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Dating Done Right: Sean Perron & Spencer Harmon

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
September 26, 2023 5:15 am

Dating Done Right: Sean Perron & Spencer Harmon

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 26, 2023 5:15 am

You're dating—but man, do things get sticky. Authors Sean Perron and Spencer Harmon help you approach marriage on purpose, and done right.

One of the things you have to think about with purity is, why are you doing it? Why? And if the motive is, “I am doing this so that my honeymoon will be amazing,” you will be disappointed. Because your category of amazing is probably not calibrated according to God's Word. -- Spencer Harmon

Show Notes and Resources

Check out more from Sean Perron and Spencer Harmon at unspokenblog.com

Learn how to share of your sexual history with a new romantic interest.

Learn more about Sean Perron and Spencer Harmon's church First Baptist Jacksonville ..and discover their writings

If you're interested in hearing more from Sean and Spencer, listen to their Unspoken Blogs podcast

Purchase Sean and Spencer's books: Letters to a Romantic: On Dating,

Letters to a Romantic: On Engagement, and Letters to a Romantic: First Years of Marriage

Find resources from this podcast at shop.familylife.com.

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One of the things you have to think about with purity is why are you doing it?

Like why? And if the motive is, I am doing this so that my honeymoon will be amazing. You will be disappointed because your category of amazing is not probably calibrated according to God's Word. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So how about you tell, real quick, you can do this in 30 seconds, our engagement story. You didn't know I was going to do that.

I can do it in 30 seconds? Okay, we're driving to a conference, senior year. It's called Senior Panic because it's a conference for Christians like, what are you going to do after you graduate? And I'm 19 years old. You're 22. We're in love. We decided we're going to get married, but she doesn't know I'm going to do this. So I say, hey, you know, the Bible passage where it says the two shall become one and leave their mother and father. And I go, what do you think it means by one flesh? And she's like, I said, oh, I wish I, I think I put my Bible in the trunk.

I wish I had it. She doesn't remember. I said to Saul, I'm not sure what it means. I go, it's in John 10 and my Bible is right behind my driver's seat. I stash it there. So she grabs it and she, I said, Mark 10.

You know, Jesus quotes that from Genesis. She opens it up and the ring has been cut into that Bible. The fact that I don't have that Bible in the studio with me today, I still have it.

You can open it up. You see this little shape of a very small engagement ring because we had no money. But it was a great, it was a great way to propose. And it was pivotal. It's a long story, but that day determined our future because of the conference we went to.

That's a whole other story. But today we've got two experts. I guess you could call you guys experts. We've got Sean Perrone and Spencer Harman in the studio who've written a book. Two guys who are really good friends that work at the same church wrote a book on dating and engagement. And we're going to talk tomorrow about marriage. So welcome, guys. You've never been on Family Life today, have you?

Glad to be here. Tell me you've listened to it. I have. It's true. We have.

All right. Tell us it's the most amazing thing you've ever heard. I've never heard anything better. That's right.

I wake up in the morning with my alarm clock now. And it's okay to lie when you're on the show. So tell us there's a little bit. I met you and you work at the same church. Yeah. Both married, got kids. Give us your story.

Yeah. So I have been married to my wife, Taylor. We just celebrated nine years. We've got four kids.

So we have an eight year old, six year old, three year old, one year old. So I like to joke that our life is this peaceful Thomas Kincaid painting. No, I'm just kidding.

I don't think so. But yeah, I've been in pastoral ministry now for about eight years and just finished my fourth year at First Baptist. And that's where Sean and I served together, First Baptist Church Jacksonville. And we've been friends since 2009.

Too long. We went to college together and have been friends, best friends, been friends for a really long time now. And these books are just the fruit of our friendship and walking through these seasons of life at the same time and talking about how to apply God's word to these times of our life.

That are really relevant. Yeah. So my wife and I met in high school. We didn't date in high school, but that's where we met. And we've been married now for a little over 11 years. And we have three kids, four year old, two year old, and then one is on the way. So we're very excited about that. We don't know the gender.

