Dating and the Second Greatest Commandment

December 15, 2018

If the greatest commandment filter serves as a guide to someone’s dating practice and philosophy, what would the second greatest commandment filter be?


First, recall what Jesus explained serves as the second greatest commandment. Mark 12:28– 31 states:


One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”


A disciple living faithfully before God loves his (or her!) neighbor as himself. He desires to eat, drink, and sleep; therefore, he desires his neighbor have the ability to eat, drink, and sleep. The desire puts forth action. She desires her own wellness; therefore, she promotes her neighbor’s wellness.[1] A famous story circulates about the well-known rabbi, Hillel. He summarized the Torah while standing on one leg while declaring, “That which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah, The rest is commentary. Go forth and study.” The desire for the well-being of others runs throughout the Old and New Testaments (See also Galatians 2:10; James 1:27; and 1 John 4:7). 


So we arrive at the question to ask a teen considering a relationship: do you love others as yourself?

  • Can you get along, even humbly love your siblings?

  • Are you a good friend?

  • Do you relate well to your parents?

If a person does not have such relationships in order, can he or she realistically hope to develop a romance for with another person? Romance should come to fruition in marriage, the most sacrificial of all human relationships. Recall, for example, the instructions to husbands: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her. 


Feelings come easy, but commitments do not. When we search out a person to whom to give our hearts, we seek someone committed to us. We also know the commitment goes two ways. What makes romance romantic does not consist of butterflies and staying up late talking about nothing. The depth of commitment to the other individual makes the romance. Stories of chivalrous knights fighting dragons do not promote romance because dragons look cool, armor makes a man handsome, and boy howdy was that damsel’s hair on point. No, if we believe the stories, a man fighting a giant fire-spewing reptile using nothing but a pointy hunk of metal has all the wisdom of the village idiot. His commitment to said damsel makes the difference. 


When one steps into the realm of romance he steps into the big leagues of relationships. If someone cannot run the football against a linebacker yet to hit his growth spurt, he certainly cannot square off against NFL or even NCAA athletes. If a young lady cannot do anything but antagonize her siblings, she cannot rightly relate to any young man who would pursue her heart. If a young man lacks the ability to respect his parents, teachers, or other authorities, what sort of courtesy will he show a young lady? 


Romantic love, the sort which professes monogamous vows before a congregation and keeps said vows until ordering a headstone for the burial plot, demands the second greatest commandment day in and day out. If someone fails at every chance given before beginning to date, those failures will only become more pronounced when another person’s heart becomes involved. 



[1]Hence the reason so many hospitals, nursing homes, and shelters have the names of Christian denominations in them. Historically, Christians consistently lead the way in the realm of community care—I have yet to a see a ‘Kurt Vonnegut Humanist Medical Center’ anywhere.


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