Should We Accept Ourselves For Who We Are?

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I googled the words “accept yourself” when I was getting ready to write this blog post, and it came up with page after page of results. “Accept Yourself for Who You Are”. “How to Accept Yourself, Your Life, and Your Reality.” “How to Accept Yourself Unconditionally.” “Why Acceptance is the Answer to Most of Your Life Problems.”

This is just one of the many cliched phrases that our culture has taken as its mantras. They say that if we can only accept ourselves for who we are, where we are today, somehow that’s the magical key to happiness.

We might have heard this so many times that we barely give it a second thought. But as Christians, we can’t believe these things without first thinking about them and considering whether they are really in line with the Bible.

So how does this narrative of unconditional acceptance fit with Biblical truth?

The answer is, it treads a fine line. There is a partial truth in it, as well as a way it can go dangerously wrong. Here’s why: we are called to accept our circumstances without accepting our sin. 

As Christians, we are called to be content with our lives. We know that wherever God has put us at a given point, it is for His glory and our good, and as such we can have joy, even if the circumstances themselves are painful.

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

-Philippians 4:11-12

So, when the world tells us to “accept where we are today”, “accept our life”, “accept our reality”…for the most part, that’s advice that Christians can take. In fact, we know the secret the world doesn’t know: when you believe in a good God, it’s a lot easier to be content with where you are.

And now, the problematic part…”accept yourself the way you are.” The “accepting your body” narrative is a little more complex, a separate issue that I definitely want to talk about some other time. But in terms of your personality, strengths and weaknesses, etc., this can so easily move into dangerous territory for Christians.

When we truly understand who we are according to the Bible, it’s really hard to accept ourselves. We know that, on our own, we are depraved sinners with no hope.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

-Ephesians 2:1-3

But that verse is in the past tense!

The fact is, we are being gloriously transformed. We don’t have to accept ourselves the way we are, because we know we aren’t going to stay this way forever. We don’t have to accept ourselves the way we are, because that isn’t what our life or our happiness depends on. We know who God is, and we know who Christ is, and we know that Christ’s righteousness now extends to us.

That is what we accept in order to live joyful, purpose-filled lives. We don’t love ourselves for ourselves, but we don’t hate ourselves either. Instead, we don’t think about ourselves at all, spending our lives in worship and totally focused on God.

So accept the things you can’t control: the chronic illness, the hard life circumstance, the fact that you’re better at music than sports. But don’t ever use this as an excuse to accept some “personality trait” that is actually a sin, whether that’s perfectionism, arrogance, laziness…if something is a sin, it needs to be fought, no matter how much you feel it’s engrained in your personality.

The good news? God is on your side, sanctifying you a little more every day. One day, you will be able to accept yourself completely, as a perfect, glorified person.

Until then, don’t settle, and don’t let “unconditional acceptance” become a guise for letting sin slide by.

What do you think? Have you believed the lie that you have to “accept yourself the way you are” to be happy? Do you agree with me about its problems? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

So I Got Deferred from Princeton This Week.

4 Reasons to Read the Bible

Why Growing Up is a Good Thing

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Christian, It’s Okay to Dance.

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Of all performing arts, I think dance is one of the most misunderstood by Christians, considered to be totally sinful by some (perhaps more historically, but still a little bit in the present day as well).

Full disclosure: I am a dancer. I’m going to school to be a dance major next year. So obviously there is some bias in this…but I feel like that also makes me qualified to address it.

Dance as Worship

I don’t debate that some dance is inappropriate. Certainly, there are dance moves, and even whole styles of dance, that Christians should stay far away from; costumes can be risque, music can be edgy. (There’s a reason I’m planning to study dance at a Christian college!)

But I feel that very conservative Christians, as they so often do, have run too far in the other direction and become overly legalistic in ways that God never intended. Because dance, just like all of the other arts, can be a form of worship. We see this all throughout the Old Testament:

“Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.”

-Exodus 15:20

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might…So David and the house of Isarel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.”

-2 Samuel 6:14-15

Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!”

