Monday, May 12, 2014
An Ounce of Prevention: 'Questions to Consider Before You Get Engaged'
First of all...
You should get engaged *after* going through premarital counseling (Proverbs 24:6). That's the only way you can be sure that you're *really listening* and not treating it as a mere formality. Adding onto that, this straight copy and paste can definitely provide some additional insight. For instance, one of my favorite points brought up is this one: "...if you date an unbeliever (or even an immature Christian), you will usually assume the role of spiritual parent. You become that person’s connection to God, and he or she can improperly cling to you for spiritual direction and maturity. Therefore, your dating relationship becomes an unhealthy parent-child situation." Amen!
The day I married Ashley, I must have been asked more than 50 times whether I was nervous. The barrage of questions surprised me because I had no reservations about giving her my heart. In my mind, I would have been a fool not to marry Ashley. Yet so many people questioned my composure that I began to worry whether something was wrong with me. I suddenly became anxious about not feeling nervous. Fortunately, as I dressed in my tuxedo, God reminded me that I had every good reason to marry Ashley and that He would uphold our marriage. I entered the church that evening with God’s peace inspiring my steps.
If you are dating someone seriously, how peaceful do you feel when you think about marrying that person? Committing your heart to someone is a huge decision. If you choose poorly, you could suffer years of heartache or wind up abused or divorced. However, if you select a marriage partner wisely, you could enjoy a lifetime together of intimate love and passion.
Sadly, some couples rush toward marriage as soon as they taste the initial burst of romance. They may have only dated for a few months, but their blissful feelings convince them that they are destined for each other. By contrast, other couples date for years but never find the courage to make a commitment. They so dread marrying the wrong person that they do not marry at all. In the midst of these extremes, how can a single adult sensibly decide whom to marry?
The good news is that as a Christian, you are not alone in your decision-making process. You have Jesus Christ dwelling within you. He offers His divine wisdom in every situation so that you don’t have to rely upon your emotions or finite wisdom.
And God has actually given us his Spirit…so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.… But people who aren’t Christians can’t understand these truths from God’s Spirit.… How could they? For, “Who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who can give him counsel?” But we can understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:12,14,16 NLT).
God wants the best for you. He gave you the mind of Christ so you can perceive life from His perspective. Jesus can work through your heart and mind to direct you toward a good relationship and dissuade you from a bad one. However, you can only discern His counsel when you are willing to listen and yield to Him.
To Jesus, romantic passion is the wrong foundation for a marriage. He wants you to give your heart to someone on the basis of character and passionate sacrificial love. To help you assess if your relationship contains these elements, consider the following eight questions before you get engaged.
1. Are You Both Married to Jesus Christ?
This question pertains to the most important aspect of your relationship—the spiritual. If you or your date does not know Jesus as the primary Source of love, then you will try to manipulate love from one another. Depending upon performance-based human love is like eating chocolate—it may taste good, but it cannot satisfy you. Your heart needs more than romantic affection to survive; it needs unconditional love, which can only be found in Jesus Christ. Thus, it is best to marry someone who understands that he or she is married to Jesus and realizes the importance of depending upon Him for fulfillment.
You will struggle to find this kind of person, however, if you believe that you can enjoy true intimacy with a non-Christian. Many Christian singles make this mistake in dating and short-change themselves. Let me explain why.
As Christians, Ashley and I are united in Jesus Christ. This means that the same Jesus who lives within me also lives within Ashley. Therefore, He can help us love one another more deeply. Jesus can love Ashley by desiring to do so through me, sometimes without her having to say anything.
For example, I have never enjoyed washing dishes, and Ashley dislikes doing laundry. Therefore, we agreed that I would wash and fold our laundry and she would wash the dishes. Yet many times in our marriage I have felt the distinct urge to wash the dishes for her. Ashley didn’t ask me to do it. I just felt a desire to help her. Trust me, I know this desire didn’t come from me because I hate scrubbing dirty plates. Jesus created an impulse within my heart to love Ashley in this way.
On other occasions, Christ has prompted me to spontaneously clean Ashley’s car, compliment her, or stop what I was doing and hold her after she had had a bad day. When I have acted upon those urges, Ashley has often exclaimed, “How did you know what I needed? I never hinted or asked you to do those things.” I knew what Ashley needed because Christ motivated me.
