We’ll this is the first time I’m making a post. Over the past couple years I’ve been writing articles in a monthly church newletter. The articles I like to write discuss Christianity, the bible and how it relates to everyday life. So my style of posting on this website may follow more of an article type format. I hope that’s ok.
I believe there are things in this article that will benefit not only those who are currently dating, but also any person who is single and wishes to someday get married. And if you are married, the ideas in this article could also build you and your marriage up.
Unfortunately too many people in society go into a dating relationship looking for what they can get out of the relationship rather than what they can put into it. It almost seems that dating has become a form of entertainment without purpose rather than about finding somebody who you can marry and spend the rest of your life with. Today I would like to share a few thoughts with you, about dating and marriage, which you may have never heard before.
Your #1 relationship…a relationship with Jesus Christ:
The number one relationship in your life should your relationship with Jesus. After that comes your relationship with your spouse. If the person you are dating or your spouse becomes your number one relationship, then you have just put that person in God’s place. As a result you will begin to expect things from that person which only God can satisfy you with. God did not design marriage to meet all of your needs. Some of your needs can be met in marriage, but there are also other needs that only God can meet. Those people who don’t know Jesus think that the void they have in their life will be filled when they meet the right person. That is not true. Only Jesus Christ can fill that emptiness. Your number one relationship needs to be with Jesus. Only God can tell you who you are and what purpose He designed you for. Only God can satisfy your deepest desires of significance and acceptance.
As a Christian, you need to marry someone who is also a Christian. The bible tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14) and those we marry must belong to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:39). I believe that a Christian should not marry a non-Christian (but if a Christian is married to a non-Christian they should remain married…read 1 Cor 6:12-16 for more on this). If you do marry a non-Christian, then you need to realize that you have become the number one relationship in that person’s life. That person will expect things from you, which only God can satisfy them with. And you will never be able to give to that person what God wants to give to them, since God will never allow another person to fill His place. You don’t know the purposes and plans that God has for their life and you can’t satisfy their deep desire for unconditional love.
I heard a pastor say a great change occurred in his life when he become more concerned about his wife’s relationship with Jesus, than her relationship with himself. He made sure that his wife was given to Jesus first so that her and Jesus could be in love. He would help her and nurture that relationship in her life and she would do the same for him. When both people in a marriage do that for each other, marriage becomes easier after that. When you fall more in love with Jesus you care about the things Jesus cares about and you care about being obedient to God. And when somebody receives God’s love they are able to love other people so much more, including their spouse. You and your spouse (or the person you are dating) and God form a triangle. God is at the top of the triangle and the two of you are at the bottom of the triangle. As both of you get closer to God, you will notice that the two of you will get closer to each other as well.
Jesus makes you complete, not a dating relationship:
It is not a relationship with the opposite sex that makes you complete, but a relationship with Jesus. When you are a single, you are not a half a person walking around looking for your other half. As a Christian you are a whole person. It is a relationship with Jesus Christ that makes you complete. Society tends to tell us that if you are single and not dating, then you are loser and there is something wrong with you. But that is not true. As a single, you can be happy, fulfilled, balanced and on fire for God. And then one day you will find somebody else who is doing the same, who you choose to marry and serve God together with. Until that day comes, serve God with excellence and passion. Some people think that they need to get married before they can do anything significant. But that is not true. Jesus did amazing things and he was single. This is a time in your life which you can do some incredible things for the kingdom of God.
You can do things like overseas missions, work at camp for a summer, serve in the local church and get involved with the community. You have so much time to develop skills and abilities through experience and also by studying and taking courses. This is such a unique and incredible season in your life. Enjoy it and live it to the full. This is a time in your life to really learn about who God is and about who you are. It’s also a time for you to think about the future and discover the plans that God has for your life. It is important to have a general direction for your life before you get married. That reminds me of a story of two people in bible school who were dating each other and getting along very well. One day they got talking about the plans God had for their lives. She felt called to go to Africa. Meanwhile he felt called to serve God here in North America. As hard as it was, they ended their dating relationship since they knew it wouldn’t work with the plans God put into each of their hearts. God’s plans and dreams for your life are so amazing and awesome. Don’t compromise them. I’m not saying that you can only marry someone who has exactly the same plans as you. But when you choose to get married, your marriage should be something that strengthens each of you to fulfill and complete God’s plans for your lives.
