What does putting God first in a relationship look like?

What does it mean to put God first in a relationship?

What does it mean to put God first in a relationship?

“You gotta put God first in your relationship.” Maybe you’ve heard that. It sounds good. But what does that even mean?

When I first started dating Jill, I had no idea what I was doing. I had recently come to faith in Christ. So I understood that God had to be #1. Shortly thereafter, Jill came into my life. Now I was required to put God first between the two of us. It was a concept that I struggled mightily to understand.

As I’ve researched this topic, I’ve found out I’m not alone. Others are as clueless now as I was back then. Oh, they know the cliché. Yet when I look deeper all I find is a verse about marriage or a story about their parents.

So, what does it mean to put God first in a relationship? Let me share briefly what I’ve come to understand. But then I really want to leave the door wide open for you to walk through.

Here are 5 ways by which you can make God a priority in your relationship.

1. Take care of your spiritual life. It is so tempting, and happens often, that a spiritual life gets jettisoned for a new relationship. As the pattern goes, this honeymoon phase can give way to sin and conflict. Once one awakens to this not-so-divine reality, they realize walking with their new love has replaced walking with their first love, God. Don’t let this happen. Protect your time with God so that you can purify your own life and your new relationship.

2. Take care of their spiritual life. I didn’t say “be” their spiritual life. That approach will show itself faulty and the relationship will crumble. Instead, think about their spiritual life as a garden. God is the master gardener. He knows what he is doing. You are a guest within his great work. Walk through this garden with interest and care. Should you ever be asked to exit the garden, make sure you leave it better than how you found it.

3. Take care to discuss God. It is said that “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So what are the two of you talking about? People talk about what interests them. Demonstrate your interest in God by talking about him with each other. There is much to your and their spiritual relationship with God. Take time to hear about it.

4. Take care of your sexual boundaries. Temptation strikes in relationships. People do things they swore they’d never do. Why? You believe you’ve finally met the one. This relationship is different from other ones. This new person appears to have everything you’re looking for. Physical love is an easy means to show how deep this love is. But I encourage you to not awaken love until it desires.

5. Take care to marry or end things honorably. Weddings are fun. Breakups are not. But both are a reality. So commit to honoring one another regardless of how it ends. This is all about character. What type of person are you heading into a relationship, amidst a relationship, and coming out of a relationship?

Hopefully, this list will get you started on the right track. I really do believe it’s just a start.

QUESTION: So what would you add to this list?

Do me a favor and leave your comment below!

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Posted on by Cor in FAITH

30 Responses to What does putting God first in a relationship look like?

  1. Tim L

    Dude. You have to let me know where you get all your stock photos.

    That is all for now…

    • Matt

      I think that’s a google image search for, “Christian Couples walk on water”. :)

  2. Michelle

    I like all of these points!

    In regards to #3, one thing I’ve noticed in dating other Christians is that sometimes you can both be strong in your Christian faith, talk about God a lot but still be miles apart in how you live your life.

    So, I would say that talking about God is a great start. But I would also say that as the relationship progresses, you need to start talking about how your understanding God & His word influences you to live and to make sure can you agree on that.

    I recently dated a guy who could quote you any passage of the Bible and discuss it with you without any hesitation. And even when we didn’t agree on certain things, like baptism, he could explain his side.

    But, when it came to his lifestyle, he was content to attend church once a week and put whatever change he had in his pocket into the offering plate and call it good.

    By contrast, I enjoy serving at my church, giving a regular offering, volunteering at a local mission, and leading my ladies’ small group.

    Over time, I came to find out that he felt I was doing those things to be more saved, whereas I was doing those things because they brought me joy & helped God’s kingdom.

    In the end, it became clear that while we could have theological discussions, we had very different ideas of how it manifested itself in our lifestyles.

    So, I think #3 is a great starting point, and as the relationship develops I think you need to keep talking about God, but also elaborate on what that looks like in your relationship…does that mean tithing? regular service at church or in your community? regular attendance at church? participation in a Bible study or small group? And how do you solve problems? Do you both pray about it and read scripture and seek advice from a trusted Christian?

    To me, keeping Christ at the center means more than just talking about God (which is important), it also means using God’s word and the Holy Spirit to guide for your life.

    • Cor

      That’s a great word, Michelle. Thanks for sharing.

    • Anon

      Could you “help me to understand” whether you’re saying this guy is acceptable as a Christian dater , and just not for you, or, if you’re saying he’s all head and no heart as far as his faith, and too spiritually immature for you.

      I was recently denied a second date partially she said because I told her I was having a hard time being super gung-ho on Hope.

      I’m currently in a place where a small group leader and a mentoring relationship are both having trouble seeing me independent of their own experiences. So, no, I’m not super involved in Hope, I’m not going to boot camp. Its not that its bad, or that I don’t agree with what they’re doing on a whole. Can one person’s relationship with Christ look different from another’s?

