Three years ago I decided to make some massive changes within my life to align more with God’s will and purpose for me. I read numerous books to learn more about living as a woman of God should and I also started to submit myself in ways that I had never done. I stopped dating and started living. One thing that Dr. R.A. Vernon has correct is there are few to none resources on Christian dating. The Bible, as wonderful as it is, does not provide a spiritual framework for dating. The Bible does however illustrate to us that dating as a Christian has the ultimate goal of marriage.
Dr. R.A. Vernon’s 10 Rules of Dating is a powerful text for today’s Christian singles and even non-Christian singles who are wondering why they are unhappy and miserable in their relationships. Although I am not single, nor am I dating, I felt compelled to read Dr. R.A. Vernon’s 10 Rules of Dating and review the text for the Y.M.A.H. “single and seeking” readers. In this review you will find the outline of the text, my testimony to the rules as a Christian Y.M.A.H. woman, as well as the forthcoming single woman of God perspective from my cousin and sister in Christ, Nakiya Anthony.
Dr. R.A. Vernon’s 10 Rules of Dating is a current phenomenon within the young adult and Christian communities. Singles, especially Christian singles, today want to know how to find that special someone. They want to know how to be successful in transforming that special someone into their husband or wife. They also want to know how to do all of this under God’s will. In most cases, these singles have tried it their way, countless times, only to be hurt, humiliated and torn between the world’s standards and His standards. When it all falls down at the end of the day, we all just want to be loved and to love someone on a supernatural level. You know that old-fashioned kind of love. That can’t get enough kind of love. What many of the singles of today don’t know, accept, or understand is that there is no love like the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you don’t know and love Jesus, you probably have not learned to truly love yourself as a child of God. If you’re out there and you’re uncertain of whether or not you know that love then the answer is no. The love of Jesus is unconditional, unwavering and best of all forgiving. Knowing and experiencing the ultimate form of love will aid you in loving yourself and being able to healthily love someone else as your husband or wife. While I don’t want to attack non-believers, I feel it is important to stress the importance of this relationship prior to seeking another one. Dr. R.A. Vernon, the pastor of the The Word Church in Cleveland, OH also emphasizes the essential ingredient of a relationship with Him prior to dating.
In Dr. R.A. Vernon’s 10 Rules of Dating, Dr. R.A. Vernon provides the single person with 10 rules while dating. One disclaimer he gives his readers is Christian dating is kingdom business. It is not to be taken lightly because there is a purpose in Christian dating that is not present within the worldly definition of dating. The purpose is to unite with another believer and to find your spouse. It’s surely not to play games or date for fun. For example, if you’re single and have committed your life to Christ, you should not allow a man or a woman to take you out to eat to ‘shoot the breeze.’
The 10 rules Dr. R.A. Vernon gives readers are:
- Rule 1: There Must Be Physical Attraction
- Rule 2: They Must Love Jesus
- Rule 3: There Must Be Compatibility and Connectivity
- Rule 4: Discuss Each Other’s Past
- Rule 5: Discuss Children
- Rule 6: Talk About Money
- Rule 7: Pace Yourself/Slow Down
- Rule 8: Engage or Disengage
- Rule 9: Go to Counseling
- Rule 10: Don’t Touch
Rule 1: There Must Be Physical Attraction
According to Dr. R.A. Vernon you should “Date someone with the face and the figure that you need to be satisfied physically,” (p. 19). He argues that the first thing you notice about a person is the physical—simply put, how a person looks. This is so true! The first thing that sparks your interest in a person is whether or not their looks fit your “type.” I remember when I was fourteen years old and I first encountered my now husband. I could not stop staring at him, and trust me I tried my hardest to stop because we were in a sanctuary praising God. I can honestly say I failed at my attempts to focus.
Needless to say, I agree with Pastor Vernon. If you are thinking about dating someone do not compromise your likes when it comes to the physical. When you’re married, you spend a lot of time looking at each other. Thank God my husband and I love what we see! I’m attracted to everything about him, but some of my favorite features are his sun-kissed skin tone (that matches mine), his stature—he’s 5’10, and his captivating eyes (long eyelashes and thick eyebrows), as well as his style. My husband is fly if I do say so myself, and I’m loving it!
