Lately, I have felt a great burden to share about romance and what it means for the single Christian. God has impressed in my heart the need to share on what it means to trust Him when it comes to waiting for the right time to pursue romance or in simpler terms, being in a romantic relationship.
Personally, I have made a commitment not to pursue romance until I am ready for marriage because I believe romance is sacred. That said, I must admit that it has not been easy because there are times I am tempted to think that God could use a little help in this matter by having my own plans and agendas on when I would like to be in a relationship and even with whom.
It has been a journey of learning and re-learning to wholly trust God each new day and resting on the promise that He will not hold anything good from me (Psalm 84:11). In Proverbs 3:5-6 we are told to trust God with ALL our heart. My understanding of this verse is that we are to have no plan B.
Before I go further, it is important to first of all start by looking at how God views romance. When we look at scripture, we see that romance is sacred.
ROMANCE IS SACRED
The fact that romance is sacred means that it is to be approached with a lot of sobriety and clarity; not casually. As believers, we belong to God’s kingdom and therefore we have to follow His principles, that are laid down in His word. We are called to be set apart from the world (Hebrews 10:10) and not to subscribe to its values.
Because we belong to God’s kingdom, our approach to relationships and romance should be totally different from that of the world. When we look at the world around us, there is a lot of casualness in the dating scene and this has also affected the body of Christ. This is evidenced by the fact that most Christians do not take relationships with the seriousness they require and this has led to many broken hearts.
When we look at scripture, we see that marriage seems to be the goal of any romantic relationship. The Bible does not give the Christian room to be in a relationship if marriage is not the intention. We can see this when we look at the story of Isaac in Genesis 24. Abraham sent his servant to look for a wife for his son Isaac. When she was brought to him, the Bible says that she became his wife.
The story of Rachel and Jacob is also similar. From the beginning, Jacob was committed to enter into a romantic relationship with Rachel for the purpose of marriage. His intention was not fun or personal gain. He knew that marriage was a serious issue and therefore he pursued Rachel with the intention of marriage.
Another story from which we can see the seriousness of romantic relationships is that of Joseph and Mary. In Luke 2, we read that Mary was betrothed to Joseph. They were not in it just to have a good time. The commitment was so serious such that when he discovered she was pregnant, he sought to divorce her secretly. It was so serious that if there was to be a separation or a “break up”, it had to be a divorce.
What we can learn from these examples is that the Bible does not give room for young men to play with ladies’ hearts. God’s desire is that when two people (of opposite gender) get together in romance, it is with marriage as the prime motive.
Someone once rightly said that many disciples are sacrificed on the altar of romance. I cannot agree less with this statement. What this simply means is that many followers of Christ do not fully trust God when it comes to when and with whom to be in a relationship with and they end up following their own desires and not God’s will. This eventually affects their walk with God.
It is really sad when a believer compromises when it comes to the matters of the heart. As Christians, we should approach relationships with a lot of sobriety knowing that every romantic relationship should end in marriage. Marriage should be the goal for every Christian in a relationship because God does not delight in broken hearts.
WHAT DOES GOD REQUIRE OF US?
As Christians, we are called to be different and not to conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). Now that we have seen God’s view of romance and relationships, it is only deserving that we look at what God expects of us. I am going to share five things that I believe God requires of us:
- To trust in Him as we wait
First and foremost, God requires us to wait upon Him. Honestly speaking, waiting is not easy but it is obedience to God and our obedience pleases God. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Secondly, we are to trust God as we wait. In our waiting we express our trust in God as we await His best for God’s will is good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:1-2). God requires that we truly trust in Him, resting on the promise that He does not deny us any good thing. Sometimes, He withholds things from us at the moment because He has something better for us in the future.