A Great Sex Life!
A study was done on 10,000 women to find out which people have the best sex lives. The study found out that those people with the best sex lives are religious people. Wow, isn’t that interesting! Those people who are happiest in their sexual relationships are those people who are closest to God. The world and Hollywood want us to think it’s the other way around. But in fact, those people who are sleeping around before marriage are not living a fulfilling life. On the outside their life may portray that they are living exciting lives, but deep inside they feel shame, they feel dirty, they feel used and they are walking around with hurts and wounds they wish they never had.
Sex is God’s idea…he invented it. And if you want to experience God’s best in your life, then you need to do things God’s way. Do you want a great sex life? Then do things God’s way and wait until marriage. When your marriage day comes, you will be so glad that you saved yourself for that day. I’ve committed to have no sex until I am married (but once I’m married I won’t wait a day longer). If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to make that sort of commitment today to. If you can’t make that sort of commitment today, then how will you make that commitment when you are in the middle of temptation? You may cross boundaries that you wish you had never crossed. And if you have sinned in this area of your life, confess your sin to God and He will forgive you (1 John 1:9), and give you strength as you choose to turn away from sin and live pure. Even though forgiveness is instantaneous, the memories of your past will remain and you will need to clean your mind with the word of God. The healing you need in this area of your life will also take time. But God is a healer and he can restored your life, like he has done for so many other people.
Almost every person who is single today is somebody’s future spouse. Treat every person with incredible respect. Somebody could be dating your future wife/husband right now. The person you are dating and hanging around with today, could perhaps be somebody else’s future spouse. Treat the girls/guys around you with the same respect you want people to be treating your future spouse with.
If you desire to be married someday, then it probably is going to happen. Every good church wants single people to find the right person to marry. I hope what I shared with you today will help prepare you for marriage. To close, I would like to share a couple good books that are worth reading. The first book is called “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, written by Joshua Harris. The second book is called “Every Young Man’s Battle”, written by Stephen Arterburn and Fred Stoeker. There are ideas and thoughts in these books that can help you. I’ve been encouraged and challenged by what I’ve read in them. Much of what I write in may articles comes from things that I have learned by listening to people and by reading books. Many portions of this article have come from sermons that I have listened to. I’ve been kind of bold in this article. But if even one person is encouraged and takes to heart the things I’ve written about, then I’m grateful that I explained the truth about such things.
Hi Ian, and welcome to YAR. It’s good to have you here. Are you mainly a columnist or a researcher? Your post leads me to believe you are a columnist who has heard about a few research projects. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
I agree with most of what you said, but I do have to take issue with a couple of statements.
” A study was done on 10,000 women to find out which people have the best sex lives. The study found out that those people with the best sex lives are religious people. Wow, isn’t that interesting! Those people who are happiest in their sexual relationships are those people who are closest to God.”
Which study? Why only women? How did they define “religious”? Your later statement leads me to believe you think religious=close to God, which it doesn’t always mean. By “best sex lives,” do you mean these people reported the highest level of satisfaction with their sex lives?
“On the outside their life may portray that they are living exciting lives, but deep inside they feel shame, they feel dirty, they feel used and they are walking around with hurts and wounds they wish they never had.”
Every single one of them? How on earth would you know that?
“Do you want a great sex life? Then do things God’s way and wait until marriage. When your marriage day comes, you will be so glad that you saved yourself for that day.”
All I have to do to have great sex once I’m married is not to have any before then? If I have any self-image problems or sexual hangups, they’ll all magically disappear when I take my vows? This isn’t what you said, no, but this is the impression I get from many people who say the same thing you did. Maybe some of those “religious people” who supposedly have such great sex lives believe they’re “supposed to” have great sex lives after they’re married, so to save face, they say their sex lives are better than they are when people ask.
Yes, I believe in sleeping only with my spouse, and I think that’s a good way of doing things. But I’m tired of people presenting abstinence-until-marriage-and-monogamy-thereafter as some kind of cure-all for issues people bring into relationships.
“Every good church wants single people to find the right person to marry.”
