Friday, August 10, 2012

Dating, Courtship, Marriage

We'll start here--in true fashion and style of all my posts--long and forthright. When I first started blogging, my oldest two were 11 and 6. Now they are 18 and 13.  I have been praying quite a bit for God to show me how to teach them regarding MARRIAGE--and how to prepare for it.  And He is answering that prayer.

I wanted to take a minute to share with you how I have been teaching my two oldest regarding dating, courtship, and marriage. I began praying for this several years ago, as my oldest son approached the teen years. I really wanted God's best and nothing less for how to PREPARE my children for marriage.  Everyone out there in the "homeschooling" and fundamental religious groups has different ideas. They outline all sorts of different guidelines and examples--but to me, I felt their scriptural support was vague and felt that people were attempting to put their own worldly rules and interpretations on things.  I wanted the "Simplicity that is in Christ."  No confusion. No muddy waters or gray areas. So I prayed.

The first thing God impressed upon me is that the ultimate calling is NOT to prepare my children for marriage. It is to prepare them to serve God and God alone. To be a true disciple. That is first and only what is important.

Then, in direct answer to my prayers, God showed me 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul is teaching directly about what is best regarding marriage.  Directly and clearly. I need look no further.

Regarding whether or not dating is okay, I Corinthians 7:1-2 gives a very simple, clear, and complete answer: It is good for a man not to touch a woman (that covers dating rules completely) Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife.

Simply interpreted:  If you don't have a wife, don't touch a woman. If you cannot avoid fornication, get a wife. Dating is not in this picture. Don't touch women, or have a wife.

Then Paul says in verse 7, I would that all men were even as I myself. Unmarried.  The message is very clear and simple. He is saying it is better that all men were like himself. Unmarried is better.  However, Paul realizes that different people are called to different things, so he goes on to say, "But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that."

But then he says a SECOND TIME, so WE GET IT, in verse 8, I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 

Very simple.  If you are unmarried, it is good for you to abide that way.  The verse implies nothing else. It is very clear.  Your children can easily understand the words. Then the following words in verse 9 are very clear, too:

But if they cannot contain, let them marry.

This is also very simple.  And this is what I showed my kids and they could not deny what the words of scripture said for themselves.  If you are unmarried, it is good to remain unmarried.  My children are unmarried.  It is GOOD to remain that way. So don't make any other plans.

Now, if at some point, they are too tempted by the opposite sex to "touch" or to sin, then "let them marry." Maybe this temptation is masked as a longing and dreaming for a special someone, or simply a longing to be married.  Some, as Paul clearly states, have the gift to remain as Paul. Some do not. If a young adult finds in his heart he longs too much to be married, and cannot contain, in prayer, they should ask God to provide their spouse and marry, for (v. 9), it is better to marry to marry than to burn. 

God made marriage--He uses it in His plans and purposes in many ways--but it is not His ultimate plan, and He does not depend on it. We need to be honest and assess if our children are growing up longing for a marriage relationship or the opposite sex because they have not been taught to long for Christ first (what would one of my blog posts be without stepping on toes?) Maybe they have just always assumed that marriage was the only goal, and began thinking about that from the time they could think. (That's called "stronghold," "traditions of men," etc.) Have we unwittingly allowed our children's desire for marriage to usurp or take equal place of their desire for God?  Do you have a child thinking of marriage?  Do they long for marriage more than they long for God?  You must assess these things!

Contrary to popular teachings and belief,  God does not NEED marriage and children to grow the kingdom of God, like some family-oriented religious groups like to preach.  God said that He could raise up sons of Abraham from STONES (Matthew 3:9).  We musn't dare to think He needs us or that we are doing something great for Him by raising godly children. He could use stones to build His kingdom. But He loves us, and chooses us, and chooses any children HE forms in the womb (whether in wedlock or not, no child is born that God did not form).  We just need to follow and obey. And yes, for many of us, that means getting married and raising godly children! Remember, though, He does not need your reproductive system. He is God. He needs nothing.

