1 Thess. 4:3-6Don't defraud; sexuality
1 Cor. 16:14Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Cor. 13:4-7Against jealousy as a basis for a relationship
Gal. 3:28Neither male nor femaleÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Should argue against distinctions in the church.
1 Cor. 12:21"I have no need of you" to argue against separation.
IntroBy popular demand, we're going to be talking for a few weeks about male/female relationships. Dating doesn't really describe what we're talking aboutÿ.ÿ.ÿ. As I see it, there is a great divide, as with all human relationships. But the more different we are, the greater the divide. The chasm between men and women was something that God predicted in the Bible. Back when Adam and Eve decided they wanted to go their own way apart from God. God came and visited them with some troublesome words.
Genesis 3:16There's a background here. The first humans were under God's protective care. They decided to throw off the yoke of God's authority. And so God says there's gonna be some troubles coming your way if you don't want me around. One of those troubles is going to be pain in childbirth. He also tells Adam that he's going to be at war with a hostile environment?that things aren't going to come easy. But the part of this I want to focus on is the last phrase, "You will desireÿ.ÿ.ÿ." What he's saying is that you will have a desire for closeness, but instead he will rule over you. Is that ominous or what? This is exactly what we see played out in the pages of history. In a world where each person is for himself, then it's a question of who can dominate who. And how can I protect myself from others? What a contrast between this an just a few verses earlier, where this couple is portrayedÿ.ÿ.ÿ. (2:25) Here's the picture of vulnerability, openness, nothing to fear. Instead it's turned into suspicion, fear, who can rule over who, self-protection.
There is an ideal (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:21)There is an ideal in the NT, where God wants to set things right. All the divisions between people, he wants to do away with them. As it says in Gal. 3:28ÿ.ÿ.ÿ. And beyond that, in the church, God wants us to get to the point where we see our need for everyone. In the church, God wants us to view each other as if we were members of a body?as if I were a hand, you were an armÿ.ÿ.ÿ. And in that light, Paul says in 1ÿCor. 12ÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Here is the ideal, that there be no distinctions between us, that we all recognize how much we need each other. Gospel?
The truth isÿ.ÿ.ÿ.But what is the reality? Even in the church, there is still suspicion. There is still great confusion and a lot of distance. What I want to talk about tonight is moving towards that ideal with people of the opposite sex. Show continuum from friendships to marriage. What I want to talk about is the value of establishing friendships and dating relatioships with the opposite sex that will draw us close together. And we're also going to talk about some common things that happen that harden us and actually drive a wedge between ourselves and members of the opposite sex.
Do everything out of love (1 Cor. 16:14)The first premise we'll opperate from here is that love should rule. For the Christian, love is not something you reserve for a special time, or a special place, or even a special someone. Love is a way of life. It's something supernatural that only God can bring about in our lives. This is really a necessary foundation we have to lay here because nothing makes sense without God's view of love.
1 John 3:16Let's start with a concise picture of love from 1 Johnÿ.ÿ.ÿ. John says it's that simple. And it really is: Jesus Christ died for people who hated him (Romans 5:10). Jesus Christ didn't have to give his life for us. His self-image didn't depend on it. His insecurity didn't drive him to it. He chose to do it because it would be the best thing for us (John 10:18). Jesus Christ didn't feel very good about dying for us. I bring this up because it flies in the face of our picture of love?that love is this powerful feeling. Jesus had a powerful feeling when he gave his life for us allright, and it was a bad feeling. Yet, it was the epitome of love. Jesus Christ didn't want to die for us. Here's one that might surprise you. Jesus on the one hand, chose to come and give his life for us. He volunteered. But when he got up to the edge, his will melted within him. We may be talking about a feeling here. But what Jesus said that night before he gave his life is, "God, if it is your will, take this away from me! Yet, not my will, but your will be done!" He got to the point where in order to love us, he had to do what he didn't want to do! Let's just try to imagine this: Imagine people who love you even when you hate them, who love you not because they need you and are insecure without you, but because you are you, who love you when they don't feel like it, who love you even when they don't want to! Wouldn't that be great! Imagine how this would deal with our fears and insecurities! Imagine what great relationships we could have! Now, I want you to take this whole picture and just erase it. Because you will not find this. Nor should you look for it. You can't find a place in the Bible where it tells us, "This is what you need! You need someone to love you like this!" What you will find is 1ÿJohnÿ3:16, "You go out and love others like this."
