Steve Lyston, Contributor
Dating or courting is such a sensitive issue for many Christians, and even for the Church. There are a number of single people - whether they have never been married before or are divorced - who are seeking a life partner and are hoping to be able to identify one by going out with them on a regular basis without any kind of real commitment.
There are others who don't want a life partner, but prefer to satisfy desires as they arise without any kind of long-term commitment.
Then there are those who are afraid of disappointment and hurt and prefer not to commit. So dating becomes their 'solution' of choice.
Whatever the basis for dating, it does not reveal true motives or willingness to commit.
Dating simply gives many an excuse to enjoy the benefits of a long-term committed relationship that should be sealed with the bond of marriage - without the commitment. This leads to actions and activities opposite to God's instructions and will for us, and causes the development of unholy soul ties. It clouds an individual's judgement and skews his/her mindset.
Biblically, there must be a 'leaving and cleaving' that ought to take place (Mark 10:7-9; Genesis 2:24). It is in the process of cleaving (spiritual bonding) that the character flaws and physical capabilities many want to identify beforehand become clearer.
Marriage is a spiritual issue, because the cleaving that takes place is not physical, it is a spiritual experience.
Dating is a physical action that is based on what is literally seen. So, our commitment has to be based on more than the physical and begs the question therefore, 'Who does God have for us?'
Steps To Follow
Biblically speaking, it is not the woman who should be seeking (or hunting) the man. The man must seek and find his wife. If the man has to date in order to know whether or not this union would be what God wants, then he has missed the boat somewhere. His goal should be to seek the Lord for the answer.
Proverbs 18:22 reminds us, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favour from the Lord." Putting 'a ring on it' is not what makes a woman a wife; and it is not about practising regular sexual encounters, or your capacity to 'keep house'!
It is her grace under pressure, her capacity to go through hardship and difficult times without jumping ship or 'bailing out'. It is her strength of character, integrity and capacity to keep a unit of differing personalities together under all circumstances; it is the qualities she possesses and her spiritual, mental and emotional maturity that prepare her for that long-term role.
Men, love your wife as Christ loves the Church. Love means that you must be willing to lay your life down (literally and otherwise) for your wife and family. It means you must stand by your wife and family, no matter what, and not run away and leave them to fend for themselves. It means you must lead from the front, provide for your family in every way possible and stand strong in difficult times.
Roses have thorns
Take note that many say marriage is a bed of roses. They are correct, because roses have thorns and we must expect to get pricked from time to time and still hold it together and not complain.
Many today use social networks to advertise themselves and their 'availability'. This is not what God would want for you. You are not a piece of merchandise for bidding, you are of greater value than that to God.
Entering into marriage covenants that cause you to become 'unequally yoked' is not what God would want for you (II Corinthians 6:15).
Now, once the man identifies that this is the woman that is his wife, then he needs to go to her family - especially to her father and let him know his intentions toward the lady.
Once the family/father agrees, then they ought to approach their spiritual leader who would carry them through pre-marital counselling. There should be an announcement, then the engagement/betrothal. After that, a date for the wedding should be set and it should not be indefinite!.
While no one can dictate a specific date to those involved, why wait for years if the person you have identified is the one that God has sanctioned.
If money is a problem, then this is where the families on both sides have the opportunity to come together, support the couple and help them to get a good start off.
Christians, remember II Peter 2:9.
Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance' and 'The New Millionaire'.