Adam did not have to go out and search for a mate. God created Eve especially for him. She was taken from his side, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.
However, things are a great deal more complicated in 21st century America. God does not put us to sleep, and then produce “Mr.” or “Miss Right”, presenting our ideal mate to us.
In Biblical times, and still in some cases today – especially in other parts of the world, parents exerted great influence and were even active in the process of mate selection (Genesis 24: 1-4; 27:46 – 28:2; 28:8-9 cf. 26:34-35; 34:1-12; Judges 14:2-3). These were not forced arrangements (Genesis 24:5, 8; 24:57). Moreover, this does not seem to be the only way marriages were entered into in times of old (1 Samuel 25:40). The Bible record does not specify the method of selection. It simply says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
In American “dating” is a common way for those interested to get to know each other better. Dating, as we know it, is a rather recent phenomenon. Josh Harris has written, “It is helpful to understand that the concept of ‘dating’ is a relative recent idea. It hasn’t been around forever. As I see it, dating is a product of our entertainment-driven, disposable everything culture” (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, p. 29). In the early 19th and 20th centuries in this country, a guy and gal would come to know each other from every day life (day-to-day interaction, social events, church, school, adjoining farms, etc.). Then, if impressive qualities were seen in each other, or close friendship developed, they might begin to court. Courting was the next step in determining if marriage might be desirable. It allowed the two to get to know each other even more. The two would see each other in various real life settings. They’d visit one another’s home. They’d be with the other’s family a great deal. They might on the front porch in a swing. They might actually talk. Today, things are commonly much different. Boy sees girl. He doesn’t know much about her, but she is attractive. They go out on a date hardly knowing one another. The places they go is not conducive to getting to know the real person. They are instead, artificial atmospheres of entertainment. The real life person is not seen. Some places are not even conducive to meaningful talk (e.g. movies, loud concerts). They enjoy the time together, but have not really gotten to know each other. Dating, as we know it, really came into being with the automobile. Courting was based upon spousal selection; Dating is entertainment oriented.
It is no secret that much is amiss in 21st century America’s ‘dating’ scene. Many do things that they later regret. The divorce rate is at an incredible level.
Therefore, we set forth the following suggestions:
1. Remember your purpose. William Booth once wrote, “Don’t instill, or allow anybody else to instill into your girls the idea that marriage is the chief end of life. If you do, don’t be surprised if they get engaged to the first empty, useless fool they come across” (ibid, p. 84).
Our purpose is to live a life which glorifies our heavenly Father (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31). In truth one does not have to be married to fulfill this purpose (1 Corinthians 7). “Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole (duty KJV) of man.”
2. Be patient. Some get to a certain age and begin to believe that they must marry now, or never. Some feel pressure from family or friends to marry. Still others do not make the most of their single time, but live in frustration until marriage.
Redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5; James 4:13-17). Make the most of your time while single. God didn’t bring you into this world in a married state. He provided you with a season of singleness. This is a great opportunity to grow, learn, financially save and invest. It is a time in which you can prepare yourself for later seasons in your life (including perhaps marriage). It is a time you can accomplish many things you may not have the time for later. It is a time to mature.
Stats: (1) If you wait until you’re 25 years old to marry, your odds of divorcing are 24% less than someone who marries at age 18 or younger (Glenn Beck, An Inconvenient Book, p. 34). (2) If you wait until you’ve been married at least seven months before having kids, your odds of divorce decrease 24 percent versus a couple having a child before marriage (ibid).
3. Be selective. You likely will spend most, if not all, the rest of your life with the one you marry. The only things freeing you to remarry (with God’s approval) are your mate’s death, or mate’s guilt of fornication (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12; Romans 7:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39).
Questions one should ask: (1) Will this one draw me closer to God or lead me farther away? (2) Will this one help or hinder me in getting to heaven? (3) Will this one help or hinder any children we might have in their spiritual walk with God?
Moreover, if you marry, it will be from the pool of people you date. Thus, we advise that one should be very selective with whom one dates.
Look for Christian. It is beyond my understanding how anyone could think themselves seeking first the kingdom (Matthew 6:33) and yet taking a mate that is not a Christian. Paul didn’t consider himself doing it (1 Corinthians 9:5). Mixed marriages can destroy faith and purity (Genesis 6:1-2; Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; 1 Kings 11:1-ff).
Stats: (1) If you practice a faith, you’re 14% more likely to stay together than if you don’t (An Inconvenient Book, p. 34). (2) Divorce occurs three times as often in mixed marriages as in marriages with the same religious convictions (Bruce Curd, Marry Only in the Lord, p.1). (3) Joe Barnett concluded, “Of every 100 Christians marrying outside of the church, 20 convert their companions, 24 live in a divided church life, 56 quit the church (ibid, p. 103).
Keep in mind “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30 NKJV).
4. Don’t Use Alcohol or Drugs. “Alcohol is the number one reason why teens have sex. Think about it. Alcohol and drugs cause a person to lose self-control” (Marilyn Morris, ABC’s of Birds and Bees, p. 293). Alcohol removes inhibition. It causes some to lose clothing (Habakkuk 2:15 cf. country song which contains the words ‘Tequila makes her clothes fall off’). It causes people to do things they ordinarily never would (Genesis 19:30-36). It causes many young men to “behold strange women” (Proverbs 23:33 KJV).
If we wish to maintain purity we need to make a full effort. 1 Peter 5:8 admonishes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
An additional thing to consider is that alcohol and drugs also makes one vulnerable. Date rapes are known to occur when one is inebriated to the point that resistance is impossible.
5. Don’t compromise. We all want to feel special. We all want to feel like we are loved. However, don’t think that giving in to your date will make him or her love you. Read 2 Samuel 13.
