3 Issues around Romantic Relationships in the Church

Closeup of sad young woman in living room with man after an argument
Photo Cred: African Sweetheart 

I’ve recently become aware of certain behaviour amongst the youth in my faith as a Christian. You know, when I decided to become serious again about my faith and about being an active member of my Church, I believed that the people I would interact with would all be seeking the same things that I was. What a wrong mentality that was. The truth is that the Church is a clinic. A hospital. We’re all congregating with different ailments, needs and wants and there is no way we will all require the same treatment or medication. Thus, I have come to quickly recognize a difference in thinking in terms of different issues including that of dating or romantic relationships amongst people at Church.

I have been fellowshipping at my Church for about 6-and-a-half years now and in that time, I have not entered a romantic relationship with any guy there. Yes I have naturally crushed some gents there but for various reasons, nothing has materialized into a full-blown relationship. That truly frustrated me for a good 4-and-a-half to 5 years! I’d watch those close to (and not-so-close) to me start dating, get engaged, have bridal showers, get married, and now we’re on baby showers. And it just felt like God had put some sort of cover over me so that no guy even SAW me. Over time though, and in the last year or so I’ve actually grown grateful for my situation. I’ve realized that God was protecting me – from entering hurtful relationships and most importantly, protecting me from myself. I had NO clue on how to recognize the right partner and listen to His counsel on it. And I was certainly not ready to love one of His Princes the way He requires me to. It has also given me time to observe and pick up on the things that we young people do right as well as do wrong in picking our life partners – myself included.

There are several patterns that I’ve picked up on in how we young people go about dating in the Church:

  1. Easy Come, Easy Go – I’ve watched people quickly fall for one another and in the space of a month or a couple of weeks of acknowledging these feelings, they are dating and in a full-blown relationship. They talk all the time; spend each opportunity together; and just move from point A to Z in record time! It’s natural to feel such great euphoria when you first meet someone and are getting to know them. They’re a sort of mystery and you tend to pick up on all their great qualities and breeze over the more unflattering ones. I think though, in rushing into love we miss out on actually getting to know the person without our rose-coloured glasses on. We don’t take the time to observe their character and how they respond when someone makes them angry; or when bad things happen to them; or when they fail at a task; or how they treat those closest to them (because that is a sign of how they will treat us). Then, as time passes and we start to see their true colours, we’re quick to say that they’ve changed when the truth is that we never actually knew them (James Michael Sama). I believe that we need to be careful about how quickly and blindly we enter into relationships because that which comes easy tends to go just as easily.
  1. God Spoke to Me – We’re all encouraged to have a personal and close walk with God. We’re told that God still speaks to us today as a collective and individually. We just need to take the time to get to know Him and listen. This is beautiful and it’s the absolute truth. We ought to always seek to hear from God so that we do what He purposes for our lives. However, I have issues when we misuse this blessing (whether knowingly or unknowingly) for our own personal gain. Most recently, I’ve heard this statement being used in getting romantic relationships going in the Church. More especially from the gents. A gentleman will approach a lady and tell her that he’s been praying to God either for a life partner or about that specific lady and he believes God is directing them into a relationship. What is a higher authority on relationships to a Christian than God Himself? And so, the lady willingly and happily obliges. Not many months down the line, things have gone sour.

This makes one wonder whether God really spoke or what He said. It’s a dangerous thing to use the name of God when you’re not even sure that it was Him speaking. I must say though, that it’s not just the gentlemen’s fault.  We are commanded in the Bible to test everything and all spirits to ensure that they are from God (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). We can never take as gospel that which someone comes and tells us God told them. And so even if a gentleman approaches you and tells you God has spoken to him about you, it is your duty as a lady to take the time to return to this same God to hear whether it is in fact true. I think we just get so caught up in the beauty of it and our strong desire for love and relationships that we quickly hold on to what appears good and right. It seems like such a godly approach after all. But we need to learn to be cautious and speak to God about what someone else claims to have spoken to Him about.

  1. All Out of Fight – A great mentor of mine remarked how our generation no longer fights for things especially relationships. It’s as though we’ve come to believe that if something comes to us and happens without much of a struggle, then it’s meant to be. It should be natural and effortless. That is the lie of the devil. If we look at all the great Bible characters and their stories, their journeys were far from easy! They had to at some point put up a fight – either with others, themselves or the devil himself. Some had to exercise patience for years (Abraham). Others had to run and fight for their life until they became what God had promised them they would be (David). Still others had to work 14 years to marry the love of their life after being deceived (Jacob). The list is endless.

One of my favourite quotes says, “The couples that are ‘meant to be’ are the ones who go through everything that is meant to tear them apart and come out even stronger than they were before.”  ­That is a powerful statement! Truly, anything worthwhile does not come easy. It is through the difficulties and fighting to be with the other person that your bond is strengthened. I think the issue is that we are a generation that is used to getting things at the click of our fingers. We’ve sadly translated this into every area of our lives including relationships. But this is false. It’s an illusion. For you to value your partner, you must have had to face and overcome some challenges together. A person more readily appreciates a fairly pricey bag that they’ve been eyeing and have worked hard to save up for and buy, than an even more expensive bag that someone just gives to them. It’s in the labour of your hands that you value what you get. So, let’s not give up too easily and let’s put up a fight to keep the relationships we believe we’ve been given.

