Does the Bible give us guidance on finding a mate? Of course – but it’s not as detailed as some of the more recent advice we’ve all heard. This episode we’re talking about some unmistakable – and non-negotiable – things the Scriptures tell us about guys and girls in relationship … but keeping in mind some things the Bible doesn’t say, too!
Here are a few principles we think are clear:
Respect for parents – The Fifth Commandment is to “Honor your father and your mother,” and it’s repeated in both Testaments (Exodus 20:12 and Matthew 15:4, for example). Parents have experience and wisdom, and a young lover is well-advised to seek that wisdom out! Besides, they are probably a little more objective about the object of their child’s affection and may be able to raise an issue that’s being overlooked. (We do make a distinction, though, between the commandment to honor parents – aimed at all of us, at any age – versus commandments to obey parents, which are aimed specifically at children. Note the apostle Paul uses both words in Ephesians 6:1-3 but only to children in Colossians 3:20)
(more following …)
Sexual holiness – For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; … For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7) The New Testament is full of warnings against sexual immorality, and specifically against fornication in many places. The ancient world thought it wasn’t a big deal and much of our own world thinks the same – but the Bible says they’re wrong.
Friendship with honor – When the apostle Paul counseled the young pastor Timothy, he told him to threat younger women in the church “as sisters, with all purity.” (1 Timothy 6:2) There is space for friendship between unmarried singles, with that proviso – to be careful of virtue and reputation, just like you would toward a beloved sibling.
For believers – Don’t date unbelievers. Marriage was created by God for all of humanity, and it is open for all, but the Bible warns against becoming too intimate with someone who doesn’t share your faith (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). This passage is not talking about when one spouse becomes a Christian after the marriage – look at 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 for that situation. But we shouldn’t start out with that sort of uneven spiritual relationship.
As for the rest of the advice …
So much of the other advice we hear has to be balanced against clear Scripture, culture, circumstance, and practical application. Much family life teaching comes from Old Testament examples and illustrations – wisdom that isn’t expressed as commandment. Regulations about marrying a captive of war, official recommendations for elopement, and examples of marrying two sisters – at the same time – are there in the narrative. They have to be understood in context!
So in all seriousness, we do encourage our young people to find friendships with the opposite sex, in all purity, and consider the question of deeper relationships and marriage with both godly caution and godly cheerfulness!
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