God’s prescription for life-long romance
The gift of romance and physical intimacy
God loves to give His children good gifts! His creativity, wisdom, and love manifest themselves in the varied pleasures He bestows on us. But with any gift, there is a right way and a wrong way to enjoy it. We can maximize the enjoyment of the gift or misuse it so badly that it actually becomes a curse. With each gift comes a responsibility to not let it go to waste or to use it improperly.
Suppose your parents give you the sports car of your dreams. You are blown away! This is the most awesome gift you have ever been given. However, the car comes with some strict rules: you must only fill up the tank with gasoline, you have to make sure that the fluid levels are topped up and that you don’t run the engine dry, not to mention that you also have to follow the rules of the road.
At this point, you have two choices. You can say, “This is my sports car and I can do whatever I want with it.” Or you can decide to submit to the regulations. Now imagine that you decide to treat the car any way you please. You put diesel in the gas tank, you ignore the oil light, and you run it hard even though you are low on coolant. Where will that “freedom” lead? A sports car engine needs the proper fuel and coolant or it will cease to run. It may be your car, but this does not change the fact that if certain conditions are not followed, the car will quit working and you’ll be left with a lifeless hunk of metal.
Or let’s say that you decide that the sports car would make a really cool tree house, so you hoist it up in a tree. Such an idea may be enjoyable, but you would be completely missing out on the true power and potential of the sports car. To maximize your enjoyment of the sports car, you need to know its real purpose.
In the case of a sports car, what constitutes real freedom? Making any choice you want? Using the gift for whatever you desire? Is it being stuck high in a tree or stalled in traffic? Or is the real freedom found in restricting yourself to the rules laid down for you and having a powerful car that will enable you to cruise the highways wherever you want to go? Do you see how the rules were not restrictive, but were instead empowering? In the same way, God’s rules for the gifts that He gives us are for our pleasure, enabling us to find the real potential of the gifts.
Romantic love and physical intimacy are amazing gifts with the capacity to bring great pleasure and fulfillment. But they come with “For best results…” and “Caution: do not…” labels. Love and sex were to design to operate best under certain guidelines and conditions. If these instructions are followed you can enjoy these gifts to the fullest. However, if you ignore the Designer’s instructions and misuse these gifts, they won’t function the way they were designed to. God’s instructions are to keep romantic love and sex in the context of lifelong commitment. This may seem strange or radical to you, but God’s instructions serve to ensure that His carefully crafted engines of sex and romantic love run smoothly. Let’s take a closer look at love and romance and ways to maximize their horsepower.
Commitment and romance
Any realistic view of love needs to make a distinction between the choice to love (commitment) and the feelings of love (romance). Like all emotions, the feelings of love will come and go no matter how strong they seem to be. But committed love is an unchanging choice. To really love your wife or your husband is a choice, not a mere feeling. True love says, “I will stay faithful to you no matter how I feel. I will serve, protect, honor, and cherish you even when the feelings go.” When a couple wants a divorce because they “no longer love each other,” they are demonstrating ignorance about what true love really is. True love is not something that you verify is there by taking emotional inventory. Rather, it is a decision you make. Marriage is a vow before God to stay committed to loving your spouse till death separates you. This vow does not say that “I will have feelings for you always, but that I will always choose to serve you and stay faithful to you.”
That being said, the feelings of love are not unimportant. God has given us an incredible gift in these feelings of romantic love and physical intimacy, overflowing with pleasure almost too great to comprehend. But, like the sports car, this gift is not a mere toy to be enjoyed any way you please. And just as the sports car has a functional job of transportation, the gift of erotic love has the function of cementing lifelong commitment in marriage and developing genuine intimacy.
Physical affection and romantic love are powerful adhesives that bond a man and a woman together and make them one. Things such as hand holding, kissing, long intimate one-on-one conversations of pouring your heart out and sharing your deepest dreams and fears, love notes, and romantic dates – these are all ingredients of the romantic glue that pulls a couple together. The more these activities are enjoyed, the stronger the bond between young people grows.
