A few years ago I began meeting with high school seniors once a week in a mentoring program. Usually our first sessions would deal with practical things like being organized, how to study for a test, and using a to-do list so you don’t forget things. As the weeks went by though a lot of our conversations started dealing with their personal issues outside of school.
I’ll never forget a student named Josh (not his real name) bringing up one of those personal questions at the end of a session. I would end by asking if there was anything they wanted to talk about and his answer was usually a quick no, but that day instead of being his usual outgoing self Josh was looking down and absently picking a piece of the table. Without looking up he quietly said, “yea man uh how do you ask a girl out?”
I couldn’t help but smile since he was asking a 38 year old single man a relationship question but that smile quickly faded after realizing Josh was actually expecting an answer.
We ended up spending about fifteen-minutes going over some basic principles about what to do when asking a girl out;
- Make sure you aren’t too serious right away (his initial plan of flowers and a poem was quickly rejected)
- Instead of going on a date you take them out for something relaxed like coffee
- The goal of this coffee is to learn more about the other person…not to profess your love
- And most importantly you allow her to take the next step (give it some time after coffee before moving into a serious relationship)
Josh did appreciate these words of wisdom and we ended up having lots of conversations about what a relationship should like, but the truth is I didn’t give him what he wanted.
Josh was looking for a roadmap for relationships that would look something like this;
- Step One: Coffee
- Step Two: Exchanging of phone numbers after third coffee
- Step Three: First date after fifth coffee at which time relationship becomes “Facebook official”
- And so on
While having a step-by-step process in relationships would be awesome, the truth is such a roadmap doesn’t exist.
That’s not really surprising when it comes to relationship books because all they can do is give principles that lead to healthy relationships instead of practical steps that works for everybody. The interesting thing is we don’t find a step by step process for relationships in Scritpure either. There are principles just like in the books and passages that teach on marriage (Ephesians 5) but nowhere does it say “thou shalt become a couple after the third coffee.”
Why is that?
There’s no doubt our dating relationships are important to God since marriage is a picture of Christ’s relationship with the Church (Ephesians 5:24-25) so wouldn’t it be easier for God to give clear steps that keep us from making a mess of things? The truth is God hasn’t given a roadmap because He has something much better planned.
You see the Lord knows that relationship roadmap would become an Idol to us. We wouldn’t physical bow down and worship it but that process would exert a huge amount of control on our lives. Now instead of coming to God and asking Him what our next relationship step should be we turn to our trusty roadmap. Even worse the focus of our relationship would be on keeping rules (emphasizing outer things) instead of following Christ (speaks towards heart and attitudes). The best roadmap in the world would still rely on human strength or wisdom and at the end of the day it would be all about me instead of God.
So in love God refuses to give us the clear roadmap we crave but instead gives something much better….a person
Not just any person, but a person what has been chosen and set apart by God for you alone.
This makes all he difference;
- Now instead of focusing on steps to take I focus on the person God has chosen for me
- The knowledge God has chosen someone for me makes purity personal (I keep myself pure for her)
- Now the question isn’t “what does the roadmap say” (emphasizing works) I ask “how do I honor the person God has chosen for me (emphasizing purity)
- The question isn’t “who do I think is beautiful?” But “which one of these men/women could be God’s Will for my life?
It would be simpler if God gave us a roadmap for relationships but it would lead towards a self-centered way of life…so in love He gave a person instead.