Know What You’re Getting
About the Guest
Dreaming of your future spouse? Pastor Dan Chun encourages singles to closely observe the person they're dating and invites them to ask some key questions. Once infatuated, or in the weird zone as he calls it, it's hard to judge a person's character accurately. Chun advises singles to take their time to really get to know their boyfriend or girlfriend. Preparing properly for marriage, Chun reminds, will increase your chance of success in marriage.
Dan ChunDAN CHUN has been the senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Honolulu for the past twenty years, and he is a member of the board of trustees of Fuller Theological Seminary. A former news-caster and award-winning filmmaker, Dan’s personal experience with divorce motivates him to work closely with never-married, divorced and widowed people. Previously, he served as the singles pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Dan and his wife are parents of three grown children and live with thei...more
Pastor Dan Chun encourages singles to closely observe the person they’re dating and invites them to ask some key questions. Once infatuated, it’s hard to judge a person’s character accurately.
Know What You’re Getting
Bob: You would agree that early in a dating relationship it’s easy for somebody to have blind spots about another person’s faults; right? Pastor Dan Chun says he’s seen this over and over again.
Dan: Here’s how it normally works. When somebody falls in love, they get into what I call “The Weird Zone.” They’re so infatuated they think the person they’re marrying is Jesus, and there are no faults. What happens is—they go up to their friends / their community and they say: “Hey, what do you think of Ryan? Isn’t he great? He’s so spiritual. He’s a praying man. He’s cute. Don’t you like him?” At that point, the friends don’t know what to say. They’re painted into a corner.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, October 30th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk today about the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly when it comes to deciding if another person is the right person for you. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So, did you have criteria that you had established before you selected Barbara to be your spouse?
Dennis: I had several pages of expectations and checklists.
Bob: Did you really?
Dennis: Not really, no.
Bob: My criteria was:—
Dennis: Mentally, I did.
Bob: —“She has to like me, and I have to like her.” That’s about all the criteria—
Dennis: And you were how old when you got married?
Bob: I was 23 years old when I got married. How old were you?
Dennis: I was almost 25.
Bob: But you had a mental checklist—
Dennis: I did; I did. I had been around some really quality women who had settled the issue of who their master was and what their mission was going to be. So, I knew that both of those had to be in place before—
Bob: I forgot that. That was on my list too: “She has to be a Christian and love Jesus,”—I remember that. [Laughter] Okay. Thanks for reminding me. It wasn’t just “She has to like me, and I have to like her.”
Dennis: Yes, there you go. We have a guest today with us, Dan Chun, who is all the way from Hawaii. I have to tell you, we don’t get many—
Bob: We don’t.
Dennis: We don’t get many authors and guests who fly all the way from Hawaii to Arkansas to be on FamilyLife Today. I have to say kudos to you.
Bob: Say mahalo—is what you have to say.
Dennis: Yes. There you go.
Dan: Yes—mahalo for having me here. Thank you for having me here. What was I thinking?—I would have brought the chocolate macadamia nuts with me today.
Dennis: You know, that was really poor form that you didn’t bring those—not that I need them right now.
Dan: It was double poor form because I mentioned it and I didn’t bring any. [Laughter]
Dennis: That is. We’re here to really have you pronounce the fish of Hawaii—that name—because I’ve seen it printed out.
Bob: He rolled his eyes.
Dennis: Bob has tried, but I don’t trust his pronunciation of the fish. [Laughter] So what is the state fish?
Dan: The state fish is the little fish with the big name: Humuhumunukunuku apua`a.
Bob: Pretty good.
Dan: And our most famous speaker is Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.
Dennis: There you go.
Dan: He does Somewhere over the Rainbow and It’s a Wonderful World.
Bob: [Singing] Somewhere over the rainbow—with a ukulele.
Dennis: Dan has been a pastor for more than 35 years—today is the senior of First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu. He has written a book called How to Pick a Spouse. I have to tell you, I really like your book. There are a couple reasons why. It really is kindred spirit with what we believe, here at FamilyLife. You may not know this, Dan, but we actually started as a marriage preparation ministry.
Dennis: Our ministry was started to create a conference for single people who either were contemplating getting married or who were already engaged and who were on the staff of Cru—formerly Campus Crusade for Christ. Our assignment was to equip singles for marriage before tying the knot. We still do that. I was trying to put a pencil to it, Bob, on the number of engaged or single people that have been through our conferences. It is in the tens of thousands—I don’t know if it’s 100,000 or not.
Bob: Part of what we’re trying to do at the conference is break some of those couples up; right?
Dennis: In the early years, Dan, we broke up a lot of couples. I mean, they would come to the conference and they didn’t know how to pick a spouse. Explain to our listeners how you got into this category because it goes all the way back to your ministry at Menlo Park in the Bay Area of California.
