Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Category: Single

MU (Mutual Understanding) and Ambiguous Relationships

Here’s the definition(s) of ambiguous (from dictionary.com)
Ambiguous:
*open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal: an ambiguous answer.
*of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify: a rock of ambiguous character.
*lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure; indistinct: an ambiguous shape; an ambiguous future.

Students often use the phrase “MU,” meaning “mutual understanding.” This represents something in between friendship and courtship. The exact nature of a mutual understanding usually isn’t very clear to me. Ironically, it usually isn’t clear to those in the MU, either.

I’m not a big fan of MU’s or any type of ambiguous relationship. Since there is no real commitment, these arrangements seem to cause confusion and pain.

I really believe that dating/courtship should be focused, with marriage as the end goal. Otherwise, it is simply a waste of time and emotion. Here are a few suggestions:

Intention

Intentions should be clear very early in the relationship. What should your intention be? To get to know this person and prayerfully decide if the two of you are compatible for marriage.

Time Limits

Some reasonable timetable should be set. I hear different opinions on the appropriate length of courtship/engagement. I personally believe that six months to a year is plenty of time to know if you’ve found a good match. I’m not saying you should be ready to propose after two dates. I’m not even saying that you should marry within a year. But within a year there should be a clear understanding of whether or not you plan to marry. If you decide to break up, at least you’ve limited the time that you invested in this relationship.

I’ve seen couples who stay boyfriend/girlfriend for years, only to break up. They both experience a “mini divorce” and have little to show for their wasted time/emotion. This is especially harmful for women, who have a biological clock to consider.

Final Thoughts

I don’t want this to sound like dating/courtship should be some kind of business contract. My point is this: as single Christians, we should be intentional when it comes to the opposite sex. If you only want to be friends, then stay friends. If there is a mutual attraction and interest, then explore the possibility of a Christ-centered marriage. I see no middle ground.


Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.

–Matthew 5:37

Note: I’d recommend my book Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions if you’d like to read more helpful relationship advice.

A Really DUMB Poem about "God’s Plan"

I often rant about internet hoaxes. Now I’ll rant about a hoax of a slightly different nature.

Maybe some of you have read this and passed it around:

God’s plan before you will find your mate

Lord, I am about to be ready to commit myself to someone I fell in love with.
Could I take him now? I have prayed for him for quite a time now.

But the Lord answered. No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content with being loved by me alone. You need to give yourself totally unreserved to me because in me your satisfaction is to be found. And when you learn to commit yourself to me alone then, only then is the right time for you to be capable of perfect human relationship that I have planned for you long you thought at it.

You will never be united with another until you are united with me. You will never learn to speak and understand the true language of love until you hear me speak it. You will never learn how it is to love and be loved until you feel the tender touch of my LOVE.

I want you to stop planning. Stop wishing and allow me to step in and give you the most surprising and exciting plan that you can imagine. You are my child. I want you to have the best. Please allow me to bring it to you. Fix your eyes on me and expect the greatest things as you watch.

Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I AM. Learn all the things I tell you and be patient. Just wait.

Don’t be anxious. Do not worry. Don’t look around and feel at the things others may have got. Yours will be different because I LOVE YOU. Don’t look at things you think you want. They may not be the things I want for you. Look up straight at me because you might miss what I want to show you.

And then, when you’re ready. I’ll surprise you with a lover far more wonderful than what you would ever dream of. But I won’t let you have it until you are ready and the one I prepared for you is ready, until you are both satisfied exclusively with me and the LIFE I have prepared for you.

I hate to interrupt your warm fuzzy feeling, but this is one of the dumbest things I’ve read in my life. It is typical of the over-spiritualized, “God is my girlfriend” kind of stuff that I see all too often.

This poem is about as spiritually accurate as a romance novel you can buy at 7-11. Let me explain why:

But the Lord answered. No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled and content with being loved by me alone.

*There’s nothing super-holy about being alone. God’s Himself said that “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). God said this when Adam had a perfect, sinless relationship with Him.
*What about those who get married at 18? Did they learn this mystical secret of contentment at such a young age?
*Does this mean that all singles are still single because they are not spiritually mature enough?
*Does God enjoy playing psychological games with His children? He’ll wait until you are content being alone, then throw someone into your life? Come on!

