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Starting a relationship


How do I start a healthy, Christian relationship?—College Guy, 20, CA

Shayna Answers:

Dear College Guy,
Well, first you need a godly girl to start a healthy, Christian relationship with!

I wish I could tell you where to hang out and what to say, but I can’t help thinking about what Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things.” When it comes to me helping you with your suave moves, let's just accept that you need greater help than any human intervention.

This is going to sound cliché, but start studying and becoming more familiar with the character of God and His standards for Christian dating. This is the only way that you're going to be able to recognize a godly woman.

After all, when it comes to your perceptions of who will be the “right” type of person for you, your thinking is flawed with past hurts, insecurities, and sometimes unrealistic expectations. As Proverbs 16:2 puts it: “All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”

All of this can lead us to seek out characteristics in a significant other that cater to our carnal desires but not necessarily our spiritual needs. Yet if we become wise in the Lord, we are promised that discernment follows (Proverbs 16:21). This discernment will help you identify the godly women among the posers.

Once you've found your godly girl, you can begin creating a healthy, Christian relationship. But first, to make sure that you start out on a solid foundation, clarify the standards of your relationship. Ideally, the person that you're dating will have the same religious and moral beliefs that you do.

A lot of times we skirt around the issues of what our physical boundaries will be, or how our beliefs will play into our relationships, because we're afraid of hurting a significant other’s feelings. Never feel like you have to compromise, though. The whole point of engaging in open communication is to make sure you both are on the same page! By doing this, you'll help to curtail a lot of pressure, confusion, and unnecessary fighting later on in your relationship.

Up front state how you plan on viewing this relationship—“I'm looking to start a more serious, long-term relationship.” Then communicate what your boundaries and expectations for behavior are. This will ensure that you and your significant other take your first relationship steps on the right foot.

If you truly believe that your relationship is God-approved, then your behavior has to stay up to par if you want to maintain a healthy relationship. I mention this only because many people who find their God-sent man or woman become so star-struck at the Lord's graciousness that they forget the very biblical foundations that brought them to that point.

Remember that honoring your body is a “spiritual act of worship.” More important, by being obedient, you're promised that you'll be able to “test and approve what God's will is” (Romans 12:1, 2). In the end there's nothing that can help you have a stronger, more successful relationship than knowing and following God's will. Next week we'll talk about what to do after you've started a relationship. Gear up for a sticky subject—“How far is too far in a growing relationship?”

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