Lately, I've been contemplating the idea of relationships (romantic) within the Church. I'm not too sure if you've noticed, but dating and relationships within Christian circles can be a bit bizarre, taboo and just plain weird.
Everyone seems to have a different perspective on the subject. Some believe in "The One;" others don't. Some have "kissed dating goodbye (what does that even mean)" and some are firm believers in courtship. Regardless of your dating-ideology, opinions amongst Christians are not in short supply.
However, I was listening to a message a few weeks ago where the topic of dating, relationships and marriage were being discussed and you could almost feel the lean of the crowd into what the preacher was saying. It's something everyone wants to hear about because it's something everyone is thinking about.
Just think of the movies or shows you've watched in the past year. Almost all of them, if not every one of them, involves a love story that seems to make the plot complete. Everything we see is centered around relationships, and, ultimately - finding the one that sticks.
And that's not wrong. God created us with a hole in our heart, only to be filled by connecting with someone else in covenant.
However, as I listened to this message, I heard the same "advice" I've heard countless times again:
"Guard their hearts..."
"Male and female were made to be attracted... so be careful - friendships won't stay that way for long..."
"Watch out how much you're talking to someone of the opposite sex..."
To be honest, I was almost embarrassed at how ridiculous, weak and sexually-driven we sounded as a Church. It felt as if we were animals, needing blinders on our eyes and chastity belts around our waists so that we wouldn't make a mistake.
I walked out thinking to myself, "there's no way that God intended us to sound like that... not when He's called us the very family of God. There's got to be a better way, but how?"
Look, let me make a preface: this blog isn't directed towards immature, irresponsible and self-centered guys or girls who play with other people's emotions because of their own, unmet needs. This isn't for guys or girls don't know how to be adults. This isn't an excuse for out-of-control relationships that cross boundary lines that are there to protect and guard us against sin.
This is a blog to propose the idea that maybe, just maybe, we have elevated the idea of "relationships" so much that every person of the opposite sex that we are remotely attracted to has become a "prospect" instead of a possible genuine, life-giving friendship that God intends for us to have.
Singles, think of it. When was the last time you saw someone you were attracted to and, instead of immediately thinking of whether or not they are your future spouse, you saw them as a brother or sister in Christ?
When was the last time you invested in a friendship with NO STRINGS ATTACHED, instead of holding the unspoken expectations over their head?
Can we actually be honest for a second and analyze the way we see other people? I know this might not be everyone, but I think it's the majority of us. We've idolized intimacy so much that we're looking for it everywhere we go, when in reality, the majority of the people we're "checking out," we will never see again. It's not even real - it's all in our heads.
Even I have had to battle this idea: how do I view people of the opposite sex that I am attracted to? Am I always looking for a DATING OPPORTUNITY or am I loving without DYSFUNCTIONAL EXPECTATIONS?
This is the way the world does things. Without a Sovereign God and Good Father involved in my life, I would HAVE to be in control at all times and look out for myself. But I don't believe that God intends for us to live like this. I believe that He wants to speak to us, even about our relationships - but how can we hear Him if we insist on doing them and seeing them dysfunctionally?
Also, your Christian life doesn't revolve around getting married or finding "the one" - as sons and daughters of God, we've been given SO MUCH PURPOSE! It doesn't have to be the center of your universe!
So what's it all for? Maybe our idea of this whole thing is off. We preach messages like, "guard their hearts" when that was never what the Bible told us to do - it says "guard YOUR heart (Prov. 4:23)." Maybe we wouldn't have to work so hard in figuring out how to guard everyone else's hearts if we first trained ourselves to see people in a Godly manner, first, as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Maybe if we figured out how to have Godly friendships with the opposite sex, the world wouldn't be turned off by our "be careful" messages of relationships and actually look into the healthy, God-honoring family dynamic we've built.
Look - I get reality. I get that if you're single, you most likely want to be in a relationship. I'm not saying that's a bad thing - I want to one day be married as well! But AS a single, I can tell you that without training your mind to see people of the opposite sex as a PROTECTOR and not a PREDATOR, you will most likely fall into the trap of relational-obsession, which is birthed out of the Idol of Intimacy.
And if every relationship you have with the opposite sex is weird, bizarre or a hopeful, unspoken expectation - then maybe you've elevated the idea of a future spouse and have no real grid for Godly, brother-sister relationships.
AND, if you vehemently disagree with me, I have a few questions for you to ask yourself:
1. When you see an attractive guy/girl, what's your first thought, and then, proceeding thoughts for the next few moments / hours / days?
2. When in public, do you find yourself constantly distracted by someone attractive that walks by you?
3. How much time a day do you spend thinking about dating, relationships, marriage or future relationships?
4. Do you trust GOD to be the One to speak to you about relationships or do you feel the weight of figuring it out all on your own?
5. Do you spend time fantasizing about people you're attracted to on social media that you have no true personal connection with?
6. Are you spending more time WORRYING about this area in your life than you are TRUSTING and CELEBRATING the relationships you already have?
Here's the bottom line: we worship what we spend most of our time, attention, thoughts and money on. The definition of idolatry is worshipping something other that what you were intended to worship. And idolatry will always create insecurity and dysfunction in our lives - we weren't created to worship anything other than our Creator.
So the question is, do you worship God or do you worship the idea of a relationship with a significant other?
If we can recalibrate our hearts on trusting God and loving others with the love of Christ, I truly believe all of the "BE CAREFUL" scare tactics can stop and we can actually start showing the world what a loving family looks like.
Just a thought, :).
"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”