In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all in one God, Amen!
Romance or not?
The other day I went on a date with this guy, hands down the sexiest guy I have ever seen. I never thought he would ask me out, so when he did, I was overjoyed, to say the least. When the day of our date finally came, he arrived in his BMW, he got out of the car and handed me these gorgeous flowers. His gaze on my eyes, he said, “beautiful flowers for a beautiful girl.” OHMYGOD, not only did he look like God himself, but he is romantic too!! It must be my lucky day! As he reaches to open the car door for me, I get a wisp of his cologne. He smells so delicious!! By now I am sure my heart is going to explode, so I am thinking of ways to cool myself down.
As we drive to the surprise destination, he plays Ziyaday by Ftsum Beraki and with his angelic voice, he says “this one's for you baby” as he flashes me his heart-melting smile. Ahhhh my heart is screaming, cool down Sina, otherwise, your heart might actually explode, I tell myself!!! When we arrive, he opens my door and gives me a hand. We have reached this romantic restaurant by the water. This place literally looks like a romantic scene from Romeo and Juliet. The food was even better than the view if that is possible. I don’t know if it was the scenery of the waves under the sunset or his dreamy eyes looking at me like I was the only girl on earth, but the food tasted like heaven.
After the meal, we decide to go on a stroll by the beach, he takes my shoes off and carries it for me. This is not real, it can’t be, I must be dreaming! As we are walking, I find myself laughing more than I have ever laughed in my entire life of existence. He is handsome, romantic, and funny! Before we know it, we had reached the end of the beach, we walked so far but it felt like it was a minute. As I was praying for time to slow down, he whispers something in my ear. I am sure it was romantic, but I didn’t hear anything, his breath, and the closeness sent chills to my body and I was suddenly so hot! I don’t know what happened next, all I remember is him taking my hands but somehow, we were embraced in the most perfect kiss. Ahhhh this guy, he is heaven, I think to myself and then my heart explodes. Next thing I remember I was on his back as he walked to the car.
I guess you really can be drunk in love. My perfect night with the most perfect guy ended than and so did my virginity. I might or might not regret that perfect night, but I wonder was it worth losing my God-given gift, my honor? At that time, I couldn’t think straight, like I said I was drunk in love and the wine I had at the restaurant didn’t help either.
Naomi: Wow sis that's a lot to take in, I had no idea any of this was happening.
Me: Sorry sis, I didn't tell you because I was embarrassed. But I am ready to talk about it now, tell me raw, just how it is. Did I make a mistake?
Me: Sis!! Are you listening?!?!
Naomi: YEAH, just overwhelmed.
Me: I need your advice! You are successful in this area, happily married, and about to bring a baby into this world. Obviously, I am failing.
Naomi: First of all, you shouldn't think it is easy for me or that I do it perfectly. We are all human, therefore not perfect. We all have to pray and work hard to get what we want. That said, I don't know where to start. The fact that you are asking questions now is good. Technically, it is a mistake Sina but as humans, we all make mistakes. We just have to make sure to learn from it and repent.
Naomi: Yes. Our God is so loving that He forgives us no matter what we have done. He doesn't ask where we have been, instead, He checks where we are now. When I think of His grace Isaiah 1:18 often pops into my head. In that verse, He promises to clean our sins regardless of how dirty they are and make them as pure as snow.
Me: What did I do wrong? Was going on a date with him wrong? Was losing my virginity wrong? How should I have approached the situation?
Naomi: Well yes going on a date is wrong. If you are dating you are admitting that you are sexually attracted to one another, not the best way to start a committed relationship that will lead to the matrimony of Orthodox marriage. There are many other ways to know a guy without dating him, one way, probably the best way is by keeping him as a friend. Also, giving your virginity to a guy you just met is wrong. Your virginity should be given to someone you will spend your life with, to someone who vows at church to love you for eternity.
Me: I thought I would spend the rest of my life with him, I really wanted to.
Naomi: Wait, what? Did you say you thought you would? What happened are you guys not together anymore?
Me: I never heard from him after that night, like he was actually just a dream.
Naomi: Ohhhhh I'm sorry sis.
