Dating, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage…these things affect all of us. We all have questions, ideas and desires in this area of our lives; but in the society we live where marriage has been completely redefined. Living and sleeping together is accepted as part of our culture, even as Christians; divorce is just as prevalent in Christian circles as in secular circles; pastors are divorcing more frequently, explaining it away as God’s will; adultery has become rampant; pornography has become free, accessible and socially accepted; any relationship between any two people, of any gender, for any depth of commitment, for any length of time, as long as they are consensual is fine- without question or judgment. We’ve completely lost our bearing on what God’s plan really says; most having no idea what Scriptures really say about singleness, marriage, divorce or remarriage- and not caring enough to find out because it may require them to change their lifestyle. Even more lose the real concept of what marriage is all about (including those in Godly relationships), thereby losing all the joy and benefits of marriage because they have blended God’s plan with the world’s attitude; having destroyed the beautiful picture of Christ and the Church. One of Satan’s biggest targets is the family. By destroying the unity of marriage and family, Satan can destroy a culture in one generation. We are on the receiving end of that destruction in America, as many of the people growing into adulthood today come from fragmented, confused, secular families. We must forget the focus and desire of what the world says marriage should be because that view is shallow, warped and unfulfilling even at its best.
In today’s culture, the pressure and desire to be in a relationship of some kind is overwhelming; by the world and for your own self-esteem. The desire to be accepted, to be loved, and to share your life with another is a normal and powerful need. God says there are times when it is acceptable to remain single. The church at Corinth wrote Paul asking specifically about this. His response (these are his comments, not commandments from God): 1 Corinthians 7:1; 7:6-9. Paul is speaking with the wisdom and heart of the Spirit, stating that he wished everyone could be single like him, but that it is a literal gift and calling from God. Jesus confirmed this: Matthew 19:11-12 (a eunuch was someone who through physical castration or choice was not sexually active in their lives). Jesus described three ways this could occur: 1) some are born with no real desire for marriage or sex 2) some are made eunuch’s by others (Harem) 3) some chose this lifestyle because they were so busy for God they wished to remain unmarried. Paul explains why they may choose being single: 1 Corinthians 7:25-37. His reasoning for this preference was because of the ‘present distress’ (they were being severely persecuted and abused- and the Gospel was being spread everywhere through the persecution) (it was much like living in the Holocaust- not a good time for marriage and family). Although the severity of Paul’s time is not mimicked today, some still may choose this option to give themselves in a very special way to the ministry; but it is not a requirement for serving God in the ministry, even in severe times. 1 Corinthians 9:3-6: Paul said that though he doesn’t take advantage of these rights, He too could live in their homes, have a wife and be paid by churches. To summarize- has God called you and gifted you to remain single? Singleness and marriage are both acceptable and blessed of God and the ability to live your entire life single is a literal gift from Him that He says He will give as a means to work in a special manner for His Kingdom; but it is not wrong to desire either condition in life.