I don’t have to struggle on my own to be a good husband to Ashley. I can rest and allow Jesus to love her through me. Since He lives within both of us, He knows when she is tired or frustrated and can prompt me to encourage her. Likewise, He can inspire Ashley to support me when I need encouragement. This kind of supernatural love creates a bond stronger than that of any non-Christian married couple.
Let me clarify that our marriage bond in Christ does not give Ashley and me some sort of spiritual voodoo. We cannot read each other’s thoughts. Yet as we respond to the desires that Jesus puts within our hearts, He leads us to love one another in the best manner. This creates real intimacy. Joined together in Christ, Ashley and I share the same wish to glorify God, the same joys and sorrows, and the same Source of love—we are one (Ephesians 5:31-32).
I never experienced this kind of intimacy with my first wife. She expressed an interest in God while we dated but denied any faith in Him when she later deserted our marriage. Her “Christian” talk had merely been a ploy to gain my acceptance. As the early struggles of marriage hit us, our opposing spiritual beliefs became apparent. We hardly felt like partners. I often felt alone in the same room with her. We were not one.
You risk this type of division when you consider dating or marrying a non-Christian. If you join yourself to an unbeliever, you will be incapable of sharing real intimacy. Are you free to date a non-Christian? Yes, but the Bible states that it is not profitable (1 Corinthians 10:23). God views believers and unbelievers as opposites who have no potential for a deep union (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39).
Can a Christian get along with an unbeliever and have fun dating him or her? Sure. In fact, some non-Christians exhibit just as much honesty and sensitivity as some Christians do. However, if you marry an unbeliever, he or she will generally have a larger influence on the direction of your relationship.
I compare dating a non-Christian to mountain climbing and rappelling. Imagine that a Christian woman stands at the top of a mountain, and an unbelieving man stands at the bottom. If the unbelieving man wants to join her, he must decide on his own to make the journey up. The woman cannot pull the man up with her own strength or force him to climb. Should the man not want to climb the mountain, the woman will remain at the top by herself. Likewise, if the woman wants to be with the man, she will feel tempted to rappel down to his level. Otherwise, they could try to meet halfway, but then they would hang uncomfortably off the side of the mountain.
Using romance to coax a non-Christian to climb up to your spiritual level is unhealthy. Some call it “missionary dating,” which is the process of trying to convert an unbeliever while dating him or her. Though evangelistic affection may sound noble, the idea is flawed in several ways.
1. A Christian cannot overpower a non-Christian’s free will and force him or her to accept Christ.
2. An unbeliever might fake a conversion simply to gain your acceptance.
3. New Christians do not automatically have character or spiritual maturity.
4. A non-Christian cannot meet your need for love or security.
If you try to convert someone to Christ just so you can date and marry him or her, you cloud that person’s spiritual decision with human romance. In addition, if someone professes faith in Christ solely so that he or she can date you, the person probably is not a Christian. A person becomes a Christian when he or she genuinely asks forgiveness for sin and accepts Christ as Lord of his or her life. Even if you lead someone to accept Christ, he or she may need years to develop the maturity necessary for sacrificial love in marriage.
Furthermore, if you date an unbeliever (or even an immature Christian), you will usually assume the role of spiritual parent. You become that person’s connection to God, and he or she can improperly cling to you for spiritual direction and maturity. Therefore, your dating relationship becomes an unhealthy parent-child situation. Since you can’t improve another person’s character, the two of you will remain on unequal levels. For Christians and non- Christians, reliance on each other prevents you from learning to rely on Christ.
Spiritually disinterested singles can seem fun to date. Yet if you marry someone who doesn’t love Jesus, you will limit your opportunity to share oneness. Instead, seek to date and marry a mature Christian single who embraces his or her spiritual marriage to Jesus. Then you will have a partner who can participate in divine intimacy with you.
2. Can You Resolve Conflict Together?
Some couples pleasantly coast through dating, get married, and then receive a shock when their first round of conflict hits. They are unaware that two imperfect people experience friction no matter how much they love each other. Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, and it can destroy a couple who hasn’t learned how to properly resolve it.
Sin indwells your body and tries to influence you in ways contrary to the desires that Christ puts within you. You might feel tempted to be insensitive, greedy, self-indulgent, manipulative, or hostile. When you succumb to these temptations in a relationship, a simple disagreement can escalate into an all-out war.
