When it comes to teens, dating, and sexual integrity, several acclaimed Christian books on the subjects have dominated evangelical circles. Nevertheless, the question remains whether much of the mainstream thinking in the church on romantic relationships is following the wisdom of scripture – or is it modeling patterns of the world?
Dating is a broad topic, and in this article we’ll examine just one component of it that even Christian teaching often accepts as standard:
“Physical attraction is what initially leads two people into a relationship.”
But what does scripture say?
Relying on physical attraction was the trap that Samson fell into with his first failed relationship: “He went down and talked to the woman; and she looked good to Samson” (Judges 14:7, NASB). Here was Samson following the desire of his eyes (1 John 2:16) above the fact that the woman to whom he was talking was a Philistine and by God’s law, not at all right for him. Relying on what pleased the eyes was the same trouble that ensnared Eve in the garden and first brought sin into the world (Genesis 3:6).
Physical attraction is not wrong. It’s arguably rather important. But if this is the primary or initial guide we’re using to lead us to the right person, even if the other person is also a believer, we’re in trouble.
The Bible tells us, “Walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).To walk in the Spirit means to be so in tune with God that we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading over our carnal impulses. It’s Him we’re counting on to lead us, even in the initial stages of meeting our mate, rather than following our five senses.
A Bible teacher once said, “We spend a lot of time primping and prepping before the mirror, but do we take the time before we walk out the door to reflect on how attractive our spirits are to those around us?”
Since dating often relies foremost on physical attraction, it can become a trouble-shooting, trial-and-error emotional science experiment, with damages trailing in its wake. Dating can make flirtation easy but commitment difficult; it often nurtures the mindset “what can I get?” rather than “what can I give?”
“We walk by faith and not by sight,” says 2 Corinthians 5:7. Do you believe that that includes letting God lead us to our spouse?
Photo by Courtney Carmody, “Always Kiss Me Goodnight,” May 27, 2010 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.