      God doesn’t work through a specific church, celebrity preacher, para-church organization, set of experiences, preferences or genre of Christian music.

      I like your point about does God’s Word and the Holy Spirit Guide that person’s life. Maybe the why matters more than the what?

      • Michelle

        See my reply to “anonymous” below! :) Thanks for the dialogue!!!

        • Michelle

          PS. I would encourage you to reflect on your relationship with your small group leader and your mentor, and maybe even seek advice from another trusted Christian, maybe even a pastor. You shouldn’t be made to feel that way by a mentor or a small group leader. I think sometimes it’s easier to relate to people when you have common ground, but they should still be able to lead without judging you in light of their own circumstances. I just want you to know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

    • anonymous

      I have to say that I was actually a little annoyed by the post above. I think people are looking way too deep on both sides. Yes, God should be in your lives, but it seems like both sides were very judgmental of the other. It sounded like the guy was going to church and giving to the church. There is no minimum amount you have to give or a minimum amount of time you have to spend in church to be saved. On the contrary, there is no maximum. I guess, if you couldn’t find some common ground so it was best to move on, but reading this frustrates me.

      • Michelle

        I appreciate that you are both asking questions, but there were other issues in our relationship that I chose not to share because they weren’t relevant to the original post. While the differences in our spiritual lifestyles were a small part of my decision to end the relationship, they weren’t the biggest part of that decision. Had those been the only issue, I would have continued with the relationship.

        Having said that, perhaps I can clarify what did concern me about our relationship in regards to religion.

        First, “anonymous” points out that my ex was going to church and giving, and that there is no minimum to participation and giving. I would agree wholeheartedly with that statement. The Bible clearly states that anyone who believes in Christ will be saved. Period. There are no other requirements. I agree with that. Therefore, I believe he is saved. That’s not my issue. To answer your question, “anon”, I think he was a Christian because I think that he truly believed in Christ as his savior. We may have been a different levels of spiritual maturity…I’m not sure. Overall, I just think he wasn’t the right person for me (again, not just for religious reasons but for some other reasons as well).

        Having said that, I would also argue that the Bible is clear that a Christian’s walk should yield fruits and that the Holy Spirit should increasingly become a guide in their life. The Bible also says that faith without works is dead. So, I don’t think I’m completely off base in wanting to live a lifestyle that goes beyond weekly attendance and minimal giving. I think my desire to give and serve comes from my love for God, and is spirit-driven, and therefore should not be discouraged by a partner.

        I felt he was not understanding or supportive of what I felt were important aspects of my walk with Christ. He perceived my tithing and my service to church and community as actions to become more saved. He couldn’t understand that I felt called to do those things, and that doing those things were acts of obedience and worship, brought me joy and increased my compassion for others. I was concerned that if we continued in the relationship, I would either stop doing those things (and come to resent him), or he would come to resent me (if I continued to do those things).

        I was concerned that if we were fighting about those things right now, marriage wouldn’t make it better. If anything, marriage (& kids, hopefully), would have placed a strain on our resources (time, money, and talent), so we would have had even bigger fights as to what was appropriate to be giving/doing where.

        I fully understand that the person I eventually marry may not be as committed as me in certain areas of their life, and vice versa. Having said that, I do want to be part of a relationship where we both feel encouraged to grow and make positive changes and find encouragement and/or inspiration from the other person.

        I also understand that if I got married, what I do as a single person may need to change to accommodate what we do as a married couple. I understand that we would need to discuss things like tithing, service to church & community, etc. And I understand that may require me to give up something I’m currently doing. But I would want it to be replaced with something that we felt led to do together. I guess what I’m saying is that what God is calling me to do as a single person may not be what he calls me to do as a married person, and I’m okay with that, as long as our lifestyle still points back to God and the changes are made prayerfully & respectfully. But in my relationship, they weren’t going to be replaced with something, and I don’t think the decisions would have been made with God at the center and we couldn’t have a respectful conversation about it.

        I have no problems with someone questioning my beliefs or the actions I make because of those beliefs. I think that accountability in faith is important. However, I think that should be done respectfully with both parties discussing what each believes & why, and what changes should be made, if any. This should be done with the Holy Spirit (through prayer) and with God’s word at the center of the decision. I felt like that respect & desire to include God’s word/guidance were lacking.

        To illustrate my point, I will give you to examples of problems we had.

