As I fell in love with my husband, my heart soared. I’d discovered a man who loved the Lord and me with precious ferocity, and I couldn’t help but praise God for him.
Inwardly, though, I questioned if I’d misplaced my affections. How would I know, I wondered anxiously, if I love my boyfriend more than God?
The Danger of Lesser Loves
I don’t think anyone willingly decides to love her boyfriend more than she loves God. It’s something we slip into slowly, and it’s usually the result of having an amazing boyfriend.
When he’s pursuing you valiantly and loving you sacrificially, sweet admiration can easily morph into sinful adoration. Over time, you wonder if God offers you anything your boyfriend can’t.
But the reality is that God is infinitely more worthy of our love than a boyfriend or a husband. He’s also infinitely better at loving us, and his faithfulness never falters.
Your boyfriend may be increasingly Christ-like, but he will never be Christ. If we allow ourselves to forget this crucial truth, we will make the worst deal of our lives, exchanging enduring joy in God for fleeting happiness in a man.
How Do I Know If I Love My Boyfriend More Than God?
In Mark 12:30, Jesus announces the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Loving God, therefore, means making Him the primary recipient of your affection and attention in four key areas: heart, soul, mind, and strength. If God isn’t in this position in your life, something or someone else is.
These four areas are a helpful starting point for prayerfully evaluating whether you love your boyfriend more than God.
4 Signs You Love Your Boyfriend More Than God
1. Your boyfriend brings you more joy than God. (Heart)
The heart is the essential instrument of affection in a human.
Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37, and Luke 10:27 all begin with “Love the Lord your God with all…”, and every time, the writer lists “your heart” first, and I believe that’s intentional.
Why? God desires his people to love him from delight, not duty. As John Piper writes, “God is not worshiped where He is not treasured and enjoyed.”
If you want to know whether you’ve misplaced your affections, reverse-engineer Matthew 6:21. Ask yourself:
- Who do I treasure above everyone and everything else?
- Who fills my heart with the most joy — God, or my boyfriend?
2. Your identity is tied to your boyfriend. (Soul)
If you’re a believer, your new identity is “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and your purpose is to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
It’s easy to know these truths in our minds without letting them re-weave the fabric of our hearts. If you’re concerned you might be aligning your identity and purpose too closely with your boyfriend, consider:
- Am I overly afraid of breaking up? (one of the most common problems in a long-distance relationship)
- Do all of my dreams and hopes for the future depend on my boyfriend?
- How do my boyfriend’s criticism and praise influence how I see myself?
3. You think of your boyfriend more than God. (Mind)
When you “fall in love”, you can’t stop thinking about the person you adore.
A natural response to figuring out who you love most, then, might be: In a normal day, do I spend more time thinking about God or my boyfriend?
But while this question is revealing, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair. It’s difficult to quantify and categorize thoughts of God, particularly when thoughts of your boyfriend lead you to thoughts of God.
Perhaps a better question is: Does thinking about my boyfriend lead me to worship God?
4. All of your energy is spent on your boyfriend. (Strength)
These acts of service honor God when we follow 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The trouble comes when we don’t apply the same fervor to our spiritual life.
You sacrifice sleep to call your boyfriend, but do you wake up early to pray? You put in extra hours to save for a plane ticket, but do give generously?
The goal isn’t simply spending your strength equally between God and your boyfriend. As 1 Corinthians 10:31 illustrates, a sacred-secular divide like this doesn’t exist.
It is important, however, to question our motives when we see an imbalance in our willingness to exert energy in the pursuit of holiness.
The Secret to Loving Well
If I ask myself these questions about my husband, I’m not always sure the answer is God. My order of love breaks down regularly.
My hope, however, is secure. In A Catechism of the Heart, Sinclair Ferguson writes, “Can my diseased heart be healed? Yes. God, in His grace, can give me a new heart to love Him and to desire to serve Him.”
In the end, the secret to getting the order right isn’t loving your boyfriend less, it’s loving Christ more.
Love your boyfriend with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. But love him with a heart, soul, mind, and strength that loves God more than him.