Does their talk reflect the gospel message? Do their actions reflect the gospel message? More importantly, do they reflect the gospel message when nobody is around to recognize them for it?
This is not a message intending to discourage students from dating in college. Many committed marriages come from college. Rather it is a means of critiquing the process and possibly expedite finding the right person while avoiding much of the wreckage along the way. And while some may feel that my credentials (being 30 and single) don't qualify me as an authority on the matter, I believe logic and maturity serve as a credible platform. This is also written from a Christian perspective.
So, when you have a crush and you're debating whether to move forward consider these questions to help filter the process.
1. Are they into you or the idea of you?
It's completely normal and healthy to desire companionship. We want love, affirmation, intimacy and to be committed to. But these desires are inherent to us and thus can cause great damage if toyed with. Make sure your person of interest is in it for you, and not just for themselves using you as a means to a personal end of fulfillment. Until they desire you for you, they will not be fully satisfied NOR will they understand what it means to love back.
With slogans such as ring by spring, MRS degree, and Bae by May (I came up with that one, thank you very much), young adults may often feel pressured to adopt the notion that they must marry sooner than later. This presents a host of problems:
a) It objectifies a spouse as a goal, as opposed to a lifelong partner.
Checks in the box are temporary and generally serve as a means to an end. But marriage is not a means to an end, it is a union designed to last until the end.
b) It undermines the importance of intentionality in responsible pursuit.
We must remember the beautiful intent God has for marriage. It is a pure and holy relationship, founded on Him, sacrificial as He is, mutually flourished, and ultimately reflecting the gospel message. This is nothing to pursue idealistically.
c) It avoids the reality that many young adults are far from ready for marriage.
While nobody is ever completely ready for marriage, there is a degree of responsibility that should be established and exercised prior to committing yourself to a challenging, though rewarding, union for the rest of your life.
2. Is their faith their own?
It is around the college age that people start to think more critically about life and their traditions. While this is a very important part of individual development, some people don't exactly surface where they once did in Sunday school. I've seen it time and time again where the kid who was the worship leader, small group leader, theological brain child etc. will graduate and then months later they're posting pictures of a lifestyle far contrary to the aforementioned. It's difficult enough to see a friend go down that path, you don't want this to happen with someone who you are romantically invested with- or married to. This can have severe ramifications on your marriage and the raising of your children.
But how can I know the true spiritual state of their heart?
Good question. My pastor recently tackled this very topic in a recent sermon.
"The best way to discern the condition of our heart is to listen to our rhetoric and watch our routines." -Dr. Andrew Moroz
Does their talk reflect the gospel message? Do their actions reflect the gospel message? More importantly, do they reflect the gospel message when nobody is around to recognize them for it? Be sure to note that I'm using the phrase "gospel message" intentionally. That is, they should pursue holiness but in their failures they crave grace to restore them.
Time and commitment to God from the both of you will tell.
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3. Do they have the same desire for purity as you?
Sexual purity should be huge for you. Huge. Given the hormonstrous roller-coaster that comes with being a young adult, extra precaution should be taken. If you want to reserve any and all sexual-related activity for marriage (which you should) and he/she says that it's cool to keep virginity for marriage but anything else is fair game pre-mariage, write them off. Write them off like a charity on a tax return. They should be vehemently in support of your agenda for purity. Their support and respect in this area will be indicative in the way they treat you holistically.
What if they have a checkered past of sexual immorality?
Good question. But not one I can summarize in a paragraph while rendering full sensitivity. See my piece I'm A Virgin, You're Not. Should We Still Date?
4. Are they able- and willing- to manage their time responsibly?
You're in college. Between a degree and a relationship, the degree should take the priority over finding a spouse. At the same time, you aren't subject to the backseat (in any context). You can be intentional with a relationship while prioritizing your studies; I argue that prioritizing your studies is a means of being intentional with your significant other considering your studies influence your future, something your significant other is potentially a part of.
5. Are they overly impulsive?
If you ask someone of interest their plans for life and they list their major, 2 minors, 4 concentrations, 7 internships, and the day they plan to retire, you may want to consider this silliness as a possible red flag. While I don't consider this to be a deal breaker, it does show that they have some serious impulse pruning to do. Much respect to the student who can say, "while I'm declared as this major, I'm still figuring out my career options."
While it may appear mild in this example, impulsivity can manifest itself into a slew of other areas that carry more damaging implications. Buying a house, choosing a church, or settling for McDonald's over Chick-fil-a are just a few of the areas where impulsivity can really cause some hurt.
For the gospel //