        The first is that my small group was reading a book about discerning the voice of God. One of the things the author encourages is scripture memorization. There are plenty of other trusted Christian authorities who encourage this discipline as well, and even the Bible suggests storing God’s word in your heart. So, I made a few flashcards that I could keep in my purse to review during down time in my day. I didn’t ask him or tell him to do it with me because I know it’s not for everyone. But he noticed them one day and asked me about them. I explained the book and said I was trying to memorize a few verses based on the book’s suggestion. He responded by saying that “he hoped I knew I didn’t have to do that to be more saved.” While I don’t mind a partner questioning my motives, I was hurt that was his response. I wasn’t asking him to do it or judging him for not doing it. I also wasn’t doing it during time that could have been spent with him. It’s something I wanted to do, and it is Biblical, so for all these reasons, I felt annoyed that he was being negative. I didn’t expect him to say “great, let me start doing that, too”, but it would have been nice if his response had been an encouragement, or even just neutral like “oh, interesting.” To me, the fact that he didn’t see the value in memorizing scripture is not the deal breaker. The deal breaker was a lack of respect, and I felt like he was almost trying to discourage me from doing it.

        Another example was we were raised in different denominations and have very different ideas about baptism, confirmation and communion. To me, an acceptable way to handle this would have been to meet with our pastors and discuss our differences to try to learn more. Another option would have been to sit down and read the Bible together to figure out the pros/cons of our differing opinions. Instead, when I tried to explain my side, he got angry, threw his Bible across the table, and said “fine, I guess I’m just wrong”. And I wasn’t being condescending or patronizing. He’d had a chance to explain his side, and I was calmly trying to explain mine. Anger and Bible-chucking has no place in what should have been a growth opportunity for both of us. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe infant baptism is necessary, but had we gotten married and had kids, I would have had our kids baptized because I know the importance of it to him and his family. So again, the differences of opinion were not the issue…the way the conversation was handled was the issue.

        And I’m not trying to say that I was innocent in all this either. I wasn’t able to “keep my cool” after he threw the Bible and found myself yelling back. But that was another red flag. I am not an angry person. I’m not a yeller. So it didn’t make sense to continue in a relationship that was bringing that out in me, especially over the one subject that should have been discussed with love and respect by both parties.

        I share all this to demonstrate that the issues weren’t about a “minimum” or “maximum” being met. I don’t think that in and of itself was a problem, as long as we were both doing it prayerfully and obediently. And, like I said before, there were other issues that were not related to church.

        “Anon”, you had also asked if one person’s relationship with Christ can look different from another’s. I absolutely believe it can. I also believe that one person’s walk can look different throughout their lifetime. I think that’s why reading scripture for ourselves, praying, and looking for the spirit’s guidance is critical. If everyone’s situation were exactly the same, then God’s word would have been enough, but he gave us the Spirit to help us discern what God wants. I want to be careful and say that there are many things in the Bible that are non-negotiable and shouldn’t be manipulated or re-interpreted. But I do think God calls us to different things for different reasons.

        For example, I took Financial Peace with some friends awhile back. In case you are unfamiliar, the idea is to get out of debt as quickly as possible, then set yourself up financially with savings and retirement, and then give your wealth away. After taking the class, reading the Bible and praying, my friend and I felt led to do two different things. One of us felt led to continue tithing while paying off the debt. The other felt led to cease tithing while paying off the debt and then begin again when the savings/retirement stage was reached. Do I think one way was right and one way was wrong? No, because both of us prayed about it and read the Bible and felt peace that we were being led in different ways. And neither path contradicted the Bible. On the one hand, the Bible does encourage tithing. On the other hand, it only encourages that it be done joyfully and not out of obligation. The one who chose not to tithe felt like it would become an obligation, and thus the act would become legalistic, rather than act of worship or trust in God’s provision. Neither one of us is more or less saved because of this decision.

        Also, if every Christian’s relationship with Christ was supposed to be the same, then we’d all be the same, and we’re not. Some of us are pastors or missionaries. Many more of us have secular jobs. Some of us married, some of us single, some have kids, some don’t. God needs His people in all geographic location, all socio-economic classes, all work places, all stages of life and at all stages of spiritual maturity so that He can accomplish his purposes. So, I think it’s possible that two people can participate/contribute different amounts or in different ways and both still be obedient to God. But if we are all called to different ways of living this out, then I think it’s possible some people will make better partners for us than others, and so I think it’s okay that some relationships end because of differences in our relationships with Christ, especially if that relationship is tearing down, rather than building up, the people involved, which is what was happening in my relationship.

        I believe that as a person participating in Christ’s community and in Christian relationships, we have an obligation to encourage one another along the journey, and I felt like that was missing in my relationship. In my particular situation, the issue wasn’t that he wasn’t doing as much as me. The issue was that I felt led to do certain things and he did not, and those differences were causing tension and we weren’t able to resolve them.

