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February 22, 2021 1:00 am
Author Marshall Segal explains what it means to live and date with purpose. Segal, who is a husband and father now, reflects on his single years and the lessons he learned while pursuing love and marriage. Admittedly, he jumped into the dating game way too early, stayed in relationships way too long, and crossed a few boundaries sexually. Eventually he learned how to do it right. Segal takes a moment to coach parents whose teens are eager to date.
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If you come into a dating relationship with a past the past. The Duke never shared with your current boyfriend or girlfriend and I relationship starts heading toward marriage. Do you tell them about your past and how much do you tell here's how Marshall Siegel answers that question. I think the gospel frees us and there is therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
The gospel frees us to be honest about our failures or weaknesses or flaws. If were not willing to be that with someone that were dating is probably knocking to change just because you make promises of the altar and nothing is more important in marriage. Apart from Christ in trust and honesty listing so I think it's really helpful and it's a way of cultivating indicating the kind of honesty, transparency, trust that marriage runs on.
This is family life today.
Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson and Bob Lapine were to talk about the challenges facing people who are not yet married today. That's the title of a book by Marshall Siegel, who joins us stay with us and welcome to family life today. Thanks for joining us. So you have a lot of not yet married's at Kensington church. We have a lot of you I think we hear quite often like you know because one things and I do regularly as a marriage series and the singles will say hey you know what about us. So yeah, you hear that, although we think this is for you and I don't see it that way off in the singles in our church can feel forgotten and not addressed when when you planted the church 30 years ago.
I'm guessing that the singles were younger singles and their older singles today.
Would that be right.
I think we have. I think we have an array of all different ages 20s to 60s laughing because I think you are solely don't remember but yet when we started we had 43 people so that means there was somebody was single because you get a number course that counted dogs, cats, trees and bushes everything that's it's a it's an eclectic group still today, but there a dominant force in F. I'm excited about an important force. They are important for us and we got Marshall Siegel here to talk with us about it today. Marshall welcome to family life today. I think I'm excited to be here. Marshall is a writer and managing email@example.com, which many of us appreciate and have benefited from and are so grateful for the huge archive of books and sermons and articles and videos. I love the asked pastor John videos you guys make available so thanks for all you do well. Thank you. Praise God. It's it's great to get to hear what God is doing to the resources were thankful Marshall has written a book called not yet married the pursuit of joy in singleness and dating your married, so did this come out of years of singleness for you yes absolutely yeah I say in the introduction that it strains and the book came out after I was married so people questioned not yet married yeah but you are and it did it it came from really a decade of reflection starting results graduating from college all the way up until getting married and then after I finished writing the book. After I got married and so just reflecting on what I felt God was doing over those years back into the teen years high school college after college and that what he was teaching me and so as I started to write those lessons out. The process was long as five years, probably in the making. So the book to come out after I was after I was married. I'm really grateful, actually, because I get put some closure on that season for me in a way that I could look back and really feel I can put the book forward in a way that feeling I could close that chapter and try to explain what got it done. Let me ask about that season it as you look back on the start of high school to. I do okay. Give yourself a number. Grade 1 to 10 and on if if you are saying here's how those years were for me and I'm thinking in terms of it if you could do it again with an and that would be a 10. How would you say you did during your single years, yeah, thanks for asking Ike I can't give it a number from that whole range, but I could say high school would've been two or three college three or four and then after college.
There was a really big awakening for me in my pursuit of the Lord discovering what it meant to enjoy Jesus treasure him, find him is my greatest satisfaction look to him for happiness and significance in love. So from there on out. It got a lot stronger, fast, and then deepened as events MFA and as we walked through some of the lessons I learned that I got to learn a lot from her in the process to so I don't how to rank that season I look at it will finally getting to meet her and get to know her of the trajectory was good from high school, all you were moving in the right direction get worse yet, that's good.
Get as many as I would've hoped the number so low on college I jumped into dating really early really in middle school was what I would consider a first serious relationship.
