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 #8: Matt, if a man or woman is trying to stop looking at pornography, but cannot (many Christian men struggle here), are they ready to date or not? If not, what is the line between ready and not ready to date for a Christian porn addict?
So this is an extremely complex question that is hard to answer outside of actually knowing the people involved. So my knee-jerk reaction is: No, you are not ready. Let’s get this handled. But I think what I would want to do is sit down, and I would want to know what is going on. Where is mortification happening? Where is vivification happening? What do we mean when we say “porn addict”? Are we saying that this is something this guy or this girl, once a year, stumbles into, or is this a couple of times a month? Where are we in relation to frequency, healing, victory? And I think all of those would come into play on whether or not I would encourage someone to be in a relationship while they wrestled.
The truth is that all of us, every one of us, are coming into our relationship with the opposite sex needing further sanctification, needing growth, needing to grow in our identity, needing our identity in Christ, needing to have parts of our flesh mortified. And so this one is just going to affect the relationship in deeper ways. I have read almost everything I could on the horrific issues that porn addiction brings about in a guy’s or a girl’s ability to even be emotionally connected to people.
And so that is why I mean I would kind of want to get to the bottom of who we are talking to here. I mean, when we are saying addict, what do we mean by that? And so without that kind of information it becomes hard to just lay a hard answer down. But I don’t know that I would say absolutely not until this is not an issue for you anymore or until you don’t struggle. But at the same time, if this is serious, and several times a month you are giving yourself over to this, you are actively seeking it out, then I don’t think you have any business dating.
Question #9: Are there any other circumstances in which you, as a pastor, would tell someone that they are not ready to pursue a dating relationship? What are some indications that would signal to you a person is simply not ready to pursue dating right now?
So when I am telling someone or leveraging my relationship with someone in regard to dating or not dating, I am always doing that within the covenant of me being their pastor and them being a covenant member of the church. So our relationship from the beginning is one that is not just me having a cursory view of their life, but hopefully me knowing where they are. And so I have often times recommended someone hold off on dating until the season that they were in with the Lord has changed.
I told a man last year, a young man last year, that given where he was in his relationship with the Lord, I would hold off pursuing a girlfriend, until he had given himself back over to growing in his relationship with the Lord. It wasn’t just that he was in the desert or just stagnant, but that he was walking in sin, and hadn’t just grown stagnant, but had stopped altogether pursuing his relationship with the Lord. He wasn’t in the word, wasn’t praying, had become hit or miss in the gathering, hit or miss in his home group. He had guys pursuing him that he was avoiding. He had had relational conflict with some guys that he was refusing to kind of connect with them and reconcile.
And so I had just recommended to him that this would be a really foolish time, and a time that I thought would end in either his heart being broken or some poor girl at our church being heartbroken. And I didn’t threaten, but I said that I would probably engage the girl he pursued to tell her that I didn’t think this was wise for where he was at this season.