Purpose Driven Romance
The last thing singles want is more rules. But if you’re looking for an intentional, God-pleasing game plan for finding a future spouse, Joshua Harris delivers an appealing one. A compelling new foreword, an all-new “8 Great Courtship Conversations” section, and updated material throughout makes this five-year revision of the original Boy Meets Girl a must-have! Harris illustrates how biblical courtship—a healthy, joyous alternative to recreational dating—worked for him and his wife. Boy Meets Girl presents an inspiring, practical example for readers wanting to pursue the possibility of marriage with someone they may be serious about.
Are you ready for “romance with purpose”?
If you’re fed up with self-centered relationships that end in disillusionment, it’s time to rethink romance. Finding the loving, committed relationship you want shouldn’t mean throwing away your hopes, your integrity, or your heart.
In Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris —the guy who kissed dating goodbye—makes the case for courtship. As old-fashioned as it might sound, courtship is what modern day relationships desperately need. Think of it as romance chaperoned by wisdom, cared for by community, and directed by God’s Word.
Filled with inspiring stories from men and women who have rediscovered courtship, Boy Meets Girl is honest, romantic, and refreshingly biblical. Keep God at the center of your relationship as you discover how to:
• Set a clear course for your romance
• Get closer without compromise
• Find support in a caring community
• Deal with past sexual sin
• Make the right decisions about your future
New! Courtship Conversations
Eight ideas for great dates that will help grow and guide your relationship.
Story Behind the Book
“I wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye to challenge singles to drop the worldly approach to serial dating and reconsider the way they pursued romance in light of God’s Word. Since then, I’ve received letters asking questions like, So, what comes between friendship and marriage? and, How can you know when you are ready for marriage? Boy Meets Girl answers those questions. Now as a happily married man I can look back on my courtship with Shannon and see from personal experience that God is faithful. If you trust Him enough to wait on romance in dating, He will lovingly guide you as you pursue it in courtship…right to that wonderful moment when you kneel together at the altar.” — Joshua Harris
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Joshua Harris lives outside Washington , D.C. , in Gaithersburg , Maryland , where he is senior pastor at Covenant Life Church . He speaks nationally and has led the New Attitude conferences for college students for six years. Joshua’s bestselling books include I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Boy Meets Girl, Not Even a Hint, and Stop Dating the Church. He and his wife, Shannon, have two children, Emma Grace and Joshua Quinn.
Read an Excerpt
Boy Meets Girl
What I've Learned Since
I Kissed Dating Goodbye
The clock read 5:05 P.M. Shannon's workday was over. She enjoyed her job at the church, but she was ready to go home and unwind.
She began her familiar end-of-the-day routine: tidied her desk, shut down her computer, straightened a picture on her bookshelf, got her coat from the closet, and said her goodbyes. "Bye, Nicole," she said to the girl in the office beside her. "See you tomorrow, Helen," she called to the receptionist.
She walked through the quiet lobby and pushed open one of the heavy glass doors. The winter wind tugged at her as she made her way across the nearly empty parking lot. She climbed into her worn, navy blue Honda Accord and shut out the cold.
She lifted her keys to the ignition, and then paused. There, alone in the silence, the emotions she had kept at bay during the day came rushing in. Tears welled up in her eyes. She leaned her forehead against the steering wheel and began to cry.
"Why, Lord?" she whispered. "Why is this so hard? What am I supposed to do with these feelings? Take them away if they're not from You."
I used to watch from my window as Shannon walked to her car at the end of each day. My office looked out over the parking lot. What is she thinking about? I wondered. I longed to know more about herto go beyond our polite conversations as casual friends and coworkers and really get to know her.
But was it the right time? My heart had been wrong so many times before. Could I trust my feelings? Would she return my interest?
From my vantage point, Shannon Hendrickson seemed happy, confident, and oblivious of me. I was sure she liked another guy. As I watched her drive away, I whispered my own prayer. What is Your will God? Is she the one? Help me to be patient. Show me when to act. Help me trust You.
How could I know that the girl in the navy blue Honda was crying as she drove away, or that I was the cause of her tears?
