Love, Sex and Dating – The New Rules – Andy Stanley
I was fortunate to be able to see Andy Stanley’s Love, Sex. and Dating series during April and May at Athens Church. I wanted to share my take-aways from the series for those of you that didn’t get to see it. And it’s never too late – they are all available online for free and worth the 3 ½ hours you invest in them. One of my many regrets is not having this wisdom before embarking in deep relationships with others.
The Big Take-Away Messages
Here are the four take-aways from each of the four sessions, and following are my complete notes on each session.
Part One – The Right Person Myth
Don’t fall for the “right person” myth
Movies, fairytales and Hollywood have convinced us that when we meet the “right person” everything will be all right. Andy suggests this way of thinking creates trouble in our dating lives and sets us up for trouble in marriage. He encourages us to stop searching and hunting for the “right person”, and instead focus on BECOMING the person that the person you are looking for is looking for. If you know what kind of person you want, and you become that person, the person you want will want you too, and there you will find the “right person”.
Part Two – The Gentlemen’s Club
Women should be honored, and not treated as a commodity
This segment was mostly directed at men, but it is relevant for women to take it to heart and learn how to avoid the pitfalls of acting like a commodity. Jesus’s teachings on women were extremely counter-cultural in the first century. He taught that women should be honored despite the fact that they had been used as prostitutes, slaves and were treated as a commodity for centuries. Andy believes, and rightly so, that we as a society, need to get back to and re-embrace how god regarded women. Men – checkout of the school of pornography. Every time you look at these photos you are learning three things: a real body isn’t good enough, one body isn’t good enough, your wife’s body isn’t good enough. Women – stop giving yourself away to men to use and throw away.
Part Three – Designer Sex
Sex is so much more than physical
If sex is just physical, why is it that when a child is sexually abused they are unable to experience intimacy as an adult?. Why does it follow them around their entire life? If sex is just physical, why is it that women find it difficult to report rape? They report domestic abuse. Why would rape be so much more traumatic than being beat up? Because sex is so much more than physical. Andy’s lesson is to save your sexuality for your marriage. Romance in marriage is fueled by a sense of exclusivity. Exclusivity says “I’ve been praying for you and waiting for you as long as I’ve lived. I’m able to give ALL of me to ALL of you.” That is a powerful message. You will have a more romantic and passionate marriage if both of you have been exclusive before marriage. You won’t worry about what your husband or wife is doing when you aren’t with them because you know their history. If they were exclusive before you, they will be exclusive while they are with you, no matter where they are.
Part Four – If I Were You
Prepare for a successful marriage
A vow of marriage is only a promise to be committed to your spouse. A promise is impossible to keep if you are not prepared to keep it. Andy lays out the steps to preparing for successful lifelong commitments in marriage like resolving childhood trauma issues, getting out of debt, avoiding physical intimacy during courtship, and more. Its an approach that makes people cringe because its an uphill battle to get to a place where both of you are really ready to keep your vows, but the battle is better fought before marriage instead of during marriage.
These are not complete dictations of the segments but very close. Sometimes I paraphrase, and some of it is literal transcription.
- Part 1 – The Right Person Myth
- Part 2 – The Gentlemen’s Club
- Part 3 – Designer Sex
- Part 4 – If I Were You
Part 1: The Right Person Myth
When I meet the right person, everything will be all right. This way of thinking creates trouble in our dating lives and sets us up for trouble in marriage. In this message, Andy challenges us to ask ourselves Am I the person the person I’m looking for is looking for? And he previews God’s list of behaviors that will lead to success in dating and marriage.
The reason married people get into so much trouble when they’re married is because they believe in a myth. And the myth that they buy into is called the right person myth – if I marry the right person, everything will be all right. When I meet the right person, everything will be all right.
As special as you think your relationship is, it’s not. It’s a well worn predictable path, and I wanna keep some of you off of it.
People say they think I am talking right to them. Let me tell you why you think i’m talking right to you. Because you are not that different from everybody else. We all very very much the same. We are human beings. We have so much in common.
