It’s time to take another thrill-packed look into The Doctor’s mailbag- and here’s our controversial first question…
I've been hearing how it's not Biblical to "date" What's your view?
OK, before The Doctor gives his opinion on this question he would like to strongly recommend that you discuss this first with your parents, Youth Pastor and/or other church leader whenever possible. “Dating” can be a very controversial subject and one answer may not be right for everyone. A spiritually mature person who knows you personally can probably give you better advice on this question than The Doctor can over the Internet.
So with that in mind, here’s what The Doctor thinks…
First, it’s hard to say that the idea of “dating” someone is totally unbiblical. The reason for this is simply because dating we know it today didn’t really exist in Biblical times. There was no need for dating in those days because teens in the Biblical era normally didn’t decide on their own marriage partners as we often do today. In the days of the Bible, it was customary for parents to arrange marriages for their children. These marriages usually took place around the middle teenage years with 13 being the minimum age for boys and 12 for girls. Now while this might sound a lot easier than going through years of dating to find someone special, there were a lot of steps involved before the couple actually got to say, “I do.”
Here’s how the process worked: Once the right person was agreed upon, a payment would be negotiated with the future bride’s father. This payment could be in the form of money or services provided to the bride’s father to help pay him back for the loss of his daughter as a valuable worker. After the deal was completed, the couple would then enter a period of “betrothal.”
The betrothal was something like the modern-day “engagement” that we see between couples but it was a lot more formal. First, a marriage contract binding the future bride and groom together was agreed to in the presence of witnesses. These were actual legal agreements and they were taken very seriously. There were very few “broken engagements” in those days, for the only way you could get out of a betrothal would be to go through a process of divorce. Anyway, once everything was completed, gifts would be exchanged and everyone would go off and have a big party.
This period of betrothal could last for up to a year. During this time the groom would work to prepare the couple’s future home, usually by building an addition onto his father’s house. When everything was complete, the groom and his friends would then go off to meet the bride and her companions (see Matthew 25:1-11). The groom would bring the bride back to the home that he had prepared for them which then was followed by wedding festivities that could go on for a week or more.
So you can see that things were a lot different for couples back then but it still leaves us with the same basic question- how can you tell if a dating relationship is right for you today? Well, one way is to ask yourself an obvious question: “what is the purpose of dating?”
Ideally, the dating process should serve one purpose- to help determine God’s choice for a marriage partner. Unfortunately, this is not always the main motivation for many couples and people often find themselves entering into dating relationships for the wrong reasons. Some of these reason often include peer pressure, loneliness and a strong desire for attention from the opposite sex, which are often bad motivations for entering into serious dating relationships. There’s another thing, too- couples in serious, long term dating relationships are often tempted to make bad choices that can lead to bad consequences. Because of these things, The Doctor can understand why many people have a problem with the whole dating concept.
The Doctor’s personal view is that a dating relationship can be OK for older teens if some guidelines are followed…
- Determine beforehand that you will date only those people who share your faith and appear to be at least as spiritually mature as you are.
- Pray and seek God’s leading before and during a dating relationship.
- Be prepared to break off a dating relationship if you come to believe that you are unlikely to ever love the person you are dating enough to marry him or her
Remember that the purpose of dating is to help determine God’s choice for a marriage partner and if you’re a younger teen who isn’t yet ready to seriously think about marriage, then you probably shouldn’t be in a dating relationship. Dating someone special can be fun and exciting but it’s also something that you must take very seriously. Serious dating relationships can be positive and rewarding for the right people but they can also result in devastating and painful experiences that leave long-term emotional scars when people get into them before they’re really ready.
The Doctor has had the privilege of seeing many couples meet, enter dating relationships, fall in love, marry and enjoy happy lives together. The Doctor has also met other people who have been devastated by failed relationships in their past and the effect of those failed relationships have made it difficult for these people to enjoy healthy relationships with the opposite sex today. For this reason The Doctor would strongly encourage you to seek God, read the Scriptures and talk with your parents, Pastor, Youth Pastor or other church leaders to help determine what your view on dating should be.
If you’d like to read a little more on this subject, take a look over here.
Are there really such things as ghosts?
Well, the way that Hollywood churns out movies featuring ghosts it would be easy to think so! In reality, many “ghosts” can often be traced to pranks, shadows, natural occurrences or some other sort of optical illusion. The same can probably also be said of UFO’s, “aliens,” and other sorts of weird stuff. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that sometimes “ghosts” can’t be explained away so easily. So what’s the answer? Well first, let’s define our terms.
A “ghost” is “the spirit of a dead person, especially one believed to appear in bodily likeness to living persons or to haunt former habitats.” (1) Now Hebrews 9:27 tells us that “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” That sounds pretty final and would seem to rule out the possibility of people coming back from the dead as ghosts but there’s more. In 2 Samuel 12:23 there is another Scripture that says something important on this subject. In this passage we’re told that King David’s infant son had just passed away. In response to this sad occasion, David made this remark: “Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (NIV).
In other words, David expected to see his son in the next life but he also realized that he would never see his son again in this life. So these passages seem to indicate that -barring a miracle from God- death is final and The Doctor thinks that he is on reasonably good Scriptural ground in saying that there are no such things as ghosts.
So how can we account for “ghosts” that can’t be explained? Well, while there may be no such things as ghosts that is not to say that spiritual beings don’t exist at all. You see, the Doctor believes that it’s possible that some who encounter “ghosts” are actually coming into contact with demonic beings who are masquerading as dead, departed loved ones. Remember that 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 tells us that Satan himself can transform into an angel of light, so it’s no big deal for him (or one of his agents) to assume the identity of someone who has passed away. In addition, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 also reminds us that Satan is known for his “lying wonders.”
The Bible gives people some very clear warnings against getting involved with “spirits of the dead” and similar types of activities. One example of this is found in Deuteronomy 18:10-12 which warns people about getting involved with those who attempt to contact the dead and other such things. Another example is seen in 1 Chronicles 10:13 where we read that King Saul died specifically because he went to a medium with a request to bring the prophet Samuel back from the dead.
You see, Saul wanted to ask for Samuel’s advice because God had stopped giving him guidance as a result of the things he had done. God permitted Samuel to speak with Saul on this one occasion but the message that Samuel gave him was probably not the one that Saul wanted to hear…
So that’s The Doctor’s take on ghosts. Remember, “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4) so you never have to be afraid of such things. And for those -like Saul- who think that it’s a good idea to try and contact departed loved ones for advice and guidance, The Doctor will leave you with this bit of advice from the prophet Isaiah…
(1) The American Heritage Dictionary third edition