationship. Yeah. I think just as you consider who you’re looking for and and that list and I’m not against list just make sure that your list aligns with God’s list for you. Like you’re looking for what he would have. You look at, you want to find someone who is controlled uh self control is a fruit of the spirit. You want to find someone who is responsible as they’re moving to the adult season of life. It’s hard and there are bills and there are challenges that come with just being an adult. So you want to find someone who is responsible. Someone who’s who is obedient uh they are submissive to authority. They are under the control of the holy spirit. They they know God’s word, they live according to what it says they’re serving. If someone does not enjoy serving they’re going to hate marriage. And then I would just say someone who is steady. Uh it’s not the manic highs and manic lows that the world would tell you dating is that Monica and I experienced. It really is. There’s a steadiness in a lot of ways and the and this is not a popular opinion but in a lot of ways you want a boring marriage. And what I mean by a boring marriage is it wouldn’t make a good reality show, it’s not the stuff getting thrown against the wall and were yelling expletives at each other and you know and then we’re crying and then we’re making up its steady so controlled, responsible, obedient serving steady. That’s the across stick of cross. It’s really good. I think that’s great. J. P. We’re right at the end here, I want to close with your perspective about the fairy tale ending that many singles dream about that. If they only get there it’s all gonna be bliss and really you’re just strapping in for the next level of what God’s going to teach you your greatest disappointments come from expectations. And I would say the most, most concentrated form of expectations are the highest platform from from which we fall is entitlement. And so I think when you go into the world you feel entitled to marriage and you and you feel entitled to a fun marriage. That’s easy. I’m telling you it doesn’t exist. It’s not out there, you can have a lot of fun but it requires a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice. And so what we hear Disney telling us is this idea of happily ever after and the problem with that is is it’s actually we don’t know, we don’t know what’s in store. We don’t know if it’s infertility. We don’t know what it’s gonna be like to to bury a parent. The the challenges and the weightiness of life really what we did in marriages, we found a partner to help us carry some of that and at times that partner is going to be a part of what we carry is going to be uh they’re going to be a part of the challenges in this life. And so what the scripture tells us is is no one is married in heaven except for everyone is married in heaven, we’re married to jesus, we are the bride of christ his church. And so marriages this metaphor, it’s not just a metaphor, but it is first a metaphor. So in Ephesians five paul is saying husbands, wives, jesus church, husbands wives jesus church husbands, wives, jesus church to show us something that marriage showcases the savior when we lay our lives down for one another, when the husband’s lay their lives down for wives and wives submit to that kind of leadership. And I know that seems like an old fashioned idea, but it starts out that that that pastor starts out, husband and wife submit to one another out of reverence for christ when we live like that the world is saying man, there is something different about them. I want to get to know their God and and that’s the true happily ever after. That we can live in eternity with God because of what he’s done for us through his son, jesus christ, I’m like bursting out of my seat right here, You couldn’t say it any better. Jp I mean that is right on and that’s what we fight for each and every day lisa you get a shot at really hitting on what are you trying to accomplish? Yeah, I mean well I just wanted to say one thing to that gym and that is yeah, if as a single person, if marriage is the ultimate prize then paul and jesus and I have the lamest lives ever. I mean we have we’re not done, we’re not. I mean what what is there? And so that’s where I say, you know, we will all stand before the Lord as single individuals, you know ready to enter heaven and what’s that gonna look like. And so for me I’m encouraged that, you know, single people that get married, they’re gonna trade one set of joys and sorrows for another set of joys and sorrows. So it’s not like there’s 1st and 2nd class citizens or that whole deal. So I’m just excited that it boundless, we have the opportunity to be a community for folks who are hopeful for marriage, some who maybe want to remain single but ultimately are walking out their faith in a way hopefully in community and in a way where they are pursuing christ and wanting to honor him now and whether or not they get married and we just have the opportunity to root for them and provide them advice and resources along the way. That’s great. John will give details how to connect a boundless in a moment. But lisa J. P. Thank you so much for being with us. Thank you so much for having me on. It’s really, really good and I hope you’ll get a copy of JP’s book outdated, find love that last when dating has changed. I’m going to snag a couple of copies for my boys and make sure that they have it. And I want to recommend that you get a copy. And if you can make a gift to focus on the family, be a part of the ministry, um we’ll send you a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you for being a partner and man, I think this is one of the most important things important jobs we have as parents is to help our kids navigate. Our young adult kids navigate this area. I’m so glad we had this conversation. And as jim said, get a copy of this book when you get in touch donate as you can. Our number is 800 the letter A and the word family 802 326459 or the link is on your screen and at our website we’re gonna link over to the bottomless Show podcast and the website and please do a favor and let any single adults in your sphere know about this. Terrific outreach on behalf of Jim daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today. For focus on the family. I’m john fuller, inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in christ.