We're going to be surprised. These three books I'm holding in my hand, Letters to a Romantic on Dating, on Engagement, and on Marriage. Where did these come from and why Letters to a Romantic? Which isn't typical of two guys that are friends that are writing these books. It's pretty unique.

Yeah. So a few things. We were in these seasons when we were in Bible college, in seminary, and we wanted to have these, basically they started as blogs originally, that we wanted to document, okay, we're not just soaking up wisdom that we've received from godly men and women and that we've been reading the Bible in, but we want to help others. We want to help others in the season that we're currently in. Because a lot of the advice that you get comes from great godly couples who are decades removed. They're decades removed and we're like, you know what, we're in it, we're digesting it, we're walking through it, we want to share that. And so that was the genesis of the letters. The letters, we wanted to write in such a way that would be interesting to people that they felt personal. We didn't want it to be just like theology ivory tower who wanted to be personal and relevant. But we also wanted it to be short and digestible, actually for people to read them. So that was the letters concept of a kind of different format that would catch people's attention and it did and we're thankful. I mean, Spencer, you wrote an interesting blog, right? That went viral.

Yeah. So it was actually really funny. So Taylor and I, nine years ago, we were getting married. I wrote a blog and I said, hey, I want to explain the gospel to my family before our wedding day. And one of the ways I can do that is to talk about my wife's testimony and then to talk about my testimony and very different. So Taylor has a background, grew up in church, a lot of like rebellion and has an amazing story.

And one of the parts of her testimony, she has tattoos. And I grew up like a clean cut homeschool Christian kid and then we get married. So I wrote this blog. Have you gotten any tattoos since you got married?

No, I've stayed untatted. But I wrote this blog and it was called My Wife Has Tattoos. Published it at like 11 p.m. at night. I'm sure that's not the most optimal time to release a blog.

The night before I get married. Hey, Lord, use this to make yourself known to my family. Wake up the next morning.

Don't even think about it. We're like taking pictures and Sean has his phone out and he's like, hey, Spencer, there's like 50,000 people that have read this blog, which we were blogging. It was like our college friends. And our parents. Yes.

Yes. Love you, mom. And so then we're like right before we walk out to the altar, he's like, hey, man, we're like up to like 250,000 people.

Then we get married and I go on my honeymoon and I forget that anything else exists because I'm on my honeymoon with my wife. And I get back and like a million people had read it and it had been like read on radio stations and all these things that happened. It struck a nerve.

It struck a nerve. And one of the things, this actually gets back to the topic of the books, we wrote these not claiming to be experts. We wanted to be kind of like these fellow pilgrims or these guys that are in the trenches with you, maybe just like a year or two ahead to say, hey, we remember what it was like to try to like fight for purity when you're dating. We remember what it was like to have conversations about the holidays when you're engaged. It wasn't 40 years ago.

It was recent history. And then we wanted to write something really accessible. The way we talk about the book is because we haven't been married for 40 years, we can't have the whole conversation with people. But we said we want to start the conversation.

So let's write these letters, make them really accessible, really readable and kickstart the conversation that someone could read with somebody else. There's questions at the end and we're just trying to kickstart a conversation that would be much more full. With topics that are controversial, but also super relevant that people are asking. Yeah. Yeah. So what are some of those? What are the things that were burning in your heart that you thought we need to write about this? Okay, I'll throw out a few. Okay.

So I'm interested to hear your list. So physical boundaries, kissing in particular. So we took a controversial position on that. Breaking up, how to break up with someone. Should you break up with someone? Do you have a bad relationship? What makes a good relationship? Blame after a breakup.

So those were all categories that we're dealing with at the time. Sexual history. What do you do if one of you is a virgin and the other of you isn't?

What do you do? If you sin during the relationship. Yeah. What do you do when you sin? Should you get married?

If you cross the line physically, thinking about with the engagement book, how do you think about this brand new set of parents that comes into your life called your in-laws? And how do you navigate conversations about that? We had all these questions and there was nowhere to go. But you're right.

Like somebody doesn't want somebody our age. Like, can you guys even remember that long ago? But you guys were just there. Yeah. And it's a different culture that you've grown up in, too. Well, I mean, you just raised all these.

