His name was Doug Reifsteck and I was in grade school, but I was ‘in love’. I never really talked with him except for your normal grade school interactions, but in my heart I just knew we were meant to be.
The topic of healthy male/female relationships is kind of a no-man’s-land in the church. We are told that dating is bad on the one hand and then we are told that a good marriage is the foundation for healthy family, community, ministry, and well, pretty much everything. But what is supposed to happen in between “I kissed dating good-bye” and “the DNA of relationships”?! That’s where the no-man’s-land is. It’s kind of a grey area.
I find young people will talk to just about anyone about their future careers. Ask the grocery teller where she is going to school and she’ll start spouting off about her hopes and dreams. This happens with people we know and even people we don’t. But it’s almost an unspoken rule that we dare not talk about dating relationships. Leaders or friends feel uncomfortable sticking their nose in, and people feel like it’s not really anyone else’s business. How sad.
This is one of the most important decisions of life. In fact, who you marry is the second most important decision of your life. Deciding to love and live for God is, of course, the most important decision, but what you are going to do for a profession or ministry pales in comparison to who you partner with for life. You can always change your career goals or even your ministry or location, but your spouse is a really big deal.
I think that because leaders have become so distant from young people going through this phase of their lives, they don’t really know how to navigate. Bringing up the topic of the opposite gender is almost painful in some families and many churches just jump on the youth group no-dating bandwagon and hang on for the ride. While this may actually be an okay tactic in high school, it can also come back to bite you in later years when single people don’t know how to deal with this very important area of their life. Avoidance is not the answer.
If we don’t help people understand and properly vent their sexuality we can unwittingly become part of the problem. They turn to fantasy to feed their natural desires. Fake fulfillment comes in two ways – physical and emotional. Fake physical love is called pornography and we hear a fair amount about that, but what about false emotional connection. People can do this like I did with good ol’ Dougy, and connect in their minds in ways that are not real at all. They think about what life would be like if they were together. They plan things they will do, they connect emotionally in their minds and even their souls, but it’s a disconnect with reality. You can do it with a celebrity, a book or movie character, or even an image you make up in your own mind of what things will be like with a real person you actually know. In any event, false intimacy is the devil’s distraction from properly venting a real need for opposite gender attraction.
God has a good plan for people in the area of their sexuality. In fact, He thought the whole guy/gal thing up in the first place! Don’t settle for less and don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Churches, Parents, Leaders – help your young people choose wisely and be aware of their God given desires.
Young people- talk to your leaders, find people who are wise and will walk you through this tunnel, don’t settle for fake love, it will only hurt you in the end.
Real love is very possible and in fact is God’s plan! Here’s what it looks like for me 🙂