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Navigating Attraction Biblically

By: Atticus Nguyen

Photo Courtesy of Dương Nhân via Pexels

Why talk about Attraction?

In the world of Christian dating terminology, I probably just said the dirty "a-word." I made that up for dramatic effect, but I think you get the idea. In our attempt to redeem the extra-Biblical concept of "dating," we may end up throwing out attraction as just another aspect of the worldly notions of what dating is supposed to be about. I would argue that in this purposeful or accidental action, we miss out on something beautiful about Gospel romance and courtship. We also miss out on learning about and applying Biblical wisdom that benefits us and maybe even our children, should the Lord allow us to marry and raise little disciples. There is another somewhat humorous remark that Pastor Costi Hinn made in a message during a dating conference at Mission Bible Church in Costa Mesa, California. He said something along the lines of how God didn't design romance and attraction in a way that every time we roll over in the marriage bed and look at our spouse, we will have to go, "eh...I'll learn to love her/him."

I rest my case. Side note: For the Gospel's Dating/Courtship conference beautifully exposits Song of Solomon in a tasteful way, and it is a resource I wholly recommend to any Christian. Also note that I am assuming that you, as the reader, are a Christian considering dating another Christian. A Christian should not be dating a non-Christian (see 2 Corinthians 6).

As I was preparing to write this post, I changed titles twice, but the core concept remained the same. Using the term "gospel rizz" in a title seemed a little too tongue in cheek, even for me, and the other title I had in mind that I now forgot made it sound like I am another one of the Christian dating gurus.

I'm not. I am a single Reformed Baptist who has never been in an official dating relationship, but I've had to navigate attraction more times than I can count (also more times than I would ever care to admit). I don't want readers to think that I begrudge God for allowing me to go through those situations since He has given me wisdom and discernment in this area that I can share for the benefit of my brothers and sisters in Christ.


What is Attraction Biblically?

Humor a former psychology major as I try to give an operational definition for what attraction is Biblically. To define it, I need to address both the negative and positive properties of Biblical attraction, hopefully without sounding dorky.

Attraction is not lust, but it is a little more complicated than just that four-word statement. I would be committing spiritual malpractice if I blamed all lust on another individual's physical beauty since each person is guilty of the sins they commit. Having physical beauty in any aspect is a gift from God and should not be shunned. However, we fall into sin with physical beauty when we ascribe to the immodest mindset of "if you got it, flaunt it" and/or let our hearts commit adultery with another person that we see (see Matthew 5:27-28).

Attraction is a Biblical desire for intimacy in the marriage covenant and the desire to act in self-sacrificial love. Pastor Spencer Harmon of FBC Jacksonville, in the book Letters to a Romantic: On Dating, states that "attraction can be automatic or it can be cultivated. You may be interested in someone simply because they caught your eye. This is not necessarily a problem. However, don't underestimate the fact that physical attraction can also be cultivated" (p. 60). In his article from the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Pastor Sean Perron of FBC Jacksonville also expounds upon the difference between the worldly definition of attraction (i.e. lust) and biblical attraction:


"On the other hand, the Bible provides a flourishing framework that accounts for both sexual appeal and an authentic moral category of love. The 'Laws of Attraction' assessment allows one law – the law of self-pleasure, self-preservation, and self-gratification. Only the Law of God can demonstrate that the greatest and most fulfilling pleasure available to man is through self-sacrifice. Attraction is not relegated to merely a result of physiological instincts and urges. It can be a result of genuine care and selfless love."


Discerning Attraction

The purpose is this blog is to lead believers to live their lives based on the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and sufficient word of God. I am certainly not God, but in complex situations like navigating attraction, my role is to point individuals to Him.

It would be foolish for us to jump headlong into reality whenever we feel attracted to someone, and I, unfortunately, have many stories of doing so when I was younger. As Christians, we can properly discern our feelings of attraction with the negative and positive properties mentioned earlier. In the discernment process, the Christian can both appreciate the beauty (note that I did not say sensuality) of the person of the opposite sex they are attracted to while recognizing the reality of aging (see Proverbs 31:30). They may also see if the other person is truly exuberating Godliness in their life rather than charm or charisma.

What the Christian should do next is based on if they are in the proper place to start the courtship process unto the marriage covenant. Remember that we don't enter romantic relationships just to hang out with another person of the opposite sex or to have arbitrary needs met but to love self-sacrificially.

 

REFERENCES

  1. For the Gospel. (2022, January 27). Attraction | Session 1 | Costi Hinn [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN99Fjm70fE

  2. Perron, S. (2017, July 20). Psychology, Sexual Attraction, and Scripture. Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. https://biblicalcounseling.com/resource-library/articles/psychology-sexual-attraction-and-scripture/

  3. Perron, S., & Harmon, S. (2017). Letters to a Romantic: On Dating. P&R Publishing.


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