Three months later ...
I was twenty-three years old, but my hands were acting like they'd never dialed a phone number. I gripped my cordless phone as if it were a wild animal trying to escape and tried again.
You can do this, I assured myself.
The phone rang three times before an answering machine picked up. She wasn't home. I gritted my teeth. Should I leave a message? The machine beeped, and I took the plunge.
"Hey, Shannon, this is Josh ... uh, Harris."
I was sure my voice made it obvious how nervous I felt. I'd never called her at home before, and I had no excuse related to work or church for doing so now. "Um ... could you give me a call when you get a chance? Thanks." I hung up, feeling like a complete idiot.
For sixty-four agonizing minutes I analyzed whether or not the message I had left sounded cool and collected. Then the phone rang. I took a deep breath and answered.
It was Shannon.
"Hey, thanks for calling me back. How's it going?"
We chatted for a few minutes about her day and did our best to have a natural conversation, even though we both knew that my calling her was the most unnatural thing in the world. I finally got to the point and asked if she could meet me the next day after work at Einstein's, a local bagel shop. She said she could.
Before we hung up, I offered an ambiguous explanation for the rendezvous. "I need to talk ... about a guy I know who's interested in you."
My phone call to Shannon might not seem like a big deal to most people, but for me it was monumental.
Why? Because five years earlier I had quit dating. I know that sounds strange, so let me explain. I had come to believe that the lifestyle of short-term relationships was a detour from serving God as a single. So while I kept my social life, my female friends, and my desire to get married someday, I stopped dating.
This new perspective was anything but characteristic of me. I had always been a flirt who lived for the buzz of romance. For me, rejecting the dating game was a seismic shift.
My change of perspective began after I broke up with a girl I'd been going out with for two years. Our relationship was an area of my life that I had refused to submit to God. When it ended, He began to show me just how selfish I was. I'd used her to satisfy my own sinful desires. Even though we never went all the way, I'd led her into a sinful physical relationship. I had hurt her. I had broken a lot of promises.
For the first time, I really began to question how my faith as a Christian affected my love life. There had to be more to it than "don't have sex" and "only date Christians." What did it mean to truly love a girl? What did it feel like to really be purein my body and my heart? And how did God want me to spend my single years? Was it merely a time to try out different girls romantically?
Slowly and in spite of my resistance, God peeled away layer after layer of wrong thinking, wrong values, and wrong desires. He changed my heart. And as my heart changed, I saw that my lifestyle had to change too.
When I was twenty-one, I wrote about my experience in I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I wanted to challenge other singles to reconsider the way they pursued a romance in light of God's Word. "If we aren't really ready for commitment, what's the point of getting into intimate and romantic relationships?" I asked. "Why not enjoy friendship with the opposite sex but use our energy as singles to serve God?"
To my astonishment God provided a publisher willing to print my oddly titled book. To everyone's astonishment the book actually sold. It turned out that many people besides me were rethinking romance. I have received thousands of e-mails, postcards, and letters from singles of all ages from all over the world who want to share their stories, ask questions, and get advice.
As the letters poured in, I realized that while God had graciously used my book to help some people, it had also raised a lot of questions.
For example, if you don't date, how exactly do you end up married? One girl wrote: "I want to avoid the pitfalls of our culture's approach to romance, but how do I get close enough to a guy to decide whether I want to marry him? What comes between friendship and marriage?"
The main point of I Kissed Dating Goodbye was: "If you're not ready for marriage, wait on romance." But now my fellow singles were asking, "How can you know when you are ready for marriage? And once you're ready, what should you do?"
To be honest, I hadn't figured that out yet. I never meant to become an expert on relationships. The questions my readers were asking were the same ones weighing on my heart.
This is why my phone call to Shannon was such a big deal. I'd reached a point where I felt ready to pursue marriage, and I was deeply attracted to her. What now? For five years I'd experienced God's faithfulness as I waited on romance; now I was stepping into the unknown believing that He would continue to be faithful as I pursued romance.
