You find yourself in a long distance relationship. While you love your significant other, the distance has brought its challenges. You wonder – what does God think about this? What does the Bible say about long distance relationships?
As Christians, we know that the Bible provides wisdom and guidance for all areas of life. Though the Bible does not specifically address modern long distance relationships, there are many biblical principles that can help us navigate them. In this blog post, we will explore what the Bible does say about relationships to gain insight into how God would have us handle the unique challenges of loving someone from afar.
- God designed relationships, including marriage, to involve companionship and intimacy. Long distance makes this difficult.
- Sexual immorality is strongly condemned in Scripture. Long distance relationships can increase temptation in this area.
- Communication, trust, and effort are essential in any healthy relationship, especially long distance ones.
- Hardships like long distance can deepen our faith and reliance on God.
- If marriage is the goal, be sure to build a strong spiritual foundation as a couple despite the distance.
- Wisdom, prayerfulness, and counsel are needed to evaluate if long distance is beneficial or harmful to your dating relationship.
- Above all, God cares about our holiness and obedience to Him, regardless of our circumstances.
Intimacy and Companionship
Human beings were created by God to be relational – first with Him, then with each other. When God looked at Adam and declared “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), He established that we need companionship and intimacy. For this reason, God designed marriage – the most fundamental human relationship – to involve a husband and wife coming together physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
This is one of the greatest challenges of a long distance relationship – physical separation makes true intimacy difficult. As Christians, we are called to avoid sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). But intimacy in marriage involves much more than just sex. It includes sharing life together day to day, conversing face to face, attending church together, praying together, and serving others together. A long distance relationship makes these things impossible for periods of time.
While long distance relationships are definitely challenging, they are not automatically sinful. If handled wisely, they can be navigated faithfully by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, the separation in a long distance relationship goes against God’s design for intimacy in marriage. This separation should be viewed as less than ideal, a hardship to endure rather than a circumstance to be desired.
Avoiding Sexual Immorality
One of the greatest dangers of a long distance relationship is temptation towards sexual immorality. God’s plan is for sexual intimacy only within marriage (Hebrews 13:4). Any sexual activity outside of this sacred bond is strictly forbidden, for our own good.
But when a dating couple spends extended time apart, these temptations often flare up. Suddenly you don’t need to look each other in the eye as you wrestle with staying pure. The lack of physical intimacy in your relationship may leave you starved for human touch. In moments of weakness, it can be all too easy to cross the line into sexual immorality – by yourself or with someone near you.
Scripture has stern warnings against sexual sin. It deeply grieves God’s heart, damages our walk with Him, and destroys relationships (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Those in long distance relationships need to be extra vigilant against temptation in this area through prayer, accountability, and avoiding compromising situations. Do not rely on your own willpower – rather, turn to God daily and even moment-by-moment for the grace and strength to resist (Philippians 4:13). Flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18)!
Of course, no couple is immune to sexual temptation, whether long distance or close proximity. We all need to guard our minds and bodies with God’s help (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). But the extended separation of long distance relationships means we need extra spiritual armor in this battle. Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Avoid inflaming natural passions through movies, music, or daydreams. Instead, fill your mind with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure” (Philippians 4:8).
The Need for Communication, Trust, and Effort
Any successful relationship requires good communication, deep trust, and concerted effort by both people. But long distance relationships need these qualities in even greater supply.
Communication is a challenge when you can’t be together in person regularly. But it’s absolutely essential to maintaining intimacy and working through problems (Ephesians 4:15). Make time for phone and video conversations. Share your hearts transparently and listen empathetically. Don’t let miscommunications fester – humbly clarify and apologize when needed. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).
Trust is also difficult over long distance. You can’t see how your partner spends their time away from you or know what situations they face. The devil will try to plant seeds of jealousy, suspicion, and accusation (James 3:14-16). But choose to have faith in your partner’s faithfulness. Give them the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming the worst. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Of course, trust must be paired with wisdom – be aware of any red flags signaling the need for a difficult conversation.
A long distance relationship also requires significant effort by both people. Phone calls, trips to visit, and constant prayer for each other must become non-negotiable priorities, not burdensome chores. This level of effort has a purpose – marriage! “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22). Let your efforts now strengthen the foundation for a future God-honoring marriage.
Strengthening Your Faith
While long distance relationships are difficult, they do provide an opportunity for growth in your faith. Hardships of all kinds can deepen your relationship with God as you rely on Him more.
Turn to God in prayer about every aspect of the long distance relationship – for wisdom, for strength, for protection. Make your private devotional life a priority, reading the Word and praying fervently. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Joining a small group Bible study or accountability group can also provide much-needed encouragement.
In addition, there are unique opportunities to serve others right where you are separated. Look for ways to love the people physically around you, knowing that your life is not on hold. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). When you face difficulties in the relationship, remember that “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character” (Romans 5:3-4) as you grow in Christ.
Building a Spiritual Foundation
If marriage is the ultimate goal of your relationship, now is the time to start building a strong spiritual foundation – despite the distance. Too often engagement or marriage becomes the starting line for developing faith practices as a couple. But it’s critical to establish these ahead of time.
Make it a priority to pray together frequently, have difficult faith-focused conversations, and read the Word together over the phone. Listen to sermons or study Bible verses separately, then come together to discuss what God is teaching you both. This builds unity in Christ. “I in them, and you in me, that they may become perfectly one” (John 17:23).
In addition, talk through what you each envision for faith and family as a married couple. How will you serve in the church? How will you raise children? What ministry opportunities might you pursue together? Align your visions now by submitting every area of life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Evaluating the Relationship
A long distance relationship cannot and should not continue indefinitely. At some point, prayerful consideration needs to be given to whether you are moving towards marriage or not.
Ask wise, God-fearing mentors for guidance as you evaluate your relationship. Do you have peace about moving towards marriage despite the distance? Or are there unresolved issues or incompatible goals that make the relationship unwise to continue?
Every relationship is unique, so seek the Holy Spirit’s leading through prayer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Listen to the counsel of mentors who know you both well. And evaluate your own heart – are you clinging to the relationship for comfort against God’s will, or trusting God’s perfect plan to unfold?
Above all, do not become “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14) if major spiritual differences emerge. While one person’s faith cannot automatically save an unbelieving partner (1 Corinthians 7:14), avoid continuing relationships where serious spiritual friction exists.
God Cares About Our Holiness
In all things, God cares most about the condition of our heart and our obedience to Him. If a long distance relationship is leading you or your partner into sin or away from Jesus, bold changes must occur regardless of the consequences.
Your love for God must come first, before any human relationship. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). If remaining in a long distance relationship will harm your walk with God, you must let go despite the pain and loss.
This may require fully breaking off the relationship, or it may mean setting new boundaries and expectations. For example, it may become necessary to stop spending nights together during visits, or to only communicate at certain hours. You may even need to take a complete break from the relationship for a season to seek God’s face.
These decisions are difficult, but Scripture promises that God is able to redeem your pain when you honor Him. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Trust that He knows what is best.
Long distance relationships can be complicated to navigate as Christians seeking to honor God. While distance makes intimacy challenging, with wisdom, effort, and obedience, these relationships can be transformative steps on the path to marriage. Above all, seek God first every step of the way. He will guide you by His Spirit through any challenges that arise. Stay rooted in Scripture, prayer, accountability, and faith as you love from afar. God bless you!