-Psalm 149:3

Think about it: the concept of dance only exists because God created it. He made us with bodies that can move in graceful and beautiful ways, and minds that can appreciate and create that kind of movement. The way the fall has marred parts of dance doesn’t invalidate its capability to express God’s beauty.

I’ve been lucky enough to study dance with a teacher who gets this. When we perform, it is ultimately for God’s glory. And that makes a huge difference! There is a kind of worship that I find in dancing that I can’t really get anywhere else, a unique kind of communion with God that happens on stage and in the studio.

Dance in Worship?

I do want to clarify that I don’t believe in having dance performances as part of church services. This is because a church service is not meant to be a performance, but a participatory act of worship. Sitting in chairs, passively watching other people dance, is not church.

Watching a dance performance can be a kind of worship, certainly, but it doesn’t belong on Sunday mornings (and for the record, this opinion extends to musical performances as well).

(If the entire congregation was dancing, I think that would be okay, but that’s a little awkward, and it probably isn’t a great idea to make people uncomfortable by forcing them to dance in church, either!)

The Purpose of Dance

Ultimately, dance is just one more means that God has given us to express His beauty, understand Him more fully, and worship Him in a deeper way. Christians who ignore the beauty of dance and only focus on its ugly aspects are missing the point of art, and missing out on a way of worship that can be incredibly meaningful, whether you are an audience member or a dancer.

What do you think? What has your experience been with dance, and how do you feel about it? What is your opinion on dancing in church? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

Read more:

Why Christians Should Care About the Arts

Guys? Swimwear? Common Modesty Questions

When You Don’t Know Your Purpose (and the Future Seems a Scary Thing)

 

Should Christians Read Fiction?

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For the past little while, we’ve been exploring what it means to use the arts well as a Christian. I’ve argued that the arts are important for Christians to pay attention tothey are a valid career path for Christians, and that as Christians, our art should be of the highest quality.

Today and next week, I want to look at two very specific types of art, ones that I am personally involved in, ones that I feel some Christians look askance at. I want to explain why I believe they are important and why I believe God created them.

First up? Fiction. Storytelling. The art of writing, of crafting plot and characters and settings to explore themes. I write fiction, although I don’t talk about it much on here, and I believe that it is such an important element of the human experience as God created us.

Whatever is True?

I remember stumbling on one of my mom’s homeschool books when I was much younger, a book where the author talked about her family only read nonfiction or fiction that could be real. They didn’t allow fairy tales, fantasy, mythology, talking animals, etc., using Philippians 4:8 (“Whatever is true…”) as their reasoning.

Even at a young age, that bothered me. Partially because I had already fallen in love with fantasy stories and stories in general, and I wondered if it was wrong to read those things, if I should give them up.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized why it really bothered me even then.

What Fiction Does

As Christians, storytelling is one of the means God has given us to reveal his truth. When we limit this storytelling to only representing things that happen in the “real world”, we lose a hugely powerful avenue of witnessing to truth and beauty.

Different genres have different purposes, but all fiction serves several important purposes.

Through fiction, we see the world through different eyes and gain the ability to empathize with people who are different from us.

Through fiction, we get to see how the universal truth of God’s Word plays out in a variety of situations that we will never actually experience.

Through fiction, we gain a more well-rounded understanding of God’s character than we would in the course of our everyday lives.

What About Fantasy?

I want to look at fantasy specifically for a second. Even though so many Christians avoid it like the plague, I think fantasy is so important. Through made-up worlds and magic and epic quests, truth and beauty find one of their best representations.

The best fantasy books are those that look seriously at real issues. By taking those issues into a made-up setting, we can consider them detached from the baggage they carry in the real world. Because of that, we can see the problems and their solutions more clearly.

The other thing fantasy does really well: illustrate the clash between good and evil. In fantasy, we see over and over that good always wins, that evil will ultimately be defeated. There is an ongoing battle between good and evil in the supernatural realm of the real world; in fantasy, without the limitations of the natural world, it is much easier to represent the truth of this fight in the way that does it justice.