After several verses exhorting those who are already married to STAY married (unless those reading tried to say that Paul says it is better not to be married and then put away their wives or depart from their husbands--how many could have been looking for that loophole at some point in their marriage?  I might know some, but won't mention any names), Paul states again for each person to be sensitive to their own calling, in verse 17:  But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

So, I tell my children again, you are unmarried. It is better to remain unmarried. God may call you to it someday. You must be led by God in all areas of your life--and if He wants you to marry, then you will.  If you feel you must marry to avoid temptation--because it is all you can think about, and you truly want it, then pray and God will lead and provide your wife or husband. If you feel it is your calling and heart's desire to marry, then pray, and God will lead. I do my part to make sure marriage does not become an idol, or a fleshly lust. I must train my children away from all fleshly lusts. 

So now then, if my child is so called to marriage, how best to get from single to married?  Will they have to date, look, court? What are the examples in scripture of how to get a spouse--the good examples? What can we clearly see and trust how God works and provides?  Here are just a few I have meditated upon:

1. How did God provide Adam's wife?  Adam didn't even know a wife was coming--he woke up and she was there. He did not have to LOOK (date).  I told my children that all you have to do is talk to a few married people to realize that dating or even "looking" is quite irrelevant to finding a spouse.  How many people will tell you that when they met their spouse, they "just knew," regardless of whom they had dated before or if they had dated before. That was certainly true for me.  I knew I would be married to my husband before we had a "date" of any kind.  How many people "swear off" dating because of all the stupid mess it causes, only to find their spouse the minute they quit looking and dating?  This is very common.  Dating is really just a foolish and expensive distraction, treading into dangerous grounds of lustfulness and other temptations. God does not need you to DATE to find you your spouse.

2. How did God provide Isaac's wife?  His father sent a servant to choose one, and the servant prayed for the Lord to reveal His choice, and He did.  No dating. The parent's input and prayer for God's choice were the only factors. Isaac and Rebekah both still had the choice to decline, but from Rebekah's reaction when she first saw Isaac, it seems she just "knew" when she saw him! 

3.  Jacob and Rachel--often touted as such a wonderful love story.  Nope. Read it for what it is. Jacob, first of all, we know was very stubborn, and would do anything to get what HE wanted. Jacob wanted Rachel and chose her. He willfully chose her, as you can see by the serious arrangement he made to work for her for seven years.  However, God tried to let him know his choice was wrong. God gave him Leah.  If Jacob was in tune to the Spirit (and obedient to God and stopped at just ONE wife), he would have recognized that his choice of Rachel had been overruled by God. Maybe he recognized this, but still wanted what he wanted.  He stubbornly continued to pursue Rachel--there was nothing but trouble from his continuing to pursue her. She was not the best choice for him--as the scripture clearly shows.  Rachel stole from her father (idols, at that--a worldly, idolatrous woman), and lied to her husband and her father (a deceitful and selfish woman), and therefore was cursed with death unknowingly by her own husband--and she died in childbirth in just a few short years. Jacob's favoritism between the wives and the children tore the family apart--the sons of Leah tried to kill the son of Rachel.  The only happy ending to that mess is that God is sovereign and even when WE mess up, we can't mess HIM up.  Does anybody take note that David and Christ were descended from JUDAH--Leah's firstborn? God's chosen--not Jacob's chosen. We also see God's mercy, and how He loves and chooses us all--in the fact that He chose Joseph and used him in a mighty way. But Judah was the line of Christ. And did God NEED Joseph? Does He need me? (We covered that one already!)

4. Joseph was given a wife by his boss. God's principles of authority can be trusted.

5. David was given Michal, Saul's daughter, by Saul. And Saul knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him (I Sam. 18:28).  That should have been enough. David went on to all sorts of trouble and household divisions by taking additional wives. But God worked in it all, didn't He? Doesn't mean David did everything right. It means God makes everything work perfectly, according to His purposes. (Praise Him!)

