Danger Signs

Danger Signs

A book review by Stuart Brogden

One area in the life of the saints that gets too little attention in most fellowships is that of dating or courting; keeping the focus on finding a suitable mate, not merely entertaining ourselves. In his book Danger Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship, Lou Priolo examines signs of unhealthy dating relationships. All in all, this book is well written and sure to provoke the reader to think about some needful things that have been overlooked or swept aside.

Danger Signs is not divided into chapters, but is made up of about 20 sections describing cautions and indicators that may reveal a sinful heart; including a contentious spirit, increased physical intimacy, anger, impatience, and selfishness. Of pride, the author observes there “are many manifestations of pride that break the communication circuit and thereby hinder the resolution of conflict. They include: defensiveness, blame-shifting, and justifying one’s behavior.” (page 39) This is an important function Priolo serves, putting “flesh” on these danger signs so the reader cannot blithely read “pride” and assume he is free from it.

One of the least expected (for me) danger signs is Fear of Terminating the Relationship. The author’s observations have application for current events, as he rightly contrasts biblical love with the Roman-Greco “love” that permeates the culture. “Love is giving others what they need, not necessarily what they want. It is doing what is right rather than what you feel like doing. It is doing what is best for the other person, in light of eternity, according to the Bible and doing it whether or not the person being loved understands what you are doing. (Of course, many people today wouldn’t understand or even recognize biblical love if it {were} staring them in the face!)” (page 24)

Intolerance is contrasted with the biblical warrant to “””put up with” certain things – namely, those things (like foibles, quirks, and idiosyncrasies) in the lives of others that the Scriptures do not identify as being sinful. To be forbearing is “to have patience in regard to the errors or weaknesses of anyone.” … The tendency to uncharitably judge the actions and motives of others is a sure sign of intolerance. Another element of 1 Corinthian 13 love is that it “believes all things.’ This means that it looks for and places the best interpretation on what others do, say, and might be thinking unless there is real reason to believe otherwise. … God has not given us the ability to know what is on the heart of another person apart from what he choose to disclose to us.” (pages 51-52)  Within a marriage, being biblically tolerant of one another is critical for long term success as husband and wife. Thinking the best of one another unless CLEARLY shown otherwise – is the way of humility, in recognition that we are creatures, not Creator.

I wanted to provide a fairly detailed look into a couple of these danger signs to give you an idea of how the author writes. Priolo is engaging and tends to be biblical. I also want to mention that is seems to me that Priolo has the reader put more focus on identifying his partner’s faults than examining himself as the first priority. This is a sure plan to derail a relationship without regard to whether it ought to be a relationship. I do not think this was the author’s intent; it is my impression.

The opening section of the book, titled Persistent Doubts About the Relationship, includes a lengthy discussion of what Jay Adams calls “the holding principle.” Priolo refers to Romans 14, where we find, the last part of verse 5: “Each one must be convinced in his own mind.” And he appears to make a universal statement: “The Bible teaches that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you should not move forward until you are confident that what you are about to do is not sin.” (page 5) I agree that we ought to be diligent and proactive to avoid sin. I do not see Romans 14:5b as a universal doctrine – as if we must ponder and seek out biblical guidance on every decision. As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, the Spirit will illuminate our understanding more and more; and we will know what honorable and what is not more and more. There will nothing we “feel” approval on that the Bible calls sin; but there are many things – like the topic of days and food in Romans 14 – that we need to carefully consider. Because it’s not sin to consider all days the same and it is not sin to eat pork. Yet some still want to observe days and some still want to try to eat according to the Mosaic Code. If they are in Christ, we should be very careful and not cause them to stumble because of our freedom. THIS is the context of the sentence Pirolo quoted. The larger point is good – work at being honorable in the sight of God in all your do! Especially in making plans to join with another person in marriage.

The book ends with very short section entitled, Now What? (pages 113-114) After 100 pages of danger signs, we get a page and half of encouraging, hopeful counsel to take a sober look at both sides of the relationship and consider whether or not you each have faith in Christ to make it work. I would have loved for this to be the longest section in the book.

Danger Signs is a needful book because so many professing Christians are asleep as they walk through life. It is engaging and, as long as you don’t forget the main focus is yourself – not the other person – you can benefit greatly from reading and applying it.

Sermon of the week: “Dating” by Paul Washer.

Your sermon of the week is–without a doubt–going to step on some toes, but it is one that needs to be heard. Paul washer pulls no punches in his message simply entitled: Dating.

I found myself saying out loud, “Amen, Paul Washer, Amen” when he compared a teenage boy’s desire to date his daughter without his consent like that of the theft of his truck. (You have to hear it in its context to truly appreciate it.)

This message is a combination of three shorter talks he gave on the subject of recreational dating (for a total run time of around 90 minutes) and it is a must-hear for those whose kids are dating or about to engage in dating.

If you’re not sure whether this sermon is worth your while, just listen to the first ten seconds. It’s not a message everyone will want to hear, but then again, DefCon’s not known for posting sermons that tickle the ear.

If you want to hear more on the subject of dating, see Pastor Tim Conway’s message The Ungodly Practice of Dating found on this previous post.

Quotes (498)

voddie-baucham Modern American dating is no more than glorified divorce practice. Young people are learning how to give themselves away in exclusive, romantic, highly committed (at times sexual) relationships, only to break up and do it all over again. God never intended for His kids to live like this. And instead of stepping in and doing something, many Christian parents simply view these types of relationships as a normal and necessary part of growing up. Unless your child is wiser than Solomon, stronger than Samson, and more godly than David (all of whom sinned sexually), they are susceptible to sexual sin, and these premature relationships serve as open invitations. . . . Being involved in such exclusive relationships before you are ready to be married is like shopping without any money; either you will leave frustrated, or you will take something that doesn’t belong to you.

– Voddie Baucham