I’ve been teaching a series on Dating and Marriage to our youth and wanted to share some of it with of you. It’s primarily for young people and single people, but I’m sure those of you who are married will get something out of this as well!
For young, single people…first off, know this: Whether you date or not is between you, God, and your parents. If your parents tell you not to date and you do…that’s sin because God has put them over you.
If you want my personal opinion, I don’t like the idea of dating in middle school or high school. My advice would be forget about it. Don’t waste your time until you’re ready to be married. Does that mean I’m legalistic? No. It just means that I’m wise. For you, dating right now would be like telling a guy he has to be on a diet for the next 5-10 years, but telling him, “hold onto this bag of chocolate chip cookies for me. Just don’t eat them until you’re off the diet in 10 years.” That’s just not wise.
So, my advice is, stop trying to find “the one” and focus on what you need to change in you to be “the one”. In others words, what kind of man or woman do you need to become to attract the kind of man or woman you desire to marry? We spend the majority of our time trying to find the right person to date and marry. We should be spending the majority of our time on becoming the right person. If you focused on becoming the most godly person you could become, finding your future spouse would be easier, because you would have the wisdom of God. You would know who you are, what you were created for and where you are going in life. And, you would be looking for a person to marry that is going in that direction as well. So, Be the right person before you look for the right person. What kind of person are you? What kind of person are you becoming? What kind of person will you choose to give your life to?
10 Principles for a God-centered relationship
- The Character Principle
God looks at your character – the inside, not the outside. So, work on your inner beauty. Look for inner beauty. Our society looks at the outside first, then the inside. But, you know what? Good looks fade fast. You get old. You get wrinkled, bald. You get varicose veins, big ears and noses. Things start sagging. Gravity happens.
Prov. 31:30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Prov. 11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.
In other words, a beautiful woman that has no character is like a pig wearing jewelry. It’s something really beautiful on something dirty and ugly. Underneath the jewelry, it’s a pig. Do you evaluate people based on their appearance or on their character? If you work on your inner character, then the outside will follow suit. Are you working on your inner character? Are you reading the word and spending time with the Lord? Are you plugged in at church?
Titus 2:2-8 2 Older men are to be sober- minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self- controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self- controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us
If you are not being discipled by your parents or by godly men or women in the church, you’re going to have a hard time developing this kind of character. You need to see it in action. Are you spending more time on the outside than on the inside? How much time do you spend in front of the mirror, doing your make-up, in the gym, running, trying to eat right, getting the right clothes, etc. vs. how much time do you spend with God and God’s people? Spend time working on your heart, your character. Work to develop Godly character traits.
Humility & Holiness
1Pet. 1:14-15 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends…
Love is hard. It’s not just an ooey-gooey feeling all the time. This tells us what Christian love looks like. If someone tells you that they love you and they don’t express it in these ways, they aren’t truly loving you.
People say all the time, “I’m in love” or “I fell in love.”
What does that mean?
This is the definition of love. If you think you are in love and you aren’t showing these qualities, it’s not love. So, it’s character first, looks second.
- Confirmation Principle
When you’re ready to marry and therefore ready to date, before you date somebody, get counsel from people that know him or her. Get counsel from people who know you. Seek out sources around you to see what they think about the idea of you dating this person. What do your parents think? What about your friends? What do godly people in your church think? What do church leaders think?
Prov. 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.
Get advice! And, if you’re a teenager don’t get advice from another teenager! Why? Because teenagers don’t have wisdom. They haven’t lived long enough. And, if your friend’s advice is, “oh you’re a cute couple,” then that’s not very good counsel. Don’t settle for bad advice. You need good spiritual wisdom.
- Contentment Principle
If you’re not content with just Jesus, you won’t be content in a relationship. Unhappy single people make unhappy married people. Discontent single people are discontent in their marriage. A man won’t bring you lasting happiness. A woman won’t bring you lasting happiness. Only Jesus will.
1 Cor. 7:32-35 32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord
When you’re single, you have more freedom. And, this freedom should be used and maximized for the glory of God. You are more free right now to do things for the Lord. Marriage is a great thing when the time comes, but right now, when you’re single, be unhindered and undistracted for the sake of the gospel and then see what God does. Pursue Jesus and work for the Lord and everything else will take care of itself.
Matt. 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- The Common Ground Principle
Don’t date non-Christians. Why? Because they are running away from Jesus and you are running to Him. How do you think that’s going to work out? If you say, “well I’m not going to marry them,” then why are you dating them? Dating is a testing ground for marriage. It’s preparation for marriage. ou should never date someone you wouldn’t think about marrying.