So people find a person they just “click” with. Nobody has ever loved like they have. They get married because they think they have found the right person because they love each other, and sex is great, and never fight. Then they begin to really get to know each other, and they aren’t always kind to each other, they aren’t patient with each other, they aren’t prepared to handle the difficulties of merging two lives into one. But the woman comes up with a brilliant idea about how to “fix” everything. They are gonna have a baby! So they take a dysfunctional relationship, and add another human in the middle of it! And did you know that one of three times a man is most vulnerable to an affair? One of them is when their wife is pregnant.
Men think like this: I got needs. Sex is not a need. Water, you need water. Food, you need food. In certain climates you need shelter. Guys – check this out later if you don’t believe me – a man can go an entire life without sex and not die and not get sick.
We got people that dont know much about relationship, now we got a baby, and then he’s at work and he looks up. And guess who he sees. The right person. You know what is wrong with my marriage? I married the wrong person but I just met the right person. Then she’s at the gym, and speaking of gym, there’s jim! She realizes she married the wrong person.
You know the old saying about you wouldn’t drive a car without trying it out first. You wouldn’t buy shoes without trying them on first. You know what ends up in these marriages? You got two used cars and two used pairs of shoes and they don’t know what to do with each other.
It does not have to be that way. There is something better and our culture doesn’t celebrate it. Not because it’s against happy marriages. It’s because its boring.
Why do most second marriages fail? Because married people are stupid. They keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results because they buy into the right person myth.
“The correct approach,” he emphasized, “the approach that will serve you so well, is to decide, I’m not just hunting, I’m not just seeking. I am intentionally becoming the person who the person I’m looking for is ultimately looking for.”
Relaying a personal story told to him while preparing for the series, Stanley spoke of a young woman who grew up in a religious home, had a Sunday school background, went to college, graduated and came to Atlanta.
Putting on the “back burner” her beliefs, she immersed herself in the singles dating culture and was “living the life, having fun.”
One day at a social gathering, she met who she thought to be “Mr. Right.” After spending a few minutes getting to know him, she saw he was the total package – the looks, the job, and the personality. On talking with him further, it became very apparent that he was a Christian, who was committed to living out his faith in every aspect of his life.
Going home that night, she told her mother all about “Mr. Right,” gushing over all his qualities. But her mother turned to her after and said, “Sweetheart, the problem is a guy like that is not looking for a girl like you,” to which she literally fell to the floor in a puddle of tears.
“It was a defining moment for her as a single person. ‘That guy I’m looking for, he’s not looking for someone like me.’ Her priorities changed, her life changed, and she is going in a different direction now.”
Asking the congregation once again, “Are you who the person you are looking for is looking for,” Andy urged singles to stop believing in the fairy tale that somehow when meeting the right person all the other things would fall magically into place.
He encouraged singles to put effort into their relationships, and not just base their relationships on chemistry and passion alone, which took no work and could be felt with thousands of other people at any given time.
Andy shows what the bible says love is….
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Here is what patience is. Love never pressures the other person. Love creates as much space and time and margin as the other person needs. If you are in a relationship and you are being pushed. That person is not loving you. This doesnt suddenly appear as a personal virtue when you say I do.
Love is kind – this means considerate. Take into consideration how the other person feels all the time. Don’t wait until you find the one. Work on it every single relationship.
Married people think I don’t need to be kind or considerate because when I meet the right person they are going to be so perfect I won’t need to be kind – it will just happen naturally. I won’t need to be considerate because they will be so perfect there will be nothing to consider. The problem is their partner was thinking the same thing.
I want you to become something. Becoming prepares you for great relationships.
Love does not envy. Envy is when i dont feel so good about me so i can’t let you feel too good about you. Im gonna drag you down. Some of you because the way you were raised are going to drag this into every relationship unless you allow God to root that out of you. It means when you are on a date and your date tells a story, instead of telling a story that is better you just go “wow!” Don’t try to one up them. Let the glory sit with them. Practice this all the time. Celebrate other people’s stories. This doesn’t come naturally.
