who’s in your driver’s seat?


The first two cars I owned were hand-me-downs. When I was 16, I bought the 1987 Dodge Daytona from my stepmother for $500. She lasted about 6 months before she gave up the ghost. My second car I bought while in college—a 1989 Chevy Corsica from my grandmother. She was a fairly reliable 4-door sedan. I named her Angus, mostly because she was black and I wanted her to have a bold name for the complex I had while driving her.

Angus had issues. First, my door got stuck. I felt like one of the Duke brothers climbing through the window of the General Lee to get into my car. Second, the ignition broke, so I had a buddy hotwire a toggle switch to help start the car without a key. I was embarrassed to take dates in this car because I never knew what would happen next. On one occasion I took a gal out for dinner and it started raining really hard. I turned on the wipers to full blast and they rocketed off the windshield never to be found. I spent the rest of the ride with my head out of the window like a panting dog to see where we were going. Nothing like that to dampen your date!

I did upgrade to nicer cars, but never really got the car of my dreams. If you could have any car what would you drive? Many people desire the German BMW or Mercedes, while others adore the Italian Lamborghini, Ferrari or Bugatti Veyron. I would settle for a Ford Mustang Shelby. I often daydream about what it would be like to drive one of these hot wheels around town, feeling the roar of the engine; proud of wow-factor I get from people I zoom past.

Have ever realized how much cars and relationships have in common? The next few weeks I will share a series on dating and relationships. We are going to approach this topic from the biblical standpoint. You might be thinking, “I know what the Bible says about relationships, it’s so old fashion and culturally irrelevant.” Stay tuned. You might be pleasantly surprised how practical and helpful the Bible is when it speaks about relationships with the opposite sex.

you get what you pay for

There are two ways to look at buying a car: either you get something really cheap that quickly breaks down or you get something nice that will last you a lifetime. There is no middle of the road. When it comes to relationships, God is in it for the long haul for “nothing can separate us from the love of God” [cf. Ephesians 3:17-19, Romans 8:35-39, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7]. He has put the miles in for you and He expects you to go the distance with those you committed.

Jesus says marriage—the chief earthly relationship—is a visual illustration to the world of Jesus’ commitment to the church [Ephesians 5:25ff]. Never will He abuse, neglect or separate Himself from His Bride. The love binding together Christ and the church is eternal. He has a covenant relationship with His followers built on sacrificial love for His followers. Relationships are no small matter or a place for shallow commitment.

Do not settle for anything less than the best. What is the best when it comes to relationships? God says the best is for both partners to be committed followers of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, believers are commanded to set their relationship standards high, “Do not be yoked with unbelievers.” To understand this verse you must learn from the farmer. Back in the day, farmers used oxen to plow their fields. They would match up two animals that were similar in size and strength to get straight rows. A smart farmer would never match up a goat and Clydesdale, or wild stallion with an old donkey. If so he would simply spin in circles getting nowhere. Do you see the illustration God gives to us about relationships? A believer and non-believer pull each other in opposite directions, in fact, the relationship will spin in spiritual circles if both parties are not committed to Christ.

beware of lemons

Beware of the dodgy deals from the used car lot. In other words, be careful of the worldly messages you hear and see on TV, Internet, or romance novels. The message is of compromise not commitment, “Dating is just for fun and sex.” Also, be careful of ungodly advice from friends who are sinful sympathizers. His or her message is listen to yourself not your God, “You should be with someone who makes you happy or makes you feel fulfilled.”  Lemons are sour deals that as you think back on them you regrettably know you have bought into a lie and you should have been cautious enough to search under the hood of that person’s heart before you signed the paperwork. Here are common lies and excuses about dating a non-believer:

“He or she is really nice person and is very good to me.” This is admirable and chivalrous. Some non-believers truly have better character than believers. However, if they are not in Christ their motives in the relationship are always selfish. Use your friendship as a God given opportunity to share with them the gospel. Let them know that Christ wants to reconcile an eternal relationship with them.

“Don’t worry, I will share my faith inside our relationship.” Missionary dating is sin. You have already compromised the relationship. How can you tell your partner to obey God when you are not being obedient to God by dating them? It is never God’s will to sin, even if it feels so good and right.

“If God was loving He would let me date who I want.” Remember, God is the standard. What He commands is for my good and His glory. God is not being cruel when He commands you to date believers and steer away from non-believers. He is protecting your heart. Take the time to read the story of Sampson [Judges 13-16] and Solomon [1 Kings 1-11]. You see how quickly love blinds their hearts from their God to the idols of their women. God warns about inter-spiritual relationships because He knows how distracting and spiritually detrimental they are for both parties.

In order to prevent yourself from getting a lemon you need to do some research into the person you want to partner. When buying a car you will get an inspection from the mechanic, check under the hood yourself, or go to carfacts.com to see the specks and history of the car. When it comes to our relationships we must go to the Word of God. The Bible says by their fruit you will know the kind of person they are [Matthew 7:16-17; John 15:8; Galatians 5:22-23].

How can you see someone’s fruit? See how they handle conflict [Proverbs 9:8-9], probe their passions, and ask x-ray questions: First, who is driving your life? If they give you a shallow answer or they are offended you asked this should be a red flag. Second, what is your relationship like with your mom and dad? You can tell a lot about how someone will treat you by the way they treat or speak to their parents. Third, are you involved at church? If they are serving others and loving the church this gives you a seek peak at their passions and priorities [cf. Philippians 2:4]. These are not fail proof questions since people can put up good fronts or change, but they are a starting point. [Note: more on danger signs for relationships next week].

no more backseat driving

Backseat drivers are annoying. They whisper or wail in your ear what they think you need to be doing. They are never satisfied and always complaining about your driving style. Are you a backseat driver to God? Do you say to Him things like, “Stop telling me how to run my relationships,” “Can you get going already? I am tired of waiting for the right guy or gal to come along,” Now if I were God I would be like the parent who says, “If you do not stop it right now I am going to pull this car over and give you something to think about!” Good thing I am not God, but if you say that God is in your driver’s seat let Him drive.

quick Q&A about concerning biblical relationships

Just because someone is a Christian does that mean I should date them even if I do not like him or her? What if never meet a Christian that I am attracted to? Waiting is never a bad option. In fact, while you wait, your primary relationship—between you and God—can be growing some great fruit. Also, pray to God asking Him to provide you a partner that will love God more than you.

What if you are in a relationship that you are convinced is second best? Repent and respond by doing the right thing. Speak honestly with your partner and break off the relationship until you are both faithfully committed to Christ.

How can you tell who is behind the wheel when it comes to your other relationships? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Surround yourself a great examples of faithful followers who have done it right. Take good notes.
  2. Learn from the examples of failed relationship. Don’t let history repeat itself.
  3. Keep accountable to someone wise while dating. Ask them to assess your relationships often with objectiveness.
  4. Listen to the advice of your parents and heed the warnings of the Word of God.
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