Much is made of the bonding that happens in the sex act, but serious bonding happens in all romantic activity. It is not just through intercourse that your souls begin to adhere and form soul ties. There is emotional and spiritual bonding that happens through the expressions of romantic love. When couples start to see themselves as “an item” and have their own identity, they are acknowledging the welding of their souls.
God designed the glue of erotic love to be permanent: One man and one woman cemented for life (Mark 10:6-9). Listen to any love song, or overhear any lovers’ conversation and you’ll find that they are full of promises to forget all others and stay faithful forever. Lovers love to promise forever. That is the way God intended it to be. Any person who has been through a breakup knows the horrendous pain it brings. It hurts because the love-glue holding these young people together was designed to hold forever. Hearts bonded with romantic-erotic love glue cannot separate cleanly; they will inevitably break and tear.
Not only does the breakup tear the heart and cause pain, but a callus will form on the wound, making it harder to bond to someone else next time. Or think of it this way: Our hearts are like a sticky piece of tape; the first time it is applied to a surface, it sticks very well and is hard to remove. But when it’s pulled away, it becomes less sticky. The more the tape is applied and removed, the less sticky it becomes.
Sadly, young people have been taught that it’s normal and healthy to enter into several romantic relationships before marriage, and that kissing, hand holding, long heart-to-heart talks, and love notes are all harmless parts of young love. But these young men and women are playing with superglue – stuff far more powerful than they realize. They are bonding and breaking many times before marriage. They are scraping and tearing their tender hearts because they don’t know any other way to love. And millions of them are paying the consequences, not only in the pain and heartache of breakups, but with a lessening “stickiness.” The calluses on their hearts are making it more difficult to bond permanently. It is no wonder that the divorce rate is so high. How God must weep to see His wonderful gift so abused. Because of the many lies out there, many people never get to discover just how wonderful God-designed love can be.
Thankfully, there is a better way. But it requires a radical shift away from the world’s thinking.
God’s Word on romance
If you want God’s best, then you will make Christ the Lord of your love life and seek absolute purity. I want to be clear and upfront that I don’t simply want to sit here and spout a lot of rules and laws that you have to follow. Rather, I am trying to look at God’s ideal for love and romance and inspire you to seek God as to what is the best way to submit your love life to His design. There are so many beliefs that the culture and media are feeding us. Some of these beliefs are false and it’s easy to swallow them uncritically and end up being led astray.
Each age has its blind spots. Many people growing up in the South during the early 1800s thought nothing of treating African-Americans like animals. When slave-holders consulted the Bible for guidance, they discovered that there was no verse explicitly stating that slavery was wrong or that blacks should have equal rights with whites, so they assumed that this was a grey area and they didn’t need to worry further about it. In the meantime, millions of blacks were suffering the terrible consequences of these wrong beliefs. The Abolitionists looked at the biblical text a little more carefully, listened to the spirit of the law, and followed biblical passages to their logical conclusion to form their convictions. They saw that all men were created in the image of God and were therefore equal (Genesis 1:26 and Job 31:13-15). Paul saw slaves as brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Timothy 6:2). And they realized that the way we treat other humans is the way we treat Christ (Matthew 25:40). From these passages, they drew the accurate conclusion that slavery was wrong and that it should be abolished.
Today, of course, we recognize that the views of slaveholders were wrong and damaging. But back then, overturning the majority mindset on slavery required people who were willing to question the accepted norms and see if they lined up with God’s revealed principles. I want you to do the same thing and re-examine some of our culture’s assumptions about love and romance and prayerfully consider some ideas that at first you may find radical.
When it comes to determining right and wrong in our romantic relationships, God has not spelled out in specific detail exact boundaries or clearly defined how far is too far. However, He has given us some straightforward principles that we can apply to these areas. Much of what I suggest in this book comes from these biblical guidelines.
- When God designed marriage, He only included one man
and one woman (Genesis 1-2).
- When a couple comes together in marriage, God designed
their bond to be permanent (Mark 10:6-9).
