We are joined again by guest Matt Chandler. He’s the lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, and the author of the new book The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption.
Question #6: Matt, do think it’s wise for a boyfriend to “lead” his girlfriend? Should a dating relationship reflect the complementary structure of marriage to any degree? It seems biblically and practically wise, but it also seems covenantally inappropriate at this stage. What would you say?
There is no doubt that a boyfriend should lead his girlfriend in some ways, but definitely not to the degree that a husband leads his wife. What I possess when it comes to the covenant I am in with Lauren is headship. I have been called by God to lead, to cover, to provide, to protect in ways over Lauren that a boyfriend, who is not in covenant relationship with his girlfriend, is not called to.
However, he should be leading her in regard to godliness, encouraging her in regard to her giftedness. I think he should be encouraging her in prayerfulness, encouraging her toward an understanding and growing knowledge of the word of God. He should take responsibility and the lead in the areas that, as they get to know each other, are clear that she wants.
I have got to be careful here, because I can get my own preferences mixed up in this, so I want to be real careful. So let me just kind of put a little asterisk here and say that I believe that what Lauren wants from me is for me to go, “Hey, would you like to go out Thursday?” Yes. And then what she wants is for me to say, “Hey, we are going to go to dinner, and we are going to do this.” She doesn’t want me to come home Thursday night and say, “So what do you want to do?” And so for a boyfriend to be saying, “Hey, let’s go have dinner,” for him to lead out in protection of their purity, for him to lead out in their growing understanding of what their relationship is, I think the man should be driving those things even as a boyfriend.
Question #7: Speaking of sexual purity. What are a couple of practical helps for staying sexually pure in a dating relationship that actually work?
That is a funny question. Maybe this is because I have been married for fifteen years, but to me, this question of purity feels like common sense. So one of the things, say at The Village, on repeat, is that nothing good has ever come from a boyfriend and girlfriend cuddling on the couch, watching a movie from 11pm to 1am. That has never ended in a discussion about cinematography in the history of watching movies on couches. And so to put yourself in that position to begin with is a foolish one.
What works is being in public, guarding space alone, not putting yourself in tempting situations. I think singles have a tendency to think more highly of their self-control than they should. And so I just think dating in groups or just being in public is important and we see that in Scripture. In Song of Solomon, you see a growing desire to physically be intimate, and yet she describes their date as being under this canopy of leaves and on this rug of grass. They are outside. They are at a park. They are in a forest. They are somewhere that is in the public eye, because they have got this growing passion to physically be intimate. And yet it is clear that they don’t want to awaken love before it is time. And so they have positioned themselves publicly, so as to not give themselves over to their lusts.