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    Sep 11, 2022

    Week 4: What to Talk About

    Series: Dating

    Category: Core Seminars


    Core Seminar – Dating
    Week 4

    What to Talk About

    If you’re conducting a dating relationship, one of the most important things you’ll do is talk. So what do you discuss? When? That’s our topic this morning.

    If dating is mainly about a decision to get married, your conversation early on will involve a lot of talk about getting to know one another. Here’s the danger for any couple: putting on a happy face; talking about safe topics; growing emotionally attached to one another; having a great, fun dating relationship for months before you discover that he wants to be a career military officer and she can’t ever imagine leaving the town she grew up in.

    In all of these conversations, the guy is going to take the lead. How and when he leads into these conversations, and how she responds, is going to be a big part of figuring out whether they’re a good match.

    You want to find theological agreement or flexibility in these matters. If you can’t find agreement or flexibility, you should be concerned. For example, it will be really difficult if one of you feels called to the missions to work in Machu Pichu and the other does not.

    You want wisdom and discernment about what matters (e.g., you future goals or how you view gender roles in marriage) and what doesn’t matter (e.g., if you want 2 kids and she wants 4 or 5) in conversations right now.

    In all this, we need to seek transparency and honesty rather than posturing. The answer you’re looking for is not, “what do I need to say so she’ll still like me” but “how can I serve her by showing her who I really am?” Think of how often the Bible exhorts us to be honest and humble in relationships.

    “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Prov. 12:19)

    “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” (Prov. 18:12)

    Do you want to be honored by this person in lifelong marriage? Then humble yourself and present who you really are.

    The skeptics in the room are going to ask, “Why should I talk through all of this stuff?” Why not just enjoy the relationship and deal with all of this after engagement? You don’t want to find out after you’ve gotten far down the road, after you’ve grown emotionally attached, and even worse, after you’ve gotten engaged, that there are things about the relationship that are unacceptable to you. By taking the time to talk through these things right now, you are trying to purchase future peace. So be honest, be transparent, be humble and do the hard work now.


    If you’ve been around CHBC for a while, you’ve heard about the 12 F’s—Faith, family, future, fun, friendship, finances, fights, feedback, foolishness, fears. That’s what you should talk about in your relationship, and that’s what we’ll talk about for the rest of our time this morning. Some will come up just a few times early on; some will come up many times in your relationship.

    In these first three quarters, your dealing with two categories of conversations—quality of the relationship (“Do I want to get married to this person?”) and dealbreakers (“Why wouldn’t we get married?”).

    One sign that your relationship is moving on to a new stage is that you’ve worked through any big potential deal-breakers. At some point in every relationship, you’ve got to wrestle with two questions: “do I want to get married to this person?” and “why wouldn’t we get married?” The first question tells you are lot about the quality of the relationship, and the second speaks to possible dealbreakers. One sign that your relationship is maturing is that you progress from asking the question, “do I want to get married to this person?” to the question “why wouldn’t we get married?” If you’re in a typical relationship, you’ll have some specific answers to that “why wouldn’t we” question. As in, even though we eventually make up, she’s really struggling to trust him. Or, he wants her to be at home with the kids but she’s always pictured working full-time.

    Generally speaking, if we talked about a relationship in terms of 4 quarters in a football game, with engagement being the end of the game, we’re expecting 10 of these F’s to be talked about at some point in the first 3 quarters. And the last two F’s (foolishness and fears) are usually reserved for the 4th quarter.

    A. Quality of Your Relationship (10 F’s)

    So which F’s tell you about the quality of the relationships? Let me give you 7 Fs.

    When you say “I do,” you don’t merely intend to tolerate each other for the rest of your earthly lives—but to enjoy doing it. It helps if you have common interests. But much more than simply enjoying the same things is enjoying time with each other. If you don’t, then it’s okay to say “no thanks” to the relationship. Sometimes people seem like a perfect match on paper, but there’s just no spark in the relationship. If that’s the case, you’ve got some hard thinking to do. Maybe the problem is that you’re not attracted to the right things. In which case perhaps you need to give the relationship some more time and see what develops. But if your enjoyment of each other isn’t growing with time, you should probably call it quits.

    If you get married, your spouse will be your best friend for the rest of your life. So your boyfriend or girlfriend needs to be a good friend long before they becomes your spouse. So talk about your friendship. What do you enjoy about your friendship? In what ways does your friendship need to grow?

    Is this person consistent, reliable, stable, steady? Do they honor the promises they make? Stability and reliability are too often underrated in dating, but they shine like a white-hot blazing sun in marriage. Romance quickly loses its flame when the bills are not paid, the house is not clean, debt is accumulating, and children are unruly.

    The idea here is simple – will relationship persevere to death? Will your friend stick with the commitment they made at marriage? Adultery and divorce are so common, we’ve got to ask this question on the front end. No one enters marriage with the thought it will end; but too many marriages do.


