Does the Bible condemn premarital sex and pre-wedding sex?

I know you might be scratching your head right now asking “Isn’t premarital sex and pre-wedding sex the same thing?” Biblically speaking the answer is no they are not the same.  These are two separate and distinct things.

This topic is crucial for young Christian couples who are dating or engaged to consider in this age where sex before marriage has become so common that a couple is considered weird if they do not have sex before marriage.

Does sex automatically make a couple married in God’s eyes?

Some Christians have tried to argue that there is no such thing as “premarital sex” because they believe the act of sex automatically makes a couple married.  They reason based on this logic that the Bible does not condemn something that is impossible to happen.

But the Bible does not support this notion.

We will show here from the Scriptures that there really is such a thing as “premarital sex” and the act of sex itself does not automatically constitute marriage.  Later in this article we will distinguish “premarital sex” from “pre-wedding sex”.

So if sex does not automatically constitute marriage what does?

Biblical marriage may be constituted in one of four ways.

Marriage Method #1 – A man seduces a woman into sex and her father consents to marriage

“16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.

17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.” – Exodus 22:16-17 (KJV)

One key word in this passage as it relates to the “does premarital sex exist” debate is the word “endow”.  This occurs AFTER the man has seduced the woman into having sex with him and BEFORE she actually becomes his wife (is married to her).

The word Hebrew word that “endow” is translating is Mahar which means “to obtain or acquire by paying purchase price, give a dowry” – http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/mahar-2.html

So we have just proven from Exodus 22:16-17 beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is indeed such a thing as premarital sex in God’s view of sex.

In this passage God was saying that if a man seduced a virgin who was not betrothed to another man and he had sex with her that he had to pay her father the bride price and her father would decide if he would allow the man to marry his daughter.  The father had the power to refuse him even after the man seduced his daughter but he still had to pay the bride price because he violated the father’s property rights regarding his daughter.

But then the question must be asked – what is the lasting moral law here in Exodus 22:16-17 and what is the temporary civil law that applied only to Israel as a theocracy? There are two moral law parts in this passage and one civil law part in this passage.

The first part of God’s unchanging moral law in Exodus 22:16-17 is found here in this phrase:

“And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her”

Whether the woman is a virgin or not – God only honors sex AFTER the covenant of marriage has been established between a man and a woman:

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

All other sexual relations between a man and woman outside of marriage are either whoremongering or adultery.

The second part about of God’s unchanging moral law in Exodus 22:16-17 is found in this next phrase:

“If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him”

In Numbers 30:3-16 we see that the only way a woman had the power to make vows of her own (which would include marriage) that could not be overridden by her father or her husband were if she was a widow or divorced:

“But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.” – Numbers 30:9 (KJV)

A father’s authority over his daughter is further reinforced by the general principle of the headship of man over woman (not just a husband’s headship over his wife):

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” – I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)

This passage above was not talking about  marriage but rather that general authority of men over women and why women should wear head coverings in worship as a sign of women being under men. The marital status of the woman was irrelevant.

Under God’s moral law, a father transfers his ownership and authority over his daughter to her husband in marriage.  If the woman’s husband dies or he sends her away in divorce then the chain of authority is broken and she is free to marry whom she will.

What is no longer required is that a man be forced to marry a virgin he has sex with. This was a civil punishment as part of the law given to Israel a theocracy and the New Testament tells us that God’s Old covenant law with Israel a theocracy has been replaced by the new covenant that God has made with the Church(Hebrews 8:13)

This leads us to the second Biblical method of a man and woman entering into marriage.

Marriage Method #2 – A widow or divorced woman could consent to or seek marriage on her own

“And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.” – Ruth 3:9 (KJV)

We see this situation occurring with Ruth who approached Boaz to see if he wished to marry her in Ruth 3:9.  Since Ruth was a widow she had to the power to enter into marriage without seeking the consent of her father.

In the story of Ruth we see Levirate marriage being played out.  Deuteronomy 25:5-10 describes the process of Levirate marriage where a brother or near kinsman was required to marry the wife of the dead relative to raise up an heir for his dead relative’s estate.  Ruth had every right as the widow of a relative of Boaz to propose marriage to Boaz.