Does not boast, is not proud.
When you are meeting someone, and they begin to share things with you, listen and be in awe. Don’t try to “one up” them. Just be in awe of their life experiences, and if you are the person that person is looking for, they will reciprocate in this.
love does not dishonor others.
When you date you never ever create regret. Dont become someone’s regret.
Here are some more thoughts to explain this. Does not behave disgracefully, dishonerably or indecently. Some of you go out and date to achieve these behaviors. This is not to judge you. But what serves you well, because you are just having fun, while you are living the life, is going to destroy what you value most later. It will come back to haunt you in your future. Learn to honor a man, honor a woman, so that when I fall in love with someone, I am like the best honorer on the planet. Married people thought when they got married they would automatically know how to do this because the other person would be so perfect. But they were wrong and it killed the passion and romance.
Do you think your family life would have been better, and your parents would still be together if they had been more patient, and your father had been more kind, if there was not so much competition, if your parents weren’t so proud they could each admit when they were wrong. You are responsible for stepping up and say God I want you to transform my character so that I become the person that the person I am looking for is looking for.
Some of you have missed this for so long, that if you were to meet the person of your dreams right after this service, they wouldn’t be attracted to you because you are not who they are looking for. But you can be.
Does any of this come naturally? No…What comes naturally is passion, chemistry. Chemistry is awesome but it does not maintain. You can feel that way about thousands of people. You felt that about a person on spring break where you both lied about your names. You felt chemistry. That takes no work. To allow your relationship to be driven by something you can feel for a thousand people is crazy. That’s the fairy tale that drives people into relationships that ultimately don’t last. It doesn’t work. No one falls in love and stays in love without effort.
Chemistry gets stronger and better when you work on the hard stuff.
But you have to decide, you aren’t just searching and hunting for the “right person”. You become the person who you are looking for is looking for.
Part 2 Gentlemen’s Club
Are the Bible’s teachings about women relevant? In this message, Andy explains that Jesus’ teachings about honoring women were extremely counter-cultural in the first century. They remain so today. So Christian men especially need to transform their thinking. And there are two simple steps to start with.
So you are in love, but what do you love about your partner? It’s The “about him” or “about her” thats going to show up in the relationship in the long term. What do you love about him or her?
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of “childhood” behind me.
Happily ever after comes from childhood stories. Lots of people still think like children in relationships. It doesn’t happen that easily. Don’t think like a childhood fairy tale. Grow up and become what someone is searching for.
In children’s stories they always end with “they lived happily ever after”
This section is addressed mainly to the guys about how to put the ways of childhood behind them. I want to inspire you to be men. Do the things you know you want to be. Men you still continue to set the pace for relationships. You are still in charge in that respect. Consequently you are more responsible. Here is how you need to view women according to the bible.
In our society and culture, women are viewed, presented, talked about and sung about like a commodity. A commodity is something you use and trade up.
The message we get in our society about women is take me, use me, do what you want to with me, and then discard me.
You will think a lot of this is old fashioned. There is some truth to that. When these ideas were first introduced they were strange. Even more strange in the first century. Women weren’t just treated as a commodity, they were a commodity. Women were prostitutes. You had slaves, and female slaves were used any way they wanted. The value of lives of females were worthless in the first few centuries. Men didn’t want children because they had to split up their estates. They would have sex with prostitutes as birth control since he wouldn’t have sex with his wife. On two occasion there were bills in the Roman senate to mandate marriage because upper class men gave up on marriage because they could have sex wth any woman and they didn’t want kids. When they got old they would adopt males to give their estate to. Women had no status. In roman culture you could have one wife, but men had many many mistresses. Into this world, Jesus spoke and Peter spoke, and Paul spoke – What they had to say about women was staggering, show stopping. We can’t imagine how these people began to process what these men had to say about women because it was so different than how things were. Women began to flock to these churches because they were treated a different way.
