FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Date Night

with John Bryson, Robert Lewis | February 25, 2010
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College provides plenty of opportunities for socializing with the opposite sex. Today, Robert Lewis and John Bryson reminisce about their dating successes and disasters as they try to encourage students to see their dating relationships as not just merely a fun pastime, but as a time to prepare for a future partner.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • College provides plenty of opportunities for socializing with the opposite sex. Today, Robert Lewis and John Bryson reminisce about their dating successes and disasters as they try to encourage students to see their dating relationships as not just merely a fun pastime, but as a time to prepare for a future partner.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

College provides plenty of opportunities for socializing with the opposite sex.

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Date Night

With John Bryson, Robert Lewis
February 25, 2010
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Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 25.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. 

When you send a son or a daughter off to college, one of the things that happens on most college campuses is that young people get to know one another, they spend time together, romance breaks out, relationships happen, there are engagements, marriage takes place.  That’s all well and good, sometimes.

Female Voice #1:  What did I do right in dating?  Probably breaking up.  (laughter)  I mean, that was the best thing.

Female Voice #2:  For me dating in college was a complete disaster.  I decided to date casually and it was just awful.  It wasn’t good practice and it was heart break after heart break and disappointment after disappointment.

Male Voice #1:   Freshman year the only thing that ever mattered was is the girl pretty?  Does she look good and that was the depth of what I was looking for.

Female Voice #3:  Definitely the biggest struggle in dating is believing the lie that I had to always have a boyfriend.  Most of the guys I was dating were just trying to fill a void.  They weren’t necessarily guys of good character.  They were guys I just wanted to be in a relationship with. 

Male Voice#2:  The one decision I made that I regret is not saving myself for my marriage. I didn’t understand the importance of that until I became engaged to a young lady who had.  That was something we struggled with.

Bob:  Welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  And that settles it right there, for me. 

Dennis:  What does it settle?


Bob:  I’ve decided that my next child is going to a boys’ school—all boys …


Dennis:  [laughing]

Bob:  On an island somewhere … where girls are not allowed.

Dennis:  [laughing] If you own that school and that island, would you please call Bob Lepine at (501) …


Bob:  We’ll do an immediate enrollment right now.  You know, you listen to those voices and I’m telling you … 

Dennis:  Well, one of the great questions I’ve heard you ask groups, Bob, is when you ask people, would you hold your hand up if you’d like your children to replicate your dating experience? 

Bob:  Yes.  If you’d like your kids to have exactly the same experience you had when you were in high school or college, raise your hands. 

Dennis:  Well, let’s just see here in this studio.  We’ve got John Bryson and Robert Lewis joining us again on FamilyLife Today.  Welcome back, guys.

Robert and John:  Thanks.

Dennis:  Okay, who could hold their hand up?

Bob:  John?

John:  Not me.  Not me.

Dennis:  Robert?


Robert:  [laughing]  No.

Dennis:  In fact, here’s where, here’s where …

Bob:  It’s zero for four in this room.

Dennis:  Anybody out in the engineering area?

Bob:  Yes. Nobody’s holding their hand up there.

Dennis:  Todd?  No.  Looks pretty grim out there.  So here we are.  Anyway, here’s what I want to do to start the broadcast.  I want each of us to just quickly share your first college dating experience.

Bob:  Oh, Dennis.  Thank you very much for this.

Dennis:  And I’ll start it.  The first girl I asked out turned me down.  And I went into hibernation for the next 12 months.  I was so rejected.  She completely crushed me.  Her name was Sandi.  I’d never been turned down before.  I was so stunned, I turned to a buddy, who didn’t have a car in college, and his name was Mark.  I’m not saying Mark was conceited or anything, but he’s the kind of guy that took a bow every time it thundered.  I turned to Mark and I said, Here’s the car keys to my car.  If you can get her to go out on the same night I asked her to go out, you can use my car.

I can still remember standing at the drive-in as I had to thumb my ride home, watching Mark and Sandy in my car.  That was not a good feeling.

Bob:  That is a moment of indignity.

Dennis:  Robert, what was your first dating experience?

Robert:  Well, mine actually was at the fraternity house where I wanted a date to one of the first dances when I was on campus.  A fraternity friend of mine got me a date—I was a freshman—with this senior girl who was desperate to go out with a guy.  I just remember as the dance started, I slipped off, back to my dorm and left her.

