Preparing for marriage with the right attitude and mindset!
We all desire and seek love and companionship to fill an empty hole we think we have. For some singles, this is the driving force in their life, as it was for me at one time. Yet, as Christians, our primary purpose in life is to serve and glorify God, and fulfill the call of the destiny that He gives us. This translates into who we are and how we should be. This is true in the arena of relationships and finding the love of our life. Thus, we need to find out what God's plan is for relationships, and then follow it. It seems simple on the surface, and it really is. The problem is that we have clouded Godís plan with our superficial culture and desires. The current dating model that most people, from pre teens to older adults, are using is ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Our dating traditions result in a 50%+ divorce rate which is the same in the church as it is in secular society. The marriages that stay together are mostly miserable and dysfunctional, so, something is defiantly wrong.
I need to point out that what I am writing will not sit well with most people, because it goes against popular notions and experiences. However, regardless of how we may feel about something, we must always seek to follow God's model. In addition, we need to do this simply because it will be the best and most effective and fulfilling way--period! My purpose is not to burst your bubble or cause you to end your current relationship, but you just need to step back, seek His Word, and do what is His best for you. In so doing, you will be in the right relationship and will experience the ultimate joys and opportunities in life.
My intention in this article is to point out Biblical principles that will help you decide what is right or wrong in finding your love. Additionally, if you are already married, you can look to what you have done wrong and then correct it by removing your false thinking and behaviors. What I am not trying to do is just give you a set of rules, some ďdoís and doníts.Ē Rules are just that, which our determination and nature tends to fight against, break, and reject. Therefore, I will give you the reasons, so you can think them through, examine the Scriptures, and come to a better understanding of sex, singleness, dating, and how to build Christ-like relationships that will last a lifetime, including finding that ďlove of your life.Ē
I did not wake up one day and find myself married. I spent most of my adult life single, unhappy, and feeling that only a wife would fill that gap. It was not until I learned that I had to be comfortable with myself and in my relationship with God that He brought to me the love of my life. So, after years of getting it wrong myself, while teaching singles how to do it right, I finally got it right! Thus, I have some wisdom to depart to you.
The first thing we have to realize is God does care and has a plan for you, even when you cannot see it. So, be wise in choosing your future mate. Study the Word, seek wisdom, be prudent, and rely on the strength of the Lord! These things do not come to you by chance; they come by knowing and following Christ (Proverbs 12:4; 28:20; 31:10)!
The goal for finding the love of your life is to live in undivided surrender and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, meaning that He is in charge of all areas of your life. That means your life will reflect the glory of God, and serve as an example in a world of evil and temptation. You will be able to make healthy and wise decisions because the Lord, through His Word and the Spirit, is your guide, as opposed to what the media, friends, your passions, and emotions may dictate. You will be able to discern who is right for you, so, wrong decisions will not be made lest you venture into a life of misery and strife. Even if you are emotionally involved with someone for a long time, or you have just met your dream person, this will not mean that you should get married to him or her. Marriage is a wonderful and extraordinary relationship with a specific person that God has foreordained. A good relationship will bring glory to God by reflecting the relationship between Jesus and His Bride, the Church! (Ephesians 5:23-32)
How difficult is it to find the love of your life, to have a meaningful and intimate relationship with someone? For many people this is struggle number one! Consider that many people today are staying single longer due to career choices, fearing commitment, an over zealous party lifestyle, or perhaps they are from a divorced family and do not want to go through what their parents did. There comes the time when they look and see the biological clock ticking away, and begin feeling lonely and wanting. After being too busy or too choosy about who they may date while in their 20s, the 30s come and desperation takes over. They often end up in a mismatched relationship that may not have been a part of Godís best for them.
So, what qualities should we look for in our soul mate? What should we avoid and how do we find that love that will last a lifetime? Is finding a the right mate a matter of just being lucky, or in the right place at the right time? Is it possible that someone else stole him, or her, from you? Does God really care and have that special someone for you? How do you find out?
What should we do, what do we need to consider and to avoid? For this quest, let us venture into Godís most precious Word and examine the Scriptures carefully to find His Will.
What Does the Bible Say About Sex and Singleness?
1. Reconnection and Confession (Romans 12:1-3; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2): I must acknowledge my own sinful nature. All of humanity is fallen from God, and we are corrupt in our thinking and actions. Unless Godís grace is not only flowing in us, but is also being emphasized and utilized, we will fail to make the right decisions. Our sinful nature directly relates to our sexual choices and fining our true love. Each of us must commit to ongoing confession in this area. The word "lust" in the NT is translated from "epiphemaho,Ē which means mismanaged sexual desire or fantasy or intent. Imagine how offended the "pious fraud" religious leaders were when Jesus told them they had personal problems with sexual righteousness. Jesus is not saying, Well, if you have committed adultery in your heart, you might as well go ahead and do it, because one is just as bad as the other. Adultery includes everything that is wrong with lusting in the heart, plus more‑‑deceit, betrayal, the breaking of a promise, damage to family, etc. Jesus' point is, if you think you are sexually perfect and need no repentance because you have avoided committing physical adultery, think again. It runs deeper. It involves wrong thinking, which leads to wrong actions. Whose sexuality is defaced by the fall? That of everyone!
