What makes us say ridiculous things in defense of what we know we did wrong?
Or worse, “It was the woman that YOU [God] gave me. She gave me the fruit and I ate.”?
Why can’t we just come clean? Confess and repent and receive Jesus’ justification?
Well, probably for lots of reasons, but one is this: we care more about our reputation than our character.
Have you thought about the difference between the two? Your reputation is what people think of you, but your character is who you truly are.
Hopefully we can agree on which of these two parts of your personality is paramount:
- My reputation : what people think of me
- My character : who I truly am
The question is why would I care more about what people think of me than who I truly am?
If I strive for high moral character won’t I have a good reputation?
Maybe so and maybe not. To be honest, one person with no character can ascend to the highest position in politics with a reputation carefully maintained by a team of publicists. Meanwhile someone else can carry out their work with integrity and excellence in some cubicle on some floor of some building in some town, unseen and unsung.
Applying this reality to the wide world of dating, the guy who painstakingly grooms his reputation is going to have an easier time of getting a date than Mr. Nice Guy. While the woman who obsesses over her reputation will be more likely to get asked out than the Proverbs 31 woman.
Then why care about character?!? Because…
Though it may lead to dating less, strong moral character lays the foundation for healthy, intimate relationships – the kind of relationship I dare say you’d like to share with one special person ‘til death do you part.
High moral character may not help you win the lifestyle you always longed for, or the career you always wanted, or the supermodel spouse you always dreamed of. But it will most certainly make you the kind of person you’ve always wanted to be.
And it’s that person:
- Who seeks what’s excellent instead of what’s expedient
- Who wants to serve more than succeed
- Who wishes to live transparently rather than by pretense
- Who puts relationships ahead of accomplishments
That’s the person who will not only survive marriage, but thrive in marriage.
However, to become that person I have to resist the compulsion to maintain my reputation. I must be able to say things like, “I’m sorry. I was wrong,” or “I have made decisions I regret,” or “I’m simply not who I want to be,” or “I let you down. I don’t deserve it, but will you forgive me?”
Your “approval rating” may go down when you admit your failings, but your “integrity rating” goes up. And consider this:
If you have to be perfect to keep the approval of someone, you might as well give up on gaining their approval.
You might already feel that way about your parents or your boss. Make sure you do not feel that way about your date. That’s a relationship that’s not going to get far.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” – Phil 2:5-7
If you want to be admired – especially if you want to be admired by many – tend to your reputation. If you want to be wholly and intimately loved by those close to you, cultivate your character.
If you do, those close to you will admire you as well. And you’ll also keep from saying things like, “But my ex did it first!”
DNA: It’s What’s For Dating
It’s NOT for couples, but for any wise individual who thinks they might want to get married sometime before they die. And would like to learn how to better build healthy relationships in the meantime.
Check out all three study guides in our store. You can walk through them on your own, but it’s more fun with friends (that and it kinda makes sense to grow in relational success in actual relationships with others), so consider putting together an FMU LoveEd small group study.
Even better? And ask a rock star married couple you respect to lead it!