Laws are good and rules can keep us alive. But grace is great and standards help us thrive!
Having rules in relationships speak to where you WON'T go. Having standards in relationships guides you to where you WILL go. Rules ultimately reveal that we need a savior and that's a necessary thing. Standards lift us above and away from the danger zone of failure and that's a great thing. Rules tend to be driven by fear. But setting high standards is powered by grace and leads us onto a higher road – the road less traveled. Standards are set by people who know their need for God's power and want to walk away from the edge of sin.
I have a story. A friend confided in me about his daughter that was recently married. He found out that his new son-in-law had gone to a gentlemen's club (total lie - gentlemen never darken the doors of these clubs) at his bachelor party. He asked his daughter if that bothered her as much as it grieved him. She said, "I told him that it better not ever happen when we're married". This is getting off on the wrong foot, to say the least, and the marriage is getting built on the sands of compromise – it's sinking already.
Now, we might say she should have told him, "never go to strip joints", and "never cheat on me in marriage". But those are no-brainer rules. And having to even say them means we've settled for the low road. On the other hand, setting high standards would sound like this, "let's commit to honoring each other so well in our relationship that we're rising above temptation, avoiding compromising situations, and let's consciously look for ways to build trust". Now we're talking about a new way of living. Standards say, "let's shoot for the stars and take the high road". Keeping rules is like avoiding turds in a septic tank – it ain't gonna happen.
Standards are what we find all over scripture. Jesus actually raised the bar of expectation in a famous Sermon on a Mountainside. Jesus raised the bar because grace calls us to live out of this world, not just keep a few rules. An early Jesus follower spoke clearly of our need for God's power and grace to live extraordinarily.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
Rule followers live by grit and fail often. Standard setters live by grace and cling to God for strength.
I realize that the truth here applies to us all but my aim today is you awesome single people who God wants to get going on the right footing. Set high standards in finances, relationships, work ethic, sexual conduct, and every other area of life. Here's what I've found to be true: When two people make a bed with high standards, they never get tired of sleeping in it.