7 Christian Courtship Lessons You Should Know About Boy Girl Relationship
Discipling Christians in church to form and develop healthy boy girl relationship with marriage in mind is part and parcel of what the church does at a macro level to the working adults in the community. For the longest time, I have seen my own fair share of people in church grappling with boy girl relationship.
In this post, I would like to dwell and reflect deeper into the Scripture and glean the principles of Christian courtship that we can use to approach a modern boy girl relationship.
Principles on BGR from Genesis 24
One of the most famous passages that Christians use to teach Christian courtship is Genesis 24. The story of Rebekah and Issac captures the imagination of many young Christians. However, as we dwell and reflect into the principles behind their relationship, we need to ask what we can really learn from this Old Testament narrative. How do they apply to our Christian courtship today?
Precursor: Narrative is not necessarily prescriptive
I have written about how we read narratives in the Bible. The only point to note is that the narrative in Genesis 24 is not prescriptive to Christians. We do not send our helpers to the well and pray that the right person will appear. And neither is the original intention of the author to describe how to find the perfect life partner. However, there are principles to learn from the whole episode when we consider the characters’ considerations as they looked for a life partner for Issac.
Lesson 1: Boy girl relationship in a Christian context is not an individual endeavour
In this narrative, one would realise that Abraham and his servant were intimately involved in the whole process. Rebekah’s brother, Laban, was involved as well. This sounds counter-intuitive in our modern context. After all, when I start dating someone, it’s my ‘own personal business.’ Since when people have the right to barge into my own personal business, right?
But you can’t be further away from the truth. We have to realise that relationship is hardly a personal business. For a start, when we marry another person, we marry into the family as well. When there is a new kid, the parenting relationship involves the parents and the entire village.
So similarly, just as Issac was not the only one involved in his marriage process, we should not exclude other people from our courtship. This is especially so when the other trusted people in our lives, be it our church leaders or our family members, would be able to offer another perspective to the relationship. In essence, we cannot develop lifelong relationships in a God honoring manner without the involvement of trusted people who are able to keep you accountable in the relationship.
Lesson 2: Find someone of the same faith and values in your boy girl relationship
Abraham was a worshipper of Yahweh, and he wanted someone who is spiritually compatible to the faith of the family to marry Issac. The idea is to have no foreign pagan influence to pollute Issac’s faith. And hence Abraham decided that Issac should not marry a Cannanite woman.
This lies one of the most fundamental principles in a Christian courtship. As we find a potential life partner, we should want to find someone who is of the same faith and values as us. It is perhaps not enough to just look for another Christian. We have to realise that this is not being too picky and I have addressed this point here. Finding someone who is of the same level of faith and value with you will ensure that they are of the same page with you in the future. Imagine wondering whether you are sending your kid to a Christian Sunday School or Buddhist Sunday School.
One might wonder if religion and values are really important factors in starting a boy girl relationship with another person. But think about it, if you really surrender your life to the God who has saved you from your sins, then wouldn’t you want to marry someone who surrenders too? Doing otherwise would mean that the surrender was not as important a decision as the other person. This inevitably makes God no longer God and shifts the focus of worship to the other person instead.
Lesson 3: Know the qualities you are looking for in a boy girl relationship
The third lesson is that both Abraham and the servant knew the qualities of the girl that they were looking for. Abraham wanted a wife for Issac who is from his own family. The servant wanted a girl who would be willing to feed his ten camels. This implies that he was looking for a kind and hardworking girl, given that it takes a lot of work to feed camels water.
We have to understand that this is not akin to going for grocery shopping. But this is knowing exactly what you are looking for in a potential life partner. I used to have my own criteria as well when I was looking for a potential life partner. I refined them along the way but there would be non-negotiable criteria that I would insist on.
Lesson 4: It is wise to look out for these qualities at the right place
Knowing the qualities and criteria is just the beginning. Once we know the qualities of the other person we are looking for, it is then looking for him/her at the right place. Why do you think that the servant chose to wait at the well? It is because he knew that the well would be a good place for him to look for the woman who had the qualities he was looking for.