I guarantee. Here's what we've got. We've got singles listening. But we also have parents of kids, teenagers and above, are like, how do I help my kids understand this whole thing? So you're talking to both crowds. At least a lot of parents are listening, but singles as well. So any one of those topics. I'll start here. I was speaking one time on manhood at my church and my assistant, Debbie, who's been my assistant for 30 years, knows I'm preaching on that that morning.

She goes, you won't believe this. My husband Andy and I are sitting at a big boy. You guys know what a big boy is? A vicious big boy. Yeah.

I'm from Cincinnati. We're sitting at a big boy and there's two single guys in the booth beside us. We can hear their conversation. This is the text. One guy says, I want to break up with my girlfriend.

I don't know how to do it. I'm sort of afraid. His buddy says, be a man, send her a text. That was like not a funny conversation.

It was for real. And I'm like, of course, I used it in the sermon that morning. He's like, you want to talk about what a man is? That's not what a man does.

But I don't think we know these days what to do. So you just mentioned one. You want to go there? Yeah. Let's talk about kissing. Sure. Sean wrote the chapter on kissing and let me set it up.

I want to set it up because this truly is like a controversial thing. So let me start with this. Neither of us kissed our wife until the day we got married. And you regret it. And we are so thankful.

Not at all. We did. And so we're like, okay, Christians disagree on this stuff, but we really think that this is wisdom. And so we know we need to write a chapter on this. So Sean took it and gave like seven reasons not to kiss.

I read them all. That was brave of you too, Sean. And so many women that I've talked to and younger women are like, I don't want that to happen because the first one could be super awkward. And I don't want it to be in front of all these people. It just feels like it's so wrong. So I love that you're tackling this. Yeah. And there is, everyone thinks about it.

Everyone wants to kiss the person that they're dating or engaged to, certainly. So everyone's thinking about it. But most people don't think about that the Bible has anything to say about it. But the Bible is super relevant. So one of the reasons, just to jump right in, is the Bible has a category of brother and sister. So you are a brother and sister in Christ, and that is the category of relationship that you're in unless you're married. And when you're married, you're still brother and sister, but you just have this other covenantal relationship that the Bible talks about where there is a sexual element to it. But that sexual element is not intended ever to be in the case for brothers and sisters in Christ. That's how the Bible presents it. In fact, 1 Timothy 5, 2 says, treat your sisters with absolute purity. And so if you would treat your sister that way, your physical sister, then that's the boundaries that the Bible presents, the categories for how you should treat the person that you're not married to, which you're still brother and sister in Christ.

So that's one example. Then you get to other passages that talk about marriage is to represent Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. And you're supposed to, in Ephesians 5, Jesus presents the bride spotless and without wrinkle or any such blemish. Well, if your goal as the man in the relationship is to reflect Jesus and to present your bride without spot or wrinkle or any such blemish, then you want to pursue absolute purity.

How can I do everything I can to have absolute purity in my relationship? I think that is a good indicator that you should not kiss. So let me tell you a story. So the night before Taylor and I got married, we had our rehearsal dinner. And we walk, we take a walk together before we go home for the night. And we both know we haven't kissed. And we both know that tomorrow we're going to kiss in front of 400 people. Like we're like, this is the first kiss. So we talked about it. We were like, okay, so we're not going to kiss right now, but let's just make sure that like, my head's going to go this way and your head go that way and then we'll move in.

Does that sound good? And we like agreed to it before. So that's a funny story, right? And we talked about it because we were sensitive to, okay, we're about to have our first kiss in front of a bunch of people and we don't want it to be awkward.

But let me say this. I have never met a couple that saved physical affection for marriage that said, you know what, I really wish we would have kissed more when we were dating. I've never met him, but I've met a whole bunch of people that have said after they get married, man, we really went too far and we had to untangle some stuff. In our marriage, after we crossed all these boundaries, we didn't want to break. And it's actually one of the things that Taylor and I talked about so much because we were, we like wanted to kiss each other, okay?

Like we were very much attracted to each other. But we talked about this concept of storing up pleasure for later. So we want to honor God in this season of our life, honor this biblical category of brother and sister, and then we're going to trust God that he's going to bless this because it's our desire to honor him right now.