I can sixth grade Sirius yeah I can look back and remember calling a girl regularly. We we said we were boyfriend and girlfriend never went on a date but and I'm not sure what my parents at the time knew about that relationship. They knew we were friends. He probably didn't think much of it but then from there on out a serious girlfriend a year seventh grade and eighth grade 9th grade 10th grade. Different girls each time, and varying levels of on health in those relationships, but immaturity amidst a say in the book. I don't think people should date until they can marry at least within a reasonable time and that's because were just not ready. In terms of life and so falling into all kinds of traps that there are for dating not dating to early staying relationships too long. Treating young woman's heart cavalierly experimenting. Physically a sexual immorality. The trend through was that my heart wasn't yet anchored in Christ.
In a way that would allow me to selflessly love somebody else in this. Is this what you found with other not yet married people. A similar journey. Yeah, I mean it in. There are remarkably mature young people who meet their significant other in in high school and date faithfully under the structure of a healthy church or a healthy family and get married in and it goes really well, but my experience in counseling high school students and young life for eight years and then been involved with college and post-college students.
When I was in Minneapolis my expense over and over again is that it it feels harmless to dive in early and experiment into to think maybe I'll marry this person and more often than not, what ends up happening is that you leave a trail of relationships, broken relationships, none of which really had the potential for marriage and all of which leave you with instead of leading you to love and ends up leaving you to shame and regret that you carry in and are dealing with in your early 20s late 20s I should get more serious. I've had this thought that I I'm kinda hoping that in the eternity that we get a chance to see how junior high and high school would've been if we had known Jesus and walking with him you don't live that way to to be able to go back and redo junior high and high school. Today, knowing what I know today. I'd love to be able to redeem what was broken in. In all those years but you said word or not emotionally mature. Most of us are spiritually mature during that season.
Relationally, nobody ever coached me in junior high or high school about. Here's what what a relationship should look like. Here's what boundary should look like. Here's what is right to say and do. So I'm getting my coaching from the movies and for my peer group. I remember I was out at the movies with my friend Danny and we were out with two girls from our class and you know what movie I I haven't. I can imagine. I think I could be wrong. I think it was Patton to see okay that's intense night but really great date movie. It was really not matter what the movie was it was Denny and Cindy and Nancy and me to you on a date that will see, it was just Denny and me. And these two girls.
It didn't just yell acknowledging that we all went together, but Denny, I think it was Denny said hey why don't you and I go to the movies with Cindy and Nancy.
It wasn't like planning to bring Nancy.
Nancy was my girlfriend. As far as I knew Cindy wasn't Denny's girlfriend, and I thought yeah that be cool so we all go to the movies together will halfway through the movies. This is ninth grade. Halfway through the movies. Denny puts his arm around Cindy and she starts kinda cuddling up to him and I'm sitting there going I'm supposed to do anything right because Nancy wasn't like my girlfriend or anything, but but the I'm just thinking I guess this is where I'm get my cues from and then I'm thinking would be nice to have a girlfriend be nice to have somebody who who around school like there's a girl who thinks I'm really special. It was all about me. It was nothing about her electronics. Yeah, exactly.
It was all of that and I did put my arm around Nancy and and later she kind of explained that she didn't like me in that way well but I like her that it was just like I okay will that's fine.
I just thought we were supposed it was like my heart was broken with like I'm just trying to learn the rules here. Yeah, right, and I was learning it from ninth graders, which is the mistake it's a great question so far. It's better listening.
How do we coach our kids that are too young and they're not emotionally mature, and they're not spiritually nature your young dad when he can say and how will you coach your son John that I don't answer that question. Quite yeah 10 or so years I hope to to learn before answer questions a good question is when is it one more thing about that just in terms of ranking your password and allow people listening will be thinking about high school years college years years that they are ashamed of and I'm ashamed of the way that I treated some young women in those years and is fan I process this not I write about in the book I there's a day so we started dating.