3. God tells us to abstain from all sexual immorality (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 6:18, 10:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). This includes fornication (sexual immorality before marriage) and adultery (sexual immorality after marriage with someone other than your spouse). In Ephesians 5:3, Paul tells us, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” By consulting your conscience, seeking the Holy Spirit, and looking at erotic love from a few different angles, I believe God will make clear what He means by “sexual immorality.”
4. Impurity involves more than overt acts; it starts with and includes our thoughts (Matthew 5:28).
5. God specifically commands us to not defraud each other in the area of sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:6). Defrauding happens when you promise something and don’t pay up, or you create false expectations and don’t come through. I think single people defraud each other when they begin bonding to each other in a romantic way outside the safety of marriage commitment. Romantic involvement implies permanence and if one or both young people are not willing to commit, they are misleading each other. By doing so, they’re not only causing future pain in the person they are defrauding, but they are also stealing from that person’s future spouse.
6. We are to love our wives like Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25). This kind of love, I believe, includes fidelity to her during and before marriage.
7. All of our relationships should be governed by agape love (I Corinthians 13), which means that we should put the needs of others (including our future spouse) ahead of our own (Philippians 2:4).
8. God loves to see sex and erotic love enjoyed in the proper boundaries of marriage – just read Song of Solomon.
I think we can glean some guidelines for our romantic relationships by reasoning from these principles.
One man. One woman.
God designed romantic love to be exclusively between one man and one woman. When you add another man or woman to the equation it results in damage far greater than putting diesel in a gasoline engine. This is not just some arbitrary social invention, but a law of nature that cannot be violated without doing harm. The addition of a third party into romance creates problems with jealousy, insecurity, suspicion, guilt, withdrawal, feeling compared and criticized.
Most people try to follow this one-man-woman, one-woman-man rule after they enter marriage. They abstain from entering a romantic relationship with someone who is not their spouse and would find it wrong to hold hands with another woman, or kiss another man, or go out for a long, romantic, candlelit dinner, because they want to stay faithful to their spouse. But what people often don’t realize until it’s too late is that infidelities to your spouse before marriage can be just as damaging to your relationship as infidelities that happen after marriage.
When you do something romantic with another person, your action exists for all time. You can’t change the past. The tape of what you did is playing somewhere for all eternity, and that act can keep popping up in your memory. The things you do become a part of who you are. Many people refuse to kiss another woman after they are married, but when you kiss another woman before marriage it is just as wrong because it’s something you can’t change. Memories of that kiss will haunt you and your spouse because that kiss is a part of you. You have added an intruder that will mess up the sacred formula of one plus one that profound intimacy requires.
What I’m saying may sound ridiculous to some, but really, it’s not that far off from what most people believe. Even young people who enter casual romantic premarital relationships expect that the person they are in the relationship with shouldn’t be doing romantic stuff with anybody else. If the other person was caught holding hands or snuggling with someone else, they would call it cheating. We feel this need for exclusivity in love very strongly, and we are hurt when it’s broken.
For romance to operate at optimum levels, it requires more than just “one lover at a time” – rather, “one lover for life.” If you think this sounds too restrictive or too narrow-minded, remember the sports car. Filling the car’s tank with only gasoline – is that restrictive? You bet! But it’s also the only way the car will run smoothly because that’s how it was designed. So, too, with romance: The engine of love that was purring like a kitten on the clean fuel of exclusivity will start to howl and back fire if you add the foreign substance of infidelity.
When you are romantic and physical with a person outside of commitment, your actions can take on a life of their own and become an enemy that will continue to torment you for life and rob you of the fullness of bliss that could be yours. What you do becomes an indelible part of who you are.
I am jealous for my wife, past, present, and future. Even past interests that she had slightly bother me, but what thrills me to no end and makes me want to shout hallelujah is that she has no romantic ties with any other guy! I could time-travel through her life and never feel uncomfortable with the way that she interacted with other guys.
