My small group of amazing women asked me a series of really great questions about dating, as a believer in Jesus. I am going to give "Part 1" of my answers.
Question: How can we prepare our hearts for marriage?
A. Become the best follower of Jesus that you can be. Develop your relationship with God and increase your wisdom in the Word. Establish yourself in the body of Christ, and become a valuable asset to the Lord within His church.
B. Develop a heart of contentment. When you have mastered the secret of contentment, you will be successful through any marriage, no matter how hard or how many problems come. Being content in your relationship with Christ, and not in life's circumstances is crucial. When your contentment depends on your boyfriend or spouse, you are always going to be let down, and on a constant roller coaster ride of spiritual and mental ups and downs through your life. As believers we are instructed to find our joy and peace through Him. In Isaiah, the Bible tells us that "He will keep in perfect peace, him who's mind is steadfast because he trusts in You." I love this verse because it lets me know that when I am not in inner peace, I am not trusting in the Lord. Contentment comes from Him alone.
Question: What should we ask the other person in a dating relationship?
I would say that more than asking questions, observation can be the biggest way to get many questions answered quickly. Asking questions can lead to pride, in answers that might be slightly biased from a person putting their best food forward.
Things to observe: What are his priorities? Does he put the Lord first in his life? How? What actions do you see that show his priorities, not just what he says.
Does he serve the church? A believer's love for Jesus, is directly related to how they treat the most important thing to Jesus, his bride. How does he respect the pastors and elders? How does he show that he is under their authority? All believers are called to join in the Body. If you are not the "brain" of the body or the pastor or leaders, you are called to submit to them and be an asset to them. A body who's arms and legs are doing their own thing and think they know best are going to create a dysfunctional body. In fact any part of your body that is taking its own direction would become a hindrance! We must all work together and submit to our leaders, and be a joy to lead. When has he shown that he is excited and egar to submit to the leadership? Has he made it easy for the leaders to lead him? Does he respect and love the men God put in authority over him? **Key: What do the leaders think about him? Do they love having him there? Is he serving and helpful? What is his reputation among the leaders? Is he teachable?
Do the people around him benefit from his presence? Are the people around him encouraged and lifted up? Are they benefited spiritually by him? Would people in the church miss him if he weren't there?
Does he seek wise council? When making a decision, does he think he knows best or does he seek those who are his spiritual leaders to ask their advice? This will be an indication of marriage and if he will be willing to get help through hard times of marriage. Even strong Christian marriages need council! If he is not accustom to getting council this will be aquard for him and he will not want to.
Question: What about Christian courtship vs dating?
Answer: The term, and concept of Christian courtship is not in the Bible. The term "Dating" is not in the Bible either. So how do we know what to do? The answer is easy. We make biblically wise decisions during dating that reflect holiness and help us flee sexual immorality. "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness" If we stand on this verse, we will see the bible in every decision and it will help us be godly. We make decisions based on the standards we use for areas of the rest of our life: biblically based and God glorifying. If you don't feel you can be sexually pure by the standard "dating" format and you want to call it "courting" and do something different, that is fine. Whatever helps you to lead a holy life; one that you can stand before the Lord and feel confident you walked in purity. Imposing your non-biblical terms or standards on others is never ok. Being in a relationship that is sexually impure is also not ok. Brothers and sisters should always call each other out when in relationships and hold each other accountable to the highest standard of purity. If you wouldn't do something with a family member, then it is most likely a sexual act and not sexually pure before the Lord. Even if a guy said he could french kiss a girl without lusting (I am sure this is chemically impossible) then even if the couple is not sinning by lusting mentally, they are, by definition doing a "sexual act." Could you stand before the Lord and say you are sexually pure, while doing a sexual act with someone who is not your husband or wife?
This concludes part one of the questions. More to come!!