- Have an intimate relationship with Him
I believe that the greatest asset a single person can bring to a relationship is a thriving walk with God. I cannot overemphasize the importance of being right with God and making sure we are growing in our faith. It is not just about being born again but also making sure we are growing in our faith …work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). God wants us to cultivate our relationship with Him. He desires that we invest in knowing Him by devoting ourselves to studying His word, prayer, the fellowship of believers and other Christian disciplines. We should make it our desire to know Him more and walk closely with Him. Finally, we must realize that ONLY CHRIST can truly satisfy. We are made complete in Him alone; not in a romantic relationship.
- Appreciate singlehood as a gift
God wants us to come to the realization that our singlehood is a gift from Him. He wants us to look at our singlehood as a special, precious time that provides unparalleled opportunity for growth and service that we should not allow to slip by. We are familiar with the scripture passage in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34 where Paul talks about singlehood. Paul encourages us to view singlehood as a gift from God and to spend time loving and serving the Lord and becoming “holy instruments of God”. One person rightly stated, “Don’t do something about your singlehood, do something with it!” You can take time to evaluate yourself and find out whether you are using God’s gift of singlehood as He desires. You can also ask yourself this question, am I using this season of my life to become a whole and holy instrument for God?
- Guard your heart
Most times, we address the physical aspect of purity and forget the emotional aspect which is also very important. For us to walk in emotional purity we need to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart with all diligence for it is the wellspring of life.” When it comes to guarding our hearts, we need to always be vigilant in order to avoid counterfeit oneness. Counterfeit oneness, or in other words emotional entanglement, is a situation where a young lady and a young man are more than friends yet they continue to enjoy this closeness without defining their friendship- whether they are friends or in a relationship. Since there is no verbal communication from any party as to what is happening between them, they end up becoming emotionally entangled. This is a really bad situation for any friendship because one or both parties get hurt when they learn that the emotions they have are not mutual. The best way to guard our hearts is setting up boundaries especially in our friendships with the opposite gender. Some practical boundaries may include:
- Not spending exclusive and consistent time with a person of the opposite gender i.e. singling them out.
- Not spending excessive amounts of time in conversation with one person either in person or on social media-texting.
- Not having deep intimate conversations i.e. sharing wounds and hurts and past mistakes. This makes us vulnerable.
- Relate within God’s framework
In our generation, it is becoming increasingly hard for people to believe that two young people of the opposite gender can be friends without anything more existing between them. I strongly believe that it is possible because that is what God desires. This can be seen in 1 Timothy 5:2 where we are told to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity (emphasis my own). This also applies to how ladies relate with men. While it is possible, most of you will agree with me that it is not easy to maintain pure friendships. For a pure friendship to happen, it takes being deliberate in how we relate with one another. It has to be guarded so that it doesn’t become something else. The boundaries I have shared above, among others, really help when it comes to this. Another thing that can really help is giving priority to same gender friendships.
DO YOU REALLY TRUST HIM?
At the end of the day, it all gets down to this crucial question: Do you REALLY trust God? Do you trust that He has something good in store for you and that His will is perfect? Do you trust in His timing? Do you trust that God knows best? Do you believe that by passing up something good now because it is the wrong time God will bring you something better when it is the right time?
While waiting may not be boldest idea, it is obedience to God and our obedience impresses God. By waiting, we develop patience as we trust that God denies us good things in the present only because He has something better for us in the future.
You and I will never experience God’s best until we give God our all. In God’s kingdom there is no semi-sovereignty. God is either Lord of all or not Lord at all. This means that we are to submit the whole of our lives to the Lordship of Christ, withholding nothing, and this includes our love lives.
In conclusion, I would like to remind those of us not in relationships that singlehood is a gift. We should make the most of it and enjoy its opportunities today. To read a previous article on appreciating singlehood as a gift and the areas you need to watch out for as a single, you can click here.
Let us practice trusting God by pursuing His kingdom and His righteousness with all our hearts and by leaving the planning to Him. Let us continue waiting for God’s best and not settling for something less. Perhaps the verse that sums this all up is Ecclesiastes 3:11:
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”