2 Cor. 6:14-15 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
A yoke is the piece of wood that ties two animals together so they can work together to plow. Don’t tie yourself to someone who is going in the opposite direction. But, some people have the savior complex. They think, “I’m the hero. I’ll save her. I’ll save him. With a little help from my missionary dating skills, they’ll be a believer in no time.”
This is a horrible mindset! Take it from me. Don’t spend intimate one on one time with someone who is not a Christian. Light and darkness don’t mix. Find out where their heart is before you date them.
- The Cultivation Principle
Cultivate your relational skills. Try to develop relationships / friendships. Why? Because marriage, like any relationship takes work. Marriage is just two Christians living together for the rest of their lives. So, You should be working on your relationships right now, with your friends and with your family.
Rom. 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Love is a commitment to do what is best for the other person. It’s about selflessness. If you don’t have good friendships, people in your life that you love and are committed to, then you’re not ready for dating or marriage. If you’re not able to make friends and maintain relationships, how are you going to maintain a lifelong relationship? When you are ready to marry and, therefore, ready to date, don’t date alone. Don’t get into some weird, claustrophobic relationship where you get too involved emotionally and physically way too soon. Get to know the opposite sex by hanging out in groups of friends. You’ll get to know them better that way anyway. You will see them be themselves instead of trying to impress you. You don’t want to get emotionally or physically involved until there is true commitment – until there is a ring on your finger. Because, you know what? Dating is not marriage. It’s preparation for marriage. That means that every person you date is probably someone else’s husband or wife and you don’t want to get emotionally or physically involved with someone else’s husband or wife. I don’t think they would appreciate that and I don’t think you would appreciate someone getting involved with your future mate like that either.
- The Complementarity Principle
This means, understand your relational roles and how men and women’s roles are different. My position on this is called complimentarianism. A great resource on this is cbmw.org.
The opposing view is called egalitarianism – men and women are equal. There are no differences I don’t know if you know it or not, but men and women are different. Complementarity means that men and women have different roles in the marriage relationship and those differences compliment one another. Men and women are weak and strong in different areas, but they compliment one another so that they might strengthen one another. In Ephesians 5, we see how the husband/wife relationship compliments and is symbolic of Christ and the church.
Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband
Just as the church submits to Jesus and Jesus loves the church and gives himself up for her, women are to submit to their husband’s leadership. Men are to lead in such a way that they love their wives like Jesus loves the church – so much that they are willing to lay down their lives for them.
Today, our society says that there is no difference between men and women. But, according to the Bible, men and women are different. They are equal in worth to God but they have different roles. Men are to bear the primary responsibility to lead, protect, and provide for their wife and family. Women are to affirm, support, and encourage that leadership.
Now, some women may think, “submit?! I’ll never submit to a man!” But, I don’t know of any woman who wouldn’t love to have a man lead her in the way that he is leading her to Christ, doing what is best for her, doing his best to take care of her and is willing to lay down his life for her because he loves her so much. Men are called to lead that way, the way that Christ leads the church, and women are called to follow. And, who wouldn’t want to follow a man that is following Jesus?
So, what can you be doing right now to prepare for the future?
Young men – Follow Jesus! – work on your maturity. Work on your self-control. Work on being responsible. Get a good education so you can someday get a job and support a wife and kids and not have to depend on your parents for the rest of your life. Be mature, self-controlled, responsible men and treat women with respect now. Protect them and honor them now.
You know what it means to be a Man? Pursuing Christ and being a leader. You need to lead your own life of self-control and then you can think about leading a woman. If you find yourself in a relationship with a woman who doesn’t submit to God, doesn’t submit to her parents,or just has to be the one in control all the time and can’t handle following godly leadership, run!
Young Women: Submit to God now. Work on following God now and then someday it will be easy for you to follow a man that follows God. Work on helping and encouraging men to be godly leaders right now. If you find yourself in a relationship with a man who is not following Jesus and not leading a life of self-control and responsibility, run! If you date someone who is not able to lead their own life, how do you expect them to lead you?
- The Companionship Principle
Embrace God’s purpose for marriage.
What is God’s purpose for marriage? This is a great question. If you don’t know the purpose of marriage, when you get into a relationship, you will have the wrong expectations. And, because you have the wrong expectations, you will get the wrong results. Marriage is a lot of things and there are a lot of great things about marriage, but if I was to sum up the big picture purpose of marriage, I would say this:
Purpose of marriage: To serve, represent, and glorify God with a spouse in ways that you could never do as a single person.