What would it be like?Let's consider what friendships and dating would be like with the opposite sex if you?not the other person, just you?were loving like this.
InitiatingFirst of all, when you initiate with someone of the opposite sex, you would actually be interested in them. I want to find out about this person. I want to serve this person. In contrast, how do things get started between men and women normally? Can I get someone interested in me? And as you walk up to talk to someone, "What does he think about me? Am I impressing her? Am I going to be rejected? Am I going to be hurt?" Someone may say, "I hear what you're saying Buck, but I just can't get over my self-centeredness here. It's just too hard for me to initiate in a selfless way." You can say that to yourself. But don't try to persuade me of that. I've seen God at work too much. I've seen God set me free to talk to people of the opposite sex, people of the same sex who intimidate me, stand up hereÿ.ÿ.ÿ. Don't try to persaude me of that. God can change anyone. It's not like I don't struggle with self-centeredness. It's not like I don't struggle with my fears. We all do. But with prayer, and taking risks in faith that God will help us, we can overcome our self-centered approach to others that causes so much fear. One other thing about this, if we're approaching things from the biblically loving standpoing, it makes relationships between men and women so much more natural. If God can turn you into the type of person who gets out of himselfÿ.ÿ.ÿ. (By the way, I've seen people claim they have victory in this area, but it's only with the opposite sexÿ.ÿ.ÿ.) What will happen is you will have friendships with people of the opposite sex. And it's in that context that you can see potentials for going deeper. People hear that and say, "OK. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to pursue a friendship with her." What's happened? Someone has thought they are going to use this notion of "selfless love" as a technique to get what they want?a romantic relationship! What I'm saying is that we need to pray that God will help us practice his love in the area of initiating with others. And we need to take risks. And we need to do it with lots of people.
FriendshipOK, now you're initiating with people in a way that you're trying to get your eyes off of yourself. Now what? Now you have to be a friend to someone. Here's the way it is with the opposite sex: There is a level you can go to where all the sudden there is an emotional bond. This isn't the kind of thing I can prove to you in the Bible. Except in Gen.ÿ2, the author comments that the goal of marriage is that the two become one. Apparently God has made males and females to be complimentary somehow, somehow magnetic or attracting to one another. At some point between two people of the opposite sex, that attraction begins to set in. Sometimes it doesn't! Which is amazing. I don't know if you've ever had a relationship with someone of the opposite sex where the emotional bond doesn't ever set in, even though you spend quite a bit of time together. I find that fascinating when it happens. (But it's tricky. Because I've been in relationships where I thought it wasn't happeningÿ.ÿ.ÿ. and then it happens! Overnight!) What do you do in a friendship? This is where so many people get lost. "Let's try and heat up these emotions I feel!" "Let's kiss!" So many people don't understand how to apply love to a friendship! They only know, "I want this feeling to be stronger!" What do you do in your friendships with the opposite sex? You do what John said. You try to figure out how to lay down your life for them. You try to figure out how to serve that person. You try to figure out how you can benefit that person. You try to figure out how God can use you in that person's life. Let me give you some examples of things you might begin to do if you practiced godly love in your friendships:
DiscoverYou can't very well serve someone if you don't understand them. So you begin to learn about them. What makes them tick? What is their background? What are their strengthsÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
Be openSelfish love is self-protective. Selfish people play a lot of games and you have to fight through a lot of facades. Real love practices openness and honesty. You're not as worried about "How's someone going to hurt me?" as you are about being real with that person.
ServeYou need to begin to discover where this person needs to grow. What kind of issues is she struggling with? How can I pray for her? You can find these things out by questions, observation, prayerÿ.ÿ.ÿ. And when you set about to serve someone, you sit down with them and say, "I've been thinking about youÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
Apply these lessons elsewhereNext week we're going to talk about going further in a male-female relationship to where there's an emotional bond. Call it datingÿ.ÿ.ÿ. But I want leave you with this thought. If you pursue these things and see some success, then practice them elsewhereÿ.ÿ.ÿ.
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