Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Biblical View of Friendships and Dating

Leslie Basham: When you listen to lies it causes a lot of pain.

Young Woman: I ended up in a two-year relationship with a guy who had convinced me that he would change. In his past, he had done drugs. I told him from the very first day I met him, I was not going to tolerate that.

For two years I believed that he was going to change. I’m not saying that I don’t believe people can change. But behind my back he was still smoking pot. He was still doing those things.

That ended up hurting me in the long run because I believed his lies. I’ve always been a fixer, I guess. I guess I felt like I was his accountability because when he was with me, he wasn’t going to do those bad things. But even though he was with me, he was doing it behind my back.

So I guess I felt like I was fixing the situation by staying there. And I wasn’t at all.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, April 28.

“I have to have a boyfriend.” This idea has led many young women into some bad choices. It’s just one the topics covered in a new book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Dannah Gresh. Nancy interviews a lot of authors on Revive Our Hearts, but today the tables are turned a little bit.

We invited Bob Lepine, the co-host of the radio program FamilyLife Today, to talk with Nancy and Dannah about this important book.

Bob Lepine: One of the lies that you’ve addressed in Lies Young Women Believe are a series of lies that girls believe about guys.

Dannah Gresh: Imagine that.

Bob: I have to stop and say if there is something that teenage girls are thinking a lot about, it’s guys, isn’t it? This is a pretty dominant theme. Most of them believe that if they’re going to have any worth, if they’re really valuable at all, that’s going to be expressed in the fact that they have a boyfriend.

And if they don’t have a boyfriend, it says that they’re not worth much, right?

Dannah: Oh, yes.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’ve talked to a number of twenty-something women in the course of working on this book. One of them on our staff came to me and she said, "Nancy, this is the entrance for so many other lies. It’s this sense that if I don’t have a guy paying attention to me, desiring me, that I am inferior. I am worthless."

I think there is something in this. God made men and women different; He made them both, and He made them different. There is something in the heart of a woman that longs to be desired. So, teen girls, as that starts to be awakened, those desires start to be awakened, they tap into this.

But again, it’s not just teens. As women, we go through our lives wanting to know, “Is there a man who cares? Do I matter?”

You can have all the girlfriends in the world, but if there’s not a man who thinks you’re special, then you feel “maybe there’s something wrong with me.” Those seeds are planted very young.

Bob: They are planted young. It seems like they are emerging younger and younger in girls, this whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing. I was reading a blog online yesterday where a dad talked about his ten-year-old coming home and proudly declaring, “I kissed a boy today.”

She thought it was something that she’d be esteemed for, commended for. It’s a part of the culture that is sending signals very early to young girls, that having a boyfriend sets you apart and makes you special.

Dannah: And makes you have value.

When we surveyed the young women we talked to in these discussion groups, about two-thirds of them said, “Yes, I really don’t feel value unless I have a boyfriend. I feel like something is wrong with me.” That’s a lot of young women. Now, you might think it’s higher or you might think it’s lower.

What was a little shocking to us is we were real careful about what kind of school type these girls were from. Were they public-schooled? Were they Christian-schooled? Were they home-schooled girls? We wanted to see if there was a difference in the lies that they’re believing.

In many of them, there were. In fact, Erin Davis, the young woman that did our discussion groups for us, said, “I think I’ve been sold on home-schooling because they’re really grounded in truth.”

However, in this particular area, the level of bondage to what they believe about the value that a guy can bring to their life was very much the same no matter what school type they were. That was shocking to us.

Bob: If a girl thinks she needs a boyfriend, then I guess the next thing she thinks is, “I better do whatever it takes to get one of those,” right?

Dannah: Sadly, yes.

Bob: So how does that start to play out in the life of a thirteen or a fourteen-year-old girl? Does she become flirtatious? Does she begin to dress provocatively? What’s going to happen for a thirteen-year-old?

Dannah: She may even, if her parents want her to dress a certain way, she may rebel against them behind their backs. I know of a young woman who comes from a home that really teaches modesty and purity—beautiful, young fourteen-year-old girl—got to school and took off all the clothes Mom put on her that morning because Mom said, “No, you can’t wear that.”

Well, the daughter thought, “I’ll just layer up until I get to school,and then I’ll take it all off.”

So was that girl looking for anything sinful to happen? I don’t think so. I think she was just trying to go along with the crowd,and she wants the attention of a guy.

Bob: What’s at the heart of this, Nancy? Why is it that a fourteen, fifteen-year-old girl is thinking, “If I don’t have a boyfriend, I’m not valuable”? Is that a cultural phenomenon? Is that a heart issue? Where’s the enemy in all of this?

