First a brother, not a lover
You meet someone new and find him attractive. You wonder if maybe, just maybe, this might be “The One.” You start to look for any sign of affection in their behavior towards you, and become mildly flirtatious in your own behavior. We’ve all been there! There’s no physical contact, no premature declaration of love, nothing obviously inappropriate in your relationship. It’s innocent, right?
Except that you don’t have to let your physical guard down to let your emotional guard down. Without meaning to, you’ve taken the emotional connection to a level that the relationship is not, and may never be, ready for. More often than not this risks distracting you from where God is calling you in life and may damage your friendship with the person in question. Not only that, but when we see each other as merely a romantic potential rather than as people, we actually deprive each other of our dignity as men and women.
The Bible calls us to ‘Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters’ (Hebrews 13:1), because that’s exactly what we are in Christ. Our primary identity is as sons and daughters of God, meaning that we also need to view each other first and foremost as brothers and sisters in His family.
With your own siblings, you don’t find yourself constantly seeking their attention and judging yourself based on their affection. You simply love them for who they are, and affirm them in that identity. This is the attitude we should have towards all members of the opposite sex! We have a responsibility to hold each other accountable and build each other up in our faith, but as soon as we allow ulterior motives to take root in our relationships we are no longer able to do that whole-heartedly. Viewing everyone we meet as brothers and sisters will encourage inclusivity, community, respect, and both emotional and spiritual protection.
There are several ways we can all work on altering our attitude in this area of life:
- Pray for your brothers & sisters in Christ.
- Affirm their gifts & strengths, as well as their masculinity or femininity.
- Focus on their personality rather than appearance.
- Dress & act modestly to show respect for yourself and others.
- Remind yourself daily of the dignity and purpose of men and women.
In order to form a healthy, loving relationship with the person who eventually becomes your spouse, it is important that you develop a pure heart in your attitude to the opposite sex. Not only will this allow you to get to know a genuine potential husband or wife within the boundaries of a respectful relationship, but it will also mean that your heart is guarded against confusion and misinterpretation of other relationships so as to be able give yourself totally and freely to your spouse if and when the time comes.
Ask yourself this: Am I treating the opposite sex with the same respect, authenticity and purity as I would treat my own brothers or sisters? Are there any ways in which I can better serve, affirm and support them?
Esther Rich is studying Psychology at Oxford University, UK. She loves Theology of the Body, Papa Francesco and a good worship band. She is passionate about empowering women to be who they were created to be, and blogs at “For Such A Time As This.”