Monday, November 29, 2004

the great romance

A while back, one of my friends came to me for advice. "All right, I know I like her. What next?" I laugh now as I chuckled then. He probably thought I was chuckling at him, but, in reality, the laugh was on me. I was humored because this guy was asking me...I mean, look at my track record. For those of you who don't know, I am twenty-six and still single.

The relationships of the past have failed because I was too stubborn, a jerk, or because I was afraid of commitment. A majority of the time (read: 100%) I was just not the man of God I needed to be in the situation. (By the way, isn't it a joy to know that God is sovereign!) But, through my failures, a lot of thought, and conversations with friends (many of them ladies) I do think I am better capable of a relationship than ever before. This being said, I gave advice.

Did I give good advice? I seem to think so, and so did he. Just last night, a guy told me I should write a book on dating and courtship. I laughed. Then., like always...I thought. As I've pondered the conversations and situations, I realize how old-fashioned I am. I am a modern Victorian-romantic, a guy lost in an age of liberation. I think guys should open doors for women. I think the guy should always pay. I think the guy should initiate the relationship--i.e. ask the woman out on the first dates. The guy should romance the woman and woo her. Call me old-fashioned, but that is just me.

Then, like we all must do, I asked whether all of that was biblical? What does God say about courtship and dating. Contrary to what some authors may think...not too much. The bride is chosen by the parents, except in the case of Isaac when the servant (through God's direction) chose the bride because of her servant's heart. Does this mean we need to return to the days of arranged marriages? Perish the thought! (If this was the case, I'd be married to some lady who might have a complete set of teeth at her family reunion. But, she's a nice girl, Mike!)

So, what can we glean from the Bible about dating and how it's all supposed to work? Well, I think we can look at Ephesians 5. Here God gives Biblical instruction to the husband: Love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. That's a tall order. The marriage relationship is an earthly symbol of the relationship between Christ and His church. Can we also say, then, that dating and courtship could be the same? Is earthly romance a symbol of The Great Romance? I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and say yes.

That puts all kinds of pressure on dating, doesn't it? Our dating relationships should be done in such a way that we can use them to point to the way Christ romances us. First, I asked myself...have my past relationships done that? After I realized how badly they represented The Great Romance, I wondered how I could change the future.

So, I looked at The Great Romance. In one corner we have Christ, the man's man. In the other, we have us. There could be no more vastly different couple. Christ--the God-man, perfect and holy in every way. He is rich beyond reckoning. He is more handsome than any Hollywood Star could ever dream of. Then there is us. We are ugly, vile and sinful. We hobble in the corner, coughing, wheezing attempting to make the best of our existence. We are poor, kneeling naked on the ground.

One would never expect this couple to actually happen. That's the beauty of the Great Romance. Christ scans all of the room, sees everyone He could have as His bride, and He chooses her out of all of creation. Smiling, Christ comes to His love-interest, takes her hand. He woos her. He treats her with respect. He clothes her. He cares for her beyond that which anyone has ever done before. He cares more for her than anything else on the planet. He loves her, despite how she looks, what she is wearing, and what she is like. Finally, He gives her everything He is and everything He has. Because of the Love that has ravished her, she accepts and becomes His church, His bride, His lover.


Men: romance her to death. Look at her. Watch her smile, her eyes, her hair. She is beautiful. Tell her that. Show her that. One of the beautiful things about our relationship with Christ is that He shows us and tells us how beautiful we are--in Him. We are sometimes so caught up in the past...God reminds us of our present and our future. Show her how beautiful she is. Give her flowers, write poetry, and maybe even give her a fish???

Think more about her than you would yourself. So often, we are so selfish in relationships and try to get out of them as much as we can. Guys, we need to give more than we get. We need to think about her more than we do ourselves. Do no defraud her of her emotions and her heart. Realize that you have the responsibility to take care of her heart when she sets it in your hand. Treat her with respect--she's not an object. Out of respect: open doors, stand up as she stands, hold her purse when she's shopping. Don't do these things so she'll think you are a great guy or so other people will think that. Do those things because you are already a great guy and want to serve this woman who has captivated you so.

Treat women as sisters, not as potential brides. Actually get to know her before you decide she's the one. Don't just know about her, know her (and I don't mean in the biblical sense). Know what she likes and loves and surprise her. There is a beautiful spontaneity in our relationship with God, so let there be one in yours with her. Be interested in what she is interested in. It is difficult to be interested in clothes, purses and many of the things women in general are fond of (I know...this is a generalization), but it goes a long way. Several of my female friends from church are very fond of Vera Bradley purses. I'm not interested in purses, but I developed a knowledge of Vera's in the interest of friendship. There is some sort of weird bond that we share when I can spot a Vera a mile away.

Finally, be the one to make the move. Ask her out on a date. Plan the date. Don't be overbearing and a tyrant, but take the lead. Women desire you to do that--even if they won't admit it. If you don't, she will and neither of you will be satisfied in that area of the relationship. Just like you are doing a dance, take the lead. Don't wait until it's too late. Talk to her; woo her; love her.

Women: Be romanced. I am hesitant to speak more on what a woman should usually gets me in trouble. Let me say a few words, though. In our relationship with Christ, He does the leading and guiding. Let it be the same in the relationship with that "special someone". Deep down, you have a desire to be led--not controlled, but to be led. Let him take the lead. When you lead in the relationship, for whatever reason, it emasculates him and you are not truly satisfied.

Along with being romanced, romance him back. Just as Christ loves our praises and service, so the guy enjoys being romanced--just differently. Praise him. Tell him that he is a cool guy; not that he needs to iron his shirt more. Serve him by cooking for him or being interested in something he's interested in.

Also, just as the church is concerned more about Christ than herself, so you need to be concerned about him more than yourself. Don't seek to get whatever you can in a relationship, but seek to give and to serve the other person. (The guys have the same instructions in this area, so don't get upset.) Finally, let him know how you feel. Understand this: men cannot read between the lines like women do. When we gets us in trouble. (That, by the way, is more of a peeve than anything biblical.)

So...there we go. Is there more to it. Oh, yeah, there is. You can bet your tater on it. I just wanted to share my heart after that conversation. Do I have it all figured out? Nope. Will I ever? I think one day will come when I do have romance totally figured out. That will be the day I see my Bridegroom face to face and I see the immense and passionate love He has for us in His eyes. I pray, men, that same look will be the look we have in our eyes the fateful day that we see our bride walk down the aisle. I pray, ladies, that you will look on your bridegroom with a love like the church has for her Bridegroom.

I pray each of us would enjoy the dance of The Great Romance, and that we will gladly be wooed and loved and led by our Lover--Jesus Christ. Let that relationship be the one that shapes and changes and controls all other ones. We need to realize that every part of our lives is an example to the world of God, rather right or wrong. Our dating relationships will either serve to show the world the beauty of God loving and wooing and serving His Bride and His bride loving and serving Him, or it will selfish motives for selfish gains. One will show a biblical view of God and of romance, the other...well, not so biblical.

being loved and wooed by our Bridegroom


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