Several years ago I attended a church that preached through Song of Solomon. I never thought I could learn so much from a book that compares women’s anatomy to deer grazing in a field! It was awesome.
The sermon series used Song of Solomon to walk through the stages of dating, ending in marriage. Unfortunately I don’t remember a whole lot from the series, but there is one point that I have always come back to time and again because of its truth.
As the pastor discussed the application of the book to dating, he noted the abundant use of springtime imagery in describing the lovers’ relationship. Why, he asked, do you think the author used this imagery? Because springtime embodies the same thing that a godly relationship should embody: life.
To explain what he meant by this, he pointed out that romantic relationships generally have two results–life or death. On the one hand, you have the kind of relationship that is all-consuming. The couple is so infatuated with one another that everything else in their lives essentially dies. They do not follow up on commitments, their ministries take a back seat, and oftentimes their relationship with God suffers as well. What’s more, each individual’s identity disappears into the identity of the couple. Suddenly, they can’t do anything apart, they can’t do anything for themselves, and they can’t even think for themselves. This kind of relationship therefore leads to an all-pervasive death–death of ministry, friendships, relationship with God, and even personal identity.
On the other hand, there is a kind of relationship that leads to life. In this relationship, your significant other spurs you on in your service to God. They encourage you to love your friends and family better, to serve the world more diligently, and to pursue God more passionately. They make you a better disciple than you were before, and as a result, everything in your life flourishes.
This second kind of relationship is the way God designed relationships to be. You can even see this model in the Garden before the Fall. God gave Eve to Adam, not for the sake of mere companionship, but because Adam could better serve God WITH Eve than without her. Their relationship was one of purpose. They had a larger mission than simply making one another happy. It was only when they began to think and act selfishly that death entered the scene.
I must admit, this is a hard teaching for me. In the past, I’ve been tempted to rearrange everything in my schedule to make time for a guy, even at the expense of my prior commitments. And even if I did fulfill those commitments, my heart wasn’t in it. I was only biding my time until I could skip out and go see my boyfriend. As a result, I spent less time with my friends, and my ministry was accomplished with only minimal effort.
This reaction to a new relationship is tempting because everything is new and exciting and every moment spent with the person is an adventure. Why would you not want to spend all your time with them? However, it’s important to take a look at your life. If your relationship is causing the rest of your priorities to suffer, then you need to ask some tough questions. Either adjust the terms of the relationship, or get out altogether, because such a relationship does not honor God. God did not create relationships as an end in themselves, but as a means to an end–His glory. Ultimately, this is the greatest measure of whether or not you have a healthy relationship, so we must always be asking that question.