6. Naomi encouraged Ruth, but Boaz chose her and claimed her.  The mother's counsel was used, but God moved Boaz's heart. I would think that every girl, deep down, if called in her heart to marry, would love to be claimed in this way!

So, what can we conclude from these?  Don't date. Let God choose. Your spouse will appear and you will know. He may use your parents or an authority to help choose a wife, He may overrule who you think you want to marry (probably because YOU were looking instead of waiting on Him)--and may do that by using the authority of your parents. You may be boldly claimed--and you will know.  You may meet someone in a parking lot--and you will know.

But trust for sure:  It is better to remain unmarried. That is the bottom-line principle. 

Further repetitive exhortations in I Cor. 7: 

V. 27  Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed.  Art thou loosed from a wife? SEEK NOT A WIFE. (Seek not = DON'T DATE, or arrange anything else by yourself, for that matter).

V 28  But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned.  Of course marriage is not sin. God made marriage! It is GOOD if it is His calling for YOU with His chosen spouse for you! But here is the warning if you have ears to hear:  Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh. (Never a truer word in the Bible).

V 35: And this I speak for your own profit (Do you hear me? This is for your own good!) not that I may cast a snare upon you (Don't get hung up on the details or make these things an unbendable law--you must follow God for yourself), but for that which is comely (beautiful), and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. Everyone's ultimate goal should be to attend upon the Lord without distraction! VERY hard for the married person to do it!

And then, instructions to fathers of unmarried daughters, this is VERY clear also, in V 38:  So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well (marriage is good), BUT HE THAT GIVETH HER NOT IN MARRIAGE DOETH BETTER.

He that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

He that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

Do your children understand this is God's best?   Are they willing to seek and serve God, and God alone, and then just leave marriage in God's hands--not looking, not lusting, not dreaming about this worldly thing.

Yes, marriage is worldly. In heaven, there is "no marriage or giving in marriage."  Jesus says in Luke 20:34-35, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.

In Matthew 22:30, Jesus tells us this same thing, and clearly tells us that angels do not marry.

Jesus did not marry, either, did He?  If it was best, wouldn't He have done so?

We are called to treasure things that are eternal. Marriage is not eternal. It is earthly. Worldly.

Look at how Jesus refers to earthly marriage in Matthew 24:38:  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark."

Marrying and giving in marriage--mindless of their souls and standing with God.

We are called to think on things eternal. Our children must be taught this!   Marriage is NOT eternal--not even for those of us who are married.  I can place no value on my marriage--God can do with it as He wants.  It is earthly.  From God's viewpoint, outside of time, just as this earth is already judged and burned up, my marriage is over, too.  It was part of this world.

Paul says in I Corinthians 7:32-34  He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

Marriage is worldly.  It is a provision God made for us in the flesh. He designed marriage. He gave us instructions for marriage. Married people in obeying God are very happy and blessed indeed. Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.  I will be the first to tell you how God has blessed me with my marriage. My husband is truly my earthly redeemer, and earthly savior, and his authority, care, protection is blessed. As I seek to obey God in my marriage, God uses it as a tool to reveal Himself and to make me more into the image of His Son.  Marriage is good--while you're on this earth, IF God calls you to it.  And He calls many--but I think He might not call so many if more understood to just seek Him first and leave the marrying to Him.

According to I Cor. 7, we should not seek to give our children in marriage. If we obey this, we do better than one who does seek to give our children in marriage.  We do need to teach them to love God first and foremost.  We need to exhort them to seek HIM--not a spouse.  We need to exhort them to dream of, desire, and long for God. Not a spouse.

Our sons or daughters do not have to seek (date). We do not have to seek on their behalf.  Leave the wedding in God's hands. He will lead. We won't have to look, decide, choose.  Just follow on the narrow road. And if our children love God first and foremost, and know God's Word, they will be ready to be a wife or a husband should God call them to that.

