Christlike relationships and a law of chastity lesson

10/27/2014 The Charmer 8 Comments

I have two questions for you.

A) What do you do to bring the Spirit into your life?
B) What do you do in your dating relationships to keep the Spirit?

Now, analyze your answers for me....are they the same? Or do they look more like the answers to 2 completely different questions?

I feel like most of us would answer the first question along the lines of, pray, read the scriptures, fast, go to the temple, etc. Our answers to the second question might be more varied, but it seems like the first things many of us think of are go on group dates, avoid being alone late at night, set boundaries, etc.

So my next question is....why aren't our answers to those questions the same?
Granted, there are important things to consider in regards to relationships, such as setting boundaries. I'm not trying to discount the importance of those. But why aren't we more eager to incorporate things like praying together, reading the scriptures together, and fasting as a couple into our relationships?
Maybe some of you are better than I was in college and you do try to do these things with your significant other. Unfortunately for me, my two long relationships at BYU had a significant lack of shared religious activity. Why? I have no idea! Sure, occasionally we'd go to church together, but for some reason I can only remember reading scriptures once with the Ex and not at all with Mr. Director. I think we'd pray before eating dinner sometimes. We went and did baptisms at the temple once. Despite the fact that I was very active in practicing my faith, there was a big separation between my religious life and my dating life. And to be honest, I really don't know why that separation was there. I mean, heck, I attended BYU! It's a religious university! I loved my classes that taught me how to incorporate my beliefs and values into the practice of psychology. So why didn't I incorporate those beliefs more into my personal relationships!?

The whole reason I've even been thinking about this is because Ammon asked me to help him plan a lesson for his gospel principles class about the law of chastity. He really didn't want it to be awkward and he also didn't want it to be a long list of "don't do this, don't do that." Mostly, he wanted the class to be able to understand that the best way to keep the law of chastity is to focus on establishing a Christlike relationship from the beginning, especially by doing the small things that will bring the Spirit and help you understand your significant other on a spiritual level. It made me think, why haven't I ever thought of dating this way? I've had so many church lessons on dating and chastity but I feel like I never had a lesson where I came out of it wanting to study the scriptures or pray with my boyfriend. It wasn't until after my mission that these were things I tried to implement.

Now, having experienced both types of relationships, I must say that I definitely prefer the one with lots  of spiritual interaction. During our week together and these days that's basically all Ammon and I do--read the scriptures, have gospel discussions, etc. It's amazing to compare how much stronger our relationship is after 2 months to how my relationships with past boyfriends were at 2 months. This one has so much more substance. To be honest, I don't think I could tell you Ammon's favorite color or his favorite movie...well, let's see....nope, I can't. But he's shared with me some of the cool spiritual experiences he's had while reading the scriptures. I know what things are most important to him and what things he prays about every day. I know what type of a person he is trying to become. It makes me wonder why I ever tried to do dating without all of these things.

What are your thoughts? Good idea, bad idea? Are these totally unrealistic expectations? Have you tried it both ways and seen a difference?

the charmer

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Anonymous said...

It would seem great but I believe we have been counseled by apostles to not incorporate scripture reading and couples prayer into our dating relationships. It creates a powerful bond that is great in marriage but... In a boyfriend and girlfriend situation I think we were told to avoid it because of the strength of that bond, and it's effect on how we judge what we can then do physically with that person. I wish I had an actual reference for that but I don't remember! Maybe I'll go try to find it.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! I think it is important to share testimonies and spiritual experiences with someone you are in a relationship with. I wouldn't say that's necessarily first date stuff. But if you feel right and good about sharing something you learned or experienced, why the heck not?! I had a roomie who had nightly scripture study and prayer with her fiance, and it was the most amazing thing. You could tell they were super in love with each other and had this amazing bond, but they weren't one of those make you uncomfortable by their awkward PDA couples. I loved that about them. They really showed me what love and respect really is. I want to be like them. They were engaged, so I don't know if that makes a difference as to whether it was appropriate for them to incorporate that in? Started an excellent habit that they carried into their marriage. Part of me feels that it is totally okay, and the other agrees with Anonymous 1? Either way, the spirit needs to be in both, and the gospel is such an important part of our lives that it should leak into all the other aspects of life.

Sarah said...

