Written By Ana Chavarria, USA
As Christians, we are known for believing that we are to follow what the Bible tells us to do. Sometimes, this gives others the impression that we serve a God who has an unending list of commands that we need to follow.
The reality is quite the opposite. In many aspects of our lives, the Bible does not give us rigid instructions on what we should do. Instead, God gives us guidelines—and the freedom to choose how we want to live our lives.
For instance, the Bible does not have an explicit set of rules on dating. As a result, many of us tend to turn to books about “how-to-date-the-godly-way” for guidelines about relationships.
When I was 14 years old, someone passed me a book on dating which became everything to me. I tried to follow everything it said to a tee. I forgot that while it offered some valuable lessons that came from the Bible, it was not the Bible. Instead, I mistakenly took the Bible verses given by the author as validation that all his “rules on dating” were from God. I remember that the book kept repeating that “courtship” was the only godly way to start a relationship, and that “dating” was not purposeful and could lead to sinful acts. By courtship, he meant not going out just as a couple, always having a chaperone around, and keeping the physical contact to holding hands. Dating, to him, was more of an exclusive relationship. It made sense when I read the author’s experience with courtship and how it worked out for him.
As a result, I grew up thinking that dating was basically a sin and it was wrong to express my feelings to someone. I ended up keeping all my feelings within and this gave me a lot of unnecessary stress.
When I started attending college, I befriended people who were in very godly and healthy relationships. I started to question my beliefs about dating and realized they had a very weak foundation. I wasn’t so sure anymore. All around me, I heard great stories of how God led my friends to the right person in different ways. It was like seeing for the first time that God works in a personal way.
That’s when I realized that what might have worked for the author of that book might not work for me, or for somebody else. Perhaps that’s why we sometimes get frustrated trying to abide doggedly by a set of steps that are said to lead to “godly living”. When we do that, we may not be allowing the Holy Spirit to guide our lives in a personal way.
Christian books and biblical counsel can provide guidance and answers to questions often asked in the Christian life. But they can also distract Christians from the most important thing—our personal relationship with God. If we are really seeking His face every day, He is going to show us His way for us individually.
Think of it this way: there are many books on dating, and each book is going to say what the author has learned about the subject. How do you know for sure which one is absolutely right, and which one to follow? Each author has a unique set of struggles which brought him or her to the place he or she is at now. It was that experience which made him or her write a book full of life lessons and advice for Christians.
Today, I am dating a guy who lives and glorifies God in everything he does. And that makes me want to be a better person every day. It’s an amazing experience to be able to journey together with the one you love towards God.
That said, God has different plans for each one of us. Christian life is not about determining who does it better or trying to model after others; it’s about letting go of yourself and letting God take over your life. You will be surprised by what He is able to do. Trust in Him and He will lead you to the path He has planned just for you!
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”—John 8:31b-32