Am I Attracted?

In this blogpost, we’re going to talk about an issue I’m passionate about. We’re going to talk about…

DATING (eeeek!)

I know, it can be weird, it can be a touchy subject, and Christians have all kinds of ideas and beliefs about it from courting, to dating, to “dourting”, to kissing dating goodbye. You may have tried to google what the Bible says about dating and found yourself in a whirlwind of scriptures about harlots and prostitutes and verses like “it’s better to marry than to burn with lust…

This time around, we’re going to look at the book of Song of Solomon. This is a beautiful way to learn about dating because we’re learning by looking at this relationship between two other people in the Bible.

Now you might be married, single, widowed, divorced, but I think this is a topic we all can learn from. People in our community are in all different life stages, but we as the church are called to have a handle on what it looks like to live life well.

The first thing I want to cover under the topic of dating is ATTRACTION. So let’s dive into the first chapter of Song of Solomon. Verses 2-3 in this chapter say:

 

Let him kiss me  (Ooooh, watch out ) with the kisses of his mouth—

for your love is more delightful than wine (if you’re over 21- wink)

Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;

your name is like perfume poured out.

No wonder the young women love you!

 

Verse 2 is revolutionary. This is the Holy Bible, and we’re talking about kissing. We’re talking about passion. This is God’s Word, and His Word is infallible, inspired, and included for our benefit, and it’s talking about attraction.

Sometimes in church we can hyper-spiritualize things like, “I’m going to pray and fast and wear sackcloth and ashes to see if this is the person I should ask out for coffee… Listen, I think a great first step is to figure out if there’s attraction there. So if you’re asking someone out, or someone has asked you out, stop for a second and ask yourself, “Can I see myself attracted to this person?”

 

Now, let me just take a second to say, there’s a difference between attraction and lust.

Attraction is “Wow, that guy is handsome. That girl is pretty. I like her style. I love his heart for God.

Lust is more like, “OMG he is so fine, did you see him? Oh my gosh He has an eight pack like Usher.

 

When you start to cross over into lust, you gotta reel that back in. You may try to throw some 1 Peter 5:14 in there when you see a handsome man: “Greet one another with a kiss of love…” Uh uh. Nice try. That’s not what he was talking about. Attraction is one thing, lust is another.

Bringing it back a little bit, we need to be attracted to the person we’re eventually going to marry.

Guys, stop settling for the girl that carries a ten pound bible and your mom really likes her. Girls, stop settling for the guy who at least has a stable job because you’re afraid your biological clock is ticking. Don’t be rushed. Ask very fundamental, basic questions.


Am I attracted?


When Adam first saw Eve in the garden, he didn’t say, “Wow, I think she will be good for helping me till the garden and picking fruit.” No, he says, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’  for she was taken out of man.” There’s this lyrical poetry that happens when he sees her for the first time. There is something redeeming and beautiful that happens when you are attracted to someone.

So if you’re thinking about asking someone out, or someone has asked you out, start with the fundamental, basic question: Are you attracted?

Stay connected with us for the second part of this series Creating Healthy Expectations

 

BIANCA JUAREZ OLTHOFF IS A WRITER AND SPEAKER IN AND IN LOVE WITH TWO MEN: JESUS AND HER HUSBAND, MATT. BIANCA SPENDS HER WEEK WORKING AS CHIEF STORYTELLER FOR THE A21 CAMPAIGN, AN ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATION, AND AS THE CREATIVE DIRECTOR FOR PROPEL WOMEN. SHE LOVES HAVING DANCE PARTIES IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH HER TWO STEP CHILDREN OR COOKING MEALS FOR FRIENDS. 
WEBSITE: BIANCAOLTHOFF.COM
FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFFSPEAKS 
INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/BIANCAOLTHOFF 

10 Warning Signs You Might Cross The Line

Staying faithful to my wife was a solemn promise I made to her before God.

I utterly intended to keep that promise to the end of our days. I lived without doubt that nothing could ever tempt me to do otherwise.  I never went looking for ‘trouble’ and thought I was aware when ‘trouble’ was looking for me…and believed I was always avoiding it.

The vast majority of good people who betray their marriages never see it coming. Many establish clear, healthy boundaries and have no desire to stray, in fact, their marriage is one of the highest priorities of their lives.

That was my story. Totally. 

I enlisted trusted friends to ask hard questions to help me stay accountable. And, over the years, my wife, Caron, and I often talked openly about our marriage being a prime target (actually every marriage is a target) because we believed there is an enemy seeking to kill, steal and destroy our relationship with God, our witness for Christ, and out to rob us of the true joy God designed for us to experience in our marriages.


So what happened?


Actually, a whole slew of things contributed, and at a future time we’ll talk about: how to know your own state of vulnerability to tempting conditions, how we often contribute to our own emotional burdens making ourselves more susceptible, lies we believe that contribute to our deception, unhealthy personality patterns that diminish our marital and relational capacities, and entitlement. Entitlement is a subtle driver with a powerful engine for certain personality types. It’s the “I deserve a break today” mentality that seems to play a major role for people who experience moral failure. 

