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We shouldn’t get on it then try to stop before we arrive at the destination–God tells us to stay off that highway completely.” Patience is tough; purity is a struggle. “The past needn’t determine our future,” Harris suggests. From friendship to romance The journey toward marriage cannot be reduced to formula, nor should it be.Relationships are as unique and varied as the people who are in them.Smart love begins with the desire for God’s best, and, by default, requires a knowledge of and a willingness to obey God’s rules.Smart love is revolutionary; its object is God and others, never self.“Like a fruit picked green or a flower plucked before it blossoms, our attempts to rush God’s timing can spoil the beauty of His plan for our lives.”Man’s view of love contains several notions that are contrary to God’s, and should therefore be contrary to the way we pursue love, especially love in the deepest and most intimate of human relationships.We must reject the philosophy of love that holds comfort of self as its chief end, reduces love to a mere feeling, and believes that love is beyond control. The substance of romance-as-it-ought-to-be must include, among other qualities, patience, purity, and grace.(Harris defines these stages: casual friendship, deeper friendship, purposeful intimacy with integrity, and engagement.) These principles include suggestions for determining if the relationship should be moved along, how to move it along, ad how to get the right help in the process.
Simply put, the style of dating so prevalent in Western culture is little more than a series of short-term relationships, a training ground for divorce. “You don’t need to shop for what you can’t afford,” quips Harris.
In a chapter on what’s wrong with the current approach, Harris argues that dating (1) leads to intimacy but not necessarily to commitment; (2) tends to skip the “friendship” stage of a relationship; (3) often mistakes a physical relationship for love; (4) often isolates a couple from other vital relationships; (5) in many cases, distracts young adults from their primary responsibility of preparing for the future; (6) can cause discontentment with God’s gift of singleness; and (7) creates an artificial environment for evaluating another person’s character.
Using the analogy of a swerving shopping cart–one that insists on going its own direction rather than being steered–to describe dating, Harris states, “I’ve concluded that for Christians dating is a swerver–a set of values and attitudes that wants to go in a direction different from the one God has mapped out for us.” Now what? How can couples meet, romance one another, and nurture a relationship that might someday bloom into marriage?
It’s one thing to spot the flaws, but what are the Solutions? Our meaning is far below God’s, yet it is His blessing we want and his best we pursue.
Understanding what God calls love is our first step.