Relationships, Part 1: The One
Here we go with part 1!
Relationships. There is no topic more popular, viewed or commented upon in the Boundless blog archive. I could write an article on that, but I’ll hold off. There’s obviously a deep desire in the hearts and minds of young adults to understand this topic, especially from a biblical perspective, and I think that’s because many of us feel there’s something off about the many ways Christians view romantic relationships.
Frankly, I think today’s church learns more of its teaching about the lead-up to marriage from Disney movies than they do the Bible.
Disney has popularized the concept of your “one true love” and finding your prince, and Christians, especially girls, have co-opted that idea as gospel truth (just replace prince with Boaz). The basic premise is: Wait, pray, and one day some lone guy will walk into your forest/castle/ocean/tower/circle of girlfriends and through a 60-minute montage of amazing circumstances realize that you are the most perfect person in the world for him — you, just as you are. After that you’ll have a whirlwind romance and get married in a year.
Most of us might laugh and say, “Oh, haha! That’s such a kiddy idea” (and it was a bit exaggerated) but secretly, I know many people, myself included, have at one point thought this to be true (or still do!).
The ideas of growing up, meeting different people, figuring out what’s attractive to the other gender — they just seem so mundane and unromantic, so much like striving or doing things in our own strength. It can’t possibly be the will of God!
God’s will has become this magical genie that we try to appease. We believe that if we obey His will/law then He’ll give us that perfect person (with everything we want in a spouse plus great sex to boot). In Christian circles, this is called the theory of “the one.” Don’t believe me?
How many times have you have been told to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” in your relationships? Or maybe it was “focus on God, not on a relationship. It’s when you’re not looking for it that it’ll come to you.” Or perhaps this: “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Yes, Christ does need to be the center and foundation of our identity, but we do tell our kids to go to school for 12 to 16 years before starting a career. In other words, just because you’re a virgin and pray for an hour every day doesn’t mean you should go through life expecting God to magically produce a girl/guy/job/house/iPhone 6 tailor made just for you.
“The one” is not a biblical concept. It happened once, when Adam met Eve, and God hasn’t done it since. People who are in relationships or married have not “leveled up” in the faith and thus received their promised prize. Sure, they’re probably being sanctified in different ways than someone who’s single, but they’re not somehow one step beyond, so God has “blessed” them with an amazing partner.
There are many reasons why this theory of “the one” exists and continues to be taught. I’ll share three.
1. It puts the responsibility for continued success in the relationship on God and not on both parties (“Oh, it didn’t work out. He just wasn’t the one God had for me”).
2. It minimizes our own responsibility to grow, mature and prepare for marriage, instead “trusting in God” to do the heavy lifting of finding this person.
3. Christians will cling to this theory to comfort themselves that their waiting and inaction is not in vain — that there’s someone out there for them.
On the surface, these all seem like spiritual and godly reasons. Yet at the core, these all stem from laziness, selfishness and idolatry. Essentially, we’re trying to use God to get what we really want by following all the rules, and what we want is someone who will be perfectly created for us so that we don’t have to change, grow, mature, compromise or work through things, because they love us “just the way we are” — otherwise known as someone who will worship us, not Jesus.
All this to say, relationships equal sanctification equals hard work — both getting into a relationship and staying there. The truth that Jesus is sovereign doesn’t abdicate us of the responsibility to put effort and work into all the things we do. Tweet This
Come back for part 2 next week!
Just so you know, you’ll probably disagree with me on some, if not all, of my points, and you’re welcome to do so. I love a good discussion, so feel free to counter anything I say in the comments below.