Single Purpose: Lee Warren and Julie Ferwerda
August 29, 2009 1 Comment
Defining the Relationship
By Lee warren
Lee Warren is an author, an editor, and freelance writer from Omaha, Nebraska.
Defining the Relationship We are one week into our month of GIVE-AWAYS! Do you have questions about the singles life? Relationships? The Bible? Purity? Life issues? Post your questions to the blog and for the next three weeks, we’ll draw names and the lucky winner that week will receive either a copy of “Single Servings: 90 Devotions to Feed your Soul,” or “The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love”! Each Thursday, we’ll post winners and tell you how to claim your prize! This week’s winner is “Jesus Freaks Rock.” Congratulations! You will be contacted with further instructions for claiming Julie’s book, “The Perfect Fit: piecing together true love.” Defining the Relationship Jesus Freaks Rock (JFR) asked: “I’m in a relationship right now, and even though we are not boyfriend and girlfriend, we have committed our relationship to the Lord . . . My question is what is the next step after committing our relationship to the Lord?”
JFR, maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but I’m not sure how you can be in a relationship and not considered boyfriend and girlfriend. And if you haven’t advanced to the stage in which are exclusive, then committing your relationship to the Lord is jumping the gun. But let me back up. Every generation comes up with its own terms for the courtship process. The Bible called it “betrothal.” Several generations ago, the process was called “courting.” In my parent’s generation, they called it “going steady.” Then “dating” became the term of choice in my generation. A generation ago, we used the word “relationship.” Now, the phrase of choice seems to be “hanging out.” Take a look at those terms again. Do you notice anything about them? The betrothal process was considered binding. Courtship was serious business as well—no dating for the mere sake of it. Going steady meant exclusivity—although it didn’t necessarily mean the relationship was headed toward marriage. Dating was a little less serious given that it opened the door to dating multiple people at once. When we started using the term “relationship,” the process became even more murky—were we referring to friendship with benefits? Who knows? Now the common phrase is “hanging out,” which has erased any pretense of commitment. We hang out with each other, it might become physical, it might not, we might see each other tomorrow, we might not, we might see other people, we might not, and so it goes. The terms we use have steadily marched from terms of commitment to terms of no commitment, so it’s no wonder we are confused about what to expect from the person we are hanging out with. I’m not as concerned about the terms we use as I am with the expectations we have, although, clearly terms matter. Regardless of what the popular term for the courtship process is, there comes a time early on in which both people need to DTR (define the relationship). I don’t think a biblical case can be made for any definition other than being in an exclusive relationship with the intention of determining compatibility for the possibility of marriage. With that in mind, early on in the process, don’t be afraid to ask each other to define the expectations you have for the relationship. It’s better to find out early on that the other person has no intention of getting married or that he or she doesn’t believe in waiting until marriage before having sex. Getting back to JFR’s question: First, make sure the other person is a committed Christian. Second, go through Julie’s Eight Great Traits of Future Mates post to determine if the person is the type of person you are looking for in a potential spouse. Third, make sure you share the same philosophy about being in a committed relationship, meaning that you both are entering the relationship with the intention of determining compatibility for the possibility of marriage. Fourth, discuss the physical boundaries you’ll abide by. If you are still in agreement, then enter an exclusive relationship and commit it to the Lord. Once you are in the relationship, progressively work toward marriage—discussing all of the issues that will come up in marriage. Be accountable to a trusted Christian friend and give that friend permission to ask you difficult questions. Be open to your friend’s counsel. He or she will be objective and only have your best interests in mind. Once you decide to get married, involved a pastor in the process—allowing him to steer you from there. By defining the relationship early on, you put you and your potential spouse on the right track and with each intentional phase you work through you’ll pick up steam toward marriage.