There is so much more that could be said, but I just wanted to point out those 3 issues that stand out the most for me at this point in time. All relationships are complicated, but if we take the time to better understand them and each other we can have beautiful, God-ordained unions.

What are your thoughts around romantic relationships in the Church? What lessons can we learn in engaging in these? Let’s share and grow together!

Remember, I’m praying for you!

Love,

Sonia Dee

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A More Extraordinary Love

A More Extraordinary Love Pic

I recently introduced a good friend of mine to one of my all-time favourite movies – Bridget Jones’ Diary. Yes, I’m a sucker for romantic comedies and I make no apology for it! Lol. She had never watched it before, and I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it but as we watched it together it felt as though I was watching it again for the first time. It was thrilling to see her reactions to all the classic lines (“… I like you, very much. Just as you are” *sigh*), the cleverly placed humour and the character developments. She was a fan by the time we were done. Naturally.

As I enjoy doing with most things in life, I reflected on the lessons garnered from the movie with said dear friend. What stood out most for the both of us, stemmed from one of Bridget Jones’ statements when Daniel Cleaver tells her that if he can’t make it with her, he can’t make it with anyone (how romantic right?). She initially had fallen for him, but upon reflecting on his offer of a relationship where she would be clearly settling, she seems to realize in that moment that she wants and deserves something more. She responds to him by saying,

“That’s not a good enough offer for me. I’m not willing to gamble my whole life on someone who’s not quite sure. It’s like you said: I’m still looking for something more extraordinary than that.”

 Wow! What a bold but true statement. My friend and I agreed so wholly and completely with Bridget Jones at this moment. She’d finally grown up and knew what she wanted and was not willing to give up on it regardless of how exciting other offers appeared to be. My friend rightly pointed out that despite how painful and long it may take to get that extraordinary love, it is far more worth it than simply and easily falling into a “normal” relationship that does not affect you or the world you live in. Extraordinary love transforms you, your life and the world, yet it is accompanied by tears, hard work and sacrifice. It’s not as easy and seamless as the movies make it seem. There is a trade-off. At the same time, I believe that the “normal love” comes easily and without much (if any) of a fight yet it leaves you no better than when it found you. The choice is truly yours.

Over the course of my very brief life, I’ve come to realize that these two types of love distinguish two groups of women. The first group represents the majority of women today who give up on waiting for that love that they desire and know they truly deserve. A love that will elevate them and change them for the better. A love that will respect them and recognize their value and worth. It could be because of a number of reasons that a woman chooses to settle. It could be fear (fear of age creeping up on her/fear of being without a man etc); lack of confidence in self and in the belief that she is worthy of, and can receive an extraordinary love story written specifically for her; emotional scarring from past experiences with men; impatience to wait for the right love story; family or peer pressure to settle for any man cause at least “she’s got a man” et cetera. The list is endless and unique to each specific woman. The bottom-line though, is that this group of women usually gives up on receiving that extraordinary love and they usually do so just when this love is around the corner. They settle for the Daniel Cleaver offer when Marc Darcy is waiting on the other side of their compromise.

Then there is the other group of women. The group I’ve chosen to form a part of. This group is smaller and rare in our day and age of quick fixes and getting what you want now. This group is presented with their fair share of terrible and “good” men, as well as okay/normal/expected love stories as is any other woman. They come across the Daniel Cleavers of this world. They too may be fighting the ticking age clock or the peer pressures of their families and friends (I certainly am!). They too may at one time not have believed that they were worthy of receiving extraordinary love. Yet, they persevere and hold on. They choose to push through the heartache, loneliness, seeming impossibilities and pressures. As each day passes, they stand a little taller and awaken to the truth that they desire more and are willing to wait out to receive it. They’ve experienced the ordinary and it just won’t do it for them anymore. They’re not willing to gamble their whole life on it à la Bridget Jones. They would much rather remain single (and die single if they have to), knowing that they did not compromise on what they deserved and knowing that they accepted only the best in whatever form it eventually came.

The thing is, the Bible tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9) and we cannot trust it to lead us. This applies in terms of experiencing extraordinary love. Your heart will tell you that what is before you is as good as it gets when you know in your right mind that you deserve better. I’ve come to learn that God’s best and most extraordinary love stories take time, patience and perseverance. Look at Jacob and Rachel, or Heather and Cornelius Lindsey – one of my favourite modern-day Christian couples. And in most instances, the counterfeit (Daniel Cleaver) appears to distract you just before the real deal (Marc Darcy) arrives. And because Daniel seems to have some good qualities, you settle for him not realizing that you’re signing away Mr Extraordinary. Extraordinary love is called that for a reason. It is amazing, unusual, surprising, and bigger and better than what you’ve ever experienced before. And so, when you find yourself looking into the eyes of a love story that seems to look like you could have manufactured on your own, it just may be ordinary. Rather, extraordinary love seems impossible, unattainable and out of your reach. It would take a miracle to achieve! That’s where God steps in 🙂

So my dear sister, don’t you want to wait for the more extraordinary love? Wouldn’t you rather hold out just a little while longer knowing that only the best is in store for you? I would like to encourage you to pause and allow the Hand of God to craft something that you nor anyone could ever put together and thus could never tear apart. If you’re courageous enough, join me in waiting for a more extraordinary love ❤ 🙂

With love,

Sonia Dee

What are your thoughts about love and waiting on the right man? Do you have an extraordinary love story to share with us? Do you think extraordinary love is overrated? Let us hear all about it below!