It was a fabulous discussion tonight among my peers as I sat around a table with them in our local (and trusty favorite) coffeeshop for our usual Thursday night meeting. It was an intimate group of five, much smaller than our usual 8-13, but the participation was no less energetic than what has become our norm. Interestingly the topic discussion centered around forgiveness and what that should look like lived out after saying the phrase. This led to a delineation of "healthy boundaries", which inadvertantly veered us towards guy/girl relationships, and you can see where this is headed...
I won't bore you (or maybe fire you up) with one of my usual sermonettes on the topic. In fact, I honestly just wanted to share a beautiful description my friend Jean the Firefighter (as he's affectionately known by the group) enlightened me with tonight. It wasn't that the pieces of truth he was relaying were new; it was the overall integration of them into a verbal flow diagram that wowed me.
Now bear with me as I try to retell this... I don't have that dude's massive wingspan and pertinent hand gestures to paint the picture for you. He talked about how two people getting to know each other should take time and have certain boundaries for intimacy regarding emotional, spiritual, and physical purity. As these two learn more and decide to keep walking together, the boundaries slightly change in order to allow for a growing together of the individuals over time and within healthy contexts (because there's little room for the physical boundaries to move outside of marriage). If the two are guarded and wisely "not awakening love until it so desires" as the Song of Songs states, then they are more apt to see and heed red flags in the relationship. I Peter 4:8 says that "love covers over a multitude of sins". Usually that's great, but we've all seen this backfire, right? We've all seen the girl who stays with a fool because "she's in love; she can't help it.". Well, there were some decisions that got her there...or maybe no decisions where some were needed. Maybe she just "went with her heart". I won't slip too far into Bitter betty about the "emotions" surrounding romance, but I challenge you to read Jeremiah 17:9.
Christ loves perfectly, and He calls us to love well also. But there are wise ways to love, and Solomon warns not to awaken love (of a romantic sense) prematurely multiple times in that book. He knew we'd need to be reminded.
So take Prov. 4:23 to heart. Don't use it as a shield against vulnerability, but as a map on how to step in getting to know others. Love of any kind is a risk, but our hope and security is safe in Him alone. So love big and love well!
Here's Jean further expounding upon these points:
"A couple of foundational things we talked about to help understand the reasons/purposes for these things:
1. We are created to experience the fullness of life that God has for us to its greatest extent within the bounds of rules/laws. They aren't just do's and don'ts, but have our best interests in mind so we can experience all that God has for us. So it would be illogical to assume that this would not also apply to relationships.
2. The purpose of that strong intimacy/love within the bounds of marriage. God established the marriage covenant to be lifelong between one man and one woman. So the strong physical/emotional/spiritual intimacy between husband and wife serve to protect the marriage and keep it strong by enabling them to forget about petty little things they might not like about each other. This is a good thing that God designed. We screw it up when we don't do it according to His plan, we enter into that deep intimacy too early and overlook huge things that could decide whether or not you should spend your life with that person.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
- God knows this, He made it that way.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
- God knows this too, we made it that way through our sinful nature.
Wisdom is to learn how God designed the world and us to be and live within that framework so we can experience Him to the fullest and have life!"
See? Understand why I love spending this time expanding my mind/heart about the things of God with my peers each week? ;)
- Posted on the go...