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Word to the Wise
"If pleasing God is your only foundation, if that’s your fuel, then every dating decision you make will be healthy."
- Tim Baker
Going Out without Freaking Out
About the Author
Tim Baker has been involved in youth ministry for fifteen years. He is an “out of the box” thinker who lives in Longview, Texas, with his wife, Jacqui, and their two children.

Going Out Without Freaking Out: Dating Made Doable

By Tim Baker No one should eat rattlesnake. Cow tongue? Out of the question.

I was once eating lunch with a room full of people from church. We were all having a great time, eating and hanging out. Near the end of the meal, one of the men offered to share some exotic meats that he’d brought.

I don’t like to try new meats, and things like “exotic meats” freak me out. So when this guy brought out a few plastic containers, I got nervous. When he opened a container and passed around pieces of cooked rattlesnake, I started to sweat. When the rattlesnake container came to me and people started to eat it, my body convulsed in one of those pre-vomit, uncontrollable, puke-like muscle spasms. Just as I passed the rattlesnake (and the laughter over my convulsing grew), the guy said, “Hey, Tim. I’ve got cow tongue casserole in this other one. Check this out.” It was nasty. It was nastier when I noticed that the tongue still had the taste buds on it.

If you like rattlesnake or cow tongue, don’t be offended. It’s just that those foods seem a bit extreme and kind of weird. Why do people chase after strange food? In a world with hamburgers, pizza, french fries, and steak, why do people choose to eat rattlesnake and cow tongue?

Eating strange foods is something like dating the wrong way. We have access to the best foundation and the best advice for dating we could dream of: the God who created us and who knows us best. He ought to be the source, the fuel, and the foundation for our dating. But even though we have this awesome foundation, we often rely on other things. If you’re completely consumed with having sex, for instance, that becomes your foundation and fuels every dating decision you make. If you want to date only popular people, that foundation filters into every dating decision.

You know what’s really strange? We’ll pick anything other than God, and rely on that thing as our foundation. When we do, we make huge mistakes, the relationship explodes, and we get hurt. But we have something much better to rely upon. We don’t have to settle.

If pleasing God is your only foundation, if that’s your fuel, then every dating decision you make will be healthy. You’ll not only make better decisions, you’ll have better dating experiences. Those experiences will be different for each of us, but the most important aspect of dating ought to be the same for all of us—and that’s our relationship with God.

We have a second important foundation, as well. Your dating life actually begins long before you begin dating. Before you go out on your first date—possibly before you begin even to notice the opposite sex—you’re gaining valuable insight into relationships from your parents.

So you have two important foundations for dating—God and your parents.

The God Foundation

If you don’t know God—or if your relationship with him is weak—then your dating life won’t be as smooth as it could be. God wants to be the foundation for everything you do, including dating. He wants you to rely upon him, in fact, for every dating decision. But how do you make God the foundation of your dating? Here are a few ideas.

You and God
First, you’ve got to have a good relationship with God. Without that relationship, not only will your dating life be a wreck, your whole life will be a wreck. Yeah, you could get a lot of dates, you might meet a great person, you might get married and have a good life. But your life won’t be everything it could be without a solid relationship with God.

The God Invasion
Having a strong relationship with God, though, isn’t enough. Your relationship with God should invade every aspect of every relationship. But God is polite when it comes to invading our lives. We have to seek him out and ask him to guide and direct every step we take in every aspect of our lives. That includes our dating lives and our relationships with the opposite sex.

Listen to God
Just knowing God and inviting him into your every decision still isn’t enough. You’ve also got to listen to him. Not listening to God is like calling someone your best friend, but never talking to them, and never listening to them. God doesn’t just want to know you, and he doesn’t want you just to keep him in the loop when it comes to your life. He wants to interact with you. He wants to talk with you about everything, including your dating life. How does God speak to us? Primarily through his Word. Want to know what God thinks about your dating life? Read his words to you. Are you spending time listening to God? You’ll never know what he wants for you if you’re not listening.

The Parent Foundation

Your parents aren’t so much the other foundation as they are the foundation upon the foundation. Your parents are the people God often uses to help you know his rules and to plan your life.

Your parents might sometimes do some weird things, but they love you. And your parents are really God’s hands in your life. The rules they make and the way they guide you are the ways that they act for God for your benefit. Your parents are God’s caretakers of your life. Here are some of the reasons your parents are important for your dating life.

