In the last post I discussed singles and Valentine’s Day. I hope I got the point across that instead of hating the day it is a day to work on our relationship with God and being a person who is easier to love.
Today’s post is for couples.
Everyone talks about how Valentine’s Day is the holiday of love and couples. I mentioned on Valentine’s Day the focus of St. Valentine, including that he is the patron saint of couples and marriage (amongst several other, sometimes almost silly in relation, things).
I have been reading a lot of blogs about love this month (go figure). The Church of No People dedicated the whole month to how we view love and relationships.
I can keep this pretty short, really.
Keep God first.
Now, if you are like me, that seems pretty “Duh!” but ends up being hard to do. If you are like me, perhaps this is one area where you understand Paul’s sentiments. If you are like me, you struggle with keeping God first in every other area of your life let alone your relationship.
First I am going to talk to those who are dating or engaged. If you do not have your relationship with God figured out properly (being that He is first in everything), then your relationship is already in danger. Doomed? No. Many couples survive and even remain healthy without God being a part, but you are definitely in danger. Loving God helps you love people better, especially your significant other. Knowing God better helps you know yourself better which helps you know your significant other better. As C.S. Lewis said, “When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.”
One argument for getting to know our “earthly dearest” more is to live together before getting or deciding to get married. This is dangerous since it can lead to having sex if you are not already. The first argument for this is that “biblical marriage started at consummation, so we are married when we have sex!”
No. If this is true, then men and women get married all the time to prostitutes. Also, we see evidence of ceremonies throughout the Bible, as well. We also need to consider something from the New Testament: obey the laws of the land. If it does not go against God and His commands, then we should follow it. According to most countries (including the U.S.) you are not married until you have been through the ceremony that joins you together (whether a civil union or in a religious ceremony). (I will leave homosexual unions/marriages and other things for another day) Therefore, in our land, you are not married until you have the paper saying so. NO SEX!
Back to living together, it is a horrible idea. For starters, how often did people do it before the last few decades? Relatively few. How many relationships fare well? Less than those who wait until marriage. (Evidence is also found here and here.)
It is best to wait until marriage for a lot of things. Take it from one (two counting my wife as a separate entity even though the Bible says we are one, now) who knows. As I mentioned in the last post, I broke promises I made to myself, my future wife, and God. One of those: I would wait until marriage to have sex. Two reasons: I did not want to get a disease and I did not want kids too early.
Seriously. The only safe sex is no sex. No protection of any sort is foolproof.
I was engaged once before I met my now-wife. My ex and I convinced ourselves that we were in love and getting married, so why not? After several months and the relationship coming to an end, I wondered if a woman could ever love me for what I had done. It turns out my wife felt the same way about herself. God’s forgiveness and grace is a marvelous thing. Neither of us thought we could be so happy with another person.
For those in a relationship before marriage, Valentine’s Day is not a chance to learn how well you “fit together” in the most literal sense. It is a time to thank God for the love you have found with another. The focus is God, not each other.
(It is okay to celebrate by expressing your love through gifts and actions, just keep it G-rated, people!)
For you married couples, listen to that last piece of advice for un-marrieds: Thank God for what He has given you! The only difference: you are allowed to demonstrate this gratitude in physical ways. In fact, I encourage you to show your spouse your affections in this way!
As I said, God needs to be first. We are told to submit to each other for Christ’s sake. Wives submit to husbands as we submit to Christ. Husbands love wives as Christ loves the Church.
How can we do this if we do not know Him? This is not “women, give up your lives and do whatever the man says” or “men, you can do whatever you want and she has to comply!” This is mutual submission and respect and love. Ephesians 5:1 says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (NIV). I like how Rachel Held Evans put it over at The Church of No People (in the comments): “My husband and I like to think of “submission” in terms of humility, not hierarchy. It’s an attitude that works best when adopted by both partners.” It takes humility, thinking of the other as better than yourself.
That is good advice for un-marrieds, too. Couples and singles.