“I promise that we will not overly dwell on relationships between girlfriend and boyfriend.” That was the statement in the introduction last week and it may look like we here at The Heart of Teens are breaking our word in the very first week. Rest assured this is not the case and the boyfriend/girlfriend relationships we are about to discuss are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the relationship realm. But a tip is still a tip, so we must discuss it…and since I happen to be one of the only writers with a significant other, it fell to me to write this article. Thanks, guys…
Well, what can I say? What new information can I give to you the reader that hasn’t been presented in a dozen youth group sermons, been posted all over Facebook in a thousand photos, or been made into an adorable (but cliché) cat poster? How can I gift you with grand new knowledge on how to have a healthy guy-girl relationship?
The truth is what I’m about to say may sound a little cliché and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Fortunately, the Bible does have some pretty good guidelines for what a healthy boyfriend/ girlfriend relationship is supposed to look like. So here we go; here are some basics.
A Good Relationship with God.
If your relationship with God is messed up, your relationship with “him” or “her” will be messed up too.
As Christian highlighted last week in his introductory article and as I’m sure the other writers will highlight, a right relationship with Christ has to be first and foremost. If your relationship with God isn’t primary, then you’ve made it into an idol. (It all connects…)
What you’ll find in any relationship, but especially in a deep one that a dating couple has, is that a wrong vertical relationship (with God) will result in a wrong horizontal relationship (with people). A broken relationship with God indicates that there is likely sin in your life and that sin has a way of wreaking havoc on all other relationships. Most times the relationships to go first will be the ones that are the most intense, like a boyfriend and girlfriend.
Guys Lead; Girls Follow
This is one that is quite hard to do if either one or both of the parties involved aren’t willing to do this. God’s design for men and women is that men are to be leaders and that women are to follow them.
Men are called to be leaders.We as men are divinely called to lead our girlfriends and eventually our wives.This is seen right from the beginning with the example of Adam, who even in a pre-sin world, led his wife. Men, we are called to lead the women in our lives. This is not just a physical leadership, but more importantly a spiritual leadership. So you’re not married to her yet? Why not start practicing leadership now? But remember: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
Women are called to follow their husbands lead. Women are divinely called to follow the men in their lives. In a world that calls women to break free from the bonds of the male leadership, this can be very hard, especially when the men who are supposed to be leading aren’t leading like they should. But like men, women have a divine calling straight from God to follow, support, and encourage their husbands. Again, if you aren’t married to the man you’re dating yet, why not practice this following and encouraging now?
Now before you stone me as a sexist, gender-discriminatory nincompoop (or simply click away from this article), let me say some things:
First, these principles of leadership and submission are for marriage.
Second, both men and women are equal recipients of God’s grace in salvation and in sanctification.
Third, God made a woman’s role unique and as a man, I cannot hope to understand how hard it is to follow poor male leaders.
…But, on the other hand, you have to remember that these are the standards God set in place and we are called to follow His design for marriage. And if this leading-following pattern is the way God set up marriage, why should we date (which in theory has the end result of marriage) in a way that is contrary to that design?
Guys Gotta Love; Girls Gotta Respect
This one definitely sounds cliché and like a bunch of secular relationship mumbo jumbo, but if you look at Ephesians 5, you’ll see that Paul calls husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church” and wives are called in the previous verses to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” This sounds a lot like love and respect. The way God set up men and women is that women have a desire to be loved at the core of their being. And for men, the insatiable desire at the core of our being is simply to be respected, especially by the women in our life.
Again, this love-respect model is for husbands and wives. And again if dating’s end goal is marriage, why not begin practicing now so the transition from dating to marriage is that much smoother.
Think About the Other Person
This something that is going to be imperative in any relationship, but especially in one of this nature. A dating relationship cannot be selfish or self-focused; it must be focused on and for the benefit of the other person in the relationship. A relationship that is focused on oneself will not succeed because it is an idolatry of self and flies in the face of selfless nature of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5 says that this selflessness should be so radical that husbands (or boyfriends) should love their wives (or girlfriends) as much as they love their own bodies. “Greater love has no man than this,” Jesus said, “That he lay down his life for his friends.” Relationships with those “special” friends have to include selflessness or else it is doomed to fail.
There is so much more I could write and so much more that I could say, but these are the most important points in a man and woman’s relationship, whether dating or married. It is these four points that will help a dating couple have a happy and satisfying relationship, a relationship that is centered on God and is focused on His glory.
(Forgot what those four points were? Here’s a rundown:
1. You and your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s relationship has to be built on the solid relationship you each have with God first.
2. Men, step up and spiritually lead; Women, encourage and support your man’s leading.
3. Men, show love to them; Women, show them respect.
4. It’s not about you; focus on her and her needs/him and his needs.)