Foreword: Christian dating is a topic that turn some pretty intelligent people into little, bitter, angsty messes. I’ve had my share, and I’ll aim to not fall into that. Also, this may be more applicable to men than to women (at least part 2).

This verse sums up the way I’ve been taught to view relationships.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23.

From this verse, we can conclude that we should be extremely careful with our relationships with the opposite sex.  People get so close in their relationships that it becomes the emotional equivalent of divorce if they break it off at some point in the future. Solution: don’t get your heart emotionally invested in the other person until marriage. Trust that the feelings will come in full when the commitment comes in full.  Get to know them (but be careful! only engage in group interactions until you’re engaged), and get mature advice on your compatibility from older believers.  If you follow this process, you’ll have a mostly-baggage-free life, which is fair to you and your future spouse. After all, you don’t want to stand at the alter knowing you can’t give you’re whole heart away to the woman/man in front of you because you gave part of it to someone else a few years ago. This idea is expanded on in the popular book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” by Joshua Harris.

Two years ago this sounded great to me. I had just gotten my heartbroken by a girl I was really close to (it was actually a series of breakings that took place over a period of more than a year, but it’s a long and boring story), and I cut off our friendship. I made an unspoken vow in my heart to never let myself get that close to a woman again.

Fast forward two years later and I’m in a similar situation: heartbroken from a woman I was close to, from a friend I’d hoped to progress with (so much for that unspoken vow). But my history has not repeated itself completely. This time I made no silent vows, and I carried no regret of how deep I let my heart go. You see, I don’t buy into the “guard your heart” theology of dating anymore. Mainly for two reasons.

(1) It reeks of self-preservation, and (2) it’s incongruent with the way we view other relationships.

I’ll start with the second part of that statement.

(1) According to the “guard your heart” philosophy of dating, getting heartbroken is a really bad thing. A morally bad thing. This is what I felt after reading “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” On some level, getting heartbroken is a symptom of idolatry: you’ve put too much in a person that should have gone to God.

But do we ever think in these terms with other relationships? When you go to a funeral and see a family member mourning their loss, does the thought ever cross your mind to go up to them and tell them to “guard your heart” better next time? Do you even think like that? Heck no. Why? Because love doesn’t need fixing.

Do we analyze the way we love our parents, friends, or siblings in the same way we’re told to analyze our love for a romantic interest? Of course not. It doesn’t even cross our mind. Ironically, all of us are in for a lifetime of heartbreak, even if you somehow never fall in love. It comes most consistently through death. Everyone you love is going to die. Forgive me for being so morbid, but let’s be honest. We’re all going to die, so why love if you’re going to be heartbroken?

Because there is life in love. Love is vulnerable. Love is risky. There’s no getting around that. But love is powerful. Love may bring about the greatest sorrow, but it also brings about the greatest joy. It really does. Love makes life worth living, and it arouses the power in a person to live abundantly. Love saves souls, and it redeems what would otherwise be wasted. Love is deep magic. It’s never something you should be ashamed to have. And most times we aren’t.

So why do we have to watch out and make sure we don’t fall in love too soon? We’ve got to “guard our hearts.” Because falling in love is not worth the risk of getting your heart broken.

What a load.

We’re so careful to protect our hearts from idolatry to a person that we make idols out of our emotional safety. But that’s for part 2.

I’ll touch on the second part later. Too many words makes jack a dull boy.

Part 2 is about the Christian perspective of risk and how it correlates with romantic pursuit. Track with me on the next part to see where I’m going with this. The next part really nails it in for me.