The only consent she needed was Boaz and then he confirmed with a nearer relative that he could in fact marry her.

Marriage Method #3 – A man rapes a woman and her father forces him to marry her

“28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.” – Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (KJV)

This is a very controversial passage of the Scriptures that atheists and others who hate the Bible, hate the Jews and hate the Christian faith love to use to try say the Bible promotes immoral activity.  The argument basically goes “How could a loving God force a woman to marry her rapist?”

The problem is those who want to accuse the God of the Bible of issuing immoral commands are not looking at this from the perspective of the culture in which the command was given.  In the time period this was given a woman’s virginity was her most prized position.  Once that was taken she would have had a very difficult time getting married.  In a Biblical world view the greatest crime the rapist committed was not in forcing himself upon her against her will – but rather in taking her most prized possession. In a way rape was form of theft.

Remember this same woman who had been raped could have been forced to marry this SAME man before he raped her by her father.  Then she would have been compelled to have sex with whether she wanted to or not.

Some say there is no mention of the father’s consenting to marriage and that it must automatically happen.  But we must remember that no passage of Scripture stands on its own.  This passage does in Deuteronomy 22:28-29 must be understood in light of Exodus 22:16-17 which clearly shows a father must always consent to any marriage his daughter enters into (unless she is a widow or divorced).

So a father forcing the man to marry his daughter whom the man raped was a punishment against him and restitution for his daughter.  The man had to care for her the rest of her life and he could not divorce her for ANY reason.

Now this does not mean a father HAD to have his daughter marry her rapist – it was his discretion.

The real problem people have with this passage is NOT that a woman might have to potentially marry her rapist.  The real problem people have is the fact that God gives such power of a father over his daughter that he could force her to marry her rapist.

But again considering the culture of the time a father could be looking out for his daughter’s best interests.  In their culture the worst thing that could happen to a woman was not being raped, but instead not being able to get married.  If we understand this then we understand this is not something immoral that God is commanding.

Marriage Method #4 – Men could take women as captives of war and force them to be their wife

10 “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11 and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12 and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.” – Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (KJV)

This is another favorite passage of atheists and people who hate the Bible. God allows men to take women as captives of war and force them to be their wife.

A few things to mention about this.  It was actually a mercy that these men would take back some of these women as wives considering all the men and their families had been wiped out in war. They had nothing and they would probably have died on their own.

Can we guess again what the atheist’s biggest problem was? It was men forcing women to be their wives against their consent.  But God does not give people (including women) the same rights we do in our modern civilization.  And God is ALWAYS right.

Does this mean we have to take captives when we go to war and force them to be our wives? Of course not. This passage allows the taking of captive wives – it does not mandate it.

5 principles we learn from Biblical methods of entering into marriage

  1. A man may not marry a woman without seeking her father’s consent if he is still alive unless the woman is a widow or divorced.
  2. A woman may not consent to marriage without her father’s approval unless her father is dead, she is a widow or she is divorced.
  3. Based upon the 2 previously proven principles of God’s moral law sex by itself DOES NOT constitute marriage. So it is possible to have premarital sex which is a clear violation of Hebrews 13:4 where God says the only sexual relations he honors is between a man and woman in marriage.
  4. A father may force his daughter to marry a man without her consent based on his headship over her.
  5. Men may force women to marry them when they are captured during war. Again this is not something we are required to do by the Scriptures – it is only an allowance to do so.

What we don’t see in the Bible about entering into marriage is also very important

Some very important things we don’t see are any requirements to have clergy or judges conduct marriage ceremonies, requirements for marriages to occur before witnesses, or for couples to seek the approval of the government or a church.

Contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church and laws of the United States or most western countries neither the church nor the government have any authority over marriage God created the intuition of marriage long before the formation of governments or the church.

The authority to enter into marriage has always fallen under the authority of the family – and specifically that of the father, then the husband and only a woman if she is divorced or widowed and not a captive of war.

So is pre-wedding sex a violation of the Scriptures?

We have shown here conclusively from the Scriptures that premarital sex is a violation of God’s moral law. But what about “pre-wedding sex”?

Most of the time people enter in marriage at their wedding so we often confuse the too.  But a couple’s covenant of marriage and a couple’s wedding may be two separate events.  In fact a couple may enter into a marriage covenant without a state marriage license and without a wedding and the marriage may be considered binding and valid before God.