We need to get back and re-embrace how god regarded women. A new command was given -
Love one another (andy interjects – yes, even the women) just as I have loved you. (andy interjects – give equal love, concern, honor, respect to each other regardless of what they are.) By this, the rest of the world will know that you are my follower.
1 peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect (andy interjects – grant or assign them honor) as the weaker partner (andy interjects – this only means that you are not as physically strong) and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life.
This was in a world where might made right. Men you are to use your power for the sake of those who lack power. Leverage that power for the weak. If you are a married man, make sure you use your power for her sake.
The women in your life, they answer to the same god you do. God sent his son to die for women as well as men.
Men, renew your mind to think differently.
Clean out your playlist. Anything that degrades women (called bitches and whores) needs to be removed. Labels should not exist in our culture because you treat people differently once you label them. A culture that is comfortable talking about women this way, is a culture of a lesser value. A superior culture will respect and honor woman as equals with men.
Erotic imagery, or porn – big no-no. I thought everyone knew this – that people know not to look at this. Men think that it’s not a sin – its entertainment. Everytime you look at these photos you are at school. In this school you are learning three things: a real body isn’t good enough, one body isn’t good enough, your wife’s body isn’t good enough. Married women are thinking “i knew something was up with that.” Married men are so confused about what is going on inside of them. The problem is they’ve been going to school and learning this lesson. the best thing you can do is to check out of this school. This school sets you up for extraordinary disappointment. Everyone thinks this doesn’t hurt anybody.
Go back a few decades. Did you know the us govt gave GI’s as many cigarettes they could smoke? Now they say “uh oh” its bad for you. Research is coming out that is saying “uh oh” you spend enough time learning these three lessons about women, something chemical changes in a man’s mind. This is a pathway that leads men to view women as a commodity. If you are a christian man you have to step up and see women with honor and as equals. Your savior died for her too.
Research shows erotic imagery is a drug. It deadens your desire for real women. You think your wife will meet your needs that these photos filled. But your wives don’t live up to what you see in these photos and you keep going back to them for that fix. Now your wife has to compete with this. It ruins so many marriages.
If you think you are not going to do anything about this in your life you need to be honest with any future woman or one in your life now and let her know that she will never fulfill you. No one has ever been able to say that they gorged themselves with porn, but once they got married they didn’t need it anymore because their wife was able to replace the porn. It doesn’t happen. You take all of that with you into the relationship. You need to let her know about this so she can decide if she wants to go into the relationship with all these other women.
Make up your mind to behave differently. Treat women with honor.
Last piece of advice. Not many people take it but the ones that do, this is what makes a difference. One year challenge to not date. Take a year off of every kind of male female relationship. In that year, three months in, you will meet the woman of your dreams. and you will have to keep going. You spend the rest of that year renewing your mind. Get rid of media, clean out playlists, its been so long since you thought of a women with honor. Learn to overcome the urge to watch the woman that walks by. It will take a year to change. In a year you will be a different person. In a year you will have taken a giant step in becoming the person you are looking for is looking for. You will have put away the ways of childhood. You will have finally grown up.
Part 3 – Designer Sex
Culture convinces us – and sometimes we convince ourselves – that sex is only physical. But if that is true, why is the pain of sexual sin so deep? Because sex is not just physical. It was designed by God to be so much more. In this message, Andy addresses common myths about sex outside of marriage and has two specific challenges going forward.
Sex: its not just physical. If you treat sex as if its just physical you hurt yourself, and if you get married, you hurt your partner.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, this is what brings it home. Your sexuality is connected with your personality and your spirituality.
Here are some uncomfortable questions that prove this, and the answers are the same – Sex isn’t just physical.
Why is it that when a child is sexually abused that when they are adult, why is it so difficult to shake that off? Why does it follow them around their entire life? Why can’t they just get over it? It’s not because they were betrayed. Kids are betrayed all the time by adults. It’s because sex isn’t just physical – it is life altering.