Recognize that these selfish urges originate from the sin within you, not from you. Therefore, part of resolving conflict is remembering that as Christians, you and your date are not evil. By separating sin from the person, you can more easily resolve disagreements.
For example, one night at a restaurant, Todd sarcastically criticized his girlfriend, Jan, for the way she was dressed. His words hurt Jan’s feelings, but instead of firing back, Jan replied, “Todd, I know you don’t like my outfit, but what you said was rude. Whatever has gotten under your skin is ruining our evening together. We can talk about my clothes, but there is no need to criticize me.”
In this situation, Todd did not come up with the idea to mock the way Jan dressed. Indwelling sin initiated the urge to be rude, and he selfishly chose to respond to the temptation. Fortunately, Jan saw the problem for what it was—sin instigating criticism within Todd. Jan’s awareness of the truth allowed her to help Todd discern the lie rather than respond to him spitefully. She wisely nipped the problem in the bud, preventing the situation from escalating.
Knowing that sin seeks to cause strife does not mean that you can avoid conflict. When you distinguish indwelling sin from the person, however, you can more positively reconcile arguments because you focus on identifying sin’s lies rather than attacking one another.
A second important aspect of resolving conflict is allowing Jesus Christ to live His love through you. Allowing Him to meet your need for security and significance diminishes your motivation to attack or manipulate someone else. You still continue to voice your opinions and wishes, but Christ within you works to reach a solution that most benefits your relationship. This means you learn to give and take. Should you need to give, Christ will prompt you to be humble. Likewise, if it is your turn to receive, Jesus will lead you to accept in gratitude.
Only through your faith can Christ help you resolve your issues. As a couple, you both have to yield to His desires. So it is important that you deal with conflict several times before considering engagement. Determine whether both of you have shown a desire to compromise in past arguments. If not, does one of you try to bully the other with angry outbursts? If you’ve had trouble handling disagreements, consider dating longer to learn how to disagree cooperatively. If nothing improves, you may need to end your relationship.
Civilized arguments can benefit a relationship by exposing neglect, unrealistic expectations, or different points of view. Sometimes, neither person is wrong. Each one is simply approaching the same topic from unique perspectives. Therefore, do not try to avoid conflict but seek to resolve it in a loving, mature manner. If you cannot freely voice your opinions, you will live in miserable bondage to another person. Both parties should have the freedom to express their ideas and desires.
A relationship devoid of conflict may signal that one of you is either too passive or too afraid to be genuine. These attitudes are not conducive to an intimate marriage, and you should not continue dating if you cannot be authentic with each other. Healthy relationships foster an environment in which you have the freedom to disagree. Thus, before you get engaged, make sure you both feel free to be yourselves and know how to lovingly resolve conflict.
3. Have You Both Dealt with Your Baggage?
Relational baggage can develop when someone pursues fulfillment through a person, possession, or substance rather than the love of Christ. Baggage can surface in a variety of forms, such as addictions, eating disorders, abortion, debt, or divorce. Unfortunately, almost everyone carries some type of baggage, so do not assume that your boyfriend or girlfriend is immune. Before you give someone your heart, determine if he or she is wrestling with any baggage issues.
Also, understand that the consequences of certain baggage may never disappear completely. An addiction can keep someone in poor health. A divorced single may regularly have child custody problems. If you want to marry someone who happens to have these kinds of issues, you might face some very tough circumstances when the person’s past resurfaces. If you are not prepared to deal realistically with them, the repercussions could easily dominate your relationship. Discuss your concerns with a Christian counselor if you feel unsure about how someone’s past might affect you.
Please do not downplay relational baggage—it has the power to destroy your relationship. Sometimes, these complex, negative issues require years to resolve. Do not expect that marriage will make them disappear. You will generally have to wait until a person overrides his or her baggage with the truth of God’s love before real healing takes place. Therefore, if your date carries emotional baggage, please vigilantly deal with it before you get engaged. Marrying someone who is free of baggage is worth the extra months or years of waiting.
4. Do You Have the Support of Friends and Family?
After I dated Ashley for nine months, many of my close friends and relatives began to urge me to pop the question. When I asked why, they remarked that “We think Ashley is a great girl,” and “We think you guys are a good fit for each other.” I took comfort in these comments. They were sincere because Ashley and I had spent a lot of time around our friends and family. Their opinion meant something because they had been a part of our relationship. Since I knew they wanted the best for us, their excitement reinforced my desire to marry Ashley.
