A casual laugh, a deep conversation. Small flirtations with a guy who isn’t your boyfriend feel meaningless and inconsequential.
Faithfulness seems like a far-off issue, something you’ll consider when you’re married. After all, you haven’t exchanged vows or signed any paperwork.
Yet, in Luke 16:10, Jesus notes an unsettling principle: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
While this verse speaks a principle — not a promise — it’s one we’d do well to consider in a long-distance relationship, where cheating can be common. One who is faithful in dating will likely be faithful in marriage, and vice versa.
The weight of this connection hit me after my own episode of unfaithfulness while dating my husband. You could argue that my actions were relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things — I was only flirting, I confessed my sin in its early stages, my now-husband forgave me, and we slowly rebuilt trust.
And yet, as I’ve said before, I regret those actions more than anything I’ve ever done. My total depravity was a vivid reality to me in the painful weeks following my confession.
I’d always believed I was a trustworthy person, so I assumed I wasn’t at risk for temptation. I’d even said the words “I love you” for the first time just a month before — and I meant them.
It took only two careless weeks for that lie to unravel and expose the gaping hole in my integrity.
A Depraved Heart
The most frightening thing was realizing that the hole had been there all along. The next scariest thing was figuring out I had no way to mend it.
Since we all value fidelity, it’s easy to forget that faithfulness doesn’t flow naturally from our sinful nature. Not all of us reveal our cards so openly, but disloyalty has been the default mode of fallen humankind since the crossroads of Eden.
Speaking through Hosea, the Lord describes the treachery of his people. He declares, “There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1).
Here’s the thing: If we can’t even remain faithful to God — perfect in love and mercy — we can expect that we’ll struggle to remain faithful to an imperfect lover.
How had I been so foolish? I’d thought I was standing firm, but time plus temptation told a different story (1 Corinthians 10:12). I had “the desire to do what was right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18).
Unfaithful Girlfriend, You Have a Faithful God
When I really began to realize the deep roots of my integrity problem, I was filled with self-doubt. I didn’t trust myself at all, and my ability to hurt the man I love terrified me.
The future scared me, too. If I was struggling to remain loyal to a boyfriend when everything was going well, how could I believe that I would stay faithful to a husband when the relationship became rocky?
To a degree, this doubt was a blessing necessary for the reformation of my heart. I needed to behold my own sinfulness in order to recognize my complete need for Christ.
But while I was right to doubt my own power in fighting sin, I was wrong to doubt God’s power. My crippling fear of unfaithfulness revealed that I thought sin held a higher authority in my life than the Holy Spirit.
I needed to be wary and wise, but I also needed to remember that my sin has always been a puny problem for God. Even when sin seems to overtake my very self, its grip is not stronger than my Savior.
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). I cannot describe the mercy of that statement’s existence, but I know its power. Trusting God frees me from the paralyzing anxiety of hurting my husband and equips me with the strength to hold fast.
If we want to remain faithful to a boyfriend or a husband, we must depend on God.
If marriage is meant to proclaim the message of Christ’s devotion, there’s more at stake in dating than we think.
The patterns you establish while dating will either train you for faithfulness or unfaithfulness in marriage. And when you cross covenant lines and wander into infidelity, you not only destroy trust, you jeopardize the integrity of your Christian witness.
Every day, we must remember and rely on God’s faithfulness. But we must also remember the weight of it. Let us guard our hearts with self-discipline and test our actions with wisdom, that the world may know its Creator’s constancy.