There’s no doubt that the majority of people in their twenties have felt the encroaching pressure of dating and marriage at some point or another. Social media, and in some cases scripture, lead us to believe that romance is a real life fairy tale. Yet, what’s really fantasy is the notion that because you’ve been obedient you are entitled to something, or rather someone, from God. Finding the perfect partner isn’t a missing variable in the equation to self-fulfillment. Solely through communion with Christ will our unquenchable desire for completeness be satiated under His veil.
Culture has skewed our idea of relationships so drastically that we are faced with distorted ambiguity as to what a wholesome relationship should even look like. Media portrays dating as a series of self-advancing moves like a game of chess and what’s worse, singleness as the freedom to “play the game” without lasting consequences. Cracking the code of dating has even penetrated Christian circles, making it paramount to define the infamous gray area. Although done out of good intentions, our focus on figuring out “the feels” has been exaggerated so much that the meaningful purposes of pre-marital relationships are buried beneath socially constructed institutions. Here on our “marriage mill on the hill” we deal with an entirely different, but nonetheless crippling, view of romance.
When the implications of a southern, conservative, Christian college, are mixed together, the accidental product is desperation and anxiousness, leaving maturing adults with complexes because you're not engaged—at 20. Considering such factors, one would imagine Covenant the perfect dating environment, which might be valid, but these factors lend to a campus addicted to achieving the alleged superlative relationship. Unmerited feelings of inadequacy stem from the idea of imperative companionship that we’ve exacerbated that rarely parallel reality. If we sought after the Lord as much as we cared about whom we’re going to dance with at Jazz on the Overlook or grab coffee with at Starbucks, our campus community paradigms would probably shift dramatically.
My assertions are not contrary to the provision of the Lord over relationships. He can and does powerfully lead, transforming people's lives through interpersonal influence. Moreover, as educated, capable young Christians we have an unbalanced, emphatic focus on romance and not enough of that same passion towards chasing our true one and only: Christ himself. A pursuit of marriage is natural, but oftentimes we lose sight of what we should be ultimately imitating through our relationships and where they should be pointing: to Christ alone.
By no means am I opposed to Christian dating, but am simply addressing a present pattern atop this mountain. Dating is sensational and holds necessary function, but that doesn’t make it a means to an end in marriage. By living alongside someone else you’re entering into a critical phase of self-exploration, learning more about the person you are as well as the personality of your significant other.
In scripture Christ calls us to take up spouses and cleave to them, but that’s contingent on our ability to wholeheartedly place him/her first in our minds, hearts, and deeds. Yet it seems that the weight of your wedding day is belittled with euphemisms like “ring by spring”—stripping the act of marriage down to a rite of passage similar to graduation. We are taught through scripture the severity of marriage and the arduous but redemptive conditions of covenantal love—so more than our secular counterparts we should understand why marriage is arguably the most important decision we’ll ever make.
Regardless if you’re involved in a serious relationship or enjoying the independence of the single life, you shouldn’t be burdened with guilt because you don’t hear imminent wedding bells, and rightfully so.
The presence of an “off to the races” mentality persists as our Instagrams are littered with newly engaged couples every weekend, distracting us from priorities that the majority of college students naturally deal with, like school and work. We shouldn’t feel blasphemous, or selfish, for allotting our effort to such disciplines rather than frantically pursuing marriage. Of all the pressing issues during this season of our lives, marriage doesn’t have to be the haunting endgame of your college years.
Marriage is a beautiful reflection of God’s grace and love for us, so we should treat it with the authority that it holds. Young marriage can oftentimes do a great job emphasizing loyalty and trust. Yet we cannot lose sight of what the function of marriage is for us as Christians. Marriage isn’t the ultimate happy ending, but merely a vessel for furthering our ultimate sanctification. My charge is that we recognize that romantic relationships are a gift from God to represent His own pursuit of the Church, and we shouldn’t impress pseudo-Christian standards of successful relationships on something that was given to us as a gift of grace.