By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
Editor’s Note: Crosswalk's Singles Advice is an advice column for singles featuring an anonymous question from a Crosswalk.com reader with a thoughtful, biblical reply from one of our single contributors.
I'm messaging this guy, and I really think we’ve clicked. He seems to love God and we share a lot in common. That being said, I initiate everything. I seem to start every single conversation, and end every single one.
I also seem to be the one who initiates all the phone calls, or at least, suggests setting them up. And I’m worried that once we start going on dates in person, that I’m going to have to start every single one of those, too.
He seems like an amazing person, but does the Bible have anything to say about people who don’t initiate? And should I keep messaging, or stop sending him messages and hope he doesn’t ghost me?
Hi, there! As someone who has recently been ghosted by a guy who didn’t initiate any of the texts, I’d love to dive into this question with you. Keep in mind, what happened to me may not happen to you.
When I had messaged him, I had a nagging feeling in my gut that if I simply stopped sending texts that he would too. Lo and behold, three weeks ago, ceased messages on my end, and he disappeared.
But, as you mentioned in the question, we do want to analyze what Scripture has to say, as not every case looks the same. Sometimes people are just really bad at messaging back or initiating conversation.
So let’s dive into what the Bible has to say.
As readers can guess from previous Singles Advice pieces here, the Bible isn’t often explicit when it comes to the dating world, as the dating world didn’t really exist during the time of the Old and New Testament. Nevertheless, we can often find universal truths that we can apply to particulars, such as having a guy (or girl) who doesn’t initiate.
What Does the Bible Say about Giving and Relationships?
Many Christians staunchly believe that men should initiate and that women should respond. But for those of us who fall more on the egalitarian side of the dating spectrum, what are some other passages in Scripture that indicate there should, at least, be an equal amount of initiation reciprocation (if not more so from the man)?
Let’s analyze what Scripture has to say about giving and relationships.
Ephesians 5:25-33 says for husbands to love their wives to the point where they give themselves in the same way that Christ gave himself for the church. Obviously, when you start texting someone (or go on a few dates), you’re not marrying them.
But a Christian man who wants to pursue a godly relationship with you should have marriage in mind as an end goal.
How Christ loved the church and gave himself for her sets the bar extremely high. Christ died for the church. If he won’t even send a text back, how much will he contribute to your relationship?
Ergo, if throughout a sparking relationship a man shows no initiative, no responsivity, no reciprocity, he probably does not intend to pursue a godly relationship with you.
One could argue that perhaps he struggles with anxiety. Perhaps text messages or FaceTime calls scare him. He prefers in-person interactions. To those who say this, I would suggest that even if this is the case, if a man wants to pursue a godly relationship with you, he will trust God will help him work through barriers such as texting anxiety.
Although, ladies, this doesn’t leave us off the hook.
This doesn’t mean we expect to sit back and let the men do all the work in a relationship. A dating relationship strives for a marriage, and a marriage reflects Christ’s union with the church. The Bible illustrates marriage as a body (Ephesians 5:22-24). Body parts work together.
I’ve spoken to several Christian men who have expressed frustrations that women in the church also don’t reciprocate. That they don’t message open-ended texts, don’t initiate dates, don’t show any interest in strengthening the relationship through good communication.
What Does the Bible Say about Love Languages?
I have heard many Christians push back against my stance that there should be some hint of initiation from both sides in a dating relationship. “Maybe words of affirmation isn’t their love language, Hope. Maybe they react better to physical touch or gifts.”
Before we dive into the possible biblical roots of these love languages, I’d like to explore what initiation looks like in lieu of the five love languages. For those unfamiliar, a love language is a way a particular person responds best to a relationship stimuli. Everyone has a different main love language. The five are:
- Words of Affirmation: Responding best to words of encouragement
- Quality Time: Craving time with another person
- Acts of Service: Feeling the most loved when someone does an act of service for them (washing the dishes, etc.)
- Physical touch: Responding best to hugs, hand-holding, kisses
- Gifts: Feeling the most loved when a significant other presents them with a gift
Now, before we analyze the biblical basis for these, I’d like to argue that one can initiate whilst speaking to the medium of a love language in which a significant other responds best. Allow me to explain:
One can initiate by sending a gift (gifts). By suggesting you go on a date (quality time), by brushing an elbow (touch), by holding open a door (acts of service). Initiating doesn’t just happen by words.
As for verses, there doesn’t appear to be specific passages that say, “You must give gifts to those who respond best to gifts.” But we can see through Jesus’ acts of love, that he does cater to the five love languages. He completes many acts of service (John 1:14), brings us love through his word (John 1), gives us the gift of salvation (John 3:16), heals and takes up our burdens (Psalm 55:22) and allows us to see and feel his wounds to know his love for us, and devoted his time to his ministry.
Whether we believe strongly in love languages or not, we know that if a man (or woman) wants to pursue a relationship with us, they will initiate in some capacity. They will attempt to decode how we respond best to romantic gestures and will do so in a godly manner.
Please understand that I write this from a place of understanding and empathy. As a person who has a giving heart, I often will throw one hundred percent of myself into a relationship only to wind up disappointed in the end.
Some of the best ways to know if someone truly wants to pursue a relationship is to have a conversation with them and ask them about their intentions. Another way is to pray that God helps you to exercise discernment.
If the Lord tells you to stop messaging and allow for him (or her) to start a conversation, listen to his leading. It hurts not to receive texts for weeks or to know that they’ve dropped communication with you, especially after all the time you invested.
But better to let go of a relationship now that doesn’t reciprocate than to end up in a marriage where you have a lukewarm partner.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 450 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and they contracted the sequel Den for July 2020. Find out more about her here.
Disclaimer: any single editor replying to reader questions through this advice column is a Christian seeking God's direction through his Word. We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. As we explore issues with you, we will seek God's guidance through prayer and the Bible.
Have a question? If you have a question about anything related to living the single life, please email [email protected] (selected questions will be addressed anonymously). While we cannot answer every question, we hope you'll find encouragement in this column.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/JaePark
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 600 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze, (Illuminate YA) Den (releasing July 2020), Dear Hero (releasing September 2020), and Dear Henchman (releasing 2021) Find out more about her here.