Dennis:  It was that bad?


Robert:  It was that bad.

Dennis:  John, what about you?

John:  It was quite similar.  I got invited to a sorority dance with a girl, almost a blind date.  I had known her a little bit.  Six hours into the date, I was convinced I was going to marry her and 12 hours later she broke up with me.  I was devastated, so it was a powerful 24 hours.

Dennis:  At least she went out with you, John.


John:  Exactly.  Exactly.

Bob:  I’m thinking about the sorority dance that I went to and what I remember is that I didn’t bring the booze.  I didn’t know I was supposed to.  And so we show up for the dance …

Dennis:  I just … Just the thought of seeing you bringing the booze … [laughing] … That’s kind of an oxymoron to me for you.

Bob:  My date was wondering where the provisions were and I was empty-handed, and she was not a happy young lady to be on the date with me.

Dennis:  So your date ended early, too?

Bob:  It … Yes, it did not go particularly well. 

Dennis:  Well, we’re talking about a brand-new video series called College Ready™.  Robert Lewis, who has created Men’s Fraternity, been involved in a number of video series that he’s created for churches, has put together a package that equips parents to be able to help their sons and daughters go to college on purpose.  John Bryson is a pastor as well.  He is the teacher of this series and you guys talk about, John, such issues as …


John:  We talk about academics, we talk about friendships, and we talk about making great memories, growing spiritually. There’s about five key areas that we feel like are the big-win areas for college.


Bob:  And one of them is dating.  And this series comes with a money-back guarantee that your kids will not have the kind of experiences we talked about right here.

Dennis:  Robert will pay for the first date.

Robert:  Let me say this, I tell you, the one thing I love about this series:  This particular session has everything you would want your son or daughter to know about dating right. I can guarantee that.  I’ve seen that series over and over again and every time I’ll watch John on this particular session I think, There are a lot of kids I’d like to send this particular session to.

Bob:  What are you telling young people as it relates to dating and as it relates to physical involvement?

John:  Just in general, the playing field is getting more corrupt every day.  I mean the sexualized culture in which we’re all trying to raise these kids today is just unbelievable and it was that way even 20 years ago when we were in college. 

So we do definitely, obviously, go to physical purity pretty quickly.  But even bigger than that I really try to get them to challenge the whole paradigm of dating as we know it today or what I call kind of the “traditional dating game.” 

This usually involves an external attraction factor and then a rush to exclusiveness and then a crossing of boundaries God never intended us to cross this side of marriage, and then break-ups that feel like divorces because there were those crossing of physical boundaries, emotionally, spiritually, and all the rest.  We speak to all of that.  So yeah, the physical purity and the pursuit of purity and the fight for purity is definitely a factor in there, but there are others as well.


Dennis:  John, the average college campus today doesn’t really talk about developing a relationship it just talks about hooking up. 

John:  Absolutely.

Dennis:  Explain to parents what “hooking up” is.  Because I think a lot of them don’t understand what the game looks like today.

John:  Sure.  “Hooking up” or “friends with benefits.”  This whole idea that we can meet each other’s sexual needs, call each other whenever we just want a sexual need met with no kind of commitment at all, attached, has become normative, tragically, on a lot of college campuses.  That would definitely be what you’re speaking to there.


Robert:  One of the things that I love about what John does in this series is he’s not just saying what not to do, but he’s giving a vision of what to do.  The big picture vision that I think is electrifying in this particular session is he’s helping these high school students look at college and beyond college about what guy/girl relationships ultimately lead to.  Just connecting those dots is an “aha” for a student.  Because all of a sudden they see, “No, there’s a bigger game in town.  This is not just about recreation.  This is about my life!”

Bob:  You know, a lot of high school students who are heading off to college are already heading off having crossed lines in physical relationships.  So their default position, going to college, is that that’s what happens in relationships.  How do you talk them back from that?

John:  Yes, we definitely cast an alternative vision.  I think it’s a better vision.  I would also argue, in their honest moments, they’ve found those to not be satisfactory.  They probably have regret around that rather than pride and joy around scenarios. 

So, I definitely appeal to that, speak honestly about that, speak to that.  There’s the forgiveness factor and the purity that God’s grace allows for.  But we, as Robert mentioned, kind of try to cast a bigger vision than that—that is compelling and something to fight for, and something to stand for. 

