He Said-She Said: Grab Bag Questions and Answers
- Thursday, October 29, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each He Said-She Said column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
This month we decided to answer more than one question. We receive so many questions that there are simply more questions than there are months in the year! So we've selected five that don't warrant lengthy answers (or rather, ones we felt we could answer well enough with fewer words) and have combined them into one column. We hope you find them helpful and encouraging. Enjoy!
QUESTION: The Bible says, "He who finds a wife. ..." Does that mean that a woman should not show an interest or make the first move toward someone she believes is the "one" she is interested in?
HE SAID: Proverbs 18:22 does not mean you should not show an interest in a man, but rather speaks of what a man receives when he finds a spouse—a good thing and favor.
Therefore, men should take the initiative to pursue a woman in a relationship. We, as men, should be bold enough to deliberately talk to and show our interest and desire for a woman. Then again, if a woman does not "respond" or "show an interest" back, guys will often give up trying.
If you are interested and believe he is "the one," there are many things you can do to let him know you are interested without making the "first move." Conveniently being in the same place, making eye contact and smiling, striking up a conversation, and letting some mutual friends know are simple passively forward ways that gives him an opportunity to show his interest in you.
SHE SAID: The Bible does say that in Proverbs 18:22. "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD." I think we tend to read in to this verse a bit, though. A husband will be blessed by a wife (harkens back to Genesis 2:18). And that's all I believe that this verse is saying. But if you look to other examples in the Scriptures, you will see that men boldly pursued women who they were interested in and desired (Jacob and Rachel, Boaz and Ruth, David and Bathsheba [perhaps not a great example, but an example nonetheless of a man taking action], etc.). As far as I can tell, the women in these examples had not crossed the line into pursuit, yet they were visible and were doing their thing and were in places where they could be noticed. Ultimately, I think it's a fine line. Showing interest vs. pursuing a man. You have to bathe this matter in prayer when you encounter a man who captures your interest. Are you doing too much? Are you doing too little? Let God be your guide. He can move mountains and move in the heart of any man to cause him to take interest and pursue any woman.
QUESTION: What does it truly mean to "guard your heart"? What does that truly mean in the dating world? I am very real and transparent and feel that I say too much too fast.
HE SAID: Our heart is not just a vital organ to our physical health, but also our emotional, spiritual and relational well-being. Being real and transparent is a great trait to have; however, sharing too much too fast can be unwise at the outset of a relationship. Honest, trusting relationships take time.
We probably wouldn't walk down the street and hand someone the keys to our houses, so shouldn't we be more protective of our hearts?
Guarding your heart within a relationship means protecting it, not just from getting hurt, but from awakening desires before it's time (Song of Solomon 2:7) and from being deceived (as Samson was with Delilah). For many of us, we have a desire to share our heart with someone, but if we view our heart as belonging to God first we may be wiser and more discerning with whom we open and share it with.
SHE SAID: Ah, yes. Proverbs 4:23: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." I think in this context, Solomon is cautioning us as to what we are allowing to come into our lives. What people, experiences, information, etc. are we taking in? For whatever we take in is what will greatly affect our thoughts, our actions and how we live in the world around us (i.e. garbage in garbage out). Spiritual discernment and the careful handling of God's Word is key in the life of any believer (2 Timothy 2:15) as you assess your intake and output. In matters of dating, though, I believe that we must focus on what is coming out of our hearts and what information we are entrusting to the persons of interest. If you are newly dating, is what you're sharing helpful and good for someone else to hear? Or are you sharing highly personal information—perhaps serious baggage—that is not appropriate to share until you are further down the line (i.e. an exclusive dating relationship or engagement)? It's fine to be "real" and "transparent" to some extent, but consider the other person before you open your mouth and ask yourself why you are about to share what you are wanting to share (Romans 12:10). What is your motive? Is your realness, transparency or "over-sharing" beneficial to the listener or just to you (to make you feel better)? Consider what is going on in your heart and the possible side effects of your communication before you spill it (Proverbs 16:23-24).
QUESTION: Is it okay to meet someone over the Internet via a dating site? Is it wrong? Is it not trusting God and taking things into your own hands?
HE SAID: If you believe that trusting God means He will bring a spouse to your front door without any effort on your part (or you have parents who practice the tradition of pre-arranged marriages), then yes, maybe it is wrong to meet someone over the Internet.
However, God's desire for us is to be happy and we have to take some responsibility for it. If your lifestyle does not allow for you to interact with a potential mate (small church, limited work-related opportunities, small town, etc.), you must introduce something different into your daily activities in order to do so.
There are many ways God brings two people together, but we have to be willing to take a step, often out of our comfort zone, for Him to work. Many people have stepped out in faith and met their spouse through dating sites, but it takes time, honest communication, and discernment.