Nancy: Well, it’s a highly-sexualized area and that’s at play all the time. The amount of media exposure, which is another whole area we deal with, is fueling and feeding this.

But you know, so often Satan’s lies and his traps are him offering to us things that God would want to give us but before God’s time or apart from God’s way. So it’s a legitimate desire fulfilled in an illegitimate way.

God did create women and men to partner, to go together. He created marriage. He created women to be attracted to men and men to be attracted to women. He wants there to be the beauty of fulfilled, complete physical, soul, emotional, spiritual love and oneness in that relationship.

And in its time when it’s time, as the Song of Solomon says, “to awaken love,” that’s a beautiful thing. That’s a gift from God.

But I think the lie is and the deception is “you have to have that now,” or “you’re ready for that now.”

And what happens then when it’s thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-olds . . . How many letters have I received from grown women saying, “’I had to have a boyfriend’ led to ‘I have to have a husband.’ It wasn’t God’s time. It wasn’t God’s person. I forced it, made it happen and now here I am, three marriages later, heartache, heartbreak, broken pieces strewn all over the planet of our lives. Oh, I wish I had waited for God’s time and for God’s best.”

Bob: Some girls who are so consumed with this desire to have a boyfriend, to have male attention, one of the lies you address is these girls will abandon what they may have heard or been taught that they ought to not get involved with people who don’t share their faith.

They meet this nice guy, cute guy, sweet guy who pays attention to them and who esteems them and who seems to genuinely care about them.

Dannah: You sound like such a dad. They would just say, “He’s hot.”

Bob: Okay, all right. The one thing that he’s not is a follower of Christ. And they go, “Well, I’m not going to marry him. We’re just friends. What’s wrong with that?”

Dannah: This was a really difficult lie for us to navigate through because when we met with these Christian young women across the nation, they said pretty much across the board, “I intend to marry a Christian.”

But then when we got under that truth to how is their behavior living that truth out, they would say things like this: “I really want to marry a Christian, but I’m not looking for marriage right now. So it doesn’t really matter now.”

Or “I don’t really think it matters if the guys I date are Christians or not. For one thing, we’re just in high school so religion isn’t an issue now.”

Those are two verbatim quotes from these—I can’t emphasize enough that these are young, really outstanding Christian girls, most of them. And they’re saying, “That truth of God will fit my life later.”

But that’s not how God’s truth works. It fits now.

Bob: We’ve heard people talk about missionary dating for years. Is that still a concept that these girls are saying, “I’ll date him because that way I can share Jesus with him”?

Dannah: Let me read something to you that might make you cringe. This is an exact quote from one of our focus groups. How much these girls can romanticize missionary dating.

If you plant a seed, it can make a beautiful flower. You’re speaking God’s Word whether the relationship works out or not. If you can just compromise, think about it, you can impact a non-Christian.

Nancy: I know we’re talking to a lot of people coming from a lot of different perspectives. But I have been really saddened to see how many Christian parents don’t really feel strongly about this whole issue of their children dating non-believers.

We can’t put this all on the teens. I’ve talked with Christian parents over the years and they tell me about someone their son or daughter is dating, in a relationship with. Of course, the first thing I want to know is, “Is that person a believer?”

And they say, “Well, I’m not sure.” But after they’ve told me about how nice this person is and what a sweet relationship it is.

I think some of the blame for this—I’m not trying to ascribe blame, but I’m saying parents have a huge responsibility here, that not only do you not marry a non-believer but you don’t date a non-believer. You don’t have your closest emotional attachments be with non-believers.

Two can’t walk together except they be agreed. I think for parents to be pushing kids together, for starters, and pushing boy-girl things when they’re kids. Now, they’re fourteen and they’re wanting to date. What’s the problem? Well, you’ve been pushing them together since they were in the nursery.

And then to say, “Well, as long as this is a good person, maybe this is okay.” So just a caution there for parents.

I wish I had a nickel for every woman who has come to me later in life and said, “If I could go back and do it again. I didn’t think it would lead to marriage.”

My dad used to say, “Look, you will never marry someone you didn’t date. If it’s not a person who is qualified biblically for you to marry, then don’t get into the relationship.”

Bob: Do you think there are some moms who want their daughters to have boyfriends?

Dannah: I run into those moms all the time. They just get caught up. They live a little bit vicariously through their daughter’s teen years. They just think, “This is fun.”

Bob: You talk about sexual involvement. Again, there’s a lie that a lot of Christian teens are believing when it comes to their sexual involvement outside of marriage. What did you find?

Dannah: Some difficult waters to navigate through that we narrowed down to the lie, “It’s not really sex.”