Why is rape so much more devastating than being beat up? If sex is just physical, then rape is just like being beat up. You report it, and move on. But its not just physical – it’s life altering.
Why is that men with the deepest sexual issues usually have uninvolved or missing fathers?
Because sex is not just physical.
What is intimacy? Intimacy is to know and be fully known.
1 corinthians 6:18
Flee from sexual immorality (Andy interjects – don’t resist or manage – but flee from it. Sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality). All other sins people commit are outside their bodies but those who sin sexually sin against their own bodies.
Here is what Paul is saying. When you sin sexually you hurt yourself. Not only do you hurt yourself, but at the deepest level imaginable. It will carry with you throughout your entire life. Sexuality is so powerful if you break the rules it has the same power to turn your life upside down.
1 corinthians 6:16
Do you know know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said for the two will become one flesh.
Sex is not just a matter of personal preference. Sex is a matter of divine design.
Another myth: Practice makes perfect. Really? You think because you practice you will be better at sex? You can win a contest because you are so good? Are you kidding? Some of you have thought you need to practice so you don’t look stupid. Married advice – look stupid!
Truth: Romance in marriage is fueled by a sense of exclusivity. Exclusivity says i’ve been praying for you and waiting for you as long as i’ve lived. I’m able to give ALL of me to ALL of you. You will have a more romantic and passionate marriage if you have been exclusive before marriage. You won’t worry about what your husband or wife is doing when you aren’t with them because you know their past stays with them. If they were exclusive before you, they will be exclusive while they are with you, no matter where they are.
Determine the story you want to tell. When you meet the person you are looking for you will have a story to tell. Make sure when you meet the person you are looking for, make sure the story you have to tell is the truth and is the story you want to tell. You don’t want to tell a story about all the relationships you’ve been in, all the people you’ve had sex with…decide to start building the story you want to tell by living the story. And the day you start living this story, you will be able to tell your future spouse that from that day I prepared for you and reserved myself for you. That is a good story. That’s the story you want to hear from your future partner.
Decide ahead of time what honoring god with your body looks like. It’s like budgeting. Look at what you got and decide what you want to do with it. You need a sexual budget. Decide what you will not do and do. If you make those decisions, temptations will not overtake you.
Giving up something now for something better later is not a sacrifice, it’s an investment in your future. When you sin sexually, you sin against yourself. But when you ascribe moral value to sexuality, you invest in yourself.
Part 4 – If I Were You
A vow is only a promise to be committed to your partner. A promise is impossible to keep if you are not prepared. Here is a to do list to get prepared.
1) Address unresolved childhood issues. Don’t try to make your relationship fill the hole. Those relationships will take on water through those same holes. The spouse ends up taking the fire for the turmoil created in your childhood.
Go to northpoint.org/fightclub – Watch Louie Gigglio message first then watch the first two segments of Fight Club.
2) Don’t dress like a commodity and don’t put up with being treated like one. If you have to catch a man with your body, you have to keep him with your body.
3) Get out of debt. You can do this a lot easier as a single person. If you let your partner resolve your problem, you will create debt again because your past behavior WILL be repeated if you don’t work to change it on your own.
4) Break your bad habits. Marriage was not designed to solve problems. Problems get worse after marriage because your spouse will try to help you. If they become a crutch for managing your problems, the cause of your problems (bad habits) will get bigger. This will create resentment in your marriage – your spouse will be angry because you can’t stop your patterns. And you will naturally blame your problems on your spouse because now they are involved. You will forget you came into the marriage with the problems.
5) Postpone the physical as long as possible. You are looking for “the one” not everyone. Self control before your marriage creates self control during your marriage because it is the past behavior.
6) Avoid living together. There is no evidence that living together results in better marriages. In fact the opposite is true.
7) Don’t date a christian unless you plan to become one. They need you to become one before you they can marry you. If you are “sleeping with” a Christian they are also a hypocrite.
8) Get involved in a local church. If you are single you might find the person you are looking for if you both share the same values.