My Befuddled Beauty,
I have heard your objections. “If it is about neither dating ‘The Right Way‘ nor ‘Doing Whatever We Want‘, what IS that and what does it look like?” You have discovered the reason I write, the reason I contemplate, and the reason that we are having this conversation:
I don’t know, but I desperately want to find out.
I wish God wrote another book in the Bible called The Book Of Dating and it contained formulas that I could use to calculate the perfect date to move in for the first kiss, the words that will communicate hurt without condemnation, and if two people should get married or even go to dinner at all. When I allow my heart to hope and become attached, I fear it will be hurt if I do something wrong.
But God, in his love and mercy, has not deigned grace us with set plans and procedures. He created us to be in relationships as he is eternally in relationships with himself and his creation. The great dance of life has ebbs and flows as songs and partners change, but the band never stops playing.
It is a good thing we don’t have the rules. God gave man the law, and we have made a royal mess of it ever since. No man can keep the law; that’s why Christ had to come. We would break the laws and then have no excuses for our mistakes in dating, and live in condemnation for all of our days.
No, our Heavenly Brother, with his victory over sin and slavery, has ushered in his kingdom of grace. It is a kingdom where the perfect law is fulfilled by love and striving is replaced by peace. It is a kingdom where the legalism of the Pharisees is replaced by freedom. It is a kingdom where condemnation is replaced by forgiveness and “go and sin no more”.
So, how then shall we live in this realm, alien to the world that birthed us, of love and grace and mercy? Surely not by reverting to law. The LAST thing I want to do with these letters is to create a new legalism, an extra burden to those bent over under weight. If I ever come across to you as mandating rules for you to follow, I apologize. I do not have the answers, but I am desperate to live a kingdom life of grace and want to know how I could even start in my romances. I want to know what to look for in a woman of Christ, and how to be the best man of Christ I can be.
The Galatians dealt with something similar in the time of Paul. They had received the gospel of grace, but had been wooed away from it by those who claimed they had to follow the law of circumcision on top of the grace of God. Paul was rather harsh with these who would remove grace by adding to it. Adding legalistic rules to dating is no different. It makes grace counterfeit and returns us to the slavery of the flesh.
I want grace! How do I get it in my dating? I don’t yet have the answer, but I suspect that dating is no different than any other sphere of life in that Christ has given us freedom and calls us to live according to the Spirit and not flesh. It will look drastically different from both the pagan and aesthetic culture, as grace always does. I think the kernel is in Galatians 5:13-14:
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Will you sharpen me, as iron sharpens iron, as we discuss and live the freedom and grace in the scary world of dating? Please continue to read, beauty.
Freely and Lovingly Yours,
A Christian Guy