In this article we continue to deal with one of the most important decisions that people make, knowing how and when to date and who to marry. Both parents and children have to exercise faith, which is obedience to that which is clearly revealed in the Scriptures. Both must trust God’s written Word as being authoritative and final in making decisions regarding this potential relationship. The future happiness of many people depends on following the commandments of God in this covenant that two people make. In addition to the happiness of the couple and their future children, the happiness of their parents, extended families and friends will be affected. They will all be blessed or suffer depending on parental stewardship and whether the couple trusts in God’s standards and safeguards and explicitly obeys them.
We are in the New Testament dispensation. There is neither Jew nor Gentile in God’s sight; however, we must remember that we are not in heaven. While we live on earth, we will have to encounter the sins of the world. Consequently, as a marriage counselor, I must share the truth regarding areas of consideration for both dating and marriage. God will certainly give one the grace to overcome all difficulties in marriage if the union is in God’s will. But, make sure this person is God’s choice for you and not your own immature choice. Again, godly parents have a responsibility in helping to choose one’s future spouse. If you make the wrong choice, one can still look to God to give them the grace to live with their choice. However, happiness in marriage might be more difficult and take longer to consistently and permanently attain. God instituted parenthood to help, guide and protect children in their choices. This is why if one has godly parents, one needs to seriously consider their advice. They have your future happiness in mind.
Dr. Shryock and 38 other leading medical specialists have compiled a list of things to look for in the person we choose to date and/or marry. If we find a person is guilty in a number of these areas, we need to be cautious!
We Should Beware of One Who:
1. Tells a series of hard-luck stories (James 1:8; Prov. 15:7, 12).
2. Has a habit of making excuses and apologies (James 1:13-16; Jonah; Genesis 3:12).
3. Has a habit of blaming others (Romans 16:17-19; Prov. 25:18).
4. Tells “little white lies” (Ps. 58:3-6).
5. Keeps extra change given to him by mistake (Prov. 28:6; Lev. 19:11).
6. Makes promises too easily (James 5:12; Zech 8:17).
7. Borrows too often (Deut. 28:12; Ps. 37:21).
8. Has debts (Romans 13:8).
9. Is ill at ease in company (Prov. 15:18, 22, 26).
10. Is careless in personal neatness (Eph. 5:4).
11. Condones evil practices (Prov. 2:10-22; 6:29; Eph. 5:3-5).
12. Tells off-colored stories (Matthew 12:34; Eph. 5:4).
13. Talks about sex (1 Peter 1:13-16; 1 John 2:15-16).
14. Is personally acquainted with persons with questionable records (Prov. 1:10; 2:12-22; Ps.1:1).
15. Does not want you to become acquainted with his family (Luke 15:11-32; 1 Timothy 5:8).
16. Does not get along well with his parents (Eph. 6:2, 3; Prov. 15:5, 10, 20; Ex. 20:12; Matt. 15:4; Deut.5:16).
17. Does not participate in religious activities (Hebrews 10:23- 25; Ps. 122:1).
18. Admits that his past record is questionable but hastens to say, “I have turned over a new leaf” (Titus 1:16; 2 Thes. 2:11; 1 John 1:6; 4:20; 2 John 1:9).
Dr. Shryock states, “The young person who has arrived at the age of marriage cannot safely be guided by the appearance of the one he admires, nor by the prompting of his emotions. The person who is sure that he has ‘fallen in love’ may be just as sure, a few months after marriage, that he has made a mistake. No young person wishes to reveal the blemishes in his own personality or record. He prefers to ‘put his best foot forward.’ This makes necessary a certain amount of double-checking.” One needs to be extremely careful and wise while dating and even in choosing whom to date. They need to be consciously looking for areas of concern in a person’s life. Do not think one can change a person’s character or personality. That is the final decision of the person in question.”
The Bible gives us admonishment on the characteristics/ personality (Fruits of the Holy Spirit) of a person acceptable for a relationship.
The Ten Commandments give us a summary of what God says will give us peace with man and God.
These are based on the integrity/character of the individual. If one deviates, it is because of selfish desires that will eventually hurt others and ourselves.
God promises mercy, happiness, and a good life for those who wisely adjust their lives accordingly. He also promises difficulties and hardships if one so arrogantly, foolishly and selfishly rejects them. This is because God knows the causes of strife and discord. He knows the reasons why there is murder, hatred, fighting, anger, pollution, and other similar things in the world. It is always the result of a selfish person. A selfish person is an imperfect, immature person who always has problems in their relationships with others. Their marriage suffers, and many times they end up in divorce. One who is breaking the Commandments of God is either a selfish rebel (not a true Christian), or an immature person. A weak individual with character flaws, who has not steadfastly determined to crucify the flesh (their selfishness) and put on the Fruits of the Spirit, is certainly going to be chastened by the Lord more than a humble Christian. During this chastening time, the marriage will be increasingly difficult.
The Ten Commandments are:
1. The First Commandment
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Marriage partners need to be sure they serve the same God and have the same beliefs. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:14 to “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” This passage warns us not to even date someone unless they are truly a follower of Christ (one who is born again, not a Christian simply because their parents are Christians). The word righteousness also implies following God’s ways diligently. You cannot be a selfish person who needs continual chastening and have healthy relationships.
2. The Second Commandment
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…” (Exodus 20:4a). This is a warning against selfishly putting anything before God. When we do this we have a problem with other people.
