Now for my thoughts on the Boundless articles (the first of which can be found here, with links to the subsequent parts in the sidebar). I found the articles excellent, especially their emphasis on not approaching relationships from the selfish perspective encouraged by the standard approach to relationships in our culture. As he puts it, "Modern dating seems to be about 'finding' the right person for me; biblical dating is more about 'being' the right person to serve my future spouse's needs and be a God-glorifying husband or wife." And it asks the question "what conduct in our dating lives will help us to best care for our brothers and sisters in Christ and bring honor to His name?" The key to a godly relationship is to put others really and truly before ourselves, to ask not what makes us happy or what we want out of a relationship, but to ask how we can lift that person closer to Christ, what is best for them Spiritually, and how we can bring Christ the most glory in our time together. It is "putting the spiritual good of others before our own desires" whether those desires are physical, emotional, or of any other kind. For the most part, the guidelines provided in these articles for relationships match up almost exactly with my prior personal thoughts on the matter, but the level of Scriptural support Scott Croft provides for his views is excellent as is his wording and his humor in writing. I could keep going on with my thoughts, but there's quite a bit of underlining and such on these articles I printed out, and it would take a while to translate all of it into typing. So, I would mostly just encourage you to go read them for yourselves! And after you do so I would love to hear your thoughts on them and discuss them in the comments section! :)
One thing I did think I would do is clarify some of the statements I made in my last past as well as possibly giving some of my own background on this issue. During my highschool years, I read many different books on courtships and relationships from Josh Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Eric and Leslie Ludy's When God Writes Your Love Story to Sarah Mally's Before You Meet Prince Charming. I was a strong supporter of the courtship model in its strictest sense: getting the father's permission, all time spent together should be spent in a group, and absolutely NO physical touch. Now, I would say that my views have not changed significantly since that time, however, I have come to see that relationships can't be forced into a formula like I used to think they could be. Each and every relationship is going to be unique. Also, I'm not as anti "dating" as I was back then and don't mind using that term to describe my relationship if it makes more sense to those I'm talking to than the term "courtship" does. I have now had two what the author of these articles would call "early stage" relationships, and through those I have also come to think that some time to talk, just the two of us, is a good way for ME to handle a relationship since I'm generally quiet and reserved in a group setting and, when I'm at home, my family frequently dominates whatever conversation might occur. Therefore, I like the idea of occasional "coffee dates" or something of the type where I can talk with a guy in a low-pressure, public environment. For me, this works well. For others, it might not.
Now, for some clarification I felt might be necessary after reading over my previous post.
1. When I say that relationships are for the purpose of marriage I do not mean that if you enter into any level of relationship you are necessarily intending to marry that person. I like the way the author of the "Biblical Dating" articles expresses it when he says that intention should be established from the beginning of the relationship and that that intention should be to "get to know [the other person] a little better in an intentional way in order to evaluate whether the two of you should then consider marriage to one another." As I stated above, I have now participated in two of these early-stage relationships, both with guys I love and consider good friends and brothers in Christ, but in both cases we came to a mutual agreement that marriage to each other was not what God has for us and moved our relationship back to just a friendship. In a Godly, Christ-centered relationship I believe this is an acceptable conclusion, but the key to it is that the two individuals involved have maintained the emotional and physical purity and the focus on one-another as brother and sister in Christ that they are able to move back into a genuine friendship. The other natural progression for such a relationship is that it progresses to the point where both parties agree (with the guy taking the first step) that they believe marriage to one another is a good possibility, and, therefore, want to get to know each other on an even deeper level. This then, ideally, progresses to engagement and marriage. I think that provides sufficient clarification. If not, read the articles! Because they really do sum it up nicely. :)
2. I define "relatively near future" as 1 - 1.5 years or so at the most. But more than 6 months.
Those are the points I saw that seemed to demand clarification. If there's anything else, feel free to ask about it. Now, I would like to add that I know many people who love Christ and have approached their relationships in different ways than this. However, this is the way I see them at the moment, a way that it is entirely possible will shift as I continue to grow in Him and encounter different circumstances in my life. How about you? What are your views on relationships? Did you read the articles? What were your thoughts on them?
