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by Mr. John Samuel Cagan
with Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Dr. C. L. Cagan

A lesson given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, December 3, 2016

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [your way of life]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:14-16).

It is normal for young men and women to like each other. It is normal to think about dating. It is normal to want a companion. That’s what I want to talk about tonight. In the perfection of the Garden of Eden, God knew that Adam needed a wife. The first thing that God said was not good was that man was alone. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). It is normal and good for you to want to date and to marry, but it is absolutely important that you date and marry in the right way.

I. First, what is dating?

Many people do not know what dating is. I would like to speak to you this evening about dating.

A. What dating is not.

In society, often the goal of finding a boyfriend or a girlfriend is to have a physical relationship. Dating is not a physical relationship. In the world when people are “dating” it means they are having sex. The Bible says, “Flee also youthful lusts” (II Timothy 2:22). Dating is not a deep emotional relationship. In the world people say that they are “in love.” This is often an excuse for making out and having sex. Dating is not being “in love.” Falling in love is often quite dangerous. When you fall in love with a person, you are unconsciously giving the other person a great deal of power over you. That person can hurt you, change you, and even break you. Dating is not “falling in love.”

B. What dating is.

Before you ask a person on a date, or go on a date with someone, speak with the pastor. He has been in the ministry for over 58 years. Dr. Hymers is very experienced in the concerns, traps, and blessings of dating. The Bible says, “Obey them that have the rule over you [your leaders], and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). Go to the pastor. Do not be afraid to speak with him. The Bible tells you to seek his advice. Tell him that you would like to go on a date with the person, and follow the advice the pastor gives you. I once dated a girl without speaking to the pastor. That mistake was very painful and I am glad that I spoke with our pastor before dating again.

Dating is when a boy goes out with a girl in the hope of getting to know each other better. You can go on a double date with another couple, or a single date with just you and the other person. Dr. Hymers recommends double dating with another couple the first time or two. The four of you go out and have fun together.

You do not need to wait until you are 30 years old before you go on a date. You do not need to wait until you have graduated from college and have a job. Dating is not marriage. You can go on a date while you are young and while you are still in school.

Go on a date with another person in the church. You may think of the people in church as “just friends,” or “just one of the guys.” You may not consider that person as far as dating is concerned. But that is not the right approach. People in the church are the people you should date. But even people in the church may not be converted. That is another reason to go to the pastor first. The better the Christian, the better that person will be for you to date. The best Christians are those who do evangelism, who pray, and who love Christ and the church. If you have the wrong idea about who to date, you will be attracted to someone in the world and you can go terribly wrong.

What should you do on a date? Dr. Hymers recommended that I take a wonderful girl out to Disneyland on a date. So the pastor actually pointed out the girl I am dating, and I am glad he gave me advice. She is a great blessing in my life. You can go to a restaurant, or to a play, or to other places such as Knott’s Berry Farm. If you do not have much money, there are still lots of things you can do, such as going on a hike or to the Santa Monica Pier.

A date has a definite beginning and a definite end. At the end of the evening, the date is over. You are not in love. You are not deeply committed to the other person. If you go out with someone else another time, that is OK. If the other person goes out with someone else, that is OK too. The date is over. Be nice to the other person. Don’t just do and talk about what you like and do not like. Think of what the other person wants. Try to make the person happy – and glad that he or she went out with you.

Be sure to end the date in a time of prayer. Both of you should pray. Then, thank the person for the nice time, shake their hand, and say good night. Then the date is over.

Dating means you are “interested” in the person. If you go out for several months with a person, you may want to go steady. Again, ask the pastor if you should go steady or not.

II. Second, what is going steady?

Going steady means that you go on dates with one person and no one else. The person you are going steady with will go on dates with you and no one else. You are in a steady dating relationship.

Going steady is stronger and deeper than just going on a date. Go out with the person several times before you think about going steady. Do not rush quickly into going steady even if you like the person – especially if you like the person.

Going steady is not marriage. It does not mean that you have to get married. It just means that you are going steady. If it doesn’t work out, the steady relationship can end. It doesn’t mean that you hate each other or never speak to each other again. It just means that you not going steady.

If you like the person and want to go steady, what should you do?

A. See the pastor first.

You should not commit to going steady without first discussing it with Dr. Hymers. I had a conversation with Dr. Hymers before every date I went on, and another conversation after every date. He and I spoke at length about the situation. I did not have a problem doing this with Dr. Hymers because I trusted his advice and judgment more than I trusted my own. Do not commit yourself to someone else without having several discussions with Dr. Hymers. He will often encourage you and help you. Tell him you are interested in going steady with the person. Everything I said about seeing the pastor about dating applies even more so to going steady. I am glad that I spoke with the pastor about dating and going steady. When you date and go steady secretly, you are setting up your relationship to fail. You are communicating to each other by your actions that you do not really trust the pastor. When you do not include the pastor in your dating decisions, your life will not work out as well as it could have.

B. Ask the pastor what the other person thinks (most important).

The other person is just as important as you are. She may like you and want to go steady with you. But it may be that one of you is not ready for that. It may be that the two of you should wait a while before committing to each other by going steady. Each person is different, and the pastor will act as a bridge and a protector for both of you. That is why you should speak with the pastor about the other person and they should also speak with him. Both the girl I am dating and I spoke about this to him before we started going steady.

