The only way to avoid becoming ensnared by the longings of the flesh is for the wills of both people to be offered to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, with only the ashes left behind on the altar of prayer to represent what they gave up in the presence of the One they gave them to.
Only God Himself can abolish lusts and longings, and, by letting Him have the feelings and desires, both people in the relationship are choosing to trust God with themselves and each other. Instead of pulling the relationship apart, this trust can knit them together even more closely on a spiritual level.
This spiritual connection is the step from a casual friendship to becoming intimate friends. Even with such closeness, they cannot neglect their personal, individual relationships with God. To do so would be ill-advised.
The accountability that was established at the beginning of their relationship must be in high gear to protect both individuals at this point of closeness. If they are unable to accept discipline when rebuked or guided, then their emotions, not their intellect, are engaged, and the relationship must take a step backward to re-establish the foundation of friendship.
The positive of courtship is that no one is left with a broken heart when this is done properly, because the couple will likely still be friends in such a way that is beneficial instead of awkward.
As Joshua Harris say, “In the end, it does not matter what we call it. Seeking to obey God and genuinely care for others is far more important than whether we use the word dating or courtship.” The Apostle Paul constantly stresses that seeking God is more important than marriage or singleness. The idea of courtship allows both people in a relationship to focus on Christ together and to observe each other as they walk their own walk in everyday life. Dating is prone to creating shallow relationships, although it has been an effective way of having relationships in the past. Christ’s design for marriage requires that we focus on Him first of all and most of all, even in building blocks of the relationship. In her book Passion and Purity, Elisabeth Elliot quotes this poem by Christina Rosetti that describes the attitude to be taken by Christians toward romance;
“Trust me, I have not earned your dear rebuke,- I love, as you would have me, God the most; Would lose not Him, but you, must one be lost, Nor with Lot’s wife cast back a faithless look, Unready to forgo what I forsook; This I say, having counted up the cost, This though I be the feeblest of God’s host, The sorriest sheep Christ shepherds with His crook. Yet while I love my God the most, I deem That I can never love you over-much; I love Him more, so let me love you too; Yea, as I apprehend it, love is such I cannot love you if I love not Him, I cannot love Him, if I love not you.”
If a person cannot love Christ more than anyone else, it will not matter what “style” of relationship he chooses; it will never be as healthy as it would have been if he had kept God at the center.
Thank you for joining us for this series! It is our hope that you have been blessed and encouraged by our study. God hasn’t given us a formula for romance, but His commands do show us how we ought to live for Him. We will continue in our theme of romance and relationships for a few more weeks. See you then!
*Note: A full bibliography from this series will be released next week. Any statistics, articles, books, or websites will be included.
*DISCLAIMER: In light of the controversy over Joshua Harris’ book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” I considered removing it from this series. However, during the time that he wrote it, he was seeking the Lord and His will for Christian romance. It is for that reason that I decided to retain his quotes. I do not agree with his recent choices and apostasy from the faith.