Alright, so I write this to share my wisdom and thoughts on the matters of dating/marriage/family. This is not intended to condemn or criticize at all; I hope all of my words will be uplifting and encouraging whether or not you feel it's right or wrong. Also, this is simply my council to you on relationships so you can decide to take it and apply it or not. Council is very good; it allows you to hear an outside perspective of the situation. These are my opinions and it's your choice I just ask that you meditate on them and seek God to see if it fits into your life. This is all stuff I will have to deal with and in explaining my views to you it ingrains it deeper into my heart so I love this. I've gathered these thoughts through my own experience, DLA, and Aaron Stern. With that being said lets begin.
Genesis 1 "In the beginning God"
God had a relationship with man before He ever introduced woman into the world. Therefore God needs to be first in our life. God is number one always, no substitutes or excuses. He first loved us so it is a requirement that we first love Him with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Because we need to first love God with everything we need to be intimately acquainted with God before we enter into any sort of relationship. There is a wife for you but, and this is a big but, she can only go as far as being your number two. Placing your wife above God is idolatry and sin, placing your family above God is idolatry and sin. So you need to continually be giving your relationship to God and His will.
Don't ever try to "fit" God into your relationship, and let me explain this a little. God is simply perfect, cannot be contained, and rules over us mightily. In fitting Him into a relationship we are limiting Him and His power. Instead of working Him in where it suits you, bend your relationship around Him. Ask Him questions about the relationship, pray together, and obey what God commands. It's easy to put God as a sort of powerful spectator that simply oversees what's going on and you ask help when you feel it is needed. This is not what God desires, He does not want a backseat view of the show. God is the show! Ask Him for what you desire in the relationship, seek His will before your own, and knock on His door so that the right path may be opened for you.
Seeking God's will can be tough for some of us because it's not always what we want to hear. We fear that He might tell us to do something we don't want to do. This is the fear of someone who does not know God as well as they should before entering a relationship with someone. God's plans are so much more life-giving, teaching, and overall good for us than anything we can try to do on our own. If He says to leave a relationship behind it only means He has one that is so much better for you.
A man who knows God has no fear of rejection from a girl for two main reasons. His relationship with his Creator is so much greater, and it only means that God has something better in store for him. No relationship matters as much as our relationship with our true love that is Christ Jesus.
We are designed by God and made in His image, He will never reject us and that is all that we truly need. You are desired by God and our worth comes from Him, not earthly relationships.
However, God decided in the second chapter of Genesis that man alone is bad. The second chapter! So He graciously gave us woman to live life with us. Which is awesome. But there needs to be some stuff done before we begin to live our life with a woman. In the words of Aaron Stern, "When a man, with God, orders his life, then he is ready for GOD to bring a woman into his life." Having no order and a multitude of problems is disastrous for relationships. Relationships and marriage do not solve your individual problems, they amplify them and you just brought someone else all your problems to deal with.
Here's how I see this situation. Think of it as if you and a girl were hiking a mountain, you have 50 pounds in your backpack, and she has 30 pounds in her pack. (These pounds are burdens you both carry). If you take some or all of her burdens, you will tire out very quickly and lose pace or even worse, backslide. If you share each other’s burdens you are making her carry more unnecessarily. (40 pounds instead of 30). But if you both come with 5-10 pounds of baggage than you have a greater capacity to carry more burdens that come with marriage and you will both be able to run together to the top of the mountain. Does that make sense? I kind of just made it up. Also, I'm not saying you both have to be perfect, just know that marriage does not solve your individual problems and will only cause more problems to arise. So come into a relationship with as little burdens as possible so that you are equipped to carry the ones that come with the relationship.
God created family before He created the church. If family collapses then history fails.
Now for some statistics that Aaron Stern showed me. First off, we can't say heterosexual marriage is the way to go in this society because Christian marriages are failing just as much. Also, the pain of staying single longer is much less than the pain that comes with a failed or dysfunctional marriage, i.e. rejection, hurt, absence, etc. I think all of this happens because we enter into marriage unprepared and unwise of our situations. Especially since culture says it's right to live with the person before you are married to see if you can live together. Dumb dumb dumb! All this does is allow the man to be lustful and sin while the woman justifies it because she gets to play "house" for a time. "Trust me girls and guys, the pieces fit, you don't need to try them out beforehand." I'm getting angry just thinking about it. But on to the statistics...
80% that live together first without marriage vows fail in their marriage
60% of marriages by the justice of the peace (courthouse marriage) fail
40% that are married in a church separate from each other
1/1050 marriage couples that read the bible together daily get divorced (I love this one!)
Now onto some dating thoughts.
People all around the world go to television and internet, and sometimes books, for keys to dating and getting a good catch. But honestly it's not that easy at all. It's simple, but not easy. It's about applying Jesus to our everyday life. If Jesus is in it than how can we fail? And He knows how hard it is to be single, He feels our pain. Plus, He has been waiting for His bride for 2,000 years or so. That makes our complaints on waiting seem insignificant. Just keep Jesus in it so that you don't have to worry or be burdened with the problems of tomorrow.