. . . .then is the right time for you to be capable of perfect human relationship that I have planned for you long you thought at it.

*Perfect human relationship? There’s no such thing! Listen, guys—marriage takes a lot of work. Even if you find a godly husband/wife, it is still requires adjustments, sacrifices, etc.

I want you to stop planning. Stop wishing and allow me to step in and give you the most surprising and exciting plan that you can imagine.

*Not only are you not allowed to take practical steps to find a spouse, you’re not even allowed to want one! Doesn’t the Bible say, “He who finds a wife finds what is good” (Proverbs 18:22)?
*There’s nothing wrong with desiring and pursuing marriage (assuming that you are the right age). This is a desire that GOD has placed in our hearts.

But I won’t let you have it until you are ready and the one I prepared for you is ready, until you are both satisfied exclusively with me and the LIFE I have prepared for you.

*So the only ones who can marry are those who’ve reached the pinnacle of spiritual maturity and have “purged” themselves of the desire for marriage? I’ll have to ask my married friends how they accomplished this.

I’ve written my own poem to show you how ridiculous this is:

God’s plan before you find a job

I’m broke and I don’t have money. I asked God if I should accept a recent job offer, one I have been praying about.

But the Lord answered: No, not until you are satisfied in me alone. Not until you learn that man does not live by bread alone. Not until you learn to trust me and me alone as your provider.

Stop planning. Don’t send out any resumes or job applications. Don’t be envious of your friends that work and have money. I have something better for you.

When you least expect it, I’ll surprise you with a high-paying, hassle-free job in an air conditioned office. Or maybe I’ll just give you a winning lottery ticket. You don’t have to do anything. I’ll just surprise you with it. This is my perfect plan for you that I’ve had in mind before the foundations of the earth were formed.

Got the point? Let’s get back to the Bible when we talk about God’s plan for marriage.

Let me clarify some of the points I’m trying to make. Judging by the comments, this might be needed:

1. The Bible is the final authority–not cheesy poems. Anything that is written must be evaluated in light of Scripture.
2. God does not play mind games with His children. This poem implies that He will only give us a spouse when we let go of the desire for one. How crazy!
3. The desire for a spouse is not a bad thing. This desire must be placed under the Lordship of Christ, but desiring marriage and family is a God-given thing.
4. Practical steps are not sinful. Looking for a spouse does not mean that someone is less spiritual or doesn’t trust God.

Singleness and the Sovereignty of God

“God will give you a husband/wife in His time—you don’t have to do anything. If you are single, it is because it is God’s will.”

Ever heard something like this?  Maybe it’s time to re-think it!

I’m afraid that some Christian authors/speakers are responsible for propagating this unbiblical message. It’s about time for me to officially challenge this over-spiritualized nonsense!

There was a pretty intense discussion on my multiply account after I posted an article on Boundless.org. This is part of what I said:

“. . . What I’m saying is that I believe singles are being taught to be too passive, assuming God will answer our prayers without us doing anything. Many authors are arguing that if we are single, it is by God’s divine will and He will hook us up in His time. This is easy to say if you got married in your early to mid-20’s, but what about the rest of us?

I encounter many in their late 20’s and 30’s (here and in the States) who want to be married but are still single. Statistically speaking, singleness has risen dramatically over the past couple of decades in the States. I suspect it is also happening here in the professional classes of Manila. Either God isn’t doing His job as divine matchmaker, or we have misinterpreted our roles in finding a suitable spouse.”

By the way, did you know that Calvin himself took some practical steps to find a wife? It’s a humorous story that you can read about here. Yes, “Mr. Predestination” himself utilized the help of a committee to find a wife. I guess he didn’t trust God’s provision and timing.

See also: Is it OK to Search for Love?

Note to Readers: This discussion/article is for those who are old enough to consider marriage. Please read What is the Right Age for a Relationship if you want to read my views on teenage romance.