In every dating relationship, you’re asking yourself, how do I know if this is “the one”? How do I know if I should stay with this person and marry them, or break up?
This isn’t a list of specific behaviours or indications; it’s more of a set of general diagnostic questions you can ask yourself about the health of the relationship.
1. What is my emotional experience in this relationship?
Something I’ve been meditating on recently is the vital importance in dating, and especially in marriage, of choosing a person who fears God.
What do I mean by that, and why is it important?
“Fearing God” doesn’t mean necessarily trembling in terror, or living in a psychological state of fear. What it means is a healthy respect for God. This healthy respect is manifested by belief in, and obedience to, God’s word.
I recently made a decision that has led to a lot less stress and a lot more peace. That is, to be much slower to comment on inflammatory social media posts.
It started when a friend of mine posted something very anti-Christian on Facebook. He frequently posts this kind of material. He’s about as opposite of me as you can possibly get: extremely atheist, liberal, and anti-Christian. He thinks gay marriage, abortion, and gender-neutral bathrooms are wonderful things.
Recently I met up with an old friend of mine, who confided in me that he was in a new long-distance relationship with a girl he'd met online. As he talked about the relationship, he expressed that his major preoccupation was whether this relationship was “God's will” or not. He wanted to know definitively before proceeding, because he didn't want to hurt her or to make a mistake.
Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right, overruling state-level decisions on the matter. In Canada, same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005. That's not what I want to write about though. What I'm concerned with is the response of the church. Which has been, in many churches...silence. At least, in the churches I'm familiar with. It's probable there are churches out there who responded in a measured, thought-out way. But from my perspective, many churches have opted for saying nothing.
There's a really common attitude in the church (and I know because I've held it) that says that if we're really godly and devoted to Jesus, God will give us the things that we want. We might not say, or think, that we “deserve” them (because we know it's all grace); but consciously or subconsciously, we believe that if we live a righteous, dedicated life, God will deliver them: a nice place to live, a job, a spouse, a baby, etc.
Recently I found myself in a very interesting conversation with a former Jehovah's Witness. He had left the church after a period of doubting and questioning, which resulted in his family and all his former friends shunning him. He had had to begin an entirely new life, and had swung to the opposite end of the pendulum faith-wise. Feeling betrayed by having given unquestioning faith to the organization that let him down, he had become extremely cynical and skeptical, trusting only in science.
I've written and thought about this before, but I continue to be amazed at the misuse of the word “love”. When most people use the word “love”, particularly in a romantic context, what they usually mean isn't actually love for the other person at all.
Should a Christian meditate? For most of my life, I would have said the answer was no. The answer I had always heard, and probably would have repeated, was this: meditation seeks to empty your mind to achieve enlightenment, whereas the Bible encourages the Christian to fill his mind with the truths of God's word to grow spiritually.
Can men and women ever really be “just friends”? It's a never-ending question, one that I'd like to consider in light of living as a Christian single.