The Impact of Fiction

Ultimately, fiction and nonfiction must work together. Nonfiction expresses the truth, and fiction illustrates the truth. Fiction takes nonfiction’s ideas, adds dimension, and makes them beautiful. Fiction shows the truth to us in the light of people and places and stories.

Fiction has the potential to impact the world for incredible good. The truths we learn through fiction often stay with us forever, changing our lives more than the most helpful self-help book. That is a power that Christians need to be harnessing and using for the glory of God.

And as for Philippians 4:8, there is often more truth in stories of talking animals and magic wands than there is in the most realistic of contemporary novels.

What do you think? Do you read fiction? Fantasy? What impact has fiction had on your life? 

love, grace

Read more:

4 Ways to Read More During the School Year (+book recommendations!)

Writing for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories)

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

Why Christians Shouldn’t Have Faith in Humanity

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Classmates shave their heads in solidarity with a sick child.

Someone shares their meal with a homeless man on the street.

A policeman stops to help a little kid tie their shoe.

And the world cries, “Faith in humanity restored!”

Even Christians talk this way without even thinking about it. But I think there’s a problem with Christians using this phrase. Isn’t the fallenness of humanity one of our fundamental beliefs?

Truthfully, we can have no ultimate faith in humanity. 

If our faith is in humanity, our faith is in something that will always ultimately fail us. Back in the Garden of Eden, humanity failed us, in the form of Adam and Eve, and ever since then people have been a mess.

The kid will get bullied. The homeless man will get ignored. The disabled girl will be ridiculed and the bad people will reach the top, no matter how little they deserve it. That one sin back in Genesis started a chain reaction that will continue for the whole history of Earth.

Ultimately people will always fail, and people who put their hope in people will always be disappointed.

But what about all those heartwarming stories, all those people doing genuinely good things? They can’t be discounted completely. They can’t be ignored. If humanity is really in as horrible a state as I’ve described, how do we explain random acts of kindness, acts of service, acts of love?

These things should not restore our faith in humanity. They should restore our faith in God. 

If the Christian looks at the good things in the world and feels restored faith for humanity, they are committing idolatry, putting humans in the place of God. When we look at the good things in the world, our faith in God should be strengthened, increased, heightened.

Because if humanity is really as badly messed up as Christianity believes, the existence of any good at all is proof that God is present, and He is always working.

He is the one prompting people to serve others, changing hearts and changing lives. On our own, humanity can’t get anywhere. We’re stuck in a cycle of anger and fear and hurt and selfishness. But with God, anything is possible. And because of Christ, He can take a broken humanity and bring beautiful things out of it.

So, those “faith in humanity” Pinterest posts and stories on the radio? They should mean so much to the Christian, because we know that the existence of those posts and stories is only because of God’s grace to the world. When we hear them, we should not feel an arrogant faith in the human race. We should feel a humble, grateful faith in God, who is the only source of beauty and goodness, and who can redeem anyone.

Faith in humanity will get us nowhere. Faith in God will.

love, grace

What do you think? Have you ever really thought about this phrase before? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Share in the comments below! 

Read more:

After the Rain: Lessons from a Stormy Day

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

Boundaries, Rebellion, and “Living on the Edge”

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

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Surprise! A post on a Friday. I had something I really wanted to share while it was still fresh in my mind. I think I’ll continue to do this; I plan my Saturday posts ahead, but sometimes I get ideas that just can’t wait. So you may get a surprise post every now and then.

There’s Christian music and Christian books and Christian movies.

There’s also secular music and secular books and secular movies.

So what do we listen to, read, and watch, and what do we avoid? Do we only consume explicitly Christian media, or is secular entertainment fine as long as it is appropriate?

Here are my thoughts on this:

God created the world. God is truth. The created world cannot help but reflect God’s truth. Secular media may unknowingly reflect deep and profound truths about God and who we are in God.

Of course, there are many sources of entertainment that are completely inappropriate or promote messages absolutely contrary to Christianity. Those are a no-no, no questions asked, no exceptions.