Dan: Way back in 1985 to ’91, I was the singles pastor for Menlo Park. If you don’t know where that little town is—of 25,000 people—it’s right next to Stanford University. I was surprised they asked me to start a singles department of all ages—never married, widowed, divorced. The shocking thing was—after three years, there were about 3,000 people coming.
I wanted to make sure that they would—if they got married / if God called them to that—that they wouldn’t get a divorce because many, many years ago, before I became a pastor, I went through a divorce. I knew how painful that was. And now, some 20-plus years later, I decided to find out: “Are they still married?” Out of 261 who got married, only 25 are divorced today.
I thought I would put those principles in a book to help others because I’m kind of a big vision guy. I want to eradicate divorce. I don’t want that to happen. Marriage, as we all know, can be hard work and challenging at times; but if you pick the wrong person at the beginning, you’re really going to have a hard struggle.
Bob: As you mention that, there are some folks, who are listening, who are married, who are saying: “That’s my problem. I picked the wrong person.” Of course, we’ve always said: “You may think you picked the wrong person, but God was at your wedding. If He was there, adding His blessing to your wedding, that’s the right person”; isn’t it?
Dan: Well, yes, I would say, “If they’re married, you can’t unscramble eggs.”
Dan: God has called you to roll up your sleeves and try harder. That’s my philosophy and that’s my theology—that’s how I work. But we live in a country where there is no-fault divorce in many states. Many, many years ago, before seminary, I went through that painful divorce—not because I wanted it—but because my wife, at that time, said she didn’t love me—and never did—and then left.
Bob: So what are you observing about single people today? Are they doing due diligence?
Dan: No they’re not. They’re doing less diligence than they would to buy a car or, if they had more means, buying a house. When you buy a house, you look at where it is. Is there a good school nearby? How’s the crime there? How’s the water pressure? You try the spigot. You buy a car—you’re looking at the miles per gallon, the color, the hood ornaments. Some people even wonder about how many cup holders there are in the car.
Dennis: And you make sure there’s a warranty.
Dan: You make sure there’s a warranty. Lo and behold, you can sell a car after two years or one year. You can sell your house, but marriage is for eternity—I mean, it’s for all this time here on earth. Single people do not put their mind in that—it’s just their feelings they put into it.
Bob: You just gave me a great idea. When we buy a house, we have an inspector come out and check out the house, top to bottom. Maybe I could open a marriage inspector business: “Send me the girl you’re dating or the guy you’re dating and I’ll—
Dennis: We’ll run the FBI check? Is that what you’re saying, Bob? [Laughter]
Bob: I’m just saying, “Maybe there’s a new line of business here.”
Dennis: You know, Dan, it seems to me, singles ought to be doing a better job today of spousal selection because they’re waiting to get married until the oldest age we’ve ever experienced in our nation—28 for men and 27 for women. Why is it that you’re saying they’re not doing a good job of doing the due diligence?
Dan: Well, they’re being with each other, but they’re not asking the right questions. I just talked to a friend who, after ten years, she finally broke up with a guy—ten years. Then she found out that 100 percent of her friends said: “He really wasn’t good for you. We never liked him.” That was stunning to her, but she didn’t allow what I call “the village” to speak into her life. She didn’t give permission for them to say what they really thought about him.
Bob: After ten years, shouldn’t she have all the data she needs?
Dan: You would think so, but here’s how it normally works. When somebody falls in love, they get into what I call “The Weird Zone.” They’re so infatuated they think the person they’re marrying is Jesus, and there are no faults. What happens is—they go up to their friends / their community and they say: “Hey, what do you think of Ryan? Isn’t he great? He’s so spiritual. He’s a praying man. He knows what I want before I even say it. He’s cute. Don’t you like him?”
At that point, the friends don’t know what to say. They’re painted into a corner because, if they say something bad, what if she marries him? Or how do they let him be part of the group? They don’t want to be kicked out of the group, so they just say, “Yeah, he—he—he’s fine.” Under their breath, they’re saying, “…if you don’t mind a sociopath.” That’s the problem. They don’t allow the village to help pick a spouse.
Dennis: There are two problems there. One is the single person may be sending signals to their friends: “Don’t tell me what I need to hear.”
Dennis: “Tell me what I want to hear because I’m in love with love. I’ve been single a long time. I want to get married. Just go with me on the ride, and let me get to the finish line here.”
Dan: That’s right.
Dennis: The other problem is—we really have “friends” who say they love their friend but who, in essence, don’t have the courage to risk the relationship to tell them the truth about what they’re seeing in this guy or gal they may be attracted to. Comment on that—just about the need today, within the Christian community, to love somebody enough to risk saying something that is disruptive to them.
