Bad romance advice

The Wise Man found four things mysterious to him: the way of a snake on a rock, a ship in the seas, an eagle in the sky, and most baffling of all, “the way of a man with a maid” (Proverbs 30:19). If this relationship mystified Solomon we might be forgiven for being a little perplexed ourselves!

Because I teach at a college, I am around a lot of young people interested in some kind of romantic attachment (though some might not admit it, I know that they are). Sometimes I offer the following bad romantic advice:

Men, if it plugs into the wall, girls consider it a romantic gift. Also, if you want a romantic Friday night, try taking a girl out to Walmart.

Women, you don’t need to explain to your boyfriend why you’re upset with him. Men actually enjoy the game where they get to guess what they did wrong! (Or, ladies, you could use actual words).

More seriously, how can the young Christian man and Christian young woman build a healing and loving relationship?

  • Especially men: If you care about your relationship, learn how to be better: Suggest to your beloved that you get Christian counseling. Take it seriously. You send a particular and vital message to her when you do so. Read good books on romance and marriage, most importantly, study Bible passages about relationships. As it turns out, the Bible is all about relationships; those between us and God, and those between each other.
  • Especially women: The way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach. It’s through his ego. There! I’ve given you the secret most men won’t divulge because, well, they have an ego! You ignore this at the peril of your relationship.
  • Develop your own Christ-like characteristics: The foundation of a lasting relationship is a person who is like Christ: thoughtful, selfless and forgiving. If you don’t believe me, consider the opposite: a relationship where both are thoughtless, selfish and decline to forgive.
  • Listen: This is the neglected part of the communication process: You want to be the girl to die for? Pay him the compliment of listening to what he has to say. By doing so you have said, “I think what you say is perceptive; I respect what you think.”
  • Good manners are the oil that makes the machinery of a relationship run smoothly: “Love is not rude” (1 Corinthians 13:5). We are generally polite to the waitress, the teller at the bank and our colleagues at work. Why not say “please” and “thank you” to our romantic partners?
  • Forgive: Either you will forgive, or have no relationships. There is no third option.
  • You are not in charge of the universe: You cannot make someone else do your bidding (that’s controlling behavior), and you cannot make them love you.
  • You are not obliged to fall in love with anyone; you are obliged to be loving to everyone: For the Christian, not all is fair in love and war: You are still obliged to be a Christian in your romantic relationships, whether you had your heart broken, or you had to break a heart.
  • A broken romance is not a dead end; it is a detour: This will take time to see. You can learn, become better because of the experience.
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you: (Matthew 7:12). Place yourself in his or her position and ask how you would like to be treated. So clarifyingly simple, so neglected, so true.
  • Above all, work on your primary relationship: When your focus is on God, other relationships will come in focus too; when your focus is not on God, other relationships will become blurred.

I don’t believe that there is just one person in the universe out there for you (what if she’s in Australia? How do you find her?). I do think that thoughtful, genuinely Christian young people can forge something that is loving, reliable and fulfilling.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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