God’s Prescription for Lasting Relationships

with Chip Ingram | February 7, 2012

Find the right person, fall in love, set your hopes on them--that's Hollywood's path to finding a love. Chip Ingram tells Dennis Rainey how God's prescription for love differs from that of Hollywood's.

Find the right person, fall in love, set your hopes on them--that's Hollywood's path to finding a love. Chip Ingram tells Dennis Rainey how God's prescription for love differs from that of Hollywood's.

God’s Prescription for Lasting Relationships

With Chip Ingram
|
February 07, 2012
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  When you take an honest, hard look at your life, are you the kind of person you’d like to be married to?  Here is Chip Ingram.

Chip: I think the Scripture lays it out well, “Okay, here is how to do relationships—be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.’”  Well, guess what?  Bees are attracted to honey.  If you want a person who is other-centered, loyal, committed, caring, loving, who are they looking for?  They are looking for someone like that. 

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, February 7th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Have you got what it takes to be at least half of a great relationship?  We’ll find out today.   Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.  We’re going to spend some time today talking about love and romance—all of those warm—it just kind of gives me the chills to even think about it; you know?

Dennis:  And we're going to actually speak directly to singles, who listen to our broadcast—not that the married folks can't benefit from what we're going to talk about—but the singles, I think, today, need a broadcast like today and, really, the rest of the week.

Bob:   You think they're confused about love?

Dennis:  Well, I certainly was when I was single.  I didn't know what I was talking about, and to help us do that is Chip Ingram.  Chip joins us for a second day.  Chip, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Chip: Great to be with you all.  Thank you very much.

Dennis:  I want to start by asking you two gentlemen—I'm going to answer the question myself, as well.  “How much of your concept of love did you get from your parents, from Hollywood, or from the Christian community?”  The total needs to add up to               100 percent; okay?  “As a single person, before you were married, how much of your concept of love did you get or did you receive from your mom and dad and their model, from Hollywood, music, and, third, the Christian community?”  Chip, do you know?

Chip: Yes, I would say, probably, it was about maybe 5 or 10 percent max.  I did not have a good church experience.  God was something way far away and a lot of hypocrisy.  My parents were good, moral people, not overly affectionate; but I'd give them 25 or 30 percent.  So 10 and 30; but I would say 60, 65 percent was the songs going through my head.  I can tell you the movies specifically of the 14, 15, 16, 17—because I took those into my marriage.  I thought, you know, “I'm going to do this God's way, and we're going to walk hand-in-hand on the beach and have ooey-gooey feelings 'til Jesus comes back.”

Bob:  I learned that powerful theological truth that, "Loves means never having to say you're sorry," from the movies.

Dennis:  There's some great theology in that statement.  (Laughter)

Bob: Actually, I've never forgotten, years later, watching Ryan O'Neal, who was in Love Story.  It was Ali McGraw who said to Ryan O'Neal, “Love means never having to say you're sorry."  A few years later, he was in a movie called What's Up, Doc? with Barbra Streisand.  At the end of the movie, he looks over at her, and he says, “You know, love means never having to say you're sorry," and Barbra Streisand said, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."  (Laughter)  It was a great moment.

I would have to score it pretty similarly to Chip.  I don't know that I—I went to church, growing up; but I don't know that I ever heard anything about love or romance at church.  I mean, it didn't seem very theological; you know?  We were talking about important social issues, not about love and romance.  So I'd give church 5 percent, like you. 

My parents, I'd give them probably 25 percent.  The lesson I learned from them is commitment, perseverance.  I saw them persevere in a struggling, difficult time; and that was probably an important lesson to be burned into the heart and mind of a young man. 

But when it comes to the emotional side of love, when it comes to passion or romance, I learned that from “Herman's Hermits”, baby.  You know, that's where I learned it; and "Something tells me I'm into something good."  You know?

Dennis:  A bunch of our listeners are going, "Herman's Hermits?”

Bob: (sings) "But I do know that I love you; and I know that if you love me, too, what a wonderful world this could be."

Chip:  (sings) “—Save your day job.” 