Therefore, for the Christian who is prepared to enter into a boy girl relationship, it is wise to look at the right place. If you are looking for a person who serves God wholeheartedly, be then involved in serving in some form of ministry to increase your chances. If you are looking for someone who loves people, join the outreach ministry. You simply do not wait for the person to appear at your doorstep. I have known people in church who have found their other half simply by positioning themselves in the right place.
Lesson 5: Be the right person in your boy girl relationship
Many times we aim to look for the right person to enter into a boy girl relationship. However, we often forget that we need to be the right person to the ‘right person’ as well. While Rebekah certainly did not set out to be the right person, it was clear from the passage that she was already preparing herself in terms of character. She became the right person for Issac due to her work ethics and character.
And Issac wasn’t doing nothing either. Genesis 25:63 stated that he was out in the field meditating when Rebekah arrived. This indicated something about Issac. In short, even before Rebekah, he was already a man who meditated.
The logic here is simple. If we have a set of criteria, then we need to ask if we ourselves is the right person for this person. If I am looking for a girl with pastor qualities, then I have to check if I myself am someone whom this girl is looking for. Sometimes we are not there yet.
And if we are not there, then it makes sense for us to take a step back. Rethink either our criteria, or work on ourselves to become the right person.
Lesson 6: Observe, observe and observe in your Christian courtship
When Rebekah started feeding the camels, the servant just watched her closely. He did not hasten to make conclusion that God had answered his prayer. Instead, he continued to observe. It was only when Laban and Bethuel gave the consent that he confirmed that it was God’s providence. The key thing here, we are always too fast to declare that a certain girl is someone whom God has provided, without doing much more observation and confirmation, which tied back to our first point. Even Rebekah allowed her family to have a say before making the final decision to go ahead.
Likewise, when we thought that we found the right person, we have to observe. It took me about 1 year to observe my wife before I concluded that I wanted to pursue her. This is to make sure that my initial observations are correct.
However, I have a word of caution here. Do set a timeline for the observation and know what you want to observe. The phase of observation should also be done in a prayerful and respectful manner. Before I set my eyes on my wife, I was originally pursuing someone else. But as I was observing this person, I didn’t realise that I had overstepped my boundaries and had ended up disrespecting her. This resulted in an ugly end to the relationship. Nevertheless, the process did allow me to observe more and prevent infatuation from taking place.
Lesson 7: Don’t expect to find the perfect person and have a perfect marriage
The passage in Genesis 25 seems to suggest a happy ending. However, if there is an important lesson we can learn from Issac and Rebekah, it is that there is no perfect marriage. We don’t expect the perfect person as well. We see a hint of this when the end of the episode said that Issac was comforted after his mother’s death. Further down in the book, we learned that Issac practiced favouritism. Rebekah taught Jacob how to deceive Issac for his blessing. In short, it was not totally a happily ever after ending.
For Christians today, we need to adjust our expectation that there is no perfect person out there. When we find a potential life partner, we have to ask ourselves if their flaws are something we can live with. If we want a perfect person, it is likely that this will never happen. And even if we think we have found one, issues will occur further down the Christian courtship.
Bonus Lesson: Principles on Christian marriage apply right from the beginning of Christian courtship
In light of the seventh lesson, I would just throw in one more lesson. If we read the Scripture, we find that most of the Scriptures deal with marriage. This is expected as the idea of dating and boy girl relationship is foreign to that culture.
Nevertheless, the principles for Christian marriage apply to singles in that these prescribe the qualities that we can start building on right now. When we read that husbands ought to love their wives, it is for the singles to learn how to love before they are married.
Therefore, for those in Christian courtship, these verses serve to be a good reminder on the kind of person you have to become before getting married. Work on these qualities to ensure a godly relationship and marriage.
If you want to learn more about the principles of Christian courtship from Genesis 25, I have drawn inspiration from Ravi Zacharias. You may read his book (link here) to find out more on his take on this episode. I have learned a lot from this book as well.
Finally, do comment in the comments below on your thought. Share with me what other lessons you have found to be helpful. If you like to read more about this topic of Christian courtship, click and read the other posts below: