Sunday, 21 December 2014

Biblical Dating?

In the previous posts I covered the duties and responsibilities and the differences between male and female. Now what happens when said male and female believe they are more than friends? What happens on the road to marriage? What is the purest, most God honoring method of going about such a sobering endeavor? Let’s take a look at it.
Firstly, I will be upfront and state that I believe that method is courtship. I will also likely shock you when I say there are no verses specifically advocating such a method. How then can I have the audacity to make such a bold statement? Am I not simply being a legalistic fool without any sense of reality? Read on and see for yourself.
Let’s start by a definition of both. Wikipedia, though highly questionable accuracy-wise, has this telling definition of dating:
“Another meaning of the term dating is to describe a stage in a person's life when he or she is actively pursuing romantic relationships with different people.”

Courtship however is defined as: a male and female who decide to move into a deeper friendship and relationship, with marriage being the end goal.

Can you see the difference? Recreational dating is abusive. It toys with a woman's emotions and it lowers her to little more than something you pick up from the store only to get rid of it when you are bored, not to mention massages a man's prideful ego by means of the status of being in a relationship with the beauty of the week. Yes, it’s that grievous a sin. It is a mindset in which a man can even subconsciously have the idea that if it doesn't work he can simply break-up and find someone else. Even if he is not conscious of this thinking, this is what the world would do. If a Christian uses the same methods as the world, they will be judged according to those same standards and it will be assumed that they are thinking the same thing as the person who is not a Christian. Remember we are on this earth to represent our King. How can we act in a way that could bring reproach upon Him? But you say, I know people who have dated safely and are happily married. Well, Douglas Wilson in his book Her Hand in Marriage says “The success stories within the modern dating system, which certainly exist , are not the problem with it. But people survive plane crashes too, some of them without a scratch, and we are all happy about it. But this acknowledgment does not disqualify us from opposing the general habit of crashing airplanes”

Let's take a closer look at the courtship model and see why, despite no Bible verses that command it, I believe there is enough evidence for courtship based on several principles within Scripture. We will also see why it is indeed the most God-glorifying method of choosing the person God says you are to be one with in marriage as it says in Genesis 2:24. Though it was Adam speaking, Jesus affirms the accuracy of that statement.

For this reason a man shall leave [behind] his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and cleave closely to her permanently, And the two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:7-8 Amplified Bible)

Though courtship is a prelude to marriage it should be a time where an already firmly established friendship goes to a deeper level under the watchful eye of both sets of parents who can guide the two young people. Courtship focuses on a person’s heart and character. I submit to you men, that you should be falling in love with that: the woman’s godly character. This is evidenced by the fact God looks on a person’s heart and, therefore, so should we by careful observation of a persons actions. Jesus said in Luke 6:43-45:
For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.  For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.  The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Beauty is good. It is an example of God’s handiwork, but we are under the curse. Even the most beautiful women will get old and wrinkled and that outward beauty will fade. Not so the beauty of a godly heart.
Therefore, if the heart is the most important thing then it should be protected. In his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Relationships and Romance, Joshua Harris said “The joy of intimacy is the reward of commitment...” How can you protect the heart of the woman you claim to love if you focus on temporal things like outward beauty and, even worse, light the fire of emotions that should only be felt between a husband and a wife?  Earlier, I quoted Matthew 5:28, but the Bible is full of verses exposing the dangers of lust.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Cor 6:18 ESV)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. (Eph. 5:3 ESV)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col:3.5 ESV)

Remember the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? (Jeremiah 17:9 AMP).

This then is the reason for accountability. We are imperfect, flawed human beings and even if we are sincere, we could well be sincerely wrong. God also has put fathers in charge of children and if you, as a man, are going to court a woman then you have a duty to hold yourself accountable to the man whom God has sovereignly ordained to lead not just his daughter but his whole house. If you believe you as a man are being led to court a woman, firstly acknowledge your own father’s authority and ask his permission. If, and when, you obtain that then you go to the woman’s father and ask his permission. In this way, you're not only protecting her feelings and purity but your own as well. The decision you are deciding to embark on is too sober to be left in any doubt as to the will of God.
Seeing as it is in fact so serious a decision, now would be a good time to reiterate that it is a life-long decision and cannot be broken apart from one exception, which we will cover later.
Finally, even if a guy isn't used to courtship, as soon as he is directed to the father he'll get the idea. Now he has to decide at that point. True love requires sacrifice as John 15:13 says, ”Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. What better way to show that than to use a method he isn't used to and to learn as he goes? Not that we all don't, but he'll be doing so from further back as it were. Learning how to court while he does so.
Marriage is a life-long commitment by its very nature. From the dawn of time, when God created the universe, He instituted marriage and Adam said, “This is now bone of by bone and flesh of my flesh”. While this is literal, as woman was formed from man, it has another meaning.

A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

How important is this? Firstly, it is repeated in Ephesians 5:31, so we know this is absolutely applicable in the church age. Second, Jesus Himself made mention of divorce several times.

Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from [her] husband committeth adultery (Luke 16:18 KJV).

Pretty straightforward. While it is true it was allowed under the Law it was never meant to be. Again, Jesus said,  

Because of the hardness (stubbornness and perversity) of your hearts Moses permitted you to dismiss and repudiate and divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been so [ordained].  (Matthew 19.8 AMP).

Thirdly, I’m going to shock you now. Let’s take a closer look at the word ‘one flesh’ in Genesis. It is the Hebrew word echad. This is one and the same word used in Deuteronomy 6:4 to describe God and the Trinity! In other words the marriage union is considered so important that the two are considered one unit, yet with distinct personalities. The one and only caveat to this is found in Matthew 19:9:

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

Marriage truly is of utmost importance to God and must be treated with the care and attention it deserves.

I want to add, before I close, that I recognise this is the ideal and people may come from broken homes where one or both parents are not doing their job properly or have caused harm and damage in one way or another. I understand that. I accept that. Every situation is different but the principles remain the same. One can certainly seek the same accountability of elders, mature friends and pastors. The Word of God is perfect for all situations

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