Rule 2: They Must Love Jesus
Dr. R.A. Vernon states, “…spiritual compatibility, on any level, is critical in marriage. I can say with confidence that marriage is the most difficult relationship you will ever have to maintain. Being with one person forever is not natural; it is supernatural—a spiritual discipline that takes a lifetime to perfect. You better be pretty sure the person is worth it before you choose,” (p. 35).
Did I mention that I first encountered my husband in a sanctuary!? As a sixteen year old young man, he was praising God! This made me even more smitten with him. Ask yourself this question, “If I love Jesus, how could I marry someone who doesn’t?” Some people find success in this type of relationship, however, Dr. R.A. Vernon warns against this unless you are evangelizing without the intent of marrying the person at the top of your priority list. Even though we both LOVED Jesus, we still had to grow and mature in our relationship with Him. I say this to say, our first relationship wasn’t truly anchored in Him and it didn’t work out. We had to work on ourselves and our relationships first.
When it came time to “get serious” with dating due to my Christian assignment, I didn’t care to be bothered with the nuances of dating and searching high and low for something that I wouldn’t find because after prayer and meditation with Him, I knew my assignment. At first, I allowed the devil to intervene in my blessing; due to past events I was uncertain as to how Brock would receive me. When I prayed for my earthly King, I already knew who he was. I actually prayed for strength and power for us to begin anew and to rekindle the unconditional love that was always there between us. In the years we were apart, neither one of us met anyone who came close to the love we shared. When I reached out to Brock I was nervous yet determined to let him know that he still had my heart and I had never experienced a love like ours. I didn’t have any expectations, but I was in a place where I had forgiven myself and him for past mistakes. We attribute those mistakes to the lack of having God as the center of our relationship. We were young and immature in our walks with Him. What I can tell you is when we started dating we were anchored in His will and the love that I perceived to be perfect actually superseded what we had before. God is all that and more, if you allow Him to be. When He moves in your life it’s real. We now know our love is like the agape love Christ has for the church/his people.
Rule 3: There Must Be Compatibility and Connectivity
“So many people go out with each other for years, set a date, plan the wedding, get married, buy a home, and even have children together before they finally come to the dreadful reality that they have nothing in common. They love each other and are attracted to one another on one or more levels, or they probably would never have made it that far; however, being married to someone with whom you have very little in common can lead you straight into a miserable, regrettable, existence” (p. 46).
The last thing you want is to spend your life with someone who’s fine and dumb! You need someone who can challenge you mentally because as you two age your physical will change and the world will continue to change. One thing that shouldn’t change is your ability to communicate and to have a good conversation with your spouse. While there are some things that we like as individuals, there are a lot of things that we both love to do and experience. More importantly, we both have an interest in being informed and to talk about what’s going on around us. My husband and I also both love a good debate. He challenges my thinking and vice versa. Although we may disagree at times, we share a common foundation of thinking.
Rule 4: Discuss Each Other’s Past
Up until Rule 4, I agree with Dr. R.A. Vernon wholeheartedly. In Rule 4, he argues that you must discuss each other’s pasts. This includes the good, bad and the ugly. This also includes talking about how you were raised, your “home of origin,” your cleanliness, your eating habits, meeting each other’s parents and what Dr. R.A. Vernon refers to as “too much information.” I agreed with him until he got to the latter. In my opinion, they don’t call it T.M.I. for nothing! I believe that it’s important to know some information about a person’s sexual past, I also believe there are some things you just don’t need to know. Knowing some information only creates fleshly feelings of jealousy and rage. For example, knowing the names of all of the people someone you’re interested in possibly marrying was with in the past AND every detail of what they did or didn’t do is too much information. As adults, it can be assumed that unless you two are virgins, you both have been active with more than one person. You two have to decide how detailed you want to get with past experiences. If you both get tested, maybe even more than once, and you’re both STD and HIV free it’s all good—especially if you are committed to abstinence (i.e. Rule 10). As a celibate person, you have recommitted your body as a Godly temple. If God has forgiven you, why risk being judged by your potential spouse? If you are honest and open there is nothing to worry about.
