Is your relationship with the one whom you are courting carrying you away or towards your covenant God? Are your hearts pushing forward into the open seas of a godly life? This article will focus on how we should be intimate with the person whom we are courting. First, we will focus on the heart because out of it flows every aspect of our relationships. Second, we will examine the great snare that has destroyed true intimacy with those we are courting – sinful intimacy. Last, we shall examine the true intimacy that follows out of the new heart that God has given us.
In this article, we must be very honest and acknowledge that in the relationship there are always two principles inside of us. They are diametrically opposed to each other. The one desires Jesus Christ while the other desires sin. The new man desires Christ to be at the heart of every thought, deed and word in the courting relationship. The old man desires only sin and deception in the relationship. Therefore, we must not be surprised at the real threat of lust when courting. Although we badly wish to impress our partner, we must be downright honest. Our hearts desire Jesus Christ alone, but our depraved old man desires lust and pride. Discussing our temptation to sin and how to battle against it is important. Spiritual wisdom will guide us as to when and how to do this with our partner. “Perfect” as your partner may seem, he or she still has to daily wrestle with the old man of sin, and we must not ignore but live wisely in light of this truth.
The heart is the key issue in every relationship. It is the spiritual centre, the deepest core of man. Proverbs 4:23 reveals to us that “out of the heart proceeds all our thinking and willing, our loving and hating, and our desires and inclinations” (Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics, Chapter 27, Reformed Free Publishing Association, under the section: the “seat of faith” E-book). Therefore, all decisions and emotions with respect to relationships flow out of the spiritual character of our heart. When our heart is truly, wholly, undeniably set on Jehovah, the streams of our relationship will be filled with living waters (Jn. 7:38). When our hearts are set on God, lust will is violently pushed out. When our hearts are set on God, we will humbly use the whole relationship for the glory of God and the service of His church. But when own our heart is not wholly set on God, we can expect our relationships to fall apart spiritually. May God work in us to desire Him more and more, so that every precious second we spend with our partner be in the fear of God. May every date be characterized by the mesmerisation of the loveliness of God.
Beloved, we must fight against the constant bombardment of the world that tries to define for us Christians what true and holy intimacy is in a relationship. Instagram cannot capture a Christ-centred date. What it can and does capture is the good food in a nice restaurant. Facebook cannot capture the spiritual closeness of the couple. But Facebook can and does capture how physically close the two are with a background of a beautiful location. When we are repeatedly shown the physical details of relationships, we deceive ourselves that these are what define a relationship. We forget how our relationships are to be defined in Jesus Christ alone.
Couples that press themselves to improve their courting relationship spiritually should not simply focus on modifying behaviours in the relationship. Do not start first by planning more devotions together or attending more church activities, as these should bear fruit naturally. Start first by seating together under the cross of Jesus Christ. Know your complete inability to have a godly relationship and at the same time behold the power of Christ. Ask God to work in the depths of your being to long for Him. A greater desire for Jesus Christ is central in the relationship. Pray and ask God for your heart to be fixed on Jehovah, the Alpha and the Omega, the God most High. Satan, the world, and our flesh immediately cry out: “being fixed on God in our relationship is ridiculous”. However, what is truly ridiculous in relationships is the obsession with things that are vain and unholy, ignoring the matters that are of true and weighty importance. Let the others mock your relationship as being “God-intoxicated” as the world mocked the Reformer John Calvin. Let your hearts be filled with the Word and Spirit. Set the heart of your relationship on the things above, not on things on the earth. Be fixed on God, not with each other and you will experience the sweetest date – the sweet communion with God and each other.
The snares of the heart in a relationship
One of the greatest dangers that flows from our hearts that threatens courting relationships is sexual sin. God hates sexual sins that arise from our hearts. Now that you are courting, consider what ways the sexual temptation you face will be different and similar as compared to when you were single. Sexual sins range from the inappropriate physical closeness of the couple to sexual intercourse before marriage. Yet, the heart of the matter is the ensnaring temptation of lust, from which no one is spared. I met a young man once, studying to become a pastor in a conservative church. He mentioned that he enjoyed watching a fantasy show of kingdoms warring against each other. When his friend accusingly asked whether that show contained nudity, he defended himself by saying, “yes, that is true, but the girls are so ugly that I am not tempted by the sexual scenes”. Who is spared from the temptation of lust? A seminarian? A pastor? A professor of theology? You and I? Even the wise King Solomon caved in to gross sexual sins and fell into idolatry. King David, the man after God’s own heart, stole another man’s wife for his own lust and committed adultery. When I glance into my own heart I confess, “oh wretched man that I am”! Before God’s holy throne, relationships are not a game. To live in sexual purity is to seek your and your partner’s salvation. To live in sexual sin is to seek your and your partner’s damnation.
