Below is a retelling of the parable but with its actual meaning…

Gabe is one of the elders at a small Baptist church and decides to ask Tia, a girl who attends his church, to be his girlfriend.  Tia is overjoyed.  They soon start having very regular communication.  Gabe calls and texts Tia numerous times a day.  He meets up with her over 3 to 4 times per week.  He takes pictures with Tia where they clearly look like a couple and posts them on Facebook. He brings Tia with him whenever he get’s invited to friend’s houses. His friend’s become her close friends. Gabe’s family treat Tia as if she is practically Gabe’s wife. As is typical with boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, he talks to Tia as if she belongs to him. Gabe calls Tia ‘My girl’ and when he is asked if he is single he says ‘no…haven’t you met Tia?’.  He encourages Tia to feel completely at home with him and share her life and heart with him. He shows Tia through his words and actions that he cares about her, that he is committed to her and that she is ‘his girl’.  Tia finds it hard to trust Gabe at first as he knows that boyfriend/girlfriend relationships can end, but through Gabe’s treatment of her she soon let’s down his guard and get’s very attached.

1.5 years after asking Tia out, Gabe decides it’s just not working out and that they should break up.  Firstly, Tia is a bit too emotional for his liking. In addition he was hoping his wife might teach at the women’s fellowship but Tia does not seem to have the gift of teaching.  He just doesn’t feel marrying Tia is of God.  Gabe prays about it and decides to tell Tia it’s over and it’s best that they don’t spend any more time together. This will help Tia find the ‘right’ man to marry. Tia is devastated.  She had become nearly as attached to Gabe as many wives are to their husbands.

Tia has to see Gabe at church each week.  He seems to be doing okay but she is a complete mess.  He smiles at her but doesn’t really talk to her so as to give her the space to move on. No one in the church seems to think that Gabe has done anything wrong.  After all, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships don’t always work out and that’s just life.  Within 3 months, Gabe asks a new lady to be his girlfriend.  Once again he treats her as if she was his own.  Tia is in pieces watching Gabe behave exactly the same with his new girlfriend as he did with her.

After 2 more painful, failed boyfriend/girlfriend relationships and a heap more emotional scars, Tia finally get’s married.  She finds it very hard to trust and bond to her husband due to his past experiences, especially when she finds out that he had already had 4 other girlfriends who he broke up with.  Her husband seems so used to getting attached to women and then breaking things off that Tia finds it hard to feel safe and free with him.

Some boyfriend/girlfriend relationships are not as sorrowful or heartbreaking as Tia’s experience.  Some boyfriend/girlfriend relationships just last a few weeks.  Yes, it’s still painful to be treated as if you belong to someone and then have them reject you, but at least in 3 weeks you don’t get so attached.  On rare occasions a single person has the wonderful privilege of marrying their first boyfriend/girlfriend.  On even rarer occasions a girl and guy will get married after being each other’s first girlfriend/boyfriend. Most singles however have had one or more boyfriends/girlfriends who it did not work out with.

An older lady in Tia’s church called Shani, remembers what life was like before girlfriend/boyfriend culture became normal in the church and speaks to Gabe:

Shani: We are to love our neighbour as ourselves.  It’s terribly cruel to treat a person as your own, behave in such a way that encourages them to get deeply attached to you, and then reject them. I think our girlfriend/boyfriend culture is unbiblical and un-Christ like. Christ loves His children and I think our girlfriend/boyfriend culture must grieve him.

PeteShani, the Bible never says we can’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend.  We can’t make up rules that are not in the Bible. Many wonderful Christians have had successful boyfriend/girlfriend relationships that have led to great marriages.

Shani: Yes, and many wonderful Christians have experienced boyfriend/girlfriend relationships end in heartbreak. Look…With boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, a person is growing in intimacy, trust and oneness with a person who quite possibly will never marry them. It is very difficult for them to keep a guard on their hearts and keep love from getting too stirred up in such an emotionally intimate, physically affectionate relationship where they refer to each other as their own and treat each other accordingly.

Gabe: Yes it is. It is very hard to guard your heart in everything because the heart is deceitful above all things.  Guarding your heart is a real problem – thinking this will be achievable by not having a ‘boyfriend’ is a false solution. Plus, you are overlooking all the benefits of boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.  You wouldn’t buy a car without trying it out first. Boyfriend/girlfriend relationships enable people to experience what it’s like to belong to one another and to be emotionally and physically intimate with one another before they choose to permanently commit.

Shani: How can you compare a person to a car! A person is not something to be tried and used!

Pete: Fair point. But you overlook another huge benefit. Boyfriend/girlfriend relationships help individuals prepare for marriage by allowing them to get relationship experience with a number of different people before they choose ‘the one’ they want to marry.

Shani: At the expense of the ex-girlfriends/boyfriends! Do you really think acting like you are married and breaking up helps prepare individuals for marriage? Isn’t it rather helping them prepare to walk away if their marriage isn’t going the way they wanted it to.

PeteOkay, but boyfriend/girlfriend relationships offer men/women the opportunity to figure out what they want in a spouse by getting to try different people out.

Shani: Again, at the expense of the ex-girlfriends/boyfriends! Boyfriend/girlfriend relationships are based on a lie: “you are mine”.  The behaviour that is normal in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships is inappropriate and misleads the individuals involved. We are damaging our Christian men and women.  Boyfriend/girlfriend culture normalises singles having had a number of people they were deeply attached to that broke it off with them. In fact, singles feel as if there is something wrong with them if they have not had at least one boyfriend/girlfriend. Yes some boyfriend/girlfriend relationships don’t damage people too much.  But the whole idea of boyfriend/girlfriend culture is just wrong. It normalizes harming people.

So there is the parable of the fadopted child explained.  We would love to know what you think.  Please do comment below the original article and let us know [Rowina Seidler].