I Wanna Cookie!

Heart string

Image by Elin B via Flickr

Recently Jackson, a good friend of mine, wrote a response to a blog post that was against emotional purity and courtship, written by Darcy, not a friend of mine (yet, at least). He did a very good job demonstrating and pointing out the fallacies in the original, defending our need to guard our hearts from dangerous romantic attachments.

However, I am here not to refute Darcy’s article (or all the people who commented on the post agreeing with her), but to point out the things she had right, and expound on them.

Her primary premise is that the Cookie Model of relationships (my name, not hers) “damaged the part of [her] brain that makes healthy relationships function.” She says that seeking to guard your heart (in this way at least) “shut[s] down a normal, healthy, functioning part of [your] human heart.”

So what is she mad about?

“The idea that everytime you fall in love or get ’emotionally attached’ to someone, you give away a piece of your heart. The more pieces you give away, the less of your heart you have to give to your spouse someday. … Love doesn’t work that way. The more you give, the more you have. My 3rd child doesn’t have less of my heart just because I’ve loved two other children before him. And, really, I haven’t given them “pieces” of my heart. I’ve given them each all of my heart. The miracle of love is that it multiplies by being given.” [Emphasis hers]

Let me summarize this viewpoint that she is talking about, which is very very very common. Imagine your heart is like a cookie, and in each relationship you have, you give a part of that cookie to the other person. And so the more relationships you have, the less cookie you have left to give. And of course, you want to give your whole heart to your husband, right?

There are a ton of problems with this model. One of which is that it isn’t in the Bible at all, and another is that it contradicts a ton of what is in the Bible about relationships (or all of it, depending on how you look at it). I presented the beginning of the actually biblical model in this article here.

So go read that, so you know what I am talking about here. Seriously. Go. Now.

Okay, now come back. Thanks. 🙂

The differences here are obvious. Sending out strings simply does not deplete your stock of strings. And if that string connects with the heart of the person, and they reciprocate, your heart will grow, it will get bigger, and you will be able to expend more energy in creating more relationships or strengthening the relationships you have.

That is the correct model. The Cookie Model has the problem that it doesn’t differentiate between different kinds of cookie bits that you give to people. Thus, if you reason that you can’t give bits to guys to save yourself for your husband, you therefore can’t give bits to anyone (including God or your family or other girls) at all: only your husband. (And vice versa for guys of course.)

This is obviously fallacious and contradictory to Scripture.

So what is my stance? Do I believe that we can fall in love with people willy nilly? Do I believe that it doesn’t hurt us or damage future relationships to draw close to people and then routinely sever our ties with them?

No I don’t believe those things, and here is why.

There are different kinds of strings that you can tie with people. There are strings of trust that you tie with business partners. There are strings of friendship and comradeship that you tie with your buddies. There are strings that you tie with your family. There are strings that you tie with authorities. There are strings that you tie with sweethearts. There are strings that you tie with your spouse. There are strings that you tie with God. Any and all of these hurt when they are broken. The stronger the string, the more it hurts when it breaks or is severed. And when that happens, you are less likely to tie that string again with someone (and some people, often enough burned, refuse to tie any kind of string with anyone at all).

And you are less likely to accept strings from other people. You are less willing to get involved in relationships that others offer you. This is because your heart has been damaged: hurt, scarred, hardened. You are wounded. And although time can heal open gashes, it does not heal scars. You can work through them, but they are there. Only God can heal them completely.

Psalms 147:3 He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

And God does not always heal. Oh yes, He loves you, and He hurts for you, and He will forgive your sins, and renew His relationship with you when you turn and repent, but if you deliberately and repeatedly damage yourself because He can fix you, He just might leave you with the scars so you will truly turn to Him and learn your lesson.

So yes, things are not permanent if you make a mistake and have to sever a relationship, but do you seriously want to stab yourself over and over again deliberately? No. Do not tempt the Lord your God.

Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

And then there are kinds of strings that God specifically does not want us tying with certain people. He does not want us to make mentors (a type of relationship, and thus a type of string) of the ungodly.

Psalms 1:1 Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

God does not want us to marry (a very strong kind of string) unbelievers.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Notice that doesn’t just talk about marriage: it applies everywhere.

All that demonstrates is that God cares about where we tie strings, but where does it say what kinds of strings we should tie with people of the opposite sex, or only with our spouse? Does it at all?

I believe it does.

First, consider this passage:

1 Timothy 5:1-2 Rebuke not an elder, but entreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren;

2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

What kind of purity? All kinds of purity obviously. Now there are several reasons why God chose to give this injunction just here, one of which I believe is that when you are entreating someone, you are tying some powerful strings, and you have to be doubly and triply careful what strings you are tying. And so we are to do this with every kind of biblical purity there is.

Now consider this passage:

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman.

2 Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

5 Defraud ye not one the other, except [it be] with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

Here we have two sides to a very important string: physical touch. We are enjoined to not touch the opposite sex before marriage, and commanded to do so afterwards. Realize that it is obviously not talking about any and all physical contact: it would be impossible to help a lady from a car or carry stuff for someone or shake a hand in greeting or live life in any sensible way.

There is an obvious difference between shaking someone’s hand in greeting and sitting on the couch and holding hands for no reason other than… holding hands. Very different. This passage is pretty obviously talking about the latter (especially if you take into context the rest of the Bible and biblical examples of male and female interaction).

This is a string specifically for marriage.

Now look a bit lower down in this chapter for another passage:

1 Corinthians 7:32-5 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please [his] wife.

34 There is difference [also] between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please [her] husband.

35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

This passage is bracketed with similar phrases, explaining its intent and purpose: to teach us something that will help us to serve God without distracting worries (which evidently will come upon us if we don’t heed this).

Paul explains that there is a vital, fundamental difference between married people and unmarried people, and implies a connection to a passage earlier in the chapter to explain it:

1 Corinthians 7:4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

When you are married, you are to love the other person as yourself, and care for them as yourself. They are your responsibility. And as such, you have a different focus when dealing with that person than with any other person in the world. You care about them, and you care about the world around you with a focus on helping and pleasing and building them up.

When you are not married, you do not have this responsibility, or you shouldn’t. This is a relationship that is specifically for marriage, and although it is possible to adopt it before marriage, it hinders your service to God: it is the wrong time and place for it.

This applies, as is made clear, in both the physical relationship and the spiritual relationship. If you tie these kinds of strings with someone you are not married to, you are being impure in spirit or in body or in both. That is simply the way it is, and the way God designed it.

But how do you know the difference? The problem that Darcy brings up occurs when we mistake friendship strings with romance strings, and thus avoid both, and I just showed the biblical problems that occur when you adopt both. The key is to know the difference, avoid the romance strings (out of their rightful place), and accept and create friendship strings as God commands (as brothers and sisters in Christ).

The key is in the same passage, look again:

1 Corinthians 7:32-5 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please [his] wife.

34 There is difference [also] between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please [her] husband.

35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

If you are entreating someone, seeking to help them, showing them love, why are you doing it? Are you doing it because of a possessive motive, or because of a selfless motive?

Look at it this way: if they decide not to listen to you, what is your reaction? How would you view that? Would it be saddening, but not personal? Would you take it as a personal injury (not that they didn’t listen, but that they didn’t change)? Or would you look at it as their choice, and since you were just doing it to help them, it doesn’t change you at all if they choose not to listen?

If you are entreating them, referring to yourself as part of your reasoning to convince them, then you are probably working off of a romantic relationship string. If you are entreating them, referring to their own, independent good instead, then you are probably working off of a brotherly, sisterly type of relationship string. Think of it in a marriage context if it helps: “I am your husband, and I want you to consider this for our sake” as opposed to the obviously more friend oriented: “As a friend, I noticed this in your life that concerned me, you might like to look at it.”

This obviously takes discernment and wisdom through Bible study, prayer, and close fellowship with the Holy Spirit and seeking God’s will. It isn’t easy. I am not saying it is. It is very hard. But it is important to consider and think and pray about.

Now I am sure at least one or two of you are wondering if this doesn’t sound just a little bit legalistic. 🙂

Well, thankfully, Paul helps me out of that sticky mess. 🙂

1 Corinthians 7:35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

The whole point of this is not to add more rules and regulations to your life that bind and constrict your liberty in Christ. Most of these things aren’t even given as a command, but as godly advice (which, coming from the Bible, we ought to take as commands anyways, but I digress). The point is to help us, to show us something to help us to live better lives. This isn’t here to make our lives more difficult, but more good.

And also to help us to be better witnesses for Christ, to be able to behave in a comely, Christ-like manner without appearance of evil or making provision for the flesh. This is here to help us to serve God better.

So there is my answer. Yes, we should guard our hearts and reserve romance for marriage. But we also don’t have to be cloistered from the opposite sex, refusing to be friends with them.

Controversial topic (and passages), I know, so please comment with your perspectives; but also please be polite and back up what you say with Scripture — not anecdotes. 🙂

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2 Responses

  1. This was awesome. 🙂 You’ve hit the nail on the head. It was very timely for me too, thankyou! It’s freeing for me to know that the Lord doesn’t want me to disassociate with those of the opposite gender to protect my heart, and in the right way, I can still be open and friendly to others without constant anxiety or worry.

    Very well put, Sir Emeth! I’m bookmarking this. 😀

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