ADVICE & AUTHORITY
This and the last post (Dime-Piece) could be the lion share of what I consider some of the most foundational principles in Christian dating. Here it is; have you ever heard someone who is in the midst of enjoying "encouragement and social gatherings with a possibility of budding romance" say to someone who offers them counsel on how to proceed in that budding romance, "advice is just advice bro (or sis)!"? Many times this has behind it the implication that because it is not a biblical command (i.e. that's like ... your opinion man) that it can be easily discarded and ignored. This could potentially be one of the worst and most destructive attitudes that we can have toward dating (and just about anything else in our lives)! Precisely because dating is not strictly biblical (see Dating: Is It Even Biblical?) like so many other things in our lives (i.e. what job to take, where to move, etc. - see Friesen), it is all the more imperative that we surround ourselves with (and listen to - a key component) spiritual advisors (Prov 15:5, 7, 10, 12, 22, 31-33 - and this is only chapter 15!) - for more on counsel and instruction see here. I remember a romantic relationship that I pursued one time where I surrounded myself with spiritual advisors, but I wasn't actually listening. I knew I needed to get advice, and in the spiritual climate and culture that I was in at that time, I certainly didn't want to be ostracized for making some bone-headed decision without at least getting someone else to agree with me, I mean, get someone's advice. And unfortunately that's what I did, I believe I appeased myself by subconsciously "looking for advice" that was in actuality me just looking for someone to "rubber stamp" and agree with what I had already decided in my heart to do. So I continued to push forward with that relationship, one that was not grounded and was overly emotional, even in spite of much counsel to the contrary. I was not listening. Be careful that when you seek advice and counsel that you are not just seeking someone to agree with what you have already decided to do. To really listen to counsel and advice means that even though you might have your own judgment, that you postpone that judgment to the best of your abilities in order to hear another's perspective. To listen and weigh counsel means that you put yourself in the position to be persuaded. The best way I have found to pursue someone through romantic dating and courtship ("dating steady") is to surround yourself with spiritual advisors and counselors that you trust both in their spiritual maturity, and in their care and concern for you and your best interests (this trust helps you better be willing to be persuaded). These should be the types of people that make up your spiritual 'tribe' of advisors, and there should hopefully be more than 1 or 2, but probably not 10 or 12. And it is wise if you have people in your 'tribe' that are emotionally biased (such as parents etc.) but still fit the previous criteria of spiritual maturity and genuine concern for your interest, to make sure that you balance your tribe by having some others that are able to be more neutral and emotionally unbiased (i.e. not family). The main reasons I have found this tribe to be one of the best practices (other than humility being riddled throughout the entire bible in both Testaments - Jam 4:6) is because none of us are very good judges of ourselves (Rom 12:3) and this is never more true then when we are emotionally involved with someone or something (think of the scene in J.J. Abrams Star Trek where Spok tells Kirk that he is emotionally compromised). Your tribe's primary goal in this is to help you make spiritually mature and wise decisions while you are in the midst of being emotionally compromised. In order for that to be effective, you must be humble, and truly listen to what allthe tribe says and weigh them carefully to make your decisions in faith and good conscience. I believe this is Christian maturity in decision making; to apply all scriptural principles to the decision (unless it's a black and white issue that the bible does not leave room for you to make varied decisions - i.e. Eph 5:3, Gal 5:19, etc.) and humbly weigh advice and counsel from spiritual people, making a decision in faith in which you will reap the consequences (good or bad - Gal 6:7). So the next time you hear someone say, "advice is just advice" be sure to ask them what they mean by that statement. If you feel signs of pride, independence, or arrogance behind the statement, challenge the thinking and admonish the person to be humble, and to recognize their own deficit of objectivity in an emotionally charged situation. Help them (or yourself) to see that being able to be persuaded will help them to make the best decision, and not just the one that they want most.