Monday, August 18, 2014

My Philosophy on (Romantic) Relationships

There are many formulas and rules set up nowadays for the forming of new relationships, whether one is part of the dating or the courting culture. But the lists of endless rules and man-made notions seem to be mainly based on man's interpretation of what is best, rather than looking to the Scripture. 

Yes, it is true that there are social guidelines which one would do well to follow as well - for instance, make sure you are polite and have good manners - but these are not things which should be required by a third party, nor should they be treated as if they are on par with God's Word.

We see from the Bible several obvious principles regarding romance:
  • Marry whomever you wish, (Num 36:6, 1 Cor 7:39) except,
  • Don't marry a non-Christian.(2 Cor 6:14)
  • It's more than okay to remain single.(1 Cor 7:8, 25-28, 37-40)
  • Follow God's rules for remaining pure. (1 Cor 7:1)
AAAANNND, despite what many Christians believe, that's about all we have specifically related to getting married.  Obviously, there are some other texts instructing husbands and wives on how to interact, but the scope of this post is the pre-marital stage.

Of course, there are countless other passages in Scripture which indirectly relate to the formation of any relationship, including one with a future spouse.  There are hundreds of verses and concepts which could be addressed here, such as:
  • Honesty, 
  • edifying communication, 
  • keeping God first in one's life,
  • praying without ceasing,
  • being long-suffering, 
  • forgiving others...etc, etc.
...the list is endless, but a Christian ought to be quite familiar with these concepts, and I don't think I need to try to list them.  These are verses that every Christian ought to follow all the time, not just when involved in a romantic-type relationship.

Then, there are common-sense guidelines which ought to be obvious (whether stated or not) to most people.  For instance:
  • Marry someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, 
  • be accountable to others, 
  • accept advice, 
  • don't continue the relationship if you know you won't marry this person, 
  • seek counsel, 
  • make sure you know this person inside and out before you commit to marrying them,
...and so on.  In other words, don't be stupid.  God gave you a brain, He gave you His Word, He gives us common sense.  We don't need to be walking around helplessly confused just because another human hasn't provided us with a hard-and-fast list of exactly what every element of your relationship process ought to look like.

Finally, it is worthwhile noting that the two (adults!) involved in this relationship should be the ones calling the shots about what their romance actually looks like.  If they want to spend most of their time together in the presence of their families and they call this "courtship", that's fine.  If they desire to be able to go out together interact one-on-one on "dates", that's okay too.  How, when, where, and who they communicate with is up to them. 

In other words: There are principles, which are set forth and enforced by God.  Then there are practical and common sense issues, which have their own natural consequences.  Finally, there is the matter of preference, which can be decided by the couple.  Note that none of these require the presence of a third-party human authority.

Every person is different.  They have different intellects, different ideas of what is humorous, different passions, different families, different backgrounds, different levels of sanctification, different dreams for the future, different ages, different locations, different ways of communicating, different hobbies, different resources... you get the picture.  To try to make a one-size-fits-all formula for how to find the "right one" is laughably ridiculous. 

Many teachers nowadays assert that there must be another earthly human involved making sure that the two involved in the relationship are following all the rules, whether they be God's rules or man's rules.  They do their best to assure us that this will cause the least amount of pain, and that this is God's best plan.  But is it, really?

If a couple violates God's rules or acts stupidly, they will be answerable to the Lord about that, and will likely have earthly consequences to their foolishness or outright disobedience.  To make them answerable to man, however, (even if it gives us a feeling of security because we can see mankind) is to usurp God's position.  God will not demand from us an account of other people's actions, but merely our own.  To make ourselves accountable for others messes up this principle big time, and is not excusable.

Furthermore, every person on earth is going to have a slightly different notion of what is best in a specific situation.  To place a fellow human (who will not be affected by his decisions in a position of power) over two people, (whose entire lives will be affected) assuming that they cannot be responsible before God by themselves, is not wise or logical.  Furthermore, even if this authority figure has identical beliefs as the two in the relationship regarding all possible worldview issues, this does not factor in personality differences and such.  Some issues which are vitally important to said authority figure might be regarded as trivial by the others, and endless discussions regarding this matter might result in vexation and frustration.

If two people are so unable to handle themselves that they require the physical presence and restraint of a human authority to make all their decisions with or for them, then they probably ought to wait several years until they are more mature and able to handle such a relationship.  Shockingly enough, they will not have the "luxury" of a third party telling them what to do after they get married, and they need to know that they can make wise and Godly choices before they enter into a lifelong commitment.

Man has a tendency to want to shield himself and others from any possible unpleasantness by setting up man-made governments and authorities.  Whether it be in politics, in churches, or in the family, the result is the same - a crippled authority structure ends up trying to fill God's role, and those under that person's authority find themselves smothered and unable to follow God's leading in their lives.  While there are certainly proper rules for government in the state, in churches, and in families, this government needs to be limited to its proper jurisdiction, rather than trying to usurp the throne of God.

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