May 1, 2013. We dated for a year long distance so long distance it takes longer to get to know each other have Helen Gloria so I would've been 26. A year later, I had decided I needed to explain share more of my history with her before we move forward anymore suck. I could tell others things developing the relationship and I was having affections for her and falling in love with her and wanting to marry her and wanting her to to love me and marry me, but I knew that if we were to trust each other. I needed to be really clear and honest about things in the past so we could process it together and give her an opportunity to say I can't trust you. In light of the sinks and so May 1 we started dating. 2013 May 2, 2014's almost exactly a year later I'm visiting in California and I talked about this in the book, but I can remember, I could take you to the place on the beach where we had this conversation took me 30 minutes to try to get the umbrella into the same sand. I couldn't do it. I was so nervous already about the conversation and then it was windy so I ventured his little lady down the graph of a white flag of surrender. But then I proceeded to share about you in the last 10 years or so.
10 or 15 years. Just the layers of brokenness and in ways that I had sinned against her long before I even knew her but ways that I felt intensely. Now knowing her and admiring her and falling in love with her and and practicing sexual purity with her.
I knew that she needed to know these things and so we I shared about it and it fell really heavily on her. I could feel the emotion of it that that we had talked in vague terms that there was a pass but but never in specifics and so as I brought the specifics out. I could feel how heavily away on her, and yet sheets shall describe it today if people ask about it. She just felt a way like. Unlike she'd ever felt before. A wave of grace come over her and she was able through tears and a moment to extend a forgiveness that has endured to this day.
To this day, despite us having to work through some of the pain. The consequences of sin.
Sin always hurts always has consequences. So we still have to to this day were still working through some of those things, but never have I felt that she's withheld the forgiveness that she grant to me that day and so we talk about the past I talk about into two ways, and I think it's true to talk about in two ways. One, someone will ask if you go back and do it again like you talk about when you do it again differently absolutely no question in my mind if I could go back again knowing what I know now about Christ, about the Bible about heaven and hell about my join him about Faye if I could go back now and do those years. Knowing you can meet this woman you love.
This will never spend the rest your life with this woman I would do almost everything differently in my dating life. But if you ask Faye do you wish you did it differently.
She would say yes but I wouldn't trade any of it. I wouldn't trade any event, she believes that we and we believe that we have experienced more of God on this road. The road that we walked including my broken past that we would experience any other way. It it wasn't a plan B for God that there would've been a planet better version where we would experience more of him.
If I would've done things differently so both need to be set if if you have not made the mistakes I've made in relationships. I plead with the Lord, that you wouldn't tell that he would rescue you from that that you wouldn't be drawn into the things that so many are drawn into and dating, but if you have a pass don't for a second believe Satan and think that those years were wasted that God can't purpose those for ways for you to make you a better spouse a better husband a better wife a better father or mother that he can't use that in some way Scriptures filled with testimonies of broken people who God repurposed for some significant way for his glory for the good of others, and so to say. If you're ashamed of your past, that's okay. We should feel that there's a godly guilt that we feel Micah 7. My favorite verses. This was if I had to pinpoint where my 1 to 10 turn tail Micah 7 says rejoice not over me all my enemy when I fall I shall rise. When I sit in darkness. The Lord will be a light to meet.
I shall bear the indignation of the Lord as a terrifying verse and terrifying phrase in there so when I follow rise I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I've sinned against him until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me not against me and he will bring the ounce.
The light shall look upon his vindication that was life-changing for me because it didn't brush away the past and brush away the guilt, but it created a world in which I could live with hope despite my past and believe that God was working that he's bringing me out to the light and he's using that in a way for my good. For phase good for our sons good for the those that I serve in ministry for their good and so I think it's really important how we deal with sexual history broken past and dating or any other area of life. It's the beauty from ashes principal and that's what God delights in doing and and I think it's important for listers to know you may be looking at your past and gone there so much. I'm ashamed of, and there so much have made such a mess of whatever and the truth of the gospel is God takes whatever the messages and make something glorious out of it. When we surrender to him. Anything is God death that there's a fear and wondering, will this person do that as well. Will they offer that much grace, how did you know this was the time when people are dating.
When do you bring that up. Yeah, that's a great question.
I've been through both experiences, so I've been through a dating relationship where a young woman said I can't go on yeah and that was one of the darkest days I can remember in the Lord used in such a loving way, in my heart to show me the depth and seriousness of sin. I don't think I felt it enough until I looked at her face and saw how devastated she was spent yet that had to bring fear as you were about to tell Faye absolutely very been here and it was rejection while yeah and flipping through says work out your salvation with fear and trembling, and so I think that the fear and trembling, maybe not all of it. There may been some fear man. In it, but the fear and troubling. I felt on May 2, 2014, as were walking on the beach. I believe a lot of that was holy that was coming from a place of I know the seriousness of sin. I know how devastating it can be against God first and foremost, but in someone else's life, and I don't take it lightly anymore and I took it lightly. A lot of times in the past and so walking the rest of the fit had no idea flip a coin issued an essay. Yes, I forgive you I love you and I want to walk forward with you or I love you as a brother. Thank you for telling me and being honest, I can't go on right now and not from us.
If someone has a conversation with you and you don't feel ready like it that same wave of grace doesn't come to you immediately.
You're not compelled because you love Christ to say I forgive you, accept you. Let's keep dating. I don't think that's a healthy response. In that case sometimes it'll mean I think we should take a break for a month where I want some time to process this in my community and I want to make sure that your real and if if we take a break for six months and then we come back and we start delicious begin. Then they'll be some trust is been built of that time was really wise and never would've thought of that in high school or college and never thought take a break to try to prepare for trusting each other.
I just wouldn't have ever thought of that. So your question when you know when to share the information. I would say it's not helpful right of the gate.
This is not a relationship built no trust built. It is a subjective thing, I wouldn't say one year or six weeks or six months because some listeners. It's just operate on very different timelines, but I would say my principal for questions like these is lean hard on those who know you best love you most and are willing to tell you when you're wrong.
That's a principal. I use an obvious M I'm assuming that they love Christ, but I would lean hard on us a few people in your life were willing to say the hard thing to you to say I know I need to be honest with this person. Eventually, about my past. Do you think now's a good time to be honest with them or do you think I should wait longer and and what you think the wisdom is on the what question say just about when what he share how much how detailed how to answer that question again. It's gonna be a subjective thing, but I will I when it's a conversation with Faye saying I don't want anything to come up after were married, that would surprise her.
So I want to share enough detail that if the scrolls are unrolled before her when we're in marriage that she wouldn't say oh you never told me about them so I don't think that means a gratuitous amount of detail I don't think you have to go back and explain every interaction but frequency and kind of offense, whatever it might be in there look to be a whole host of of different things that might come up here in terms of brokenness in the way that could be about communication.
I was it could be about physical intimacy and sexual morality. I think the gospel frees us. There is, and therefore now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. The gospel frees us to be honest about our failures or weaknesses or flaws and if were not willing to be that was someone that were dating is probably knocking a change just because you make promises at the altar and and nothing is more important in marriage.
Apart from Christ than trust and honesty in the sink so it's a way of cultivating in dating the kind of honesty, transparency, trust that that marriage runs on, under, the Lord, you know, I wouldn't want to with my teenage boys or girls. I wouldn't want to try to project some level of future shame on them like say if you make mistakes during high school and college, you sin. During those years, you kind of transgress a level where there is no grace for forgiveness for you. I would want to do that without I wonder about sitting down with a 14-year-old, and saying there's gonna be a day on the beach when you want to propose to somebody, and the question will be on that day. Can you look at that person and say I made a commitment to save myself to be yours alone or will you have to say look before I ask you this. There's some stuff I have to tell you, and again there's there's grace in those moments, but that's one of those things that you'd like to think somebody going out.