By the way, I remember talking to you and you telling me about a conversation you and Justin had about Christ and why He never married. He already has a bride, the church, and marriage is just His way of showing us how He wants our relationship with Him to be. It explains something eternal in the natural. He is so brilliant!
Here is a bunch of random thoughts thrown together about dating/courting.
1 Samuel 16:7 "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
That is pretty self-explainatory. Seek out their heart and strive to see what God sees in them. The box the toy comes in might look sweet but when the toy breaks in two days you realize that it might not have been the best toy to buy. Beauty is fleeting and charm is deceptive but the heart is true. It's extremely common for everyone to see the attractiveness and surface emotions and decide that they love the person. Thinking the person is attractive and thinking that giving kisses and hugs out of a desire for love is wrong. Love and beauty are deep in someone's heart. It will take longer than a few months to understand their heart and decide whether or not there are feelings of love. Think about it like this, they took 18 or more years developing their heart and emotions. What makes us think we can find their true emotions and love them in a short period of time? Now we don't have to understand someone fully before deciding to marry them, that would take way too long. But it is good to know as much as possible before commiting to the second longest relationship of our life, the first being with Christ of course.
As I have said before, true love is not about being willing to die for someone, it's about being willing to live for them. Not live with them, but for them, commiting our lives and actions to them so that they can have a better life. God's idea of marriage is ALL about serving the other person. Is a daily laying down of your own wants, desires, and needs to fulfill their's. Are you willing to daily give up food, to daily give up money, to daily give up feeling you're views and ideas? So that she might be able to live with joy. It's sacrifice at its purest. I'm not saying to submit yourselves to their every becon call both good and bad, but you need to sit down, talk it out, and sacrifice your comfort if necessary. Never force your views and ideas on her. She is to submit herself to you but that in no way constitutes a tyranic household. Work through it together and don't get angry if she doesn't accept your way on certain situations. I like 1 Corinthians 13 but I don't think we should base whether or not we love someone as a wife based on only this passage. It is very true but this love can be experienced among friends, family, spouses, and even us loving lost and sinful people. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who wrote on the four types of love; romantic, friendship, protective, and family. Read his book if you want some in depth ideas on love. Marriage is the only relationship that incorporates all four loves in one. Most people feel romantic love and get married, bad. All four loves need to be present for the type of marriage God desires for us.
Love is not just a feeling, it is a heart commited to serve the other. Marriage is the fusion of all four loves. She is your best friend; she is one who you will protect above even your own self; she is one who you feel close enough that she feels like a sister; she is one who you see with a beauty second only to Jesus. It is much more in depth than that, but that is something you will have to experience for yourself and pray desperately to God for wisdom in that area.
Now here is a list from Aaron Stern of what to look for in someone and what to strive for in yourself. It more of deciding whether or not they have the ability to become a good wife. They don't have to be perfect, they just need to have a heart to grow. No one starts out as a wife, it takes growth and work. It's to see if they have the seeds to grow into a good wife. I've put it in a sweet bullet point form for ya.
Girls (What guys should be looking for in a woman)
Look to see how she talks to others, it will most likely indicate how she will talk to you
One of the primary ways a girl brings joy to her husband is the way she talks about him and to him.
Guys don't care as much about every else's words, his wife's words are the strongest and deepest. Proverbs 12:18
If the world is for him and his wife against him then he withers, if the world is against him and his wife is for him then he is strengthened.
He will dream bigger dreams and take bigger steps, but without a confident wife a man will be discouraged.
Is she industrious? Or does she always want someone else taking care of her?
What does she spend her time on???
Is she willing to not look good to make sure someone else gets taken care of?
What is her countenance when things go wrong?
What place do emotions play in a girls life?
Do they take front and center stage for everyone to see and let their emotions get to them?
What happens when she doesn't get her way? Is she clothed with strength and dignity?
It doesn't mean you have to hide your emotions just walk in strength.
When things don't go right emotions will distract you and lead us down the wrong path, GOD's truth and wisdom will guide us. Can she rely on GOD in the hard times?
Does she walk with wisdom?
It's not, does she get upset, it's, does she handle it well?
Does she fall into the land of wisdom or the land of chaos?
How does she spend her time?
Is it about looks? Or developing deeper things?
INWARD beauty is the most most most important.
Keeping yourself looking decent is good, but working on the inward is best.
What does her relationship with GOD look like??? (probably most important)
Does she love GOD more than she loves you?
I am going to dissapoint my wife in many ways and screw up, and she is going to dissapoint me in ways.
If she loves GOD more than she loves me than she is anchored to someone who will not dissapoint her. It is important that we are anchored to GOD because our mess ups will shake each others worlds.
I need a girl that loves God more than she loves me.
Watch what entertains her.
