Some of a single person’s darkest days fall after a breakup.
You risked your heart. You shared your life. You bought the gifts, made the memories, and dreamed your dreams together — and it fell apart. Now, you’re back at square one in the quest for marriage, and it feels lonelier than square one, and further from the altar, because of all you’ve spent and lost.
No one begins dating someone hoping to break it off someday. The wiring in most of us has us longing for the wedding day. We’re looking, sometimes it feels frantically, for love, for affection and security and companionship and commitment and intimacy and help. After all, God seems to want most of us to be married (Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 18:22; 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9). But that sure hasn’t made getting married easy.
The Pain of Intimacy Without MatrimonyThe reality is that good, Christ-exalting relationships very often fail before the ceremony, never to be recovered romantically. The pain cuts deeper and lingers longer than most pain young people have felt in their lives. I feel it deeply even typing these words. It’s one of the hardest things for me to write or speak about: the pain of intimacy that fell short of matrimony.
Breakups in the church are painful and uncomfortable, and many of us have or will walk this dark and lonely road. So here are nine lessons for building hope and loving others when Christians end a not-yet marriage.
1. It’s okay to cry — and you probably should.Breakups almost always hurt. Maybe you didn’t see it coming, and the other person suddenly wants out. Maybe you were convinced it needed to end, but knew how hard it would be to tell them. Maybe you’ve been together for years. Maybe you love their family and friends. Without the ceremony and covenant, it’s not a divorce, but it can feel like it.
It feels like divorce for a reason. You weren’t made for this misery. God engineered romance to express itself in fidelity and loyalty — in oneness (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:2–13). Because dating is only a means to marriage, God’s design for our marriages speaks to his design for our dating relationships. Dating that dives in too quickly or dumps too carelessly does not reflect God’s intention.
This doesn’t mean every dating relationship should end in marriage, but it does mean breakups will hurt. Sorrow in the midst of the severing is not only appropriate, but good. It’s nothing to hide or be ashamed of. God created you to enjoy and thrive in love that lasts, like Christ’s lasting love for his bride. So feel free to feel, and know that the pain points to something beautiful about your God and his undying love for you.
And if it doesn’t hurt, it probably should. If you can come in and out of romance without pain or remorse, something sounds out of sync. This doesn’t mean you have to be ruined by every breakup, but there should be a sense that this isn’t right — it’s not how it’s supposed to be. Hearts weren’t built to be borrowed. God needs to show some of us the gravity of failed relationships because of what they wrongly suggest about him and his love for the church.
2. Don’t try again too quickly.Knowing and embracing God’s design for permanence in marriage and dating will help us feel appropriately, but it will also help us take healthy next steps in our pursuit of marriage. One of the worst and most popular mistakes is moving on to the next one too soon. Especially in the age of online dating and social media, we really don’t have to work very hard to find another prospect.
Affection can be an addiction. If you’ve been on dates, held hands, seen smiles, exchanged notes, experienced the sweetness of another’s attention and affirmation, you will want more. And the easiest way to find it is to rebound right away. But if we care about God, our witness, our ex, and our future significant other, we’ll wait, pray, and date patiently and carefully. It’s too easy to leave a trail of wounded people behind in our pursuit of a partner.
It’s a lie to think that you’re not moving toward marriage if you’re not dating someone right now. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your future spouse is to not date. If your history looks serial, you might need to break up with dating for a while. It can be a time to regroup, grow, and discover a new rhythm for your future relationship.
3. You may have failed, but God didn’t.The relationship may be over because of a specific character flaw or failure. There are things about us — weaknesses or patterns of behavior — that may disqualify us for marriage with a particular person. But it does not nullify God’s grace to and through you.
Sin in relationships is some of the most visible and painful. As we let each other further and further into our lives and hearts, the sin is more likely to show itself and to cut the other person more deeply. In the right measure, it is the good and proper risk of all Christian fellowship. As people come closer, and we need this in true Christian community, our sin inevitably becomes more dangerous. Our mess is more likely to splash onto others, and theirs on us.
But whoever has done the failing in your breakup, it wasn’t God. Because of Jesus, his promises never to leave or forsake you are true every moment and in every relationship status. If you are trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of your sin and striving to follow him and his word, God has never abandoned you, and he will never abandon you. God didn’t take a break from loving you in your breakup — even if you’re the reason it’s over. His purposes are bigger than your blunders.
CLICK HERE FOR CHRISTIAN DATING