Since I was 15, christian marriage books have been my reading passion. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept that the purpose of marriage is to be an example of Christ and the Church. Though, the power behind that message seems to have faded. Divorce rates are unbelievable. The thoughts and feelings that we see about marriage in our world today are so negative. Why is this happening?

The words “dating” and “courtship” are not used in the bible… but the words “husband” and “wife” are. If you look at the bible, there are no relationships like “dating” that do not end with “husband” and “wife.” Why do we do it then?

‘Dating’ is not a relationship, it is a method people employ in our culture to get to know others of the opposite sex that was not employed in Biblical times. (Ron Jones, “Relationships and Dating in the Bible”)

The relationships described in the Bible are as follows:

1) Friendship (Proverbs 18:24, 27:6,9,10)

2) “brother-sister in Christ” (1 John 3:1, Galatians 5:13, Hebrews 10:24)

3) Marriage (Genesis 2:24)

There is no relationship described in the bible where men and women can share romantic intimacy with some physical intimacy without moving toward marriage. (Jones)

Today’s culture ideals are to date many people to find out what personalities you like/dislike so you can make an educated decision on who to marry. Though, wouldn’t you rather be able to give absolutely everything to the person you do end up marrying? Our culture spends more time trying to figure out who the right “one” is than how to make the marriage work once we get there. And when we do, we discover that marriage is a lot harder than we thought it would be and we start to wonder if we married the right “one” in the first place.

As I said before, marriage is an example of Christ and the Church. Ephesians 5:30-32. What does this mean? The purpose of our marriage is to portray the relationship between Christ and the Church. Just as Christ forgives us of our sins and takes us back everyday, so we should portray this in our marriages. Just as Christ loves us unconditionally and laid down his life so we could be free, so we should portray this in our marriages. Our marriage isn’t about us, it never was, it was created to bring God glory. Just as the trials we overcome in our daily lives bring God glory, our trials in our marriage bring God glory. Therefore, as God will never leave us, we should never leave our spouse. Marriage is the last covenant we can still make with God, we better adhere to it!

So how do we apply this?

For Those who are single:

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Set your Standards.

  • Do not settle for anything less than God’s best for you. My husband and I have this saying that we tell each other often, “You’re not perfect but you’re perfect for me.” Obviously, the person God has planned for you will not be perfect, if they were, there would be hardships and therefore no glory to God given. But, the person God brings you will be perfect for you. Their personality will fill what you never even knew you needed. Women: Look for a man that is strong in his faith who will lead you, protect you and present you as holy and blameless. Submit to their leadership. (2 Corinthians 6:14-15, Ephesians 5:25-28, 1 Timothy 2:22)

Make it your goal to share everything you have to give with your future husband or wife.

  • Personally, I refused to date until I met the man I could see myself marrying, I became his best friend and he became mine. Before we started dating, we explained to each other that we did not want to date unless it would end in marriage. I understand not everyone prefers this approach. But, if this is what you would like, ask God for it, work for it, and God will honor that. Before you date, make sure you are ready and able to commit yourself to someone for a lifetime.

Work on your relationship with God.

  • There is always room to grow in our relationship with God. Make Him the focus and the center of your life. (Matthew 22:37-38) Become the person that the person you are looking for is looking for.

For those who are in a dating relationship:

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Can you see yourself marrying this person?

  • You should not even be in a relationship if you do not feel you are able to commit yourself to this person for a lifetime. Be honest with yourself? Are you ready for that commitment?

Save as much as you can for marriage.

  • The more romantic intimacy that you save for marriage, the more God will bless you. Create clear physical boundaries and do not cross them. If you get to a point where you do not know whether something is right or wrong, it is wrong! (Romans 14:23) Remaining pure is not just about not crossing the line, its a mindset and a lifestyle. “Purity is not a choice. It is an instruction from God.” (Danielle Renfrow, “I Kept My Virginity, But Not My Purity”) (1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Timothy 2:22). (1 Corinthians 7:9).

Your Focus

  • Separate yourself from the world’s view of dating relationships because God’s way contradicts the world’s. (2 Peter 2:20) (GotQuestions.org)
  • Only date those who have placed God as their focus and the center of their life, even above you! (John 3:3-8, 2 Corinthians 6:14)  To put anything else above God is idolatry. (Matthew 10:3)
  • Prepare yourselves for marriage by putting Ephesians 5:30-32 into practice.

For those who are married:

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Work on the Vertical

  • “When Husbands and wives are growing in their vertical relationships (individually with God) their horizontal relationship (between the two of them) comes together as well.” (Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, “Spiritual intimacy in your marriage”) “I have come to the conclusion that most marriage problems are not really marriage problems. They are God problems. They can be traced back to one or both people having a poor relationship with God or a faulty understanding of Him.” (Francis and Lisa Chan, “You and Me Forever”)

Outserve your Spouse

  • “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” (Ephesians 6:7)
  • “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Counsel Young Couples

  • There is a large need for teaching young couples about God’s purpose for Marriage and relationships. Find couples that God has placed in your life to build into and share the knowledge that you have gained over the years.

References:

http://www.titusinstitute.com/datingbible/relationshipsdatingbible.php

http://www.gotquestions.org/dating-courting.html

http://theresponsechurch.com/i-kept-my-virginity-but-not-my-purity

http://www.focusonthefamily.ca/faith-issues/faith-marriage/spiritual-intimacy-in-your-marriage-68150930

“You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity” by Francis and Lisa Chan

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