SHE SAID: I've been asked this question many times over the years, and here's my two cents: an online dating site is just another way to meet people. In fact, it's an unvarnished way to meet people. Think about it. When you go to a party—perhaps a birthday party where you know there will be eligible, single people of the opposite sex or even a Sunday School class for singles (be honest!)—you undoubtedly will think about whether or not you will meet someone who will interest you. It's a natural by-product of your primary motive for going to the party (or to the S.S. class), but it can also be the underlying real reason that you are attending. An online dating site just peels away the layers of these sorts of contexts and is what it is. That's how I view it. I fully believe that God can use the Internet to help people find each other. He uses other forms and methods of communication and connection and means to bring people together, so why not high-speed meet ‘n' greets? I know of two couples who met and married as a result of matchmaking sites. It worked for them, and both couples would tell you that they prayerfully considered this route before signing up and clicking "accept." They believe that this was God's path for them to meet one another. As long as you are trusting God and petitioning him in prayer, that is what is key. He may not lead you to become a mail-order bride or groom, but our God is creative and knows no limits or boundaries. We just can't box in his ways or his plans for each of our lives (Isaiah 55:8-9).
QUESTION: I have been out of the dating game for awhile, and now I am wondering what the etiquette for paying on dates is now. Is it okay for a woman to offer or is it the man's responsibility?
HE SAID: Etiquette has not changed. It is okay for a woman to "offer" to pay for a date; however, if a guy is interested enough to ask a woman out (and is any sort of a gentleman), he better fork up and pay for the date. If he doesn't, and expects the woman to, you can guess where I stand when he calls for a second date (and guys should call; no texting for dates!).
I understand it is a difficult time financially for many people, but this makes it a perfect opportunity for a guy to show off some creativity, uniqueness and individuality. Anyone can take someone to dinner and a movie, but it takes time and imagination to plan something special for a date.
A guy needs to take the lead in treating a woman in a way that is honoring to her and to God.
SHE SAID: In my opinion (and it may be old-fashioned, but so be it), if a man asks me out then with that comes the responsibility of keeping me in his care for the entire evening. And that includes seeing to it that the bill is paid. I am offering my company for a date, so this is the least he can do. I know it sounds arrogant and perhaps elitist (and I'll probably get some "hate" feedback as a result), but the woman is the gift. Okay? YOU are the prize that is being sought (and "bought," if you will, in this scenario). Your time and your attention are valuable. And you are worth it (and I don't mean that you should act conceited or have a sense of entitlement; just remember who you are and whose you are—Genesis 1:27; 1 Peter 2:9-10). So sparkle and shine! Be a good date, engage in light conversation, ask good getting-to-know-you questions of your suitor, be polite and enjoy being treated like a natural woman (I think I can almost hear Aretha chiming in right about now). Seriously, just be yourself and bloom in the moment. A man wants to feel like he is taking care of a woman and (I believe) it boosts his confidence and his ego when he pays for your way (a meal, a ticket, etc.). As in "I did that!" and "This woman is my date … unbelievable … yahoo!!!!"
QUESTION: Is it appropriate for a woman to decline a date if she knows she is not ready or willing to pursue an emotional relationship with the man in question?
HE SAID: Yes and please do. Don't ever feel as if you have to say "yes" to a guy when you are not ready emotionally to date, not willing to pursue a relationship or not interested in him. Most guys would probably welcome your (honest) sentiment at that point rather than many weeks or months down the road after he has invested his heart.
There is nothing noble or "Christian-like" going out (or being in a relationship) when you don't want to. It does neither person any good when one's heart isn't into it. We witness so many relationships fail when both parties really want it, let alone those based upon "convenience" or "not wanting to hurt the other person."
Sharing your feelings now will help you to communicate better within a relationship when you are ready.
SHE SAID: Yes, of course it is—just as it is appropriate to decline a job offer if she knows she is not ready (for whatever reason) to take the job in question. Why would you do something that you know you are not ready (or equipped) to do? Why not acknowledge your true feelings? If you are not interested, you are not interested. Period. Why apologize or feel badly about that? We were all created differently, and (correct me if I'm wrong) we were not all created to be attracted to each-and-every eligible person of the opposite sex who crosses our paths and asks us out. God is bigger than you saying "thanks but no thanks" to this man in question. There are other fish in the sea, and the man will get over it. You have set him free to find the right person for him. Believe me, I have heard it time and again from many men. They would rather know up front if you're not interested, then have you accept and string them along on date after date just because you don't want to hurt their feelings. Be honest and be kind. That's all you can do. The rest is in God's hands (Colossians 3:12).
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … Laura MacCorkle, Senior Editor at Crosswalk.com. She loves God, her family and her friends. Singleness has taught her patience, deepened her walk with the Lord and afforded her countless (who's counting anyway?) opportunities to whip up an amazing three-course meal for one.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We're just average folk who understand what it's like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life's questions, and it's where we'll go for guidance when responding to your questions. Also, it's important to note that we write our answers separately (we think they sound eerily similar sometimes, too!).
GOT A QUESTION? If you've got a question about anything related to living the single life, PLEASE SUBMIT HERE (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
**This column first published on October 29, 2009.
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