Donovan's Rule

If you are dating, or know someone who is, the following may be a source of strength. Please read on.

Admittedly, if you look in the Concordance of your Bible, it is not likely that you will find Donovan's Rule, at least not by that title. But the Biblical principles are easily found.

Donovan's Rule says that in every boy-girl relationship, if the boy and girl continue to see each other long enough, they will come to three forks in the road:

I have yet to mention this rule or principle to any adult married person who did not immediately agree with it. The more often a couple see each other, the more quickly they come to the three forks in the road, and the sooner they will have to make a choice. Sometimes the best way to stay out of this uncomfortable intersection is for the couple to pace how often they see each other.

Sexual passion is a lust of the flesh (I John 2: 15-17) that can arise from too much being together in a short period of time. And whereas a person might deal with the lust of the eyes or the pride of life by attempting to reason with those, the lust of the flesh doesn't allow much reasoning. You don't reason with a lust of the flesh; you RUN from it. Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 2: 22 to "Flee also youthful lusts . . ." Joseph in Genesis 39 became the hero to multiple generations of God-fearing people because he ran from the lust that would have compromised him because of Potiphar's wife.

What about the three choices of Donovan's Rule? To those who are spiritually, emotionally, financially, educationally, and vocationally prepared for marriage, let the wedding plans proceed, and stay pure until the wedding is done. To those who find themselves unprepared for a wedding in the foreseeable future, they may have to break up at least for awhile to "flee [the] youth lusts." The hazard here is that while they are not seeing each other, one or the other may meet soemone else and marry the new person, with the first period actually having been a better choice. The third choice is sin. That's the frightening picture that I see developing among our young people.

In Africa they tell of lions that come into the villages at night and seize people, usually by the leg or shoulder, and begin dragging them off to the "tall and uncut" grass to finish them off for a meal. The people who survive are the ones who make a lot of noise. They shout things like "Help! The lion has me! He's carrying me away to eat me! I'm into something I can't help! Please come save me!" And the villagers come out in the middle of the night with spears and stones and drive the lion away. The victim will not be unscathed, but he likely will live. The victims who don't make it are the ones who are too polite in dealing with the lion (I Peter 5: 8). If they decide to just keep quiet while the lion is dragging them off, hoping that the lion will leave them alone, they will get eaten way off in the tall grass out of earshot of friends and family who might have helped.

How often do our young people ever cry for help? And if they did, would we reward them for telling a trusted older Christian? Do we shame them for having such thoughts, or do we acknowledge that such temptations are common to all of us, and begin working with them on a plan to help them thwart the lion? I'm afraid that all too often we feed our young to the lions. Let them tell us when they are tempted and when they need our support. Think of the alternative.

The second part of Donovan's rule is the Three Strikes Provision. Basically it says that there are three things that a young person can have happen to him (or, nowdays, her) that will make it very difficult to further his formal education. They are:

A car.Years ago not a lot of young people went off to college with Strike One already behind them. Today having an automobile at one's disposal is the rule, and being afoot is the exception. But someone is having to make the car payments, pay the insurance, and take care of the upkeep of the car. If the parents cannot or will not bear the cost of the car, the student will. The research studies on high school youth show that as the number of hours worked at a part-time job approaches twenty, the grades begin to go down. How many college students are trading their futures for their presents (automobiles)?

A spouse. If the first strike didn't get the college-bound person's attention, the second one will. Two cannot live as cheaply as one. Getting married while still in college deals with the spiritual question, but it can be difficult to make work in terms of the couple's finances.

A child. The educational gears really grind to a halt or nearly a halt when a child is born to the home. If two could not live as cheaply as one, three never will. And there is the time involved in child care, and the infant really needs a parent with him at this critical time in his life. This eliminates one paycheck from the family's finances. At that point, the college-going is about over. If either parent finishes a degree, it is now likely to be years later, either when the youngest child leaves for kindergarten, or when the youngest child leaves home. Mom and Dad are now in their forties. It will be much harder for them now to go to college and absorb information at the pace of 20-year olds. They have become what the developmental psychologists are now calling "foreclosed individuals."

The way to really get all three strikes at once and in only a few minutes is by giving in to sexual lusts in the form of premarital sex. It is fornication and a sin before God (I Corinthians 6: 9-11) which should be the first consideration. But an unintended pregnancy can foreclose a couple's future in a matter of minutes. Think about it.

Sid Womack

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