The blazing fires of passionate romance
The feelings of erotic love are powerful, consuming fires. The commitment to lifelong fidelity (marriage) provides the necessary framework to keep these fires under control. The pioneers had a saying that fire was a wonderful servant but a terrible master. When fire is under control, it can cook your food, provide warmth, and create a delightful atmosphere on a cold winter night. However, when this same fire gets out of control it can be devastating. Five years ago, some close friends of ours, a family with nine children, got a call two days before Christmas that their house was on fire. They rushed back only to find the place engulfed in flames. Everything was lost. The fire that was so useful and pleasurable when confined brought such terrible devastation when it got out of control.
Song of Solomon 8:6 says love “burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” In the context of commitment, the fires – or feelings – of love can be more pleasurable than you can imagine. But when they are allowed to burn freely and take control of you, much that is precious to you can be lost in the flames.
Romantic passion can put an absolute spell over you, making wrong seem right and convincing you that the only thing that matters in life is being with your special mate. From the outside looking in, it is obvious that a couple claiming to be madly in love, even though they have known each other for just a few days, are only experiencing infatuation. It can’t be true love because they don’t know each other; their love hasn’t been tested.
But when you are on the inside, you may only see that, right now, your feelings are so strong you both just have to be right for each other. And as long as you let this fire that you feel for your lover be the driving force of your life, it won’t matter to you what your family thinks, what God thinks, what life purpose you neglect, or what beliefs you previously held. The fires of romance have destroyed marriages, stolen girls from loving homes and made them heartbroken and destitute, robbed young men of their passion to serve God, and left children weeping.
Because of the misuse of these God-given desires and feelings, God is passionate about purity and fidelity before and after marriage. He only has your best in mind. He has heard all the prayers of regrets and the teary confessions. He’s been in on all the marriage counseling sessions that dealt with the pain and difficulties caused by extramarital relationships. He wants to spare you all that, and He wants to bless you beyond what you can imagine. So He insists that you make purity an absolute priority in your life.
In lifelong commitment to a member of the opposite sex, there is deep pleasure in becoming saturated with the glue of romantic love and physical affection and binding yourself to a spouse who also is saturated with this God-given glue. There is joy in fidelity – in knowing that your wife is the only woman you will ever bond to and that you, in return, can have all of her because you are the only guy she has or ever will bond to. The idealization that comes with infatuation becomes a great blessing in marriage. When Heidi is under the spell of romantic love and passion is strong, in that moment I am the most wonderful guy in the world, my looks are flawless, and I have wit and charm beyond what mere mortals can comprehend. In this context, it is wonderful to be consumed by the fires of romance and I want no part in breaking the spell.
Commitment before romance
Because of the permanence of the glue and the power of the flames, I believe that true purity calls for saving all romance and physical affection until both parties have committed to lifelong fidelity. In other words, you choose to not light a fire until there is a fireplace strong enough to contain it. You choose to not spend a lot of time gluing yourself to someone you’re not sure you want to stick to permanently. I believe there is much wisdom and protection in keeping your pre-commitment relationships with members of the opposite sex at a non-romantic level. That means refraining from telling them that you love them in that “you and only you” way, refraining from romantic affection (kissing, hand-holding, slow dancing, etc.) and from too much time alone together and intimate heart-to-heart talks.
One of the most common relationship flaws among singles is one person taking the relationship more seriously than the other person does. They will both say they are committed but this commitment means different things to each one. The commitment I’m talking about is not simply saying, “For the time being, I love you and only you, but that could change someday.” Rather, it’s a choice to covenant before God to stay together for life and that you’re willing to live out that commitment by becoming engaged and asking the body of Christ to hold you accountable to your commitment. I think it is very important that this commitment level be spelled out clearly and have actions that back it up. Because when a couple is in love, of course they feel committed – that’s the nature of love. But it is important to ask yourself and your lover if this commitment is a mere feeling or a choice you are both willing to stand behind. If your boyfriend says he is “committed” but is not ready to commit to marriage, his commitment is not strong enough to warrant giving your heart or body to him. If he was truly committed, he would jump at the opportunity to prove it by committing to marriage.
