One of the most damaging relationships I have been in was with a church boy. It had all the makings of disaster – the breaking up to make up, the using sex as a crutch to ‘make things better’, the emotional trauma, so on & so forth. This isn’t an uncommon story inside nor outside the SDA church, people enter bad relationships all the time, in fact it’s so normal that it’s basically a right of passage.
I’m at that age where everyone is enquiring about my relationships – am I in one? when will I enter one? when will I get married? (nobody’s asking if I want to be in a relationship though). Naturally with this kind of interrogation comes the discussion of ideal partners – what we want in partners, the kind of partners we want to be, how do we choose, etc. A question I hear often from young SDA folk, especially women, is: “If a man outside church treats me better than one inside church, then which should I choose?” (and it’s variations). It’s a question I used to ask and frankly, I think it only exists because of the immense pressure there is to get married as soon as you enter your twenties.
But who said we have to choose? & Why are those ever the only two choices? As if during our lives only two men will be interested in us & they’ll either be a good non-SDA or a horrid SDA. It’s ridiculous. (I’d wouldn’t choose either one)* The pressure to get married that sparks these silly questions, is the same that leads people into dangerous marriages, that and the rampant desire for sex. There aren’t less divorce rates in the church, nor fewer cases of abuse, we get into damaging relationships with people we have no business being with and are unequally yoked with. I know of married couples with adult children who live in the same house but do not speak to each other, ever, not even “hello” when one enters the house. Women feel this pressure even more because there’s this silly notion that being a woman = being a wife/mother. So women are trying their best to fit the Proverbs 31 mould and men are using the text as a check-list instead of a guide to becoming a man who could even be strong enough to be with a Prov 31 woman.
I have already had my fair share of damaging relationships, so nobody, inside nor outside church, is going to make me feel like less of a woman for not rushing into a situation with someone I’m not entirely comfortable with. I take marriage very seriously, it’s a lifelong commitment, and I can’t enter that sort of commitment without feeling confident that I’m making the right decision for myself, my partner & our future children.
* There are a list of reasons I wouldn’t marry someone who isn’t an Adventist which I may expand upon in another post.