Boyfriend, Girlfriend and Cheating
In Dating Redeemed Pt. 2, we defined the term "dating" as a social appointment between individuals, and not exclusive to a boyfriend/girlfriend (BFGF) relationship. In light of this I'm lobbying that we recalibrate our language in favor of establishing healthier thinking around this topic.
I grew up embracing similar terms. From my personal experience and that of others these terms create more unhealthy opportunities than they do healthy. Please understand that there is nothing inherently sinful about the relational context of BFGF. Clearly the terms aren't wrong. The focus here isn’t on what is or isn't sin. This isn't behavior modification. This is the pursuit of approaching the conversation on relationships from a place of wisdom. To start let’s consider the following statement and question.
Statement: The most unhealthy attribute of the BFGF relational context is "OWNERSHIP". This is the belief that two people within the BFGF relationship are exclusive to one another and cannot act in like manner with any other person outside of the primary relationship.
Question: What happens if one of the persons within the BFGF relationship decides to spend an equal or greater amount of time with another person, is this acceptable? What if sex is involved in the secondary relationship, is this acceptable? Or might we call these scenarios...cheating?
Is it cheating?
Keep in mind how I stated that ownership is an unhealthy attribute in the BFGF relationship. Initially those who abide by the BFGF context, where there is ownership and exclusivity will clearly see the questions above as cheating. One will feel betrayed because they've tethered themself to the other person in way that promotes ownership and exclusivity. This tethering carries a sense of hope and expectation that tends to be more than what the BFGF relationship should call for. The truth is that within this context, cheating does not apply. Cheating (breaking the code of ownership & exclusivity) applies when there is healthy ownership and exclusivity. This type looks like the "one flesh" that scripture declares to be exclusively for marriage (Genesis 1:24). A man and a woman who have joined themselves together under the sanctity of God, for the purpose of displaying the unconditional nature of love in the relationship between Jesus and his Bride...the Church. Namely this is a display of the gospel. So again, cheating only applies to the marital relationship where the "two are one" all or the sake of the gospel.
What type of UNITY does the relationship call for?
The ownership and exclusivity in a BFGF relationship is what makes this messy. There is no real binding obligation between a man and a woman outside of marriage. Neither person carries authority or power over the other as the Apostle Paul declares (1Cor. 1:4). The only obligation that comes close is that of the community of Believers. In this we are one communal body, finding our unity in the Holy Spirit. However, married couples find their unity in both the flesh and the Spirit, signified by their proclaimed vows. Outside of marriage, we have no unity in the flesh, only by the Spirit. So when cheating occurs in the context of marriage, several things are happening. The spiritual bond is torn. The fleshly bond is torn and verbalized vows are reneged. In the BFGF relationship, as believers only the spiritual bond is torn. However, this is the same thing in the case of sin between a brother and a sister in the family of faith. Yet this cheating isn't against one another in the flesh. This is against God and his agenda in the Spirit.
Let's look at COURTING
Now there is a scenario outside of marriage where cheating holds some weight similar to a marriage. We'd call this scenario Courting. Understand that by technical definition courting is a step above dating. Courting is defined as engaging someone romantically with the intended goal of marriage. In simplistic form, dating is meant for everybody and ends with the social appointment. Courting is meant to be between two people and ends in marriage. In light of this, it would be counter productive to the process of courting for one to spend equal or greater time in a secondary relationship to the degree at which they engage the primary. Thi would be similar to being engaged to 2 persons. I think across the board this would be highly unacceptable. This would also lend itself to tearing the courting relationship emotionally. It would be more counter productive to the courting process for one to commit any sexual act both within or outside the courting relationship. This scenario causes both a spiritual and emotional tear within the relationship. This cheating would offend the process of courting relationship rather than the person themselves seeing how the two have yet to become "one flesh".
Cheating Isn't the Issue
The conversation raised earlier on cheating is more about what's going on in our hearts with ownership and exclusivity than it is about actual cheating. Some authors have reduced their remedies for relationships to behavior modification and selfish agendas. Our concern has become how to behave well and what to look for in a relationship. Neither of these approaches have the gospel as their root. To embrace this approach relationally is to treat others as less than human, and this contradicts a biblical view of relationships. God's concern is not good behavior and clearly he's not looking upon us to see if we are "good enough" to die for. His primary interest is to love us and this is something he simply wont forego. We will pause for the moment until Pt. 4 where we clarify what these Biblical Relationships are and how we are called to engage them.