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Going Steady with Jesus

By Thomas Holste

Would it bother you if I told you that Jesus is my valentine?

It’s a strange way to put things, certainly, so I’ll gladly clarify and qualify my statement. What I’m referring to is a mental exercise that helps me to keep me on the right mental and spiritual path.

First, let me explain a bit of my background. Despite a few dates every now and again, I have been single for most of the last twenty years. I tried to court a few Christian women, but they had no interest in me (which is their prerogative).

On the other hand, I have met women with whom I shared a mutual affection, but these women weren’t believers. So I never acted on my feelings, because I don’t want to be spiritually mismatched with those women (2 Cor. 6:14).

What makes matters worse is that I have a personality that makes me want to be in a relationship all the time. I completely understand why, even in an un-fallen world, it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone (Gen. 2:18). A lot of men, including me, need someone in our lives.

I often hear people say, “Don’t try to fill that God-shaped hole in your life with other things, such as women.” That is a valid point. I don’t want a woman to become an idol that replaces God in my heart. I just want to fill the woman-shaped hole in my heart.

Rebecca St. James made the situation a little easier by singing to millions of single Christian men to stay abstinent with her song “Wait for Me.” With her beauty and talent, the offer was an easy one to accept. However, she got married in 2011, so there’s no sense in any of us “waiting” for her anymore.

Of course, in today’s sexually saturated media, there’s also plenty of temptation to think of women in ways that Jesus forbid us to think (Matt. 5:28). I fight the battle against my thoughts, but I don’t always win.

The struggle doesn’t get any easier as the years pass, and as I see one friend after another get married and start a family. I can’t help but wonder when my number is going to be calledwhen it’s going to be my turn in line.

Life would be simpler if I fit into one of the “boxes” that society says that I ought to fit into, but I don’t. When a young man is in his twenties, it’s not too surprising if he isn’t married yet. But by the time a man is in his thirties, society expects that he’ll be dating someone seriously by that point, or married with kids, or even divorced.

Yes, from what I see in the way people react to other men, a man gets more “points” from society from having been married, even if the marriage wound up in a divorce. Such news will likely bring sympathy from the listeners. To tell someone else that you’re in your late thirties and have never been married, though … that will engender strange looks, as well as awkward and uncomfortable glances from the people around you. To their minds, there must be something deeply wrong with you if you’ve never been marriedmuch more wrong than if you got married and then divorced.

The church has largely done little to help men in my position. We’re frequently told, “Remember, you’re the bride of Christ!” This well-intentioned statement only emasculates single men even further. The church doesn’t want any of its believers to practice homosexuality, yet pastors constantly tell young single men to forget their natural biological urges for women, and focus all their attention on longing for Jesusa thirty-something bearded man.

Sorry, but the “bride of Christ” thing doesn’t work for me. I’m not going shopping for wedding gowns anytime soon.

So I’m starting to implement a new strategy. Every so often, I try to think of Christ as my girlfriend.

Let me explain what I don’t mean. I don’t believe that the Jesus of Nazareth who actually lived here on Earth was a woman. I don’t believe in changing Christianity into some kind of pagan goddess worship. And I don’t believe that God the Father is a woman, with all the biological organs that would identify Him as such.

What I mean is reversing the “bride of Christ” analogy so that it works for young single men. What I considered God to be the ultimate “girlfriend”?

For as long as I can remember, I have this recurring daydream where I meet a young woman who’s so beautiful that she can have her pick of any man she wants. But after meeting me, and seeing my sensitivity and warmth and sense of humor, she decides to choose me over all her possible suitors. She even thinks I’m handsome!

I play this daydream over and over in my head. But according to the Bible, that scenario is actually how God thinks of His people, including me. (Read Eph. 1: 4-6, many of the Psalms, and the Song of Solomon for just a few examples.) He chose me. He didn’t have to choose me, but He did. He thinks I’m special.

Keep in mind that, in a certain sense, God does not have a gender in the way that we think about the term. God does not have reproductive organs that define Him as male or female. God does not procreate; He creates. He is complete in and of Himself. Adam and Eve are the two sides of His oneness. Since all wonderful aspects of creation must exist in the One who created them, the attributes that we think of masculine and feminine must both come from God.

A side note to consider: God has inspired many hymn writers over the years to refer to Him as “most beautiful” and “lovely above all.” I can’t think of a single hymn that refers to God as “handsome.”

This being that I just described is the one that’s madly in love with me. She gave everything for me, because she wants to spend eternity with me just that much. She left me a love letter in fact, 66 love letters (the books of the Bible) so I could know as much about her as possible. The last note that she left me tells me that she’s planning to come back for me very soon, and that she can’t wait to see me again.

Now, suddenly, there’s reason for excitement and joy for the single Christian male!

Granted, I don’t want to dwell on this particular analogy too long. This analogy is only one of the devices at my disposal. In the same way, sometimes I refer to Jesus in prayer as “Aslan,” referring to the lion character from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Obviously, I don’t believe in actual talking lions; “Aslan” is an affectionate nickname, another device to keep Him real and potent in my mind. After all, my best friends have nicknames; why shouldn’t my Best Friend have one?

As for who I think of when using the “girlfriend” metaphor, I try not to think too much of any one woman’s face in particular. I don’t want that woman to become the object of worship instead of God. Also, I don’t imagine any married women. If I’m picturing a celebrity in my head, it’s probably better if I don’t know what the tabloids are saying about her. The point is not focusing on the woman; the point is imagining the “perfect woman” desiring me, and then realizing that God actually is even better than that, and longs for me just that much.

So, while I’m still not perfect and still need grace, there have been times when it’s been much easier to resist the mental temptation of thinking about other women. I would never cheat if I had a girlfriend on this Earth; I don’t want to cheat on my heavenly love either.

Tom Holste is a writer who lives in the Chicago suburbs. He likes long walks on the beach. He dislikes phoniness and religious “posing.” He wrote a monthly column called “Eyes Wide Open” for Southern Gospel News Scoops from 2009 to 2011.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.comCHRISTIAN WRITERMAKE A WEBSITE

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