The next portion of this definition can easily be one of the hottest of hot button topics in our current cultural setting. As recently as February 7, 2012, we witnessed the ninth circuit sub-panel of three members rule that Proposition 8 in California was “unconstitutional.” This article will not speak to the political issues but rather further unpack the biblical definition of dating that we began with in chapter one.
Dating is quality time spent between two people of the same faith and opposite gender in a safe environment where they are able to authentically get to know one another.
We spend quality with someone of the same faith and now, opposite gender. The Bible is clear about the opposite gender. We can go back to the very beginning and read in Genesis,
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. —Genesis 1:18-23
The Hebrew word used here in Genesis for woman is “ISHAH” which comes from the root “ISH” meaning man. God created man and from man He created woman. Both created unique and different as God intended. Both created to be joined back together in marriage as ONE.
We read here in Genesis that as God created everything in heaven and in earth, He created a “helper” for its counterpart. For a male lion, He created a female helper. For a male squirrel, God created a female helper. For everything that God created male, He created a female, except for Adam. For everything God created, He looked down and said “that’s good.” But when God created man, He didn’t say that. He looks down at man and He said “Aw, that could be better (women are saying “amen about that!).” God created man and He says this, “It’s not good for man to live alone”.
So what did He do? He caused a sleep to fall over man. Then get this, He took a bone from Adam’s side. Don’t just read over this because it holds a great deal of symbolism that was lost for generations. So what does this symbolize? I communicate this in weddings all the time because people have just overlooked it. God took the bone from Adam’s side to symbolize that man and woman would walk alongside each other in this journey we call marriage.
For many generations one would have thought that God had taken the bone from Adam’s foot symbolizing that man was to lord over woman by the way women were de-valued and treated. However we know biblically that this was never God’s intent. God’s intent was that man and woman would partner in life. Great evidence of this is seen all throughout the New Testament as Jesus raised the value of woman through His life and His teaching.
Paul even goes on to say in Ephesians 5 that a husband is to love his wife in the same way that Christ loved the Church. How did Christ love the Church you ask? Well, Christ died for the Church. As a man loves his bride more and more, as he gives himself up for her, a woman naturally yields herself to him. What we know to be true in a godly marriage, must begin at some level before marriage. So in a “dating” relationship we must once again focus on our definition.
John Piper has written a great little book titled, What’s the Difference? In this work, Piper comments on the social evidence which should lead us to understand, as Christians, that culture is attempting to de-feminize and de-masculinize men and women.
In fact, a young woman approached me one day who had just attended a two-day seminar at her consulting firm. The seminar was only for women and the content was specific to training women how to communicate as men. The seminar encouraged demeanor, dress, hairstyle and even speech to more resemble that of a man than a woman.
I was shocked by this however not surprised. The reason for a seminar like this only gives further credibility to the basic truth that “men and women are different.” In Piper’s book, he strips away the surface issues of sexuality and the outward appearance of men and women, and hits a much deeper issue of mature masculinity and mature femininity. He defines both as follows.
At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.
At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.
Both of these definitions help us focus on the heart of the issue. God’s creation of man and woman does not, nor was it ever intended to, stop and sexual anatomy. That is an obvious difference and one which has a very significant purpose. But God’s desire is so much more fulfilling and so much deeper than sex. God’s desire is true “Oneness.” The “Oneness” that we see reflected in the Trinity itself.
I am not going to get into “roles” however, it is a worthy topic. I will however say that God has a pretty clear order in relationships, especially in the context of marriage. God looks at the man and holds the man responsible for the way he leads his home (remember Ephesians 5?) He also holds man responsible for the way in which he leads the church (1 Timothy 3).
Does this mean that women do not have equal roles within both the church and home? Absolutely not. Remember our model in Genesis. God created man and he partnered with man, woman. As a result of sin, in Genesis 3, men bear the weight and responsibility to lead in ways which ultimately glorify God and maintain the purity of the home and church and will one day answer to God for their leadership.
When we do not hold to the uniqueness of man and woman. When we do not hold the differences holy and sacred, we know what the end result will be. Paul writes,
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions … —Romans 1:26
God is talking about the Holy Roman Empire. This empire was the greatest, the largest, the most triumphant empire ever. Their mathematical skills, their engineering, all of their arts, their writing, their culture, everything was tremendous. It was the greatest of the greatest, yet the Holy Roman Empire fell.
The first chapter of Romans gives a running account of what happened (Just as an aside, if we don’t read that first chapter and take notes, shame on us. Because we should. Because we are a pretty significant empire ourselves).
… for this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations with those that are contrary to nature. And the men like-wise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another. Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. —Romans 1:26-27
Now, if Romans was the only place in scripture where this topic was mentioned, apart from the creation account in and of itself, that would be one thing. But the Bible says speaks to this topic time and again. 1 Corinthians 6:9, Jude 1:7, 1 Timothy 1:10, Leviticus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 23:17 are just a few examples.
The Bible is clear that a marriage which is holy and pleasing to the Lord is a marriage between a man and a woman. Therefore, if a dating relationship is to be holy and pleasing to God, it too must be between a man and a woman.
(Special notes from the author. I want to be very clear that this article is another article in a series on Biblical dating. We all go through pain and struggles in our lives. My prayer would be that we all struggle well and continue to struggle. If I know that pornography is not God’s best for my life I have a choice. I can either say, I struggle with pornography and I need help in the struggle in order to overcome the struggle, or I can say, it’s ok to be addicted to pornography and it’s just who I am. Our tendency as a depraved culture is to make what is wrong in God’s eyes, right. That way we don’t see our struggles as struggles and just “who I am.” This is a very dangerous ideology and one rooted in relativism. If you struggle with homosexuality, I pray that you continue to struggle, that you seek help and that you overcome through the powerful working of God’s spirit.)