An interesting piece, written by a young single woman living in NYC, recently grabbed my attention. One of her friends dropped a bomb that a bunch of guys were wanting to ask her out, but her “lifestyle choices” were getting in the way. He was referring to her Christian faith. The author confessed she felt hurt by the news, but stood firm in her decision to follow Christ. You can read her article here.
Here’s a bright and attractive woman unwilling to trade off healthy values in order to date a few guys with questionable motives and character. How cool is that?
As a father, counselor and someone whose life at one time mirrored those eager but unwilling guys, I have a heart for adult singles*. Given the dominance of our sex-saturated, LGBT activist-infected culture, following biblical precepts can be especially challenging. I get that. So singles need to be supported and encouraged to stay the course so they don’t just drift with the cultural current. I hope this helps with that.
Here are three game-changing adjustments for my “non-hitched” readers. Do one and your life will probably improve within days. Do two or all three, and you’ll be on the right track for relationship success.
1 Get Healthy
One person’s problem becomes two people’s bigger problem after the wedding.
If you’ve suffered a significant loss, but just got busy instead of grieving; if your parents divorced when you lived at home; if your mother or father was an alcoholic; if you have been the victim of some form of abuse (emotional, physical, sexual); if you divorced, but didn’t allow yourself time to fully heal (1 year for every 4 years of marriage); if you are suffering from same gender sexual attractions; if you were bullied or rejected in school; or if you’re a guy with an addiction to pornography —
— All of these situations require action on your part to get to a healthier place before you even think about being in a relationship.
To kick things off, meet with your pastor, priest or rabbi. He can help a lot. So can meeting with a same-gender licensed therapist who shares your worldview.
When we don’t get healthy first, the woundedness we haven’t worked through bites us again and again at inopportune times. That impedes our ability to connect emotionally with our mates when it’s most essential we do so. (see “Sustainable Marriage”)
Bottom line: Get as healthy as you can, as soon as you can.
2 Prioritise Character
Dating can be exciting and creative, but make sure you drill down on character when you think you’ve met someone with potential.
Warning: Building a solid friendship can be sidetracked by romantic “zing” that gets your heart racing, but a man or woman of character is what you need in a future spouse. Heart rates will always follow. Character is one of the essential attributes for building a God-honouring relationship.
Here’s a test for the ladies: You have the most relationship leverage early on in any relationship. A genuine man of character will wait until after the wedding in order to have all of you. The guys who won’t wait, aren’t worth a second glance. Their lack of patience and self-control are windows into their character. Not something you want in a husband.
Without going into the spiritual significance of the passage, Galatians 5:22 contains a nice reference list of character qualities to look for in a person.
Bottom line: Focus on character when checking out future life partners.
3 If you are having sex, stop immediately
The media portrays single couples having the best sex and the most exciting relationships. It’s a lie. The truth is that sex was designed exclusively for marriage between one man and one woman for life.
Another blatant lie of the culture is that sex is a front-end, foundational element of a single dating relationship. The truth is that sexual mutuality is the “icing on the cake” for a husband and his wife within the sacred bond of marriage. It works best when preceded by trust, security, sensitive responsiveness, and physical and emotional availability — all of which take time to build.
When we appropriate covenant benefits without covenant commitments and stipulations, things go wrong, and people get hurt. More often than not, it’s the woman.
There’s so much research out there on the negative consequences of pre-marital sex and cohabitation before marriage. It doesn’t get much press, because it doesn’t fit the culture’s nutzoid permissive narratives.
Here are just some of the statistics …
– Married couples rank 31% higher in sexual satisfaction than unmarried singles having sex.
– People who engage in pre-marital sex have a higher probability of one spouse having an adulterous affair after being married.
– Married couples who cohabitated and engaged in pre-marital sex have a 40% higher chance of divorcing than couples who waited.
For believers, there’s no wiggle room on this. God’s word is clear …
Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.Hebrews 13:4
As prescriptive advice, and to increase the probability of marital success, I recommend singles who are sexually tempted set clear moral boundaries of two varieties: proximity and purity.
A proximity boundary ensures non-married couples won’t live together, won’t lie together on the same bed, won’t sleep in the same room, and won’t put themselves into physical situations that could trigger sexual arousal.
A purity boundary, is a vow to yourself and each other that you will abstain from any variety of sexual activity until after the wedding.
It’s never too late to reset your relationship. If you’re a single having sex, the best thing you can do for your future is to move apart, establish healthy boundaries, and change the emphasis of your relationship. No excuses. No economic rationalising. You need to do this.
The good news is that when we fall short of God’s design, by His mercy and grace, God promises to restore those who genuinely turn to Him and seek His forgiveness. (Peace in the Home Value #10)
Bottom line: Protect or reset your relationship by abstaining from sex until after the wedding.
One of the great central realities of relationships is this: singleness is not marriage and marriage is not designed to be anything like singleness. The only detail they have in common is that people participate in both.
I think some words from author and pastor, Francis Chan, are highly applicable here:
“Many of us make decisions based on what brings us the most pleasure. This is how we choose our homes, jobs, cars, clothes, food and churches. We pursue what we want; then we make sure there are no biblical commands we are violating. In essence, we want to know what God will tolerate rather than what He desires. Maybe we are afraid to ask what will bring Him the most pleasure. Ignorance feels better than disobedience.”
Like our NYC blogger, obediently following Christ will sometimes hurt when people reject you. I’m pretty sure Jesus said that would happen. Not much pleasure in that.
But, if you want future relationship success in marriage, think about making these three game-changing adjustments now while you are single. I speculate that it will bring God much pleasure now. Later on it will bring you pleasure as you honour Him through a healthier marriage.
Marriage is holy, holy ground. Let’s keep it that way.
Blessings on your home,
* unmarried, regardless of their living or romantic situation