Moreover, if your date is pressuring you it is not about love. True love “seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Josh Harris writes that when pressure comes what is truly being said is, “I don’t care about you, your convictions, or how this could hurt you – satisfy my desires” (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, p. 65).
Stat: It is now common for couples to live together though not married. Marilyn Morris writes, “Sociologist at the University of Wisconsin stated that, ‘recent national studies in Canada, Sweden, and the US found that cohabitation increased rather than decreased the risk of marital disillusion.’ They also found that ‘Cohabitation is associated with greater marital conflict and poorer communication.’ Another study documented in the Journal of Marriage and the Family stated that the divorce rate is 50% higher among those who lived together before marriage… An Australian study found that couples who cohabitated before marriage were more likely to divorce that those who did not cohabitate before marriage. They found that couples who lived together before marriage also ‘separated more often, sought counseling more often and regarded marriage as a less important part of their lives than those who did not live together before marriage” (ABC’s of the Birds and Bees, p. 41).
Understand that you are special. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). Moreover, you were created with purpose.
A man (or woman) worth having will not mind waiting for you (Genesis 29:18-20). If they won’t wait they are not valuing you enough to wait.
6. Be careful how you dress. Mary Quant, the so-called mother of the mini skirt, has said, “Mini clothes are symbolic of those girls who do not want to wait until dark to seduce a man to bed” (McCalls, March 1970 – quoted in Biblical Ethics editor Terry Hightower, p. 520).
Even if such is not your intent, be aware that how you dress sends a message. Marilyn Morris writes, “Boys are turned on by sight; girls are turned on by touch. It takes very little to make a boy think you want to have sex.
When a girl walks in a room with short shorts and a tight top on, she can drive guys crazy. This is not necessarily a compliment. The fact is any girl can turn any guy on (or at least many – B.H.) If you wear seductive clothing you are either teasing your boyfriend, which is very cruel, or giving him an open invitation to get physical. Neither of these are going to help you succeed at sexual abstinence” (ABC’s, p. 294). The Bible confirms that how we dress sends a message (Genesis 38:14-15).
As God’s people let’s be cautious in not sending the wrong signal. May we dress as those “professing godliness” (1 Timothy 2:10).
7. Be careful with entertainment. Don’t view movies, or engage in activities which tend to fuel lust which can’t be properly fulfilled. So many television shows, and movies tend to portray as normal, or even with glory sinful behavior. Beware – This can put impure thoughts into your date’s mind.
The Bible warns, “Keep your hearts with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Let us think upon that which is pure (Phil. 4:8) and “flee youthful lusts: but follow after righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
Lasciviousness is sin (Galatians 5:19-21). Thayer indicates that this word includes “filthy works, indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females.”
8. Limit Alone Time. Many pair off exclusively, and do so very soon. “One-on-one dating has a tendency to move a guy and girl beyond friendship and towards romance too quickly” (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, p. 38). It also tends to isolate them from family and friends. It even alienates those who care the most. This is not good.
Alone situations bring temptations. Potiphar’s wife made her advances on Joseph when no one else was around (Genesis 39:11). Amnon did the same to Tamar (2 Samuel 13:9). In such alone situations reputations can be destroyed, whether anything takes place or not (cf. Joseph). In an alone situation it is just one person’s word against another (cf. Kobe Bryant). In alone situations there can be danger, particularly when the person is not well-known to you and much stronger than you; for example date rape (cf. Mike Tyson).
I am not saying that all alone situations can be avoided. However, it seems wise to limit such when possible. Let us seek to be “providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21). Let us “flee fornication” (1 Corinthians 6:18), and even its appearance (2 Corinthians 8:21).
9. Remember God’s teachings. There is much talk about safe sex. Physically they have not come up with a protection method that will protect you from everything.
However, even if they do some day, remember in God’s sight there is only one type of spirituality safe sex (Hebrews 13:4). Whatever others may or may not be doing, you will one day give account for yourself (2 Corinthians 5:10). Josh Harris writes, “Everyone around us may be doing it. But at the end of our lives, we won’t answer to everyone. We’ll answer to God” (I Kissed Dating Goodbye, p. 23). I need to decide: who is it I want to please – my peers, my self, or God (cf. John 12:42-43).
10. Look at the Parents. Though there are exceptions, children often turn out to look and behave as their parents. The Bible says that Jehoram was “like his father, and like his mother” (2 Kings 3:2). Ezekiel speaks of a proverb which says “As is the mother, so is her daughter” (Ezekiel 16:44). We’re told of Ahaziah that his mother was “his counselor to do wickedly” (2 Chronicles 22:3).
Stat: If your parents are married, you’re 14 percent more likely to stay together than if your parents have divorced (An Inconvenient Book, p. 34).
11. Don’t Expect Change. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard of people who enter into marriage not happy with something in the other’s life; But, expecting to change them. News Flash: It likely will not work.
If the one you date won’t attend services before marriage, likely this won’t change afterwards. If he/she drinks, uses drugs, or others things you do not like, such is not very likely to change after marriage. If the one you date is unkind or abusive before marriage, such likely will continue (This is the case because they are putting their best foot forward before marriage, they are trying to win you over). If they are lazy and will not work before marriage, this likely will not change. Stat: If you make more than $50,000 a year, your odds of divorce are 30 percent lower than those making less than $25,000 a year (An Inconvenient Book, p. 33).
Really, it is not fair to expect them to change. Marry them for who they are, or don’t marry them. But, don’t enter into marriage thinking I am going to change that person. You might just end up making you and them miserable.
12. Pray. The Bible says “ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). Always remember to cast your cares upon Him. Go to God in prayer when looking for a mate. Trust in His providence.
If you follow these things, you’ll be a long way in the right direction. God bless you.