The guy who had "kissed dating goodbye" was about to "say hello to courtship."
The next evening I arrived early for my meeting with Shannon. Einstein Bagels is a favorite lunch spot in Gaithersburg, but at night it's all but empty. I chose a lonely table in the far left corner of the restaurant. It was slightly dirty, so I asked the server to wipe it off. Everything needed to be just right. I went to the bathroom and checked my hair. "Oh, whatever," I finally said to the mirror.
Back at the table I waited and fidgeted in my seat. I worried about whether I should prop my feet up on a chair. Would it make me look more relaxed? No, it's too casual. How about one foot? No, that looks like I'm wounded. I finally decided to leave both feet on the floor.
Nervous energy washed over me every time I thought about the conversation I was about to have. I couldn't believe that I was doing thisthat in only a few minutes she would be sitting across from me.
Shannon Hendrickson and I had been friends for about a year. We worked in the same office. She was a secretary and I was an intern. The first thing I noticed about Shannon was her eyesthey were a bluish, greenish, gray color, and they sparkled when she smiled. The second thing was how tiny she was. Exactly five feet tall, Shannon defines the word petite. I liked that. At only five feet six inches myself, a girl who actually looked up into my eyes was a rare find.
I caught my first glimpse of her on the Sunday she got up in church and shared the story of how she'd become a Christian. Two and a half years earlier she'd had no interest in God. At the time she'd just returned to Maryland from college in New Hampshire, where she'd lived the typical party life. It was an empty life lived for herselfa life ruled by sin. Back home, she threw all her energy into her dream of becoming a professional singer. Soon a move to Nashville seemed the next sensible step up the ladder of stardom. That's just the kind of person she was. Her parents had gotten divorced when she was nine, and her dad had raised her to be self-reliant. She would set her sights on a goal, and then do whatever was needed to get there.
Before heading to Nashville, she wanted to take a few guitar lessons. She asked around about a teacher, and a friend referred her to a guitarist named Brian Chesemore, who was looking for students. What Shannon didn't know was that Brian was a Christian and was looking for opportunities to share his faith. Her guitar lessons would turn out to be soul saving.
After a few weeks of lessons, Brian told Shannon how Jesus had changed his life. She listened politely but said she could never live like he did. "I respect you, but that's not for me."
"Do you think you're going to heaven?" Brian asked gently.
"I think I'm basically a good person," she responded.
But her confident rejection was an act. She couldn't get Brian's questions out of her head. What if there was a God? If He existed, would she be willing to live for Him?
Shannon secretly began to study Christianity. She read the book of Romans, which described her not as a "good person," but as a sinner in need of a savior. She visited a Christian bookstore and asked for something that would help a person explore the claims of Christianity. "It's for a friend," she explained. She left with Josh McDowell's More Than a Carpenter, which gave historical proof for Christ's life, death, and resurrection.
God was drawing Shannon. He was whittling away at her pride and independence and awakening within her a longing for Himself. One night, alone in her room, she repented for her sinful and self-centered life and believed on the Savior she now knew had died for her.
Growing up, I always hoped that when I saw the girl I was going to marry, it would be love at first sight. As it turned out, my chance for a "love at first sight moment" went right over my head.
On the Sunday I heard Shannon tell her story, I happened to be interested in a girl named Rachel. In fact, I was sitting next to Rachel's mother that morning. When Shannon finished speaking, Rachel's mom leaned over and noted what a "cute girl" Shannon was, a remark that I now find very ironic.
God had set me up.
As I sat there next to the mother of my plan for my future, God was parading His plan for my future right in front of my eyes. He had mapped a course for me that was more wonderful than anything I could come up with on my own, and He was making sure that in the days to come I would never question that this good plan had originated in His mind.
Three months later Shannon and I wound up working together at the church office. We hit it off right away, but I wasn't thinking about anything beyond friendship. When someone asked me if I was interested in her, I thought the question was silly. Shannon was a terrific girl, I said, but not the kind of person I envisioned marrying. Besides, our backgrounds were too different. She was a new Christian from a broken home. I'd probably marry someone who had been homeschooled and raised in the church like I hadsomeone like Rachel.
