Real Love, Beyond Modern Dating

Sunday, February 13, 2022

I recently read an article full of horrible dating advice online. It was written by a guy who thought his ability to date three women at once, chase impurity, and behave coldly in relationships were particularly remarkable skills. I was severely unimpressed. It was an important reminder of how knowing Christ must not only change some aspects of how we live, but every area of our lives is God's for the keeping once we become believers--including our love lives. 

"Does your religion have much to do with your life or are you a practical atheist?" (Mark Dever) [1]. 

It's a symptom of being distant from God and of conforming to the world when we exhibit a self-centric view of dating and marriage. If you were to embrace the low mode of living the guy from the dating article has, you would be so enraptured in meaninglessness and emptiness that you could deceive yourself into believing the lifeless expeditions of worldly love could satisfy your soul. But if you belong to Jesus Christ, you know each department of your life is for bringing God glory, not merely to make you happy. It's freeing to change the priority of our lives to ensuring that Jesus has the first place. 

"And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Col. 1:8). 

Ladies, sometimes it's good to be reminded there are men out there like that--looking to have about 5 girlfriends at once and who disregard the importance of purity (and men too should beware of women who embrace ungodly views of relationships [see Prov. 7]). Let us discern and contrast a godless man like that with a man who has a genuine and thriving walk with God; a guy who has a real relationship the Lord will be ever-increasingly marked by the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Gal. 5:22). And what is love? "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This Valentine's Day, resolve afresh to look to the One who is Love Himself to guide all your beliefs on what love is truly meant to be. Do not allow the degraded norms of our perverse society to cause you to drop your standards. Men who only see you as a physical body or as an emotional high for their own benefit care nothing for your soul and exude red flags. A relationship with a guy like that would be lackadaisical in comparison with the epic love story in which we are already enraptured. Marriage is a picture of a grander reality--the heroic love of Jesus Christ for His bride. God is illustrating a beautiful heavenly reality via human relationships:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body. 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:22-33, emphasis added).

Our modern culture of mediocrity and one-night stands has nothing on the grandeur of the love of Jesus Christ for His bride. The Lover of My Soul was so intent about His pursuit of me--and ultimately of the pursuit of His glory--that He was willing to die to save me for eternity. I don't know of a man on the entire planet who could ever begin to scrape the surface of the stunning redemption Christ worked on my behalf. Earthly relationships cannot ultimately satisfy our souls. We will always long for the God who made us; in response--if we do not turn our hearts to seek God--we chase other things we believe will fulfill us. And if it's today's dating scene you're chasing, chances are you've come back with some fresh grief, scars, and disillusionment. I know in my own life I have had painful situations with guys that have left me feeling dreary, bleak and rejected. Somehow God can take our most painful woes of lost love and use it to contrast the stunning faithfulness of His eternally unfailing love for us. When you go through disheartening experiences in relationships, let it remind you of the utter emptiness of this world and the fullness and depth of Jesus Christ. That does not mean we don't desire marriage, but rather that we know that longing first and foremost exists to turn us to the Creator of our souls, who describes Himself this way in the book of Isaiah: 

"Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, and the God of the whole earth He is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,' says the Lord your Redeemer" (Isaiah 54:4-8, emphasis added). 

A society of empty dating creates Instagram posts full of apparent happiness and good times, yet leaves the soul feeling empty and bankrupt. Meanwhile the culture rumors that knowing God makes one's life dull, but we who love and know Him can be found with genuine peace, continuously discovering the truth that: "In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Ps. 16:11b). 

God's love for us is real. He is El Roi--He Sees Me (see Gen. 16:1-16). He is Jehovah Jireh--the Lord will Provide (see Gen. 22:14). He is Ishi--My Husband (Hosea 2:16). He is Jehovah Shammah--the Lord is There (Ezekiel 48:35). We have a faithful Father who watches over us, provides for us, is always present and declares Himself as the husband of our souls. He is a faithful Lover who is never approaches us with coldness, wrong motives, or earthly selfishness. He is forever Faithful and True:

"Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:11-16).

This is the Man pursuing you. He is the only One who deserves the first place in your life. To know we have such a pure, strong Father refreshes our perspective of earthly love--by His grace we will hold biblical standards for our relationships even in a society so direly lost. The One who is Faithful and True is the Husband of my soul, therefore, this Valentine's Day in a season of singledom, I have lasting rest for my soul. I am pursued, loved, wanted and provided for--I have what I need and I did not find it in some dating fling of the day, but in our perfectly pure and steadfastly kind King of the World. 

1. Dever, Mark. “A Time For Seeking.” Capitol Hill Baptist Church, 16 Jan. 2022,

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