Rule 5: Discuss Children
Rule 5 suggests you discuss how many children you desire to have, if any, as well as whether or not either of you two already have children from previous relationships or marriages. Dr. R.A. Vernon argues that you should already know whether or not you are interested in dating and eventually marrying someone with children.
I think it is different for everyone. While my love for my now husband was so strong and sincere, I secretly hoped he was child-free when we first started dating again; I also know that he wished the same. Despite these hopes, we discussed what our positions would have been if either one of us had a child. Yes, we would have been salty, but, we would have pressed on because we loved each other too much. We both eventually want children. Now, if one of us didn’t want children our answers probably would have been different.
Rule 6: Talk About Money
There is power in this rule. Many people say, “money is power,” and unfortunately in many cases this is true. Finances in a relationship do have the power to break a relationship. According to Dr. R.A. Vernon, “Money is as important an issue as any to discuss before marriage. If you and the person whom you’re dating value two completely divergent views related to money and its significance in your lives, these varying views will inevitably lead to disagreements” (p. 74-75).
When Brock and I started dating again we talked about our finances. In time, we also looked at each other’s credit scores and reports. It’s imperative to know what you’re working with because it will affect your lives. We also discussed our career aspirations. I agree with Dr. R.A. Vernon in looking at the other person’s potential, however, it’s more important to look at their present—the here and now. I knew that Brock was a hard worker who put family first. When it comes to money, at first I managed the finances, however, now Brock does. We have the same goals and we try our best to stick to it! It’s nice to know that we both are financially responsible.
While you’re still getting to know someone, he suggests that you look at each other’s bank accounts. Looking at bank accounts help you see spending patterns. It also shows you proof of how much money someone has.
Rule 7: Pace Yourself/Slow Down
Once you’ve reached this point you’re probably really diggin’ that special someone. Regardless of this fact, you must take time out to think from the perspective of an outsider.
“Enough of the floating for a minute; it’s time to get serious about your investigation of who this person is and if you’re really spiritually, mentally and emotionally ready for the changes that come with marriage. This is not just about great sex and someone to go half on the house note with. This is your life we’re talking about and you need to be sure this is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, not just the next six months!” (p. 94).
When Brock and I started dating again, we took time to slow down and just meditate on the seriousness of the steps we were taking in our relationship. We purposely limited our conversations for a short period of time. Once we did that, we were able to think and think seriously. We came out of that still certain that we were ready for the next level of love and commitment with each other.
Rule 8: Engage or Disengage
With that said, the next step for us was engagement. If you take that time to reflect and are unsure of whether or not this person is “the one,” Dr. R.A. Vernon suggests you disengage. Leave that person alone—don’t lead them or yourself on if you know it’s not going anywhere. Remember, Christian dating has a purpose which is marriage.
While you’re single, Dr. R.A. Vernon gives single ladies “The Ten ‘Demand-ments’”:
- Demand yourself to love and trust God more than any man.
- Demand yourself to pray, as well as read your Bible consistently.
- Demand yourself to desire the filling of the Holy Spirit more than sex.
- Demand yourself to go to a teaching church weekly; be active in the ministry you are called to.
- Demand that any man who approaches you knows or is willing to get to know Jesus in an intimate way.
- Demand that any man you date honors the God in you and treats you like a kingdom woman at all times.
- Demand yourself to never allow any man to hit you and still have you.
- Demand that any man you’re considering marrying get as healthy as possible in every way before you say “I do.”
- Demand of yourself that you never settle for any man that God did not send.
- Demand that from this moment on, no man will ever have sex with you unless he’s your husband.
While I did not have this list as a single lady, I knew through my worship and kingdom work that these commitments to myself had to be made. I made these well before I reconnected with my now husband and they have proven to yield a stronger faith in Him and a husband who is a man of God.
