When it comes to relationships, you’d be right to think that Christians are a little different. I’ve had many curious questions from friends about the fact that Christians often don’t have sex before they’re married. Many people feel that Christians are unusually focused on marriage. I’ve also had friends challenge the idea in the Bible that wives should submit to their husbands, as they feel this is sexist. There has been a lot of debate about whether Christians oppose gay marriage and if Christians are homophobic.
So what DO Christians think about relationships? One thing that is important to remember when discussing anything about religion is that there isn’t just one perspective – not all Christians believe the same thing. I want to share with you my own views on relationships. There will be people who disagree with me – Christians and non-Christians alike. But these questions aren’t black and white, the Bible isn’t always crystal clear about relationships (for example, dating was foreign in Biblical times), and people interpret it in different ways. This is my interpretation, and these are my thoughts.
The most important thing for me when I think about relationships is the centrality of Jesus. That might sound odd, but imagine for a moment that you believe there is a God and he became man in order to save humanity from the death and destruction that is eating it away. (I know that for some of you that will be a stretch, but just go with me for a second!) If you really believe this is true and that you could have a personal relationship with the God of the universe who loves you intimately, wouldn’t that influence every facet of your life? As Christians, we believe Jesus is God and, although he is incredibly powerful, he wants to be part of our individual lives. For us, that is an offer that we can’t refuse. We want Jesus to be the centre of our lives, and thus Jesus is central in our relationships as well.
But what on Earth does that mean?! For me, it means when I’m dating a guy, our common focus is Jesus. Obviously our relationship is about getting to know each other and enjoying each other’s company, but ultimately we constantly remember Jesus because we want his wisdom and involvement in our relationship. For example, I don’t want to have sex before I’m married because I believe God intended sex for marriage, and therefore sex will be best in that committed relationship. It’s my personal decision, motivated by my desire for great sex and my belief in God’s ultimate wisdom shared with us in the Bible.
I’d also like to put it out there that I’m a feminist. If I’m going to date a guy, he should be prepared to be equal in our relationship. And I see no conflict with the Bible here. I think the Bible is clear that God created both man and woman, He loves men and women equally, and in Jesus we are all one (Genesis 1:27; Galatians 3:28). I believe that sexism has no place in the church or in relationships because Jesus loves all people equally. On that note, I just want to mention that the equality of Jesus’ love extends to all people, regardless of sexual orientation. If Jesus loves me deeply, he also loves my gay friends. There are a lot more issues at stake in the gay marriage debate and honestly, I don’t feel I have fully grasped them all. But what I constantly want to keep at the forefront of my mind in all these discussions is the love of Jesus.
Ultimately, I don’t need to get married to be fulfilled or to live a ‘good Christian life’. I find my worth in the fact that the God of the universe loves me. As I said before, if you assume just for a moment that the basic premises of Christianity are true – that there is a God, that he came to earth in human form, and that he died and rose from the dead to save me from death – it is pretty amazing and life changing. No human – family, friends, or lover – can love me as much as God does. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends, and I believe that Jesus has done that for me (John 15:13). So ultimately wherever I end up, whatever my relationship status, Jesus will be with me, loving me more than I could ever imagine. That’s the best relationship I’ll ever be in.