        Do I think you have to be “gung-ho” about Hope (or any other church, para-church, charity, etc.) in order to be in a relationship with someone from Hope (or the organization in question)? No. But if she’s looking for someone who is going to do church-related things with her, and you have no interest, then I can understand her perspective. I’m not her, and I don’t know you, so I don’t know the whole situation. But you asked, and I want to help. Again, this is my perspective and may or may not be hers, but what I think she is saying is that she wants certain things (whatever they may be) and doesn’t see how you’ll fit in.

        For example, personally, I want to be in a marriage where we invite people into our home for Bible study and fellowship. The couple that originally brought me to Hope does this and I love it. They have a couples’ Bible study in their home one night each week. In addition, they are always inviting co-workers, neighbors, etc. into their home for non-religious things (movie night, game night, BBQ’s, etc.) in the hopes people will see the good in their lives and get curious and that their relationships will progress enough that they can eventually share Jesus with those people. I love that. I want to be that, down to my core. I feel it is a God-given desire, so if I was dating someone and it didn’t look like they were going to help me fulfill that desire, I’d probably give up the relationship. But, there are other things that I want, but they wouldn’t be deal-breakers if I didn’t have them. The difference to me is if I feel like I’m being called by God to do it and a relationship would interfere with that, then I need to end the relationship. Perhaps there was something that she felt led to do, or was a God-given desire, sensed that you weren’t interested, and then said it was because you weren’t “gung-ho”.

        Having said that, I think there are times that you don’t have to do things as a couple, but you can still be supportive by praying for each other, encouraging each other, and/or helping each other prepare for whatever it is. But if her deepest desire was to have you right at her side the whole time, then I could understand why she wanted to wait for someone who would meet that need. And if that desire was a God-given one, then she is trusting that He will provide for that need, and that may be why she gave up the relationship…she felt led to live a certain way and was waiting for someone who felt the same way.

        I also think the differences in spirituality are important to consider when you look at how you make decisions as a couple. I know some people who turn every decision over to God. Whether it be about where to live, who to date, whether or not to take a vacation this year, who to spend time with, how to spend money, what kind of car to buy, etc. I know others who only turn over some decisions to God. If one person in a relationship turns everything over to God, and the other person only turns some things over to God, then I can understand what there would be tension in the relationship, or one person would be perceived as less “gung ho” than the other. I don’t think it makes one person more or less saved, or “better” than the other person. But I think it’s an important difference to recognize and decide if that’s going to work for your relationship or not.

        “Anon” – if you are concerned about her comment, I’d pray about it and see where God is leading you. If you are not “gung ho” enough for Him, He will show you what needs to change and how to do it. If you are earnestly working with God to be the person He needs you to be, then you are on the right path, regardless of what another believer wants or needs from you. If changes are required, make those changes for God…not a girl, and then the right relationship will work out at the right time!

        “Anonymous”, I do appreciate you expressing your thoughts. I agree that based on the Bible, my ex and I are both saved, and neither of us has to meet any minimum requirements (besides believing in Christ as our savior). But what I didn’t do a good job of expressing is that we couldn’t have healthy conversations about our differences, and we weren’t using the Bible and Spirit as our guide in talking about those things as a couple. You had also said that sometimes both sides can be too deep. I think you are trying to say that we can get so wrapped in all the saying and doing that we can forget to just be still, know God, and savor the fact that we are saved simply by his grace and our belief. I think you are right, and I have been guilty of that at times. Again, I know I don’t have to be doing all these things in order to be saved or loved by God. I’ll also acknowledge that a marriage and/or family take a lot more time and money than being single requires. And so if I were to marry, I may need to give up some things that I’m currently doing with my time and money, and I won’t be able to be as deeply involved in my church and community as I am now because I would be spending some of that energy on a marriage and maybe kids. I think that’s okay, as long as it’s a decision that was made with my husband prayerfully, respectfully, and with guidance from the Bible and the Holy Spirit. But I also believe that some of the things I do are important to God, and motivated by my relationship with Him. So I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that He will help me find someone who will appreciate and encourage the healthy parts of my “depth”. I also can trust that God will refine me so that I can let go of any unnecessary parts of my “depth”.

        For now, I truly believe I’m right where I’m supposed to be…and I acknowledge that doesn’t mean everyone is supposed to be here with me.

  3. Michelle

    I guess what I was trying to say in reply to the original post is that I think it is important that people go beyond the step of talking about God and start looking at applying God to their lives.

    For every couple, that is going to mean different things. The important part of that is that they pray together, study scripture together, seek Godly counsel as needed and then decide together how God is leading them to live their lives. And in my opinion, that means all aspects of their lives: where to live, what career to have, how to manage their resources, how to raise their kids, how to manage their relationships with family and friends, how to serve their church and community, etc.

    I wasn’t trying to make it about my recent relationship or to say that I was right or wrong in how I handled my relationship.

    I was just trying to say that if two people can talk about God at a theological level, but can’t come to agreement on how that gets applied to their lives, then they are not going to be able to put God at the center and allow Him to lead.