But in the vaguer areas, the songs that are appropriate but don’t really have a “Christian” message, the children’s movies that aren’t inappropriate but aren’t particular Christ-centered either, the books by secular authors, look for little nuggets of truth.

They may be unintentional, but they will be there.

This train of thought, for me, was sparked by the song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. I was listening to it on the way home from dance and started wondering whether, as a Christian, I should limit myself only to Christian music.

Then I started paying attention to the words of the song.

Here’s just a few lines that really hit me.

“Everybody’s been there,

Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy

“Fallen for the fear

“And done some disappearing…

“Don’t run, just stop holding your tongue…

“And since your history of silence

“Won’t do you any good

“Did you think it would?

“Let your words be anything but empty

“Why don’t you tell them the truth?”

That could be a Christian song, couldn’t it? As I listened to these words, I felt myself inspired to be a witness, to stand up for what I believe without fear, to stop my shy silence and speak up. Even though it doesn’t specifically mention God or Christianity, this song got me thinking about spiritual things. And anything that does that, to me, is good.

If we really listen, we can find truth all around us. And that can be so encouraging.

So use discernment. Don’t limit yourself just to Christian media. When you do consume secular entertainment, pay close attention to the worldviews and messages. When you find anti-Christian messages, avoid them, as I’m sure you’ve been told many times before.

But there is a flip-side to that, too, that rarely gets mentioned. When you find truth in secular media, rejoice! Let it encourage you.

God can speak through sources that aren’t explicitly Christian. Secular media can portray truth and beauty as well as, or better than, “Christian” entertainment. God is the creator of all art, everything that is lovely and good, and art is meant to be enjoyed.

love, grace

What do you think? Have you ever found exciting nuggets of truth in secular entertainment? Do you disagree with me, and limit yourself to strictly “Christian” media? How do you use discernment in your entertainment choices? Share in the comments below! 

Read more:

5 Ways to Stay Grounded in Truth This School Year

A Peek Inside My Music Library

Thoughts on Unrealistic Expectations and “Happily Ever After”

4 Ways to Stay Content in Singleness (The Relationship Series, part 5)

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Read the other posts here: God’s Purpose for RomanceGod’s Purpose for SinglenessAvoiding Drama and TemptationDeveloping Your Convictions

 

For the final post of this series, I want to address singleness one more time. Because it’s one thing to decide you aren’t going to date in high school, and it’s something else altogether to actually rest in that decision with contentment in the everyday.

So how do we make the most of our singleness, not spending this whole season just waiting for the next, but truly living in it?

Develop a full, dedicated relationship with God.

Our primary focus while we are single is learning and growing in our relationship with God, pouring all that love out to him that will someday be given to another person. He is our first love, our focus, and where we get all of our joy and contentment. When you’re single, you’re not “alone”. You’re with God.

So spend lots of time getting to know Him and getting close to Him. Read your Bible consistently. Spend daily time in prayer and praise. Center your entire life around this most important relationship you will ever have.

Take advantage of your freedom.

When you are single, you have much more freedom, time and energy available. God put you in a season of singleness so that you could avoid distractions and focus completely on His work (1 Corinthians 7).

Take advantage of the time, resources, and emotional energy that you aren’t investing a relationship and invest them into the work of God’s kingdom. Pursue your calling with diligence and faith. Seek opportunities to further God’s glory in the world, maybe through traveling or mission work.

For more on this, I HIGHLY recommend this incredible talk from Breakaway Ministries. (The whole series is great if you’re looking for more Christian opinions on dating and marriage.)

Be ready if someone expresses interest.

So…you’re committed to singleness. You’re living a life dedicated to God. And then someone starts acting interested in you, or even directly asks you out. How do you handle this situation?

First of all, never lead anyone on. If someone starts flirting with you or acting interested, do not lead them on if you have no intention of actually dating them. It’s fun in the moment, but will only lead to hurt feelings. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Know what to say ahead of time. If someone asks you to date directly, you will probably be too flustered to be able to graciously refuse in the moment. Depending on your emotions to carry you through could lead to disaster, so plan a response ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be completely scripted, but you should have a general plan. Refuse graciously, but firmly, and don’t be afraid to explain your convictions if necessary.

