Defining Your Dating Style: The Guided Path – Part IV
- Wednesday, December 21, 2005
First Corinthians 7 contains the most concentrated instruction in the New Testament regarding being single and being married. There are several critical verses in this chapter that need comment: "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: 'It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.' But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband" (verses 1-2).
There is considerable scholarly evidence that the sentence "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman" is a quotation from a letter the Corinthians had sent Paul.53 They were asking if he thought it was a good idea for a married couple to abstain from sex. The following verse contains Paul's answer: If sex is withheld in marriage, immorality could result from temptation. Though many use this verse to teach that "it is good for a man not touch a woman" (KJV, NASB) before marriage, the context of the phrase does not allow such interpretation. I do, however, think that the principle of abstinence is taught other places in Scripture (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).
This principle is explained later in the chapter (see verses 25-40) - namely that singleness has considerable advantages over marriage. However, if sexual desire is a struggle, then marriage is the God-given way to satisfy these God-given desires. Paul taught that both singleness and marriage are good.
The apostle, did not, however, teach that a single person does not have to be self-controlled (see Galatians 5:22-23), nor did he teach that sex is the main reason to get married. He simply urged people to make sure the decision about whether or not to marry is made with godly wisdom. Because 1 Corinthians is an answer to questions the Corinthians sent Paul (see 7:1), he was dealing with specifics unknown to us. But through his answers, the Holy Spirit has provided critical instruction for the church.
So Now What?
We live in a world stained by sin. No relationship system can undo the personal and cultural consequences of our depravity. The only hope for us is in the death of Jesus Christ and the gift of His righteousness.
This guided approach to relationships will be practiced by sinful men and women. Thus, it is easy to be extreme on some points and thereby fall into legalism or to be too relaxed on other points, which results in lawlessness. Because my view is less structured than some of the others, a great degree of maturity is required on the part of the couple. Perhaps the biggest danger in this approach is the possibility of making relationships into a simple checklist or a series of hoops to jump through. However, if the Confirmation Principle is used with the right people, most of those mistakes can be avoided.
Two questions I am asked repeatedly as a pastor are, "Does God have a specific will for a believer's life with regard to a mate?" and "Is there a 'right one' I am supposed to find?"
Yes. But you can't be absolutely sure until you are married! The simple principle is that you choose whom to love and then you love whom you chose. And more important than finding the right person is being the right person.
I believe that honoring these biblical principles is more important than whether you date or court. In fact, they ought to be followed regardless of the system a Christian couple uses. It is possible to have a God-honoring dating relationship if these standards are kept. And anyone who is committed to courtship should not disregard them. Even a betrothal model should include them within its strict guidelines. Again, if we are the men and women God calls us to be and God's Word is honored in these ten ways, the process we use is secondary.
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