In this blog we want to talk about how to catch yourself before a random encounter, casual acquaintance, innocent friendship or working relationship even comes close to crossing the line. 

Here are some warning signs you should NEVER EVER ignore: 

1. When you start to notice you are not telling your spouse about certain conversations you are having with another person.

 

2. When you notice the other person avoids your spouse, makes no effort to include your spouse in a friendship with you or you avoid bringing your spouse into your interactions with the other person.

 

3.  When you begin to feel this other person may be paying attention or listening to you with more empathy than your spouse has lately.  They may say certain things to you that stroke your ego, things like:

“I’ve never met someone with such wisdom and insight as you. I so admire and respect the work you do. You really are one amazing person.”

OR

“Wow! You look especially good today. Have you been losing weight? And what’s that great perfume you’re wearing?” 

OR

“Hey, you doing okay? I’ve really been worried about you. You’ve been working so hard lately. Anything I can do to help?”

OR

“Do you think we could be better friends?” 

 4.  When you begin discussing marital problems with this other person, either theirs or yours.

OR

5.  You avoid discussing your marriage with the other person (as if it doesn’t exist) or, if they are married, you notice they avoid talking about their spouse.

 

6.  When you begin making excuses to yourself like: “Nothing to worry about here. There’s no harm in just talking.” Or, “I’m really strong. Nothing about this person is going to feel attractive to me. I have this totally under control.” Or, “We have a lot of work to discuss. No big deal if we grab a bit of lunch first.”

 

7.  When you do begin to feel some type of attraction toward this person.

 

8.  When you begin to confide in this person in areas normally reserved for your spouse.

 

9.  When it feels easier to spend time with this other person than with your spouse.

 

10.  When you start to notice this person positioning themself to be near you, making excuses to see you privately, appealing to your compassion by “keeping you in the loop” of some troubling personal issue or they “over-serve” or keep seeking to help or assist you in demonstrative or ingratiating ways.

If ANY of the above situations are currently playing with your head, then ADMIT that those mysterious brain chemicals are starting to get overwhelming and GET OUT of there immediately.

If you have friendships with members of the opposite sex OR same sex … and you want to avoid situations that could lead in an unhealthy direction make sure you include your spouse in the relationship (in some form or another) from the get-go.  This is probably your safest deterrent.


NOTE: Any time a person is uninterested or unwilling to be a “friend of your marriage” they are no friend of yours! 


And when we do not involve our spouse or even begin to keep the slightest “secret” from them we’re already in trouble.

If you want to put your spouse at ease, able to trust you with the other people in your life, make sure your spouse is a part of those relationships. 

It may sound outdated but, when we are married, all our friendships should be open and shared. They should involve both you and your spouse on some healthy level. 

If, for some reason, you don’t feel a need to make your spouse a part of a “friendship” you have with someone you need to deeply question what your true objective is for maintaining that relationship and make a beeline to talk with a counselor or trusted, accountable friend.

 

David Loveless is a mentor/coach, pastor to pastors and strategic, spiritual advisor to churches and businesses in over 50 countries. He served as founding pastor of Discovery Church, Orlando, Fl for 29 years. During that time Discovery was identified in Dr. John Vaughn’s book as one of “America’s Most Influential Churches” and was named as one of the Fastest Growing U.S. Churches in the 21st Century by Outreach Magazine. David and his wife Caron are parents of three sons and are the grandparents of their seven delightfully energized children. For more from David and Caron Loveless, visit www.youlivetrue.com.


Deeper Than Skin

“Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.” Song of Songs 1:2

I’ll never forget the first time I saw my wife Erica drive onto our college campus.  It was fall semester of our sophomore year.  She was the most breathtaking woman I had ever seen.  Dove like eyes, scarlet lips, rosy pomegranate cheeks, not to mention her royal blue Geo Storm, the most desired ride of the 90’s. The moment was almost too much to handle.  I wasn’t too shabby myself, the new transfer student from surf town San Diego.  Arms rounded like bars of gold, legs like marble pillars, hair wild and blonde, falling down to my shoulders in waves, like a flock of goats winding down mountain slopes.  I saw her.  She saw me.  Pretty much that slow-motion moment where time stands still and you find yourself caught up in love’s irresistible magnetic pull.  Hearts pounding.  A glance. A spark.  A jolt.  And this is where it all begins.

God created us for physical attraction.

In Solomon’s poem Song of Songs, the young woman says, “Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.”  She is lovesick in her attraction for this man.  Unashamed of her emotions and feelings, she shouts boldly her desire for this man’s love. And of all the words she could use, she chooses the Hebrew word used to express a sexual love.  More than simply a light-hearted crush on this guy, she wants to jump Solomon’s bones.  She is both physically and sexually attracted to her Song of Songs man and wastes no time making her desire known.  As humans, we are created to be both Spiritual and Sexual, and in reality, it’s impossible to separate the two.  In fact, the Hebrew language offers no word for Spiritual, because in the Jewish understanding, all of life is spiritual.  Love, sex, and bodies; you name it.  To be sexual is to be spiritual, and to be spiritual is to be sexual.  Though our culture has tragically ripped the sex out of Spirit and the Spirit out of sex, God created us to be both.  Each one of us is born to burn with a strong faith and a strong sex drive all at the same time.  In fact, sexual attraction is a good gift from God.  He is meant to capture your eyes.  She is meant to take your breath away.