Now let us discuss some excuses our old man of sin by instigation of the devil might come up with. The young man watching “mild nudity” may think that he is not committing any sexual sin before God just because the main plot of the show is not sexuality but the drama and violence. Therefore, he tries to ease his conscience. Similarly, couples may try to reason that the main purpose of touching one another has nothing to do with intercourse. Besides, although the plan was to meet in a place where no one else is, they may claim that sexual immorality was never part of the agenda in the date. They may say, “In fact, I am strongly against intercourse! The old man of sin may go so far as to say, “Touching the one I am dating is right and glorifying before the thrice holy God!” The Scriptures, as it were, looks at us in the eye … and yells: “flee fornication for your lives!” (1 Cor. 6:18, 1 Thess. 4:3-5, 2 Tim. 2:22, Pro. 5, 6:25, Gal. 5:16, Js. 1:14-15, Col. 3:5, Job 31:1 – It may be a good idea to discuss these passages with the one you are courting. Brothers and sisters, let us not flirt with any form of sexual sin, not experiment with it, but absolutely, and categorically flee from it. For the fruit of any lust is always the grieving of the Spirit and deep anguish in one’s soul. All it took for David was a quick glance at Bathsheba from a distance and lust burned in his heart. If you are the slightest bit uncertain if your gesture will stir lust in the heart of your partner, leave it far away, be humble and tell your partner, “I am not greater than David, Solomon or Samson”. The call to flee sinful physical intimacy is a divine warning. Sexual sins are a most deadly snare of the heart.
To return to the young man that had an excuse to watch “mature” content, his answer was given with great confidence, and even a boasting of sorts. As if to say, “Come on, I am above that! I am a strong Christian; see how I can flex my Christian liberty”. The world equates violence and sexual explicitness with maturity. The label for movies with fornication is not “wicked before the eyes of God” but instead, “mature content”. It is as if the mark of maturity is the ability to flirt with sin. But how can flirting with that which is from the pits of hell demonstrate that we are spiritually strong? One thing is certain: God did not save us with the blood of Christ so that we may flirt with the lusts of the heart. Prove to your partner that God has given you spiritual wisdom, that you understand thoroughly the nature of sexual sin. Show your partner your spiritual strength by sprinting away from sexual sin. Glow as children of light if your partner as fallen into the darkness of lust. Display your understanding of true love. Loving God in your relationship means seeking holy intimacy, not the intimacy between you and your partner’s depraved old men of sin.
Unchaste physical intimacy outside the marriage always gives the illusion of closeness. In a certain sense, an unmarried Christian couple that ventures physically where they should not be will experience a kind of closeness than if they did not. That is the closeness when the old man of sin unites with another. They unite for a moment against God’s laws and therefore against God Himself. They share and assist each other in the works of the Devil. It is the closeness that Solomon experienced with his heathen wives when he worshipped their gods instead of Jehovah. It is the clossness of Ananias and Sapphira when they shared the secret of their hypocrisy, right before they were slain by the Spirit. But sinful physical closeness is spiritual distancing from the God we love. A life of sin is coldness and isolation from God. Others may buy into this illusion the couple creates. The relationship looks perfect from the outside, but what is inside, behind the closed doors, is a rotting corpse. Let us seek true closeness with our partners and repent when we have chased after sin and illusions of intimacy.
A New Heart, A real intimacy
Thankfully, we come to the realization that we cannot depend on ourselves to develop a desire to love and not lust after the one we are courting. The Spirit of God reveals to our spirit that only God can give us such a desire and save us poor sinners. Relationships are spiritually difficult with the many new responsibilities and temptations, but we must remember that the beating inside of us is not a heart of stone. It is a new heart that God has given us. The giving of this precious new heart is rooted in eternal election. He gives us a new and holy heart because He has established His unbreakable covenant of love and friendship with you and me. God swore by Himself that your heart and mine will be His own personal workmanship. True intimacy is a giving of oneself to the spiritual edification of another. True intimacy is what Jesus Christ did for us, while we were yet sinners, living a life of lust and pride. Christ gave us life for us, that we might spiritually live. While we foolishly turn again in to our sin, and committed spiritual adultery, God still maintained His unbreakable covenant with us. He chastens us, lovingly brings us to our knees in repentance, that we may once again enjoy spiritual intimacy with God. Therefore true intimacy in the relationship is when a couple seeks every way possible to show not lust but Christ’s true love to each other. This is the covanant view of a relationship. This is the secret to true intimacy which the world has no clue about. I close with this verse hoping you may reflect on it with the one you are courting – “The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant” (Ps. 25:14).
Written by: Josiah Tan | Issue 40