Dan: I think it’s a triple threat. The first threat is that we don’t know how to express tough love to our friends. We don’t know how to say: “You know what? What you’re doing may not be helpful,” “You’re drinking too much,” “You’re hanging out with the wrong crowd,” “You’re xyz,” “You’re reading the wrong books.” That’s one part.
Number two is that—whatever we hear about tough love, it’s always negative. Like when somebody says, “Dan, I have to tell you something in tough love,” I go: “Oh, great. They’re going to lower the bomb on me.”
Dennis: “Here it comes, the spiritual two-by-four.”
Dan: Right. And the Christian community has to learn that speaking the truth in love means you affirm them. So, we have to be better affirmers and listeners; and then we will earn the right to speak the truth in love.
But the third part is—right now, singles everywhere—if they really want to give permission to their friends to speak into their lives and their hearts about possible spouse choices, they have to practice, right now, of giving their friends permission to speak on other topics of lesser degree of importance.
I don’t think we’ve learned how to give our friends permission—to say, “So what do you think about this job I’m going to do?” or “What do you think about this car I’m going to buy?”
Bob: At our church, we talk about trying to cultivate relationships that are intentionally intrusive. I hear you saying, “Singles are not cultivating those kinds of—permission granted—for you to be intentionally intrusive, ask nosy questions, and tell me your opinion kind of stuff.”
Dan: Right. And I would add to that, Bob, not just singles. I think married people aren’t allowing their friends to speak into their lives about their marriage, or about their job, or about whatever.
Dennis: Right. We’re talking here about selecting a spouse. When you do that in western civilization, you talk about dating. But one of the things I love about your book is that you talk about the biblical models for spousal selection. I think this would be really cool for you to share these biblical models because, ladies and gentlemen, the Bible is distinctly clear about how you should go select a spouse. [Laughter]
Listen carefully to what Dan—
Dan: Well, I don’t know if I can rattle them all off; but it’s just amazing if you look at all the Scripture. There are crazy examples, like:
Samson’s basically saying to his parents: “Hey, I met this girl at a party. I have
the hots for her. Could you get her for me?”
Or Abraham says to his servant: “Hey, slave. Go find my son, Isaac—and get
him a wife.”
Or Jacob to Laban says: “Hey, I saw your daughter, Rachel, at the well. After one
kiss, I am madly in love. I want to marry her. What’s that? What do you mean? I have to work 14 years for you?”
Or Hosea to God: “Say what? I’m to go out and marry a prostitute?”
Or Solomon: “Hey, God. One wife is not enough. So, how does 700 wives and
300 friends with benefits sound?”
And on and on it goes.
Dennis: Yes; exactly. There isn’t really a biblical model in terms of selecting a spouse. We don’t have a modern-day equivalent of the well today.
Bob: But there are some priorities—there are some big life questions. In fact, you say there are three big life questions everybody has to tackle. Spouse selection is one of those big three; isn’t it?
Dan: Right. They all start with “M.” I don’t know who thought of it first—it may have been Elisabeth Elliot Leach, and I think FamilyLife also uses it—but “Choose your mission, your master, and your mate,” are three of the most important questions you could ask. In fact, you were kidding, earlier, in saying that when people read this book they may be breaking up. That is exactly what has happened.
Just a couple weeks ago, a young adult woman picked up my book, read it, left it on the counter. Her boyfriend picked it up / looked at it. That night, they broke up because they realized they didn’t have the same master / they weren’t on the same mission. Then they concluded, “Well, then, you’re really not going to be my mate.”
Bob: If you wind up in a life-long monogamous relationship—it’s just the two of you to the finish line—and you don’t have the same master and you don’t have the same mission, what’s the problem going to be?
Dan: Well, they’re going to be off-kilter. They’re going to end up in the wrong place. If you imagine two F-16 fighters taking off. At take-off, they’re just one degree apart in their destination—but they’re fine at ten feet or a hundred feet—but when you get to about a mile or two miles or ten miles, that one degree off in direction, that puts them in way different places. So, by picking a different mission or master, it means the two mates are really going to end up in way different places.
Bob: I was talking to a young woman, recently, who is single. She has a boyfriend. They are not exactly on the same page, spiritually. She says: “He goes to church with me. In fact, he told me that I’m the only girl who could ever get him to go to church.” She said, “So I think he’s making some progress.”
I remember saying to her, Dan: “I want you to imagine a time in the future, where you’re getting up on a Sunday morning and getting the kids ready for church. He’s saying: ‘You know what? If you want to go that’s fine, but I’m just not interested.’ I want you to imagine that being the case every Sunday morning. You’re getting up, getting the kids ready—he’s going: ‘I don’t care. I’m just not interested.’
“That’s just a microcosm of the kinds of issues where you two are going to be on opposite sides of the fence—and to have intimacy, to have real relationship, to have oneness when you don’t have that at the center—it’s just not the recipe”; is it?
