Warning: This was written in one sitting in Starbucks after a lot of caffeine. Editing may be needed.
Back in 2005, I was not yet fully Reformed in my soteriology, I was not Baptist in my ecclesiology, I was not yet charismatic in my pneumatology, nor was I complimentarian in my understanding of gender roles. I knew little about what genuine church growth looked like, nor how true discipleship was done. And in that time between my junior and senior year of college (a.k.a. “3rd and 4th year of university” for you Canadians reading this), I had my first real dating relationship. I was 21 going on 22, and I knew little about how or what I should be doing in such a thing. Nor did my local church teach me much about biblical betrothal or what Christian courtship looked like. In short, I was ignorant, stupid, and young.
Yes, I was young and stupid; and ignorance is no excuse. I should have known better. For the sake of the relationship, I had no mentor couple, nor did I have pastors who would encourage me to pursue biblical manhood, nor did I have church elders (same thing, imho, as “pastor”) who exhorted me to take the initiative, step up, take the lead, and pursue a girl (who was pursuing biblical womanhood). I soon found myself to be 22 years old, with no godly influence in my life to tell me to stop messing around, and just grow up, and get married. I certainly knew I was a born-again Christian, but you might as well call me one of those former “carnal” Christians who was trying to discern the post-breakup crisis moment in my life. I was just waiting for a Divine epiphany to wake me up from my slomber, fill me with spiritual power and an ability to maintain purity of heart. For the most part, this could all be attributed to my spiritual upbringing.
During that relationship, I largely neglected my friends, and even my family somewhat. Ask my sister; she can probably testify to how un-nice I was to her at that time. In those days, I knew little about the importance and necessity of having mentors in my life for mutual discipleship, not just guidance in all things relationship-wise. I had not bought into any of Joshua Harris‘ relational theology of kissing dating goodbye and on courtship; nor had I set up concrete, tangible, typed-out on paper, give-it-to-my-mentor couple boundaries on dating. What that essentially meant was that I had not worked out the gospel implications, the Christ-and-the-Church implications to the way I did relationships. I had not learned that all relationships — especially all dating/courtship/etc — is a community project, and an area of life for mutual discipleship.
I have seen it even in many of the relationships around me today: when a guy gets into this relationship with a cute godly girl from church (or seminary), he no longer hangs out much with his guy friends; he doesn’t seek out an older guy to get advice from, nor do the two of them develop an accountability friendship with a mentor couple. Mutual discipleship is neglected; the relationship is just about the two of them.
What results is that courtship only becomes an individual+individual project. And if the guy goes on to get engaged to the girl, this “it’s all about us” individualism lasts from the time he gets into the relationship, until the end of the first year of marriage. (Of course, this is a large generalization, but I’m sure you get my point.)
The purpose of this post is mainly to remind me to never neglect the single friends around me, but to include them in my relationship(s); and to encourage me to proactively seek out friendships with older, wiser, Christian couples–married or not-yet-married, with children and those who not yet have any. The Christian life is meant to be lived together with other born-again disciples. We were saved by Jesus’ blood, that we would be Christ’s disciples, following whole-heartedly after him and to give ourselves unreservedly to building each other up. This means we must be mutually discipling each other: older learning from the younger, younger learning from the more elderly, married befriending the singles, and non-married/singles seeking the wisdom of the experienced/married. That is what the church looked like, and what it should look like until Christ returns: the body of Christ that does not live segregated lives of individualism, but a life of community through mutual discipleship.
Last edited: Nov.02, 2009.