The Wintery Knight explains why he is fulfilled by his decision to love

I have done a lot of thinking about what love is within the context of relationships between single Christian men and women, and I wanted to write something about that today. My topic is the place of actions and feelings as they relate to love. I will be using some lessons learned from my last two relationships to explain why and how I think Christian men should love Christian women, and whether they should expect to feel “in love” while doing acts of love.

What is love?

OK, so first, what is love, especially what is the love that a man gives to a woman? Love is the set of actions performed by a man who decides to move a willing responsive woman closer to God, even if it takes a lot of work and even if it doesn’t make him feel happy. Love is not a feeling. Feelings come and go. But the will to act to move another person toward God has to be remain constant if you want to love someone. A person who gives love may feel things, but that is not the point of the decision to act. In both of my relationships with women, my plan was to support each woman in her relationship with God.

So, with both of these women there was an opportunity to love because both women desired to be effective for God, and both needed support to reach their goals. So long as a woman is willing to respond to my efforts to move her closer to God, then I can choose to love her. In fact, when I am deciding who to befriend, the biggest criteria is her willingness to grow in her relationship with God, and especially to become more effective in serving him. You can’t love someone who doesn’t want to move closer to God and to serve him more.

How do you love a woman who is willing to be led into a better relationship with God? Well, I use words, service, gifts, time, money, effort, etc. as tools to drive a willing and responsive woman towards a stronger relationship with God, one in which she offers God MORE VALUE than she did before. I call these kinds of actions “acts of love”, because I perform actions which aim to support her by protecting her from lies and temptation, providing her with resources like books and debates, and giving her guidance about the overall direction she should be heading in, like studying the economic policies that help and hurt the strength of the family.

How do I feel about doing acts of love?

Some people think that the purpose of relationships is to have the feeling of being “in love” and that when you no longer have that feeling, then you are free to give up on your acts of love, and seek for the feeling from someone else. And that raises some questions about acts of love vs being “in love”. Can we men get the feeling of being “in love” from acts of love to grow a woman towards God? Should that even be the goal of our efforts?

What I learned in my relationships is that there is a tremendous feeling of honor and glory that slowly builds as you put more and more time and effort into building up a willing responsive woman, so that she can fulfill her desire to serve God effectively. My relationships are chaste, so there is no touching to cloud my judgment. Instead, I feel good because of a woman’s vulnerability to me, her trust in my desire to serve her. I also feel good because of her recognition of me for protecting her from lies and sin, providing her with what she needs to learn, and her willingness to let me lead her in a good direction.

Acts of love performed by a man should not be conditional on having feelings of being “in love”. Feelings are the caboose of the love train. The locomotive is the decision to act and the carrying out that decision with actions, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year – with no feelings of being “in love” expected. You only get to quit if the women starts to resist your leadership, protection and providing for her. So long as she is working towards God, gaining strength and being effective, it makes sense to keep loving her with actions.

What about being in love?

Yes, I do have periods when I “fall in love” and have feelings of being in love while doing acts of love.

Here are my symptoms:

  • flushed face
  • butterflies in stomach
  • tingly fingers
  • impossible to concentrate
  • back overheating
  • 15 e-mails a day to communicate my feelings about her in detail
  • shortness of breath
  • lump in throat
  • constant smiling
  • frequent prayer for God about her

My most recent descent into being in love occurred when looking at the changes in the second woman’s wish list and seeing her desires change. She used to be quite liberal on fiscal and foreign policy issues, and cautious about men’s abilities to be responsible, as well. But that has been changing recently as she gets used to being loved well.

A few weeks back, she updated her wish list with lots of solid Christian books on marriage, love, sex and parenting. I remember seeing the new books on the list for the first time and reading the negative reviews of the books from angry liberals and feminists who did not like the idea of a woman having to do anything for a man or for her children. I immediately ordered 2 copies of each book so we could go through them together.

