Defining Your Dating Style: Part II - Continued
- Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Friend Affirmation. A third source of wisdom to affirm your relationship is godly friends. The book of Proverbs exhorts us to listen to wise counsel around us (see 12:15, 15:22, 19:20-21, 27:9). The insights and observations of mature Christian friends should add yet another layer of accountability in relational decisions. One of the mistakes we often make is listening only to counsel with which we agree. But if we have the right kind of friends, their biblical wisdom, as well as the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, can be a strong ally to help us make relational decisions, whether it is what we want to hear or not.
The Confirmation Principle invites God's grace into complicated situations. For Steve and Rachel, it could be invaluable. As collegians, they are not living at home. Their families are not only far away, but they are also unbelievers. Yet Steve and Rachel find godly qualities in one another and are attracted to each other. How should they proceed?
Even though their parents are not Christians, seeking their confirmation is wise and obedient. I believe God would honor their efforts to seek their counsel and wisdom. But what if that is not helpful? What if their parents' insights are ungodly and dishonoring to Scripture?
This is where pastoral oversight becomes critical. I would never encourage a couple to go against their parents' counsel (even if the parents are unbelievers) without a serious evaluation and oversight by pastors and elders. And the counsel of other mature believers can also be used by God to put the relationship under the microscope.
Steve and Rachel should move forward in the relationship only after they have exhausted the confirmation possible from their parents, pastors, and friends.
3. The Contentment Principle
The foundation for developing a righteous relationship with a member of the opposite sex is the ultimate relationship - your relationship with God. If you are not happy with God alone, you will not be happy with someone else. Paul's walk with Christ was so satisfying that he discovered that contentment was possible regardless of any circumstance (see Philippians 4:10-13; 1 Timothy 6:6-7).
A huge error singles often make is believing that a relationship will make them happy. This is just another form of idolatry. Thinking that anything other than God will bring satisfaction and happiness is to make that object an idol in one's life. Stacy, a friend of mine, used to spend inestimable time dreaming and pining about a relationship. My wife and I spoke to her many times about the fact that a boyfriend would not bring the happiness she thought it would.
Finally, it happened. She met a guy who became her friend and eventually her boyfriend. Stacy put her whole life into the relationship. On the surface, she could have won the girlfriend-of-the-year award. Then something amazing happened: engagement!
Everything looked great on the outside. But about two months into her marriage, she began to skip church and slip into despair. When I had a chance to talk with her, her honesty was shocking. She told me, "Rick I really thought a man would bring me happiness. Now I have one. He's a great husband, and I know he will be a loving father. But I am lonelier now than when I was single. What is my problem?'
Stacy's problem was that her contentment was built on a person rather than on God. If you struggle with discontentment now, you will struggle with discontentment when you are married. Discontentment is a sin. It should be recognized and repented of long before a relationship begins.
But don't misunderstand. Strong desire to have a relationship does not necessarily mean discontentment is present. It is noble and God-honoring to want a godly relationship and marriage. But the line is crossed if you start to feel sorry for yourself because you don't have a relationship, become jealous of those who do have a relationship, compromise or sin in order to obtain a relationship, or become frustrated with God because you are dateless. God is for us! Remember His promise in Psalm 84:11:
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