When I was a Freshman in college, I read an interesting book that got me to think about the subject of “dating”. I was born in the later half of the 20th Century and all of my life was taught that the idea of dating was normal. Since I did not know of any other way, I just assumed that is the way that things had always been done, since time immemorial. Oh, once in a while the idea of arranged marriages would be presented, but always as something barbaric and very old fashioned. Since we live in a modern world, everything must be done the modern way, because everyone knows, if it is modern, it must be better. That was the mentality that I had. When it came to the Bible, I thought it was just an old fashioned book that was not very relevant to modern man. Little did I know how wrong I was. I had my first “girlfriend” when I was about 10 years old. I had already had several crushes on plenty of girls by then but that was the first time that I actually had the courage to talk to a girl whom I liked. I did what the world said was modern and entered one relationship after another. Each time I thought, “I will be successful in this relationship. It will be different, not like the last one.” That process repeated itself many times over. Still, I never dreamed that the problem could be in the method because it was “modern” and had to be the best possible choice. Now, let’s go back to my Freshman year in college. I received a copy of Joshua Harris‘ book “I kissed dating goodbye“. I was not “sold” on the idea right away but I did have an open mind so I read it and got to the point where I realized that I had been feeling all along what he was writing about, that there is something wrong with the modern idea of dating. His alternative was courtship, which in theory I understand but do not agree with 100%. But that is another topic that I will get into later in this article. He explained courtship in “Boy Meets Girl“. Not long after reading those two books, I began to do a Bible study called “Marriage without regrets” written by Kay Arthur. While doing this study I really saw why the modern idea of dating is not Biblical and leaves so many people unsatisfied in their relationships and marriages. I did not know that God had much to say on finding a spouse. I was ignorant of the Bible. I would like to use this article to explain why God’s plan for marriage is not dating as we understand the word but, instead, His plan is that you serve Him and at the right time, He will put you and your future spouse together as you are both serving Him and He will light the fire of love (not lust) in your heart when He is ready.
God’s plan is revealed in the Garden
18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone ; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept ; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh ; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife ; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2)
God was the One who noticed that the man needed a suitable helper. The man was fine just the way he was, living in a personal relationship with God. The man did not go out and look for his wife. God formed her and brought her to him at the right time. All the man did was sleep in the will of God. When God was ready, He brought her to him. The man saw her, entered into the covenant of marriage with her and they were happy.
- Satisfied with his relationship with God
- Not seeking a mate
- Asleep in God’s will
- When God brings her at the right time, they marry (they do not have to “try and see”)
Someone may say, “yeah, but that is just one example and we cannot base all cases on just one example”. Good point and I agree, that is why we have to look at other places in the Bible to see how things were done. On a side note, in the Bible, usually the first time something is mentioned, it is the standard for the way things are to be. For proof, there are two instances in the Bible that demonstrate this. They have nothing to do with marriage or relationships but are helpful in demonstrating the previous point.
17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4)
As Jesus goes about ministering, Matthew does not repeat this phrase over and over again throughout the Gospel account but it is clear from the way that this verse is worded that everywhere Jesus went and in everything that He did (all the miracles) He preached repentance and the kingdom of heaven. The standard is set in verse 17 and that standard follows all throughout Christ’s ministry. The same is true about baptism in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Baptism is mentioned in the early chapters. People hear the message, they are convicted, they repent, becoming followers of Jesus Christ, and then they are baptized. Later in Acts, many more people repent but baptism is not mentioned in every case because it is already understood as a given that once a person repents, he is then baptized. There is no need to keep repeating it over and over.
God’s Plan is reinforced with Issac and Rebekah
I would like to take a look at the example of Issac and Rebekah to see if God uses the same standards when these two marry. Much time has passed since Adam and Eve but God has not changed and His way of doing things has not changed. The story of Issac and Rebakah’s love and marriage is found in Genesis 24. I would like to examine the facts of this story to see how God works in the area of marriage and how their marriage lines up with God’s original plan.
- Rebekah is a child of God, a believer. (God prepared the right woman for Adam just as He prepared Rebekah for Issac) see Gen. 24:3-4
- Rebekah will not distract Issac from his relationship with God and service to God. (Adam and Eve both had a relationship with God. Their marriage improved their relationship with God. Adam did not deviate because of his marriage.) see Gen. 24:6
- Rebekah was to be a virgin. (just as Eve was). see Gen. 24:16 (the modern idea of dating puts your virginity at risk)
- Rebekah had a good relationship with her family members. (see Gen. 24:28), many times, modern dating practices cause fighting among families because the young people are so “in love” that they cannot get along with anybody and will not listen to the voice of reason
- Issac waited on God’s timing.
- Issac and Rebekah were married right away and loved each other (and were happy) see Gen. 24:67 (just as Adam and Eve were married right away, when it is God’s will, you do not have to try and see if it will work out).
Both of these marriages were arranged, not by man, but by God. God knows the perfect mate for each person because He creates each one of us. He knows our needs better than we do. He knew that Adam needed a suitable helper. He already knew who Issac’s suitable helper was and brought her to him at the right time. Both Adam and Issac trusted in God’s ability and goodness to choose the best possible spouse. I put this teaching to the test 13 years ago and it worked. At the right time, God brought the suitable helper that I needed to me. I had searched and tried on my own and failed. Once I let go and gave it all to God, He stepped in and worked beautifully. I have been married to my suitable helper for 10 years now and it has been and is awesome. The same can be true for you. The ministry that I am a part of here in Moldova is full of men and women who put these teachings into practice and watched how God brought them together at the right time. I can count at least 10 happily married couples who have followed this plan. It will always work because it is God’s will and plan. Do you think that you know better than God when it comes to choosing your spouse? Modern dating says “yes”, take matters into your own hands. And we wonder why the divorce rate is 50%. I believe it is because we have closed our minds to God’s way of doing things, claiming that it is not “modern”. I have to be honest with you, the modern way is not working to well. 50% was a failing grade when I went to school. Do they still give grades anymore?
God’s plan is the same in the New Testament
A group of people wrote to St. Paul about these very things, specifically, how do we know God’s will in marriage. What do we need to do and what do we need to allow God to do? Paul wrote back with the answers. They are the same that we see in the case of Issac and Rebekah, as well as with Adam and Eve.
1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. (I Corinthians 7)
It is not good for a man to touch a woman. In the context, man here is a single man and woman is a single woman. The verb to touch in the original Greek meant “to start a fire, to add logs to a fire, to stir up a fire”. Paul says to the single men, “do not stir up the hearts of the single women”. Why? That is what they are to do once they get married. He says that they are to have wives first and then they can start the fire all they want. In fact, in the next verse, they are commanded to stir their wives’ fires.
3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. (I Corinthians 7)
Paul exhorts the unmarried to remain as their are, not to seek to get married but instead, seek to serve the Lord and allow Him to bring the spouse and love in His timing. If they are to busy dating to serve the Lord, then they will put themselves at risk of immorality because the modern dating scene encourages many fires to be started and ultimately quenched before the proper time.
25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife ? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife ? Do not seek a wife. (I Corinthians 7)
Be satisfied with your relationship with God. If you do marry, that relationship should strengthen.
but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. (I Corinthians 7:35)
So, we have seen God’s plan all throughout the Bible. He knows what is best for us. He wants undistracted devotion to Him and He wants marriage to strengthen that devotion, not take away from it. I chose God’s way and I know many who have as well. What about you, whose way are your following, the ‘modern’ world’s way which involves dating or God’s. seeking to serve Him and allowing Him to bring your mate to you in His timing? May the Lord help us do it His way so that we can be successful and satisfied in our “choices”.