    • Anon

      Thanks for the longer version. I agree that your conversation/fight/argument about baptism is a good red flag, and I think you handled it appropriately.

      I wasn’t sure what an ideal response could be. But, I think I wanted the original post to be fleshed out more. Really it came down to her saying that there’s not a “spark”. She asked me how I felt, and I couldn’t honestly tell her that there was a “spark”, like there was when I fell for girls as a teenager. I know better than that at my age and work towards guarding my heart more.

      Its all kinda silly. Its nice for you to lay out your specific objections. Sisterhood bonding and reading blogs like this and vague disqualifications can contribute to the inflation of expectations among women I fear.

      • Tim L

        I alluded to a possible response to this blog way up there ^^^^ and this looks like a good spot for me to come in, largely because you summed up my thoughts nicely, and all I have to do now is agree…

        The internet recently has had some weird infatuation with lists, especially with blogs. It is like, through any given post by some self-proclaimed “guru,” all of life’s issues can be solved with a nice, concise list of steps or bullet points that will end all of your troubles.

        The problem is that they are quite vague and don’t really make a point to emphasize that a process like creating a Godly relationship is going to look VERY different from a person-to-person basis, depending on the individuals involved. To not realize this would be horribly naive, not to mention set ridiculous expectations of others (I could go on forever about how I am being CONSTANTLY reminded of how imperfect I am because of the MASSIVE amount of content out there that sets unobtainable standards for me personally).

        The moment your walk with God takes you down a route of one-size-fits-all Christianity, RUN AWAY. I’d even be bold enough to say that this includes the people you are with and even the church you are involved in.

        Getting close to God is different from person to person (to name a couple for me, it’s great music and avoiding “noise” in life). Just because one thing might work for someone, it doesn’t mean they should shove their method(s) down another person’s throat.

        But also take note to flip this around on the people you come in contact with. This is where the saying “meet people where THEY are at” comes in. It’s a two way road, like any of your friendships (let alone your relationships with members of the opposite gender) should be.

        To me, being a good “people person” involves asking questions and trying to understand who I am as a person rather than being a kiss-ass. And, in turn, that’s the priority of how I interact with those I meet on a regular basis.

        Anyways, that’s where my thoughts come in (more or less).

        • Michelle

          Tim, I don’t think bullet-point blog posts like the original post here are necessarily bad, provided they are used as a starting point for conversation, and not a checklist of things we must do.

          For instance, a woman shouldn’t read it, print it out and slap it down in front of her husband and say “see, it says right here you need to do this, this and this.”

          But, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone saying to their partner, “I read this interesting blog today about what it means to put God at the center of a relationship. What do you think that means? How can we apply that our lives?”

          I, personally, would love to have that sort of conversation with a spouse. I think many other Christian women would feel the same way.

          • Tim L

            Exactly. The key being it’s a good starting point, at the very least.

            Largely thanks social media, “helpful” content written by people who sometimes aren’t even accredited experts is spread around the internet like wildfire. I for one regularly see in my Facebook news feed of the latest article blog on “proper Christian dating” or “biblical manhood” or the like.

            For example, here are some of the latest trending posts…
            http://theresurgence.com/2012/08/28/5-notes-on-dating-for-the-guys
            http://cbmw.org/men/manhood/were-just-talking/

            And, not to point the judgmental finger at a gender, the majority of which are shared by my women friends.

            As a guy in his mid-20’s who has knowingly already struggled in pretty much every aspect of life (not just in my personal relationships), I largely take these posts (yes Cor, even your blog) as a massive reminder of how I’m falling short and how I will likely fall short in the future.

            Not that I’m viewing it as an excuse to shirk on my social responsibilities as a man, but isn’t our imperfection make the Gospel (and, in turn, marriage) even more beautiful?

            • Cor

              Tim. I think you and I view such posts (and my blog) differently. I view them similarly to Michelle. They are a starting point for conversation.

              I never share a list because I believe it to be definitive or exhaustive. But it is true that much of what I share comes out of the ministry I’m involved with. Typically, I share what I’ve heard consistently over an extended period of time and not because I’m some sort of a guru. As such, I think these things are worthy of consideration.

              But they should be considered and interacted with. I’d love for you to say I agree with “A” and “C” but I think “B” needs to be rejected and “D” needs further consideration. I believe that’s a better way to filter everything you and I might be reading online rather than seeing it as some sort of measuring stick that you’re not living up to.

      • Michelle

        Anon, I agree with your statement about how blogs and bonding can create unrealistic expectations among women.

        Not too long ago, a friend posted something on facebook about how women shouldn’t be changing their men because God should be changing them as needed. And we should just be loving them for who God made them to be. Of course, it was much more eloquent then that, but it made a lot of sense. And I think it is the perfect antidote to the bullet-point perfection that is sometimes promoted on the internet.

