I recently just ended a 5 month dating relationship. I really had high hopes for this one, especially considering that he is a great guy and we still remain friends. In fact, as foundational differences began rising to the surface, the one thing I kept going back to was that he was a good man. And I think this resonates with so many ladies, doesn’t it? For I have heard this many times. We want a good man.
When you think about what is meant by this statement, it is really about how a man treats a woman and what he brings to the table. He is considered good because of qualities he possesses such as kindness, respect, generosity, and appreciation. He might be considered good if he is family-oriented and has the capacity to provide for a future family because he is responsible and has decent employment.
But in thinking about what is and should be at the core of a Christian centered relationship particularly focused on marriage possibility, it strikes me that since Christianity is grounded in the gospel, so too should the parties involved be gospel-centered people. So I’ve concluded that I do not want a good man but rather a gospel-centered man. The gospel-centered man will of course exhibit qualities of goodness, so he will not be a bad man. But the core of who he is centered in who God is and what he has provided. Also, this is no reflection on the gentleman, so don’t go there.
The gospel-centered man will recognize that he is a sinner, that he was born an enemy to God. He will understand that it is not good behavior that warrants acceptance from God, but belief in His Son. He will know that any attribute of goodness he possesses has been received by the Father because of this belief, that being made in the image of God and recognizing the truth of who He is provides this reflection on him.
The gospel-centered man will recognize that the ideal world ended in Genesis 3 and therefore will not insist for an ideal model. He will be in touch with his own brokenness and propensity towards selfishness and realize that I can go there too. He will recognize that he does not meet a model of perfection and will not insist on perfection from me. Instead he will insist that we go to the one who is perfect, who met the perfect expectations of the Father and gave His life so we might live.
The gospel-centered man will understand grace, the undeserved gift of God received without human merit. He will not set it aside as a one time transaction but have it as the fabric of his life, always mindful of the magnificent gift he has received. That in turn will foster forgiveness when relational transgressions occur and refusal to harbor on past faults or indiscretions. It will motivate gratitude and worship towards God.
The gospel-centered man will engage in a continual pursuit of knowing God. That means learning and growing, seeking for truth in a spirit of humility and openness. Since he is in tune with his own selfish and self-centered tendencies, he will be motivated to learn as objectively as possible knowing that his own fallibility will cause him to get stuff wrong. He therefore will value input from the community of faith, including from me.
The gospel-centered man will take Christian living serious, not to reflect his own significance or aptitude for good behavior, but as representative of the enablement of the Spirit’s work in him. He therefore, will not be proud or arrogant concerning his own accomplishments.
The gospel-centered man’s orientation towards marriage will cause him to see the significance of gospel-centered living in marriage. He will take Ephesians 5:24-33 serious and prepare himself to love a future wife sacrificially, as Christ loved His church. He knows that it is only his being a recipient of God’s love and empowerment by the Holy Spirit that he is able to do so.
The gospel-centered man will understand hope that is in the resurrection and the eschatalogical plan of God. He will realize that this is not all there is, that failure and brokenness will persist until Jesus comes back and sets everything right. Therefore he will make every effort to not deflect the pains of this life onto the relationship but prayerfully join together to direct attention towards where our hope should rest.
So you see, the gospel-centered man stands a bit in contrast to a “good” man. Because the “good” man, even though being a Christian, will focus on his attributes, his accomplishments, his behavior and his abilities. He will therefore insist that the one he is with measure up accordingly, which most likely will result in performance anxiety and all kind of relational malfeasance. And where is the goodness in that?
So I don’t know if I will ever find a gospel-centered man that is accepting of everything I am. Nor do I expect him to meet these qualities perfectly since that would be contradictory to what I say about being a “good” man. He is flawed and fallen and so am I. So at a minimum, I can and should be a gospel-centered person myself.