Bob:  Actually, Sam Cooke made a hit out of that, but “Herman's Hermits” kind of revised it in the '60s.

Dennis:  Well, enough of the oldies here on FamilyLife Today.  I look back over my life—and the Christian community—I'm sorry, but I don't remember any teaching.  I give them zero; I really do.  My parents—I'm similar to you guys—20, 25 percent because of their model of persevering love for over 45 years.  Hollywood gets the rest—so            75 percent.  You know, for me, Chip, it was James Bond.  I mean, he shows us how to really demonstrate love, you know, and—

Bob:  Oh, come on!

Dennis:  Actually, he was demonstrating lust.

Chip: Right.

Dennis:  That's what he was demonstrating.  Chip, you've written a book called, Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships.  You talk about how Hollywood is giving us, really, four descriptions of what love is all about.

Chip: Yes, Hollywood basically is saying that the whole key, if you listen—and by Hollywood, I don't mean the actual place.  I mean this culture that's grown up—whether it's music, whether it's video games, whether it's prime time TV.  It's all about, number one, “Find the right person.” 

I mean, it's built in our DNA that the whole thing about love is, “There's somebody out there—you've got to go find them.  And then, fall in love.  It will be a dramatic, spine-tingling—‘Oh!’  You look this look in your eyes; this feeling will come over you.  Then, set your hopes and dreams upon them, and this person is going to come through and make your life.”  So, step one, “Find the right person”; step two, “Fall in love”; step three, “Fix your hope and dreams on them”; and then they do have a step four, “When that doesn't work, go back to step one.  You have the wrong person; so find someone else.”

We have cultivated and developed this idea that if you're not fulfilled, if it's not ooey-gooey, if things aren't going your way, if you don't feel accepted, affirmed, then you must be with the wrong person.  So, find the right person. 

Dennis:  It is interesting—Hollywood does seem to have a formula.  I mean, it seems to be focused on that other perfect person.  The problem is, as the Scriptures teach, you’re not going to find the perfect person.  People are going to disappoint you; they're going to hurt you.  So you need another plan—a plan that Hollywood is not going to offer.  You believe, as we do, that the Scriptures really represent a contrasting plan to that of our culture. 

I have to read a passage here because, I think, whether you're single or married, there are a lot of people who are being conformed to the world.  I want to read this passage because this was one of the Bible passages that I cut my spiritual eyeteeth on.

Romans, Chapter 12, 1 and 2, "I urge you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable, and perfect.”

You know, there are two thoughts I want to say about this.  Number one, if it looks like the world, sounds like the world, smells like the world, it probably is the world.  Secondly, for that single person listening, who doesn't want what the world offers, and they see it for its lies—instead, they want that which is good, acceptable, and perfect; and that is God's will.  Now, the question is, Chip, “How can a single person find God's will when it comes to loving another person?”

Chip: I think the Scripture lays it out as well when He talks about who we are, new in Christ in Ephesians, and then talks about the transformation that occurs.  When   Chapter 5 opens up, after we've been told, “Okay, here is how to do relationships—be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ, also has forgiven you.  Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children.  Walk in love.”  How?  “Just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us,”—a picture of as an offering, a sacrifice to God, a fragrant aroma.

That model, I think, gives us the exact opposite prescription—instead of finding the right person, it begins with becoming the right person.  What does it mean to become the right person, an imitator of God?  Become a kind, compassionate, tenderhearted, forgiving, other-centered person.  That may sound not really nearly as cool, but you think about what kind of person do you want attracted to you? 

Well, guess what?  Bees are attracted to honey.  If you want a person who is other-centered, loyal, committed, caring, loving—who are they looking for?  They're looking for someone like that.  The number one thing is get our focus—it's not that our eyes aren't up and we're not looking and allowing God to bring people into our lives; but you're looking through a lens that says, "My focus is going to be on, ‘I'm going to become the man or the woman God wants me to become.’"