I know this idea may sound strange and maybe even impossible to implement, but my wife and I and many other young couples we know have used the commitment before romance principle in our relationships and have greatly enjoyed the results. Now I need to be clear: I am not saying that there needs to be commitment before you get into any kind of relationship with the opposite sex. It is fine and important to have fun with them and to develop quality relationships. There are all kinds of enjoyable, non-romantic activities you can do together that will enable you to develop close friendships and really get to know each other. Young people need healthy relationships that allow them to get to know each other as friends before they have all the pressure of being lovers. However, young people need to make sure that they are willing to stay together for life before they start enjoying the things that are designed to cement two souls together.
I’m also not saying that you should commit early in the relationship. It is important that you know a person very well before you commit to him or her. But you can get to know a person well enough to commit without first enjoying romance together. Like I mentioned before, romantic activities can blind your eyes from seeing what a person really is like. Physical touch is powerful and can make you feel like the person you are with is more wonderful than he or she really is. Infatuation is a breathtaking ride down a very slippery slide. Once you start, it is very hard, if not impossible, to stop. Before you dive into romance, take every precaution necessary to make sure this is someone you are willing to be tied to for the long haul.
In His Word, God is clear that He delights in bringing young people together into a wonderful lifelong affair. He also loves us as a good father does his children. And as a Father, He longs to protect us from the painful consequences that come from misusing this gift.
When a man and woman begin giving their hearts, minds, eyes, and bodies to each other, God wants to bless them. He designed the whole process. He wants to see it enjoyed to the fullest! But we can’t change the fact that love is meant to be lifelong. Before a couple begins bonding their hearts together, they should know for sure that this is the person that they want to commit to for the rest of their life and that they are mature enough to handle the responsibilities of sharing a family.
You said we should keep all romance till after a marriage commitment. Are you saying we shouldn’t even hold hands or have intimate conversations until the wedding day?
What I’m suggesting is that all romance, i.e. the things that cause soul ties, including love notes, hand holding, long intimate conversations, etc, should be saved till engagement or an unbreakable commitment to marriage, but the sexual aspects of the relationship should be saved till the wedding day. I think the Hebrew pattern of betrothal is helpful here. When a couple was betrothed, a divorce was required to break it off, even though they still were to keep sex until after the wedding day.
After engagement but before marriage, Heidi and I held hands and I put my arm around her. However, before we had taken our relationship to the level of romantic involvement, I made sure we were committed for life. Even though we weren’t married until March 25, 2006, I viewed our commitment as an unbreakable one from the day I asked her to marry me. If some problem came up, I knew we would have to stick it out and deal with it; in the same way, if a problem arose in the first year of marriage, we would work through it. Divorce was not an option for either of us.
I’ve read a number of books that advise young people to feel free to break off the engagement at any time up until the wedding day. I agree that breaking off a relationship before it is physically consummated will have fewer consequences than one that is broken off after the honeymoon. I don’t think breaking an engagement is as devastating as a divorce. However, engagement is a promise and God takes breaking promises very seriously. So if there is still in the back of the mind a possibility of a breakup, then it is wise for the couple to refrain from all romantic activities. I firmly believe that if a man is going to start taking the affections of a woman, he had better be prepared to stand by her come hell or high water! If there is any lingering doubt, he needs to protect both of them and keep emotional and physical distance.
I think that engagement gives the couple a secure time to begin bonding emotionally and spiritually in a way that will make the transition to married life much easier. Engagement is a time to get comfortable with each other without the pressures of living in the same house. Early on in our relationship, Heidi needed space to adjust to the idea of a wild, passionate, Syrian lover. But by the time we got married and started living with each other, we both felt very comfortable with each other.
While engagement is a time for a couple to bond emotionally and spiritually, God states very clearly that sex should be saved for after the wedding day, when the couple has covenanted before God and the church to stay together for life. Hebrews 13:4 states “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Sex inside the safety of marriage is praised and extolled all throughout scripture, but any sexual act outside of marriage is deemed sexual immorality. God has His reasons for being so jealous to guard this sacred gift. The physical, mental, and emotional effects of having sex are irreversible. You have become one with the person you shared that act with. (1 Corinthians 6:16) To tear away from someone after sexual bonding brings devastating damage. Marriage is a vow before God, the government, and the church to stay together for life. It is an institution of God designed to keep a man and a woman bound together for life. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) He hates to see the protective bonds broken.