Marriage is about God-glorifying companionship. It’s all about what you can do together with this person for God, not what you can get out of this person for you. That’s selfishness. Marriage is not about you! It’s about God. A good question for whether or not you should marry someone would be, “Do I glorify God better together with this person or by staying single?”
But what about Romance? Should there be romance in the marriage? Yes. Read Song of Solomon! The physical aspect of marriage is great but the companionship is way better. You need to marry your best friend. Haley and I tell one another all the time “you’re my best friend.” We just love being together, talking, hanging out. Companionship.
- The Commitment Principle
Learn how to become a biblical lover. What does it mean to be “in love” biblically? “I’ve fallen in love.”– what does that mean? Love is a decision, not a feeling. Remember that.
Love is a decision to be made and a promise to be kept, not a feeling to be felt. Now, the decision may produce the feelings but the feelings come and go. Marriage is a covenant, a life-long promise. You need to understand how God loves and try to love like that.
“For God so loved the world that he… what? He gave.
Love is a giving thing, not a taking and experiencing thing. It’s Commitment. It’s a decision, a promise to be made and a promise to be kept. That’s how we reflect the glory of God in our relationship. We Love like God loves. So, I suggest not telling that girl/guy that you love them unless you are ready to marry them. When you tell someone you love them you are saying “I am unconditionally committed to you for the rest of my life; therefore, we should get married.”
1Cor. 13:4-8 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends…
That is Christian love. So, you might want to reserve those precious words for a commitment that you are going to make for the rest of your life. If someone tells you they love you, you might say, “well I’m flattered. What does that mean exactly? What is love to you?” Does it mean that they want to marry you? Do they get their definition from the Bible or their own feelings?
- The Communication Principle
Practice Biblical communication. You must have good communication in the relationship. If you want to have a successful relationship, you have to learn to communicate. These verses in Ephesians 4:25-29 are for any relationship but they work really well in the dating and marriage relationship.
Ephesians 4:25-29 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear
- Communicate vocally. Speak. In any relationship, there’s always the, “I thought you meant…” or “I didn’t say that…”. You’ve got to talk.
- Communicate honestly. Tell people the truth.
- Communicate regularly. Resolve issues before the sun goes down. Don’t just stay angry. Communicate. Who is willing to humble themselves and say they are sorry first? Who will ask for forgiveness first? You be the one.
- Communicate purposefully. Say wholesome things. Don’t say things when you are angry that you will regret. Have self-control and be encouraging.
If you are single right now, work on your communication.
- The Chastity Principle
Chastity – refraining from sexual immorality. Ask yourself, “How holy can I be?” Not, “how far can I go?” That’s a bad question. The right question is How holy can I be? How far away can I get from unholy things?
How much can you save for your marriage? Until you say “I do,” you’re probably dating someone else’s future spouse. Things happen. People break up. So, treat those you date like they are someone else’s spouse until they are your own.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you
God is the avenger of those who violate his children sexually.
Sex is a wedding gift from God. Don’t open the package early. It’s meant for marriage, not before.
1Cor. 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body
Avoid sexual temptation in your relationships. Stay public. Don’t be alone together. Don’t be stupid. Remember: This could be someone else’s spouse.Stay in groups. Stay vertical. Stay in the light. Be smart. You don’t want to live with regrets.
How holy can you be?
Again, if you are single, your job right now is to work on becoming the kind of person you need to be first and then thinking about the kind of person you want to commit your life to. So pursue personal holiness with all you’ve got.
Alright, let’s review.
- The Character Principle: Work on your character.
- The Confirmation Principle: When you’re ready to marry and therefore ready to date, seek out wisdom – get confirmation.
- The Contentment Principle: Be content with Christ alone first, then look for someone who is content with Christ alone.
- The Common Ground Principle: Make sure that you both have common ground in Christ. Only date other Christians.
- The Cultivation Principle: Cultivate good relationships now. Learn how to be a good Christian friend first and love your brothers and sisters in Christ.
- The Complementarity Principle – Work on being a biblical man or woman.
- The Companionship Principle – Work on being a good friend now because marriage is about friendship.
- The Commitment Principle – Work on being committed and keeping promises. Marriage is a promise made and a promise kept.
- The Communication Principle – Work on your communication skills – communication is essential in marriage.
- The Chastity Principle – How holy can you be? How much can you save for marriage?