How do you consider the Church in your relationships?
I got asked to speak on this a while back and whenever I did, I instantly thought about this time at a church youth group I used to go to. There was this guy in the youth group with me. I was about 12 and he was like 18. I was in 6th grade and he was a senior in high school. He was dating a girl (we’ll call her Jane) in the youth group as well. They had been dating for almost 2 years. That’s like 50 years in high school time. Now, the guy’s dad absolutely thought his son’s girlfriend was just amazing. He loved her. He adored her. He always talked her up to everyone and bragged constantly. Basically, he thought that she was like God’s gift to mankind, and that his son was just lucky enough to snag her. It was kind of awkward actually. We always used to joke that the dad more into Jane that his son even was.
But one night at the beginning of youth group, the guy’s dad busted in the youth room and he was just bawling his eyes out. He was sobbing, tears running down his face, snot coming out of his nose. He couldn’t even pronounce his words right. He finally got himself together enough to say some words. He said, “Guys… I have some bad news…” so we’re like freaking out! Just wondering what in the world he’s crying about. He goes, “It’s… it’s Jane…” And we all begin to ask him if she had got into a car accident, been diagnosed with cancer, or died, or something. He said, “No… no… they… they… they broke up!” And he just began to lose it while we all were like, really? Your son broke up with his girlfriend and you act like this? We just kind of laughed at him.
But the thing is, Jane never came back to youth group. Jane didn’t go back to any youth group. She didn’t go back to any church. It was a super tough break up for those guys. Not only did they suffer emotionally when they broke up… but Jane, since she stopped coming to church, suffered spiritually.
I told that story to say this; your relationship isn’t isolated. Guys, it’s not just you and your girlfriend against the world. You are part of a church family. Girls, it’s not just you and your boyfriend in some fairy tale adventure where you go far away and live happily ever after. You are part of a body of believers. There is a purpose for each of you in the body. There should be no division there. Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 12:25 “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”
So, when you date, when you’re in a relationship with someone, you’re not just dating a girl or a boy. You are dating a member of the body of Christ, if they’re a Christian. And if they’re not, well then you shouldn’t be dating them in the first.
So, let’s consider these questions.
Does your relationship pull you away from others and isolate you?
This is a real question. You might be defensive and say, “Of course it doesn’t! I mean, I spend every winking moment of my life with her… but if I wanted to be with others, I definitely could!” Well, here’s my advice; if you can, then you should. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with spending time with your significant other. But, hear me. Don’t take a relationship with one person and sacrifice it for the community of the church. You can be in a relationship and still be and commune with your friends, family, and your church family.
If you break up, will hurt feelings destroy your friendship?
This is a big one. Now guys, I’m not going to lie. I’m not a fan of dating in high school. And it’s not like I don’t know about it either. I wasn’t that awkward kid that wanted to hold a girl’s hand in high school but she didn’t want to hold it back, and now I’m bitter against dating. I dated a few girls in high school. Back in 9th grade I dated this one girl. I was thinking about how long ago that was. You wanna know something? Neither of us had texting! I had a piece of crap Nokia phone that called people and had solitaire, that was it. And, I must say, I was a beast at solitaire, so I liked it. So you can quit judging me. You’re probably like, “How did they stay in touch? You couldn’t have possibly called her… could you?” One word. Myspace. 2006. That’s how we did things back then.
But, the older I got, through each year of high school, the worse the relationships became. And I can honestly say, sadly, that I’m not friends with any of the girls I dated back then. I’m not friends with one. Now, they’re not going all Carrie Underwood on me and threatening to key my car and set my dog on fire or anything. But we’re not friends! That’s what matters! Some people ask me if I regret it… and I wouldn’t say I regret it, because it taught me a lot for the future and made me who I am today. But, personally, I’d rather learn from other people’s mistakes, not first-hand. So, I offer my experience to you. Don’t date someone if you know it will end badly. Hear me, trusting someone else with your heart and then letting them take it away never ends good. Consider that dating can likely end in break up, and how will that end up?
How will your relationship impact the unity of the Church?
This can be thought of in two different ways. First, will your relationship, will you and girl or boy coming into a relationship, ultimately cause bitterness in your church? Will it ultimately bring drama? Even though it’s going to bring you two guys together, is it going to tear more people apart? Is it ultimately going to do more harm than good? If the answer is yes to any of those, then I’m gonna be blunt. Going into that relationship is both selfish and stupid. It’s selfish and stupid. A relationship is meant to edify the Body. Not break it down.
Secondly, like we’ve said earlier, is your relationship going to lead to severing ties from the church? Either during or after break up. It does so during your relationship if you put your boyfriend or girlfriend as something ultimate above God. If they are more important than God, then that will lead to harm to the unity of the church, not to mention harm to yourself. Also, like I’ve said, If you know that things will be awkward if/probably when you break up, then you need to take that into consideration. Everything you do is to honor and please God… not yourselves.
So, I’m going to be real. If you date in high school, in all probability, your relationship will not lead to marriage. It probably just won’t. There are exceptions and praise God for those who meet in high school and live their whole lives together! But remember, they’re just that… exceptions. They aren’t the rule.
And another thing, I know that a lot of you have this Jerry McGuire attitude with your boyfriend/girlfriend and you’re like, “Oh no, Blake… you don’t understand! They complete me!” Please. No they don’t. That’s the thing that kills relationships! We elevate them to be something that they aren’t and expect them to do something that they were never meant to do! Our fulfillment is to come from God and God alone. We don’t search for that in others. Ecclesiastes 3:11 talks about how God has placed an eternal hole in our hearts. Now, human nature is prone to try and fill that hole with the things of this world. Sometimes, it’s drugs, food, success, acceptance, self-harm, sports… you name it. But sometimes it’s another human. Sometimes it’s a relationship. What’s the problem there though? A human isn’t eternal! A relationship isn’t eternal! Only God is eternal and only He can fill that hole.
So, after this break up, how will you guys return to being just friends in a godly manner? I know it’s hard guys. And I don’t have much room to talk, since I haven’t done the best job at it. But, as I said earlier, I would rather you learn from my mistakes than you have to experience them yourself.
Maintaining the friendship is very difficult, especially if certain feelings have been expressed prematurely or if physical boundaries have been crossed. It’s weird seeing the person you said I love you to a month ago walk down the hall and them not say even hello, right? It’s strange being in youth group, and sitting close to the guy who touched you inappropriately not too long ago, and now he won’t even shake your hand? It’s awkward being in a relationship with someone who you thought was “the one”, but now they won’t even give you a passing glance! What do you do with that? How do handle things like that? It’s tough… man, is it tough. But remember, you’re forgiven. God has forgiven you! And if holy, almighty, sovereign, omnipotent God can forgive you, then you sure as heck can forgive your boyfriend, and you can surely forgive your girlfriend. And, most importantly, you can forgive yourself. You belong to Him. You’re His. And If God doesn’t hold anything against you, then no one can.
Remember guys, relationships shouldn’t cause division. In anything. Consider the Church. Consider the Body. Consider the community. Date wisely, my friends. Date wisely.