In the same way, I encourage you to seek the support of your friends and family. Since these people generally know you well, they can offer helpful insight on whether you and your date are a good match. In addition, they are not as emotionally blinded as you are and may identify problem areas that you have overlooked.
Should someone raise a concern about your relationship, focus on the facts and do not hide the truth. Be willing to admit that you might have neglected a problem. Parents and friends are not always right, but you should consider their legitimate opinions. They may have years of marriage experience to back up their concerns, and ignoring them would be foolish. Listen with an open mind to what they say about your relationship. Remember, however, that the final decision rests solely in your hands. Parents and friends can state their feelings, but don’t allow them to decide for you. Instead, let loved ones be resources to aid in your decision-making process.
When you make one of the biggest decisions of your life, having the support of your family and friends is a wonderful blessing. It not only gives you a sense of peace but also assurance that they will be there for you if times get hard. No married couple is an island. You will need the encouragement of others—especially if you have children. You endanger your dating relationship if you hide it from people. Instead, ask yourself if those near to you are excited about your relationship moving forward, and examine why or why not.
I remember facing the crowd when the pastor announced Ashley and me as “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Eagar.” I turned and saw 225 smiling faces that seemed to say, “We are happy for you, and we will support your marriage in the future.” This was a wonderful confirmation that I had made a wise decision. To this day, our friends and family are still excited about and supportive of our marriage. They go out of their way to encourage us and invite us to be a part of their lives. If we need help in any way, they will be there for us. Don’t underestimate the benefit that those close to you can have on your relationship.
5. Have You Sought Pre-engagement Counseling Together?
Pre-engagement counseling is so helpful when you are interested in marrying someone. It is impossible to uncover by yourself every potential problem area of your relationship. Even wise friends and family can overlook negative warning signs. Therefore, seek a trained Christian counselor to discuss the details of your relationship before you get engaged. I promise it is well worth it even if you have to go out of your way to find it.
Ashley and I participated in eight weekly sessions of pre-engagement counseling together. The format was casual, which allowed us to openly share our fears and hopes. The counselor was perceptive and showed us areas that could cause problems for us in the future. For instance, we discovered that we deal with our free time quite differently. Ashley prefers to make a list of tasks and work on projects, while I prefer to lounge around, read, and talk. Initially, this was a source of frustration because we didn’t appreciate what the other person wanted to do. Neither of us was right or wrong; we were just different. Fortunately, the counselor revealed this issue to help us become more sensitive to each other. Rather than fight about our free time, we learned to value what the other person prefers. This is just one example of how pre-engagement counseling improved the harmony of our relationship.
The decision to marry someone is so significant; please do not bypass the wisdom of outside counsel before engagement. If you can meet with someone trained to deal with relational problems, you can save yourself a lot of heartache. Furthermore, a good counselor can help save you from marrying the wrong person.
6. Do You Bring Out the Best in Each Other?
Jane had dated Ted for ten months when he brought up their first discussion about marriage. Jane liked Ted but felt unsettled about their future. A friend had recently remarked how Jane didn’t seem to be herself since she started seeing Ted. This comment grabbed her attention.
Jane began to reflect over her relationship and noticed that Ted rarely seemed enthusiastic about her interests. Whenever she asked him to stop by her art class or volunteer together at church, he would made excuses. Jane began to sense that her life revolved around Ted’s fishing, work, and softball schedules. He wasn’t possessive; he just didn’t show support for the things she enjoyed. A relationship with Ted meant that her individuality and interests took a back seat to his. The more Jane pondered, the less she felt comfortable about moving forward.
When you consider marriage with someone, ask yourself, Does this person bring out the best in me? This question may sound trivial, but its answer will reveal much about the future quality of your relationship. As we have seen throughout this book, God’s purpose for dating and marriage is that two people share sacrificial love. For that reason, you want to find someone who is passionate about investing in your life and vice versa.
In healthy relationships, people help each other to flourish. I call this “relational cheerleading.” I don’t mean positive pep talks. Rather, relational cheerleading is creating an encouraging environment in which another person can safely try new experiences and grow as an individual. This type of supportive atmosphere fosters intimacy. You go beyond telling someone, “You can do it” and involve yourself in his or her accomplishments.
