Martin Zerrudo: So let’s set the stage. You like them. They like you. You’re both members of the Church Of Christ and are of age to start the courting process. What do you do? Are things moving too fast? Too slow? Do things feel easy? And is the relationship progressing naturally? Or does it feel a little forced? What do your friends think? What does your family think? Is God leading you into a relationship? Or is He trying to show you some red flags?
Let’s have a Heart & Soul conversation.
Martin: Hello, everyone, hope we’re finding you well, and that you and your family continue to be safe and healthy at this time. Today, we’ll be talking about whether God is leading you into a relationship or if you’re seeing something that maybe isn’t there. A lot of our listeners in the past have reached out and asked us to talk about the one. And we definitely have, but today we’ll be focusing more on being aware of whether or not they aren’t the one. Joining us today is Brother Donald Pinnock, a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ. Hi, Brother Donald, how are you today?
Brother Donald Pinnock: Not too bad, Brother Martin. And thank you for having me on the program.
Martin: We always love having you. So we went online and found a couple things people point to as red flags for when you may be forcing a relationship with someone. And here they are. The first one is you talk about them like they’re already your boyfriend or girlfriend, even though you aren’t. Number two, you bend over backwards for them and they never reciprocate. Number three, you defend your relationship to your friends who express concerns. Number four, you make up excuses for why they never call you or text you back right away. And lastly, you tell yourself that they’re going to want a relationship eventually, and that they will change even though they show no signs of it. So Brother Donald, why are so many youth today finding themselves in this predicament where they may be forcing a relationship that isn’t there?
Brother Donald: Well, Brother Martin, there’s so many reasons. For example, there are those who, due to peer pressure, they feel compelled to have a relationship, whether it be an actual one, or, as you mentioned an imagined one, since most of their friends already have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Others may really want to have a meaningful relationship with someone. However, they’re just too fearful of approaching that individual. Of course, they’re afraid of rejection. Thus, they imagine or just assume that the other person has the same feelings for them. And they leave it at that. On the part of the females or as we call sisters in the Church, they may feel attracted to a brother, but in fear of being labeled as too forthcoming or just too aggressive, they resort to telling themselves that the individual they have a crush on has the same feelings or sentiment for them. In order to avoid creating such a scenario, however, it is very important that members of the Church keep in mind the following tenet or teaching of the Bible. And we can read the following in Proverbs 19:14:
Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.
[Proverbs 19:14 New International Version]
Church Of Christ members then are taught to ask God for everything that they need, including when it comes to a suitable or prudent wife, and in fact, husband for that matter. So in order to avoid creating an awkward circumstance, due to a perceived interest of a brother or sister of the faith, and of course, vice versa, they should conduct what is called a devotional prayer, by which they can ask God to clearly show unto them who would eventually be an appropriate spouse.
Martin: Is it different for men than it is for women? You know, of course, times are changing, expectations in society are shifting and certain traditions may have changed, but as members of the Church Of Christ, who should take charge in asserting feelings and making intentions known, and what happens if things don’t work out?
Brother Donald: That’s a very good series of questions, Brother Martin. As we know in society, normally, it would be the male who would approach the female to express his intent. However, we can see shifting social norms. And that is why now if a female is attracted to a male, she may take the initiative to express her feelings to him. In the Church it is most likely that the male or the brother would express his intent to the sister to establish a relationship. But even during those initial stages, the following Bible teaching is taken into account. In Ephesians 6:2-3 it states:
“Respect your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise added: “so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.”