C. What to do when you go steady.

You can do the same things, and go to the same places, as you would on a date. When you go steady, get to know the person better. You will find out how you are similar or different. Learn about what the person wants to do with her life or his life. As you spend more time together, you will find out if you do or do not want to go forward into a deeper relationship such as engagement and marriage.

D. How to go steady without sin.

Behave in the same way as you did on your first date. When you are going steady, you have already spent time together. You may like the person. You may really like the person. You may be attracted to the person and think that he or she is very special.

But all that does not mean that you should sin! Do not destroy your relationship with sin. Do not have sex. Do not make out. Do not kiss. Do not hold hands. Do not get physical. When you are young, your desires are strong. When you do one of those things, you will want to do more, especially if you really like each other. One thing easily leads to another. Soon you will be kissing, making out, and even doing much worse. That will ruin the relationship. That will ruin your life. One thing will always leads to another. The best way is not to start. If you have strong feelings for the other person, that is an even greater reason to not sin in your relationship. If you make out or have sex, you will lose respect and trust for each other, and your relationship will never be the same.

Behave as you would on your first date. Treat the other person with absolute respect. Act as if you are representing every other man or woman in church. Conduct yourself in a way that you will not have to be ashamed of. Let the relationship grow. Do not destroy it with sin.

III. Third, how to get engaged and married.

A lot of people today are afraid to get engaged and married. They have seen people get divorced. They may have seen their own parents or relatives get divorced.

Today a lot of young people live in an extended childhood. They think of themselves as children until they are 30 years old or older. They would never think of getting engaged and married. Even after they finish college and get a job, they are still bumbling children. They do not want to take on responsibility and commitment. They think of the women (or men) in the church as “just friends.” They want to stay as children until they are 30 years old. That is not a mature mentality to have.

It was not always that way. In past generations, people got married in their twenties. Sometimes they even got married in their early twenties. They finished school. They got a job. They took on responsibilities. They took care of themselves. They paid their expenses. They were ready to face life. They made a commitment to a wife or husband in marriage – and kept that commitment all their lives. Today it is much more difficult because the expenses of life are costly, and people do not want to live with their parents as former generations often did. Because of this people wait much longer than they need to. You do not need to wait until you are 35 years old or older to even think about getting married.

It is normal for people to get married. After God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). And so God formed Eve to be the wife of Adam.

It is normal for people to get married. Yes, there are a few people who don’t get married. But almost everyone should get married and have children. You should get married and have children. That is right. That is human. I did not say to do it immediately. But you should get married.

How should you get engaged and married? After you have been going steady for some time – usually two or three years – you may think you want to spend the rest of your life with this person. You may want to get married.

If you do, follow the same points as I gave about dating and going steady.

A. Talk to the pastor.

Before you ask the person to marry you – before you even talk about marriage or bring up the subject – see the pastor. Ask him what he thinks about you getting engaged and married. Have the pastor speak with the other person separately. He may want to speak with each of you more than once, or he may want to speak with you together. Do not get into a deep personal relationship without speaking to the pastor first. Do not make commitments and promises without speaking to the pastor first. Do not do things in secret. Always listen to the pastor and follow his advice. My father, Dr. Cagan, has said, “If your plan can’t stand to be taken to the pastor, it can’t stand at all.”

When you are engaged, behave in the same way as when you started dating. Do not have make out or have sex – especially if you really love the person and want to be married. Do not do something you would be ashamed of later. Your relationship is a wonderful thing. Do not ruin your relationship!

Finally, always put Christ and the church first. Don’t step back. Don’t think, “We’re going to be married, and that’s what we need to think about now.” Do as much for Christ – or more – as before you were dating. Be in church every time the door is open. Come to all the meetings. Come to every prayer meeting. Keep up your own prayer life and your Bible reading. Go out on evangelism every time the church goes. Do personal evangelism on your own. And keep on serving Christ when you get married – and after you have children. The Bible did not change. May you love and serve Christ and the church all your life! And may God bless you as you do it.


1.  Don’t be afraid of me. Don’t think I will hurt you. Don’t think I will make you break up with the person you are dating. In most cases (nearly all) I will help you and make your relationship better.

2.  I almost always give you some money to pay for your first date. A number of young people can attest to that. I want you to find the right person and have a happy Christian life.

3.  End every date with prayer, rather than a hug or kiss. Have prayer together at the end of each date.

4.  If possible get a few names. Spend a little time doing some evangelism on every date. That keeps Christ at the center. You don’t have to spend hours doing it. But do a little evangelism on your dates if it is possible.

5.  John Cagan’s lesson on dating and marriage is a fairly new subject. It will be very interesting because it is a new teaching. But don’t get so interested in the subject that you think about it more than prayer and evangelism. Keep your mind focused on prayer and evangelism or dating will make you backslide. That’s what the Devil will do if you get too interested in dating and marriage. Always keep prayer and evangelism as the main thing in your life.

6.  John Cagan, who preached this sermon, does everything he told you tonight. He practices what he preached to you himself. Follow John’s example. Make him your model.

7.  Always remember that this old preacher loves you very much.

WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

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A sermon by Mr. John Samuel Cagan
with Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Dr. C. L. Cagan

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [your way of life]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:14-16).

(Proverbs 18:22)

I.   First, what is dating? II Timothy 2:22; Hebrews 13:17.

II.  Second, what is going steady?

III. Third, how to get engaged and married, Genesis 2:18.