Yeah, and unfortunately, they can be kind of pushy about it, too. People frequently ask me if I’m dating anybody. The jokesters will sometimes add “What’s wrong with you, then?” when I say no. I know they’re kidding. I can laugh at myself. No big deal. The problem is well-intended people giving the impression there is “something wrong with” people who aren’t dating or married. I liked your paragraph about the freedom single people have to work in the kingdom, and our completeness comes from God.
I’m quite familiar with Josh Harris’ books. As someone who grew up in the homeschooling community, trust me, I’m well-versed in the “Dating is evil; God wants us to court” discussion. I’m not so hung up on the labels anymore. I don’t care whether a person calls their significant other their boyfriend/girlfriend, betrothed, suitor, beau, courter, fiance, whatever. Some of these “courtship people” I think are trying to define their way into being something unique and special. Most of the mature young adults I know are already avoiding the negative tendencies Harris identifies in IKDG. They usually call what they’re doing “dating,” but that’s ultimately irrelevant.
“Every good church wants single people to find the right person to marry.”
I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment of marriage/singleness in the church. I offer the following, in hopes that we recognize that being pushy was not Jesus’s call:
Matthew 19:11 and 12 (NIV)
11Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
As well as all of chapter 7 from 1 Corinthians.
Instead of offering support for those who wish to remain single, the church will expect that they will “burn with passion” until they become married. I think assuming the worst of those in the church is pretty depressing.
Skylark and Folknotions,
Thanks for pointing out some of the problems with pressuring single people “to find the right person to marry”. Last fall at the Mennonite Young Adult Fellowship gathering, some of the young adults who participated in BikeMovement USA. They reported their experience at one Mennonite Church where the pastor said that the best way of incorporating young adults into the life of the church was to get them married and having children (perhaps some BikeMovement folks who were on the trip can tell the story better). Many of us at the Young adult gathering agreed that this mindset, although not always explicit, is far too common among our churches.
Young adulthood is not a transitional period to be gotten over as quickly as possible. It is an rich time of opportunity for exploration, action and learning. Young adults have a critical role to play in the transformation and growth of the church, locally and globally. Churches that view young adulthood as simply a prelude to marriage and children are robbing themselves and hurting the health of the community.
I’m more of a numbers type of person…I like to work with numbers. My writing comes out of a passion to share things that I have learned about the bible, God and life.
You are right about being cautious about studies. I’m not sure what all the details of the study were. It was something that a pastor mentioned in his sermon which I thought was interesting. The reason why this study stood out is that people can get caught in a trap thinking that God sets up these sexual boundaries (or other boundaries) in order to take the fun and enjoyment out of life. Actually God wants you to live an incredible live and he sets up these boundaries so that we don’t hurt ourselves or other people. If you want God’s best for your life then you need to do what He says cause he wants us to live life to the fullest (John 10:10).
You are right that there are also other sexual areas that people need to deal with as well. These could be issues of lust, pornography, masturbation…..
As for my comment “Every good church wants single people to find the right person to marry.” I agree with the responses that you guys mentioned about people sometimes being too pushy about dating and marriage. My reason for saying that was to say that the churches goal isn’t to try and stop people from getting married. In my article I wanted to first tell singles to focus on their relationship with God and live the single life to the fullest potential in serving God. But I wanted them to understand that for many of them marriage will happen one day and that is a good thing and that is something that God blesses and the church should bless as well. Some people don’t want to get married. Some people enjoy serving God as a single. That is a good thing to and people should not force everyone to get married.
A number of people have tried to set me up with people. At times this can be frustrating for me. In order to keep my heart right I just think that these people have experienced a lot of joy from their married life and they want the same for me. It helps me not to get bitter about it. And in a way, it is nice that others think about me and care that I find a great person to marry someday.
Oh… I tried hard but could not resist posting the link to this relevant Onion article:
Not meant to be taken seriously at all – if you’re offended by this Ian rather than laughing along with it please let me know and I’ll take it down.
I was remembering that Onion article through the whole post/article too! Thanks for actually finding the link.
Les McFall has an interesting way to deal with the exception clause in Matthew 19:9. He has written a 43 page paper that reviews the changes in the Greek made by Erasmus that effect the way Matthew 19:9 has been translated. I reviewed McFall’s paper at Except For Fornication Clause of Matthew 19:9. I would love to hear some feedback on this position.
i want known how to keep my self before marriage