3. The Third Commandment
“Thou shalt not take the name of Lord thy God in vain…” (Exodus 20:7). In other words, it warns us against profanity because a person who uses profanity has a problem with his temper which is not consistent with the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, but is the fruit of a selfish person with character flaws. James 5:12 “But above all things my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”
4. The Fourth Commandment
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,” (Exodus 20:8). The Sabbath, according to Jesus Christ, is a day set aside to ensure health, both spiritually and physically. On this day, normal work is to be set aside for worship of God and rest for us. If a person is too selfish to take one day out for God and his family, then his emotions will cause many problems in marriage.
5. The Fifth Commandment
“Honor thy father and thy mother…” (Exodus 20:12). A person who does not do this is bound for troubles in life that could have been avoided. It shows a proud person who God says is headed for a fall. In James 4:6 the Bible tells us that “…God resisteth (chastises, judges) the proud, but giveth grace (mercy, wisdom, peace, happiness, blessings), unto the humble.” A person who does not do this is a person that has trouble submitting to authority and conflict in any relationship is sure to happen.
If You Marry a Proud Person, You Marry a Person who Causes Division.
They cause division because of their insecurity (lack of character development) that causes them to behave selfishly. Not only will they disrespect their own parents, but they will also cause strife and discord between the spouse and his/her parents. This may or may not be intentional. This person does not truly understand the nature of the problems because there is a lack of genuine respect for God that makes them unable to learn how to mature in their personality. Exodus 20:12 promises: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Matthew 15:4 tells us how seriously God looks upon authority: “For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.”
6. The Sixth Commandment
“Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). The meaning here again goes into an undeveloped character resulting in anger, temper outbursts (tantrums), hatred, family domestic fights and can lead to an uncontrolled act of murder (taking life without justification). The cause is the love of money (self) is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10a). This corresponds with all problems between God and man and is the cause of all relational problems including marriage.
7. The Seventh Commandment
“Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). If a person has a tendency not to tell the truth or to avoid people, it reflects an inability to cope with reality and is a sign of insecurity. When trouble comes into their marriage they might find it easier to get their emotional needs met by another person who seems to show them understanding and sides with them (even if it is just to use them). Adultery stems from a person who is self-centered and is more interested in their own needs being met than meeting their spouse’s needs.
8. The Eighth Commandment
"Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15). If a person finds it easy to go into debt and borrows money before they are married, it shows a possible character weakness. He probably finds it easy to keep change that does not belong to him and twist the truth to impress his listeners. Again, it is a sign of a deficiency in his character. The person wants possessions (including respect) that he really has not earned. [Deception gets one’s own way, i.e. telling “little white lies” in order to get your spouse to marry you.] This type of person is disloyal to his employer as well as his spouse.
9. The Ninth Commandment
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Gossip and slander, which destroy relationships, could be included here. Truth is twisted in order to get your own way. This can separate family and friends from the innocent spouse who does not realize that the one he/she married is slowly, by their careful comments, turning you against the ones you love (Prov. 18:8).
10. The Tenth Commandment
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife…” (Exodus 20:17). Wanting things one has no right to desire is an attitude that always creates mistrust and arguing in the home. There is no peace.
The Bible also warns us that we are to judge the fruits of people we are considering for dating and/or marriage. The more one lacks in the fruits of the Spirit, whether the individual is a Christian or not, the more difficulties one will have in marriage. It shows a person who cannot love someone properly.
THE BETROTHAL PATTERN
The American culture participates in what we call dating. The dating experience, to a great extent, is a disaster. It is a legally sanctioned experiment in temptation and sin where we engage in lust. The Scriptures tell us to flee temptation; instead we deliberately violate the safety mechanisms of God by engaging in the fruits of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).
Again, the hypocrites will shout “legalism”, yet the humble will proclaim freedom, protection, assurance and peace.
The Christian is not supposed to succumb to the activities, traditions and ungodly patterns of courtship and marriage in this ungodly culture and society. It does not matter how most Americans date or pick a person to marry. As Christians we are not supposed to follow other peoples’ values and customs, but we are to be set apart unto God, dedicated and determined to follow and obey Scriptural attitudes, behaviors, customs and authority for courtship and marriage.
We do not believe in the dating game, the pregnant game, or the lust of the flesh.
Tongue swashing, hand holding, fondling, petting, kissing, hugging, dancing, cuddling or any other sexual activities should be shunned!
The rebel will scream and protest that this is not the dark ages; that you do not understand; that you are square and overly protective, etc. The real problem is these people, whether they are parents or children, do not know the Scriptures or God Himself. Mark 12:24 reads, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?”
A Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God has made our temples fearfully and wonderfully. They are made by God the creator who is the chief chemist, biologist and psychologist. If we are wise and adhere to the creator’s design, we will live a long, healthy, happy and sexually fulfilled life with our marriage partner. We will be complete, free from unnecessary guilt, disease, or condemnation. Our bodies were made to glorify God and give supreme pleasure to husband and wife. When we violate the laws of our Creator who designed us we hurt ourselves. Marriage can be described as “Heaven or Hell on Earth.” Much depends on how you work as a team with your parents, if they are godly, to ensure the best choice for a possible future mate. Regeneration occurs at the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, mind renewal, that sanctification journey, is a life-long process in which ultimate success depends upon each person’s will. Choose a person that will allow God’s will to reign in their life. Do not pick a wild donkey for a spouse (Gen. 16:12; 25:18).
We will continue with The Betrothal Pattern in part 3 of this series.
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