The Romantic Relationship Rant

touch

Contrary to the title, this isn’t going to be a romantic rant about relationships, sorry to disappoint in that way. ;) No, this is a conglomeration of thoughts that have been collecting over the past few years as I’ve studied the scriptures, read books, and listened to speakers and pastor’s on the topic of pursuing romantic relationships.

This pursuit is called many things today. Dating, Courtship, Promising, and other lesser known titles. Not surprisingly, many people take a position on which is the best method, and use it to pursue a relationship. And this is where the trouble begins. In our modern world today, the word “Date” or “Court” has many different meanings. Sure, the dictionary provides an empirical response to which we can refer, but it doesn’t spell out step by step what that looks like.

And for good reason. 

I’ve seen the past few years many many people jumping into the boat of Courtship. This boat is supposedly perfect. It won’t ever sink, go astray, it is safe, and can withstand any storm. In fact, if you don’t get into this boat, you should never set sail for a romantic relationship at all. At least, that’s what they tell you. And if you get into the dating boat, well, you are poor lost soul bound for divorce.

That imperative and near legalistic standard is the cause for my rant today. 

Because here is the deal. Courtship in any sense isn’t all gumdrops and flower blossoms. It isn’t anywhere near perfect, because I’ve seen first hand failures. It can be just as destructive as the term or method of “Dating” and can be just as emotionally scarring. It isn’t “God’s design” for relationships. It isn’t the perfect or even most desirable system.

Why? I’m so glad you asked. I’m going to let you in on a tip most people don’t know, but should, as scripture is clear on it over and over. That tip is this:

It isn’t what you name the relationship, but how you pursue that relationship. 

Something the vast majority of people miss in this area of romance and relationships is that because we are in Christ, and led by the spirit,  each and every romantic relationship a couple pursues will look different. There aren’t ten simple steps to engagement everyone should follow. And you know what? That’s OK.

See, it doesn’t matter whether one says they “Date” or “Court”. What matters is asking “Are they are pursuing a relationship with the right heart?” A heart striving to honor and glorify God in everything they do together and whom they interact with. What that looks like and how it plays out will be dependent on each person pursuing that relationship for Christ- emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

The key is to walk in the Spirit when in a relationship– just like you would in your normal walk with Christ. If you do that, it doesn’t matter what you call it- just know it is is a romance reflective of your redemption. How’s that for alliteration? ;)

 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

~ Galatians 5: 16-24~

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12 thoughts on “The Romantic Relationship Rant

  1. Congratulations! You did a great job with this. It really irritates me that many people nowadays consider “courtship” as the only “godly” way of approaching a relationship. As you said, it’s just a name. What matters is how we pursue it.

  2. Austin. It does matter what you call it, because what you call it is how others will perceive it. And it is important that we don’t misguide people as to our intentions for two reasons – 1.We are to avoid the appearance of evil. and 2. We want people to hold us accountable. As I recall, the term “dating” has always implied a lack of seriousness and accountability.

    Just something to think about. Life isn’t always about just one thing or another – it’s about balancing it all. You not ONLY should be doing it right, you should ALSO be calling it the right thing.

    • According to my understanding of Scripture, we are to judge not on appearances, but of the fruit of an individual or, in this case, couple. If the fruit of a couple’s relationship is Christ Honoring, how in any way can it appear to be evil? That is, of course, a Christian believes that dating is indeed evil (a sin). Which is almost a circular argument, because I know Christians who believe courting is evil (a sin). The funny thing is, both agree on what a biblical relationship should look like. And that’s the point. Instead of hiding behind titles, we should be standing out in Christ. This will not be evident not through what the relationship is called, but rather how it is lived.

      And for calling it the right thing, how about when asked Christians replied: “I am pursuing a Christ Honoring relationship.” Clear, simple, short, and reeking of Christ. :)

      Thanks for the comment and thoughts sir!

      • Austin, what if “standing out in Christ” means putting a tile on what we’re doing? When is the last time you argued to not be called a “Christian”, because that word holds a broad range of connotations nowadays and many people have marred that name? :P I would hope you wouldn’t ever! Courtship may have been done the wrong way a few times, but that doesn’t make its basis any more wrong than before. Titles are there to set things apart… to distinguish between things… to keep things separate and holy. When you say “it doesn’t matter what you call it”, I highly disagree. For example – When I ask what denomination you are from, and you answer “Presbyterian” (hypothetically), then I can gather certain things about you and your beliefs… granted, there are many different types of Presbyterians out there – but you get the point (or at least, I hope). It doesn’t define who you are, but what your basic guidelines are. And it lets people know your intentions (which is the biggest difference between dating and courting).

        Names are there to help define what something is, or what it is doing. Saying you are “dating”, when it’s not really dating, would be a lie (a sin) and misleading others. I can tell you, from working with lots of lost people through the years, that there’s one thing about this whole discussion that they won’t do. And that is call what they’re doing “courting”. All of the people I know who are lost are “dating”.

        As for judging someone based on appearances, we could get into a whole debate about “judging”, so I’ll leave that alone – but I will address appearances. In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, it says to “abstain from any appearance of evil.” Now, I have a really good friend (who shall remain nameless), that once went on a camping trip alone with his girlfriend. They drove up together and shared the same tent while there. Is THAT the type of appearance you’d like? No? Well, let me tell you – the word “dating” holds the same connotation. …..Yes. It really does. “dating”, as opposed to “courting”, gives off the feeling of non-committal and/or no accountability in the relationship.

        Sincerely,
        Not only Justus, but his parents as well.

        P.S. Put a title on it, man! But don’t call it dating, unless you really are. ;)

  3. That’s a great post Austin. The only question, then to ponder is this: How do you go about doing this with the right heart, the right way, and being Christ Honoring? Obviously, the applications will vary from relationship to relationship… but what are the basic principles?

    2nd, I would say that it’s not bad to give a title to your relationship, as long as you know what you mean by that title, and can explain it to others. We should always be asking that question, “What do you mean by that?” Because it is ultimately the meaning, not the term which points to the meaning, that matters. Once we agree on the meaning, then, if you want to, you can give it a term.

    Great post, Austin!

    • Great Comment Josh. The “How” question is definitely the most important to consider. While that is another post for another day… ;) I would point back to the Galatians verse I previously referenced. While scripture doesn’t give us a step 1, 2, 3, etc list. It does give us principles to live by (fruits of the spirit), and principles to avoid (fruits of the flesh). How exactly those Christ honoring principles play out and how they look will be determined by each situation.

      I think this is brilliant “Once we agree on the meaning, then, if you want to, you can give it a term.” You have to be able to explain the meaning of your relationship for sure- as that is a testimony of how you are (or not) living your life for Christ in that area. Very good. *nod*

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