At our bible study tonight we were talking about Relationships. Its an interesting topic and I’ve heard many thoughts on the matter and sometimes I wonder if its just overdone in Christian circles.
I’m one of the overly analytical types with a fair amount of dislike for pain(especially where its avoidable) and I’ve generally had the attitude that if I want to be in emotional pain a whole lot I’d go out and “fall in love” and “out of love” with a bunch of people. So to avoid that pain I didn’t do the whole dating thing. Sometimes I look at people who do the whole dating thing and I’m astounded that anyone would put themselves through it. But then I tend to be a bit over analytical sometimes and I know that often that ends up in me not enjoying life as much as I could if I just let things happen… so I can also understand the actions behind “the whole dating thing”.
I do kinda find it funny that as charismatic christians we often seem to focus so much on the whole topic of “what is dating” and “is it good or bad” and “how should we date”. In a number of cases we end up so scared to move in any direction for fear of stepping outside of the “guidelines” that you’ll be lucky to find one “dating” couple in a church of over 500 people. In other cases you wouldn’t see any difference in how the people in the church go about dating eachother compared to how everyone else goes about it.
I think there should be some difference in how “the whole dating thing” happens in a christian context compared to outside it since as a bible believing christian you can read in the bible that you shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage. Of course its not stated quite so clearly as “thou shalt not have sexual relations unless thou art married”, but lots of talking about containing yourself until you are married and other such things. So at the very least all of us “bible believing christians” should not be having sex before we get married.
Do I care if other people sleep around? Well, yes and no. Firstly what other people do is not my business so I really can’t judge, but I’d worry that there could be complications further down the road. Whether its STD’s or even if its the potential embarassment of introducing your future wife to the lady who you lost your virginity to – unless your future wife is very understanding I’m sure she’ll have some issues. But that’s all speculation anyway, and I’m kinda going off the topic I wanted to write about.
WhatI really wanted to mention is that part of our discussion tonight centered around the pro’s and con’s of “the whole dating thing”, and that brought up a bunch of opinions. Fortunately/unfortunately there is no “thou shalt date like such” rules in the bible so its all speculation and opinion. I got to thinking about how little anyone really talks about relationships and dating. You go to school and university to learn about academic stuff, you go to courses to learn other stuff but there is nowhere that you go to learn about “dating”. Everyone has to make their own mistakes and learn “the hard way”. As a society we value learning but we are forgetting to learn about the basics of life. Maybe it was just my parents who didn’t talk about “relationships”, but I’m sure I’m not alone. We are forced to learn from our peers who really don’t know much more than we do. We get hurt and sometimes the damage is more permanent than we realise so our future relationships become coloured by that one bad experience. Who is there to teach us how to get over these insecurities and issues? In my experience its generally up to us to learn ourselves.
In most other spheres of life we have some kind of guidance as to what “best practices” there are, but there seem to be none for the “dating” and “relationship” spheres. In that sense I think its great that we talk about these things in our bible studies and churches, at least there is some guidance.
However I must emphasise that you still need to use your own brain and actually make a decision for yourself as to what you believe is good/bad. I remember leaving one such session about just under 10 years ago (Side thought: Its been 10 years already!!! Oh my goodness I’m getting old)where a good number of my fellow first year students completely misinterpreted what the speaker was saying and ended up with “Holding hands is evil and will cause you to have sex” while other people came out, having applied their minds to the topic, with a far healthier view. (The speaker basically had said that you should be aware of what levels of physical contact begin to fire up your passion to the point where you would/could “lose control”.)
One good point to make is that there is no one “right answer”, or wrong answer. You need to do what you think is right based on the values you hold. If you act in a certain way because that’s how you were taught to act then you’re missing something. Everyone is unique, so what works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. Of course there are some things that work the same for everyone like gravity. (And, in my belief, God.)
I’ve been to two churches in johannesburg since 2000 and in both of them seem to have (to varying degrees) a similar problem where a large portion of the single guys and girls are almost too scared to get in a relationship. My current church has that problem to a lesser degree, but it is still there.
I think that’s why I enjoy my current bible study group. I tend to be the kind of person who will “think it through 1 000 000 000 times”… I’ll analyse all emotions out of the picture before I act on something, so its nice to have someone leading the group who writes things about enjoying the emotions of love. Its a nice counterpoint to my over analytical nature, and a great balance to the often too clinical response you might experience in many charismatic churches.
Having said all that about my over analytical nature, I must say that I really enjoyed my whole dating experience. I dated only one person in my life (after being thought quite the freak by some of my family and friends), I married her, and after almost 2.5 years of marriage I still love her greatly and can’t imagine life without her.