Love, courtship, dating, marriage, and sex!
These are topics that single people want to hear, listen, and learn.
There was a time when a set of questions was sent to me regarding this topic about dating and relationships in their singles ministry. Is there such a thing as a Christian courtship? Is it wrong to try out a relationship with somebody first so you’ll know if he/she is the right one for you? Is it safe to engage in petting? Is it okay to engage in sex as long as you are “committed” to each other? When is the right time to get married?
First, let me address that when I explain something about relationship, I am not saying that my suggestions are the standard. But I hope what I am about to share will provoke you to live a life of holiness unto the Lord in your relationships. I know the Lord has given us freedom to decide whether to follow our Scripture-based conviction or our emotion-based decisions. If what you believe according to your spiritual conviction is aligned with the Scripture, then you bank on it.
According to a general understanding, a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship has no formal commitment to getting married yet. In other words, they are not thinking of preparing for their wedding any time soon because they are in a stage of “getting-to-know-each-other” first. Why? There are probably a number of valid reason, such as they are not yet prepared financially. The other one needs to focus on helping the family first. They have plans in the future that could be interrupted by marriage. The woman has been waiting for years for his man to propose up until now. If the guy does this, then the girl is surely left wondering if he is really serious about their relationship. They are not even discussing any plans for the future wedding, family life, and savings in their private conversation. All they talk about revolves around their work and daily activities.
So how does it all start? Normally, everything starts with being acquainted with each other. Next, they become friends and after some time, close friends. Since their emotions grow towards each other, they now move on to the courtship stage where they become boyfriend-and-girlfriend. Now this is where things get tough because many are not taking this stage seriously. Since this is the case, a number of couples fail to observe the standards of morality. And how does everything start? An example can be given in a simple Filipino setting I have researched.
[Warning: You may want to skip this next paragraph because it contains explicit content for mature readers. The purpose of this illustration is to make some couples aware of where their relationship could go if they lay down their guards. Any similarity in your life is just a purely coincidence.]
Once they are already in a close relationship, the guy sets off by touching the girl’s waist then holding her hand just to show off his care while strolling in a mall. This could be the first base. In a matter of few weeks, the guy can now freely move inside the girl’s house because her parents are used to seeing him around. The family members of the girl now trust the guy as far as going in and out of her private room. The parents are probably not aware that whenever their daughter and her boyfriend are left alone, the mind of the guy is whirling on wanting to do something more than just touching and embracing her. Along the relationship, the guy now starts to make a quick kiss on the girl’s lips whenever he leaves for home late at night. This gesture becomes part of the couple’s norm, thinking it’s just an innocent display of love and concern. The quick kiss turns into an extended kiss in their private moment. Once the guy thinks the girl likes what he is doing, his hand now ventures on to the different parts of her body. Their flesh is now consumed with passion to the point of ignoring the impurity they commit, therefore giving in to temptation. This is what the Bible calls sexual fornication. Once an unmarried couple dives into this forbidden zone, then it will be difficult for them to stop. This fleshly gratification is so strong that they want to satisfy their human nature. This is truly unfortunate because instead of having a Christ-centered relationship, theirs becomes a self-centered kind of relationship. The apostle Paul warns,
What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. – Galatians 5:16
This emotional live-in relationship could last for about five years, ten years, or more without marriage plans, unless they were able to save up or proposal comes. A serious wedding preparation only comes once this happens. Be on your guard, for the longer you stay in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, the risky it gets.
Although, the Bible has nothing dogmatic to say about going through a romantic relationship because this is surely different in every country’s culture. However, what must be strongly observed in a romantic relationship, whether it be boyfriend-girlfriend or formal engagement before marriage, is none other than purity and holiness!
How are you in your purity and holiness in your relationship? Are you observing holiness? Or are you engaging in sexual promiscuity?
In that boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, are you engaging in petting when you are left alone to yourselves?
Are you allowing your flesh to subdue you?
If your answer is yes, then you need serious counseling with your church pastor before it damages your future marriage relationship.
Bear in mind that you will both build your own generation of God-fearing children.
The Bible tells us one clear requirement for a spouse: that he or she be a believer. Other aspects such as handsome, beautiful, physically attractive, spiritually mature, involved in the same ministry, financially prepared, and responsible are merely advantages.
Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness? – 2 Corinthians 6:14, GNB
As for me, I have my own conviction and preferences. I remember several years ago telling myself that I would not say the words “I love you!” unless I am sure of that single God-fearing lady who will become my future wife.
I preferred a Christian lady who loves and fears the Lord so much and is involved in a church ministry where we both share the same mission and vision.
I met Liza in Victory U-belt, the church located at the heart of the many campuses in Metro Manila. We got acquainted, despite having different ministries. She’s a member of the book-table ministry at that time, while I lead some of the cell group leaders and remained active in the young professional ministry. Our friendship progressed to close friends for more than five years, because we found ourselves enjoying each others’ company. We appreciated our time together as we involved ourselves in the church ministry, along with the other single professionals.
The Lord led me to like her, yet Liza didn’t like me, due to her own preferences. She had Christian and non-Christian suitors, who were more eligible than me. But the Lord’s prompting was so strong that she could not avoid it.
I have no plan to let her know about my feelings yet. But when the right moment came for me to propose, I spoke the words for the first time, “I love you! Will you marry me?”
Fortunately, she said, “Yes!” This may be due to the years of friendship we had and that the Lord already prepared our hearts.
It is encouraging to know that her spiritual conviction also dictates that she will never enter into a relationship unless the guy will be her future husband.
Some of you may wonder, “Did we go through a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship?”
We did not. This is because we were engaged right away in order to prepare for our upcoming wedding. It may be a year of engagement, but that gave us time to build up our friendly relationship.
When the pastor said, “You may now kiss your bride,” it was literally our first time to kiss each other on the lips. Actually, the wedding preparation is another testimony in itself.
Some are saying that our previous culture is different from the present culture so we cannot compare. I do not believe that this is about culture. It was about our Christian values and belief that we grounded our spiritual conviction in God’s Word.
We have our reason for shortening our engagement relationship. This is to avoid possible temptation and immorality along the way. We want to be a testimony to our future children. If the Lord honored our faith, then surely they will honor the Lord, even through their relationship.
Now that we are already married, there was a time while I was driving with my family. Back then, our younger son (who was eleven-years-old) asked me about how I proposed to his mom. After telling him about a detailed story, he quickly responded by saying, “Oh, okay!”
I wondered saying, “Why do you ask?”
“Well, I also asked mom about it!” he said.
Then I immediately turned to my wife asking, “Did we tell him the same story?” Then she smiled at me and said, “Yes!”
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:14-16
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. – Proverbs 31:10-11
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30
Future generations will serve him; they will speak of the Lord to the coming generation. – Psalm 22:30