I'm a singles pastor. 18-35 Year Old Singles, to be exact. I shepherd singles who have been inundated with images and stereotypes throughout their entire lives. Movies, music, books, and the A-list in Hollywood have all shaped and infultrated their minds and life practices. No area, however, is this more clear than in the area of what is a man? What is a woman? and how do the two relate to one another? In short, it's called biblical masculinity and femininity.
Remember, I'm a singles pastor.
Singles ministries are viewed as the bane of existence in most churches. Once individuals go to college, the "find a date and get a mate" market is on. Though statistically, many Americans are prolonging marriage; the church views people who aren't married soon after college as fringe and outcast, as if something is socially wrong with them. Sadly, many churches altogether segregate themselves from this large demographic saying that they'll get them back once their young marrieds and have little kids. As a singles pastor, I refuse to be a match-maker, event planner, or cruise director conducting our ministry as a congregational e-harmony instead of the mandate that I have in Scripture to proclaim Christ, admonishing and teaching every man so that they may be complete.
I'm a singles pastor. So there isn't a week that goes by where I am not confronted with my thoughts and views concerning modern dating. As a shepherd, my utmost responsibility is to clarify the Gospel. Every single day I have the conversations where I must clarify what the Gospel is and what it isn't. As individuals awaken to the reality that they have been duped by an impotent Gospel, they begin to realize that the Gospel must be the plumbline for every area of their lives, including their sexuality and how they relate with the opposite sex. Yet, often when they awaken to this reality, the very first thing that comes in to distract them from their new found identity in Jesus is... well, it can be represented in the following questions:
"What is your stance on dating?" | "What are your thoughts on courtship?"
You know that those are loaded questions when they're asked. You know that no matter what opinion you hold, this person that asks this question has an agenda. You know, too, that this person probably hasn't studied Scripture on the topic of marriage, identity of men, and identity of women in detail. So, you know that it probably isn't going to end well. You know, too, that this person probably has never had someone speak truth into their lives, shepherding them in biblical community. Even more apparent, you realize that this person is probably not going to be upfront with you about what is really going on in their lives in this regard... you proceed, however; giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Over the next couple of weeks, I want to share some material and some study that I've been going through with this topic. The materials are from men and pastors that are much more experienced in both the Word and in counseling than I am. My own personal study, however, will serve to supplement and shape the message to the context of the singles that I serve.
As we say around theGATHERING, if the Gospel has transformed us, then we must devote ourselves and realign ourselves on what the Word of God says on every area of our lives. We must allow the Word of God to determine the pattern and system of our lives, rather than what we've always done, what is popular opinion, and what feels good in the moment.
I'm going to start with the guys first, since they are the ones that the Lord looks to as the initiator in this whole thing (translation: guy, the responsibility falls on you).
Guys, if you want the perspective of four godly men, then listen to this from Dr. Michael Lawrence, Matt Schmucker, Dr. Mark Dever, and Scott Croft from Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C.
Three lasting phrases for you to mull around in your mind and talk through with your boys:
1. Not even a hint
2. Above reproach
3. Avoid the appearance of evil
4. How do these scriptures apply to dating?
Guys, what are your thoughts?