Bob: And by that, these teens are saying, “If I’m not engaging in sexual intercourse then everything else is okay with God.”

Dannah: Yes.

Bob: Wow.

Nancy: So you have a whole lot of sexual activity, sexual behavior, sexual misbehavior and choices that are sexual in nature, and they’re saying, “But since it’s not sex . . .”

Bob: Again, this is something that the Scriptures speak to. I know you take these young girls to places like 1 Thessalonians 5 and to . . .

Nancy: Ephesians talks about not a hint of immorality among you. And that hint doesn’t have to be just getting in bed. That hint can be ways of dressing, conversation, use of the eyes can be hinting at sexual sin.

What we want to say to the girls is, "We’re not just trying to make your life miserable or take away your fun or lay down the law. God’s laws and His ways are for our blessing and for our benefit. God created you for a purpose and He made you for something. You want to fulfill that something. You want to bring God glory. That’s what you were made for."

How can you do that without regret so that twenty years from now you look back and you’re not living out the consequences of choices that you made today that you can’t then go back and undo.

Dannah: I think the message for moms in this is, how specific have you been about where the line is for your daughters or for your sons? Have you talked with them about some of the things that you’d really rather not talk to them about? Do they know what your expectations are?

If we set the expectation of, “I want you to be pure on your wedding day,” that’s very vague. Even if we say, “I want you to wait for sex until your wedding day,” what does that mean? Where is your line?

I think every parent probably, at least by the age of 14 if not younger, needs to ask their daughter, “Can you tell me what your line is? Where is it? Are you going to kiss before you’re engaged? Are you going to hold hands? What’s your line of physical contact?”

If you haven’t had that conversation with your daughter, you can rest assured that she might be at risk of believing this lie at some point in her life.

Bob: What your daughter is hearing from her peer group is that whatever standard she has sounds pretty old fashioned and is going to make her unpopular. I mean, we talk about her wanting to have a boyfriend. Isn’t this what boyfriends want? They want sexual behavior. So if you’re not going to be willing to do this, you’re not going to have a boyfriend.

I think there are a lot of teenage girls who are thinking, “Look, I’m being a good girl comparatively.”

Nancy: You don’t know what everybody else is doing.

Bob: That’s the whole thing. So their conscience is clear because “Yes, okay, maybe I did something that I’m not entirely comfortable with. But the problem must be with me because my friends are doing a lot more than this and they seem fine.” How do you respond?

Nancy: Of course, one of the lies is that all their friends are doing all of this, when the statistics actually don’t bear that out. So they’re convinced they’re the only one who isn’t. That’s one of the things we want to help them understand, is that there are others who are taking a stand.

But even if there weren’t, I think we want to keep holding up to this next generation the image, the picture, the passion for the glory of God and for fulfilling all that He made them for and saying, “Look, don’t settle for second best.”

I can remember my parents instilling into us, not just in this area but in so many areas, as we would say that everybody else does or doesn’t. The concept was, “But you don’t belong to everybody else.”

It wasn’t just “You’re a DeMoss; therefore, you don’t do these things.” It was “You belong to the Lord, and you’ve been set apart for His purposes.” To make that something that is not a negative or narrow or confining vision for your children, but one you say, “God said all the trees in the garden you can eat. God’s a good God. He’s a generous God. But this one . . .”

Of course Satan’s deception was to focus on the “But this one” and make it seem like God was just this restrictive kill-joy God. He took the emphasis off of what God had said you can do.

We’re saying God wants you to fully enjoy relationship in marriage, sexually and otherwise, that most women never enter into because they have to have it before its time.

Dannah: This is a really important point for us, as believers. We must teach our children to focus on that whole forest full of trees in this area of relationship and sexuality. Because so many times as Christians, we go in and we do say, “Don’t touch the tree in the middle of the garden. Don’t touch the tree in the middle of the garden.”

We become obsessed with what they can’t do when He says, “I want you to wait.” He’s not saying, “Gee, I want you to miss the party.” He's saying, “I want you to have the biggest party that your mind can imagine.”

We need to talk to our daughters in terms of the blessings and how full the forest is of good fruit that they’re going to be able to partake of, just not right now.

Bob: Dannah, you’ve shared with a lot of teenage girls all around the country that these are lies you believed as a teenager, as a fifteen-year-old. You believed you had to have a boyfriend. And then you believed that sexual involvement with that boyfriend was somehow . . .

Dannah: How I kept him.

Bob: Think back to that time. You can empathize with what these girls are feeling. Is there anything somebody could have told you back then that could have caused you to wake up and go, “Oh my goodness, you’re right”?