Dennis:  John, I’m thinking about what you’ve taught these young people about “not recreation, but preparation.”  I could have used that when I was a junior in college.  Now I actually went to college twice.  Once, to a small junior college, which was a totally different experience than when I went to the University of Arkansas.  Not only was the size of the University much, much larger, but also the availability of the number of young ladies was much greater. 

And so, my first experience at the University of Arkansas, in the month of September, which is a short month, I had almost 20 blind dates in one month.  Now for me, it was all recreation.  It was all just surveying the landscape.  I’d kind of come out of a drought experience.  I’d been turned down as a freshman, kind of gone into a hole, and become monastic of sorts.  And fortunately, I went to the University of Arkansas on a spiritual mission.  So my dating life took on a different picture because I was spiritually-minded than I had been in my first two years of college.


Bob:  I want to unpack this story a little bit … 20 blind dates in September …

Dennis:  Yes.

Bob:  Were you just going to friends and saying, “Hey, set me up with anybody.  I’m trying to set a record.” or what?

Dennis:  I tried to go out with a young lady from each of the sororities on campus.  And the objective—you got a problem with it?

Bob:  This was a quest you were on …?

Dennis:  Well, it didn’t really start out that way.  It just started out to be a coke date to get to know these young ladies.  And you know, given where I’d come from, it was kind of like, bursting forth from the desert. 

Bob:  So at the end of September, had any of those relationships …

Dennis:  No.

Bob:  Nothing?


Dennis:  Nothing.


Bob:  Zero.  Zip.  Nada. 



Bob:  Okay.  I’m just trying to get the picture here. 

Dennis:  It took a while before my dating life became sanctified.

Bob:  Yes.

Dennis:  Okay?  But honestly, my life was moving in that direction.  I think that’s where you’re moving young people as well, John.  You’re calling them to march to a different drumbeat than the culture. 

John:  Yes.  And specifically, the men, I think the calls on the men and the calls on the women and beginning to appeal to deeper parts of their masculinity—that a real man guards a woman’s purity, that a real man does that. 

And as we’ve done that, again, I think the fault for typical evangelicalism, at least the last 20 years I’ve been involved in it, is just “don’t do this.  Don’t have sex.  How far is too far.”  It’s just been trying to play defense rather than playing offense and giving them a bigger vision on why not to and what to appeal to a young man’s masculinity, challenge him to guard a girl’s purity. 

Then challenge our girls to esteem themselves enough not to in a cheap way, give themselves away like that.  And so those higher callings onto those more noble pathways, I feel like, is the most effective route.

Bob:  John, when I was going to college, the women were not as aggressive …

John:  Sure.

Bob:  … as they are on the college campus today.  A young man may head off to college with all kinds of noble intent, but he’s going to face temptations that I never faced. 

John:  Sure.  Yes, and that’s a product of our culture.  Our culture is a sewer.  That’s the whole essence of pornography.  You give a woman a male’s sex drive and then sell that as normative.  The byproduct of that, of Hollywood and our culture and our over-sexualized culture, has led many women to think that’s their role.  That’s how they can connect with men. 

On the surface we’ve created this over-sexualized woman, aggressive woman, as the new, modern woman.  But we all know that to be lies and deceptions.  When you really speak honestly to men and women, speak to those deeper issues, truth just reigns and it resonates deeply. 


Bob:  How do you prepare a freshman in college to be a Joseph when Potiphar’s wife shows up on the college campus? 

John:  I think you speak directly and honestly.  You let them know that’s an option and you that’s a pathway you can take.  Let me tell you where that pathway leads and let me show you the destruction in the midst of that.  But to shy away from it, I think you talk more about it.  You talk more openly about it.  That is an option and that’s a pathway you can take.  I don’t think it’s the right or best pathway, and let me tell you another way. 


Bob:  That’s a current that’s going to take you in the wrong direction.

John:  Exactly.  It’s a current.  Absolutely.

Dennis:  You know, one of the things I really like about what you guys have done in this video series is you’re not just trying to impart teaching in an entertaining way.  But you’re trying to connect parents to engage around these issues with their sons and daughters before they face these issues on the college campus. 

For many parents these are difficult areas to enter into.  But you make it easy, Robert.  It’s almost like volleyball, you kind of set it for a spike, so after the young person has heard John share about these matters as a dad, you can have a meaningful conversation with your son. 

