God’s Prescription for Lasting Relationships
- 2003 29 Sep
Few subjects in life ignite as much passion and longing within us as our desire for love, our interest in sex, and our hope for enduring relationships. But whether single, married, or single again, many people admit they are not experiencing the relational intimacy they desire.
I believe the problem causing our disappointment lies not in our inability to love, but in the rules we have unconsciously accepted from Hollywood, the media, and our culture that tell us how we should try to find love.
If you take away the lighting, warm scenes, slow-motion moments, and background music, Hollywood tells us there are four basic steps leading to deep, sizzling relationships. I call this the “Hollywood Formula.”
The Hollywood Formula
Step 1: Find the Right Person
In the Hollywood Formula, finding the right person just happens. It's wild, accidental, and you're helpless in the process. You glance across a crowded room, your eyes meet, and suddenly you've found the “right one.” Love is mystical and magical. It happens when you least expect it. So, if you don't have it, just keep looking.
Step 2: Fall in Love
According to Hollywood, you can fall in love with strangers because you base love on chemistry rather than knowledge or character. You know you're in love when you have that “ooey-gooey” feeling and you lose all common sense-but you're in love, so what does it matter?
Step 3: Fix Your Hopes and Dreams on This Person for Your Fulfillment
Once you fall in love with the right person, nothing else matters. You can't be held to any previous commitment because you have suddenly realized that this person alone will make you complete. Hollywood teaches you to believe that finding the right person will solve all of your problems and meet your deepest longings 100 percent of the time.
Step 4: If Failure Occurs, Repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3
If the intense feelings you experience in the first three steps start to subside, you must not have found the right person after all. Or perhaps it was the right person then, but not now. So Hollywood provides a quick, supposedly painless solution: Find a differentt right person, fall in love again, and fix your hopes and dreams on this new “right” person.
The Hollywood Formula Doesn't Work
I know this sounds harsh and oversimplified, but the fact remains: Books, movies, songs, and television programs are consistently telling you the way to love, sex, and lasting relationships is found through the four steps I've outlined.
But the Hollywood Formula isn't working. Divorce is epidemic in our society. Families are breaking apart, and it's causing immeasurable pain and damage, especially to children. And if we keep doing the same thing in relationship after relationship, it will keep producing the same tragic results.
God's Plan for Enhancing Your Love Life
But God has a better way. It's found throughout the Bible but is summarized well in Ephesians 5:2, which tells us to “live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” In God's plan, you begin with what Christ has done for you.
Step 1: Become the Right Person
Instead of constantly looking for the right person, God tells you to become the right person. That starts with developing a relationship with Him through Christ. Once you grasp God's boundless love for you, feel secure and complete in your relationship with Him, and learn to rely on the power of His Spirit living in you, you will be able to show genuine love to others. You will start imitating Him as closely as possible in how you treat others. You will learn to “walk in love.”
Step 2: Walk in Love
In God's plan, walking in love means more than long, hand-in-hand strolls on the beach. It means loving each other in the same way Christ loved you. Walking in love is about sacrificial commitment. It means giving the other person what he or she needs the most when it is least deserved, because that's exactly how God treated you. Love is other-centered action that provides what's best for the other person.
Step 3: Fix Your Hope on God and Seek to Please Him Through the Relationship
In a relationship that honors God, you come together with your partner, invite God's blessing, and ask God to help you keep the commitments you are making. You acknowledge that Christ is the most important person in your lives, and because of that, you are able to love each other even better than you could on your own.
Step 4: If Failure Occurs, Repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3
When it comes to failure in relationships, the real question isn't if, but when. Even if you are utterly convinced of the truth of God's way, you cannot follow the steps flawlessly. But, instead of assuming you have the wrong person, God calls you to examine yourself and ask, “God, am I the man or woman You want me to be? Am I walking in love? How can I imitate You and walk in love so this relationship is pleasing to You?”
God calls you to go back to the beginning, to become the right person, to walk in love, and to set your hopes and dreams on Him.
God's prescription for loving, lasting relationships may be the most challenging pursuit you have ever undertaken, but let me add this good news. The by-product of God's approach to relationships is the very kind of intimacy, love, sex, and lasting companionship you have always wanted.
REPORT CARD ON THE HOLLYWOOD FORMULA
- The divorced population is the fastest-growing marital category in the United States-from 4.3 million to 18.3 million in just 26 years.
After a divorce, 1/3 of all women find themselves living at or below the poverty level at some time in their lives.
The negative impact of divorce on children can last for 25 years or more.
Cohabitation has quadrupled in the last 10 years, and men and women are waiting between 3 and 4 years longer to get married.
About the author: Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry.