The question in Monday's Boundless Answers was possibly the most heartbreaking to land in my inbox. I changed some of the details to protect the author's identity, but the gist of what she said was that the man she loves isn't interested in anything more than uncommitted friendship with her. Even though they're having sex. And even though she conceived a child with him and he asked her to have an abortion. She did. Still she can't seem to leave him. Her situation sounds extreme, and it is. But how many of us have stayed in a relationship that's more harmful than good? What is it about our longing for love and marriage that often finds us putting up with things we never should, while going without what's most important?
In the talk I gave at a singles conference on Saturday, I emphasized how essential it is to have daily time for talking with God, praying, reading the Bible, and listening. It's in those intimate conversations that we grow in relationship with Him. And the stronger that relationship is, the more it will spill over into our relationships with other people. That's never more important than when you're considering a husband.
Growing closer to Jesus is the only thing that will help the woman who wrote me break off this most destructive of relationships—the bond sex creates really is that strong. Part of my response to her in "I Can't Leave Him" says,
I ache for you that you have accepted so many of these lies to your own hurt and the destruction of your child, and that you continue to long for a counterfeit. You are right that this guy will never commit. He hasn't, and without the transforming power of Christ, he won't. (Even an appearance of commitment, without a prior commitment to Christ, will be a cruel illusion.)
My advice to you is heartfelt and urgent: Find a godly church whose pastor preaches from the Bible and which offers a healthy community of believers to JOIN. Then do it—join the church. Get into fellowship with other believers. It's impossible to live the Christian life apart from the body of believers. Seek out wise and godly counsel from older women. Confess your sins, repent and turn away from them. Seek forgiveness, restoration and renewal.
The only hope you have for a healthy, godly, fruitful marriage is in relationship with a body of believers and, ultimately, in marriage to a Christ-following man.
An old friend of my read the Q&A and emailed to say,
I doubt that this girl will be able to break it off unless the guy dumps her, hurts her feelings terribly (one wonders, what more could he do?), or she falls in love with another man ... and yes, that man could be Jesus.
Amen. That is my prayer.