11 July 2010
As I sat down to write this post with my thoughts on the "Biblical Dating" articles, I was thinking "Didn't I write a post on relationships already?" So, I looked through my past posts and discovered that I had, indeed, written a post on it back in October. However, I apparently never published the said post, probably because it is still in need of some polishing and not a complete overview of my thoughts. However, since complete overview would take a lot of time, I thought I'd go ahead and publish my older, unfinished, post here before discussing the articles:
This semester I've been participating in a "Journey" study with my college BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) group called "Bible and Pop Culture" where we've been evaluating various aspects of our modern pop culture from a Biblical point of view. One lesson we've done has really stuck out for me and helped me continue to think through some issues I've been putting a lot of thought into since the spring. The object we evaluated in this particular lesson was the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Now, if you're anything like me you may be thinking "What deeper meaning could there possibly be in Napoleon Dynamite!" Well, there was a lot more than we expected! The big thing, though, the Josh, our BCM director, pointed out was that, at the end of the movie, the characters have (almost) all found contentment/happiness/meaning in relationships. We discussed that, in our society today, people often define their happiness and worth by the relationships they're in. As Christians, we realize that, ultimately, this idea that relationships give us meaning points to Christ, the one relationship which does define us and give us meaning. He is the lover of our soul, our heavenly, bridegroom, and in Him we find our purpose, and, as His followers, we view ourselves and those around us based upon our relationship with Him.
However, all this does not change the fact that, even as Christians, we desire other meaningful relationships in our lives. This was brought home for me yet again at a friend's wedding I attended this last Saturday. Besides the bride and groom, there were multiple couples at the wedding in varying stages of their relationships from dating to engaged to newly married to old married. There were also multiple singles at the wedding, and the reaction of the older singles who attended was rather showing. Some (at least a couple of the boys) declared their dislike for weddings while others (a couple of the girls I talked with) sighed wistfully for the day they would stand before their friends and family and exchange vows with the man of their dreams. My conversation with my brother on the way home continued in this vein as we discussed the fact that many to most of our friends are currently in relationships of varying degrees of seriousness, we have simply reached that season of life.
All of this, of course, led me to think more on myself and my own views on relationships (something I already put quite a bit of thought into this summer). I'll be perfectly honest in saying I'm frequently one of those girls at weddings wistfully wishing for the day it will be my turn, and it certainly doesn't help any when my little brother tells me "You're old! When are you going to get married?" or to have a pretty consistent barrage of questions from relatives along the lines of "So, have you met any interesting boys at school?"
So, all that to say, I've decided to write a post regarding what my current thoughts are on relationships. Now, these thoughts have evolved quite a bit in the last couple of years, and its entirely possible that they will evolve more in the years to come, but, for now, this is where I am. (Note, these are not necessarily in order of importance, simply in order of how they come out of my head.)
1. I have no interest in dating just to be dating or having a boyfriend just to have a boyfriend. As I see it, the purpose of dating/courting/whatever is to get to know someone better for the purpose of marriage. As such, I would not go out with someone I wouldn't at least consider as a marriage prospect, and, if I decided that a relationship was not heading towards marriage sometime in the reasonable future, I would end it. This is not to say that every relationship will end in marriage. You may get to know someone better and decide that, no, he or she is not the person you're meant to marry. However, marriage should be the purpose in pursuing a relationship.
2. Personally, I don't see any point in long dating relationships. If you can't see yourself married sometime in the relatively near future, then you shouldn't be dating. As my mom told my dad way back when, "We should either get married or not, but I'm not going to date you happily ever after."
3. All Christian relationships should be Christ-centered. If He's the center of your individual lives, shouldn't He bet the center of your life as a couple too? The initiative toward this should be taken by the man who should assume, from the beginning, the position of spiritual leader in the relationship, preparing himself for the day when he will be responsible to lead a wife and family.
4. Your relationship should be pure and above reproach. Yes, you're getting to know this person better and contemplating the possibility of spending your life with them, however, there is still the potential that they're not right for you, and, during the dating phase of your relationship you should take that seriously, treating them with all respect and holiness as your brother or sister in Christ and keeping in mind that there's a possibility that other person is someone else's future spouse. Do all you can to ensure that your relationship is above reproach.
5. Any man interested in a relationship with me must go through my parents and have their permission before he is allowed to pursue me. Yes, that mean's that he must ask my Daddy's permission and possibly be interviewed before I'll go out with him.
10 July 2010
Soo... It's been awhile since I posted! I think I kind of forgot I had a blog at all! However, today I remembered it! I will definitely try to get a post up soon, although probably not today since I've got quite a bit of school to accomplish. Tomorrow, though, I will make it a goal! I'm wanting to semi-participate in the Boundless Summer Challenge only I thought I might try writing my thoughts on it here instead of on Facebook. Therefore, I hope to get a post with my thoughts on their Biblical Dating articles up here soon. So, if anyone's still reading this, stay tuned! :)