Step two is then, “I'm going to walk in love.  I'm not looking for an experience.  I'm not looking for the ooey-gooey feeling or infatuation”—we'll talk about that later—“but I'm going to become the right person.  Then, I'm going to learn, by obedience, to take steps to put other people ahead of myself in these relationships with the opposite sex;” and amazing things start to happen.

Bob: Now, some singles will hear you talk about this and they'll say, "Yes, yes, I've heard this be-the-right-person sermon before at the singles group.  You know, I heard the guy talk about it, and I tried that for about 60 days, tried it for 90 days, and I still wasn't having—nobody was asking me out.  In fact, I was having better luck getting asked out when I was doing it the way the culture defines it.  Now, I wasn't meeting many guys that I liked all that much, or any ladies that I really liked, but at least I was going out on Friday nights."

Chip: Yes, and I would say to you, “If your goal was to go out, and if your goal is to date, and it's to do the system, then, probably don't focus on becoming the right person.  Do it the world's way and get the world's results.”  If you want the kind of person we're looking for, it doesn't mean you don't go out at all; but what it means is, “Boy, you put up a criteria, first for yourself and then for the other person where you say, ‘I'm going to become the right person,’ and, you know what?  When you're the right person and you walk in love, you'll find yourself in totally different arenas.”

There are certain kinds of fish that you catch in certain kinds of ponds, and there's a different kind of fish that you catch in other kinds of ponds.  The tragedy is, many of our single young people and not-so-young people are going to the same ponds that the world goes to.  They know a verse and they say, "I love God;" and then they find themselves, two years, married to someone with no convictions, no trust, no character.  It doesn't work; and then, are you ready for this?—mad at God and come to guys like me, that are pastors, saying, "Hey, what's the deal?"

Dennis:  Fix it!”

Chip:  Right

Bob: I wish our listeners, at this point, could read some of the e-mails that we get—

Dennis:  Oh. Oh, man.

Bob:  —because we get them over and over again from somebody—and it always starts with that same, "We got married seven years ago.  It's been a downward spiral."  Then, we get to the telling paragraph where, "Both of us profess faith in Christ; however, there's a difference in the quality of that spiritual experience."  You're right—at that point, fixing things becomes a very challenging proposition.

Dennis:  A part of what God calls us to is to get on the track of becoming the right person and to stay on that track, regardless of the circumstances that surround our lives.

Bob:  I know we’re talking to singles and talking about singles, but this applies just as much if you’re in a marriage relationship.  A lot of us got married, still had this squirrelly idea of what love and romance was supposed to be—and this becoming the right person and learning it with contentment fits right in there; doesn’t it?

Chip: Oh, you hit it because I've taught this on the radio twice now, and the response has been scary.  We figured it would be mostly single people; but this mindset, if it's really, “The other person is going to come through for me,”—when you take this into marriage, it's as lethal, and deadly, and diseased as it is finding the right person. 

“So we're both Christians—I'm a leader in the church—but you know what?  I'm getting my view of romance from the Coors Light commercials, from the last two movies I've seen, from the shoot-'em-up James Bond equivalent of our day, and my wife isn't coming through for me like they are on TV.  Guess what?  I'm getting older, she's gaining weight,”—and, “He's not affectionate, and tender, and doing all the super, deep, sensitive, masculine stuff.” 

The women are buying into a false model, the men buy into a false model; and that's why, after the first three to five years being the number-one divorce rate time.  You know, I don't need to tell you guys—we jump quickly to it’s people married 20 to 25 years is the second most current time of people getting divorced.

Bob:  The nest starts to empty out, you start looking back at one another, and you go, "This is what I've got now?"  There's a sense of, "I don't want this."  It's hard to underestimate the amount of subtle influence that we've gotten from the culture.  I mean, we identified it at the beginning; but if you've been feeding your mind for the last 20, 25 years on movies, and television, and popular song in a marriage relationship, you get to that empty nest, and you look at the other person, and you go, "No, I want something more."

Dennis:  The message of the culture is selfishness.  “How does that person meet my needs?”  It's all about, back to what you said earlier, Chip, “It's finding the right person who can satisfy me.”  When you quoted that Scripture earlier and you talked about becoming the right person and learning to love as that right person loves, you said a word that, I think, is very important for both singles and marrieds alike to embrace because it's at the core of what "loving like God" means.  The word is "sacrifice." 

