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Dating and Christianity

Dating could be one of the most difficult topics to talk about among Christians. Different churches have different beliefs when it comes to this. It gets even harder when it comes to teenagers or those that date because they like each other and want to take it one step at a time into marriage, hopefully. Some religions (allow me to use religion instead of churches, I know that is another hot topic, making church a religion) have drawn a strict way of dating, and who one must date, to the extent that whether it is love or not, the steps are plain and to be followed.
To start, we might want to clear the following questions. What is dating? What are some of the reasons for dating? Whom should we date? What should we do on a date? How far may we go in our touching and kissing? Where do we draw the line? How do we know where to draw the line?
The perspective I’m going to use in this article for finding the answers to these questions will be, unashamedly, the Bible. This will spare you from having to hear my opinion and about my experiences. And it will spare you from having a standard set for you by a mere human, a standard which might change tomorrow. We want an objective standard. We need an objective standard. That objective standard is the Bible. The only rule for faith and life is the Word of God for believers. And this is a rule which applies not only to Sundays, but also to Friday and Saturday nights! It is my goal in this article to present only what God says in His Word.
You may be sure that I will forthrightly declare to you what is sin, and what is therefore forbidden, just as the Bible does. I must call a spade a spade. If God says that it is wrong, I may not fudge, or soften what He says. If I would try to compromise some of the standards we find in the Bible, then I would be untrue to the Bible, and unloving to you. The most loving thing that I can do for you is to make clear what the Bible says you may, should, and must do and what it forbids you to do.
Dating is really of recent origin. It is a development of the past few hundred years in Western culture. That is why the Bible says nothing specifically about dating. But this should not keep us from using the Bible when discussing dating, for the principles which must govern our dating are found in the Bible.
I would define dating as the middle stage in the process of finding a suitable mate. Dating comes between being friends and getting engaged. Young people often send out conflicting signals about the seriousness of their dating. To their parents they often insist that dating is just “for fun.” With their closest of friends, on the other hand, they are more likely to treat dating as pretty serious business. Generally these conflicting signals reflect some of the confusion which they experience within themselves as they deal with and try to understand their own emotions. (And sometimes they may even purposely send out the signal which is most likely to confuse their parents.)
Because marriage is the goal of dating, you may not date just anyone. You may not date a person who may not be a lifelong mate. Why would you want to go out with an unbeliever? Why go with someone whom you know you should and could never marry? On the other hand, you may date anyone who is one with you “in the Lord” (I Cor. 7:39).
How ought we to date?
Let me say first that it is wrong to date in order to satisfy one’s ego, or to fulfil one’s sexual desires. It may be big stuff for a guy to land a date with the school’s most popular girl, but dating is not a game to play in jockeying for position on the social ladder. For a serious-minded Christian, there must be higher motivation in deciding whom to ask. Girls, on the other hand, may be more likely to romanticize dating. Looking for a Romeo to sweep her off her feet, she can begin to idealize dating, hoping to be able to enjoy the kind of totally unrealistic love affairs portrayed in romance novels and movies.
Both perspectives are wrong. Both are opposed to the spiritual perspective of dating, which is objective and God-centred. When dating is selfish or idealistic, then God’s Word is placed under feelings. But God’s Word must govern our feelings and emotions. Sex and dating are not to be separated from Christ’s dominion in our life. They are, in reality, part of His dominion, and we must consciously place them under His dominion. This is not to say that being spiritual means there must be no romance. Song of Solomon 1:2, 10, 11, 15 and Genesis 29:20 show that there is. But romance may not rule or dominate (Gen. 29:31, 35); romantic love does not make any thing legitimate.
Sex
The subject of sexual purity is extremely important. It is not a matter of mere curiosity. It is of eternal importance, because the sexually immoral do not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9, 10; Eph. 5:5-7)! FACT! We must have a biblical view of dating, of sex, and of marriage, and we must have a biblical view of purity. Human sexuality is a most wonderful part of God’s creation of man. Consider the fact that Adam and Eve’s original holiness is described as unashamed nakedness (Gen. 2:25). This clearly implies that sexual desires, as part of God’s creation, are not to be considered sinful, bad, or dirty. Human sexuality has been created by God. He created it a powerful and mysterious force (Song of Sol. 8:6, 7).
God comes with His law against the sinful use of this aspect of His creation. He forbids adultery in the seventh commandment. He condemns all sexual relations outside of marriage (Lev. 20:10; I Cor. 6:9). And that prohibition is as relevant today as it was 3,000 years ago. The seventh commandment is not outdated. God does not change. Whereas man’s fall into sin spoiled the sexual desires God had created, God redeemed those desires from shame. God redeemed them for wonderful use within the union of those who marry “in the Lord” (I Cor. 7:39). Sex is beautiful, but only in marriage
Some motivations for not having sex before marriage are wrong. They can be just as wrong as having sex before marriage. One such wrong motivation is fear: fear of being found out, fear of pregnancy, fear of a disease and fear of the opinions of others.
One proper motivation for doing God’s will is love of our neighbour. The neighbour we are to love as we can be our neighbour’s daughter. Also, your neighbour can be one who will be your wife. And your neighbour is your parents or your future wife’s parents, both of whom would be hurt terribly when your sin is discovered.
But the main motivation is the love of God.