But over the next six months my plans for a future with Rachel began to unravel like a cheap sweater. I remember the afternoon I found out that she liked another guy. Rachel and I had only been friends, and she hadn't led me on, but it still hurt. I needed to talk to God. I shut my office door; but that didn't seem private enough, so I squeezed myself into my small office closet and pulled the door shut.
There in the darkness I started to cry. I wasn't mad at Rachel; I wasn't bitter. I cried because I knew God was behind it all. He was the one who had closed the door on a relationship with Rachel, and He'd done it for my good. I was overwhelmed by the thought that the God of the universe was willing to be involved in the details of my lifethat He'd be willing to reach down and shut a door that He didn't want me to walk through.
Still crying, I began to thank Him. "I don't understand, but I thank You," I said. "I don't understand, but I know You are good. I don't understand, but I know You're taking this away because You have something better."
That day was a turning point. I stopped trusting in my own carefully laid plans and asked God to show me His.
Change of Heart
Around that time I began to see Shannon in a new light. Her kindness to others and me caught my attention. She had a passion for God and a maturity that belied her short time as a believer. How can I explain it? She just began to pop up in my thoughts and prayers. I looked forward to the chance to see her and talk. What I learned about her through our interaction and from what I heard from others impressed me. I saw that all the reasons I had for why I wouldn't be interested in her were shallow. God was changing my heart.
All this had made the months leading up to my phone call torturous. I went through the "I shouldn't be distracted by this" phase. Then the "I am distracted by this" phase. And finally, the "I'm going to fight this" phase, in which I swore to stop journaling about her and mapped a new course around the office so that I wouldn't walk past her desk ten times every hoursomething I found myself doing "unintentionally."
I was living with my pastor, C. J. Mahaney, at the time. Since my mom and dad lived far away in Oregon, C. J. and his wife, Carolyn, had become like a second set of parents to me. I told them about my interest in Shannon. Their counsel helped keep me on track: "Don't let impatience get the upper hand. Be her friend, but don't communicate your interest until you're ready to start a relationship that has a clear purpose and direction. You don't want to play with her heart."
It wasn't easy I would swing between the conviction that I needed to conceal my feelings and the urge to send her signals just to find out if there was any mutual interest. I could trust God better if I knew she liked me, I argued. But deep down I knew this wasn't true. I needed to be a mana noncommittal testing of the waters wouldn't be fair to her.
I started seeking the advice of the most trusted people in my lifemy parents, my pastor, and people from our church who knew Shannon and me well. Was I prepared spiritually and emotionally for marriage? Could I provide for a wife and family? Was this God's time for me to pursue a relationship? My prayers kicked into high gear.
Instead of subsiding, my feelings grew. My circle of counselors gave me nothing but encouragement to pursue a relationship. I didn't know if Shannon and I were supposed to be married, but I felt that God was directing me to take the next step.
The corner table at Einstein's was it. The countless prayers and conversations had led to this moment. After months of keeping my feelings hidden from Shannon, I was about to make them known.
Shannon walked through the door right on time. She seemed calm. I walked to the front to greet her, and then we got in line to order something. I looked up at the menu on the wall and acted like I was studying it, but food was the furthest thing from my mind.
"Are you hungry?" I asked her.
"No, not really."
"Yeah, me neither. Something to drink?"
We both ordered Sprites and sat down.
Now there was no delaying the inevitable. I needed to say what I had come to say.
"You may have already figured this out," I began. "But that guy I wanted to talk to you aboutyou know, the one who's interested in you? Well ... it's me."
A New Season
A bagel shop isn't the most romantic spot to tell a girl you like her. But that night romance wasn't the priority. Our time there wasn't intended to be mushy. I didn't propose marriage or say I was madly in love with her, and she didn't swoon.
What I did tell her was that through our friendship I'd grown to respect her. I couldn't know at that point if we were right for each other, but I wanted to find out. I asked her to take a step with me into courtship, a new season of friendship. The purpose of this time would be to deepen our relationship so that we could prayerfully and purposefully explore the possibility of marriage.
