Sanctification Through Romantic Relationships

Sanctification Through Romantic Relationships

by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.

Struggles in romantic relationships can be exhausting. Nobody falls in love hoping to eventually have conflict and strife. Instead, most people enter relationships with visions of “happily ever after” along with roses and chocolate. The early infatuation phase cements people’s hearts together and is usually followed with a mellowing stage where roles are established and patterns are developed. During the “mellowing” stage conflicts slowly begin to emerge as differences in lifestyles and temperaments become more apparent. If not handled well, these areas of contention can slowly turn into resentment, creating distance and walls. As Christians, it’s critical to view these conflicts through a Biblical lens as part of the sanctification process. Sanctification is the slow, ongoing journey of becoming more like Jesus and God uses romantic relationships as His primary tool to become more like Him.

 

So, to successfully manage relational strife, we must view it as an opportunity to grow in Christ-likeness. When we view conflict from this lens, it provides both hope and purpose. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, NIV).  Viewing trials in our relationships as pure joy is obviously easier said than done and is completely opposite from the message our culture promotes, which is to run from our pain and problems. Instead, God wants us to lean into them and let Him refine us through them. Now, this doesn’t mean we are to tolerate abuse or any other type of unhealthy behavior from our partner towards us. It also doesn’t mean our partner is blameless and shouldn’t be held accountable for their behavior.  However, it does mean we must prayerfully consider our contribution to the conflict, what it says about us, and how God may want to mold our character through it. One of the best questions to ask is, “what does it say about me that I’m so upset with them about that?”

 

This concept is illustrated well in a couple I worked with whom I’ll call Matt and Jenny. Matt rededicated his life to Christ while in college and Jenny first accepted Jesus during the same time several months after they both started dating. Because of their new faith, they decided to be abstinent until their marriage, which occurred nearly three years later. After the wedding, Matt was extremely excited to pursue a fulfilling sex life with his new bride only to discover Jenny had little to no interest in sex and viewed it as extremely “dirty” because of unresolved sexual trauma from her upbringing. The more he pursued physical intimacy, the more she retreated, setting up a vicious cycle where she felt he only cared about her body while he felt routinely rejected. This unhealthy pattern went on for years while resentment and distance set in for both.  Thankfully, through continual time with Christ, Matt felt God teaching him two things, which brought hope and resolution. First, that ultimate commitment is staying committed to someone even when your primary needs are not being met. Second, that God was using this time of sexual famine to cleanse him of his over-indulgence in sexuality and objectification of women before meeting Jenny.  These realizations gave Matt purpose in the pain and hope by seeing how God was growing his character through this period of suffering. Meanwhile, Jenny was receiving healing from God over her pain and lies about sexual intimacy, allowing her to slowly develop a healthy desire and ability to connect with Matt on that level.  Thankfully, the couple has been married now for nearly 15 years and their sex life is healthier than ever!

 

So, as you develop romantic relationships be sure to remember this spiritual lesson as your relationship moves into the “mellowing” stage and conflicts begin to emerge.

Please share this post with others and comment below! 

 

 Dr. Wyatt Fisher is a licensed psychologist in Denver, CO and founder of the Colorado Marriage Refresh, Fisher Christian Counseling, ChristianCrush, and PornBattle.

 

 

How has God refined you from the challenges in your relationships?

Comments (9)

Belove99thank you for ur wisdom
By Belove99 on October 13, 2016 @ 8:27am MT 52

Romans 12:1-2 God expect us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifices. so abstaining from sex in relationship until marriage is the best, for is an act of worship into God. sex in marriage is also very important. unhealthy sex open doors for demonic attacks against us. lets do the right things at the right time.
By on July 24, 2014 @ 3:56am MT 52

Dr. WyattExcellent points Walken....God certainly wants us to only enjoy sexuality within the confines of marriage and then enjoy it to the fullest.
By Dr. Wyatt on July 24, 2014 @ 7:40am MT

This is a helpful and a well thought out bit of counsel. Thank you for this.
By on February 4, 2014 @ 4:35pm MT 52

Dr. WyattYou're welcome Mandi...glad you found it helpful!
By Dr. Wyatt on February 4, 2014 @ 8:38pm MT

Walk in wisdom towards them that are without, redeeming the time.
By on January 4, 2014 @ 2:05am MT 52

Dr. WyattThanks Sam!
By Dr. Wyatt on January 5, 2014 @ 2:53pm MT

This is a very important matter to consider. The Apostle Paul writes about it: "It is Godís will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable" I Thess 4:3-4. One of the objectives of our sanctification is to learn to trust God and keep our physical needs and desires in check, so that the spirit can become the predominant driver of our actions, and not the flesh. Relationships are part of that sanctification. We learn from each other. How to honor each other and put Christ first in our lives and relationships.
By on January 3, 2014 @ 8:37am MT 52
Dr. WyattWow, Phill...thank you for the wonderful feedback. Yes, 1 Thess 4:3-4 is a great verse that also talks about the sanctification process and learning to refine our flesh in order to glorify Him with our spirit.
By Dr. Wyatt on January 3, 2014 @ 8:58am MT

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