Culture and Christianity

Culture is a way of life, the way people view their world, their perceptions, values and beliefs. In Zimbabwe we cannot pinpoint a way of life among Zimbabweans as a whole. Every family have got their way of doing things and most have adopted the western way of doing things. However, l still feel they is something l should say about culture and the way it’s affecting Christians, it worries me sometimes when you see fellow Christians being two faced. Although a lot of Zimbos adopted Christianity as their way of life most tend to make Christianity a ritual something which is just a part of their life or if l may say something which can be done occasionally and that is going to church on Sundays that’s it.

It is funny how you see people all dressed up for church on Sundays but their way of life is in contrast with Christianity. I have observed that a lot of people around me are still influenced by their cultural backgrounds as much as they would not want to admit it. It is not wrong to know and follow your root when you are a Christian, what is wrong is to follow what you know is in contrast with the bible. As a Christian one has to observe and analyze culture and make decisions regarding our proper actions and reactions within it. A struggle is in progress and the stakes are high. Harry Blamires writes: “No thoughtful Christian can contemplate and analyze the tensions all about us in both public and private life without sensing the eternal momentousness of the current struggle for the human mind between Christian teaching and materialistic secularism.”

Believers are called to join the struggle. But in order to struggle meaningfully and with some hope of influencing our culture, we must be informed and thoughtful Christians. There is no room for sloth or apathy. Rev. 3:15-16 states, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I spit you out of My mouth.”

When one gets born again he is a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5 verse 17 notes that Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone the new has come. This alone shows us that if one is born again they are now new in all the things in their lives that is one has to change the way they behave and do their things, what they used to believe in thus doing away with other gods, traditional beliefs. Therefore Christianity and culture have got similarities in other aspects and contradict in some of them hence a Christian has to have an in depth understanding in both so that they make wise decisions which will not lead them astray.

THE MEDIA AND CHRISTIANITY

The media is considered by most media scholars as the most powerful tool in the world because it’s got the power to influence and manipulate people`s decision making, be it politics, commodities or even services. One might wonder how does this happen, the more a thing comes out of television the more people are likely to buy or even get hooked because people tend to give credit to mass media or if I may say trust it. Does it mean then that Christians are also influenced by what they see on the media? As a journalism student who has been studying how people in general react to media content I think audience and readers have got the power to take what they want and reject what they do not want, but on the other hand as a Christian I feel when a person is exposed to something high chances are that something will influence their way of life, their thinking, values and beliefs. If television did not affect us that much then we would not be bothering ourselves with trying so hard to look and talk like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and so on.

 

Christian channels have increased over the years but still this has not stopped channels which contain a lot of unchristian movies, songs and reality shows to increase. Given such a wide variety, what should a fellow Christian choose to watch? Is it okay for Christians to watch or listen to anything they want or they should know where to draw the line. Various scholars in media studies talk about audience and reception and the likes of scholars such as John Fiske note that the audience have got the power to reject whatever they don’t want to influence their lives. Don’t forget people, these are just scholars. Things I learn from college, these scholars are human beings just like us with their own opinion of life. My worry comes from deep within. What does God the author of the universe say? Is it okay for his Christians to be exposed to all the worldly things because they are not divorced from the world? I say the moment you became a Christian you became divorced from the worldly things you used to do.

Blessed is a men who does not walk in the shadow of the dead, the good usually overcome the evil but it is easy for a bad person to influence a good person than a good person influencing a bad person because sinning is of the flesh. You reap what you sore, if a person spends more time watching pornography surely the end result is they would want to try out and experiment on what they see. Colossians 2.8 notes that a person should see to it that no one takes them captive through hallow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. The point am trying to stress is that by watching films such as porn, a person gets hooked and keep on wanting to get more to watch, thus holding oneself captive. This verse touched me in that even I as a Christian I spend most of my time wanting to catch up with Hollywood celebrities` kind of life. Their hairstyles, make-up and fashion, not seeing that am actually now a captive of some person`s ideology.

Today I leave you with a challenge

Philippians 4 verses 8-9 notes, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. “

Is everything that you watch and read true, honourable, right and pure in the eyes of God? Is the music you listen to which is full of swearing and sex language honourable in the eyes of the Lord?

