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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Adolescent Milestones: Dating, Concluding Biblical Reflections

     The Grecian city of Thessalonica has been an important city since the day it was founded some three hundred years before Christ was born. For all of its history it has been a key trading hub and a party center. It had always been known as a city full of brothels and when one of those working alongside Paul, Demas, left him, it was to return to Thessalonica and resume the life of debauchery.

     Today it is still a trading hub, serving all parts of the world. Each year there is a major international Trade Fair, as well as an International Cultural Fair.

     The city center boasts a population over 300,000 with a bit more than that as its immediate suburbs and another such figure as associated with Thessalonica because of the proximity.

     In Paul’s day, Thessalonica was also the place where Christianity was spreading the fastest. Paul’s’ first letter to the Church in Thessalonica was actually the very first book of the New Testament printed.

     Yes, Thessalonica was an important city way back then and still is. For some reason I could not find, in 2014 Thessalonica will be considered the “Youth Capital of Europe,” so you know there just has to be a lot of partying going on in this city, right?

     What was so important in that first letter Paul wrote to this city’s church? A lot of things but let’s look at this one area related to our current topic.

I. Thessalonians 4:1-8…

“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable (or it could also mean be satisfied with your own wife), not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.“

     So, Paul was giving the movers and shakers in this party city warning to restrain themselves, keeping only to the standards already approved by Jesus. Since this is a part of the permanent record of the Bible, we can be confident that these standards are still in vogue as far as God is concerned.

     No, there are not really any, specific, rules about dating in the Bible because, frankly, dating is a social practice held more in the western lands than a global reality. However, I think that we can be sure that the key is purity before God and each other in all relationships. I recall one ministry warning kids that they should be careful what they are doing with one another because, unless they end up married, they are kissing someone else’s wife! There is some really great teaching out there for young people today. Focus on the Family led the way but others have followed with excellent training for young people on the issue of moral choices.

     God can help you; that’s the bottom line here. The “just say, ‘No’ deal doesn’t work any better for sexual issues than it did for drugs but God has a plan to help you stick to His standards in your dating relationships. Ask Him and enjoy the freedom of the relationship without all the pressure to perform. God made us to love one another, let Him help you learn the rules!
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****Have a fun weekend!

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