The long term commitment of marriage alone provides a safe place to enjoy sex without the fear of future separation. Some couples feel that engagement or living together is marriage and that they don’t need to have a piece of paper of a wedding ceremony to be married. But if this couple is truly committed, why wouldn’t they want to make that public declaration? Unless, they are not ready for the binding of real marriage? I wonder if these same couples after they have broken up, do they now consider themselves divorced? Don’t be deceived, engagement or a promise to get married someday, is not marriage, and sex outside of marriage, no matter how right is seems or good it feels will bring consequences.
As to the question of what physical affection is acceptable during engagement, I don’t think there are specific, universal laws regarding what kinds of affection engaged couples should or shouldn’t express to each other before marriage. However, there are the clear principles I mentioned earlier: that men and women should not defraud each other sexually and that they are bound by the law of love to protect each other and put the needs of the other before their own. How these universal principles apply to couples will look different in each case.
Because sexual arousal was designed to end in intercourse, anything that causes arousal should be avoided because it will be an act of defrauding – stirring up a desire that can’t be fulfilled. It is not loving or an act of deference to generate frustration in your partner. But what causes arousal will be different for each couple, not to mention each individual. For some couples, holding hands might produce too much arousal in one of the partners and should be avoided. Other couples might even be able to kiss and not get aroused, although I think that such a couple would be the exception. Most couples probably have too much passion to handle kissing without getting their motors running. It’s easy to fall into a selfish mindset, thinking only of what you can handle and what an activity is doing to you. However, what gets a woman aroused is often different from what gets a man aroused. Each one needs to be sensitive to the effect a certain type of affection is having on the other and show deference.
Any kind of physical affection that would bring guilt into the relationship should be avoided at all costs. It simply isn’t worth it! You will belong to each other for the rest of your life and after the wedding day, you can begin to enjoy all of each other guilt-free. You will never regret saving something for marriage, but you’ll regret going too far before marriage.
When Heidi and I were engaged, our two priorities were to make it to the wedding day free of guilt and to demonstrate our trustworthiness to each other. I saw this time as a chance to show Heidi that I could be trusted to stick to our boundaries. We made a distinction between affection that got us aroused and affection that simply communicated love and protection. If anything started getting our motors running (it was different things for each of us), then we talked openly together about it and backed off. I am very happy to say that we made it to marriage and fulfilled our goals, and we thoroughly enjoyed kisses one to one thousand on our wedding day.
Heidi: While engaged, we called off-limit touch “not now” pleasures, instead of “not good” pleasures. That little distinction helped us to remember that the physical love we desired so much was truly a good thing given by a good God, and it also turned our focus to Him in times when we were filled with longing for each other.
I can’t express well enough how much it meant to me to see Jesse demonstrate that he could be trusted. He didn’t step outside our self-made boundaries, and when I told him about touch that got me going, he totally backed off. My respect for him grew and strengthened, because of the trustworthiness he showed me in upholding the decisions we’d made on touch.
What if I’ve already messed up?
Violating God’s design for love, romance, and sex will bring pain and damage. You can’t do things that destroy the engine of a sports car and expect it to run as smoothly as the vehicle that’s well cared for. In fact, some kinds of damage will prevent a car from being able to run at all. Willful rejection of God’s rules will do serious injury to your love life and pain is inevitable, not only to you but to others that your wrong choices will affect.
But here is the great news. It’s never too late to start applying God’s principles to your love life. God is both willing and able to bring healing to the wounds formed by your wrong choices. If you feel you have messed up, or if you have been the victim of painful relationships, please keep reading.
This is the exciting thing about Christianity: Though our wrong choices will have lifelong consequences, Jesus came to take what we ruined and restore it so that it is more pristine than it was in its original condition. If you give your torn or callused heart over to Jesus, He can restore it, giving back to you a brand new heart. You can have another chance. In fact, giving your whole heart to your spouse is not something that just happens on your wedding day; it is a choice you make every day, and one that you can only make by God’s grace.
