So far we’ve reviewed how each person has a heart, mind, soul and body. These four parts correlate to the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical aspects of a relationship (reference Mark 12:30). Let’s now explore how the spiritual aspect affects, interacts with, and depends upon the other three.
The Significance of the Spiritual Aspect
The spirit is your vertical window. This is what enables an awareness of God and who He is. Only by your spirit can you establish an intimate relationship with Him, communicate with Him, and worship Him.
God is a Spirit (John 4:24). He is also eternal (Revelation 1:8). Since God gave you this life-giving element, your spirit is also eternal. You will live forever in one of two eternal destinations. Heaven or hell. As part of the free will He gives us, God leaves the final choice to you.
By accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your spirit is reborn (John 3:3, 7). This rebirth overrides the spiritual death Adam passed along to all humanity by his sinful disobedience (Romans 5:12). Those who accept Christ will spend eternity in heaven with God.
Since it provides the moral framework, it is wise to firmly base your spiritual foundation on the truth of God’s Word. Failure to do so creates instability in the other aspects of life (James 1:8). The moral standards, ethics, and religious beliefs of the spiritual aspect establish the guidelines for life.
Spiritual Interaction with the Other Three Aspects
A fulfilling life requires maturity and balance in all four aspects. As you develop this, you find the spiritual aspect plays a large role in your relationships.
A mature and balanced spiritual aspect provides the moral basis for decisions you make. By having the mind of Jesus (Philippians 2:5), you approach life’s choices from His perspective. You align your relationship standards with God’s morality. This includes all dating activity. Where to go. What to do. What type of physical involvement is acceptable before marriage.
Additionally, a mature and balanced spiritual aspect helps express only those emotions that are appropriate for a specific relational stage. It sets a “guard” over your mouth (Psalm 143:3). Using God’s Word as your spiritual guide helps avoid unnecessary emotional distress.
Finally, a mature and balanced spiritual aspect helps you understand your body is the temple of God. As such, it should be used to honor Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This is also why all sexual involvement must wait for marriage (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 7:9). Then, within a marriage relationship, there is no embarrassment, timidity, or fear of sexual interaction. “Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).
A morally strong spiritual aspect governs all relational behavior. It affects the mind by controlling thoughts, fantasies, and lustful ideas. Also, it affects the soul by controlling intense passions and strong desires for connection. In addition, it affects the body by controlling physical behavior and affection level while dating.
How the Spiritual Aspect Affects Relationships
The spiritual aspect should be one of the first topics of any dating discussion. It can also be a fairly “safe” topic for initial dates. If a potential “date” is not a Christian, spiritual compatibility does not exist. It is unwise to pursue a relationship beyond casual friendship.
The difference between believers and unbelievers should be as noticeable as night and day (1 John 1:5-7). This spiritual difference results in different priorities, beliefs, values, and convictions. And opposite eternal destinations. This all results in incompatibilities in a relationship. This underscores the reason to talk about this early on in the dating activities.
Paul warns Christians against being “unequally yoked” with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). For instance, imagine a kangaroo and a lion attached together. Though joined, they will have very different motives. They’re not headed in the same direction. They’ll not pull the same weight. The strain on each will be noticeable.
But there is also another spiritual caution. Spiritual incompatibility applies equally to fellow Christians. Picture one person dedicated and passionate about his faith. Now picture the other only casually interested in spiritual matters. They are simply not on the same page. Their differences will create relational strain.
A couple may have physical attraction, intellectual commonalities, and emotional chemistry. But if the spiritual aspect is not compatible, efforts to build a true and lasting relationship will be futile. Why is this? Because only God builds successful relationships and homes (Psalm 127:1).
Spiritual Development and Maturity
Here are some ways to demonstrate growth and maturity in the spiritual aspect.
- Establish a personal relationship with God. Being spiritually “reborn” involves placing your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (John 3:3, 7). This decision is far more important than who or when to start dating. If you have not already done so, please do so today.
- Read God’s Word daily. Apply what you learn to your life. Living according to God’s Word helps you stay morally pure (Psalm 119:9).
- Know what you believe and why you believe it. A solid understanding of your faith helps answer any questions, doubts, or temptations you may encounter. Christians are to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks” regarding our faith (1 Peter 3:15).
- Have a well-defined set of dating standards that align with God’s Word. Along with not dating an unbeliever, commit to stay sexually pure prior to marriage. We are to “be holy” in all our conduct (1 Peter 1:15). It is wise to establish moral boundaries before you start dating—then stick to them.
- Maintain a positive self-image as one of God’s valuable, handmade creations. This helps avoid the “smooth talkers” who prey on the vulnerabilities and insecurities of others (Proverbs 7:21). Protect yourself by basing your self-worth on what God says about you. You are His wonderful creation (Psalm 139:14). He loves you incredibly as one of His children (1 John 3:1). You are an heir to His coming kingdom (Romans 8:17). Lastly, you are a child of the King of Kings! (Revelation 17:14).
Next time, we’ll look at the role the intellectual aspect plays in relationships. It is fascinating to see how it provides the other three aspects with sound reasoning and decision-making ability.
Content excerpted from Nate’s book, Matched 4 Life. Enjoy Part 4 of this series here.