She recently added “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark Levin to her wish list, as well as “On Guard” by William Lane Craig, and “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, a book highly recommended by my favorite married couple, Andrew and Jen. Her desires were changing before my eyes and I was paralyzed with love and excitement for several hours because of those changes. I could not eat or even get up from my chair!

I realized as I looked over the books that she really was willing to at least study some of the ideas that I think are consistent with a Christian worldview in some other areas, and that I was going to be allowed to help her by reading these books with her. She was willing to let me lead because she felt that I was leading her in the right direction. This is what works to make me fall in love, at least for a couple of days.

Conclusion

Men should choose women based on their willingness to be led towards God and supported in their growth. Men should not expect to feel in love, and not feeling in love is not a reason to quit. Men should expect to do acts of love for the woman to support her growth in her Christian faith, and he should expect to feel honorable and purposeful as he executes his duty. Men should expect to slip into being “in love” for short periods of time, especially when the woman recognizes and responds to his leadership by studying to change her mind.

Related posts on chastity, chivalry, courtship and marriage

12 thoughts on “The Wintery Knight explains why he is fulfilled by his decision to love”

  1. “15 e-mails a day to communicate my feelings about her in detail”

    Her? Her??? WK — I thought you were referring to the thrill you feel when I post something on your site.

    I’m crushed. But, I shall survive.

    I’m going for a coffee.

    I hope it’s free.

  2. OK, with all the evidence given… have you asked her the big question yet? Sounds to me like now is the time. :)

    BTW, I wish that someone could have given me this description of love when Elisa and I first started courting, I would have been a lot less wish-washy on the entire process.
    Blessings

    1. Ha I was just on your blog looking at all your posts. I’m going to add you to my blogroll.

      Noooooo, I haven’t asked her any questions… we’re really more like friends than courting anyway, and things like marriage are a long way off. Both of us are cautious for different reasons. But it’s an amazing joy to put this much time into a relationship with a woman who is so available and responsive and who sees the importance of knowing the truth and is willing to devote time to it. It’s fun to give her things, she gets so excited it about everything that I give her no matter how small that I just want to give her more and more.

      1. Thanks!I’ve already got you on the blogroll, twice even. :)

        BTW, since she is a friend and you feel the way you do… all the more reason. Best person in the world to marry is your best friend, as long as she is a she and you are a he. :)

    1. Do you mean the second one? She has no time to torture babies for fun. She spends hours and hours and hours with me on Skype. And when she isn’t charming me, she goes to homes to the elderly and sings to them. Or she attends apologetics classes. Or she goes to theology conferences. Or she reads all the essays in “Indivisible”. Or she listens to Dr. J lectures. She has no TIME to be evil. No offense, but she really quite superior, and I am not the only one who thinks so, either.

      1. But does she know how to use guns, disarm bombs, detect mines, and correctly identify fighter plane makes and models just from hearing the engine noise? :P

  3. Good post. And she sounds like a woman well worth pursuing – a worthwhile investment of time, WK. Some more reasons why it’s worth it to love: we emulate Christ when we love and display His character to a watching world, we practise obedience to His injunction to love one another, and we are sanctified as we practise selflessness. Also, I agree that our actions should not be dependent on emotions. However, there is also value in intentionally cultivating loving emotions, not just seeing them as a byproduct. The Bible frequently exhorts us to fitting emotional states. Men are to rejoice in the wife of their youth. We are all to rejoice in the Lord. John Piper writes some excellent material on delighting in God which I have found most helpful and inspiring. The marriage relationship, as a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church should reflect that delight. And in loving a woman as a single man there is plenty of room for you to delight appropriately in her – not just as a byproduct, but as something to be cultivated.

  4. Luther the ex-priest praised the sanctity of domestic life — a man with a wife. The older I get, the more I find existential meaning and contentment in the very, very simple routine pleasures of (married) life.

  5. So WK, do you think these techniques work for a woman trying to get a man interested in Christianity? How should a woman get a man interested in God without seeming like she’s pursuing him? I personally don’t think it’s wrong for a woman to try to edge a man closer to God (or even, get a non-believer to know God) if she knows he’s interested in her. I just think she has to be clear with her boundaries and not give him any mixed signals like flirting with him or any form of touch.