And we're going to store this up for later. And the Lord did bless that. And we're so thankful. We kiss all the time now and we're so thankful for it. But I think it is something that the way we talk about in the book that we really want couples to consider because God really does value our holiness and our purity, especially in this season of dating. And very, very quickly it goes in directions we don't want it to go because it's meant to go somewhere.

That's the way God designed it. And God cares more about our heart than he does our lips. And so what's most important is not that you just didn't technically kiss.

Jennie and I both had previous relationships, dating relationships, and we both kissed other people previously. And the point is not that you'd be a legalist or a Pharisee to say, oh, well, our lips didn't touch before we said our vows. The point is God wants us to draw near to him, not with just our lips, but with our hearts first.

And when you do that, then it actually becomes this great thing of like, do you know what? We don't need to kiss right now. We don't need to have any physical romantic relationship before marriage. There's no need because our hearts are filled with love for each other selflessly. Our hearts are filled with love for the Lord. But the Lord does that when he changes the heart. But if you reverse it and you start with your lips and then get to your heart, then you get all weird and you don't honor God, ironically, because God cares about the heart.

You know, it's interesting. I've never had this thought before, but Luke 6, 44 and 45, you're probably familiar. Jesus says your mouth or your tongue or your words is an overflow of your heart. So I've always preached as a preacher, you want to change your words, you got to start with your heart. It isn't like I got to stop cursing or slander or gossip. You start with your heart.

I've never considered what you just said, that maybe your lips are an overflow of your heart, even when it comes to kissing or sexual purity outside of marriage, it's an overflow. So it's a beautiful way to think of it. But here's my question. What's the pushback? Have you heard a lot?

Let me get to a little pushback. Because I've talked to some women who've grown up in the purity culture and some of what maybe wasn't said, but maybe what they heard was, hey, if you remain pure, God is just going to bless your physical relationship. And then their physical relationship, they are thinking their honeymoon is going to be amazing and it can be difficult or painful. And it doesn't just, you know, get better overnight. It can take a while. And what would you guys say to those people that are like, wait a minute, I thought this was going to be this amazing blessing physically. And it's really hard right now.

Yeah, I think you can tackle this too. But I think one of the things I want to say, and I'm really sensitive to that too, because like we grew up at the height of purity culture where it was like, some people felt like it was a bait and switch. Like you do this, you go to this banquet, you wear these rings and everything about your marriage is going to be great.

True love waits and it's always amazing. Yeah, and here's the problem. Here's where I think, and this is one of the corrections we were trying to make in our book. One of the things you have to think about with purity is why are you doing it?

Like why? And if the motive is I am doing this so that my honeymoon will be amazing, you will be disappointed because your category of amazing is not probably calibrated according to God's word. The reason we pursue purity is to honor God and to glorify Him. And because we believe that God's way truly is best. Like there actually is pleasures at God's right hand forevermore.

So the motive of a Christian's heart in all of life, and we just seek to apply this in every area of relationships, is my heart first is to honor Christ. He has loved me with incredible love. I'm secure in Him. He has given me incredible promises. And so I am going to now walk faithfully with Him, and He is my reward at the end of the day.

He's my treasure. All these other blessings are additions that He does give to us, but the motive is there. And I think that was one of the missteps of the purity culture was that it was often holding in front of you this marital reward that isn't always promised. I mean, you can get married and be on your way to your awesome honeymoon and get in a car wreck and never be able to have sex.

Well, what then? Is Jesus still your treasure? And I think that has to be the motive at the core of why we do these things. It seems also that moral purity or sexual purity was the goal of purity, wherein the truth is in Christ I am already pure. Amen.

And I could be sexually pure and impure in other ways, and I'm only thinking about one area. That's right. Right? That's part of it as well.

Yeah. Amen. It's a redefinition of pleasure. So if you want to save your life, well, you're going to lose it. But if you lose your life for my sake and the sake of the gospels, you'll find it. And when your pleasure in sex is selfless, it is I'm going to delight the other person. I'm going to put their desires first.