If you have violated your purity, looked at immoral images, or given away part of your body, there is a second chance. You can repent and surrender yourself to Christ’s lordship and let Him make all things new! You’ll be given a clean slate because of what Jesus did on Calvary. You can have secondary virginity. Only through this purifying process can you be happily married. But if you want to be restored, you have to surrender your life to Him and seek to follow His will for your life. If you go on ignoring His design for romance, you’ll continue to bring harm to yourself and many others. But when you bring your brokenness to God and submit to His plan, God can bring unimaginable beauty into your life.
Saving yourself for your future spouse is not enough to ensure a successful marriage. If this were the case, a nun and a monk could step out of convent and monastery, marry, and stay blissfully married the rest of their lives. But in reality, they would still face struggles. Purity and fidelity are daily choices, not mere one-time commitments. Heidi and I are so grateful that we’ve been spared the consequences of multiple breakups, and that we entered marriage with a sticky piece of tape; our transition to married life has been so much smoother because of it. It has been so much easier to learn to trust each other. We don’t face the difficulties of feeling compared to past lovers, or struggle with the guilt and regret of past memories.
However, we are still such sinful people. Only when we humble ourselves and cry out to God for His grace, and cast ourselves on Him, do we find the divine grace we need to love each other selflessly. When we rely on God, our marriage is truly better than anything we could have imagined. But when we lose sight of God, our selfishness rises to the top and we begin to ruin a good thing. But God is always there, chipping away at our pride and selfishness, and when we repent before Him and each other, once again there is a sweet freshness to our relationship.
Romance to the glory of God
Some of you will write off our ideas as unattainable. But before you categorize me as a pie-in-the-sky idealist, remember that, by God’s grace, I’ve worked through the trials of saving myself for my wife. I know what it’s like to want a relationship and to have to say no to what my hormones are telling me. I know what it’s like to be scorned for not having a girlfriend. I know, however long or short the wait, that it’s a difficult one. However, I have now also experienced the euphoria of knowing that I am the only guy who has ever held my wife’s hand, that I’m the only guy who’s kissed her lips, and that I belong completely to her and she belongs completely to me. Thankfully, I don’t know the pain of bonding to a person only to have to tear my heart away, and for this I can only thank my merciful Creator, and encourage other young people to “do love” God’s way and enjoy the results.
Yes, we agree that it is hard to save all romantic relationships till you have committed to marriage. It’s tough to wait patiently for your future spouse. But it’s not as painful as one breakup after another. You might say that you’ll take the risk, though, because a pre-marriage romance is just too much fun to pass up, or it takes away some of your loneliness. However, you must ask yourself what motivation lies behind your current romance. Is it just for self-gratification? As followers of Christ, shouldn’t we do things out of a higher motivation, namely, to glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31)
We need to ask ourselves if Christ is Lord of our love life. If He is not, we are subjecting ourselves to the lies of the one who seeks to kill, maim, and destroy. Satan wants to destroy your love life. The master of illusion and deception, he will make lust and harmful relationships look so enticing and harmless, but behind the shiny lure is a razor sharp fish hook, designed to keep you captive.
In contrast, if you surrender the control of your life to Jesus, making Him the Master of your romance, you will find that He only wants to bless you with satisfying, good things. You’ll also find that Jesus has higher priorities for your life than romance. Don’t get me wrong – romance is His idea! He gave you those desires, and He can fulfill them better than anyone else. But more important to God is the health of your soul and your relationship with Him. These ultimately matter far more, so don’t be surprised if romance doesn’t come along when you expect it. When it does come, I hope your relationship will still have the overarching purpose of making you Christ-like and advancing His kingdom.
God has demonstrated repeatedly that, with His unlimited power and wisdom, He is so trustworthy. He may bring you through difficulties, and you may experience disappointment along the way. But it’s all part of His plan. Put yourself in the hands of a first-rate Author who knows how to write the ultimate “happy ending” story.