Life has a seemingly haphazard way of happening, or so we think. One mundane day slips into another, when … smack! Suddenly, we are faced with a life situation that challenges the very core of everything we have professed in our faith and devotion to our Lord.
One such life situation is that of coming in contact with a person of the opposite gender who unrelentingly and unabashedly feels that you are the one and only person God wants them to marry and spend the rest of their life with.
Maybe you have fostered a friendly relationship with an unbelieving coworker or classmate. You have seen how horrifically sin has battered and shattered their life. You have spent time listening to their problems and seeking to pour into them the only message of hope and deliverance as contained in the gospel. Maybe you have even had the joy of seeing them profess faith in Christ. They seem to be so thrilled and relieved with this new hope. In their mind, it logically follows that God brought you together so that they could hear the gospel message and be saved. How could you possibly feel that this relationship shouldn’t lead to dating or marriage?
Alternatively, you might have been dating an individual for some time. Over time you have become convinced that this individual does not have the same convictions as you do. Maybe you are convinced before the Lord that furthering a serious relationship with the prospect of marriage is out of the question. It’s obvious that they are “into you” but you are not “into them.” However, you are concerned that, if you end the dating relationship, you will cause irreparable emotional and spiritual harm to that individual.
The following are some Biblical principles that may prove helpful in such instances.
We are not indispensable to God
“For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13, KJV). God’s purposes will be carried out whether we are privileged to be used by Him or not. For instance, what kind of nation would Israel be today if Esau had not despised his birthright? God was and is able to fulfill his promise to Abraham, despite Esau’s disqualifying sin. The “memoirs of Moses” recorded in the Old Testament were filled with details of the amazing journey from Egypt to Canaan, and it was unequivocally God Who accomplished that journey and brought his people into the land of promise. He was able to do so without the help of His servant, Moses, who was disqualified because of disobedience (Num 20:12). Similarly, God can accomplish His purpose for the one that is pursuing you without your help. You might think that ending the relationship will cause that individual to become despondent to the point of spiritual discouragement. Perhaps you cannot bear to think that the reason he or she no longer attends assembly gatherings is your rejection of the romance. Remember, we are not indispensable to God – God is indispensable to us, and we can do nothing without His will and power manifested in our lives. So, yield control to Him, even in (or perhaps especially in) these types of situations.
Seek counsel from shepherds or discerning older believers
“… They watch for your souls” (Heb 13:17, KJV). Unfortunately, an often under-utilized resource which God has built into the local assembly are shepherds. It is vitally important to identify those we can be open with regarding these issues. Shepherds care, and have a keen interest in our spiritual enrichment and preservation. Never should we feel “spiritually defective” if we have to speak with shepherds (elders). Additionally, seeking counsel from spiritually mature sisters will provide comfort and preservation. They will give you scripturally sound principles to guide you through your situation. Praying with them will provide necessary encouragement as you deal with your situation.
Never trust your flesh
“Make no provision for the flesh” (Rom 13:14, KJV). A pernicious trap which believers often fall into is concluding that they are the sole spiritual “lifeline” for another individual. This is especially true in the case of the unbelieving acquaintance who finds salvation in Christ through your witness. Becoming entwined in the baggage which the other individual brings from their old life often results in emotional entanglement. Intentions are good in seeking to help, but it is often disaster in the making. You might have had no intention of becoming romantically involved with that person, yet you become emotionally involved in their problems, often placing you in a spiritually compromising position where the flesh can, and will, raise its ugly head. Sooner or later, you might become physically attracted to the other person, even when you know that it is not the mind of the Lord that you be together. It is important to be crystal clear that only God’s grace and all-sufficient power can change their life—it is not up to you!
Confusing experiences often reveal His ways and purposes later
“What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7, 36, KJV). The days immediately preceding the crucifixion of the Lord were confusing for Peter, and frankly, for all of the disciples. Peter couldn’t understand why the Lord would wash his feet, but he had more things to learn about himself and the purposes of God in his life. Furthermore, it seems clear that Peter felt devoted enough to the Lord that he was willing to lay down his life for Him, yet the gentle words of the Savior were, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards.” Declining a relationship with another when you are clear it is not of God may be confusing, but God can bring you through it for His glory and honor.