The only way such a “spiritual marriage” would not be valid is if the woman was not windowed or divorced and her father was still alive with her being under his authority.

So what this means is it would be perfectly Biblical if a man sought and received the consent of a woman’s father for marriage if the couple felt they could not wait for the wedding for them to enter into a covenant of marriage before God privately and then have sex BEFORE THE WEDDING.

Once the father has agreed to his daughter marrying a man the wedding date is only a formality.  At the moment of betrothal the woman is free to enter in a marriage covenant with her husband in private – just between them and God and then they may freely have sex.  The wedding at this point is only a formality to show the world their commitment to one another.  But the couple could choose not even to have a formal wedding.

Are there dangers in pre-wedding sex even if it is not unbiblical?

Yes but only if the man and woman do not see their vows made in private as just as binding as those that would be taken before witnesses.   But if a man and woman don’t see their marriage vows made in private as binding what makes us think they would take their vows made in public any more serious?

Conclusion

Premarital sex even amongst Christians today is at an all-time epidemic level. I believe we should look for all ways possible to take away temptations to premarital sex.  Previously I have talked about Biblical courtship and couples not allowing themselves to be alone together before marriage as a major method of preventing premarital sex.

But because our culture balks at courtship and limitations of being alone together I think that this option of “pre-wedding sex” which is made right before God by a couple entering into their covenant of marriage privately after they are engaged is a valid option that Christian couples should consider to avoid the sin of premarital sex.

Why should a couple put themselves under this pressure once they are engaged? A wedding is simply a date and a celebration of marriage.  It is not something that should hang over a couple’s head and possibly tempt them to sin because they think they have to wait to exchange vows until that day.

Advertisements

Is marriage too big a risk for men?

With the modern possibility that a woman can take a man’s children, half his assets and saddle him with years of potential debt in the form of child support and alimony is marriage now too great a risk for men? Many men think so.  A lot of young Christian men who are engaged get cold feet about marriage because of these very real possibilities.

“She is so sweet and submissive now, but what will she change into after we are married.” This is the thought of many young men today.

Two reasons men don’t want to marry

There are really two reasons today that men don’t want to marry.  One is for selfish reasons.  “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” is the philosophy of a lot of men today.  The practice of women “giving the milk for free” (having sex before marriage) has served only to help increase this irresponsible behavior in men.

In fact there are many in the so-called “manosphere” that actually recommend men forgo marriage all together and instead simply pursue a life of casual sex with various women.

Some in the manosphere argue that marriage is far more advantageous to women in our current culture than it is for men and if we were looking at this simply from the perspective of men getting the kind of respect and sex they want from women they would be right.  

But while respect and sex are things that are critically important to most men – these are not the only things that are important to  many men.  This leads us to our second reason some men do not want to marry.

The second reason that men do not want to marry is not for selfish reasons.  This second group of men truly want to share their lives with a woman in marriage and have a family. But they fear the very real possibility that a woman will deceive them and rip their heart out through divorce. Even if the woman does not divorce them she may turn out to be a contentious and angry woman that is cold to them both inside and outside the bedroom.

Some Christian men even find what they think is Biblical support for their belief that marriage is just too risky a proposition.

The Bible tells us it is hard to find an excellent wife

“An excellent wife, who can find? for her price is far above rubies.” – Proverbs 31:10 (NASB)

Some men read passages like this and think to themselves “if it was hard to find a good wife back in Biblical times – how much harder is it today?” And they are right. It is very difficult for a man to find a good wife today.

The Bible tells us it is better to be alone than with a contentious woman

“It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” – Proverbs 21:19 (KJV)

Again these are not encouraging words for young Christian men to read about the prospects of marriage.  If women were contentious in Biblical times, how much more contentious are they today in age of feminism?

The Apostles say “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry

Christ had this discussion about marriage and divorce:

“9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” – Matthew 19:9-12 (KJV)

I have written exhaustively in previously posts about what Christ said here on divorce when we understand it light of the entire witness of the Scriptures.  But really this conversation boiled down to the fact that men thought they could put their wives away (divorce them) for any reason and Christ was putting a stop to easy divorce.