How did God love us?  He sacrificed His own son.  He denied His rights, and He pursued us.  The kind of love the Bible talks about, that we are to have in all relationships, whether it’s our roommates as single people, as husbands and wives, for our children when they disappoint us, extended family members—at the core of the Christian message, is the concept that you must deny yourself, you must embrace selflessness, not selfishness.  That's hard for singles or marrieds to embrace. 

Chip:  What I would say there—I think, critical is—one, “Let's give them a good definition,” because when we're talking about love, people's ears perked up, and they're listening in the car.  Love is, biblically, giving the other person what they need the most when they deserve it the least.  That's not an emotional response.

Dennis:  Say that again.

Chip:  It's giving the other person what they need the most when they deserve it the least.  That is a picture of what Jesus did for us.  The other thing we need to say—because, you know—for all those people, like me, who grew up and, as a Christian couple, three, four years—and it was, like, “Hey, this isn't really working, but I know it's really true,”—is we need to remind people, “The payoff we're talking about is richer, better, deeper, in every way.”

I mean, I'm going to just go out there and say—not just relationally, not just emotionally—sexually—but there's a long fuse.  When you walk in love, when you put the other person first, I've got news for you, “Will you be in a minority and get less dates?  Yes.  Are you going to narrow the field?  Yes.  Is it going to be harder in your relationship?  Yes.  When you sow that, sow that, sow that, are you going to reap an awesome, deep, loving, spiritually-, emotionally-, physically-satisfying relationship?  Yes!” 

This is not about, “What's wrong with everyone?”  This is about, “God wants the best!”  I mean, come on, people, look at what's happening with your fellow Christians and marriages.  It ain't working! 

Bob:  Right.

Dennis:  Right.

Chip:  This is about, “Let's help people get on board with what God wants to give them, but what we don't want is the process.”  Everyone wants the product--God's saying, "Hey, please, My children, would you turn away from the world and come back to Me and do it My way?"

Bob:  A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to do some premarital counseling for a couple—some friends of mine that I knew, who asked me if I'd take them through some premarital instruction.  The first thing we did, the first night we got together, I said, "Grab a piece of paper.  Write down your definition of love,"—the first thing I had them do. 

They wrote it down; and I said, "Now, just tuck that away.  I don't even need to read it; don't need to see it.  I just want you to tuck it away."  My goal over the next few sessions that we got together was to teach them the kind of a definition you just gave us.  I said, "Really, we're talking about commitment, bedrock commitment, and self-sacrifice.  That's what love is.  That's what he Bible models."

At the end of the premarital counseling, I had them get out their definitions of love.  This time, I asked them if I could see it.  It was just what you would expect from two people who are infatuated with one another.  You know, it was all about, “Love is a warm rain on a spring day," and, "It's the person that you can hold hands with and somebody who knows what you're thinking even before"—all of that is wonderful stuff. 

But when the going gets tough, that's not love; and there are going to be days when it's a cold rain and a November day.  You're not going to want to walk in it, and nobody's holding your hand, and nobody knows what you're thinking, and you're going to go, "This is pretty miserable."  That's when commitment and self-sacrifice have to step up to the plate.

Dennis:  This is what I really fear for.  We have a generation of young people, today, who have gained their image of what love is all about from all these sources; and it won't work.  It is going to fail them!  That's why we need to get back to the book, the Bible.  We have to get back to the spiritual community of the church, the local body of believers, where we are teaching and training single people and married people how to be great lovers.  I'm not talking about romance here, in terms of sex.  I'm talking about romancing another person for a lifetime.

Chip, you tell a story, in your book, about a man who worked on Wall Street, who finally got a picture, a biblical picture, on how to love.

Chip: Yes, he actually was probably listening to something—a program just about like this—and they quoted the verse about loving your wife the way Christ loved the church—sacrificially.  He's in the car, high-powered, high-pressure job; and they're going to this cottage on the beach.  He just decides, "I'm going to try this."

