I’m a 28 yo pediatrician who loves Jesus, has a calling into missions (although my understanding of missions is slightly different…see the Employment Mess series) and is dating a wonderful guy who also loves Jesus, children and thinks that my job is actually really cool and supports me. This relationship is growing more and more into the kind of relationship I would like to have for a lifetime. I know I’m developmentally delayed as previously stated in other posts but despite my extensive education I am mostly clueless about what I am doing in a relationship.
Here is what I learned about relationships growing up in church:
1. Premarital sex is the cardinal sin of adolescence. You will get pregnant and you will get a STD. (I am sympathetic in that I tell adolescent girls they are pregnant at least once a month and have treated more STDs than I care to count. But this does not help me relationally at 28 in a committed relationship with clear pre-martial physical boundaries agreed on by both of us.)
2. Divorce is bad. (again yes 1/2 relationships end this way but again completely NOT helpful now).
3. Alcohol is bad. (You think this is not related to relationships…you obviously did not grow up Southern Baptist!)
4. Guard Your Heart….Ok can we all just be honest, what the heck is MY HEART anyway? My modesty? My soul? My mid drift? My passions? My blog? How can I guard it if no one every actually specifies what it is!!?!? Therefore this advice is completely useless in application. And is bibical? Or this another one of those weird youth group phrases we all were told were in the bible. (like Carmen and that terrifying video where Hell has an elevator).
SO I did what any excessively educated young woman would do, I went to the book store and to my friends and said HEY what are some useful books about biblical relationships…. Here is what I got…
~From a dear much beloved Reformed friend: A lot of books about sovereignty of God and pictures of puritan weddings… Which while are historically notable and theologically thought provoking so far have taught me that my father should have interrogated my boyfriend on his understanding of John Calvin prior to us being in the same room alone. Which means we have failed epically because while my Dad did actually meet him before we were dating, they talked about Tennis, Cooking, Africa, Music and his life plan. We went to church and then we ate ice cream and petted a cute dog. My parents like him. My grandparents like him. My Dad gave him a pound of free trade coffee for Christmas. But according to this worldview I failed before I even started.
~From a beloved liberal friend: A lot of books that tell me I don’t want to be a conservative evangelical house wife and that if my boyfriend likes John Piper or Tim Keller I should tell him them or me. These books are not helpful either. Because we already know I am not ever going to be a good house wife nor has God asked me to be and my boyfriend is a better cook than I am already. And for the love people I read Tim Keller and John Piper! I’m a religion major, I’ve read many contemporary theologians and secular philosophies to understand where people are coming from. Even more over I like some of what Keller and Piper write. (my liberal friends just passed out from shock). This is not a war for supremacy of theology and blogs, its about seeking truth in community. And yes he has read some Keller and Piper and no I will not make him choose THEM or ME… so epic fail again.
~From a Family Member who is newly married late in life: Guard Your Heart….which she defines as never ever kissing a boy that you are not married to. The best part is about 15 minutes earlier I got kissed good night on the stoop of my grandparents’ house where we were all staying. No one died, I’m not pregnant…greeting your beloved with a kiss is biblical. That was all the advice she gave me. Again, I fail epically…
~From my 70 yo grandmother: He can cook…you should marry him. Ok so I haven’t failed at this yet but again advice is not helpful…. 😉
~Someone asked me recently what -ISM I like best: Egalitarianism vs. complementarianism. I told them that I’m a doctor. Therefore the former is sort of silly at its foundation and a bit demeaning to women. In the sense that women are different than men and its a beautiful thing. So they say you follow complementarianism than? EH….Sort of. I think we need both gender perspectives but I think true complementarianism have some shaky hermeneutics (ironically and yes I’m using their own favorite word) in that they cherry pick Paul’s letters. We can wear jewelry and not cover our heads but we can’t speak in church or teach men. Well that seems convenient especially considering women in Paul’s day were largely uneducated, illiterate especially in Greek. But I think the other side misses the beauty of the difference both theologically and physically. We should celebrate the differents in our churches and in our relationships and not make it a competition for gender supremacy. How does that work out in application? I DONT know exactly that’s why I went on this futile QUEST in the first place…The friend was like, you have to choose, you can’t have both. Epic fail. I fall in the middle between the militant feminists and the Puritans wedding photos.
So I have a new life goal, at some point after I’ve been married for a while, rather this relationship ends up in marriage or not, I will write a book for the rest of us about all this.
That’s if I don’t fail epically, end up an old maid with 10 cats since no one seems to be able to tell me what my HEART is and where one can find a puritan wedding gown….