And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
Before I married Ashley, I never realized how wonderful it was to be with someone who brings out the best in me. It is an amazing blessing to live with a partner who says, “I believe in you,” and “I am so proud of you.” Furthermore, she gets involved and helps me press on when I feel depressed, scared, or insensitive. Her belief in me goes beyond mere words.
Let me give you a firsthand illustration. Writing this book had been a dream of mine for years. Nevertheless, I almost gave up five times while trying to finish the manuscript. The project kept getting bigger than I expected, so I frequently felt overwhelmed. Ashley’s excitement to see me accomplish my goal made a huge difference. She not only encouraged me when I was frustrated but also got involved by critiquing what I wrote each week. She sacrificed her time, interests, and desires to invest in the realization of my dream. She helped bring out the best in me.
In the same way, I encourage you to honestly assess what kind of influence your boyfriend or girlfriend has upon your life. Does he or she truly care about your growth and maturity? Does he or she encourage you to meet new people, try new hobbies, and maintain your faith in God? Does he or she have a history of sacrificing time, money, or attention to support you physically and spiritually? Or does he or she simply use you for his or her happiness?
Many singles have been demoralized by dating an immature person. Dating someone who is selfish shuts down a person’s desire to grow spiritually, expand his or her interests, or get involved with others. Instead, Christ wants singles to spur each other on to grow in love and maturity.
You can start this process by asking your boyfriend or girlfriend about his or her dreams and goals. What has he or she always wanted to do? In what area could he or she use your support? Determine how you might reasonably help your date achieve his or her desire. Then date each other long enough so that an extended pattern of supportive behavior can emerge. Remember that dating is a prelude to marriage, and marriage is a commitment to an imperfect person for his or her highest good. Marrying someone who is committed to helping you flourish is a delight. On the other hand, living alone is better than marrying someone who does not deeply care about you.
7. Is Leadership Properly Established in Your Relationship?
When you are dating, you always have the option to leave if someone acts unreasonably. In marriage, though, you make a lifelong commitment. Therefore, selecting wisely is imperative, especially when it comes to the issue of leadership. The leader generally determines the maturity level of a relationship, and the best way to discern how someone handles leadership is to observe him or her in dating. The individual who leads during dating usually will lead in marriage. Unfortunately, many singles wrestle with relational leadership for two reasons: Either they misunderstand how someone becomes a leader or they misinterpret the leader’s true purpose.
Our culture suggests that anyone who wants to lead must exhibit superior performance to earn the title. If a leader makes too many bad decisions, he or she can be fired and replaced. This definition, however, is not how God determines the leader of a marriage relationship.
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.… For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God (1 Corinthians 11:3,8-12).
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:23-25).
These verses clearly explain how God established the leadership structure for husbands and wives in marriage. His hierarchy reaches beyond the roles of men and women. Consider the following points:
1. God is the Head of Christ.
2. Jesus is the Head of every man and woman.
3. A husband is the head of his wife.
4. A woman is subject to her husband.
5. A husband is to love his wife sacrificially, just as Christ loves the church.
6. Men and women are not independent of each other.
Notice how people receive their roles through God’s choice, not through their performance. Jesus and husbands are assigned the positions of leadership. In God’s eyes, their actions have no bearing upon their qualifications as leaders. He assigned Christ and men as the leaders, and they choose whether to assume that responsibility properly. Obviously, Jesus always obeys His Father and respects His leadership (John 5:30).
A husband faces the choice whether to follow Christ’s leadership. When a husband tries to lead his wife independently of Christ’s leadership, he sins. Likewise, God calls a wife to follow her husband’s leadership, and she sins if she chooses to act independently of Christ and her husband.
God made leadership a simple arrangement. Men and women complicate the issue when they refuse to submit to Jesus Christ. For instance, a wife sins if she disregards her husband’s leadership because he doesn’t make her happy enough. A husband also sins when he ignores Christ’s leadership because Jesus won’t provide him with easy circumstances.
By contrast, when men understand the sacrifice Jesus made for them, they are more inclined to respect and follow Him. In turn, Christ can then live His sacrificial love through a husband to his wife. As the wife realizes that both Jesus and her earthly husband desire to give themselves up for her, she more naturally accepts their leadership. This may sound like a performance-based setup, but it’s not. God says that we are called to subject ourselves to our respective heads regardless of their performance.
