In my last article "Dating & Courtship" I spoke about the difference between dating and courtship, and why this time is important. Now, I am going to focus on how to understand what you are feeling towards the other prospective person and why you should not ignore the truth of how you feel.
GOD’S DESIGN FOR JOINING TWO PEOPLE TOGETHER
In the first two lessons in this series I explained how God joined Adam and Eve and how the devil got them to fall. Then I spoke about the damage that now effects all human interactions. So, what we have to understand is; what is the difference between what God joins together and what humans try to join together.
When two human beings are attracted to each other, it is not always from God. Each individual has their own idea as to why they want to have a spouse. Often times infatuation, inordinate affection and even inordinate lust can cloud the couple’s minds to the point that they marry for the wrong reason; and out of the will of God.
God’s design is to join two people together based on His will, His word, their human spirits, emotions, physiological and spiritual compatibility. God often joins two people that can do a work of God in harmony. He often pairs people that He thinks can complement each other as a godly team. In the Kingdom of God marriage is not just about two people getting together and having a family… He has a purpose.
GOD MADE AFFECTION – EMOTIONS – LOVE
God made all of us to have natural affections, feelings, emotions, intimate desires and the capacity to love. Being an Apostolic believer doesn’t mean we can’t have these; instead, we are supposed to control them. However, when we cross the line from what God put in place into inordinate (uncontrolled) affections, excessive emotions or unwholesome lustful thinking; then we cross over into temptations that lead to sin.
HOW MEN & WOMEN FALL IN “LOVE”
For the most part, men like what they see first before ever getting emotionally attached. In every man’s mind he has a preference on what his ideal girl would look like. Honesty, most men are physically attracted to girls for how they look and for intimacy sake at first, but then emotionally they get attached later.
Women for the most part may first like what she see, but what is more important to her is the attention she receives from the gentlemen. Women do not fall in love based on looks alone, but usually she becomes emotionally attached after just a little attention. It’s all about falling in love for women.
HOW ATTRACTION WORKS
For most people, attraction starts with just a glance or just a general interest from one side only. What actually happens is that each person’s human spirit connects. If each person likes what they feel with that connection, they usually smile “sheepishly” at each other (or even flirt visually). After that, they may get together and become acquainted.
What is very important about this is when the connection takes place; what is being connected through their human spirits? For example; if a guy is only interested in fulfilling his need, then he may project that “spirit” to her. So, either she misinterprets that as a “genuine interest,” or if she is only interested in intimacy too… then their connection may be inspired by lust only.
Believe it or not, you would be surprised by the reasons people are attracted to each other; some for godly reasons; some for carnal reasons. Then, there are those connections that are misinterpreted, which usually means that couples are not right for each other and can lead to trouble down the road if they get married.
THE BONDS OF EMOTION
After the couple gets past the first connection and begins to talk to each other, typically the woman develops an emotional bond first. And then the man usually gets emotionally attached later. However, depending on their initial connection will determine a lot of things; some good and some not so good.
The difficulty with discerning the emotional bonding in relationships is figuring out what the REAL emotional bond is. While women typically emotionally bond first, some men don’t ever fully emotionally bond, but just use the girl for his convenience; while other men truly fall deeply in love.
The word “emotion” is not even in the bible. However, the word means; a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Our emotions are actually derived from our affections, knowledge, experience and our expectations. It has been said that our emotions is like the weather; always changing and always up and down!
While it is true that our emotions are involved in liking or loving someone (which isn’t bad in-of-itself); it is important to understand that if a person’s affections, fantasy or expectations are misguided; so will their emotions be tricked into believing what they are feeling is real, even if it’s false. That is why emotions cannot always be trusted… UNLESS…. A person has their affections, emotions and expectations grounded in God’s word and will. There are spiritual people who have learned to keep their affections and desires crucified (under control) in Christ.
Since emotions and expectations can be tricky to figure out, it is important that you figure out exactly why, and for the right reasons, why you want a spouse. Let’s look at some other things that can help you understand your emotions better.
WHAT IS INORDINATE AFFECTION?
One thing I have noticed with some couples getting together is that they have a hard time seperating what are normal feelings and very strong emotional feelings they feel. They may see everything through “rose-colored glasses.” The reason is, because everything feels “warm-and-fuzzy” and they fail to properly discern what they are feeling. A lot of things can simulate pure human love such as; misguided emotions, misplaced feelings, inordinate affections, excessive desires, needs, expectations and many others things.
In Colossians, Paul tells believers that they are to “mortify” (kill or make dead) sexual sins, inordinate affection, and strong desires (concupiscence - lusts). For we read…
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Col 3:5)
The word “inordinate” means a lack of control; to be excessive. The word affection means; to gently feel, to modestly desire. Both these words combined means to have affections that are excessive and or out of control.
Inordinate affection usually crosses the line from what God intended as “Natural Affection”, to strong desires that become obsessive. This kind of “inordinate affection” simulates “love” and actually becomes an infatuation. Some people even go so far as to become addicted to these feelings which can lead to temptation or misbehavior before marriage. A person who has “inordinate affection” is blinded by it because they think that these “strong-strong” feelings are love; when in reality it borders on obsession. People who also have problems with inordinate affection are discontented people. We sometimes call this behavior as being a “wander-lust.”
In my experience, I believe most people who battle inordinate affection often make the wrong decisions on who to marry. They often are confused as to what they feel and are blinded to the other person’s lifestyle and walk with God. People who struggle with this issue are typically trying to satisfy their own selfish needs; but, doing it outside of Gods will and timing. If this is the case, it is best for this person to step back and get a hold of God before it’s too late.
EVALUATING YOUR NEED VS FEEDING YOUR OWN “LUST” (desire)
This part of the lesson is going to be difficult for some people to understand, because some people think that their own needs can only be satisfied by another human being. So, please try to understand the difference as I try to explain this.