So, that is how I teach my children.  I share my testimonies with my daughter and son about how God guides me to be a wife, or how God has worked in our marriage and guided their father--but I never let them lose sight of the basic. It is better to remain unmarried. Don't seek. God will do. I told my own stories of how I messed this up and had the wrong ideas. How God brought me my husband even when I wasn't looking for one, or seeking God. I tell how God blessed that and made it right for our family despite all my stupid mistakes.  But I exhort them, "Do you see exactly what this says here in the Word?"  "Can it possibly mean anything other than what it clearly and simply says?"  I exhort them to read it and meditate on it for themselves, and then make that call for themselves.  And it is a pretty easy call. My son, 18, is quite settled on this. He can read the Word for Himself. He knows these things are true. He has decided to put his affections on Christ, and eternal things.  He knows that he would like to be a husband and father someday, but has left that decision in God's hands. And you can see, and hear, and sense the peace in my son in this area.  My daughter is 13. She is learning the same.  It may be different for her one way or another--we will see. But we will seek God's will for her life, and nothing else.

Paul is quite apologetic and hesitating in his passage--he knows the wrong perceptions and worldly thinking that people have placed on marriage from the beginning of time (due to their own lusts)--especially considering all the Mosaic laws. He knows people put marriage on some sort of religious pedestal.  He tries gently to say, "Please, if you will, listen to me," But he also says earlier, "I wish you would be ready for more than just milk."  These people had obviously asked for his counsel--he knew they would probably not have ears to hear it, but he was moved to write it anyway. He had to write it anyway. It was truth. The pure Word of God.

But I also know that every Word of God is pure.  It is simple. It is truth. It speaks for itself loudly and clearly, alive, vibrant, cutting!

So, that is my testimony. Hope you find some help and encouragement as you seek the best for your children.  For our sons and daughters who know the Lord, appealing to them with the pure Word of God always brings peace. They will know and they will discern.  Point the way straight to Jesus Christ, the Word, and they will be able to know for themselves what is right.


  1. Maybe because I have known many men, in particular, who thought they were called to singleness and are now married I am a bit skeptical of the big push not to marry. I know that is what Paul says in Corinthians. I also see that God established ADam and Eve with marriage from the very beginning. I heard a sermon years ago from a pastor of mine who speculated that singleness was actually a result of the curse and that if not for that all people would be married. I also know many women who do not believe they are called to singleness but they are not married so by default they are called to singleness. I don't know how much factors like many aborted babies who would be grown by now factor into this. God does not work out all the consequences for us even though He is sovereign.
    I guess what I am saying is that I basically agree with everything you are saying but my caution would be to hold those views with humility. I have seen singleness made an idol as well as marriage and neither is good.

  2. Hi, Jennifer!
    I see what you're saying for sure. God made marriage because WE need it (it is not good for man to be alone). We must understand that as humans, we very likely will need this. I must have come across wrong. I'm not telling my kids to never marry. I'm saying to not seek it for themselves. Seek God. Accept marriage if it comes as God's plan for them. Pray for it if it is truly their heart's desire. But don't seek it more than they seek God! My son does want to be a husband and father, but he has left it entirely in God's hands, and has chosen to seek God first, and trust God to give him what is best in his life.

    I pray I hold all views with humility. I am human. I would hope anyone with questions in this area would read the Word for themselves, meditate, and pray (and measure my words as well as the words from any other human, including pastors, against God's Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit!)

    So good to see a comment from you--after all this time! Thanks for leaving the first comment on my new blog!


  3. Cam,
    So, so, so good to have you back as a fellow blogger and friend:)

    I love your exhortation and way of presenting your deep beliefs and I have missed that!!!

    I pray God will bless you, once again, as He uses you in this venue!

    P.S. (Soap coming soon!) Wish I could mail you some tamales!

    1. You HAD to mention tamales. If only it was possible, I would love that so much more than soap! :-) I have GOT to learn how to make them!

      Please pray for this venue! I'm praying very earnestly for what God wants--not what I want. I've been known to mis-hear Him!