I wish somebody and said to me at 14 years of find yourself at some point with the one so maybe you ought to just prepare for that day and be thinking about that day and just have that the back your mind as you make decisions about who you date about what happens in your dates and a and and how you handle things I'd I had girls in high school that I'm going back to and asked for forgiveness from what happened in our relationship and summerlike, but I said I just under conviction on the stuff I just need to ask you to forgive me for how I mistreated you during our our dating years and I think it's hard for all of us and especially those not yet married to have the Longview like that that that requires a perspective this is. I will think forward now and is part of what you're almost saying is likely if you're not able to do that your present rated date. You know, because it requires a little bit immature to be outgoing and make decisions.
Now with the Longview and if I'm not willing to able to do that. I again their essay, I would date anyway because that's the immaturity there but if it should be assigned to go on probably need to wait right yeah I think that's right. I think your your thought raised two things for me one. I would really discourage anyone from having the honesty about your past conversation with your ring in the pocket right now.
I know you very bad yeah that's a battle plan for all kinds of reasons. I knew that needed to happen well in advance like I would say, weeks, months in advance of a proposal because you want to give someone a real honest opportunity to process that information and you can't deal with all the consequences of it before you get married, but you can do a lot less you can draw in some godly married people to say here's what were walking through his obstacles in front of us sought to save separate those two photos asked how many weeks was it for you before the actual proposal.
Six months okay six muscle mass.
You are quick and I know you I say some else with you. For we leave it for a experiences wave of grace when I love the term debt that ever like dissipate like did a week or two like you know and that's what I would say there have been days in dating and then especially in marriage are somewhat more vulnerable to each other in marriage there been days in marriage where my past is very hard for her and she's honest about the and have encouraged her any time you feel that yeah I want to hear it.
It hurts me because sin hurts you, not abusing me. By doing that them and were not afraid of that in our house was not afraid to talk about hard things in the past that are affecting us now because we think if you drawn those things into the light talking about on them together, creating rhythm of rehearsing the gospel in your home, praying together, going to the Lord with that that over time he can continue to heal and build our listings are so it comes up regularly in our home MSA regularly.
I'm not infrequently that she will say I'm tempted right now to think about your past and not trust you in this moment, but I went on to say that out loud so that we can see about it. She needed reassurance. She's reassurance.
Yeah, once you to disquiet that Saturday.
Oh, I don't. I trust him. I don't and I just think God loves when we bear our hearts to him in prayer. Mainly, but then to each other in ways that allow us to stir each other up towards love and good works, and so for me to be able to say in advance thank you so much for forgiving me the way you did.
It was the most tangible expression of the gospel I've ever experienced that afternoon on the beach and she remembers that she remembers what it feels like the way the grace to follow her and this moment instead of becoming a pulling of the threat of our marriage and the trust in her marriage were weaving together and stats with adding to the equipment were that were making my other thought on that was that. I think a lot of people say don't do things now you regret in marriage, which I think agree editing a lot of young people I know for me daily diary knew that I asked said it had people and yet I was doing it so I think one thing is that we all we all love the idea of prisons of sexual purity. The kind of people who are listening and leaning in and reading their Bibles, and loving Jesus. No one thing on just sexual impurity is something you drawn to it as a concept and in in most of our moments 9% psych all absolutely not. I want to be sexually pure.
I don't want to go there, then these moments of weakness were you you put yourself in a bad situation. You're tired temptation comes and also in your font something that 99% the time you like. I want any part of that.
So what route to bring it back to is what we talk about don't do something now that you will regret in marriage, which I think is a pretty vague abstract thing for a lot of young people summit fan I practice it was super helpful was that we talk to each other in ways that assumed we were to marry somebody else letting me let that look like so for instance, there would be conversations that we would have or if there is any temptation into sexual impurity or anything like that. We might talk about she might talk about her husband are knocking to do that because I'm I'm reserving that for my husband or I don't want to talk about that until I know that a man's good to be my husband to see how she's not saying that you're gonna be my husband. Yes we all as we start to date every single relationship I was in. I said this is the one right to marry her. I'm 11 years old and semi-minor filing a future outlook on homework and have and how many kids in and out what life's gonna be like, we build that dream out and so then we say okay this is going to be my husband or this is good be my wife and less we break up and I think if you turn it and say this is not my husband. This is not my wife, my husband, my wife are waiting at the altar and you are not the person until you are that person till you make those promises with me at the altar, and so for us, that third person was a really helpful tool for us in making it more concrete that that Juergen have to tell a husband a wife about this relationship one day and that helped us a lot. Now we are 20 units. We 728 29's were not a teenager but already as I think about my son.