Dan: And they’re in “The Weird Zone”—they’re dating, they’re infatuated, they like each other—but you’re dead-on. As it gets farther along—I know guys—when the girl says: “I love opera. Don’t you love opera?” They’re going: “Yeah. Yeah. I love opera.”
Dennis: Of course.
Dan: “I’m going to go with you.” And sure enough—right, in the first year of marriage: “I don’t like opera. I don’t want to go to that concert / that show tonight.”
Bob: “What made you think I like opera?”
Dan: Yes; and vice versa. Girls/women will say: “Oh, I love football. I’ll watch football with you”; and then suddenly—first year: “I hate football. I’ll go make some guacamole while you’re here watching.”
Dennis: Yes, really. I want to drill down on something that I think that—because the Christian community can allow religious trappings to communicate that the other person is, indeed, a real, true Christ-follower. Let’s talk about how you can tell what the spiritual track record—what the true love of the life, in terms of the master, is for the person that you’re dating. What would you advise a young lady or a young man to look at, in the opposite sex, to really determine what their spiritual track record is?
Dan: A very good question—and it’s actually a complicated question because one has to be careful that, if you made a list and you checked off all the right things,—
Dennis: There’s danger even in the check—
Dan: —the Pharisees would click off all the right things.
Dan: Overall, things like passion—what really drives that person?—if it’s not Christ and serving Him in some way, that’s a big tip-off. I would say—and again, being careful about the Pharisee context I just said—that I think church attendance is an indicator. Shaunti Feldhahn’s great book, Good News about Marriage, points out that, if you attend church, you have a 25 percent lower chance of having a divorce. So, that puts you, again, into community and, hopefully, people who can affirm you and help raise you in the village.
I know it’s hard to determine the exact divorce rate or projection; but if you look at all the research, we have to know how hard it is. I remember once—I was on a plane, and the cast of Lost TV show was on the same flight I was on, in my section.
Bob: I don’t want to be on their flight! [Laughter]
Dan: Right. If you don’t know that show—that’s the show about this plane crashing and the community of passengers live on an island by themselves.
Dennis: A strange island, by the way.
Dan: Yes, a strange island. So, I’m looking at that going: “Oh my goodness! Do I want to be in this plane?” But, in a sense, when we decide to go for marriage, we have to know—unless we prepare properly—like for any job, like buying a house, for anything of importance we have to prepare—and then that will increase the chance for success, and fulfillment, and joy in accomplishing God’s mission, here on earth.
Bob: For years, we have advocated that one of the best ways to prepare is for a couple to come out and spend a weekend at a Weekend to Remember®marriage getaway.
Dan: It’s fantastic.
Dennis: Yes, it has. And I think, when a couple gets the same set of blueprints before they start building, they can avoid a lot of wrong building so they don’t have to tear a structure down to build it right. If you get the biblical blueprints, in advance of beginning your marriage, I think your chances of having the plane go down are dramatically reduced because, with Jesus Christ being the builder of your home—
—just read the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
Dan: That’s right.
Dennis: He talked about two different builders. Both were hit with storms, floods and wind. One stood at the end of the day, and one was demolished. One house fell apart. What was the difference? The house that was built around hearing the words of Jesus Christ and doing them was like building your house on the rock. To any single person / engaged couple—if you want to get the very best marriage insurance that you could possible buy, the Weekend to Remember is the best supplemental insurance I think you can buy and invest in your marriage, in advance.
Bob: There are a couple of sessions at the Weekend to Remember that are designed for engaged couples or for couples who are dating and exploring the possibility of marriage to help them think, “Is this God’s will for us to get married?”—
—and then to help them strategize on: “How do we live out our engagement? How do we make sure we’re ready for marriage?”
We still have a handful of Weekend to Remember getaways happening over the next couple of weeks and then a whole bunch of them coming this spring. If our listeners are interested in attending an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. When they click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the page that says, “GO DEEPER,” they’ll go right to a place where they can get more information about the Weekend to Remember.
They’ll also find information about Dan Chun’s book, How to Pick a Spouse. So, you can find out more about the Weekend to Remember and order a copy of Dan’s book when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” Or you can call to order the book or if you have any questions about the Weekend to Remember—call 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
This subject is really at the heart of how FamilyLife began, back almost 40 years ago. We put together an event that was designed to help pre-married couples understand God’s design for marriage. That was the very first Weekend to Remember getaway in 1976. It was for engaged couples only; and over the years, we’ve seen that event grow. There have been millions of people who have gone through a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway now—millions more who listen to FamilyLife Today every week—and millions who go, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com to find practical, biblical help and hope for their marriage / for their family—issues related to parenting or other family relationships.
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Tomorrow, we want to talk about cohabitation and “How does that affect this whole issue of knowing who to marry?” Dan Chun will be back with us. Hope you can be back as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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