And when you refuse someone, don’t leave loopholes that could lead to a just-friends-but-not-actually unofficial dating situation. That is not a good situation to be in.

Be ready when jealousy sets in.

Even if you are single and living a full, wonderful life devoted to God, there will be moments. You will see a couple in the hallway at school. You will read a story with a really sweet romance. One of your friends will start dating, get engaged, get married…and you will start thinking about how much you desperately want that to be you.

When this happens, first of all, remember that romance is never as smooth as it looks from the outside. Books and movies make it look perfect and wonderful, and it is that idealized image that is likely making you jealous.

Then remember your reasons for singleness. Instead of letting the seeds of jealousy grow in your mind, turn Satan’s intentions against him and use the moment to renew and refresh your commitment to singleness and to God.

Finally, remember that God is in control. His plan for your love story is infinitely better than anything you could come up with on your own. Trust in that.

 

What do you think? Have you enjoyed this series? Are there other relationship-related topics that you would like to see me address in the future? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

 

Developing Your Convictions on Dating (The Relationship Series, part 4)

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If you missed the first three parts to this series, find them here: God’s Purpose for RomanceGod’s Purpose for Singleness, and Avoiding Drama and Temptation.

I’ve spent several weeks sharing the reasons for my choice not to date in high school. To recap:

  • The purpose of dating is to see if someone is potential husband or wife material. Dating for fun has no value.
  • High school is a season of life where it’s important to be developing a close relationship with God as we figure out where we’re going in adulthood. Anything that distracts from that with no purpose is not a good idea.
  • Dating adds a lot of potential for drama into life, as well as temptations to compromise purity. Those things are better avoided as long as possible.

But now, I want to clarify something: Not everyone is going to have the same convictions on this. 

There is no verse in the Bible that says “Thou shalt not date in high school.” So this is an area in which everyone has to weigh the pros and cons and come to their own decision.

For me, the cons greatly outweighed the pros, and I felt that God was calling me to avoid dating in this season of life. But that may not be the same for everyone. For one person, they may decide to date as soon as their parents will let them. Someone else may feel called to remain single until their twenties. And there will be many in between those two extremes.

So how do you determine what your convictions are? Spend time in the Word, as well as reading articles and/or books by Christian people you trust (I would recommend I Kissed Dating Goodbye)Once you have a good idea of the arguments on both sides, and where those arguments are coming from in the Bible, spend time in prayer that God would show you what He wants you to do.

I would encourage you to seriously challenge any arguments, whether for or against something, that have to do with personal benefits, having fun, or looking good to other people. Don’t be afraid to confront any wrong motivations you discover and make the hard choice to let those reasons go.

It’s important to note, as well, that convictions may change or be adapted as time goes by and you mature in your faith. Be open to God’s prompting and willing to learn and grow when the time comes.

What If I’ve Already Messed Up?

Maybe you’re reading this as someone who has already been in their share of bad relationships, who started dating young, who has compromised their purity, or done other things relationship-wise that you regret. There are two things I want you to know:

1. God does not condemn you. There is grace to cover all things. 

The whole message of Christianity centers around grace, forgiveness of sins. No one is perfect, or even close to it, and that is why Jesus came! God will forgive you no matter what, absolutely, with no conditions, over and over. Trust in that.

2. It’s never too late to start living to honor God. 

It doesn’t matter how old you are or what your past looks like; if you feel convicted now, start now! Ask that the Holy Spirit would give you grace to change your habits and seek to honor God in your romantic life. There is no reason to dwell on the past, and by God’s grace it is not too late to change.

Relationships and romance are tricky to navigate, but as Christians we have somewhere to run when we have no idea what to do, when we need comfort, when we need counsel. We have to be in tune with God and His Word every step of the way in order to navigate dating wisely and in a way that glorifies Him.

Next week, I’ll wrap up the series with one more post addressing singleness. Stay tuned!

