As the father of three teenagers I believe Andy Stanley’s new book, The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating, is a must-read. One of them is currently reading it. The other two will be enjoying Andy’s work over the summer!
I will say this upfront, my wife and I have listened to virtually all of Andy’s sermon series going back to the late 1990’s. Additionally, I have read all of his books from Visioneering and The Principle of the Path to The Best Question Ever and Next Generation Leader. The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating again demonstrates Andy’s ability to deliver biblically-based wisdom that leaves the reader (or listener) better off than they were before.
The foundational concept in New Rules is one that Andy has preached for many years – rather than looking for the right person to marry or begin a relationship with, we would be better served by focusing our energies on becoming the right person that our right person is looking for. As Andy says, “becoming the right person dramatically increases the likelihood of being attracted to the person who is right for you.”
He poses this simple question to the reader: “Are you the person the person you’re looking for is looking for?” Andy makes the argument that, “the healthier you are, the healthier your relationships will be” and he rightly points out how unfair it is to expect more of the other person than you expect of yourself.
Whether you are a teenager traversing the road of love and dating for the first time, a twenty-something who has been traveling the road for a number of years or a divorcee who is starting the journey all over again, the idea of focusing on yourself rather than your future mate is one that is lost on many Americans given the cultural influences that tend to judge others rather than to look inward. Andy argues that the inward focus will allow God to work in you and, before you know it, the person you were looking for will find you! When they do, you are truly prepared for the relationship.
He cautions the reader not to try and fix the other person in the relationship, “nobody wants to be fixed. Fix your pet, not your partner.”
For those who are coming off a bad relationship or a divorce, Stanley challenges you to take a year off from dating. Yes, you read that correctly! He has been issuing this challenge for decades going back to his marriage counseling days. He claims that not a week goes by where someone reaches out to him to thank him for issuing the challenge to them.
Secondary to his challenge to focus on ourselves, Andy also tackles the difficult subject of pre-marital sex. His approach is both practical and humorous at times.
On the humorous side, Andy points out that you do not need to practice sex with multiple partners before marriage. “Sex is not like learning to play the violin, which requires that you take lessons.” Stanley continues, “people have been figuring out sex on their own for millenniums.”
On the practical side, his key point is that relationships are difficult but, “sex is easy”. He cautions the reader not to delude themselves into thinking pre-marital sex has no impact on your ability to have intimacy in marriage.“Sex outside the context of a committed long-term relationship undermines the significance of sex within the relationship you will someday value most. As sexual encounters increase, your potential to experience sexual intimacy decreases. . . You undermine your own future sexual fulfillment.”
I received this book from North Point Publishing (andystanley.com) in exchange for this review.