That's something I want to start proxy really early to say.
Don't assume that this person is you have never heard that explained that way is that is really his way of telling you how sick and even now as a married man and a dad think the same way and make decisions for my son to make decisions for my grandkids you know and not just for me.
It adds a gravitas to the decision. I don't want to stay in front of my wife and kids and explain some bad decision I would stand before him and say I was thinking to you when I stay pure when I made this decision but I think it's clear that every 11-year-old America needs to read not yet married him eventually wrote them for regular hopes of 11-year-old is as it would be good for a high school kids to read this or college kids or for moms and dads to take a high school son or daughter through this go through it together. The first half of the book is about being not yet married the second half of the book is about when the not yet married's meet and you begin your journey toward a possible marriage where making Marshall's book available this week to family like today listeners who can help support this program with a donation and you may be thinking, Wallace is in a book that I need necessarily, but I bet you can think of somebody you could give this book to as a gift when you make a donation today to support the work of family like today, you can request Marshall Siegel's book not yet married, you can donate online, go to our website. Family life today.com to donate or call one 800 FL today. Let me just say your donations are what make family like today possible impact it makes possible all that we do here at family life which are actually giving to is the health and strength of marriages and families just across the country, but around the world every day there are hundreds of thousands of listeners people online who are interacting with us who are benefiting from what's available through the ministry of family life today and you make all that possible.
Every time you donate, so if God has used family like today in your own life your own marriage your own family you can pay it forward for others when you make a donation today and again will send you a copy of Marshall Siegel's book not yet married when you make your donation today donate firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life and in the word today to make your donation, David Robbins, who is the president of family life is here with us, and you've talked with a lot of young couples who have had to think through my gonna have this conversation will I say what's the right time and how much do I share right yeah it was ever increasing conversation with twentysomething couples that we were working with. But really this conversation a day of listening to it is going. Oh my word.
I remember my conversation with Meg, and I remember the restaurant and the table we were sitting. That and as Marshall said our relationship enough time. It been there for some significant trust to happen and we were at a turning point thinking about the future and the Holy Spirit really began the season and prompted me to go there with some of the mistakes in my own life and we we set up the conversation. We know him and talk about it.
Meg jumped in and she said I'll go first and so she goes first and she is there crying and tears over telling one boy in her lifetime that she loves him and she kissed him a little too much and I just come home. I love your sincerity, but old man here.
I can only know here's my turn you.
You've got a carry-on that I've got a footlocker Isa. I like to be fair to say I never fell off a cliff of where I didn't want to go.
Ultimately, by the grace of God, but I brought a lot more in my locker to the table and as I went there and shared some of the things that really just was shame and you know secret things that I've held onto I encountered the grace of God through Meg that day and forgiveness in a way that I had really never experienced in my experience. First John 17 in a real way that if we walk in the light as he is in the light and we have fellowship with one another. The blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin and the most important thing that happened that day is that it set the pattern of keeping things in the light, a pattern of trusting God and believing running to the light as soon as possible.
In marriage, and that that is always worth it. And it was upset that day. The pattern was set down those conversation can be very hard conversations to have, but as I've heard Dave and Ann Wilson say there is deeper intimacy. On the other side of those conversation of good counsel, like you, David. Not tomorrow we will talk to those not yet married's who are in a lonely season because they'd like to be in a relationship would like to be married, but nothing seems to be happening right now how to find joy in your status as a not yet married person to talk with Marshall Siegel about that tomorrow. You can tune in for that thinker engineer today. Keith Lynch will get some help from Bruce Goff entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson on bumping back tomorrow for another edition of family life today family like to use a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas crew ministry help for today hope for tomorrow