What do you think? What are your convictions on this subject, and why? Share in the comments below! 

love, grace

 

Why I’m Not Dating in High School, part 3: Avoiding Drama and Temptation

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If you missed it: part 1 (God’s purpose for romance) and part 2 (God’s purpose for singleness)

When you think of teenage relationships, what comes to mind?

For me, it’s two-week long couples, messy breakups, ongoing drama, physical commitment without long-term stability…

Maybe you’ve had better experiences with young relationships; I’m sure there are some out there that survive or even thrive. But in my mind that’s the exception and not the rule.

I covered the biggest reasons I don’t date in those two previous posts; those are the overarching beliefs that guided my choice the most. But now that we’ve talked about the big things, there is one more reason I want to mention: the potential for drama and temptation in young romantic relationships.

Avoiding Drama and Heartbreak

Love will always come with intense and possibly very difficult emotion, and trying to struggle through that sort of thing in high school can wreak havoc on you. In this season of our lives, we are trying to make important decisions and balance a million demands on our time. Emotions are real, and they can be incapacitating.

Yes, I know that even if you wait until adulthood for a relationship, there is still no guarantee that everything will be sunshine and roses. In fact, it almost certainly won’t be. But having to work through emotional drama in the midst of teenage stress and hormones will do nothing to help you. 

It goes back to being stable in God before you pursue another person; you should be stable emotionally (really regardless of age) to get into a relationship. And the teen years are probably the worst place to look for emotional stability.

Plus personally, I would rather not introduce the potential for heartbreak earlier than necessary. Call me selfish, but I think the lack of drama in my life is a rather nice side effect of my decision not to date.

The point is: relationships are hard. Relationships aren’t always happy. And us teens aren’t in a good place to be able to deal well with that. We shouldn’t feel compelled to invest a lot of emotion into a relationship that may not last. 

Avoiding Temptation to Compromise

We are, without a doubt, called to purity as Christians, and will be much better off avoiding anything that could tempt us away from it. Dating is definitely one of those things.

Again, yes, dating at any stage of life will bring temptation with it. But again, as teens we are likely not yet fully stable in our emotions or our relationship with God, and out convictions may not be as developed, making us especially vulnerable.

And here’s the thing: if you are dating for no other reason than fun, you will be tempted to go too far. If your relationship has no long-term purpose, then you may feel that it has no point beyond the physical aspects and be even more likely to compromise.

This is the biggest argument I have against teenage dating, even when intentional. Unless you plan to get married within a few years, a relationship that stretches on and on will only become harder and harder to maintain in purity. For serious relationships that start in high school, marriage may not happen for five or ten years, and in that time you can become so comfortable with each other that purity doesn’t even seem like a big deal anymore. That is a bad place to be.

Even if you are both very committed to purity, humans are imperfect and can be very weak in moments of temptation. By avoiding dating in high school, you are avoiding any chance of doing something in a moment of emotional weakness that you will regret later on.

 

 

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts on this subject in the comments! (especially if you’ve actually been in a relationship, since I, ah, never have, hence the title)

love, grace

Coming soon: We’ll continue the series and address what to do if you’ve already done things you regret, how to respond if someone asks you out, and more.

Why I’m Not Dating in High School, part 2: God’s Purpose for Singleness

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As we talked about last week, Christians are called to pursue God’s model for romance and marriage, not that of the world.

But it goes beyond that. We are called to pursue God’s model for everything in our lives.

One of our main purposes in the teen years is to learn about how God wants us to live our lives, to develop a relationship with him and learn to lean on Him in everything. In this way we can grow into adults who are stable, grounded on a firm foundation that cannot be shaken.

We have to be careful not to be distracted from this calling. And that is the second reason why I have chosen not to date in high school.

What is the Purpose of Singleness?

If God wanted to, he could give all of us a romantic attachment right now. It’s not neglect on His part. You’re not waiting for someone to drop into your life and then everything will be complete. When we are single, God has a reason for it. 

Here’s what Paul says about that reason:

 “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.”

