11 July 2010

Relationships Part II

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?

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