“I Love You” While Dating… Do You Really?

I know that this may be a slightly controversial topic (which is never a good way to start off something!). However being the pastor of a young church, I feel like the topic should be address.

If you are simply dating someone, do you really love them? I would have a hard time saying that you truly do. So then, why would you say that very heavy, very important statement? That honestly doesn’t make much sense and I am willing to bet that most of the time when that statement is said it is from a completely emotional, and often sinful or ignorant heart. Here’s where I am coming from:

1 Corinthians 13 is the prototypical “love” chapter, and for good reason. Paul is literally defining love here. Let me pull out one simple verse, and use it to show why I think saying “I love you” while dating is silly. Verse 7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Now, based off of that, let me ask you, when you are simply dating, do you bear, believe in, hope in, and endure all things? Well if you end up breaking up, then NO! And even if you don’t end up breaking up, do you by Biblical definition love the person yet? I would still say no.

So, here is the wild statement I am going to make and then try to spend the rest of the time defending. Saying, “I love you” before you commit is lying and often manipulative, and therefore should be avoided. We have to learn to be so careful with our words because they carry such great weight.  

You may say, “Isn’t this just being legalistic?” I would say if you find your righteousness because you don’t say, “I love you” before you are engaged, then yes, it is legalistic. However, if you are simply looking out for your brothers and sisters in Christ, then no, this isn’t legalistic, it is actually walking in love. 

You may also ask, “Why is this important?” There are three main reasons I can think of. The first is because you are really setting up his/her future spouse for failure in saying that you “love” the person, but then break up with them. Imagine you shower a girl in affection, you sweep her off her feet with poetry, you “love” and “cherish” her all the day long, and then break up. Later on someone else comes along, starts to date this women, and then tells her he “loves” her, and he really does because he is about to marry her. Satan could easily attack her in saying; “You know your last boyfriend said that too, what makes him any different?”

Or even worse than this, you are a little boy, and say “I love you” simply as a way to use the woman’s emotions and get some sort of personal pleasure out of it. Then when her husband comes along and tries to love her, she has this baggage that you created out of your selfishness.

Reason number two is that I think most people say “I love you” simply because they think love is an emotional feeling, rather than a personal commitment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not think that love is absent of feeling. Honestly, often because of the commitment, even stronger feelings come. But love in and of itself doesn’t always produce an overwhelming, honeymoon, “I can’t think of spending 12 seconds away from you,” feeling. Jesus Himself is a perfect example of this. He did not have a happy feeling going to the cross. He did it out of love. Love for him was obedience to the Father that produced a commitment from His end. So, do you really love someone because you have strong feeling? I would say no, you may be really infatuated with them, or lust after them, but you don’t love them. Love is commitment, and commitment comes when you are ready to say, “For richer or poorer, until death do us part.” This is commitment, this is love, you choosing to lay down your life for the sake of the other.

Finally, we have to be careful with some of the words we use. This is coming from a guy who says “literally,” when 94.3% of the time I say that I actually mean figuratively! James chapter 3 though says some pretty interesting things about the power of the tongue. The poison of hell is on it, a small spark sets a forest on fire, no human can control it, on and on it goes about the power of words. So, with love being such a strong word, why just use it flippantly, or because you just had your first kiss? That doesn’t make any sense.

Now, do I think those who chose not to say “I love you” are better? No, I really don’t. However, I am imploring those of you in relationships, or those that will be in relationships down the line, to think before you speak. What is love to you? I think we could do a better job at protecting each other’s hearts, and honestly make a good impression. Men, I implore you especially as the leaders in the relationship, show your woman some respect. I promise it will only end up good in the end. If you break up, you lost nothing in not saying it. If you end up getting married, you may have “suffered” for a while not expressing your feelings, but you will gain much respect later that will show her you are a man of your word, and you take you job at taking care of her seriously.

I would encourage you to go read 1 Corinthians 13, and then go put your relationship to the test. Does it stand underneath the principles of what love is? Or are you just saying this out of emotion? It may sounds like I am just nit-picking, but remember, if these women are Christians then they are actually God’s daughter, meaning she is a princess, a daughter of the King of the universe! How set apart (holy) should you treat her? I think we need to see them the way they truly are. Food for thought J   

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