Rule 9: Go to Counseling
Brock and I attended marriage counseling prior to our wedding day. This was essential because it confirmed our blessing from God, as well as the power of our union. We were able to see that we were as in sync as we thought we were. This was amazing! We discussed the marriages around us—the good and the bad. We also discussed what we wanted in our marriage and what we did not want.
Dr. R.A. Vernon suggests that beyond marriage vows, you and your spouse seek counseling. While this is something we have yet to do, I do agree that this can be helpful. If at any time you feel the urge to discuss your marriage in great detail with friends or family members, maybe it’s time you two seek a nonbiased and professional opinion.
Rule 10: Don’t Touch
If you don’t abide by most of Dr. R.A. Vernon’s Ten Rules of Dating, Rule 10 is a must. According to Dr. R.A. Vernon, the best sex is married sex. This statement could not be any further from the truth. Sex and intimacy often confuses things in a relationship. It can make you feel as though you love and need someone who is actually terrible for you. More importantly, how can you expect God to truly bless you if you’re not taking into consideration that your body is a temple?
One of my favorite, life-changing Bible verses is 1Corinthians 6:18-20: 18 Flee from sexual immortality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
In Rule 10, Dr. R.A. Vernon mentions soul ties as the ultimate reason to not give it up! Like it or not, soul ties are real and unless you change your ways and ask for forgiveness you are going to continue to be connected to the wrong people. You might miss your blessing.
I can speak from experience when I say that Rule 10 is imperative. My husband and I followed this rule and our marriage has been blessed abundantly because of our sacrifice. Check out a previous Y.M.A.H. article to see how we feel about Rule 10:
“One of many peoples’ common fears of marriage is whether or not the bedroom will be poppin’ after you and your hunny say “I do!” In 2009 when my now husband and I started dating again we made a conscious decision to be celibate and wait until marriage to enjoy that special part of each other. At this time in our lives, both of us were more in tune with what God planned for our lives, especially the value in waiting until marriage. No, it wasn’t always easy, but our faith in Him and His plan(s) helped us along the way. We were able to really get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company without blurring our reality with intimacy. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it definitely worked for us! We have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams and we sincerely believe it’s due to our sacrifices.
I distinctly remember my the day of my Bridal Shower. After the girls and I returned to my Grandma’s from Pole Dance class, we were sitting around chatting about marriage and intimacy. We asked on of my married friends what sex was like after marriage. We asked her how often her and her spouse made love, as well as other questions. My friends coerced me to ask my mom and grandma what sex after marriage was like. My grandma replied, “What sex? There is no sex after marriage.” We all bust out laughing, but I didn’t believe her. Clearly she birthed four sons after marriage. It still was a good laugh.
Now that I’m married I can honestly say that I am elated with our intimacy department. I still am intrigued by this common fear and I often read up on it, and discuss it with my married girlfriends.” (Read more here: “Keepin’ it Hot!”)
Overall, I find Dr. R.A. Vernon’s Ten Rules of Dating for Dating to be an influential book for singles today who are wondering why their relationships fail and how they can secure a positive, God-filled, loving relationship with someone. While the Bible does not give guidelines for dating, Dr. R.A. Vernon has written a compelling and truthful book of rules for singles today to find love and happiness.
I would recommend this book to any and ALL singles—Happy reading and dating with a purpose! If you’re interested in purchasing the book, click here. It’s selling for $19.95, which isn’t bad for the powerful information given in this text.
Dr. R.A. Vernon recommends the following books for those who are dating:
- Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, by John Gray
- His Needs Her Needs, by Willard Harley
- The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey
- Devotions for a Sacred Marriage: A Year of Weekly Devotions for Couples, by Gary Thomas (we’re getting this one!)
I would recommend the following books also for women:
- A Jewel in His Crown, by Priscilla Shirer
- The Confident Woman Devotional, by Joyce Meyer
Dr. R.A. Vernon (2011). Dr. R.A. Vernon’s 10 Rules of Dating. Cleveland, OH: Victory Media Publishing Co.
The Bible (NIV)