[Ephesians 6:2-3 Today’s English Version]
To show proper respect to the parents, then, male and female members of the Church, who feel mutually compelled to get to know each other better, would approach their respective parents to ask permission first. Considering that the husband is the head of the wife, and we can read that in Ephesians 5:23, it would be the brother who would first approach the parents of the sister, whom he intends to court, to ask permission. But he, along with the sister, they should have a righteous purpose, Brother Martin, when it comes to courting one another, as we can glean from the following citation: 2 Timothy 2:22:
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
[2 Timothy 2:22 New King James Version]
This is why Church members are not supposed to date just for the sake of dating, or to pursue satisfying youthful lust. That is why, especially on the part of the brother, he should conduct himself in the following manner. Psalm 119:9:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
[Psalm 119:9 New International Version]
The brothers should have a pure intent when it comes to courting a sister and not intend to take any undue advantage of her. The couple should treat each other respectfully, by both of them heeding the teachings of God when it comes to their relationship. Now, if I can add, Brother Martin, if in spite of the best and the purest intentions, that the brother and the sister find that they are incompatible, well, they should mutually agree to stop seeing each other and inform the respective parents of their decision. Now, of course, depending on the amount of time invested during courting, there will be a certain level of sadness and even heartbreak may be experienced at least by one, if not both the male and female or the brother and the sister. Of course, conversing with family and friends would definitely aid in mending a broken heart. All the more, however, we should pray to God, because He’s more than capable, of course, of doing the following for us. As we can read here in Psalm 34:15,17-19 New International Version:
The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; … The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
[Psalms 34:15, 17-19 New International Version]
So it is very clear, Brother Martin, that the Lord our God is more than capable to help one heal after experiencing the emotional pain of a romantic breakup.
Martin: So ultimately, Brother Donald, how can we determine if God doesn’t want us to be with someone?
Brother Donald: Well, we mentioned earlier the importance of conducting that devotional prayer, asking God to guide us to who would be a suitable spouse for us. It is possible that we could meet a brother or sister in the Church, but if during their getting to know each other, or their courting, there are repeated issues, arguments, misunderstandings, and a general disharmony, then it should be fairly obvious that the couple are incompatible. Again, it would be best for both parties to mutually part ways and continue to do their part in preserving what we call as the love of the brotherhood in spite of not being connected romantically.
Martin: Right. I remember, Brother Donald, you know, when I was younger, I was in a relationship and it didn’t work out and of course I was broken-hearted, was very sad and you know, you feel like oh man the world’s coming to an end because this person who I cared about so much who, you know, cared about me—I guess we don’t have a future together. And in my mindset at that time in my late teens, it felt so final, it felt like this is it. Never gonna find love again. I’m gonna be alone forever because it didn’t work out with this one person. And then you know, fast forward to today. That person is happily married. I’m happily married, very cordial when we see each other at the chapel. And it just goes to show exactly what you’re talking about that the focus is on, you know, really trying to pray and read about what God is showing you. And if it doesn’t work out, to maintain that love for the brotherhood that’s so important. And I’m happy to be able to see that it, you know, it truly does pan out so long as you put your faith and trust in God, even if the relationship doesn’t end up moving forward.
Brother Donald: Well, you know, when it comes to, especially experiencing what we imagine as love in our teenage years or young adulthood, and it doesn’t work out? Well, we can really say that the emotional impact is very hurting for many people. It takes quite some time in order to recover. It feels as if, in the midst of that breakup, as if the world is just imploding upon oneself. And it really takes some time to emotionally heal, and get on with life. But like you said, especially through prayer and trusting in God, then He’ll help us to heal. We can get along, we learned from our experience, and God be willing just like what happened to you and others, they eventually meet Mr. or Mrs. Right. And it is really to happily live ever after. It doesn’t mean to say of course, there’s no challenges. When it comes to marriage and living in this world there’ll always be challenges. But you know, there’s the right chemistry, and we still continue to trust God when we’re married to our spouse, and God is there to help us over those, those rough patches.
Martin: Definitely. Now that we know how to read some of those warning signs or red flags, Brother Donald, how do we know, you know, conversely, how do we know if God wants you to be with someone? Well, how do we know that, hey, this is your sign right here, they’re right in front of you, they’re standing in front of you ready to go?
Brother Donald: Well, we won’t see a burning bush, for example. In fact, that would be ideal, but being members of the Church Of Christ, it is our faith that God is going to guide us in a way that we should go or the path that we should take in our life. In fact, we can read that in Psalm 31:1 ,3:
I come to you, LORD, for protection; never let me be defeated. You are a righteous God; save me, I pray! … You are my refuge and defense; guide me and lead me as you have promised.