        • Anon

          I’d like to see a link to that article. Also, is Hope’s women’s ministry working on “sisterhood” or acceptance as an idol? I think Beth Moore has touched on it from time to time, (yes, I’ve read a “woman’s book”).

          But, I’m amazed at how different cliques of women strive so hard to be homogenous.

          I’m more offended by manipulative women than the average guy. Its so much worse than in non-Christian circles. I many times wish I could have a non-Christian mate, this is one of the main reasons. Oddly enough, I think it can be attributed to the elephant in the room. (Significantly more single Christian women than men in the U.S.) Sort of a, “Well, I’ll take this one here and change him into the one I want, then, I can have it all.” thought.

          Could it be many times that God is not changing your man because, what you see as wrong, is often times a difference of preference, and priorities.

          • Michelle

            Anon,

            I’ve searched for the item I was referencing. It wasn’t an article, it was just an e-card. And it wasn’t saying that men should change or need to change. It was saying that women need to “let go and let God.” Basically, if someone (a man or a woman) needs changing, then let God convict them of that and let God help them do so.

            Anyway, it struck me at the time that it’s absolutely right. Too often in a relationship it becomes easy to say “if only (s)he’d change…” And in reality, if we are listening for God’s direction and being obedient to what we hear, then we will change if/when it’s needed.

            Anyway, I feel like you misinterpreted that…it was a positive thing, reminding us ladies that not everything needs to be changed or improved.

            As far Hope’s women’s ministries, I can’t speak to that. I have since moved out of state and no longer attend Hope.

            I understand what you are saying about how a ministry could become an idol, but I don’t feel like it is at my current church, nor do I feel like that was an issue at Hope when I last attended a few years ago.

            As far as the rest of your post about manipulation and women trying to change men, I’m not sure you are accusing me as an individual of doing that or if you are accusing the whole female population of doing that in general, so I think I’m just going to leave that alone, unless you want to clarify….I’m open to the conversation, I just don’t want to get my feathers all ruffled by assuming something that wasn’t intended. :)

            • Anon

              I think you’re mis-understanding, I wasn’t talking about the ministry being an idol, but, having the ministry help women to work through the idol of homogeneity.

              Example, if one girl says she likes a laid-back guy, and the other says she wants an ambitious guy, make them look at each other and remind them that they are not in the same dating pool. Guys are either ambitious or laid back. Speak against the, “Oh, yeah, I want that too.” Instead of responding with an, “Oh, that’s what you want, I hope you find that.”

              I wasn’t accusing you of being manipulative, just venting a little, and trying to add onto things that you said.

              You took the time to get to know a guy, decided if he was for you, (without verifying that he had the same non-essentials that your friends are looking for) and decided take it or leave it. You opted to leave it. Nothing wrong with that.

              • Michelle

                Anon,

                Thanks for coming back to clarify things. I’m finding this dialogue interesting.

                I think I understand better about your comment about the church or women’s ministries trying to combat the homogeneity. Again, I’m not sure about Hope’s teachings on that as I was not really involved in anything other than attending on Sundays. I can honestly say that at my current church, I have not had anyone address that either in sermons, in the classes I have taken, or at the small group leader’s meetings I attend. They have a Tuesday weekday thing for stay-at-home-moms, so it’s possible it has been addressed there, but I haven’t attended those. I have, however, seen/heard it addressed in Bible studies I’ve taken or books that I’ve read.

                Personally, I don’t see much of that homogeneity that you are noticing. So perhaps I’m just really lucky in my circle of friends and church experiences.

                First, I’d be curious to know the age range of the women you are referring to that are homogenous. The reason I say that is I honestly think a lot of the homogeneity that you are seeing is a result of immaturity and youth, and I think you will find that it gets better as the women you are dating start to get a bit older and start to experience both successes and failures in their lives. Successes and failures can do a lot to strengthen and refine a person. And it’s after this refinement that you start to realize what works for you and what doesn’t.

                From my experience (I’m in my early 30’s), it seemed like when I was in my early 20’s, we are all on top of the world. We had just graduated from high school and college. Our parents, teachers, and professors had just told us how brilliant and amazing we were. It was easy to watch a romantic movie or hear about a girlfriend’s relationship and think it’s all going to be glamorous and amazing and that you want the same thing. It was easy to believe everything was going to go swimmingly.

                But as my 20’s progressed and my 30’s started, reality set in. Different friends, and myself, were struggling with different setbacks: layoffs, career challenges, dealing with aging parents, infertility, having children with special needs, people struggling in their marriages, people having health or financial problems, etc. And I think it is experiencing these things firsthand, or watching friends go through them, that has helped me realize that I need a partner who meets my specific needs, not my best friend’s needs, not some blogger’s needs, because it’s going to be my husband that helps me through a difficult time, not my best friend’s husband, not the blogger’s husband. You are right, I have experiences that have caused me wounds and refined me, and I have a personality that is completely different than anyone else’s, so the things I look for in someone else should be unique to me as well. If you are young, I think you will find that the women will start figuring this out more as they experience life.

