Is it love or lust that drives divorced Catholics back into the dating world? Online Christian dating sites feel less risky than face to face searches but may offer more temptations, and too few divorced Catholics stop to consider their motives before giving online dating a shot.
Whether your motive is love or lust, you’ve decided to reenter the Christian dating world. With nervous anticipation, you’ve signed up with an online Christian dating site and have placed your profile out there.
Then comes your first “hit.” With a little adrenaline rush, you check out his online profile thinking to yourself despite the odds, “Could this be the one?”
He’s cute you think wondering if people even say the word “cute” when considering a date at your age? Initial emails are sent. Phone calls begin. Plans to meet are made. You’re excited. You’re nervous. You’re anticipating…
Dating after divorce can be a challenge. Many divorced Catholics remember the closeness of marriage: the laughter, the hand holding, the whispered secrets, the knowing glances from across a room, the passion and intimacy behind closed doors.
From the drive to fill the vacuum left by lost marital closeness to the little thrill divorced Catholics get knowing someone checked their online dating profile to the language associated with online dating, (as in, there has been a “hit” on your profile), many divorced Catholics set themselves up for lust rather than love.
Sometimes it’s easy to mistake one for the other or feel we need to succumb to both. While intense passion, great desire, and incredible sexual pleasure are expected and beautiful within the gift of marriage, they are not the same as lust.
Love or Lust? – Which is It?
Lust is first and foremost a physical desire. It is the need to release sexual tension that can be fueled by many things from pornography to conversations that cross lines that are sometimes difficult to discern until it is “too late.”
Lust seeks to please oneself. Of course, the lustful individual often hopes to bring pleasure to a partner as well, but that is often an added bonus rather than the focus of sexual expression. Pleasure to a partner often serves to heighten one’s own sexual appetite and to increase his feelings of control, prowess, and desirability rather than a desire to put a partner’s needs ahead of one’s own. This leaves many individuals caught in lustful relationships feeling insecure.
Lust takes us to places we know are wrong, places where we lack self-control, and places that would make us feel shame if they were to be known to others. Lust is something we want NOW without considering any future downside.
Love is very different.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells Christians,
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Love is not an easy choice, but it is a choice we can remake every minute. Love is an action requiring discipline and self-control. It is often expressed by reigning in sexual desire rather than falling prey to it before the time is right. Divorced Catholics are told to wait until marriage before having sex. Waiting is one way we can show our Love and gratitude to God for His gift of sexuality and, at the same time, show honor and love to a future spouse.
Love is something divorced Catholics choose by putting another first. It is a selfless desire to slowly and intimately discover what makes the other person tick, what his hopes and dreams are, what his plans are, and how well suited you are for one another.
Love is not kept in the shadows and is not shameful when exposed by others. Love can be distributed to many people, but it never runs out. Love grows as you give it away.
Christian Dating Advice – What Now?
Many divorced Christians want so desperately to find that special someone that we forget to wait to find that special someone and mistake lust for love and later wonder why we end up hurt or disappointed.
Before you begin dating, examine your motives. Make a plan for how you will avoid lust’s powerful pull. Make plans to love the person your date by reflecting on the phrase, “lead me not into temptation.” How will you love a potential partner by avoiding temptation together?
If you are in a lustful relationship already, step back and examine it. Where is this relationship going? How do you justify your actions? How will you feel if it ends? It is not easy to get back on the straight and narrow, but if you are a divorced Christian looking for a God-Blessed marriage the next time around, you must play by God’s rules, rules meant to protect and care for His children.
If your partner truly loves you, he may not be happy with your decision, but he will make an effort to understand and will honor it by helping you avoid temptation as well. If he does not, you may not be equally yoked (II Cor 6:14). Is it not better to find out earlier than going through another break up later, when you are even more invested?
Lust is weak. Love is strong.
Which will you choose?
To read more about love or lust in Christian online dating check out Why Lust Destroys or Prevents Relationships by Bryan Mercier.