[Psalm 31:1, 3 Today’s English Version]
So again, it shows the importance of prayer, Brother Martin, because through prayer, we can ask God to guide us in every aspect of our life, not just when it comes to our education, including when it comes to the one whom we could be potentially spending the rest of our life together. If there’s a chemistry and compatibility between the two, if they for example, find an easiness being together. And these and other feelings, they don’t dissipate, but rather they continue to grow even more prominent through the passage of time, then these are very strong indications that we have met the one for us. That is why it is imperative that a couple know each other well. And this can only happen through expending a significant amount of time and effort when it comes to the relationship. In the Church, our romantic relationship, of course, is with the intent that God be willing it will lead to marriage. And we know that marriage is a lifelong commitment. That is why great care and patience has to be taken to avoid a greater and lasting heartbreak of getting married just for the sake of it. Just because for example, a sister feels her biological clock is ticking or a brother, he sees that his peers are already married, so he needs to get married, and a brother or sister they meet one another and perhaps just after a few months are already talking about marriage, when in truth, they don’t really know each other well enough. And that’s why it cannot be overstressed the importance of really getting to know an individual well virtually on all levels in order for us to really find out if we have that strong basis to be able to commit to one another. And again, this is for a lifetime. So, great care, again, patience has to be taken to avoid a greater and lasting heartbreak of getting married just for the sake of it. And then through the passage of time we find out that we’re going to be struggling to commit to that commandment of God that when it comes to married couples, they should remain joined together till death do they part.
Martin: Now when someone says, Brother Donald, if God wants you to be with someone, He will make it happen. How does a member of the Church Of Christ understand that, if He wants it to happen, it’ll happen?
Brother Donald: Well, the Lord our God wants the very best for His chosen people. In Jeremiah 29:11, God Himself makes known through the prophet:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
[Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version]
Because of this, when it comes to us members of the Church Of Christ, we really have to entrust ourselves to God, because we understand according to the many teachings, and also most especially when it comes to the fulfillment of many prophecies that we belong to God. And when God says, I know the plans I have for you, the you there being referred to are His people. And what, again, are the plans of God? He says, “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is the very reason why when it comes to members of the Church Of Christ, they’re not going to rely upon their so-called abilities or their intelligence, or their so-called wisdom that they may have gained through education. They’re not going to place their wholehearted hope and trust when it comes to their fellow men. Even if when it comes to those connections or people they know they are in positions of influence and power, a member of the Church Of Christ is going to place their wholehearted hope and trust in the power and the ability of the One who created them: they’re going to place it in God. That is why when it comes to finding the most suitable partner, as a spouse for us, again, that is the very reason why we should place our trust in God and we should pray unto Him, and God in turn is going to steer the course of our life.
Martin: We want to thank you so much, Brother Donald, for that spiritual guidance and advice for those wonderful verses and really putting into context some of these questions that our listeners have. For our audience members out there, take the time to really reflect on the things that we heard today and try and see, really see: what is God trying to tell you? Is this something that He wants you to be in? Or is it not? And at the end of the day, of course, based off of the verses, trusting in God will always lead us to the right answer. So thank you, again, so much, Brother Donald, for joining us today. We always appreciate your wonderful advice.
Brother Donald: Well, thank you so much, Brother Martin, I truly enjoy myself on this program, discussing important matters like this with you. And again, with God’s mercy maybe when it comes to our listeners, especially those who are in this stage of their life, that they are looking for that significant other, that they will abide by these decrees or these tenets of the Lord our God. And again, you know, don’t rush into marriage, because it is a lifetime commitment. Better if, for example, during the courting period of a relationship, and that there are so many upheavals and it really points that, you know, there is a strong incompatibility there, even though it may be painful, better the pain that will be for a short period of time, instead of the pain of getting married because we insisted upon it, but then having to face that pain until as we read earlier, death do us part. So again, let’s trust God, follow His decrees, and God is the One who’s going to guide us.
Martin: That’s fantastic. Thank you so much for that, Brother Donald. To our listeners, please continue to follow our hashtag on Instagram, #heartandsoulconversations to stay up to date with all things Heart and Soul. That’s it from us today. We hope we were able to help, hope we were able to connect and hope you’ll join us next time ready to listen with all your heart and soul. Take care.