Also note; scripture uses the term “lusts” in a broad sense that includes an inordinate desire for anything such as the love of money, material things, authority, sexually, gluttony and so on. Lust can be applied to anything a person loves beyond what they should.
When God places a desire in the heart of a man or woman for marriage, that can be a good thing. With the planting of that desire, God’s will is to bring two people together in HIS WILL and TIMING.
When a person is trying to obtain a spouse outside of God’s timing, that will often reveal impatience; and that is because they have a desire that they want to fulfill now. What this entails, is that a person may have intimate needs (emotional or physical) that they struggle with and they want to fulfill them. So, instead of seeking God to help them with it, they focus on the opposite sex to feed that need. The problem with this is that they often choose a person for the wrong reason.
However, there is a truth that Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7; and that is it is better to marry than to burn (with lust). But, Paul isn’t saying to get married so you can just fulfil a lust. But he is saying that if you have such a strong sexual desire so that it will cause you to fornicate and lose out with God, then its better that you marry to keep yourself from habitually sinning. Therefore even if a person goes this route, God will still deal with them on controlling that desire; even though they have a spouse that will help alleviate some of the struggle. There is more I can say, but this is not part of the study.
Some people desire to have a spouse just so they are not lonely. I have made mention of this several times earlier. But what I want to point out is that loneliness can never be completely fulfilled by a spouse. It may help some, but loneliness has more to do with how content a person is with themselves. So, if a person marries for the sole reason of loneliness, they will be disappointed when they realize later that they married for the wrong reason. The best advice I can give, is get with God and become content with who you are in God… then when you marry, you will enjoy the companionship so much better.
Another thing to understand is that God has put in us, that desire to be married; a certain kind of void that only the other spouse can fill. I believe this to be the desire to be one with someone in marriage. This is a normal void that God actually created and will fill when He brings two people together. This void is not a bad void; it is just something God put in place for companionship in a marriage relationship. Some people call this “finding your soul mate,” which is not part of this lesson.
HOW TO TELL IF I AM TRULY IN LOVE
Falling in love is an awesome thing and should be cherished with every step a person takes towards marriage and beyond. Some say love is not a feeling, but a conscious decision. And while that is certainly a part of it; it is not the entire truth of the matter. The bond of love can never be strengthened until there is a proper emotional and spiritual bond first. Ultimately, true love is a commitment of marriage to an individual when things get tough… “for better or worst” as the oath goes.
As we mentioned earlier, it is important to note that mislead emotions and love are two distinct things. Emotions towards a person in-of-itself are not necessarily a sign of true love. So, what is “true love?”
Since we are talking about Apostolic relationships in the church we must look to scripture for some of the behaviors that love exhibits. However, in scripture there are three types of love.
When we think of marriage we often think of human love as being the typical affections of hugging, kissing and intimacy that couples share we each other. And while that is normal; this “natural affection” on its own can come short of a true loving relationship if God is left out. The reason this can happen, is that couples who marry without God often make each other a “god” (ultimate love) and the relationship will be subject to hurtful issues that can ruin the marriage.
When God’s love is a part of a relationship, the motives for marriage are often grounded in behaviors that the love of God exhibits according to 1 Corinthians 13. Here are some of the attributes of Godly love:
1 Cor 13:4-7 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, (5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; (6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Notice all these behaviors:
Now, when a person is a disciplined Apostolic believer and they have most of these attributes and can see these attributes in the other prospective spouse; and then each person has determined that they have an emotional connection that is for the right reasons; then you may be experiencing true love.
Remember, love is not a warm fuzzy feeling. As we discussed earlier, improper emotions can mislead people into wrong decisions. But, true emotions and true love come from a Christian that is based on self-control, holiness and the attributes as listed above. When pure human love and God’s love are fused together, then a person can see clearly as to what love is.
So, how can you know for sure?? When you are in the courtship phase, one way to know is that your behavior is in control; you are thinking with your head and not just your emotions. You can also know that you are in love when you feel an emotional and spiritual bonding that isn’t based on just excessive feelings; but biblical principles and spiritual compatibility.
THE ULTIMATE TEST
Now, given everything I have said up to this point on how to figure out your motives, and figuring out what the other person is feeling; there is one test that MUST NEVER be left off your decision process… and that is… IS IT THE WILL OF GOD.
Ultimately, both people must pray and fast through this entire process to see if this is the will of God. Like I said before, a person may “fall in love”, but the final decision should be left up to God because He knows the begining to the end. If one or the other couple isn’t okay with finding the will of God, then that is a clue in-of-itself that you should walk away from the relationship. A person who doesn’t care about God’s will is going to have some carnal issues that could collapse the marriage down the road.
I know this is long and a complicated lesson. I have brought out some things that some people do not really consider when finding a mate. However, I have seen many marriages become shipwrecked because they got together for selfish or even inordinate lustful reasons. With these arrangements, all too often it is based on mislead emotions and unrealistic expectations. Strong feelings are usually the reason people are blinded to the reality of who a person really is on the inside.
Getting married is serious business. It is a life-long commitment that should be taken very cautiously and purposely one step at a time. Each step and decision should be thought through with clarity and not based on emotions alone.
Apostolic believers who live a disciplined, biblically based walk with God are often the ones who find the best compatible mates to fall in love with. Because they are guided by biblical principles, holiness and godly conduct, they place themselves in a position where God will bless them with a spouse that God has ordained to be.
A person who desires to be married must ultimately be content as a single person first; be a strong believer; live by biblical principles, and put God first and wait on Him to do the work. After all… an Apostolic marriage should be a product of God’s divine will and purpose; IN HIS OWN TIME!
Stay tuned for the next article in this series!