Robert:  I think what’s really great about this particular session is the meaningful conversation is, again, not about what not to do.  See, John has set the dad or the mom up about what to pursue.  And he’s giving vision for that high school student to think, you know, I’m going off to college and I’m going to engage the opposite sex.  But now it’s more serious.  It’s about connecting in a deep intimacy and with skills that ultimately to a lifetime partner. 

And even though it’s a high school student, you’re thinking, well they’re not thinking about marriage, but they are thinking about their happiness.  They do know that marriage is out there and what you’re doing is bridging in this session, helping them see that this is the bridge and what happens here will ultimately lead to either a lifetime of happiness and satisfaction with the opposite sex, or it could be tragic like what they see their friends or maybe even in their own family have. 

And so, he gives a vision that engages a dad with his son or a mom with the daughter to talk about, these are things of preparation rather than, “Now be sure you don’t do this or you don’t do that.”  Now we’re talking about why it’s important to pursue these noble things and why you should invite others into your life to call you up and hold you accountable and be encouraged.  You’re going to enjoy the opposite sex even more if you do this, but it’s also going to build a foundation for a lifetime partner.

Bob:  So a young lady goes off to college, hearing this, going, Okay, I want to pursue nobility, I want to have a virtuous dating life, I want to … I’ve got a vision for a different kind of dating life … A couple months in, the two songs she’s singing to herself over and over again is “Another Saturday Night, and I Ain’t Got Nobody” and “Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely.”  You know?  She’s thinking, I hear your vision and that’s what I’d like.  But guys, the realities of the marketplace on the college campus today is that if I stick with your vision it’s going to be lonely weekends for me. 

Robert:  Well, it could be lonely weekends from time to time.  But again, we go back to  empowering friends and all those kinds of things and looking for healthy friendship environments.  You start building healthy friendships as a starting place and there’s community there.  There may not be deep dating relationships there, but there’s community there.  You want to go to those healthy environments, and that’s how all the series connects together. 

In the process, there are going to be those dating encounters, but it’s going to be much healthier.  There may not be this strong dating life all the way through, and if that’s why you’re going to college you might be disappointed.  But to have the right kind of relationship and to know why you don’t have a date or you do have a date that is going to set you up for a lifetime of success rather than great regret.

John:  We really cast a vision that is full, whether or not you’re dating.  And so, I would say to that person, is that they’re going in kind of deficit thinking.  Or they’re going in thinking, If I don’t have a boyfriend or a date somehow it’s a loss or not a full week.  So we truly, again, try to play offense, try to cast a vision for a full life. 

I tell girls, I say, “Man, the most single intoxicating thing for a young man is to meet a woman who doesn’t need him.”  That she is going full bore for God and life and academics and pursuits and, I mean, ironically, that’s the most intoxicating thing for a guy is a non-needy girl.


Dennis:  And she’s a mystery.

John:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Dennis:  And he’s on a mission to find out who she is.  You know, there are certain dangers today because of, how did you refer to it, this sexually permissive and promotional culture that we’re in.  Sexually transmitted diseases, a number of graduating high school students have those and they’re going on to college campus.  There are also issues around date rape.  They’re real.  I mean, the dangers are there.

What a session like this can do for a mom and a dad is it can set up some conversation and communication where you can have a discussion with your son and with your daughter about how to be careful with the opposite sex because some of these diseases and some of these things that happen are very real, very dangerous, and they are happening on the college campus.

Robert:  This subject is very real.  The dangers are very real.  They’re not things that might be, they are things that are happening all the time.  Venereal disease is rampant on college campuses as well as things that you said about promiscuous activity all the time. 

In fact, we took a survey here recently on college campuses that John mentions in the video series where they ask college students “When is it appropriate to have sex in a dating relationship?” 

The guys that were surveyed said on the fifth date.  The girls said on the second date.  Now that’s a new world order that’s out there.  The only way you counter act that is with vision and encouragement and empowering friends and healthy friendships, and a growing spiritual life, all of which we talk about in this College Ready series. 

So, getting students ready for this becomes essential to succeeding in college.

Dennis:  I think it’s really the parents’ responsibility to take this on.  In fact, I think one of the last milestones, other than marriage, is to say goodbye to your son or daughter as you drop them off at that dorm or that fraternity and you launch them on what’s going to be a life either on a mission or in need of somebody who’s on a spiritual mission to reach them. 

Robert:  And Dennis, I might also add, I think it should be of supreme importance of churches to prepare their students to go to college.  I agree with you on the parents as well.  But I think churches, youth pastors, and church leaders should be thinking—These kids are our crown jewels.  This is next-generation Christianity.  And if we don’t ensure in some way, as best we can, their success, we’re squandering our assets.


And so, that’s why I would hope that in this College Ready series there would be scores of churches all across America that would be awakened by this series and take seriously, we’re about to launch these kids into a very dangerous environment.  But also a potentially great environment for shaping their future and the more we can make them ready, the better.

Dennis:  There are undoubtedly a number of listeners, Bob, who have taken their son or daughter through Passport2Purity …

Bob:  Right.

Dennis:  …which is for 11- and 12-year-olds, before they get into adolescence and face all the choices of being a teenager.  Well, this is the equivalent for going to college.  It’s designed to equip the young person to make the right choice and to have convictions before they face those choices.

Bob:  And it’s probably, as you said, going to be used in a church environment, with a youth group or maybe a Christian school where it’s a part of what they do to launch the senior class into the college years.  But it certainly can be used by moms and dads who simply want to get together with other moms and dads. 

I’m thinking of families that are homeschooled.  This is a great way to get together with other homeschooling parents and together parents and children watch the DVDs, talk about what’s coming up, use the workbook.  And the point is:  Get equipped.  Get ready.  Because a change is coming.  And you want to make sure that you’ve laid the groundwork for that change in your child’s life. 

Go to our website,  There is information available there about the DVD package for College Ready, the student guide, the leader’s guide.  You’ll find out all about it on the website: 

There’s also information about a great graduation gift you can give to a high school senior.  A 20-song music CD that features new songs from groups like Relient K and Skillet, Toby Mac, Lecrae, Owl City, Flyleaf, and others.  There’s a companion media DVD that comes along with that, and a graduation gift book. 

And we send along a special gift for moms and dads:  a CD that features Dennis and Barbara talking about how we make sure we’ve done our job as parents before we release our sons and daughters into college life or into whatever the next phase of life is for that high school senior.

Again, there’s information about the ConGRADulations Class of 2010 CD package and about the College Ready curriculum on our website: 

Or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  1-800-358-6329.  That’s 1-800 F as in “family” L as in “life” and then the word TODAY.   When you get in touch with us, we’ll answer any questions you have or make arrangements to get the resources you’re looking for sent to you.

I will run into listeners from time to time.  It’s always interesting to me because we’ve been doing this now for almost 18 years.  And we’ll run into folks who will say, “I just started listening to FamilyLife Today and God’s really using it,” or “I found the program very helpful,” or “There was a particular series you did that was really helpful.” 

It’s always fun to meet those of you who are new listeners to the program.  And if that’s you, we’re happy you’re tuned in, happy that you’re listening, hope you’re able to make it a regular part of your routine.  Whether you listen to the podcast or whether you’re tuned in to the radio program each day, we’re glad to have you along. 

And in fact, we’d like to say thanks for finding us and for listening.  To do that, we have a book we’d like to send you that’s called Ninety- nine Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free.  It’s a 100-plus page book that’s full of fun, creative, free ideas for ways that you and your family can just have a great time together. 

The book is our gift to you to say thanks for listening to FamilyLife Today and all you have to do is call and say, “I’d like a copy.”  1-800-FL-TODAY is the number.  The book, again, is Ninety- nine Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free. 

Call 1-800-FLTODAY and ask for it.  And we’ll send it out to you.  And again, we appreciate your listening, glad you’re along, glad you found us here at FamilyLife.  And we hope you find the resources that are available on our website helpful.  Hope you can get to one of our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences.  We hope to be able to strengthen and develop your marriage and your family throughout the years to come.

We hope you can be back tomorrow.  There’s one subject we’ve not talked about so far this week related to sending your son or daughter off to college and that is making sure they are spiritually ready and equipped to continue their faith journey as they head on to the college campus.  We’ll talk about that tomorrow.  Hope you can be back.

I want to thank our engineer today Phil Krause and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Raney, I’m Bob Lepine.  We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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