21st Century Dating
by Andy Stanley
As you may know, I’m a pastor. Like most pastors, I’m somewhat of a walking conscience. Because of the size of our congregation I’m pretty well known in our community. People who’ve never met me feel like they know me. So it’s common for folks to walk up to me at the mall or in a coffee shop and just start talking. Before they know it, they’ve opened the vaults of their souls and invited me to step inside. Actually, I don’t have to step inside. They bring everything out and put it on display like a garage sale. Everything.
It usually begins with, “You’re Andy, aren’t you? Well, my wife . . . my husband . . . my marriage . . . my boyfriend . . . my girlfriend . . . my past . . .” They launch into personal, detailed stories with little or no filter. I’m thinking, You shouldn’t tell anybody this, much less your pastor, in public!
As I listen, I think,
Didn’t you see that coming?
Didn’t you know that . . . ?
Did no one ever tell you that . . . ?
Did your momma never sit you down and explain that if you . . . ?
Don’t you understand how men think?
Don’t you know what women need?
Don’t you understand the way life is?
After years of this I’ve concluded that for most people the answer is no to most of those questions. Nobody told ’em. Nobody warned ’em. Nobody taught ’em.
For the sake of full disclosure, you should know I’m not a psychologist. I don’t hold a PhD in anything. Not only am I not a doctor, I didn’t even make nurse. So other than my retail, coffee shop, and hallway confessions, what qualifies me to delve into your personal life? Nothing really. I’m not writing because I’m qualified. I’m writing because I’m concerned.
Let me go ahead and burst the first of many bubbles. While it’s true that you’re a one-of-a-kind person, your story is not a one-of-a-kind story; it’s original to you, but it’s not original. And that’s a good thing. The fact that your story isn’t original is what makes it possible for someone like me to offer advice and suggest a new approach. If you embrace the myths that your story is a story unto itself, that your experience is unique to you, and that your love life is like no one else’s, then you will find it easy to dismiss everything I’m about to suggest. You’ll see yourself as the exception to every rule. While it’s true that you’re exceptional, you are not an exception.
I’m hoping our time together will empower you to avoid what I know you would love to avoid. In most contexts, information is power. The arena of love, sex, and dating is no exception. The present, what you’re doing right now, will eventually be part of your past. The past, especially your relational past, has a pesky way of showing up at the most inopportune times in your future. What I’ve discovered is that people with problems get married and their problems collide. What was manageable as a single person eventually becomes unmanageable within the context of marriage. Marriage problems are easy. They rarely require counseling. But when the pre-marriage past surfaces in a marriage, that’s another story. There’s enough unavoidable pain in life. I want to help you avoid the avoidable pain. Namely, pain you will experience later because of decisions you are making right now.
Taken from The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating by Andy Stanley. Copyright © 2015. Use by permission of Zondervan. http://www.mtlbookstore.com/product.asp?sku=9780310342199
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