All for the glory of God, that's when you have joy. When you do that, then you're not worried about looking awkward on your wedding day, because that's not the goal. The goal is not for you to look awesome on your wedding day. The goal is for Jesus to look awesome and for you to selflessly love the other person like Christ has loved you.

And if you have a strange and awkward wedding night, we talked about preparing for your wedding night in the engagement book, but if you have a strange and awkward wedding night, well, guess what? It's not about you. You get a few more nights, too. That's right.

You get a long time to go. And it's the Lord that you're trying to honor, and your joy is in serving your spouse. Your joy is in serving them, not in being served. So what are you saying? I know you wrote about this, and I read it. You read several chapters on, okay, so if that's been our goal, and they mess up, they blow it.

They kiss, or they go beyond that, and they violate their own barrier. What do you say to them? And I love what you wrote, but I'm just asking you to tell our listeners what you wrote. Yeah, what's most important is do you have godly sorrow or worldly sorrow? Because that sorrow is centered on God Himself. So are you bummed that you messed up your boundary because, oh, man, you now don't have a perfect score? Are you bummed because, oh, you got caught? Are you bummed for some sort of worldly reason? Or are you bummed because, according to Psalm 51, against you and you alone, oh, Lord, have I sinned? Are you bummed because you fear God?

And you're like, you know what? I was sexually immoral. I did sin, and I've broken God's heart, and I need His forgiveness. If that's at the center of it, if you want God's forgiveness, you want to be made pure, you want clean hands and a pure heart, then God wants you to turn to Him, and He will forgive you for anything you've done. He will forgive you right away.

Immediately, that's why Jesus died on the cross. He loves you, and when you sin, that's where you need to run to. Most people hide when they sin. They mess up, and then they go underground, and God says, no, I bled so that you can come to me and so you can be forgiven, and how someone's heart responds is a huge determiner in the relationship of whether or not it should make it, whether or not it will make it, because it really shows, is God the focus or not? Yeah, one of the things that's true on most, in every relationship, especially dating relationships, is everybody comes with a sexual history. Even people that are squeaky clean virgins on their wedding night, they have a sexual history. Everybody has sinned sexually. Everybody is a sexual sinner. So the question is, is when you fall into sin together or one of you is bringing more sexual baggage into the relationship with the others, it's like, well, what do we do with our sin? Well, what you do with your sin is what the Bible tells you to do with all of your sin. 1 John 1.9, if you confess your sin, He's faithful and just to forgive you of sin and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness.

A lot of couples go into their marriages, their wedding night, with guilt, and the question is, does the Bible have anything to say about that? Oh, you were pure all of your life, and I wasn't. So are you better than me?

Am I less than because of you? And the answer to that question is, in Jesus Christ, you're pure. So God takes all of your dark sin and He makes you white as snow.

That's one of the, not everybody has a white wedding dress on their wedding day, but one of the symbols of a white wedding dress is this picture of the church being presented to Jesus as a bride without spot or blemish. And the reality is that when two Christians get married to each other, they are getting married to each other in Jesus Christ, and they are forgiven, they are accepted, and they are made clean. And that applies to their sexual history. One of the things that we have to do as believers is we have to say, how will I think about my past? Will I think about my past according to my understanding and the way I'm going to interpret reality or the way some other person interprets reality? Or will I remember my past the way God remembers my past?

The way God remembers my past, if I've put my faith in Christ, if I've repented of my sins, is he remembers my past in Christ, which means without spot or wrinkle or blemish. And when a couple believes that, and they may have the most complex, complicated, tangled up, crazy sexual story, I've watched it as a pastor firsthand, they can enter into the marriage bed together for the first time pure in Christ. That's the beauty of the gospel, and that's the foundation of marriage.

So, what we're seeking to do in these books is to say, let's put the gospel of Jesus Christ and his grace and his love right at the middle of dating, engagement, and marriage, and let's see what happens as we apply it to every single issue practically. And where it really lands home is in some of those really serious areas of our sexual sin. I was just thinking of myself as a 19-year-old about to get married, and I grew up with pornography in my background because family had it around. I grew up with sexual abuse. I had lost my virginity at 15, and then I become a Christian. And now I'm gonna marry Dave, and we've remained sexually pure with one another, but I did not feel pure at all. And so, the words that you just spoke, if I had had someone, a 32-year-old, say to me, and I knew the gospel, I knew Jesus loved, but I thought, he's forgiven me, but he doesn't see me as pure.