This meant you could potentially marry a very contentious woman and nasty woman but if she did not sin against you sexually (by either committing adultery or through sexual defraudment against you) you had to stay married to her.  This is what Christ was saying.

So the Apostles were basically saying – “if a man has to stay with a contentious and nasty wife it is better not even to get married.”  Christ responds to their conclusion that it is only for those “to whom it is given” – in other words those who have the gift of celibacy.

Paul talks even more about celibacy. Some think the Apostle Paul would agree with them that is better not to get married.  The Apostle Paul wrote these statements about celibacy:

“It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” – I Corinthians 7:1 KJV

“So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.” – I Corinthians 7:38 KJV

If we stopped at these passages many young men would go away feeling validated from the Scriptures that their feelings that marriage is too risky a proposition is right.

But when coming to God’s Word we must examine all of the Scriptures and not just the ones that seem to validate our feelings and desires.

The two reasons Paul thought Celibacy was better than marriage

The Apostle Paul did not say it is better for a man not to get married under ALL circumstances.  Rather it was only under certain circumstances that it was in fact better that men do not get married.

The first reason Paul gives for celibacy is “I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.” (I Corinthians 7:26 NASB)  This was because of great persecution that Christians were under.  Christians being rounded up and put in prison or even worse being put to death.  It is understandable why Paul would recommend celibacy if possible under such grave conditions.

“but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided…This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” – I Corinthians 7:33 -35 (NASB)

Paul then gives a second reason to consider celibacy. According to Paul marriage creates a new temptation.  The temptation to put your spouse before God.  The temptation to turn your spouse into idol.

Celibacy is NOT always good

While it is true that Paul wrote “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (I Corinthians 7:1 -KJV) he also wrote:

“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” – I Corinthians 7:2 (KJV)

“for it is better to marry than to burn.” – I Corinthians 7:9 (KJV)

Christian men do not have the option to do as unbelieving men and just go around having casual sex with women.

Also for the Christian man celibacy is not an option unless God grants him that “gift” (I Corinthians 7:7). If a Christian man has a strong sex drive the answer to that strong sex drive and also to avoiding temptation to fornicate is marriage.

So if God has given you a strong sex drive and not the gift of celibacy – you have a Biblical obligation to seek out a wife.

Previously we saw that the Bible warns us as Christian men about the potential pitfalls of marriage.  There are a lot of sinful women out there.  There are a lot of Christian women out there that are contentious and do not have the submissive spirit God calls on women to have toward their men. But regardless of these facts the Bible tells us marriage is a good thing.

The Bible calls marriage an honorable endeavor

Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22 (KJV)

“House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.” – Proverbs 19:14 (KJV)

The Bible calls children a blessing from God

“3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” – Psalm 127:3-4 (KJV)

“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” – Proverbs 17:6 (KJV)

God commands us to marry and have children

One of the oldest commands in Scripture is found in the creation of man and woman in the Garden of Eden:

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” – Genesis 1:28 (KJV)

God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” (to get married and have children) has not expired. It was not a temporary command.

God designed men and women to bring him glory through living out their design.  A big part of our design is that we were designed for marriage.   How can we fully live out the roles that he has given to us if we do not marry? How can we model the relationship of Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5:22-33) if we do not marry? The answer is we cannot.

Yes God makes exceptions for his command to marry in the form of Biblical celibacy.  But this is only if we have the gift of celibacy.

Conclusion

Marriage has always been a risk for men and a good woman has always been hard to find as we can see from Scriptures.  I will fully admit that marriage today is probably the greatest risk it has ever been for men in the history of world.

Our society has completely rejected the roles that God designed for men and women in society, in the church and most importantly in marriage. In fact our society has actually encouraged and enabled rebellion in women and this makes the probabilities of marriage difficulties and divorce very high.

But as young Christian men come to realize these risks they would do well to heed the words of Joab to the men of Israel:

Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and the Lord do that which seemeth him good.” – II Samuel 10:12 (KJV)

Having courage in the face of overwhelming odds is what it means to be a man.

Yes marriage for a man is huge risk today.  But anything in life that is worthwhile is a risk. Did you know that 90 percent of small business startups fail? But would we recommend that people stop trying to start businesses? Of course not.   In the same way just because we know 50 percent of marriages end in divorce does not mean we should can give up on God’s institution of marriage.

