Many students come to college hoping to find “the one.” Well I am sorry to tell you that I don’t believe in finding “the one.” More than that, I think looking for “the one” is an awfully dangerous way to pursue relationships.
I’ll tell you another secret of mine. More often than not, when students I work with are in relationships, I pray that they will break up. Okay, I am not that harsh, but I do ask God to break it up if I sense that the relationship is being pursued in a way that is dangerous. Most often, I believe they are.
Here are a three ways I believe Christians get it wrong and wind up hurting each other in relationships. Of course I have to be brief, so my thoughts will not be fully explained, but you’ll get the idea. I welcome your comments (agreements and disagreements) on this extremely important subject.
Don’t Pray About It
I tell students, “If there is one area of your life where I do not trust you to hear God’s voice, it is regarding relationships.” What area of your life are your motives and intentions more confused? None, I’d say. If you enter a relationship and soon after start asking God if he/she is the one, I believe you’re headed down the wrong path.
I’ve seen it time and time again: students who think God told them they were going to get married end up breaking up. This causes great confusion and pain. On top of that, “hearing God” can be a form of manipulation too. A guy may say, “God told me we should be together.” A gal may say, “God told me we should break up.” This too causes confusion and pain.
Why not leave God out of it all together? There is some sarcasm in that statement of course, but I am actually pretty serious about it. Stop praying about it. If you’re going to pray, ask God to purify your heart and motives and ask God to help you treat he/she with honor and respect. Don’t pray about where the relationship is going.
Don’t Talk about It
All this God talk leads to a slippery slope where couples start talking about their future in a way that needlessly speeds up the relationship and thus shipwrecks it. There is no need for repetitive “define the relationship” (aka DTR) conversations. Couples who are constantly having DTRs reveal their relational insecurity and lack of trust in God.
When you have DTRs and talk about a future together that will likely never happen in the first place, you obscure your ability to objectively assess the relationship. You speed it to a point of no return, which makes for an even more profound crash and burn when the relationship ends.
Why not enjoy time with each other and let the relationship progress without having to define it? What not take measure to slow the relationship down by not spending every waking moment together? This is how every other healthy relationship in your life has developed. I can hear you objecting, “But sometimes we have to define it.” No, you really don’t.
Don’t Get Physical
Wanna completely ruin any chance at seeing your relationship objectively? Start making out and pushing the boundaries physically and you’re sure to do so. Getting physical is a cheap way to receive the illusion of love and affection. Those who engage in too much physically often do so out of deep and unconscious brokenness or out of pure selfishness. It’s like the lighter fluid you throw on a fire that burns fast but lasts only a moment. Real fire requires much deeper character and commitment.
Christian students who push the limits physically also battle with the guilt and condemnation that comes from it. Sin makes it impossible to see straight. Any relationship that has a pattern of sin and confession over and over again is completely doomed. If you have not shown the commitment and discipline to respect the other person sexually, this screams “Red Flag!”
Why not build a relationship around getting to know the person’s personality, character, passions, hobbies, thoughts, opinions, interests, friends, family, etc.? If you move to the physical realm you will think everything I listed above is just wonderful. You’ll be blind to all the warning signs. Meanwhile, you’ll be playing around with someone else’s future spouse.
Justin Christopher is the national campus director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.