Ok, lets get to the point. There are fewer greater feelings in the Christian life then finding ‘the one’ (is there such a thing? That’s a whole other post!). The spark of chemistry, finding new things out about each other, experiencing life or just vegging out together.
You find yourself smiling uncontrollably and look forward to the next time you will be seeing your sweetheart. And when you do your heart does a back-flip of gymnastic proportions.One minute you’re in your own little world, the next your part of a couple and a whole new world opens up.
But alas, the screen does not fade to black and the immortal words ‘and they lived happily ever after, does not float across the screen. Oh no no no. This is the Christian life. Struggle and warfare are all around, and that includes romantic relationships.
Of course having a Christian partner is a wonderful feeling, but they should come with a disclaimer. Small print, warning of the dangers of allowing your feelings and desires to run away with you. And as the man in the relationship, the pressure to remain Godly, whilst being close to a member of the opposite sex is a very difficult path to tread.
So here is my attempt at passing on some pointers, (hopefully) backed up with sufficient scriptures. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. And this is not a guide from someone who has it all worked out. In fact this comes from the experience of someone, who can tell you how not to have a Godly relationship and has got it wrong on many occasions!
Take the lead
If you are a Christian man reading this, let me impress upon you, that you are the head of your Christian relationship. Yes you are a team, but the responsibility for having a good healthy God centred relationship must start and end with you. Don’t wait for your partner to take the lead, its on you.
Now I want you to realize the head of every man is Christ and the head of every woman is man (1 Cor 11:3)
I appreciate this is more concerning the institute of marriage but I’m sure the principal can be carried over to pre-marriage.
Include parents in relationship
Perhaps this is just common sense to you. I’m afraid this is something I failed to do in my relationships. I personally think its important at the very least to include your girlfriends parents in your relationship. Sit them down, let them be open about what they expect of you. How you want them involved – this after all is their daughter. It would be a great feeling to know you can discuss your relationship privately with your girlfriends father. Of course that’s presuming you are near your girlfriends parent and they are around you enough to have regular interaction.
Set boundaries, no grey areas – just black and white
One of the most harmful things to your relationship isn’t what you say. Its what you don’t say. Boundaries people… we need boundaries! “We’ll deal with it when it comes up” or “we won’t fall into that trap – we are strong Christians”. Oh my dear friends if you’ve ever thought along those lines, then you are setting yourself up for a fall. Men, you know your thoughts. You know your struggles. And none are bigger than the opposite sex. If you are in a relationship with someone, then you are attracted to them. If you are attracted to them, then its quite natural to want to show that in a physical way.
So the question normally asked is, how far is too far? Its fair enough question asked by those wanting to do the right thing in their relationship. but this thinking presents a problem. Since scripture doesn’t actually answer that question head on, we run away with the idea that certain things are acceptable, only the end result (sex) is off limits. Everything in between is a grey area and is down to the discernment of the individual. Well lets consider a couple of passages:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
We are called to be people of purity, to honour God in the use of our bodies. So, let me ask, at what point do you start having impure thoughts. If your anything like me (I really hope you’re not!) that moment is normally five seconds after being in the presence of your partner! Lets, be honest guys. We struggle with being Godly in these situations, big time. And of course from there stems, temptation to go further. Do you really think you can stop at a certain point? Sooner or later, you will want to go further, and further until you reach the point of no return.
The question isn’t how far can I go outside of sex. The question is how far can I go before my thoughts turn to impure things?
Therefore, boundaries are crucial. Crucial to ensure purity in the relationship. Sit down with your lady and have an honest conversation as to what is acceptable and what isn’t. Would you struggle being alone together? Then don’t be alone. Is cuddling up on the sofa going to be a problem? Then don’t. Is a passionate kiss going to do it? How about touching and stroking? It doesn’t take a genius to work out where you should be watching yourself.
I know it sounds like I just want to be a killjoy, but believe me. One small touch here, a kiss there. It starts small and it takes over in no time at all. Before you know it, your relationship is no longer about glorifying God but about gratifying our own desires and urges.
As CS Lewis once said
“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues.”
Have devotional times together
If the above is all ‘you can’t’, the stuff you can, and indeed should, will really deepen your relationship. Studying Gods word together and praying together are a must. Yes it can be awkward at the start, but as the man its on you to put this in place. Grasping something new of God and his word together will be a great thing for a relationship. Coming into the presence of God to pray together will be so rewarding. Talk about God, your own Christian life, your struggles, the way God has blessed you.
Your relationship shouldn’t just be about two individuals, having two different experiences of God. It should be all that as well as a partnership seeking to glorify God together. Praying together means you are able to be spiritually naked together. You can admit your heavy burdens together, lay yourselves out bare before God together.
Encourage her in the Lords work.
Whatever situation you are in, your partner is probably involved in some form of service for the Lord in one way or another. When your relationship gets that bit serious, other things sometimes take a backseat. Obviously priorities will change a bit but don’t be the reason your partner takes her focus off of her service to the Lord.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58
How can you encourage her? How can you support her? It may mean sometimes your relationship suffers, but our lives are not about us, and it would be selfish to think somebody else’s was!
Have accountancy partners.
If your serious in your relationship, it would benefit you no end to seek counsel of older Christians. Grab another couple who you know, trust and respect. Demand that they keep an eye on you as a couple. Get them to check up on you both. You will hopefully be able to share with them your relationship problems (after talking it over with your partner first!).
Hebrews 10:24 says,
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says to,
“…encourage one another and build each other up…”
Few! Thats a bigger post than I thought it would be. Like I say, I don’t have the answers. Just some thoughts from experience!