Physical attraction is enough to spark any potential relationship, yet for love to fully blossom into everything God has designed it to be, there must be more.

Although skin and hair and bodies make us sexy-on-the-outside, a shallow understanding of beauty cannot produce a deep and fulfilling love.  Perhaps there’s more to life than being ridiculously good-looking.  I’ve heard it said, “As you grow older, you lose hair where you want hair and you get hair where you don’t want hair.”  It’s only a matter of time.  As Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”  Another way to translate the word vain is brief.  What Solomon is saying is, skin-deep romance is short-lived, brief.  Maybe you’ve already experienced this kind of Shallow Hal relationship.  The ‘buzzed at the party’ make out session.  The freshmen year fling.  The one night stand with that one guy.  Burning flames through the night, empty fire pit in the morning.  Although today’s “skin deep” culture celebrates such a brief view of beauty, you cannot build a lasting and lifelong commitment on physical and sexual attraction alone.  To experience the fullness of joy and freedom God desires for us to experience in a relationship, we must learn to see and love deeper than skin.

 

Nathan Edwardson is the lead pastor of the Stirring church, a young and growing church plant in Redding, California.  Nathan’s passion is to see a generation of God’s people standing face to face with God, moving with God’s voice, and living out the dreams God has placed in their hearts.  A creative visionary, he integrates his love of music and film with his passion for shaping disciples who will shape the world.  Nathan and his wife Erica enjoy life with their four children – Ava, Adiah, Asher, and Alicia.
Website: thestirring.org
Twitter: @nathanedwardson
Instagram: @nedwardson

Embracing My Heart, My Feelings, My Desires

THE AUTHOR OF MY HEART


Most of my life, I have attempted to control, stifle, and sometimes completely disown my desires. Unfortunately, when dealing with sexual desire and longing for intimacy, I was unaware that they could be expressed in a healthy way. More often than not, I would try to fool myself into thinking that I didn’t really have those desires, or that they were from the devil and I should try to rebuke them. If I was attracted to a woman or noticed that she had a nice body, instead of being able to simply admit, “She is pretty and there’s something I see in her that I’m attracted to,” I would deny the feelings of attraction in the guise of “staying pure.”

I discovered that we are not powerful enough to deny the desires God has created in us from coming to fruition, and if we go too long with ignoring them, they will come out one way or another. The longer I denied my natural sexual desires, the stronger and more uncontrollable my urges got, and after labeling these desires as bad, the only way for them to surface were through perverse versions of the beautiful desires God had planted in me. Without a healthy way to express my sexuality and longing for intimacy, I turned to placating these desires with masturbation and pornography. Of course, this never came close to touching the desires God had put in me and left me feeling more wanting than before, with a huge side of guilt and shame.


“I would try to fool myself into thinking that I didn’t have those desires, or that they were from the devil and I should rebuke them. I denied my feelings in the guise of staying pure.”


It wasn’t until God dealt with my shame that I was able to fully embrace my desires. Through a series of events, I was able to lay all my shame before the Lord — all of my shortcomings, failures, disappointments, everything. After I exposed all of myself to Him, His response blew me off my feet. I felt Him looking at me with kind eyes. I was so shocked to see such genuine love, and even the sense that He missed me and had been waiting for me. There wasn’t any look of disappointment or disgust, which I had thought I would surely find. He showed me that no matter how big a hole I dug or how bad I messed things up, His love is greater and He will always be there eagerly awaiting my return.

With the shame gone, I was able to talk with God about my desires. When I saw a woman I was physically attracted to, I was able to admit it and talk to God about it. It was revolutionary for my life. Instead of hiding some of the deepest longings of my heart from God, I was able to invite Him in and He began teaching me! He showed me how He had handcrafted my heart and placed every hope and longing I’ve ever felt inside it. He told me that the pain and emptiness I had been feeling was meant to be there, because He would not let any of His children continue on in life missing the gifts He had prepared for them. He wouldn’t take away the pain because the pain was an indicator that there actually was something missing that only He could help me find.


“There wasn’t any disappointment or disgust (which I thought I would surely find). He showed me that no matter how bad I messed up, His love is greater and will always be there.”


The biggest revelation that has changed my life is realizing that I can trust God with taking care of my heart. He is completely aware of my wants and needs (because He is their author) and understands how to meet them more then I could ever hope to. Now as a single person, I still experience sexual urges and even sexual frustration from time to time, but instead of hiding from the urges, I tell God, “Thank you that the desires of my heart are alive and well. I know that you made them to be 100% met. And I’m okay with waiting and being frustrated because I know where you take me will meet those needs 10 times better than anything I can do on my own. So, Father, I completely trust you. Continue to teach me about what you have put inside of me.”

Brendon, 25, California