Crave, the college-age ministry at Saddleback Church, just finished a series on sex, dating, and relationships. Last week we closed the series with a panel and answered Cravers' questions...and I was on the panel. I was nervous, but heard that my answers were helpful and was encouraged to post them. Below are the questions I got from Cravers, and my answers. I'd love your thoughts!
“If you are too shy a person to go up to a guy you think is cute, what can you do to approach this guy? What about being scared about getting hurt?”
Since I know the person who wrote this is a girl, I totally understand where you’re coming from. In fact, I think everyone’s been in your shoes. But I would like to say that one of my biggest desires is to feel pursued, and when you think about it, God wants to be pursued by us…it’s a natural desire and I think he’s given that to all girls…that innate desire to be chased. So, listen up, guys…we want someone who will stand out in the rain for us, who will kick down doors for us, who will hold that boombox above his head and look like a fool for us, who will fight dragons for us (metaphorically speaking, of course). We want to be chased. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” Guys, while it’s not all in your control, you need to be proactive in finding her. And ladies, that doesn’t mean that we just sit around and wait to be found and don’t talk to guys. You can definitely show interest without taking that role away from him and without having to be a wallflower. Just start with casual chatting…get to know guys in groups instead of dating right off the bat. I feel like a date just has everything going for it to make a super awkward situation, especially if you’re shy or don’t have much dating experience. Hanging out in groups is low-pressure, you can be yourself, and you can build a foundation of friendship first. And about getting hurt….it’s just a fact of life that there is always risk involved with dating, and one of the things we’ve talked a lot about in the XX/XY series is guarding your heart: Proverbs 4:23 says your heart is the wellspring of life. Don’t give it to someone who’s just willing to take it. It’s precious! And even if you’re making good choices, you might get hurt. But that’s the risk you need to be willing to take when you’re dating…but you can definitely minimize that risk, and that’s what we’ve been learning in this series.
“By giving my sex life and the area of relationships to God, does that mean I have to go to the extreme of breaking up with my boyfriend? If you are in a dating relationship and sexual sin is occurring, does the responsibility fall on the male or female? What actions need to be taken?”
I think that if you want to give your sex life and the area of relationships to God, but you’re in a relationship where your boyfriend or girlfriend is not willing to do that, then you need to break up. That is not God’s best for you. God wants to give you so much more than that…someone who will do their very best to protect your purity. And that sexual sin in the relationship is revealing that both individuals need to spend more time single, developing their character and connecting with God. BUT if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend are BOTH committed to striving for a relationship that honors God and remains pure, then your relationship might be able to survive. Surrendering that to God doesn’t necessarily mean breaking up. It means setting new boundaries and making sure you’re not putting yourself in situations where you know you’re going to fall into temptation. My friend in college used to call me and say, “Oh my gosh, this guy is coming over tonight and I’m cooking dinner and then we’re going to watch a movie on the couch! I’m so excited!” And then the next day she’d call me and say, “You’ll NEVER guess what happened last night!!” Are you serious? Of course I can guess! She set herself up! Don’t do that to yourself. The other part of the question asks where the responsibility falls…it falls on both the male and female equally. The bottom line is that if you are in a relationship where the other person is NOT committed to sacrificing to establish safe boundaries in that relationship, then you are putting yourself in a compromising situation and breaking up is probably necessary. Purity isn’t going to be something that just happens…it has to be something you’re super intentional with and serious about, and you need to date someone who is just as passionate, if not more passionate, about purity than you are.
“If a guy is really pursuing me and is very persistent with it and I am just not interested in being anything more than friends, how do I tell him that without things being awkward afterwards, and possibly losing him as a friend?”
I’m going to be honest…this is a tough question, because when you don’t feel the same way about someone, it’s rare that things won’t be awkward afterwards, even if both of you want to try to be friends. I think the best thing to do is be up front about it and be honest with him. It’s important not to string him along, give him false hope, and make him think that you like him and just let him keep pursuing you. Don’t waste his time or his heart on you if you know for sure that you’re not interested. Yes, he might be hurt or embarrassed, but you’re doing him a favor by telling him up front instead of playing with his emotions for months. But AFTER you do tell him that and you want to try to keep being friends, you’ll want to call or text or invite him places to ‘be nice,’ but in reality you might need some time apart, so he can heal. Otherwise you’re saying one thing (that you’re not interested), but he’s still thinking that you like him, when in reality you’re only acting super nice to overcompensate for the awkwardness and to ‘prove’ that you guys can still be friends. Basically, be honest and tell him how you feel, and then take a step back and let him heal. After a little while, try to be friends and hang out in groups. And guys, the same message applies to you. It’s your job to protect the hearts of women. You may be thinking that your interactions are platonic, but think about the messages that you’re sending her and how she might interpret them.