    1. I think that you should put out some online writings with some links to resources like lectures and debates, and if you have your college thesis or something else that you’ve worked, then send him that. This is basically a way of saying you him “this is what I am good at, are you interested in getting help in these areas?” And I know this because someone just did this to me this week, and I have to decide whether to go back to her and talk about these things that she’s good at it not. My basis for pursuing her has to be related to how we would work together as a team on spiritual things.

    2. Ah, missionary dating.

      One of the pastors my church surveyed the people involved in the singles’ ministry one time and there was an interesting statistic that jumped out: if you asked someone of the opposite sex to do something, somewhere around 40% would self-describe that as a “date”. i.e., 60% thought that men and women could do activities without it being romantic and/or were implying this was a date.

      However, when approached by a member of the opposite sex, this flipped: 60% construed being approached by a member of the opposite sex and requesting to do something as a date. (And the other 40% tried to not read anything into “just wanting to hang out” or “we’re just going to a Red Sox game (or whatever) and this isn’t actually a date”.)

      There’s a discrepancy in what the initiator thinks is going on — and what the other person perceives is going on — and 20% is significant enough to be a bit careful.

      Second, the Bible actually has a five-fold scheme of commands and proscriptions (that wasn’t a spelling mistake).
      1. Some actions are commanded. We must obey. They are not divine suggestions.
      2. Some actions are wise to do or are suggested. (e.g., Paul is careful to delineate his ‘suggestions’ as opposed to commands in the first section of 1Cor. 7)
      3. The Bible is neutral about something or makes no direct or indirect remarks about something.
      4. Something is unwise to do.
      5. Some actions are expressly forbidden (e.g., The Ten Commandments).

      It’s important not to make something as “wise” or “suggested” into “this is a requirement” (that’s legalism) and it’s also important not to forbid things that aren’t forbidden (that’s also legalism).

      There are a number of other things that are unwise e.g., “Getting into significant debt without significant consideration of how to repay the debt.” It is not forbidden to get into debt. Sometimes it may be a good idea to incur some debt, and there are at least two circumstances that this is a great idea: 1) you take out modest college loans if you must, and get a STEM degree such that you can repay this debt quickly, 2) you have to get a mortgage and you’ve done you’re homework in terms of looking at all the factors that go into homebuying (location, whether this is fixer-upper or not and how much maintenance will cost you, budget, value of the house and neighborhood, that you are committed to stay in an area for >= 7 years or wherever the break-even point is, etc.) — because usually it is better to buy a house and increase the value of the house through improvements and especially where the area is being actively developed such that it is increasing in value — than it is to rent.

      I think we should contend that missionary dating is unwise. There are lots of reasons including practical ones that it is unwise, ranging from how one is being influenced and temptation and value systems and “bad company corrupts good character” and so on. There are also plenty of people who felt cheapened by friendships and relationships that they were the object of proselytization. They may express that the other person didn’t truly value the friendship or the relationship.

      When I was single, I had a simple axiom. “Is this person a friend or is this person a ministry?” There is give and take with friendships. It might not be 50/50. And friends do have to be emotionally healthy.

      If I felt this person was a ministry (especially if it were the case I were trying to share the Good News with that person), then all romance is off the table. I was a lot more careful (with time, effort, relationship/connecting, what I share, how I share, how often we meet, under what circumstances, etc.) I was also careful to be tactful but very clear how I enunciated to non-Christians that I only dated Christians (I usually used something like, “My Christian faith is very important to me and foundation in who I am and what I do, and I would like a partner who shares this viewpoint as well. But we can certainly be friends.”)

      It is generally fine to influence the other person to be more Christlike, to be more godly. *How* one does so is more the interesting question.

      Certainly as a man, I could bring along a sister in Christ (or two) that I think is godly and would be a good person to know or shares some similarities.

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