Review: Sex, Dating, And Relationships: A Fresh Approach

Sex, Dating, And Relationships: A Fresh Approach
Sex, Dating, And Relationships: A Fresh Approach by Gerald Hiestand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading Notes:
Chapter 2: More than a Subjective Standard –
Three relationships – family, marriage, neighbor. Sounds good to me. Looking forward to further discussion of the transition between neighbor/marriage. Where would engagement go? Is it on the far end of neighbor, or the near end of marriage? If it isn’t part of marriage, but a new category or part of the neighbor category, then what do we do with Joseph’s proposed “divorce” of Mary? You don’t need to divorce your neighbors when you move. I’m waiting to see if this important point is dealt with later.

Objective standard: treat younger women as sister, etc. I tend to think about relationships in terms of touch (uniting bodies), talk (uniting minds), and time (uniting lives), with a large piece of the heart connected to each. I find that the book’s proposed standard helps primarily in terms of touch, somewhat less in terms of talk, and not very much in terms of time. Ie, don’t kiss your sister in a sexual way, therefore don’t kiss your prospective partner in a sexual way – great. There are certain things you don’t talk about with your sister, therefore don’t talk about them with a potential mate – here we get into the why. Why don’t you talk to your sister about x? Could be very different from why you might consider talking about x with your potential spouse. But when we get to spending time together, I’d feel very hesitant about applying this as a standard to time – would you go to a late night movie with a sister? Drive alone with a sister in the car? Spend time unsupervised with a sister? Sure, but I’m hesitant to go there with a potential spouse. Maybe the standard the author presents applies specifically to sexuality, just to touch, but if so, we need another standard to guide us in other areas, areas that tend to spread butter on the porch of sexual temptation, and run away after ringing the doorbell.

Chapter 3: The Dating Dilemma, Part I –
Great distinction between dating as event or activity and dating as a relationship. Cf. the three categories of relationships. pg. 53: “We have invented our own category of relationship and then made up our own rules.” Exactly.

Chapter 4: The Dating Dilemma, Part II –
Commitment is key, and a “dating relationship” includes a lot of attraction, and often actions that betray a belief that commitment exists, but no real commitment is present.
Aha! Pg. 65 makes a distinction between sexual expression and romantic expression, promising another standard to come later. I’m hopeful.

Chapter 5: The Heart of the Matter
Excellent material on controlling and training desires, especially perceptive distinction regarding ANS and perception. Well done.

Chapter 6: Falling In Love Once
Wise and balanced, but much more could be profitably said.

Chapter 7: Dating Friendships
The quest to find a good term to describe pre-marriage relationships continues. This one is helpful, although I’m not sure of the difference between this and courtship, though the authors seem to think there is a difference. The counsel to seek accountability is weakened by not pushing for parental accountability, and if this is the difference from courtship, score one for courtship. The central insight of the book, however, is helpful fleshed out: invented categories can only have invented standards; let’s stick to biblical categories and apply the biblical standards. Dating here refers to an activity, not a relationship category. Good stuff.

Chapter 8: An Integrated Life
Good and wise stuff, more theologically informed wisdom than exegetical conclusions. (That’s not a bad thing, but that makes it probably the least unique chapter of the book)

Chapter 9: A God Centered View of Singleness
Wise pastoral counsel on a difficult topic.

While the book is very good, time and talk weren’t adequately covered overall. This will still be my go-to book on the subject, but I’ll have to supplement those two areas with something else.

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