Actually, I didn't say it that well. I stammered, laughed nervously, and was anything but eloquent. In fact, I forgot to use the term courtship. She had to ask me if that's what I meant.
Ultimately, it wasn't the term that mattered. What did matter, I told her, is that our relationship have a clearly defined direction. I didn't want to play games with her. Although I wanted us to start going on dates, I wasn't interested in dating for the sake of dating. I wanted more than anything else to please God and find out if marriage was His plan for us. And I wanted this process to be one we could look back on with fondness and without regretwhether or not we married each other.
"You don't have to give me an answer tonight," I told her. "You can take as long as you need to think about it." Then I shut up.
Shannon didn't say anything for a moment. She looked down at her Sprite and played with her straw.
"Well," she finally said, "I could torture you by dragging it out and leaving you hanging. You know, being 'mysterious.' But I can tell you now that I'm willing to give it a try. I don't want you to get the impression that I'm taking this lightly or think that I don't need to pray about it ..." She paused. "It's just that I have been praying about this."
She'd been praying about me? She'd been thinking about me? I wanted to jump up and tear around the restaurant screaming. Instead I just nodded my head and said, "That's wonderful."
Beginning of an Adventure
This book is much more than the story of what I learned about love, romance, and God in my courtship with Shannon Hendrickson. It's a book for people who know that there's something wrong with our culture's way of doing things but aren't quite sure what to put in its place. It's a book filled with stories about ordinary single people who are striving to honor God in their relationships. It's a book about simple biblical principles that have transformed lives.
Here's what you'll find in the book's three sections.
Part One shows that what matters most in a Christian relationship isn't whether we use the term dating or courtship, but that we live for God's glory. We'll see how when we allow wisdom to guide our intense romantic feelings, our relationships are blessed by patience, purpose, and a clear grasp of reality. One couple's story will help us realize when we're ready to start a relationship and with whom, and we'll see how God intends to use this process to make us more like Him.
Part Two jumps into the practical issues of what I call the "season of courtship." We'll learn how to grow closer, but still guard our hearts in important areas like friendship, communication, fellowship, and romance. We'll get specific about our roles as men and women. We'll look at the importance of community during this time. Then we'll talk honestly about sexual purity and how we can prepare for a great sex life in marriage.
Part Three helps couples who are getting more serious to move toward marriage in a God-honoring way. We'll see how God's grace can help us face sin from our past. We'll ask some tough questions before engagement, including the all-important one, "Should we go forward together into marriage, or should we call our courtship off?" Finally, we'll be reminded that God's grace is our ultimate source of confidence for joining our hearts and lives in the vows of marriage.
As you can see, the aim of Boy Meets Girl is to help you place God squarely in the middle of your love lifeto show that the journey from friendship to matrimony, from "How do you do?" to "I do," should be viewed as an opportunity to revel in the joys of love as well as to enjoy, honor, and glorify the Creator of love.
Four years ago as a single man, I wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye to challenge the world's approach to romance. Today as a newly married man, I write Boy Meets Girl to celebrate God's way in romance. I've seen just how good it is. Now I want to encourage you to entrust your dreams of finding true love to His care.
Table of Contents
|Made for Each Other||9|
|Part I: Rethinking Romance|
|1||Boy Meets Girl What I've Learned Since I Kissed|
|2||Why Dating Versus Courtship Isn't the Point Getting|
|Past a Debate over Terms and Back to What Really Matters||29|
|3||Romance and Wisdom: A Match Made in Heaven Why You|
|Need More than Just Intense Feelings||43|
|4||Tell Me How, Tell Me Who, Tell Me When! How God|
|Guides You to the Right Thing at the Right Time||63|
|Part II: The Season of Courtship|
|5||More than Friends, Less than Lovers How to Grow and|
|Guard in Friendship, Fellowship, and Romance||81|
|6||What to Do with Your Lips Practical Principles for|
|7||If Boys Would Be Men, Would Girls Be Ladies? How to|
|Embrace Your God-Given Role As a Man or Woman||107|
|8||Courtship Is a Community Project How to Gain|
|Guidance, Support, and Strength from Your Church and||123|
|9||True Love Doesn't Just Wait How to Be Passionately in|
|Love and Sexually Pure||141|
|Part III: Before You Say "I Do"|
|10||When Your Past Comes Knocking How You Can Face Past|
|Sexual Sin and Experience God's Forgiveness||169|
|11||Are You Ready for Forever? Ten Questions to Answer|
|Before You Get Engaged||193|
|12. That DayLiving and Loving in Light of Eternity||209|
|About the Author||229|
Exclusive Author Essay
Who Gets the Credit for Romance? by Joshua Harris
This might seem like a strange question, but what does romance lead you to worship? Take a moment to ponder it.
