Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Theory on Dating/Marriage

As everyone seems to be so obsessed with relationships, let’s discuss it a little. Now, the first thing, it is an extreme rarity for someone to not have this desire for earthly companionship. So do not consider this desire in itself to be sin. For certainly it can be a desire that is used to further the glory of God. Now, we could go on and talk about some of the reasons why we so strongly crave the opposite sex (hopefully not the same), but that would just be kind of boring. Thus, I will only say that God has created us to be relational, so even in marriage, God can be glorified.

Ok, now we start at the beginning of our desire. Do you believe that you deserve someone? If so, that’s a problem. I have once been at the place where I viewed it this way, but we must come to the realization that we truly are sinners, undeserving of even the slightest of blessings. For what does God owe you? Or is this salvation and knowing Him not enough? Nonetheless, God blesses us, and we shall not deny blessings that He intends for us to receive. Just take note that "to whom much has been given, much will be required. And to whom much has been entrusted, much more will be asked" (Luke 12:48). So, if you look at a relationship from the standpoint of it being something you think God owes you or something that you believe you have earned, then you are fooling yourself. Besides, this only causes you to create expectations, which gives you something to put your hope in other than God. Still, I stand firm in saying, do not deny that which God wants to give to you.

Now let’s go a bit deeper. What is it that you want most out of this relationship? Are you looking for simply someone that makes you feel secure and comfortable? Are you using the relationship to cover up an insecurity within? Or, let’s ask a better question, is your desire for this relationship all self-serving? Our society today advertises and sells fake fulfillment and fake love. Take a look at the movie “Hitch”, great movie, deceptive theme. No doubt the movie is quite entertaining but it promises completion upon finding that “someone”. Honestly, in your own personal view of a relationship, do you see it this same way, as if you will finally be completely fulfilled once you get this “perfect” relationship? Certainly you all know the Biblical answer that accompanies this previous question, but do you really believe that Christ alone is sufficient? The associate minister, Paul Matthies, at The Village Church in Dallas puts it like this: "Get in the game...Don't wait for some earthly partner to come complete you and be your savior, you already got One."

I fear that most of us only pay lip service to God when we say that all our hope is found in Him. Matthew 24:35 says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” So too even marriage will pass away. That may sound gloomy, but that may only be because we have not understood that we are strangers to this land, this is not our home. Besides, is it the earthly legacy we in this for, or is it the heavenly legacy we desire to build upon? Think about it, are you wanting to honor God all the more with your relationship, or are you just wanting to have fun? I don’t care if you say you are looking for a Christian. That makes no difference. You still have to go back to your original motive. It’s quite plausible that many Christian relationships arise more from selfish nature than from a true desire to honor God. In that, two Christians may come together stating that God is the center of their relationship. Though, who cares if this never becomes more than words. Are they then not simply building up their own kingdoms? Again and again, I say go back to the motive: Do you fear loneliness or do you fear God? Choose your reason without emotion being your guiding light. If you opt for option number one, then wait, have a little faith, and wait until God molds your heart into option number two.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). It is quite evident that the dating/marriage relationships draw two people closer together. It really is a special bond, unmatched by that of any other type of relationship. And it is for this reason that we are not to be “yoked together with unbelievers.” I would not even take this so literal as to limit the definition of unbeliever to only pagans. The question is are you willing to be with someone who does not believe as you do? Anything other than an equal match seems unnecessary and even possibly sinful. So, does the desire for a relationship control you so much that you are willing to settle? That’s an honest question.. I am just going to be blunt here. If you are dating someone or thinking about dating someone who does not make you desire God more, then you are walking away from God. Like really, is God more glorified when you are together with this person or more glorified when you are apart? Do you feel like you have to keep Jesus to yourself? Then end it. For you have chosen to settle, out of your own personal ambition. It serves no purpose other than to make you more like the world. For, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it ALL for the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31). If you have chosen someone who does not stir your affections for Christ, then you have chosen yourself over God. You say, “ but look, you just don’t understand me. I can’t be without someone. I have never known anything different. It’s how I get by. And even more, you don’t know how hard it would be to end this. It’s too painful.” If that is the decision that you hold to, if that is how you choose to justify your action, then just know that you will never be able to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And if you are satisfied with a mere ordinary life, where you know you will be walking in constant frustration, then go for it.

As hard as it may seem, remember your ultimate purpose in this life is Him (Colossians 1:16). I think this area of a relationship is the one thing in which no one wishes to let go of. It’s like we just say to God, “look, Lord, I have given you my time, my money, my labor, my job, but this one thing is mine. Just let me have a little self indulgence here.” And God would reply with, “But my child do you not know that the bread of deceit is sweet to a man but afterwards his mouth will be filled with gravel? For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. You must trust my judgment. I might have to take something away, but in the end it will be for your benefit, and you will say Blessed by My name.” But we don’t listen and retort, “Nah, you are just confusing. You say to wait, but I know I can make this work.” And with this, we are not able to reach our full potential in Him since we are not willing to lay it down. The fear of the enemy strikes so much grief into our emotions that we forget what it even means to trust. We act as if we are in control, not God. The honest truth is that we cannot understand how to put hope in things not of this world when we are so consumed by the desire to chase after a relationship. You'll pray about it yes, but you'll be too convinced of what you want that you'll be praying to simply soothe your own mind. You won't listen, you'll only be willing to speak. Now, it is fine to hold onto the desire and wait on it. It can most definitely be a blessing and joy. It can be a witness unto Christ. But when we run after that desire, when we seek it as if it were our fulfillment and our joy, we leave communion with Jesus. We are no longer denying ourselves. Remember, you cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

I promise you that no matter how much hope you have built into this idea of an earthly relationship, it will end. So, therefore, put your hope in the One who’s glory never ends, not in His blessings even, but in Him alone place your love and trust. For He is good through all things. You must learn to walk in the strength of Christ. I have personally found myself too weak to even begin to wait. Yet, I have also experienced what it means to boast in my weakness so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9). I have watched many friends jump into a relationship that was most definitely not pleasing to Him. And in this, they were brought down. Relationships offer this temporary comfort, which actually allow us to walk all the more easily in complacency. It is true that they bring a sense of satisfication. But just as Jon Foreman states on the new Switchfoot album, "happiness is a yuppy word", so too we shall understand that our life has no real significance when all we are seeking is our own happiness. It is in that case that earthly happiness has no lasting benefit and is "yuppy" or meaningless. We seek the joy of the Lord, for His glory, not happiness for ours.

Here’s a thing to think about: if you are dating someone right now, and you yourself feel like you are at a standstill with God, like you are stuck in a moment, unable to move forward and do not know why, then I urge you to take a look at who you are dating. Look beyond your own security and personal pleasure and find the source of your complacency. “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18). Yet, if you do not wait, you will forfeit this blessing in one way or another. Yes, you will say, “but doesn’t all work for the good of those who love Him? So, therefore, he will work this out for me.” You know, I have seen this happen. I have witnessed God using impure relationships to further His glory. Yet, how could you want that to be your motivation? It’s completely self-centered, having nothing to do with Him. So, all I can say is that we must not focus so strongly on this desire to have a relationship. We must ask God to give us ways in which we can detach from the false hope of this world. Just be patient. Don’t try to convince yourself that you know better than God. I mean, wouldn’t it be sweet to know that after waiting on the Lord, you may truly be able to proclaim on that day in which you find your match that it was sealed by the Courts of Heaven. So, whether in a relationship or not, either way, we shall be "single-minded", that meaning that Jesus is our Purpose in both.