Me: I thought if I gave him my most precious gift, he would never leave me. I thought he would feel connected, just like I did. Why was I the only one emotionally affected by the encounter? Did it mean nothing to him?!?!
Naomi: Even if it doesn’t seem so, God gave us rules to make our lives easier. We are told not to have sex before marriage to avoid problems like this. You were emotionally affected and left vulnerable because you weren’t ready. You did it at your will with a person who is not your husband. Imagine in the reverse how beautiful it could have been if you had waited and done it with your partner. Nowadays, sex is seen as something we do to have fun or to keep our man. But look at what happens, we can have sex and still lose our man. Not waiting until marriage just brings many issues including having to hide from your family, the risk of getting pregnant, and the emotional stress.
Me: I feel like you don’t understand. You make it sound so easy. What’s so special about sex after waiting anyways?
Naomi: Believe me, I know it is not easy. It's easier said than done. But it doesn't mean you should just give in because it is hard. That's the time to rely on God for support, He helps us with all the difficulties we face. It is also to our benefit to surround ourselves with people who can aid us spiritually and have a spiritual father.
Me: The truth is I would have liked to have waited. I saved it my entire life, thinking I would give it to someone special. As I grew older the value of my virginity decreased. In fact, it became a hindrance, I was the only one from my friend group who was a virgin and I got pitied for it. I started to feel ashamed of the fact that I was a virgin. To be honest, I wasn't too sad about losing it, I was more sad about losing it to a guy who didn't care.
Naomi: Right, if he was the guy you were going to marry, the guy meant for you, he would have cared. Your first time would have been a blissful experience blessed by God. When it is at the right time (God's time) and with the right person, you wouldn't have been left feeling this way.
Me: How was your experience? Was it magical? You waited and did it the right way.
Naomi: Hahahah nosy girl, my experience was…. Imagine as a kid it's your birthday and your mom tells you not to open you present until later. But you just want to see your present so badly. If you do open it though, your mom will be mad or even take it away, so you wait. When you finally see your precious gift, you are thrilled, it means that much more because of how long you waited. You become happy not only for receiving the present but for following your mother's rule and accomplishing something seemingly difficult.
Me: Hahah true, everything is always better when you get it after a long wait. You just reminded me of the time I got my car. Getting that car was really difficult. I had to work for over a year, doing a job I didn't even like. When I finally got it, I was so excited, I felt my wait was so worth it!
Naomi: Earlier you asked me what's so special about sex after waiting, I can't answer that question for everyone. But for me, the waiting process was as beautiful as the actual sex. While I was waiting, I learned how precious my body is, the fact that my partner was willing to wait for however long it took before we got married, made me realize the value of my body. Also, the knowledge that in my waiting, I was abiding by God's rule gave me a morale boost. More importantly, I learned my true feelings for my partner. Not being intimate with him was a blessing in disguise because my emotional feelings didn't mask my judgment. I was able to see my husband for who he is without being blinded by hormones.
Me: Wow that’s deep, thank you for being so vulnerable to me. I know speaking of such a topic is a taboo in the habesha community.
Naomi: It is, but I think this topic should be discussed more. There might be people who don't know how to be in a Godly relationship or just have questions about relationship rules according to our church. If one girl was in your situation, she might be so angry that she decides to give up guys or love. Or she might do the extreme opposite and sleep around with every guy to take revenge, which can also be a sign of losing self-value.
Me: Seriously, this ended up being a deeper conversation than I planned. I am feeling much better. Thank you for not judging me. I understand now, not only did I sin but I lost my self-respect. I gave myself to a guy who didn't care about me on a wimp of sexual desire, peer pressure and falling for romance. Perhaps romance is not a judgment of good personality.
Naomi: Yes! It really isn't. Some guys are just romantic until they get what they want, they don't mean what they say or do.
Me: Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way. Random note, when you mentioned self-value, it made me wonder about my own self-value. Did I not think I was worthy of waiting, did I think I was not enough without giving that part of myself?
Naomi: As women, we always underestimate our worth. We keep thinking we have to do something or give up something, to be valued. We measure our worth on others approval, which is why we end up getting into situations that hurt us or we regret.
Me: You know, we still haven't talked about a Godly relationship? What does a Godly relationship mean or how does it look?
Naomi: That's a topic we shouldn't take lightly. We should discuss it with our spiritual father and/or someone who can tell us according to the bible.
Me: Actually I have a good friend who is a deacon and is aware of the rules of the Bible when it comes to relationships. Luckily, he is just in the other room with my brother.
Naomi: That's nice, let's refer to him.
Me: Deacon we have a question, what is a Godly relationship? What does it look like? Is dating allowed according to our religion?
Deacon: You ladies are having an interesting conversation, happy to be joining you. When we say Godly relationship we mean looking for Christ-like virtues: kindness, gentleness, self-control, faith, joy, in your partner. Keep in mind in the virtues romance, good looks, or flirtiness is not mentioned. People who have Christ-like qualities or are seeking these qualities are the type of people you should hunt. Dating is not allowed according to the Bible and it can not be the road map to engagement.
Me: If you don't date how can you find a person you want to marry?
Deacon: There is a big difference between dating and having a friend. When you date there is sexual chemistry going on, which might lead to kissing and having sex, which is, of course, a sin when done before marriage. The Bible warns us, “...whoever looks at a woman with lust for her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Nevertheless, having sexual contact, just looking at a person with lust is a sin. Dating is completely prohibited according to the Bible. That said, you can still have a guy friend and hang out with him, which can be a way to get to know him before marriage. Engagement is also another opportunity to get to know your partner without committing a sin of dating.
Me: But, how would I get to the engagement period without dating someone. I can't just get engaged to someone I meet?
Deacon: Well, you can get to know him as a friend or a brother. Just make sure you talk with your spiritual father beforehand. Your parents should also be aware of your meetings with him. You should not meet the person after dark. You should only meet the person in public places and this stage should not take more three months. Definitely no touching of any sorts. After the three months period, you should decide if you want to get engaged or not. All this is to protect you from making mistakes or being tempted to makes mistakes.
Me: Oh that’s a lot of information, you are giving me headache deacon. Thank you though, it’s much-needed advice. Frankly, I wish I knew all this before I met the guy.
Naomi: Christians are called to a life of repentance, a life in which Christ is God and our life is his. Sex is a normal part of life for married Christians, the keyword is marriage.
Deacon: Exactly Naomi, feeling sexually attracted to someone you hardly know is certainly no way to determine if that person will make a good wife or husband. A good marriage can never be based on how the other person makes you feel sexually.
Me. You are both absolutely right. It was hard to wrap my head around this new information, but I get it now. Love is not determined by romance and following God’s rule can help us make the process of finding a partner a lot easier.
Naomi: Yes, and it is important that we find a Godly person because that person is going to be the one we raise our children with. If our partner is someone who has a different religion, it will be difficult to raise our children in the house of God.
Deacon: The other thing about being in love with none Godly person is that the relationship becomes the center of the couple's world. God drifts in the background and gets ignored because the people are infatuated with each other and experiencing hormonal emotions. However, this is a problem that can easily be avoided if you approach your relationship in a Godly way, through the holy communion, fasting, praying, and being counseled/guided by your spiritual father.
Me: I agree to cultivate God’s love or our religious life can definitely be challenging when in partnership with someone of other religion or an atheist. Honestly though, these days I feel like there aren’t any good candidates even at our church, no offense to you deacon.
Deacon: Hahaha offense taken, you killed us. All jokes aside, I get what you mean, as guys we also feel that way about our church sisters.
Naomi: Sorry to both of you, but I don’t think this is a real problem. If someone is interested in finding an Orthodox spouse, he or she needs to put themselves out there. You can’t just go to church one day and expect to find your soulmate. You need to get out and get involved in orthodox conferences and activities outside our church.
Deacon: Good point Naomi, organizing retreats, participating in the church mission or service organization is helpful in finding a future partner. Above all, praying to God is the best way to find your other half, pray goes a long way. Ladies, thank you for allowing me to give my humble opinion. I need to leave, but I would surely like to continue the conversation next time. Also, remember that you can always ask your spiritual father for guidance in this area.
Me: Thank you deacon and Naomi, you have both healed my broken heart with your kind and helpful advice.
Naomi: Happily sis, have a blessed day deacon hawey!
Glory to God!
By Bezawit, Elizabeth, & Bieza-natu