When you see a magnificent painting you say, "What an artist." When you stand under a skillfully constructed building you say, "What an architect." What are you doing? You're giving credit to the person responsible for the work.
So when you think about the relationship that you're in or the relationship you want to be in, what does your heart exalt? Sadly, our tendency as sinful humans is to see God's amazing work and wind up amazed with something besides Him.
Let me share three examples of things we often worship instead of God when we think of romance. Can you see yourself in these?
1. Instead of worshiping God, we credit the power of chance for bringing a man and woman together.
It's incredible how many love stories contain an element of "chance." They wouldn't have happened if things hadn't been just right at just the right time on just the right day. Factor in the complicated issue of why certain people are attracted to each other and it's downright incredible when any two people (out of the billions on the planet) match up.
The question is who gets the credit? Who do you thank?
I came across a book that explained every aspect of human relationships -- attraction, love, marriage, jealousy, adultery -- in evolutionary terms. In great detail and with great conviction it argued that natural selection has determined our sense of conscience as well as why we marry. All our behavior has been passed down to us from our ape ancestors.
Not very romantic is it? But it's a good example of someone choosing to worship chance instead the Creator. Many of us have done the same thing in small ways. We "thank our lucky stars" or marvel at our "good fortune." All the while we forget or ignore God.
2. Instead of worshiping God, we credit the power of human will and effort in making romance happen.
Don't get me wrong, romance requires action and initiative. It means taking the first step in a friendship when you feel like hiding. It requires picking up the phone and making a call when your hands are shaking.
But sometimes we place an undue emphasis on our actions. It's one thing to acknowledge romance involves our effort; it's another thing to worship it and forget that God and His sovereignty should be what we hope in.
You can tell which you're worshiping by examining what you put your trust in. Does your confidence for finding a lasting relationship come from your own communication skills, good looks or "relational experience"? Or does it ultimately rest in God and His ability to bring a relationship about?
3. Instead of worshiping God, we idolize romantic love as an end in itself.
Romance is something God created and gives us. But have you ever thought about the true purpose of a gift? A gift points us back to the one who gave it and fills us with gratefulness for that person.
Romance is a good gift from God. You can love God with all your heart and also enjoy the gift of human love that He gives. But if at any point you make this gift the object of your love, you pervert it. The gift isn't meant to replace God, it's meant to point you back to Him.
If romance isn't pointing us to God, it means we might be worshiping it instead of its Maker.
Truth for Lie
The point is that we are all worshipers. We might not be religious or use the word "worship," but we're all hoping in and adoring something. Too often that something isn't the One True God. Too often we're guilty of exchanging "the truth of God for a lie" and worshiping created things rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).
Have you exchanged the truth for a lie? Are you worshiping chance or will power or romance itself? All of the other things you could hope in and worship instead of the One True God are really false gods -- false hopes. They don't come through.
Luck dries up.
Our effort, we discover, isn't enough.
Romance wanes or doesn't live up to our expectations.
God has never forsaken those who seek Him (Ps. 37:25). And when we receive romance as a gift from Him -- and rejoice in it because it's from Him -- there's no end to the beauty, the wonder, the mystery, and pleasure we enjoy.
So don't look down. Don't look within. Look up.
Copyright © 2000 by Joshua Harris