    Beyond financial deal-breaker conversations, you should talk about the role that money plays in your life.

    • You’ll want to talk about your financial values. How much do you value giving? Staying out of debt? Saving?
    • You’ll want to talk about your financial habits. What do you tend to spend money on? What do you avoid spending money on? Is one of you hyper-generous and the other hyper-frugal? How will those qualities fit together in marriage?
    • You’ll want to talk about your financial struggles. Where are you tempted? Do you save out of fear or faith? What kind of debt do you have? And so forth.


    The difference between good and bad marriages is not that good marriages don’t struggle. They do struggle. In fact, they fight just as much (maybe more) than bad marriages. One difference between good and bad marriages is that the good ones know how to handle conflict in a Christ-like and humble way. What kind of fighters are you? Who gets passive? Who’s aggressive? Who’s a yeller? Who retreats into their shell? Is the guy learning to lead through disagreement?


    We need to talk through all of this not just with each other, but with others who know us well. It’s good to get feedback in two areas: (1) Where do your friends think you’re well-matched and where do they think you’ll struggle? (2) What counsel do your friends have for problem areas in your relationship? It’s tough to discern which problems should move you toward breaking up, which are simply growing pains in the relationship, and which are issues you’ll never fully resolve but that won’t prevent you from having a perfectly wonderful and happy marriage. Don’t rely on your own judgment to figure this out; talk with married couples who know you well and see what they think. Depending on their own marriage, your parents may be helpful here—even if they’re not believers.


    B. Deal Breakers (3 F’s)

    So which “Fs” are potential dealbreakers? Here are the three most common.


    One of the most important issues you need to settle in your relationship is the question of whether you two can both prosper as members of the same church. Do you believe the same things about the Bible? Do you both value the same things in a church?

    Consider doctrinal differences. John is a Baptist and Betty is Presbyterian. They dated for a long time before they bothered to even talk about their doctrinal differences. Baptism seems like such a secondary issue, right?

    Well, it’s true that baptism is not a gospel issue. But doctrinal distinctives will define where you can go to church—and John’s leading this relationship into unnecessary heart-ache. Late in the relationship, your emotional attachment to each other is going to make it really hard to honestly assess what the Bible says.

    I know this may sound pretty intense, but you may find it useful to walk through your church’s statement of faith together. Figure out what you believe and how tightly you each hold to those beliefs.

    And a couple should consider their church preferences. Julie goes to First Baptist. Her church has traditional hymns, long prayers, and dense expositional sermons. She’s really grown in her church. Matt goes to Redemption Church, which values contemporary music, a fast-paced service, and sermons that are short and practical. His church talks a lot about social action. He loves his church. And he doesn’t like Julie’s church. Well, if they can’t figure out how they can be happy in the same church, they need to break up.

    Are you both members of this church? Congratulations! Already, from day one of your relationship you’ve got an answer this all-important question. Yes: you can both prosper in the same church. That makes everything so much easier going forward.

    You need to share what you believe individually. Talk about your personal walk with Christ. What kinds of spiritual struggles do you tend toward? What things in the Christian life come easily and which are more of a challenge for you? What areas of ministry do you enjoy? Hospitality? Evangelism to international students? Discipling? A focus on unreached peoples?

    And I hope this goes without saying, but Scripture is very clear in 1 Corinthians 6 and 7 that Christians can only marry other Christians. If you’re even asking whether he or she is really a Christian, you have no business dating.


    In the category of family, an important potential deal-breaker is your views on gender roles in marriage. To enter a marriage assuming you’re on the same page is dangerous. So, it’s worthwhile to understand what the Scriptures say and how you apply that truth.

    The Bible affirms that men and women are equal in dignity because they’re both created in God’s image. And it also affirms that God has assigned men and women different roles both in the home and church. In these roles we complement each other rather than competing with each other.

    At the very beginning the husband was given the responsibility to compassionately lead, provide for and protect his wife. She’s given a role that complements the man’s is his helper and source of strength for him to carry out his responsibilities. This is her primary orientation. That means that while this doesn’t specifically say what she does with her time (e.g. when she’s a mom, does she hold another job or not), it says how she does those things (she is a helper to her husband).

    Do you agree with what Scripture says about these roles? Where in Scripture do your beliefs come from? And—this is important—to what extent are you comfortable with them?

    It’s good to talk about how you envision these roles operating in your life. Sometimes couples are quick to talk about what they don’t believe about these roles instead of what they do believe or assume. Like, “I don’t believe that this obligates a woman to quit her job once she gets married.” OK, fair enough. Hardly anyone would dispute that. But what do you assume about your marriage? If you really can’t picture working after you become a mom, talk about that! If you’ve always hoped that your wife will homeschool your kids, talk about that! Just because Scripture doesn’t require something doesn’t mean it can’t be important to you.