Therefore, we have to make a commitment to acknowledge our fallen nature, and be willing and able to confess our sin and repent, which means we do not do it again. It means to have someone hold you accountable and for you to confess sins to God. (See our article on Accountability Questions in our Discipleship and Leadership channels!) When we are not accountable, we are free to sin, which will lead to social and physical disaster. It will lead to pornography, flirting, inappropriate lust, jealousy, and then sexual encounters and sexual addiction that will lead us to betray our future spouse, our Lord, and even acquire a disease and die! This can involve reading a bad magazine, or walking into a hotel room, with someone you should not be with!
Living a surrendered redeemed life is about seeking the Lordís Will, and seeking to glorify Him!
2. God made me (Genesis 2; Matthew 19:4): I must realize, accept, and even be grateful that God made me a sexual person. We are born with organs, physical features, and ways of thinking that are specifically male or female. In Matthew 19:4, Jesus says, "Haven't you read...that at the beginning the Creator `made them male and female?' " In other words, He is saying, Do you not understand? God made human beings as male and female‑‑God made sex. God brought Eve to Adam, and Adam's response was not, I bet she has a wonderful personality. Remember what Adam said? ďThis is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.Ē This translates in the modern vernacular as, Yeah, God! Be grateful for God's gift and the way He made you. We need to get to the point where we can honestly say, Thanks, God, that you made me with a body. Thanks for giving me the capacity for oneness within the covenant of marriage. However, this does not mean we get to do what we want with our goodies! God has chosen that sexual relationships be reserved for the covenant of marriage! If you have been a victim of incest, abuse, or trauma of any kind, you must seek outside help from a qualified Christian pastor or counselor. If not, it will not go away, and you will take that baggage into your marriage!
3. God is not against sex (Song of Solomon; Matthew 5: 27): He created it! He is against is itís misuse! In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus delivered some strong words about what it means to be righteous, sexually. This must be in the front of our minds whenever we seek Godís plan and the right mate. If we do not, we will venture into a path of potholes, strife, and contention, ending up with a relationship that is a result of sin. God can, of course, provide healing and forgiveness and even work it out for you. However, the right road would have been so much better and more pleasant without the strife and hurt that not only affects you, but also all those around you for generations to come! I want to point out five commitments that flow out of Jesusí teachings, that can help lead us to righteousness in sexual purity, and that will enable us to be in the right mindset to make the right choices.
4. Keep God's standards: (Ruth 4:10; 1 Peter 3:7-12) 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, "It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality." This means we must reserve the sexual relationship for the permanent commitment of marriage. God intended sex to be for a husband and wife who have committed to each other permanently, because only in the context of a permanent commitment can intimacy be truthfully, faithfully, and safely expressed. When there is physical intimacy without a permanent commitment, the hurt will extend to God, to you, and to your future spouse!!! Make a commitment before you get into a situation where you will be tempted to break it, because if you wait until then, you have waited too long. You are not going to make it. The pressure to go the other way on God's standards is so intense in our society that you must decide ahead of time what you will do.
5. Maximize your future marriage (1 Corinthians 7:3‑4; Ephesians 5:25-33): You must honor your future spouse. Even if it may be years before you are married, what you do now will affect him/her down the road regarding the quality of your relationship. Even if you have not met him/her yet, you can serve and love your future spouse in your whole relationship, including your physical relationship and standards. "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife" These are awesome words. Sexual fulfillment is within marriage only. God designed it this way and it is so important to God that He actually calls it your duty. Make a commitment to maximize your marriage (Your Future Marriage!!!). If you do not, you will be betraying your source, and the best of the plan God has for you!
6. Learn (Prov. 1:5-7; 3:11-12): You must be willing to learn about your personality, what you need to improve and work on. Listen to your parents. Most of the time, they know you better than you know yourself. Do not rely only on your friends, especially if they are less mature than you, or older people to whom you can talk. Parents need to talk to children about their sexuality and about God's plan for them. Deuteronomy 6:6‑7 says, "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children." The commandments referred to here are the Ten Commandments, which include the very one about sexuality that Jesus alluded to in the Sermon on the Mount. God's design is that sex education happen in the family. This does not mean to have just one talk about the facts of life and get it over with. It involves an ongoing conversation about their bodies, physical changes they are going through, dating, marriage, how they feel about people of the other sex, and responding to questions. It involves different kinds of conversations at each stage of development. If this did not take place--as it rarely does--find a good Christian mentor of the same sex as you with whom to talk and learn.