Is she watching things that aren't very pleasing to the Holy Spirit?
Does it break her heart to break the heart of GOD?
What is her reaction to crudeness and trash?
Guys (What girls should be looking for in a man)
Does he fast?
Men hate fasting, but it allows us to persevere through things we don't want to do. Not just fasting food. If we do things we hate we will be able to do anything. 1 Peter 4:1
Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character.
"I hate this but I love God and my wife more."
Is he pushing physical boundaries?
There should be no hint of sexual immorality
It's an indicator of selfishness
His desires for sexual pleasure should be killed before dating so that they don't affect the relationship.
The girl is worth dying for!!!
Is he willing to kill the desires inside for the girl worth dying for?
Emotions and desires will cloud your vision, and you need vision to make sure whether or not you are going to marry them.
Never allow a guy to treat you badly!
Does he make fun of marriage, sex, or divorce?
Even sarcastically he should never joke about it.
Marriage must be taken seriously.
Is there congruence between his words, actions, and feelings?
Does he treat you the way he says you are?
Judge by the fruit and not the words
Words can be empty, actions can be false, and feelings can be lied about.
Look at the fruit. Especially prior to marriage.
Does he love God more than his wife?
If he is pleasing God, he will please his wife also through it.
What kind of friends does he have?
Make sure he confesses and he has intimate friendships.
He must confess his sins before his intimate friends to be healed.
Bad company corrupts good character.
Does he have goals? Is he a dreamer?
Goals for life
No goals, no wife. No job, no girlfriend.
If he can't support and take care of himself, he can't take care of a girl or wife.
Number One priority for both. They NEED to love GOD!!!!
To marry a woman of God you need to be a man of God.
As much as possible incorporate parents, on both sides, into the relationship. You should have the father's blessing before entering into a relationship with their daughter, even if the father is hesitant. This can be very very tough sometimes but waiting for the father's approval shows a girl how willing you are to wait for her. It really gives her a sense of acceptance and being desired. If the father is completely horrible, like completely, than seek out the blessing of a male spiritual mentor in her life. I believe that everyone needs a spiritual mentor, whether it be a pastor or someone that is older and focused on their spiritual growth, especially if there is an absence of parents or if the parents aren't Christians. Seek the blessing of the father before courting her, and even a ton more so before asking her hand in marriage. Do not neglect the father! If you don't receive his blessing sit down with him sometime in private and ask him why, or what you can do to receive his blessing. If you exclude the father from the blessing you deny his authority that God, Himself placed over her. Only in extreme situations should you deny the father his authority over his daughter and his daughter's life. She is his until she weds you, then she is all yours, but until then keep the father a part of the relationship. Always talk with her and your parents, keeping them up-to-date on everything that's going on in the relationship. They have the right. Also, if your relationship is pure, there should be very very little that you keep from the parents. If you truly love someone you can wait, it just shows them how much you are willing to endure for them and that's more powerful than any present or words of affection.
Another thing is seek council from your peers and people outside of the relationship. Regardless of whether you think it or not, your eyes are clouded when you enter a relationship and you can't see what others see. Seek out council, I can't stress this enough. Do Not seek approval from your peers! Do Not seek approval from your peers, you don't need it. Seek council from them and the approval will come naturally if what they see is pure. Ask what they see, if you're being dumb in areas, if you need to take it slower, etc. Ask them for their wisdom and insight but do not ask them what there favorite thing about her is. That is seeking approval and only wanting to hear the good parts of the relationship. An unclouded and outside view of your relationship will give you knowledge and understanding of stuff you didn't know was happening. It is extremely wise to seek council all throughout the relationship. It doesn't mean you have to obey the council, just take it to hear and ask God for discernment.
Set boundaries so that when you break them you don't fall into sin. Don't set a boundary that's says, "We won't have sex." Because you will inevitably push it to that point and possibly fall over into sexual immorality. Or worse, falling into sexual immorality but justifying as "not being sex." Set a boundary like, "We won't kiss until marriage." That way while you push as close to the line as possible, inevitably, and if you accidentally break the boundary you can stop, back up, and still be far from sin. Communicate these boundaries with each other and decide what's best for the relationship together. Set goals for the relationship so it will grow, and set strong boundaries so that the relationship will last. A woman is always worth waiting for physically, always. There is no need to test the parts, God made them so you can be sure everything fits together properly.
One thing I strongly strongly believe is this.
Your relationship is public until marriage, only then should there be privacy.
Everything you do with this person you should be able to do in front of both of your parents and your friends. Everything! You should be able to tell anyone what you did last night with her, what you talked about, how you were positioned,etc. You're never alone (i.e. GOD) so why act as if you are? There are times when you talk privately about stuff that shouldn't be told to everyone, but never let that be the main focus of your time together. Your time together is to see if you are compatible. It's research to see whether or not you want to invest your life savings in them.
Your relationship is public until marriage, only then should there be privacy.