Andy Stanley doesn’t tiptoe around difficult and awkward topics, but hits them head on with honest and straightforward wisdom and insight. He doesn’t try to soften the blow, and believe me it does feel like a punch to the gut sometimes, but he offers biblical advice without apology.
It should be no surprise then that in Stanley’s new book The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating,he is just as clear, just as blunt and just as candid when it comes to the topics that are on most of our minds as single people—love, sex and dating. I’ve read numerous dating-esque books throughout my life, some of which were bought for me by my parents, given to my by pastors and mentors or ones I purchased in my own attempt to wade through this mania. This book offers something different than all the others.
In the very first chapter, “The Right Person Myth,” Stanley discusses how we are all on the search for the right person. Some of us have lists of characteristics that we are looking for in a mate that range from personality traits to core beliefs and physical attributes. Our lists can be written down, while others have their unspoken desires. But at the end of the day, we all have preferences or things we’d like in a partner.
According to Stanley, he believes there are two deciding factors when it comes to choosing our right person—chemistry and attraction. It’s at this point, only a few short pages into the book, where he leaps into the topic of sex. Why hold back on the thing we really want to discuss anyway? It’s here, in the deep end, that he makes a point that I’ve never heard before: Sexual compatibility is easy to find. Relationship compatibility, on the other hand, is much more difficult, which is why we should remain abstinent when finding a mate.
I’d never heard it put like that before.
If you think about it though, there’s a much longer list of people I wouldn’t mind a make-out session with, while the list of guys I could see as potential life partners is much slimmer. This concept was a bit eye opening for me and debunked the excuse that I’ve heard people use so many times before in regards to sex: “How can we get married without having sex? How will we know if we are sexually compatible?”
Stanley goes into much more depth when it comes to the topic of sex in Chapter 8 and 9. Without giving too much away, there was one question that he posed that has had me thinking ever since I finished the book. Meeting with a single, 30-something woman he asked her, “Has sex as a single woman made your life better or more complicated?” As a single, 31-year-old woman, I have sometimes wondered, what’s the big deal about abstinence? His question put some things into perspective.
The book isn’t entirely about sex, though. One of the larger topics that runs throughout the entire book is that of becoming the right person. I’m sure many of you have heard this advice before. I remember the first time I heard it myself. I was sitting in an all-girls’ chapel at my Bible College. The dean of women was preaching from the book of Ruth, and the only line I can remember from that message was, “In order to get a Boaz, you have to be a Ruth.” It’s haunted me ever since.
I don’t disagree with Stanley, or my former dean for that matter, but I have some concerns when it comes to this popular piece of advice for singles. The truth of the matter is they are right; we can only change ourselves. I we aren’t careful, this good advice can bring with it some shame, too. If you’re like me, you have often wondered “What is wrong with me? There has to be something wrong with me. That has to be why I’m still single.” I’ve got long lists of things that may explain my singleness in hopes that I will someday be “good enough” for someone to love.
At the end of the day, we have to remember we are all in process. Married people didn’t get married because they somehow had their lives together. You aren’t single because you don’t have yours together. It’s that simple. Yes, we’ve got things to work on, and if you’re single this is a great time to work on those things. Grow in the areas that you need to mature in, and allow God to sand off the places that are rough. Just don’t get caught up in thinking that perfection (or the pursuit of it) will bring you a significant other.
Maybe you’re in a relationship and you’re wondering if that person is the one for you. Read this book.
Maybe you’ve been single a long time, like me. Read this book.
Maybe you’re divorced. Read this book.
If not for yourself, read it to learn something to share with “a friend.” I promise you, you will learn something. You’ll be encouraged, and most important of all, you will be challenged to change.
* Find The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Datingon Amazon.