Today’s episode marks the second part in an eight part series, “Eight Warning Signs You Might Need to Break Up.” In this episode we discuss a potentially polarizing subject, differing values and belief systems. As with all episodes in this particular series, we are addressing those who are DATING, not those who are married.
Robertson McQuilkin: Honoring His Vows
Laura begins with the story of Robertson McQuilkin. He was the president of Columbia International University, in Columbia SC. His father was the original president of the school and imparted a legacy upon him. During his presidency, he wrote several books.
Mr. McQuilkin did something pretty radical, he left his post at the school eight years shy of his retirement to care for his wife, Muriel, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. She had become intensely fearful if he left her side. In an interview with Christianity Today, he said:
“When the time came, the decision was firm. It took no great calculation. It was a matter of integrity. Had I not promised, 42 years before, ‘in sickness and in health . . . till death do us part’?
This was no grim duty to which I stoically resigned, however. It was only fair. She had, after all, cared for me for almost four decades with marvelous devotion; now it was my turn. And such a partner she was! If I took care of her for 40 years, I would never be out of her debt.”
Vincent regales of a time spent on a mission trip in Africa when he first heard of Columbia International University. Ironically, the school was only two hours away from his home, but he had not heard of it until his time in Kenya. He met some missionaries from England who told him about the school.
How Intentional Are You?
Robertson McQuilkin led an intentional life. What about you? If you’re dating, are you seeking out someone with similar values? Do you have values, and if so, are searching for someone who is intentionally living out values that you share?
Does the person you date identify as a Christian, or do they live it out? What does it mean? Because it means different things to different people, it is important to have an ongoing discussion about faith, values, and beliefs.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of dating a good-looking person who identifies with a belief system without really knowing what they truly stand for.
Questions to Consider Before Getting Serious
1. Beliefs—What is their faith? Do they have faith? If Christian, what does that mean (and what does being Christian mean to you?)
2. Relationship with Jesus, with Holy Spirit, and God?
3. What is their prayer life like?
4. Are they obedient to the Word?
5. Do you see disciplines of the faith in them?
6. Do they believe in the Apostles Creed?
7. What is their church life like? (How often do they attend to church? What’s their commitment level?)
Are They a Mature Christian? How Committed Are They?
Vincent discusses how mature Christians know the Bible well, but also pray prayers asking for God’s guidance, rather than just making what he calls “genie prayers.” He describes how he matured in faith by reading through the entire Bible as a young adult and participating in deep group bible studies. He also studied other religions to compare and to learn the difference.
Laura mentions that mature Christians view marriage more as a covenant, not as a contract. This shows how serious they are to their promises to God and to their spouse. One’s relationship with God influences their relationship with their spouse, and also speaks to their level of commitment.
New Life Summit by the American Association of Christian Counselors
Vincent and Laura attended the New Life Summit this past weekend held by the American Association of Christian Counselors. During a plenary session, Dr. Jared Pingleton spoke about the idea of covenantal marriage. Many Americans see marriage as a legal matter; a piece of paper.
In his book, “Making Magnificent Marriages”, Dr. Pingleton provides ten different distinctions between contractual and covenantal marriage. A contract is meant to protect people, in essence, the clauses of it are delineated to protect yourself because of expected failure.
A covenant, however, is a promise between two people, God and to the witnesses of the wedding ceremony. Robertson McQuilkin’s choices surrounding staying by his wife’s side was his way of living out his vows.
Laura mentions how the current average cost of a wedding is over $30,000 and how that is a lot of attention spent on ONE DAY versus a lifetime. Essentially a lot of effort and money is placed on a big party, but what does marriage really mean?
What Is Their Commitment To Their Friends & Family?
Another thing to consider is how does your significant other interact with co-workers, family and friends? This person’s commitment to and relationship with others speaks to how they will treat you.
Are you open to other’s opinions of your dating this person? It’s important to remember that we are biased by our hormones when we are newly dating someone. Another person’s point of view may prove invaluable.
Could they be a part of a cult?
It’s not enough to KNOW scripture. Satan KNOWS scripture. How do they use scripture? What is the intent?
If you investigate their background and find it questionable, you may find cult influences bleeding into your relationship. Many Christian cults have a strong, patriarchal bend. This could play out in a more abusive way towards women.
Do they value family?
How do they view community? What are their ethics?
Vincent mentions a discussion that occurred in Sunday School about how some families in Nepal barter their children. This may be rare in the United States, but it is important to consider how your significant other values family.
How honest are they?
Do they have integrity? How forthright are they?
Are they honest with their taxes? Do they cheat on their time clocks at work? Are they involved in shady business deals? Do they hide things from their customers?
How do they talk about their workplace to you? How do they talk about other people to you? How they treat others is a good indicator of how they will treat you. Do they keep their passcodes hidden from you?
Be sure to reference episode 022 “Should Snoop On My Spouse’s Phone” to learn the importance of transparency in relationships.
The apps someone has on their phone tells you about their values. What a person does on their phone is a window to their world.
Do they value education and learning?
Is education important to you? If so, do you need to be in relationship with someone who values education and/or learning? Ideally, you would want to be with someone who wants to grow.
How do they view fitness and/or wellbeing?
How do they treat their body? What does this mean about their views of the future? If you plan on marrying, consider what this means when you “become one.” Their views on wellbeing also speaks to their self-worth.
How do they view finances?
Jesus spoke about many times about money. How someone views it speaks to the condition of their heart.
Does your significant other treat money as a status symbol? Are they disciplined with money? Do they save enough? Too much?
Do they intend on having separate accounts if you get married? What does this mean? Are you on the same team, or is this a protective measure because one of you has unhealthy spending habits?
Stewardships—What are they doing with the stuff they have?
Do they share with others? How well do they take care of their possessions, home, etc. How do they manage their belongings? Do they take care of what God has gifted them with? Do they tithe?
In Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, we see an example of stewardship gone wrong. Three ghosts appear to Ebenezer Scrooge to illuminate the dark parts of his heart, helping him see how his miserly behavior withheld helping others close to him.
Before you get too far into the dating process, talk in-depth about these questions. You will learn a lot about your significant other’s heart by a frank, open discussion on these matters. Many couples do not discuss these issues and it causes conflict later. Don’t count on the feeling of being in love to carry your relationship through.