Written by Demi Paraiso, Philippines
“Is he worth wearing a skirt for?”
That was the question a good friend left with me after I shared my doubts about the guy I was dating.
We were working in the same company and were connected by a common friend. After being friends for about half a year, we started dating. He was friendly, kind, funny, and easy to talk to. However, what drew me to him was our shared faith and values in life.
When our dates became virtual because of the lockdown, we learned to be more intentional with our conversations. We would talk about faith, life vision, and all the big questions that we considered important and non-negotiable.
The skirt issue came up when we were discussing our respective churches. He grew up in a conservative church where on Sundays, women wear skirts that covered the knees. Meanwhile, I am part of a less traditional church, and we don’t have specific dress codes for worship service.
During our talk, we noted other differences between our churches as well, such as music styles, structure for accountability, preferred Bible translation, etc. This was an important conversation for us because, if we do get married, we will have to decide which church to commit to attending.
After that, though, I started doubting the possibility of us being together because I was not sure if I could follow his church’s culture. That was just not my style, and I was very satisfied with my own community.
What’s really non-negotiable?
Unsure of how to proceed, I decided to ask an older Christian lady friend for advice. Here is the essence of what she shared with me: Differences in areas like clothing and music are minor issues and a grey area. Instead of focusing on these things, I should focus on the man’s character. Is he growing in his love and knowledge of the Lord? Does he demonstrate Christlikeness in the different areas of his life—his family, friendships, work, ministry, etc.?
German Lutheran theologian Rupertus Meldenius once laid down a wonderful reminder for the church: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
As the body of Christ, we should be united in the essentials (e.g., salvation by grace, resurrection of Christ, inerrancy of Scripture, etc.). But for non-essentials (e.g., church government models, worship observances, etc.), we should not force our convictions just to be uniform. Ultimately, we should do everything in love.
Here’s one question that can help us check our hearts: In the light of eternity and what the Bible says, will this argument (or difference) matter? While not all arguments are equal, we can learn to be wise on deciding which arguments to let go.
What I’ve come to realise is, if I think negatively of our different cultures, I can easily miss out on the blessing of being with the person I love. And in choosing a partner, what should matter is the inner man. Is he a Christ-committed follower? Does he love and respect his family? Does he love and respect me?
Is he worth submitting to?
My friend also invited me to check my heart. Could it be that my issue was submission? My friend empathised that while submitting is hard, it is what wives are called to do (Ephesians 5:22-24). For a moment I thought, what a burden given to all wives.
Until I read and meditated on the next verses: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). This led to an “aha” moment that gave me a hopeful perspective as a woman.
Even the previous verse was such an encouragement. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). At the end of the day, a husband and a wife are called to unite and outdo one another in giving way.
All these reminded me even more of the love of God demonstrated through Jesus—how He submitted to God by coming to earth, humbling Himself, and dying on the cross so we can be reconciled with God! There’s no greater love that’s been given to us!
And so I’ve realised that should we end up married and I have to move somewhere unfamiliar, I can be secure enough to set aside my preferences. What matters is that he’s committed to follow Jesus. Hence I can trust that his decisions would be for God’s glory and my highest good.
In the months we’ve been friends and dating, I’ve seen how this guy really loves Jesus. How he submits to whatever the Lord wills for his life, his excellence at his work, his generosity toward his family, his service to the church community, his wisdom in making decisions, his hopeful perspective of life, his joyfulness, the way he listens and shows patience with me. His example inspires me to be even better and convinces me that he is someone worth submitting to.
So, after all these thinking and heart-checking, to answer my friend’s question—this guy is definitely worth wearing a skirt for.