7. Attitude of Fullness (Mark 7:1-13; Matthew 5:6; 16:24-27; Romans 6:19-23; 12; Galatians 2:20-21; 5:19-21): Knowing who you are in Christ, and what He did for you on the Cross is paramount. In this knowledge, you will have the proper attitude and discernment to make right decisions based on Godís Will, as you ask the right questions and look for fullness and not fulfillment! Fulfillment is seeking someone to meet your needs and wishes, or seeking to fill your desires or lust! What you need to be doing is seeking to glorify God and seeking someone to be your helpmate in service and mission for His glory. This is Fullness. When we are just self-seeking, we are selfish and unconcerned with eternal values or serving our Lord. In doing so, we fall into a trap, not because of Godís vengeance, but because we are not doing as we should. As a result, natural consequences will take over. Godís precepts are for our benefit and protection and are what is best, just as loving parents for their child. Fullness makes a relationship real, centered upon Godly directions. Fulfillment is seeking what we want, that often is not the best for us. It is filling emptiness with the wrong filler. Fulfillment will end up bringing emptiness, the very thing you are trying to avoid. Fullness will seek the love of 1 Cor. 13, and will make you desire to share your fullness and self with that person.
If you only seek what you can get, you will end up with despair! You will not be able to complement each other because you are not bringing yourself into the relationship as much as you are seeking to take or get from it. What we bring must come out of being filled with Christ. Whether you are in ministry professionally of not, we all have the same job--to get the word out about the Word. Seek to find someone who brings out the best in you and who will be your partner and companion in the exciting adventurous journey of life.
If you follow these principles of acknowledging your sinful nature, living in accountability, and daily confession, be grateful for God's amazing gift of sexuality, resolve to keep God's standards when it comes to sexual behavior, maximize your future marriages as best you can, be willing to listen and learn, and, as parents, be willing to train and equip your children to honor and follow God, then you will be in the right parameters to make right decisions, and grow to be the person God wants you to be. Then you will find the right person, the love of your life! In the body of Christ, you will find an island of sanity and wholeness in a sea of sexual chaos and pain.
Putting it all together
The Bible holds the truth for life today, including how and with whom you should be building a life. If you feel that the Bible is not the paradigm for your faith and practice, or for your standard for relationships, then you will find yourself disappointed and hurt in life. The perspective we are to have is a desire for what God wants, not what we want. Our focus is to be on Him, because He has the best plan for us! If you are still not sure about this courting and what the Bible has to say, then read some other sources. You will find some good suggestions below. Without the right attitude and perspective on life, glorifying God, and following His will, you will not be finding the real love of your life!
Internet dating, singles clubs, and personal ads are booming. As people are so busy in this fast-paced society, there seems to be no time to date or court. If this is true for you, you will not have time for a relationship either! So, get your priorities straight, and then seek someone out! You will have to make room in your life for a committed relationship, if your call and desire is to have one. Ask yourself, Am I at work too much? Are there other things cluttering my time that are wrong or need to be cut back? Are there unresolved issues? Am I clear of my past?
This is a very hot topic on the Internet and in many of our churches these days. There is much misinformation at best, and blatant heresy at worst. Therefore, we are going to devote a four-part series to this, to discover what the Word has to say! Next month we will be talking about Courtship. This will help you in developing quality Biblical character, which will prepare you for a stable and loving marriage! In the coming months we will talk about Preparing for a Successful Marriage and Building a Good Relationship.
Open: Have you ever wounded or struggled with: "Is God a killjoy"?
Texts: Gen 1:26-31; 2:18-25; Ex. 20:14; Matt. 19:4-6; Gal 5:19-20; Phil. 2:3-4; Heb. 13:4
Do you think the Bible is out of date with today's values? Why or why not?
Is sex before marriage a sin?
What would be your estimate of the percentage of teens who have sex before marriage? What about adult singles who clam Christ as Lord?
Does God desire you to be miserable and lonely?
Do you think you have a good understanding of sex? If so, do you have a plan as to setting borders and boundaries when you are on a date so you will not cross the line? Why would this be important?
Read Gen 1:26-31; 2:18-25:
a. How does the Bible describe people?
b. What is God's plan for us?
If God created sex, and us, and says it is good, why does He want us to wait?
Read Matt. 19:4-6: What are the consequences for not following God's plan?
Keep in mind that a bond is formed that will never be broken when we have sex with someone. That is why sexual abuse is so painful for decades afterwards! When you have sex, you form a bond and that person is living in your brain past your 80's!!! Can you imagine an "ex" girlfriend or boyfriend living in your mind after you have broken up and hate each other! That is why so many relationships are messed up these days!!!
Read Ex. 20:14 and Gal 5:19-21: What are some more negative consequences?
(The covenant of marriage is broken, depression, co-dependency, loss of trust, disease, pregnancy, etc.)
Read Phil. 2:3-4: How can this verse help you?
Can you sum up what God desires you to do sexually? Are you able to thank Him for His rules, or do you think He is a killjoy?
Read Heb 13:4: Can you make a commitment before God that you will remain pure until marriage!?!
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of ĎInto Thy Word Ministries, ía discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word and is also a pastor, teacher, speaker and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California. He has amounted over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org