                I know that you don’t want to wait forever to find “the one” and I’m not suggesting that you do, but I’m wondering if that might be why you notice it and I don’t. Further, I know there are plenty of people that get married young before they mature, but in those cases, I think the successful couples find ways to mature together. I’m sure there are pros and cons to either way, I was just throwing it out there as a possible explanation for why I’m not seeing the homogeneity that you are.

                Second, do you think it’s possible that some of the homogeneity that you are seeing is a result of church teachings, or God’s leading, because they are good ways? I mean, it’s reasonable that if something is healthy or tends to lead to successful marriages, the church would encourage us to behave that way and seek those behaviors in partners. Similarly, if God has a certain desire for one of his children & leads that person down a specific path, isn’t it possible that it would be something he desires for many of his children, and therefore is laying those desires on many of our hearts?

                An example is that many churches, books, etc. teach that the man should be the spiritual leader. Now, first, I understand how daunting of a task that must seem. I appreciate that, I really do. But, if that is a successful role for a man & it’s Biblical, then I think it’s something that many churches are going to encourage, and something that many women are going to want and therefore, it’s going to seem like a homogeneous desire. But the reality to me, is once you get past the surface of that statement, it is actually very different to everyone involved.

                I guess what I’m saying is you ask any Christian woman what she wants, and many of them will say “a Godly man who can be a spiritual leader” (appears on the surface to be a homogeneous response), but when you ask her to elaborate what the means, it’s going to be different for every woman. For some women, it’s going to a man who sits down every morning and does devotions with their family, for others it’s going to be a man who participates in a certain discipline with her, like volunteering at church or leading a small group together. And for another woman, perhaps she doesn’t need the man to go do those things with her, but she really wants his approval and support for her to go and do it on her own. Three women with the same desire on the surface, manifested in different ways.

                Personally, I would love to go on a few short-term missions trips, and I’d love a husband that wants to do the same. But one of my friends goes on short-term mission trips (1-2 weeks at a time) without her husband and she’s fine with it. While he’s a Christian, and practices many spiritual disciplines, and is a good dad and husband, he doesn’t feel led to do missions work. He also has a high-stress job that requires him to be there a lot, but he makes great money. After prayer and reflection, their belief is that is how God provides her the opportunity to serve where she feels called. She has the time and desire. He has the money. It works for them. If you asked either of ladies what we want, we’d say the same thing: “a Godly man who leads” but when you break it down, how that looks in our lives is very different, and neither is wrong. And I think that goes back to the point of the original post by Cor and what I was trying to say originally. And that is, as a couple you should talk about God, but you should also talk about how that looks in your life.

                Third, is it possible that we are viewing the blogs, articles, and advice we receive differently? When I see a blog post, written article, etc. I don’t see it as a manual on how to make all the husbands and marriages the same. I see it as framework for discussion, so that as a couple you can hash out what it means to you. Like Cor mentioned, I might say “this piece works for me, this piece doesn’t, and I’m curious what my partner would say about x,y, and z.” I can see how it would be very easy to fall into feeling like it’s a measuring stick, like the other anonymous poster said. And I can see how it would be easy to manipulate your partner with it….either by flat out telling them that’s what they need to do, or by trying to guilt them into it. But then I think the problem isn’t the blog, it’s that your partner isn’t mature and/or mentally/spiritually healthy if they are using it to measure or manipulate you.

                You are right…we are all different, and therefore what we need in a relationship is going to be different. I guess I look at blog posts like this as a place the start the conversation with your partner. If you’re single, then I guess you have the luxury of deciding whether to stay or whether to go as you learn more about each other. When you’re married, then it becomes a bit trickier because you have to find a way to work through it and still be together by the end, which might mean more compromise than singles would have to make.

                As a woman, I can say with complete sincerity that I don’t want what my friends have. Don’t get me wrong, I want a husband and kids someday, God willing. And, I will say that each of my friends’ husbands are wonderful in their own way. They are wonderful dads and wonderful husbands, and I can see the good things that made my friends attracted to them initially. But I also know them well enough to know their quirks, weaknesses, downfalls, mannerisms, etc. and I can say that none of them would have been good matches for me. I guess I’m saying this to encourage you that as women, while it may appear that we want the same things, we really don’t, and we know that in our hearts. On the surface, it looks like we do because many of us do want to be married and have kids. But we do understand that what happens in those families is very different, and when we talk and share stories during our “sisterhood time”, it often helps us to understand the differences between relationships, and helps us to refine what we want for ourselves. By sharing and comparing, it often teaches us that what works for one person or couple wouldn’t work for ourselves.