Dannah: I don’t think anybody could have told me one thing one time. I think young women need to hear again and again and again, “You’re valuable as you are. There’s nothing that can be added to you that would make you better. You don’t need this boyfriend, this friend.”

That’s where, as parents, it comes down to us being in constant communication with our kids, knowing what fears they’re having. Have those conversations.

You can tell them today, “Live a pure life,” and tomorrow they’re going to feel the temptation again, more than they feel how valuable they are. Say it again and again and again.

Bob: I know we’ve told our children many times, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it’s time.” I don’t know that we ever taught them to memorize that verse, but they heard it enough from Mom and Dad.

Nancy: They’ve got it memorized.

Bob: Yet when you’re sixteen and someone is arousing you, someone is showing attention and affirmation, it’s hard for a sixteen, seventeen-year-old to say, “I’m not going to respond to that.” Because, again, it’s so inviting and attractive.

You really have to be on guard and recognize there is danger here if I respond at the wrong time.

Nancy: Bob, I have to come back to—and my burden is for the mothers and the parents—“What parents excuse in moderation,” someone has said, “their children will tend to tolerate in excess.”

I think we need to ask. We can’t just wring our hands in despair and say, “This younger generation is going to hell in a hand basket,” and “What’s wrong with them?”

We need to look in the mirror and say, “What’s wrong with us?”

I just see two things happening.

  • One, have we been painting a picture of Christ that makes Him the pearl of great price? We can’t create that hunger and thirst in them, but do they see in us a love for Christ that makes them realize it’s worth forsaking everything in order to have Christ?
  • Number two, have we been excusing in our environment, in our home, and in our world, entertainment choices, books, culture, influence, that promotes a view of sexuality that is not wholesome and holy?

I have to say I grieve.

Dannah: It’s even casual.

Nancy: It’s just casual. But what people consider casually in terms of the movies, in terms of the magazines.

I hear about church youth groups and Christian colleges and high school groups that are saying, “This is innocent pleasure, entertainment.” And then you see those kids with an appetite for what we’ve been feeding them.

We have to bear some responsibility.

Now for some parents then, the knee-jerk reaction is, “Okay, I’m going to lock you in a closet, and you’re not going to see anything or hear anything or do anything.” Within our own hearts there’s enough sin there resident to make us sinners for life. We don’t have to have all that outward stimulus.

But why add to what’s already in the heart? That’s where I think, as parents and adult generation, we need to be searching our own hearts and saying, “Are we creating a hunger and a thirst for what is wholesome and pure and good and true? Are we even unwittingly or carelessly exposing our kids to things that are creating an appetite and a hunger for the wrong sorts of things?”

Bob: As parents, this all comes back to, “Are we demonstrating in our own lives,” as you’ve said, “that Christ is enough for us,” so our daughters don’t grow up thinking, “I have to have a boyfriend”?

But they see Christ is enough for Mom and Dad, and we teach them Christ is enough for you, too, so that they don’t grow up thinking it’s okay to date a non-Christian because ultimately they understand, “We don’t have the same love for the same Savior.”

So that they don’t grow up thinking, “I need to be sexual in order to maintain a relationship with a teenage boy,” because ultimately they care more about what God thinks than they do about whether this boyfriend is going to dump them tomorrow.

It all comes back to: Do they know and love Christ? Is He first place in everything? As Colossians exhorts us to make Him, that He has preeminence, first place in all things. That’s where we’ve got to be directing our sons and our daughters.

Nancy: That’s the issue. It’s an issue of the heart. Ultimately, it’s not an issue of the behavior or the relationship. Those are symptoms. Those are fruit.

I think the parent wants to get to the heart. I’ve watched good, good parents make good choices and then you still realize it’s God who has to cause it to click and turn on the light. That’s where a parent has to be praying.

I know, Bob and Dannah, as parents of teens, you and your mates are, I’m sure, fervent in prayer that the Lord will make the connection, turn on the light and by His grace draw their hearts.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss offering hope for parents who are trying to help their children navigate the teenage years. Bob Lepine, the co-host of FamilyLife Today, interviewed Nancy and Dannah Gresh, co-authors of the book Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.

If you’re in or almost in the process of helping your teenager navigate through life, we’d like to send you a copy of Lies Young Women Believe. Just make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, and we’ll send you the book.

It’s easy at ReviveOurHearts.com. You set the donation amount and let us know if you’d like the book. You can also call toll free 1-800-569-5959. When you donate by phone, be sure to mention that you’d like the book Lies Young Women Believe.

Well, who’s telling the stories that shape your daughter’s view of romance and dating? We’ll look at that tomorrow when Bob, Dannah and Nancy pick the conversation back up on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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