They get out of the car and, of course, he wants to go sit down or relax.  You know, get the paper—She goes, "Honey, why don't we take a walk?"  Before it could come out of his mouth, he said, "Okay."  Then later, it was, you know, "The kids are coming down.  Why don't we go fly kites?"  Of course, he wanted to go fishing.  Anyway, for four or five, six days—everything she wanted to do and, you know, with good balance, he literally just said, "I'm going to experiment."  He radically loved his wife sacrificially.

At the end of the time, she got real quiet and was really afraid. She goes, "I've got to ask you something."  He said, "Well, what's wrong?"  I mean, she looks like there is a major, major problem here.  She looked at him, and she says, "Honey, am I dying?"  He said, "What?  What do you mean?"  "Well, the way you've treated me, I just assumed that maybe I was dying and you wanted to just love me in a way like never before."

He tells the story; and he says, "You know something?  Wow.  What a commentary on my love—when I love my wife the way Christ does, that she is so overwhelmed and it's so different, she thinks she's dying."  He said, "You know what?  I took that one home." 

I would say, too, because a lot of guys are saying, "Yes, but what about me?"  When you love your wife like that, there's a lot of amazing ways your wife will want to love you.

Dennis:  Learn how to be a sacrificial lover of other people.  In all that, you're going to become the right person and be, in the process, I think, of ultimately proving what God's will is for your life.  That may include a mate at some point in the future.  It may not; but if it doesn't, you've still become a great lover of people.

Bob:  There's a little quiz you can take on the internet that gives you an evaluation; doesn't it?

Dennis:  It does.

Bob:  The 12 “Tests of Love” from Chip's book.

Dennis:  I think that would be a great idea, just to take that test and see how well you know how to love right now.

Chip:  I was just going to say, “It's very quick.  You can answer 12 questions and know whether you're in love or infatuated.”

Bob:  I like that—quick and simple.  It is on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com.  Go there to take the quiz; and you can also get information about Chip’s book, which is called Love, Sex, and Lasting Relationships. We can get a copy of it sent out to you.  Again the website: FamilyLifeToday.com, or call toll-free at 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800 “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word ,“TODAY”.

Let me also mention there is information on our website about our upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways.  They kick off this weekend and continue through the spring.  If there is not a getaway coming to your city this spring and you’d still like to do something special for your marriage and for marriages in your community, you can host an Art of Marriage® video event.

Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on how you can do it.  By the way, it is really easy and fun for folks to do.  We’ve had thousands of people now who have hosted one of these events in their church or in their community, and the response has been just wonderful. 

If you’d like more information about how you can have an impact on marriages in your community, among your friends, or within your church, go to FamilyLifeToday.com.  Find out about The Art of Marriage video event, or find out about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.  Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com.

And as always, we are grateful for those of you who, not only listen to FamilyLife Today, but you keep in touch with us, let us know that the program is having an impact in your marriage, in your family, and in your life.  We appreciate that kind of feedback.  We also are grateful for the financial support that some of you are able to provide to help this program continue on this station and on our network of stations all around the country and via the internet, all around the world.

This week, if you’re able to help with a donation of any amount, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a couple of very helpful books—practical, creative ways that you can express your affection, your fondness for your spouse.  There is a book of romantic tips for husbands, and another book of romantic tips for wives.  Along with the books, we’ll send two prayer cards so that each of you can be praying for one another more effectively. 

Again, these resources are our way of saying, “Thank you,” for your financial support.  Make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com.  Just click the button that says, “I Care”, and make your online donation.  We’ll send these resources out to you. 

Or if you want to make a donation over the phone, call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  When you make your donation, just mention that you’d like the resources on romance that I was talking about on the radio.  They’ll know what you mean, and we’ll be happy to send those out to you.  And again, we very much appreciate your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

Now, tomorrow we’re going to talk about how you can tell if you’re really in love and how you can tell if the person you think you’re really in love with is the right kind of person to be in love with.  Chip Ingram is going to be back with us tomorrow.  Hope you can be back, as well.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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