So I don't have any references concerning apostles, but I definitely had several bishops counsel to specifically not have scripture study and prayer with your significant other. Fiance, sure! Because then you're committed to and preparing for marriage, but with just a boyfriend or girlfriend I feel like it can confuse you. The light and mantle of Christ are powerful things. I think we could end up falling in love with just about anyone if we had lots of spiritually high experiences with them. Which is kind of why missionaries can be so compelling. People feel that light and want to be around it, want to have it for themselves. Sure it's totally appropriate to pray over meals, long trips, and other occasions where you naturally pray and happen to be around your significant other. And it's awesome to have gospel discussions and share experiences. But having specific prayer and scripture study together is not a good idea to me. There's a lot to marriage. A lot. Yes a lot of it is and should be spiritual, but there also has to be a basic level of compatibility and agreement on important subjects. The gospel is the most important subject, so great if a couple is in sync on that score, but there are a lot of other things to consider. I had a boyfriend once who was a newly returned missionary who wanted to do scripture study and prayer together and who often enjoyed talking about gospel subjects. I loved talking about the gospel, but I had to tell him no to the other. Thank goodness I did! He was a good guy, but so completely wrong for me in pretty much every way. He had no job ambition or direction, he believed in spending a lot of money on recreational items such as boats,ATVs, campers, RVs, dirt bikes, etc. He didn't appreciate my sense of humor. The list goes on and on. But if I had spent a whole bunch of time feeling the spirit around him, I probably would have confused that wonderful feeling of the spirit as romantic love for him. Anyway, that's my two cents! I ended up finding the guy who was right for me personally and spiritually, so huzzah!!! But yeah, we didn't do scripture study or prayer together until we were engaged.

The Charmer said...

Ah, very interesting! I appreciate hearing the counsel you've received some bishops and such. I hadn't really thought of that.

So how do you think we can find that balance...?

Anonymous said...

I don't think it would hurt to discuss what you've each learned. My now-husband and I used to kind of hash out parts of the lessons we'd be teaching (he did Sunday School and I did RS). We didn't study the lessons or scriptures together. Those were some of my favorite conversations because the studying had been done, so the discussions were more about application and we shared personal experiences related to what we were discussing, so we got to know each other really well that way too. Same thing--bishops and institute teachers advised against scripture study as couples and praying also. I actually was in a relationship where we did anyway (because why/how on earth could it be a bad thing?). Ummm, bad thing. As the relationship became abusive, he could use our prayers and his "answers" to said prayers to manipulate me and would refer to times he knew I'd felt the Spirit, etc. Not a good situation. And yeah, while most guys would never do that, your prayers and "answers" together can totally be influenced by each other and you don't want that.

Sarah said...

I guess I'd say the balance would be that couple scripture study and couple prayer is absolutely off limits until the ring is on your finger. Naturally occurring prayer and gospel discussions completely okay and good. Imagine, for example, praying about where your relationship is going or praying about whether to marry that other person together. You'd open your eyes post prayer, look at that beautiful face across from you, and every chemical and hormone would be screaming, "marry that guy and have beautiful babies with him!!!!!" It's best to keep personal prayer personal until the time comes that another person will for certain be an intrinsic part of your eternity.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sarah. It's good to have spontaneous gospel discussions and hear each others testimony. But I think couples prayer and scripture study is dangerous territory when you aren't married. It's a deeply personal experience, and one I'm glad I've only shared with my spouse. But the decision is up to you. Go with what you feel is right.

Celina said...

I agree to a certain extent with all that has been said.

One note that I would like to share though... Spirituality is a big part of who I am and what I think about. Not sharing that with someone (which I have done before in a relationship... It never seemed to 'come up') now feels like I'm leaving a big part of me out in getting to know another person. I hope to find someone that I can discuss my gospel insights and questions with, who will search for answers with me and share his discoveries as well. And I need to know we can have spiritually stimulating concersation is important for me before I would consider engagement. To me it feels natural and normal to share that with someone I am looking to see as a potential husband.

That being said... Sharing such personal and spiritual experiences inevitable draws two people together in more ways than one so be careful but...

I think in a lot of ways sharing spiritual experiences, goals, ideas, questions, desires etc is an absolutely essential part of figuring out of he's the one you want to say 'yes' to if he pops the question, not just something to explore afterwards.

:) my two cents. I wish I had figured this out earlier too. It doesn't feel right having two seperate spheres/mindsets/etc. I agree with you Charmer!