Love and relationships, the Christ-like way

Whoa. So what are my credentials on this subject? Well, I don’t have a degree or anything but I certainly do have my trusty Bible and my trusty analytical brain.

I was going to post this sometime later, but a few things have hasten this post.

So here’s the main question I’ll try to address. When is it right to date?

We can answer this question from several angles. Firstly, I think dating has to be done with your parents’ consent. This is the key point. If your parents aren’t happy with it, then you should honour their wishes, which is a biblical command. After all, while you’re under their roof and fully dependent on them, you should obey them. What you choose to do with your life once you’re fully independent with a job and a house is up to you. But the readers of this post are more likely to be secondary students or college students so this does apply to you.

But parents shouldn’t meddle in our private lives is the counter argument I get. Well, here’s the situation. The bible commands us to be good witnesses to other people, and if we can’t even keep the basic command of obeying our parents, then the power of our witness is seriously undermined. Note that it is a command. It isn’t a plea. It isn’t advice. It’s a command.

But dont just blindly follow what the bible says. There is always a logical reason for it. And here’s one I can think of right now.

Relationships which begin before the age of 18 have a very low chance of surviving. Why? Because your tastes change over time. Before 18, in most cases, you won’t have the maturity to understand what you require in life. And dating, after all, should be done with a long term view of marriage. The fact is that the person you’re pouring out your life to should be your life partner. If not a lot of secrets will be flying about after you break up.

There are many other reasons why relationships before 18 dont last. One is a lack of understanding of what a relationship requires. One thing is time. While you’re still at school, you’re bound to what your parents ask you to do. That is to focus on your school work. Focus on church. Focus on Jesus. Not that very lovely girl sitting across the room.

Another reason is that there is a lack of understanding of the biblical view of relationships. Relationships are at all times to be Christ centered – He brings people together, not us. If not a relationship will never prosper. So if you have that nagging feeling that you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing, follow it! Who runs a red light, when there are huge busses and lorries driving past one either side? Very few of the lucky ones get through the mess, but many end up all banged up and well hung out to dry. Those that get through, get through by the mercy of God. Those that fail, still can turn to God who’ll pick them up and put them on their feet again. But why go to all that trouble?

Your parents, in most cases, understand this very well, plus the fact that they realise your priorities should be, and indeed are, your studies (after God that is). So listen to them and don’t get involved if they don’t approve.

But of course, people still go into relationships regardless. And rebel against their parents. Why? Here’s the number one reason: love. And I’m not going to be cynical about this. Everyone needs love, to be loved by somebody. But things go wrong when we invest our love in the wrong things.

“And now I will show you the most excellent way…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

The above excerpt is taken from 1 Corinthians. Some of you might know it from A Walk to Remember, where the passage was quoted at the end.

The love spoken about in that passage is, in one word, perfect, exemplified by God and Jesus. And now let’s apply some of those qualities of love to a BGR context.

Love does not envy. That’s a huge one. And this quality can be linked to that of love always trusts. In a relationship, the love between the parties should be full of trust, devoid of suspicion and envy. If you feel that creeping into a relationship, then well it’s best that both of you talk to each other and come up with a way to resolve it, otherwise this will tear the relationship apart. Because although relationships are never perfect, it is a goal to work towards too, a goal which is achievable when a couple is united through Jesus. I mean why do we have holy matrimonies after all? If you pay attention to the words next time, maybe you’ll understand what I mean.

Love always perseveres. This one’s interesting as well. The key word here would be always. If you truly love that girl or guy, then you should with absolute certainty look for a relationship where love perseveres, through the bad and good. Because when a relationship no longer has love, well I have nothing else to say. If there is even the slightest doubt that it will fail, then well, work it out between the both of you. If not..well I’ll leave it up to you to decide the outcome.

Love rejoices with the truth. I think this is a key quality. God is truth and so what He says is truth. Therefore, if we truly loved a person, we would do it in a Christ-like manner, following His guidelines. So that brings us back to the command of “Honour your parents”. Well if you love your parents, then honour them.

And this ties in to one final quality which I would like to point out. I think it’s an essential one in this argument. Love is not self seeking. The implications of this phrase, I believe, are huge. A lot of love we have today is very much self seeking. Love of money. Love of self – pleasure is good. Loving others in order to find that satisfaction and happiness you long for.

You know I sometimes wonder what God would say about BGRs and the breakups they cause nowadays. He would probably nod knowingly and say, “If only they understood how much I love them.”

Paul, who wrote quite a number of the letters of the New Testament was a smart man indeed. He would be in the same class as famous people we know like Hawkings, Von Neumann, Einstein, Newton. He had a breadth of understanding and a depth of knowledge very much unparalleled by his peers. But one thing he championed above all, and that was love. For such a smart man who could have argued his opponents flat down, he instead chose to focus on love. It says a lot about the importance of love. So much so that he prayed for the Ephesian church of his time – “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” – a prayer very much relevant today.

Because that’s how love works. The ultimate source of perfect love is God, whose love is so wide, so long, so high, so deep, that we can’t even possibly begin to grasp it. There is so much of it, that when we choose to receive it, we can’t contain all of it, so much it is that it overflows, whether into the life of a friend, or the life of someone more special. Those that seek love in other things will often meet a disappointing end, but love that comes from God is something special, that would make a relationship ever more meaningful I believe.

I know this argument isnt exhaustive, and I’m partly waffling, cause I’m certainly not very coherent so late at night. But i think with respect to when dating is alright, I really do want to point out important guidelines, like obeying what your parents have to say about it, and really understanding that a relationship is about love. And when those key characteristics aren’t present or aren’t being worked towards, you’re heading for disaster. Coupled with the fact that we’re pretty much undecided during our teenage years, yearning for a source of comfort and satisfaction and happiness, and attempting to find it in someone else, is well from a biblical perspective, foolish. But I’m not here to condemn; I only want to point out that there’s a better way.

So if this issue has become a stronghold in your life, something that’s really pulling you away from God, don’t try to justify it. Listen to that urging deep within you. The struggle is really within you. And it’s not unsurmountable. Because it’s is your conscious choice to struggle with that conflict of emotions. So open up your heart to what He has to say. Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He’ll make your paths straights. When Solomon wrote that, I think it was a piece of timeless wisdom. Listen to what God has to say. I’ve found my joy in the Lord.

And He offers that to everyone as well.

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