Question

I happened to come across your site through searching questions. I have read many of your responses to different questions for the past few days (I love reading). A few personal struggles were answered through reading your response to other questions. This inspired me ask about my own situation. Thank you for your helpful responses to many teenage girls, such as myself.

I recently started praying for a future husband who would serve in the ministry (agreeing your article, "Love Is ...", regarding what a significant other should be like). I have learned to be patient, not rush into things, and let God take control. My parent's marriage is an example to me and I look up to them for this. I know that people have flaws and make mistakes. My parents have told me that compatibility and life-values are important, but with God by your side, no trial or tribulation is too difficult.

Near the end of my high-school days, a boy contacted me through social media. Mind you, I don't usually mess around guys for fun or fall for them easily. People have told me that I am a moderately good looking person. Many boys have gone after me, but I have respect for myself. I treat guys and gals the same way. Guys probably take it the wrong way and assume I am interested in them, but that is just my personality. Carrying on, I briefly met this particular person at a camp. He told me he "prayed" about this encounter. We didn't even speak at the camp, but we saw each other here and there with mutual friends. But we started speaking a lot on-line. He appeared to be very caring, attentive and considerate. He presented the image I was looking for. Later I realized I only liked the exclusive attention he provided me. I ended up focusing on the guy more and on God less.

We would frequently talk late and I met him twice in public places for lunch. I believed in staying pure and have always been very reserved, This was new and exciting to me. Wanting to keep this relationship God centered I would send long chunks of daily devotions. In return he would send Bible verses to me now and then, but he rarely talked about himself. I eventually found that most of the things he said never truly reflected in his actions. He refused to pray out loud even before meals and didn't want to participate in Bible studies with me. He wanted to look through my phone messages, look at the guys I communicated with, and later told them to stop contacting me. He told me that he shared our intimate and private conversations with his female friends. He would openly judge people and put them down as if it were typical conversation. He was quite physical, such as initiating holding hands and hugging. It was too physical for my liking, for someone I only talked to in messages. I had a feeling he was someone who pushed boundaries. Thinking back, it really reminded me of your article, "Love is Different". The things he did in person made me very uncomfortable and didn't resonate with my values. We hadn't even went public about us "seeing each other," but he was really pushing the idea of "having people see us together."

I had enough and told him I wasn't ready for a relationship with him. He told that it could still work out, that I could compromise, work this out, etc. I knew that was the end because he kept pushing. I knew he didn't have respect for me and only focused on his personal wishes. I wasn't hurt by this experience, but just disappointed. Later, I realized that he had put up an image to be very Christ-like to draw me in, but after getting to know him I saw otherwise.

I'm not saying that all guys are the same, I'm sure there are wonderful guys out there who love Christ with all their heart. However, I'm left confused in regards to relationships. I know I am ready, but I don't want to jump out there again, knowing that I may be deceived. It's a mix of hopefulness and vulnerability. How do you really step into the field of dating? I want to have a relationship but a proper one, guided by God. Does it work like "love-at-first-sight"? How does a Christian go about knowing someone, who I may want to spend the rest of my life with? How much do you share with someone? How much do you open yourself up to someone?

I recently participated in a camp. A week after the camp, one of the boys my age messaged me to say he liked me. Every time he saw me, he saw someone very beautiful, and doesn't usually say this to people he doesn't know. This boy said he was interested in mission work, seemed like he was God-fearing, and everything opposite to my previous experience. But he looks like the average bad boy with a pierced ear, a real strong personality and open attitude. I didn't know how to react because I barely even knew him, so I responded with: "Thank you, I'm sure you're a great person yourself, but I hardly know you." He responded along the lines that he was disappointed I did not feel the same way back. After that, the conversation ran its course and we ceased contact.

I wasn't trying to be mean. Honestly I would have really wanted to get to know him, but not in a way of giving him false hope. I can never tell whether or not a guy likes me or if they're using the friendship as leverage to possibly date me. When it happens I become skeptical and think they only do it for themselves. I just didn't know how to respond to this situation. Some people talk but don't walk the Lord's path. I wonder what would have happened if I said I liked him back. Was that the right thing to do? Should I have actively tried to get to know him better? Would he be good for me? Could there be someone God sends my way? Should I be waiting for this person? Or are they right in front of me? Or should I be actively seeking out a guy, being the one pursuing? (I always thought the guys should be the ones pursuing.)

My final question is: How will I know? I could be patient and turn down every opportunity until I'm nearing my thirties or develop close friendships with guys who are godly, but to what extent? The line is hard to draw. I know guys mature slower than girls, so I do fancy guys who are 4-5 years older than me (I'm 17). Is this the right approach?

Thank you for reading this and your time.


Answer

Most guys find it difficult to start a conversation with a girl. It appears to them that no matter what they say, it is going to be taken in the wrong way. Thus, you are likely to find the initial conversations with a guy a bit awkward, but I would not judge a guy by his initial remarks. Jesus tells us to determine people's character by observing the results of what they do. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16-20).

Be open to meeting people and understand that most of the guys you talk with will not be the type you are looking for in a husband. However, you'll eventually find the right guy. Don't let yourself get distracted from your goals in what you are looking for in a husband. It sounds like you are using wisdom in meeting guys, keeping the situations where you back out if necessary.

There is no "love at first sight." There is infatuation at first sight because it is based on imagination. Infatuation can change to love as you get to know someone, or it can become a rejection as you get to know the other person better.

I certainly can't answer your questions about any particular individual. I know less than you do about the person.

Thank you. I have another question: Is it possible to be absolutely 'sexual-immorality' free as long as you keep the relationship God centered? I know a couple of Christian friends who are the most godly people I've met; however, they have struggles with that aspect. I'm not judging, but just making an observation. I know I'm going out on a limb, but I have the concept that relationships until marriage are extremely hard to keep pure. How do you combat this?

Generally it has been my observation that couples who fail at abstaining from fornication usually make the mistake of focusing solely of avoiding sexual intercourse. They get involved in things like lust (Mark 7:21-23), sexual touching (I Corinthians 7:1), inappropriate sexual talk (Ephesians 5:3-7), immodesty (I Timothy 2:9) and lewd behavior (Romans 13:13-14). While they know it isn't quite correct, they excuse it because it isn't actually fornication. Sin tends to be progressive, so eventually they take their behavior too far and "It just happened!" or "It was an accident!"

As Solomon noted, "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on" (Proverb 4:14-15). If you don't want to reach a particular destination, you don't start walking the path that lends to that destination.