Forcing a child to go to church is a controversial topic in its own right because there is no solid answer. Others might think it`s okay and others might think it`s wrong while some can take either sides. I have observed the types of families our community has and their behaviour towards the children concerning going to church. There are 4 types of families;
• where both parents go to church maybe because they were forced to go by their own parents from childhood or because they repented early in life before they had children,
• those that repented later on in life and started going when their children were already in their early teens,
• where both parents do not go to church and mostly,
• where only the mother goes and the father does not.
Personally my view towards forcing a child to go to church is dependent on which type of family above the child was raised in.

In a family where both parents go to church, I think children must be forced to go to church. This must be so until the child is mature enough to make their own decision, in Zimbabwe generally until 18 years. The book of proverbs in the bible clearly shows how Christian parents must raise their children. They are in a position to give the child an example after-all. The book in Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Even the much-quoted maxim, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” calls punishment a form of love and says that parents who won’t discipline their children are in danger of ruining them (Proverbs 29:15). Don’t get me wrong, the overwhelming emphasis of proverbs is on verbal encouragement and teaching, the rod should only be used when the child has refrained from abiding by the orders of the parents, hence the force application.
In a family where the parents only repented later on in life when the child had already attained a mindset from what he learnt from their earlier way of living, I think the parents must not force the child but speak warmly with a lot of encouragement and prayer that the child can find grace just as they did. Mostly parents that force their children to go to church on their early stages of Christianity do this because of the power and excitement of the first love of God and are not aware of the patience God had on their lives which they must in turn give to their children.
In a family where both parents go to church, the child must not be forced to go to church. Children always learn from their parents. You may say every person has their own control over their life but subconsciously there is a solid trend in me that will always identify with my family, likewise every child. Most children that are forced to go to church by their parents may go to church and find other interests away from the way of God at the church and end up leading other children astray from the love of God. According to the famous preacher, T B Joshua, “Not everyone that worships God in the flesh worship him in spirit.” Most kids that go to church outside their own will and being there with no one to keep an eye on them become dangerous to those that are willing to meet God. You must note that this is in the case that the child has even gone to the church. Some kids won’t even get to the church, parents must know that forcing a child to go where they do not go themselves pushes the child to go to another place of interest against their will.

I left the case where only the mother goes to church for last because most households are in this situation and this is where the arguments of whether the child must be forced becomes controversial. I personally think parents should not force their children but instead they should try and lead by example. You cannot remove a log from someone else`s eye unless you remove your own log. l remember as a child being raised in a strict religious family where everyone was expected to go to church every Sunday, well everyone accept my father who in turn would ask us what we did but didn’t really live up to the expected “Christian way of life”. Children do as their parents do, not as they say, unfortunately.
In the new testament of the Bible, it is written that Jesus said, “Let the children come to me for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Is it this verse which makes Christian parents to make it mandatory for their children to go to church? Is it because they feel church moulds and builds a person? Or is it that they just don’t want their children to fall out of the right path? I remember sitting on a bench at Mabuthweni Church of Christ (our family church) at Sunday school. The Sunday school teacher would tell us about different stories in the Bible which included in them the prodigal son who was forgiven by his father after he went away with his wealth .and came back with nothing. Stories or parables taking it from a biblical point of view simply showed how good God was. It does not matter even if your sins are higher than Mount Sinai he would clean them up and still take you back and love you unconditionally. However, to me at that time they were just stories to see us grow.
I was simply a church goer doing what has turned out to be a norm or a ritual if l may call it. Christianity began to strike a code in my life when I was 18 years old, that’s when I understood what it was really about. Yes I give credit to my mother and father for making it a point that I go to church but all along I was only going to please them. I would cram verses which I really didn’t understand and remember some days. I would try listening to what the pastor would be saying but would get nothing, the preaching sessions where never simplified for children at that time examples would be given but they only concerned the adults.
Personally as a Christian, I do not believe a parent should FORCE a child to do anything but a parent should train and teach a child the correct way to do something. Force is never what God intended to use to make children come to him. Legally, a parent has the right to tell their child what to do from birth to the age of 18. I feel a parent should encourage a child to attend church, but not duct tape them to the pew.
Church is a personal decision and if someone feels like they don’t want to go or even if they can’t accept the belief they should not be forced to go. In our African context a lot of parents would say as long as you live under my roof, eat my food, wash and drink my water it is a must to go to church, no negotiations. This is not wrong but there is a need for parents to see where they can draw the line. In this contemporary society a child needs to be given choices especially when they reach their teens.
Encourage children to have a relationship with the Lord and strive to live a life in a manner that they can learn from but do not force religion on your children. For the Bible also says seek ye first the kingdom of God and everything else shall follow. If you seek God and you really abide by his word what can honestly go wrong, nothing…. Even your seeds will be blessed. What you need to do is just give God his place, you need to put him in his place for he knows the plans he has for you and your children, nieces, cousins who ever you are in guard of Jeremiah 29 verses 11 says, “For l know the thoughts that l think towards you, saith the lord, thoughts of peace , and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” So who are you to worry, just cast your burdens unto the lord give him his possession and he will give you an expected end.

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