How do you know whether the person you date accepts God’s leadership structure? Observe his or her willingness to lead or submit. Ladies, does your boyfriend follow Jesus and love you sacrificially? Guys, does your girlfriend follow Jesus and respect your decisions? If not, you may be dating an immature person. When someone is unwilling to try out his or her relational role in dating, he or she will unlikely embrace it in marriage. Passive or dominating behavior boils down to a lack of faith in the authority of Christ.
Besides equating leadership with performance, some singles do not understand what leadership truly involves. God’s definition of a leader is not simply “decision maker.” A real leader sacrifices his desires for the benefit of his wife. God says that the man’s job is to love his wife just as Christ loved the church. How did Christ express love for the church? He sacrificed His life so that He could have intimacy with us.
In the same manner, God urges men to love their wives sacrificially. Her needs and concerns are supposed to become his focus. In addition, his role includes maintaining an environment of intimacy. This means accepting her, forgiving her, protecting her, and considering her interests as more important than his. When a husband loves his wife sacrificially, he creates a physical illustration of Christ’s love for believers. Therefore, ladies, observe whether the man you date behaves in this way. Does he know what is important to you? Does he sacrifice his interests for yours? Is he willing to disagree with you when he believes it is for your benefit?
Keep in mind that you cannot lead or submit to someone by relying on your brainpower or self-control. Instead, Jesus wants you to carry out your assigned roles by allowing Him to live His life through you. In a human relationship, Christ can simultaneously express submission through a woman and leadership through a man. He demonstrated both of these roles 2000 years ago on earth as He submitted to His heavenly Father while loving mankind sacrificially. Jesus wants to do the same through you today. Therefore, as you date someone, consider whether you have submitted your relationship to His leadership.
8. Are You Truly Passionate About Each Other?
My definition of the word passion does not refer to excitement or sexual lust. Instead, Jesus best defined passion when He innocently died on a cross out of love for you. He was so excited to be married to you that He sacrificed Himself even though you aren’t perfect. This brings us to the final question to consider before you get engaged to someone: Are you passionate enough to sacrifice yourselves for each other, knowing full well that both of you are imperfect? In other words, are you so spiritually, sexually, mentally, and emotionally attracted to each other that you also accept one another’s ugly, weak, and selfish faults?
Guys, do you feel just as interested in your girlfriend when she removes her makeup? Are you willing to drop your pride and cherish her during her mood swings? Are you willing to go out of your way to make sure she feels appreciated? Do you love her enough to seek her best interests even if that means denying your wishes or telling her no?
Ladies, are you more concerned with delighting your boyfriend than making yourself happy? Are you willing to love him even if he neglects or offends you? Do you adore him so much that you are prepared to follow him wherever God leads?
Marriage involves loving someone even if he or she disappoints, irritates, or ignores you. If you do not think that your boyfriend or girlfriend has any flaws, I encourage you to date longer. No one is perfect, and you set yourself up for relational failure if you expect marriage to be smooth and easy. Jesus knew the awful reality of your sin, but He felt such passion that He still chose to marry you. You make this kind of commitment when you choose to marry someone.
God wants Christ’s pure passion to sustain your relationship. On some days the romance will fade, and you will feel bored with each other. How will you stay committed? Your spiritual marriage to Christ will supply the strength you need when times are hard. Jesus knows that you cannot maintain intimacy with someone because your ability to love is limited. Yet His devotion to the person you marry never wanes, so He can uphold your relationship by living His passion through you.
As a Christian, you no longer have to struggle to love. You possess the love of Christ within you, and the purpose of dating and marriage is to bond with someone in His divine passion.
Examine Your Passion
After examining your dating relationship in light of these questions, you may not feel a peace about committing to your boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s okay. Dating benefits you because you can learn who someone is before you pledge your heart. Your discomfort may be the Lord urging you to date longer or to separate. If you break up, be glad that you avoided an unwise marriage decision. On the other hand, if you answered yes to the eight questions, Jesus may be leading you toward marriage.
As husband and wife, Ashley and I are still amazed by how our hearts continue to unite in deeper ways. Our marriage has surpassed my wildest dreams of what romance, friendship, and love could ever be. We owe the pleasure to Christ, who pursued us with such love that we wanted to share it with someone else. Likewise, if Jesus is inspiring you to give yourself to someone special, then take the opportunity to pour His love into that person and relish the passionate relationship that He has waiting for you to explore together.
This is an adapted excerpt from the book Dating with Passion. You can get it here.