Love and Legalism

We’re crazy because already?  We’re talking to our girls about marriage.  We figure that because they will likely spend the great majority of their lives in marriage, it’s never too early to begin these conversations.

We’ve told them it would be wise to marry a boy who is willing to work hard and can keep a job.  It would be good to marry a boy who has good relationships with the people around him.  It would be great to marry a boy who is someone they not only love but actually like.  But most of all, above everything else —

“I know, I know,” Ana said to us the other night.  “He has to love Jesus.”

She said it with such groaning and eye-rolling that it struck me that, perhaps, we’ve been telling her the wrong thing.  Not about the boy loving Jesus, because that IS the most important thing… but about the reasoning behind it, about why a boy found in Christ is essential, and about what that kind of “trait” will say about our girls and their own hearts.

Ana seems to be coming from a legalistic view.  If he’s saved, he’s good.  Not saved, can’t do it.  The boy has to meet the checklist.  It’s not surprising that she thinks like this, because we are SO GOOD about being legalistic like this in our cozy Christian culture.

Perhaps the better way of looking at it is this.  If you, my sweet Ana, find yourself in love with a boy who doesn’t love Christ, then YOU don’t really love Christ yourself.  If you, my sweet Ana, find yourself attracted to boys who don’t love the things of God, then YOU don’t love the things of God.  And if you, my sweet Ana, want to marry a boy who has no use for God, then YOU have no use for Him either.

It’s not about restricting your options.  It’s not about narrowing down your dating pool.  It’s not about sorting men into categories.

It’s about a reflection of your own heart.

This is totally unromantic and will completely dash to pieces all grand illusions you may have about fairy tales and true love, but I’ll let you in on our secret.  I have said, more than once, that I probably would never have been attracted to Wes or frankly even liked him if he hadn’t been in love with Christ.  I didn’t have to ask questions about where he was spiritually, if he was “saved or not,” because that part of his life was his whole life.  Because Christ was everything to us both, being with anyone who didn’t know Him would have been like… well, like trying to relate to someone who didn’t even speak the same language or live on the same planet.

It wasn’t legalism, finding someone who met a checklist when we looked for someone to marry.
It was about being who we were called to be in Christ… and the passion and the thrill in being His that set us apart for one another.

Ana loves Jesus.  But right now, she loves Him in her seven year old way.  Checklists are comfortable, black/white is easy to understand, and rules are king.  You can’t marry him if he isn’t saved.  But I pray that she would become the type of young adult who is so consumed by the things of God, so thrilled by Christ, and so impassioned for His glory among the nations that anyone who isn’t likewise covenanted to the Lord will be someone that she just doesn’t get.  You know?

Perhaps the best way to prepare our girls for marriage is to prepare them to be His, completely and entirely…

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