Instead of giving up on marriage, we need to do everything we can to mitigate the risk of failure in marriage by following Biblical principles in dating and seeking out a wife. If you start out with a woman who has a good foundation your chances of success are far better.

See my post on Biblical dating for good principles to follow in finding the wife that God would have for you.

How the modern practice of “Christian dating” is cruel to men

Many Christians advocate for teaching teens and young adults abstinence. They are right in doing so because the Bible teaches sexual relations between a man and a woman are reserved for marriage.   But the majority of abstinence training only teaches half of the abstinence God calls for when it comes to intimate relationships between men and women.

This “half measure” abstinence that is taught in most Churches today has lead to modern practices in Christian dating that encourage emotional cruelty toward men.

I think the best way to illustrate the cruelty of so-called “Christian dating” is with a story.

A Christian dating story

Jonathan was a young Christian man raised in a conservative Baptist Church. All growing up and in his teen group he was taught that sex is for marriage.

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

He memorized this passage from Hebrews and countless other passages of Scripture. He was determined that he would not have sex before marriage and prayed each day for the Holy Spirit to help him avoid sinful thoughts of trying to get any woman to have sex with him before marriage.

Jonathan attended a conservative Christian college where he felt the call of God on his life to become a minister. While he was studying for the ministry he was introduced to a beautiful young woman named Sarah. He befriended Sarah and eventually he approached her in the college library and asked her on a date.

Sarah told Jonathan that she would love to go out with him but he must agree to some things first. She told him “I believe that sex is reserved for marriage, and that includes all sexual touching. Eventually I may let you give me a peck on the lips and hold my hand but that is as far as I believe God would have us to go.” Jonathan replied “That’s great I feel the same way!” and they agree to a date the following week.

On the night of their first date as Jonathan approaches her dorm to pick her up he is nervous and excited all at the same time. He has bought her a beautiful bouquet of roses and he can’t wait to give them to her. When he sees her come out her dorm his breath is taken away by her beauty. She graciously accepts his flowers, hands them off to her girlfriend and they were off on their first date.

At the restaurant they talk and explore one another’s lives. They both want this night to never end. Afterward they go for a long walk just continuing to talk – but there is no physical contact, no holding hands. Sarah and Jonathan are both having the same thoughts – “I would sure love to hold their hand, but I know I can’t – not yet.”

Jonathan drops her off at her dorm and while he wishes he could have held her hand and kissed her good night he still had a wonderful time.

Within just a few weeks of dating Jonathan tells Sarah for the first time that he loves her and she tells him that she loves him.

Over several weeks Jonathan and Sarah continue to date and with each passing date he so wants to hold her hand and kiss her goodnight. He also finds that he really wants to do much more. Each date he begins more and more to imagine what she looks like without clothes and how wonderful it would be to touch her body. How wonderful it would be to have sex with her. But he dismisses these thoughts as wicked and sinful and asks God to forgive him each and every day several times a day.

Eventually on one date she reaches out to hold his hand to let him know that it is now ok. At the end of the night she gives him a good night peck on the lips to let him know that is ok now too. These things feel wonderful to Jonathan – but he longs for so much more with her.

Now let’s return to the beginning of Jonathan and Sarah’s relationship and look at it from Sarah’s perspective.

After that first date she was on cloud nine. As they continued to date she was fantasying about how big their wedding would be and what her dress might look like. She was imagining how many children they would have and how she would decorate her home.

The fact that he was handsome didn’t hurt either. Sarah had always worried if she would be able to find both a godly and handsome man and in Jonathan she had found both. She couldn’t wait to kiss him and hold his hand. But she made herself wait, she knew there needed to be some time. She didn’t want to give Jonathan the impression she was one of those “easy girls” or think she would do “other things” too.

Finally after several weeks of dating she felt it was time to “let herself go” and hold his hand for the very first time. At the end of the night she would give him that good night kiss she had so longed to do since ending her first date with him.

Every day he texted her and she couldn’t wait to hear about his day and to share the happenings of her day with him. Every beep of her phone was a thrill – “how will he tell me he loves me next? “When will he propose?” – She wonders. If he went several hours without texting her, she would text him to check and see how he was doing and if anything was wrong.