-1 Corinthians 7:32-34

Singleness is meant to be a time of growing as close to God as we can. It is a unique season of life when the only person we have an intimate commitment to is God, and so our focus should be on deepening that relationship, not waiting impatiently for someone else to come along. And in that growing intimacy, we are, in fact, preparing ourselves for an intimate relationship with another human.

The only way to be in a relationship that truly honors God is to be in a relationship with God first. If we rush into romance too soon, we will find that we are not as grounded as we thought we were and end up floundering, unable to find balance or fully show love to someone.

God gave us singleness so that we can learn what it feels like to serve Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, what it feels like to live completely committed to God’s glory. Because if we are trying to learn those things at the same time as we are trying to learn how to love another person, one will have to take precedence over the other.

Additionally, we cannot search for happiness in human love. Before we become invested in a romance, we must be fully secure in God’s love for us that will never leave, enough so that we can hold onto that in the midst of a human relationship and still have it to hold on to if the relationship ends.

We cannot seek a relationship to fulfill us; it is only when we stop desiring a relationship above all else that it is really good for us to be in one. If we have not found true fulfillment in God, we will end up unsatisfied, searching for happiness in one romantic attachment after another.

Find happiness first, outside of romance, and only then will a romance actually make you happy.

What do you think? Do you agree with my second reason for not dating in high school? What other issues would you like to see addressed in this series? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace

 

Why I’m Not Dating in High School, part 1: God’s Purpose for Romance

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Going into high school, I had no strong convictions about dating. I was wavering on the edge of truth, trying to convince myself that it was okay to date, you know, as long as he was a Christian and we stayed pure.

Then I read a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It presented a new philosophy of romance for the Christian young person in a thoughtful, honest way, and I was convinced. While I don’t necessarily follow all of the specifics the book laid out, the principles led me to decide, purposefully, that I would not date at all during high school.

The question is debatable, and choosing not to date in a public-school atmosphere for four years is hard! But there are very good reasons for my decision and I want to share them with you in a series that will go through January and February.

We’ll start by looking at the most fundamental reason: God’s purpose for romance, dating, and marriage. To do that we have to go way back to the first married couple of the Bible.

What is the Purpose of Romance?

As we see in Genesis, God designed human beings for romance. His design of marriage was a lasting, exclusive covenant between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24), a design that was played out between Adam and Eve, the first husband and wife.

So what is the purpose of marriage? Primarily, to provide companionship. Eve was created so that Adam would have a helper, someone to live life with (Genesis 2:18). Humans are relational, and God gave us marriage as a way to have a deep relationship with one other person, a companion for us in the daily walk of life.

The other reason God created marriage is to have a model of His love for His people (Ephesians 5:25-26). The ideal loving, selfless relationship between husband and wife is the model for how much Christ loved us, that He came and died for our salvation. His love for us is pure, spotless, and beautiful.

Unfortunately, marriage has been marred by the fall in many ways, but the ultimate goal still stands, and as Christians we have the opportunity to pursue that goal despite the way the world has twisted it.

What is the Purpose of Dating?

With that foundation in mind, we can see more clearly the purpose of dating (or courting, if you choose to call it that). It is important to note that dating is a modern concept; there are many ways that people have found their spouse over the course of human history, some better than others, but there is not one perfect way to go about finding a husband or wife.

But that is what dating is: seeking a potential husband or wife. The goal of dating, courting, or whatever else you call it is to get to know someone better and see if they are the person God wants you to spend your life with in a marriage relationship.

Casual dating results in constantly giving your heart away to someone who is only in your life for a little while. We are called to date purposefully, seeking a partner in life, not for momentary fulfillment. Dating is not an end in itself; it is a means to a greater end. 

This is why I choose not to date in high school. I am not going to be ready for marriage anytime soon, and so getting involved in a relationship now would have no purpose to glorify God. All it would do is distract me, complicate my emotions, and add anxiety to my life.

Dating “just for fun” is not God’s best for us; we should always seek relationships intentionally, looking towards marriage and the future, and not just fun in the moment.

Have you been in a relationship before, and what wisdom can you share from that? Do you agree with me? Why or why not? Are you excited for this series? Tell me in the comments! 

love, grace