I realized something right around the time when I was beginning to enjoy Christian music and spend time with other believers on campus. There were several couples who attended Campus Crusade (now known as just “Cru”), and I was happy to see that. Rather than focus on the obvious downside (“bummer, one less fish in the sea”), seeing a happy couple in a good relationship gave me encouragement because they, by their very existence, demonstrated that a committed relationship between young Christians could work. The obvious extrapolation of this observation is that if it works for them, it can work for me. Instead of being disappointed when I see a beautiful woman who’s “taken,” I draw enjoyment from their enjoyment by being glad that God is strengthening their bond and using them as a lamp for His glory, and look forward to the day when I can experience the same joy, personally.
Yet, I want to make clear that what I like about a young Christian couple is the fact of their relationship itself and not an attraction to the woman in the relationship—getting these two confused can lead to catastrophe, and I think that inappropriate approaches to people in relationships, both by Christians and nonchristians, is one of the root causes for a lot of strange relationship problems that exist. I acknowledge that I initially recognize the woman as an attractive person. Sin is when that becomes lust—the desire to have HER for myself, which I’d like to think I don’t often do, but I acknowledge my imperfection and won’t dare to suppose that I’m less prone to that sort of thought than any other man. What I hold to be attractive about seeing her, happy, in a loving bond, is not her but the fact that she is happy, the fact that someone like her can be happy, and the fact that there can be such a loving bond that can generate such happiness.
Let me briefly explain Plato’s forms. Plato used his brain of brains to wonder about things like definitions—what makes a thing the thing that it is? Is it arbitrary convention or is there an abstract concept that defines it? Let’s give an example: a chair. What makes a chair a chair? Is it that it has four legs, or three, or five? Is it its shape or its material that it’s made of, or its size? Why do we recognize every new chair that we see as a chair, and not as a completely new thing, since not all chairs are exactly alike? Plato would hold that there is a form called chair that defines “chair-ness,” and describes what it means to be a chair. Chairs are destructible and material but forms are eternally existent and immutable. Every chair possesses the form of “chair-ness,” and that’s what enables us to recognize it as a chair. This is all a complicated way of getting to my point, which is this: I am attracted to the form of marriage. It is recognizable only in actual examples of marriage, but each actual marriage possesses some quality of “marriage-ness” that points to the form marriage, which is what I’m attracted to and desire.
When I see a happy marriage between two Christians, it is not THEIR marriage that I desire. But there is something in their marriage that points to, that “reminds” me of some quality of the ideal of marriage, and it is THAT that I want. So when I see something in this ideal of marriage displayed in an actual marriage, it gives me hope because it shows that it’s not just an unreachable abstract idea, but a concrete reality that isn’t impossible to achieve—they did, and that means that you can have it too. That’s why I can be turned off to a particular woman upon realizing that she’s in a relationship (this is true. I would almost consider it a spiritual gift, but I suspect it’s just biology or psychology), yet turned on to/by something more abstract about her that isn’t HER, but a quality that she possesses that I yearn for in my own life. I don’t want their relationship. I want a relationship like theirs. And what that really means, in Christian theology, is that I want an earthly relationship with a woman that as closely mirrors the heavenly relationship, that God has with His Church, as possible.
~ Rak Chazak