You know, I think so many of us have such trash backgrounds, and things have been done to us, and so we walk into a marriage thinking, oh, I'm garbage. Jesus forgave me. I'm dirty.

I'm dirty, yeah. So, thank you for those words. It's a good reminder to all of us, like, ah, the death and the resurrection of Christ makes us as white as snow. We'll hear more from Spencer in just a second about one thing the purity culture got wrong, but first, we need to see ourselves appropriately in light of the gospel, to allow the truth to break through that consuming sense of darkness we have around ourselves and agree with Jesus when Paul writes, the old is gone, the new has come. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to David Ann Wilson with Sean Perrone and Spencer Harmon on Family Life Today. You know, Sean and Spencer have written three books, and right now, when you give any amount to Family Life Today, you're gonna receive a three-book bundle from the Letters to a Romantic collection by Sean Perrone and Spencer Harmon. It's letters to a romantic on dating, on engagement, and then the first years of marriage.

So, you might say, well, I don't fit into those categories, but more than likely, you know someone who does. It could be a great gift that you could pass along to someone else. So, this whole book bundle is gonna be our gift to you when you partner financially with us. You can go online to familylifetoday.com, or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And feel free to drop us something in the mail if you'd like. Our address is Family Life 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida 32832. Now, if you know anyone who needs to hear conversations like the one you heard today, would you share it from wherever you get your podcasts?

And while you're there, it could really help others learn about family life today if you left us a review. All right, here's Spencer with an appropriate view of the purity culture and one thing that culture got wrong. . One of the things that I think we missed in the purity culture movement a couple decades ago is we miss the fact that the Jesus who instructs us is also the Jesus who forgives us when we fail his instructions. So, in the purity culture, you get this kind of movement of like, hey, let's try to really honor God with our sexual purity. Well, it's like, well, what if you don't? What happens then?

People would go into hiding. So, we have to both hold out, these are the real instructions and commands of Christ that are really relevant to this season of life. Let's honor those. Let's hold them up. And let's also hold up this gospel of grace when we do fail to say, bring your sin into the light.

You don't have to hide. Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about sin. Let's talk about all these dimensions of romantic relationships with openness and honesty because Jesus provides grace for us to both obey him and to be forgiven by him. And for couples who have sinned and maybe they wanna give up and they're like, well, it doesn't matter anymore. Well, that's unbiblical too because there's faith and repentance and Jesus who saves you and changes you, he will give you the power to then obey him. And so, don't give up. Instead, turn, repent and put off the old and put on the new, put off lust and put on purity, put off sexual sin and put on righteousness and God will empower you to do that if you ask him.

He guarantees it. I mean, you guys just said it all. I will just say to the listener who's, maybe like Anne, has felt dirty, maybe even right now, you may be sitting with your boyfriend or girlfriend or maybe you're in first few years of marriage and you're feeling like I didn't adhere to God's standard and you've felt less than. I hope you hear what you guys just said, the truth of the gospel. I think you did what Tim Keller has always said when he preaches. You say, here's the standard from God's word and he goes, most people end there and the preacher's done and people run out and go, I'm gonna try as hard as I can to do it. He goes, before they leave the room, you better say and you'll never be able to meet that standard unless you surrender to Christ and he will give you the power to do it. And I just wanna say to you who are listening, you can't do this.

I can't do this. Christ has done this. And if you're struggling right now, I would say together, get on your knees as a couple. We did this and just say, I surrender. God, we can't do this, but we want to and you can do it in us. We surrender our relationship to you. Do it in us and we will follow you. And when we don't, we'll come back to the grace and the blood of Jesus and we'll get up and do it right again. Yeah. And tomorrow, David and Wilson are back again with Sean Perrone and Spencer Harmon to talk about how dating should be purposeful.

We need to evaluate the other person's faith, their love for Jesus, and involvement in the church with intention of marriage. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-27 21:05:54 / 2023-10-27 21:20:27 / 15

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