                Anyway, that’s a lot, but I do appreciate you coming back and clarifying. I apologize for any offense I took.

        • Brittany

          Michelle, I have a few questions that I think you could answer VERY WELL. Any chance you could email me? reb2059 at gmail

  4. Anon

    Wow, you do want to discuss this.

    I’ll start a new reply thread, just because its getting hard to read.

    In reply to:
    I guess what I’m saying is you ask any Christian woman what she wants, and many of them will say “a Godly man who can be a spiritual leader” (appears on the surface to be a homogeneous response)

    I agree with your analysis if you had each of them one on one, you might get something like that. However, if they were in a car all together, it might be more like, Yes, Devotions, Oh, Yes, volunteering, or, and missions too. Then, in practice, it might be more about regular things that are attractive, money, status, looks, approval from friends. It’d be hard to ask that question, and get an honest answer in a church context. I feel most women would give different answers depending on who’s asking, in order to fit in.

    “As a woman, I can say with complete sincerity that I don’t want what my friends have…none of them would have been good matches for me.”

    Have you told your friends this? or do they know it? What is their reaction?

    “when we talk and share stories during our “sisterhood time”, it often helps us to understand the differences between relationships, and helps us to refine what we want for ourselves. By sharing and comparing, it often teaches us that what works for one person or couple wouldn’t work for ourselves.”

    This is a new take on it that I’ve never thought of. I usually viewed it as time to jockey for social position, and assimilation. Why do the stories get revised to have more commonality with the subsequent story teller? Would it ever be okay to say, “I’ve never had that problem before. I think we’re different and that I would enjoy or at least not be bothered by the thing that he did.”?

  5. Matt

    I think what Anon is talking about is not so much a female problem, but, just good ole’ fear of man. Luckily, quick bible search:

    http://www.openbible.info/topics/pleasing_god_rather_than_people

    On the guy’s side, this happened at Hope. I had a friend come to me, ask me what I thought about a mutual acquaintance, I said I wouldn’t be into her romantically. Then, a week or two later I hear from another source that he was dating this girl, and had recently broken up with her. I never did go back to ask what his motive was when questioning me. Seems a bit odd.

    I also was discussing attraction with another guy after our epic discussion here: http://www.justcor.com/how-important-is-physical-attraction/

    I mentioned that Ideally I would have a wife that I found attractive, and he didn’t. This made sense to me in that there would be less temptation, and I was trying to make a point that its not about what others think. He looked at me like I had two heads.

  6. Brittany

    Michelle, I have a few questions that I think you could answer VERY WELL. Any chance you could email me? reb2059 at gmail

  7. padgettpharm

    I have recently started getting to know a guy that I work with. We both work for a christian organization and show our faith to those in need. I feel God has been working in my life to remember to put God first but now I feel overtaken with a desire to rush in way too quickly. I almost feel like a chemical has been released in my brain and I desire nothing but this relationship. I am pulling back and praying much but wonder if Genesis 3:16 is not at work here. Is the desire for man so great due to the curse? How can I keep putting God first when my feelings are so strong to put the relationship first?

    • Cor

      Hey Padgett.

      No one denies the power of feelings. But we all can recognize that feelings can come and go.

      That’s why (in the original post) I encourage people to keep God central. Feelings often lead to terrible decisions like rushing in.

      Having other people in your life who care about you is critical. These are the kind of people that will stand by your side on the day of your wedding or be the people you call first if a breakup were to occur. They will help you to see more clearly and make better decisions.

  8. padgettpharm

    Thanks, Since this post, we have agreed to slow it down and really take more time to get to know each other which makes me really feel like God has answered my prayers and even though the feelings are still there, I am excited to really know him and how God is working in his life. I have a really good friend that is helping to remind me to slow down also. I think after having been single for 8years after a 20 year marriage, I thought I could I had learned how to put God first. That is good in theory until something like this happens. Really being intentional now! Thanks for the comments

  9. jean

    i was just getting to know this christian guy..really felt god in it..but because i said god comes first he felt i didn’t acknowledge him as a person. I said i do but god is first. He didn’t seem to like this and now we are not talking..it is right to put God first before him isn’t it? he said god would guide me through him. yes i know he would..but doesn’t mean i don’t put god first. ur views please.

    • Cor

      This could be a misunderstanding on his end about what it means to put God first. It seems inconsistent with what I see in the Bible that you’d be placing your trust in this guy to lead you. He may be able to encourage you in your relationship with Christ and vice versa. But one of the joys that is ours in Christ is we can come directly to him.

  10. Anilda

    Not being involved in church ministries or activities some of the time because we have responsibilities to our spouses considered putting our spouses first?

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