Less than His Best What it Means for Women to Date Covenantally

A few weeks back, I took the time to spell out a bit of what it looks like for men and women to cultivate faithfulness to God through our dating habits and practices. In that post, I articulated what God’s best for romantic relationships (as seen in Ephesians 5:22-33) implies for the way we, as the Church, ought to practice dating in our culture.

God’s best for romantic relationships puts the man in the role of pursuer, just as Christ pursued us, and an oft-missed subtlety of the biblical story is that Christ had in mind his marriage to the Church from the very beginning of his ministry. As Tim Keller notes in a sermon he preaches on the Wedding at Cana, when Mary comes to Jesus to tell him that they’ve run out of wine and Jesus responds with, “My hour has not come,” it’s a logical non-sequitor. It doesn’t make sense, unless we understand that like most people at weddings, Jesus is thinking about his wedding to us in that moment—and all that it was going to take to get there (the Cross). Thus, before Jesus’s ministry was really underway, he was thinking about his marriage to us—and that was the goal of his pursuit.

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Do We Believe in Marriage Anymore? What Our Dating Habits Say About Millennial Beliefs in Marriage

For the last two weeks, this concept of covenant has dominated my thoughts. (Some of my friends are ready to beat me over the head if they hear the word “covenantal” one more time.) Two weeks ago, covenant rocked my world, completely reshaping the way I relate to God and understand my history with him, and covenant has radically altered the way that I practice faithfulness to God in dating.

Covenant is a promise without an exit. It binds two or more individuals together, but because our culture has come to focus so much on individual freedom, the concept of covenant has all but disappeared from our habits and practices, and as I’ve reflected on both my dating history and the way our culture practices dating, I’ve come to see how an absence of covenant from our dating habits and practices is robbing us of God’s highest and best for romantic relationship.

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What Is a Covenant? How an Understanding of Biblical Covenant Elucidates God's Faithfulness

It’s his faithfulness that’s producing this ache in my heart, the way a sore muscle cries out as it’s stretched so that it may heal. I’m having to stare in the face lies that I’ve believed for twelve years of my life and see his faithfulness shining brightly through them all.

I wrote those words in my journal two days ago, then collapsed on the table at which I sat and began to sob. But contrary to bringing sorrow to my soul, those tears brought a smile and a laugh. In a single 24-hour period, everything I’d been learning and experiencing came together to deepen my understanding of a word that is central to the biblical story: covenant. But what is a covenant, exactly?

When it comes to understanding my relationship with God, I’ve fallen into one of two camps for almost half of my life. Either God let good (or bad) things happen to me because of my behavior (we’ll call this the “punishment view“), or, because I couldn’t possibly do anything to put God in my debt, I was supposed to follow the do’s and don’t’s of the Bible based in a knowledge that God loves me without being able to expect anything from God (we’ll call this the “unbalanced vulnerability view“). Both of these views, as I’ve recently discovered, fall short of how the Bible speaks of our relationship with God.

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Healthy Relationships and the Dangers of Social Media What a California Girl Taught Me About Practicing Healthy Relationship

I’ve spent the last three weeks recovering from a pretty serious four-month crush on a girl in California, and that recovery has led me into some deep reflection on the dangers of social media. I’ve come to see how social media confuses boundaries, allows us to escape the discomfort of what the Apostle Paul calls our “ministry of reconciliation,” and perpetuates the idol of self.

This girl and I met one Sunday morning about a year-and-a-half ago. I managed to secure a seat next to her in church and waited for that savory moment of precious opportunity. A prayer for the offering was prayed. Announcements were given. The pastor took the stage to deliver his sermon. “Turn to the person next to you and tell them your greatest fear.” God was my wingman, friends. It doesn’t get much better than that.

That day, I learned that her greatest fear was spiders, but she paid me no mind. She seemed far more interested in her phone and the friend sitting next to her than she did in me, so I dropped it. The next year flew by. I started seminary, wrote and published The Tale of the Elm Trees, and continued leading a ministry for twenty-somethings. If I’ve learned one thing over the last year, it’s that as a full-time graduate student enrolled in three graduate programs at two schools in two different states while simultaneously pursuing two separate careers, if you don’t make time for dating, it won’t happen. Other things will happily fill up your schedule, and fill up my schedule they did.

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