Scriptures don’t spell out guidelines for dating, (so immediately some will say that Christians shouldn’t be dating at all), but they do have pertinent information which gives clear advice in the matter. (Note: this section is for all single people- not just teens and young adults). The principles and rules don’t change because you’re older, or because you were married (and sexually active) once already. Improper reasons to date: 1) sex (80% Christian teens are sexually active): sexual activity (regardless of your past and future plans, age, etc.) before committing yourselves to one another is against God’s plan. Sex is sacred and special that t is to be kept for one amazing person in your life. There are so many ways to learn, share and discover each other that are missed when you jump to one thing. 2) ego/self-esteem: you don’t date someone just to show you could get them or to prove to others your popularity, nor for the self-esteem boost that you are desired and accepted. Psalm 139:13-14, 17-18. God made you exactly as planned, and His mind is filled with thoughts about you. Hosea 2:14-16, 19-20, Song of Songs 6:3, 7:10. If you are called to celibacy, or until you find the right one in your life, God can be your intimate Partner to share with and love and feel completely coveted and accepted. Good reasons to date: (this is a teaching aid: 3 phases): 1) casual mode: being in the company of someone of the opposite sex in a casual atmosphere in order to become introduced to, become familiar with or just enjoy their company 2) identifying someone as a potential candidate for a life-long relationship and spending time together in order to discover Scripturally whether you are compatible 3) preparation mode: time shared with someone whom you have decided to join in marriage- where you begin to share ideas, hopes and plans for your future of serving Christ together. The only reason for dating beyond the casual stage is to determine whether someone is the right person whom you should seek out a life-long commitment. “Does God have that special someone held exclusively for me?” There are times when God supernaturally intervened in match-making: Isaac (Genesis 24), Ruth & Boaz (Ruth), Esther & King of Persia (Esther); and Scriptures say that God has every day of our lives planned: Psalm 139:16. God also gives us choices in our lives. He instructs us to trust Him with our hearts, acknowledging Him with every decision and He will direct our paths: Proverbs 3:5-6. He promises that if we truly and deeply want Him above all else, He will give us the desires of our hearts: Psalm 37:4. He also promises that He will use all things for our good if we love Him: Romans 8:28. So—How does He tie our ‘free will’ into His ‘fashioning of our days for good’? Because He has seen our every decision before time began. He called some of us ‘His Elect’ long before we had actually even chosen Him, showing complete knowledge of our free-will choices before we make them: 1 Peter 1:2. In His wisdom of who we were created to be, and His foreknowledge of our life, He has a plan that takes into account His will and our choices because in His love, He does offer us a choice. If we make those choices based on love for Him and desire for His will, based on wisdom from His Word, trust in His leading—He will direct us in the right choice. If we are focused on Him above all, that choice will be ‘the desires of our heart’ because our desires will be His plan if we are seeking Him first; and it will be in His time and in His way, if we are trusting. He knew our decisions before the world was created, but gave us the freedom to make them, planning to use our every choice for good, if we were truly committed to Him when we made them. So—is there more than one person with which we can have a Godly marriage? Yes, if we love based on God’s principles; but does God know who would be best suited for us, and for the future plans He has for us (that only He knows): Yes. We can find His guidance if we are committed to Him first and He will use all for His good if we are following Him. Therefore, the goal in dating is to seek and find God’s will for a life-partner. By looking for and desiring the things God would want, we honor and worship God even in our dating process. In order to reach the ‘decision mode’ of a dating cycle- you must Scripturally consider God’s will: 1) are they a Christian? Do they have a passionate relationship with Christ that is evident in their lives? If you love Christ, and they can’t answer an honest ‘yes’- then move on. It’s God’s job, not yours, to bring them to Him. 2) are they your best friend? 3) have they ever divorced? If so, why? Were they a Christian when it happened; did they try to reconcile? If there are any improper answers (to be covered in a later sermon), walk away or be in disobedience and sin with God. 4) what are their goals and directions in life? You may both follow Christ, but have two different paths; neither of you should have to leave the path God has given each of you for a relationship. Will this relationship magnify and compliment what you feel God has called you to in life? Because you are called to live for each other, not demand they change their lives for your benefit; you must be able to live ‘for them’ and still be in the will of God for your life. Maybe your whole call is to live for and serve another as they follow God- but if your call is to something specific, be sure you can live for each other in your plans.
Interracial marriage: does God allow or forbid it? God had forbidden the Israelites from interracially marrying in the OT, and many use this as an excuse today- but it is not accurate. The prohibiting of marriage for the Jews had nothing to do with race, but with their following the One True God: Deuteronomy 7:3-4. Paul reiterates: 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. It’s not about race, but about whether both follow God.
Are you faithful, strong, loving enough in your relationship with Christ to follow His plan (against mainstream society)- regardless the cost, ridicule, inconvenience? Besides your relationship with Christ, marriage is the most sacred, important relationship of you entire life.
Trust in God; honor Him in your pursuit of relationships; don’t rush His plan or timing; be completely content in His love and acceptance; and He will bring something better than you could ever imagine!