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Joni Eareckson Tada’s half-century as a quadriplegic and a disabilities advocate is far more than a story of human endurance.It’s a Christ-exalting example of a courageous truth Christians don’t always embrace: ‘When I am weak, then I am strong’ I ask a class of students in a figure drawing class at Parsons The New School for Design near Manhattan's Union Square. " The students, would-be artists and fashion designers who come from all over the world, laugh.A 19-year-old from South Africa said, "I don't believe in marriage at all. In general these students don't associate marriage with either childbearing or sex.It is one avenue among many to personal happiness, period.A few admit that they would like to marry-for friendship, to ward off loneliness, and for support-but even they see marriage as constricting, depriving them of freedom and the ability to focus on their careers. If your family is attached to the ritual and ceremony you'll want to do it," but otherwise "we don't think it's necessary." Her family agrees.Moving to New York expanded their opportunities: two Latina students, one from Colombia and the other from Costa Rica, both said they'd be married if they had stayed home. Her dad has lived with his girlfriend for 16 years.

But once you get into the relationship, you realize things aren’t as they seemed. Having coffee or going to eat dinner with the opposite sex is not dating. There will be days when life is crashing down, your faith is wavering, and the only thing left is your spouse. In this scenario, your spouse is there to pray for you, put his or her arm around you, and walk with you.

It means dating someone who meets the values and goals you have for a future spouse (more on that later).

Casual or purposeless dating has no benefit for Christians. We are designed to know why we do stuff and where we are going. Now, please, please, please don’t be a freakish weirdo. It involves sharing personal struggles and vulnerability. If you believe God is preparing you for foreign missions, is it important the person you marry shares this passion? If you love the Cowboys and your future spouse loves the Packers, is it important to work through this before marriage?

In a school where nearly 80 percent of the students are female and many men are gay, their prospects are few.

So they meet random men in Union Square or at Max Brenner's chocolate emporium. They exchange phone numbers, a crucial step in what comes next, "digital flirting." They "text and text for weeks," liberated by the sense of remove that texting allows: "You're talking, but not really." Many Christian students also prefer texting to face-to-face talking.

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