    A similar deal-breaker is discussion about children. If you want to get married, you need to be open to children. But is that a desire that comes naturally, or is it a struggle of faith?


    You also need to talk about any fixed ideas you have for your future. Does one of you plan on being in the military? Going into politics? Being a missionary? Living overseas? Living an especially simple life? Raising your kids in your hometown? If you have well-formed preferences about your future, this is the time to talk about them.


    So you’ve been dating for a while, and it’s really looking like you might get married. Scary, right? And exhilarating! There’s probably just a handful of issues standing in the way. So what do you talk about now? Let me mention two additional “Fs” for this late stage.


    It’s important to talk about sin you’ve struggled with. Why? Because it’s important that the other person actually knows who they are marrying. No secrets. Don’t hide your sin. Your goal is to become one flesh (Gen 2:24), and you can’t do that if you let sin get in the way. In fact, if your sin is a serious potential deal-breaker for the relationship, ideally, you would have shared that earlier on. But by now, your goal is to come clean about everything—even if you’re pretty sure your confession isn’t going to end the relationship.

    Current Foolishness. Foolishness that is on-going needs to be discussed in some detail because it has implications for the immediate relationship. You need wisdom to know how much detail to discuss, so talk with a wise married person before you to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend. You’ll need communicate enough details so they’ll know: (1) how to be an ally with you against your on-going sin; and (2) if they want to marry into this problem. Every husband and wife has problems (because everyone is a sinner!), but one of the choices you make in picking a spouse is which set of problems you choose to get married to.

    Past Foolishness. Significant sin from a previous season of life.

    Sexual sins are the most common sins people need to share about their past, but other sins also fit in this category (financial mismanagement, addiction, eating disorders, etc.). Most people are scared to share because they fear rejection. But if we’re honest, and if God has already forgiven us, your future spouse can also forgive you for your sins. God has first forgiven us, and that overflows to our forgiving others (Eph. 4:32).

    When you share with your boyfriend or girlfriend, a general rule of thumb is to be more general and not specific about your past sin. There’s rarely a need to go into specific detail. Sometimes we buy into the lie that knowing more about a past sin of my potential future spouse will help me get beyond it—which just isn’t true. You may think that more detail about your boyfriend’s past sexual relationship will make you feel more secure in his affection, but I promise you it won’t. Your security will come through your trust in his character and God’s perfect care for you, not the details of his past. Share enough detail to communicate the nature of the sin-- what it was, and when it happened in your life. After that, seek their forgiveness and move on.

    In regards to sexual sin from the past, we break it down into three categories: (1) Pornography; (2) Premarital sex; (3) Scandalous sins – like buying or selling sex. For pornography and premarital sex, be more general about your past sins. For more scandalous sexual sins, you probably need to go into more detail and let them ask any questions they want. And these scandalous sins are probably the ones you should have shared earlier in your relationship. But just because your sins were scandalous doesn’t mean they’re beyond forgiveness. But it likely means that forgiveness will be a longer process. Meaning, the words “I forgive you” don’t as much mean “I’m OK with that and I can move on” as much as “I’m committed to beginning to grapple with what’s happened so that we can move on.”

    Being this vulnerable is really hard. Please realize though, your future spouse would much more prefer honesty instead of lying. Hiding your past is lying to them. When you get married, you expect that you know your spouse. And being vulnerable about past sin sets a good pattern for openness and honesty in the relationship. Aside from that, if those struggles return, a spouse equipped with knowledge about your past problems can more readily help you fight them. Rather than simultaneously coming to grips with your past and trying to help you in the present.

    As your boyfriend or girlfriend confesses his/her past sins, consider this: Does he live now in a way that realistically takes into account his past sins and struggles? For example, consider a young man who struggled with pornography in his past, but doesn’t have any protective software on his computer or accountability with friends? Is he foolish and ignorant about the power of sin? His girlfriend shouldn’t stay in the relationship if his attitude towards his sin doesn’t change.


    The second thing you want to talk about, especially at this later stage, is the fear you each have about getting engaged. Why? Well, sometimes you may be able to share information that helps to alleviate fear. Or if the fear seems irrational, to help your boyfriend or girlfriend trust God rather than giving into fear. But in addition, you need to know where the other person tends toward fear in your relationship so that you can be mindful of that in how you lead (if you’re the guy) or in how you support him (if you’re the girl).

    When you’re sharing your fears, it’s a good idea to label how significant they really are. If it’s something that you know is irrational, but you just can’t push it out of your head, explain that. If it’s something that you think could keep you from getting married, explain that too. A lot of miscommunication can happen when we sense fear in the other person and treat it as a bigger deal than it really is. And a lot of miscommunication can happen when we stew on our fears rather than talking about them. Remember, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Ultimately, that’s God’s love for us—but as a reflection of that, our love for each other can deliver us from fear as well.