The Gatekeepers
You have to obey your parents and the rules they’ve set for your dating life and for the relationships you have with the opposite sex. That means if your parents say that you can’t date until you’re sixteen, that’s the rule. If they say you can’t stay out later than 9:00 p.m. with someone of the opposite sex, that’s the rule. You can look at these rules in a negative way, get depressed, and feel like you can’t live your life. Or you could look at your parents as what they are—God’s hands in your life, directing and guiding you.

They Have a History
Whether they fell in love at twelve or met each other later in life, your parents have a dating history. And their dating experiences can help you. Ask them how they’ve failed at dating. Listen to their successes. Learn everything you can from their experiences. Their history can really help you.

They Love You
Your parents love you. They don’t want to do or say anything that would hurt you. They’d never give you advice that would cause you harm. You can rely on their advice, not just because they’re probably right, but because they wouldn’t steer you wrong. Even if you’re away at college or you don’t live with your parents, their advice can help you. They can still serve as guides for your dating life.

The Combination of God and Your Parents
Your strong walk with God and your healthy relationship with your parents combine to create a solid foundation for your dating life. God uses your parents to guide you a lot more than you might think. Without these two working together you don’t have a reliable foundation. This combined foundation of God and your parents infiltrates every area of your dating life.

There’s no other foundation you can build upon for successful dating. Yet we try to build our relationships with the opposite sex on other foundations. We think that just being in a relationship completes our lives, or that having sex with someone is the right way to date. In the end, those foundations are useless and they don’t work, and we usually discover that they’re useless only after we’ve experienced a lot of pain.

God’s design for dating is so simple. If you rely upon the foundation of God and your parents, you’ll be successful.

If Your Foundation Is Broken

You live in the real world, though. Maybe your life doesn’t rest securely upon the “God and Your Parents” foundation. You may, in fact, not fit the mold—a fantastic relationship with God, living in a stable home with your biological mom and dad.

No. Very likely your foundation has been broken. Maybe your relationship with God isn’t strong. If that’s true, I’d suggest talking with your youth pastor about how you can strengthen your walk with God. Until you’ve got a solid walk with God your dating relationships won’t be as great as they could be.

Your life may be affected by divorce, or you see that your parents don’t have a healthy relationship, that they’re not ideal models to ask for dating advice or for healthy rules for dating. If that’s so, I suggest a couple of things.

First, even though your parents are divorced, they still love you and want the best for you. They’re still your best place for support, advice, rules, and guidelines for dating. Your parents are still a great foundation for you to rely upon. If they’re divorced they probably have some excellent advice about the problems to avoid in relationships. You still need to listen to them, and you still need to obey their rules for dating and relationships.

Second, you might find a couple whose relationship is still intact, and who you can ask for advice about dating. It’s not that your parents aren’t worth observing, it’s just that it helps to have a healthy, connected family as an example for what a relationship could be. Seek out your youth pastor, senior pastor, or another person in your church and observe that person’s relationship with his or her spouse. Observing a healthy relationship helps us in our dating relationships.

Building on the Foundation

With God and your parents as your foundation for dating, you won’t mess up your life. Yeah, you’ll make mistakes. Yeah, your heart will be broken. You’ll fall in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. But you’ll be experiencing all that while relying upon the most solid foundation you could ever have.

The foundation of God and your parents is only the start of a good dating life. There are loads of things that are important to understand and learn more about. These include things such as knowing more about yourself, understanding the opposite sex, knowing more about what respect is, not freaking out about the first date. The chapters that follow discuss eleven dating topics that you’ll use to build upon your God foundation. The topics are presented in the order that’s best for tackling them. First, knowing and understanding yourself helps you relate better to the opposite sex. Then, knowing more about and understanding the opposite sex helps when you date them.

Connecting with Yourself
• Evaluate how strong your relationship with God is. Do you feel it’s strong enough? How could your relationship with God be stronger?

Connecting with Your Friends
• Ask your friends to pray with you as you all begin your dating adventure.

Connecting with Your Parents
• Ask your parents what they learned about dating from their parents. What did they learn from observing their parents? How did their relationship with God affect their dating life?

Connecting with God
• Ask God to help you rely upon him for your dating life. As you journey through this book, make it a point to pray through the topics of each chapter, asking God to help you rely upon him more as you date.

Excerpted from: Going Out without Freaking Out by Tim Baker. Copyright © 2004. Published by Kregel Publications. Used by permission.

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