Editorial Note: This is a guest post from Eric Skwarczynksi who is a blogger, writer, Videographer and Editor for Pro Church in Fresno, California.
I am hardly an “expert” when it comes to dating.
Everything in this article is merely personal advice gathered from biblical principles. But here are three reminders for Christians in dating relationships.
1) Wives need to submit to their husbands, but guys: your girlfriend doesn’t need to submit to you.
I’ll be honest, if I had grasped this earlier in my dating relationship, 90% of the fights I’ve had with my girlfriend (now fiancé) could have been avoided.
In a marriage relationship, “The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23). The wife is to submit to their husband as the church submits to Christ.
That’s for marriage. Guys, before you get too excited, what’s the biblical command for your girlfriend right now?
Might I suggest it is still, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right, honor your father and mother” (Ephesians 6:1).
It is critical for men to remember that until you pull a Genesis 2:24 and cleave to that girl as your bride, you are not her spiritual leader. Her parents are.
I once heard R.C. Sproul recall a story during a Q&A. A young man approached him, saying, “I’m dating this girl, but she just won’t submit to me!”
Sproul replied, “Good.” And then chuckled.
It’s true: Prior to being married, you need to remember your girlfriend’s obligation is to the authority of her parents. The guidelines, rules, and boundaries set by her mom and dad supersede your interests, decisions, or suggestions, regardless of whether you may or may not agree.
2) Your ultimate motivation should be a strong, Christ-honoring marriage in the future, not personal satisfaction right now.
Congratulations! You have a significant other! Go ahead, pat yourself on the back. You are no longer one of the 124.6 million single adults in the U.S.
It feels good, right?
Enjoy it, but be careful. It can be easy to view your significant other as the mental, physical, and sexual source of your gratification.
But Jesus tells us the opposite:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34).
Almost every time relationships with others are mentioned in the New Testament, we are called to love as Christ loves (Luke 6:35, 1 John 3:16-18, 1 John 4:7, 8, 18, 19, Ephesians 5:25).
How did Christ love? He “emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7).
Christ did not puff himself up, or seek worldly fame. He sacrificed himself for the benefit of others, and calls you to do the same.
3) The goal of any relationship is not your happiness, it’s your holiness.
Alright, alright, I stole this statement from Timothy Keller (In his outstanding book, The Meaning of Marriage). But honestly, it’s too good not to.
In a gospel-centered relationship, both parties should understand that the other person is not there to satisfy all your desires. They are there to help sanctify you, and you are there to help sanctify them.
There will be disagreements, arguments and new broken aspects of the other person will come out regularly. But that’s okay.
As Christians, we can see that neither one of us are perfect, and God is daily breaking us and reforming us to become more like Him. You can serve the other in their brokenness, just as Christ served and loved you in your brokenness. Together, you can grow closer to God, strengthening each other, encouraging each other, and praying daily for each other.
In keeping with the spirit of stealing from Tim Keller:
“Within this Christian vision of marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of what God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that. I want to partner with you and God in the journey you are taking to his throne. And when we get there, I will look at your magnificence and say, ‘I always knew you could be like this. I got glimpses of it on earth, but now look at you!”
Remember, you are not married, and the Bible says little about romantic dating. But by remembering these three gentle reminders, you can cultivate a healthy friendship and relationship that is glorifying to God, and edifying to one another.