With each date she went on with him she was more impressed with his character and godliness more than ever. “He knows the Bible so well and loves the Lord – this is a man who could lead me, this is a man who could be my husband and the father of my children. This is a man whom I would be proud to serve as his help meet.” – This is what she thought.

Jonathan knows it will be two years before he graduates from college with his pastoral degree and then he can being looking for his first ministry as a youth pastor. He believes a man must be able to provide for his wife as Christ provides for his Church before he can marry her. He wonders how soon he should propose knowing it will be some time before they can marry.

One day he decides to “take the plunge” and even though it will still be roughly two years before he graduates and gets his first ministry job – he is going to pledge his undying love and devotion to her and the fact that he wants to marry Sarah when the time is right in a little over two years.

Jonathan takes Sarah to the nicest restaurant he can afford (based on his pay as a cook at a local restaurant). The ring he bought was only $200.00 – that is all he could afford. He gives it to her and asks her to marry him. He tells her “I know this ring is not much, but someday I will get you a much a nicer one.” She tells him “I don’t care how much the ring costs – of course I will marry you! I love you!”

Sarah gives Jonathan the biggest kiss she has ever given him – not just some peck on the lips. He takes her home to her dorm and she is on cloud nine and so is he.

Sarah runs into her dorm room and shares the wonderful news with all her girlfriends. “I am getting married!” She can’t sleep that night as she now begins to make real plans – not just fantasies of her wedding and then their beautiful life together. Her father is a wealthy man and will be able to provide her and Jonathan with nothing but a first class wedding. Her mother has many precious pieces of furniture just waiting to be hers. And the children they will have together – they will be so beautiful and he will be such a wonderful father.

She can’t wait for these two years to pass by so she can have the wedding of dreams, the husband of her dreams, the children of her dreams and the home of her dreams.

But she also thinks to herself – “But I also want to enjoy our engagement time together before we are married and I don’t want this special time we share now before we are married to be gone too quickly.”

When Jonathan gets back to his dorm room he also shares the wonderful news with his friends “She accepted!” Like Sarah Jonathan can’t sleep that night either. Except the reason he can’t sleep is very different than Sarah’s. Jonathan is thinking about that passionate kiss Sarah gave him when she accepted his marriage proposal and how in his heart he wanted so much more. He can’t stop thinking about her breasts and the curves of her hips. He can stop thinking of how sexy her tight rear end looked. He imagines how beautiful her naked body would be and how soft her body would be to touch and how wonderful it would be to have sex with her.

Then he remembers – “It is going to be two long years. How will I make it through never touching her the way I long to touch her?” He prays and asks the Lord to forgive him of his sensual thoughts about Sarah and resolves to keep his mind on pure things, and not these “impure sexual thoughts”.

Over the next couple of dates Sarah has the “wedding date topic” on her mind. But she does not want to come on too fast about it so she exercises self-control and waits three more dates before finally popping the question to Jonathan – “When do you think would be a good wedding date” and she presents a Calendar she printed out for two years in the future.

That calendar just reminds Jonathan again that his agony will be prolonged another two years. But Jonathan gives his thoughts to God and helps Sarah to pick out a wedding date. She is so excited! They take a walk through a park and Jonathan goes to give her a kiss and as they embrace he begins to move his hand down the small her back to her bottom.

Sarah is shocked! “How could he have just done that?” – She thinks. “We were having a romantic evening and we just picked out a wedding date and now he has his hands on my butt!” – Inside she is disappointed and mortified.

But in that moment she realizes “He is a sinner just like me and I should forgive him” and she gently moves his hand off her bottom and back onto the small of her back.

After they kiss she tells him “Jonathan, remember our commitment to the Lord and the fact that we want to follow his ways and wait for marriage right?” Jonathan replies “I am so sorry, I don’t know what came over me – it won’t happen again.”

But Jonathan knew exactly what was going through his mind “I want her so bad, even just to touch her bottom tonight”.

Several weeks went by without incident. Sarah felt that Jonathan had a moment of weakness but the problem was solved. Then one night as they kiss good night and embrace one another Jonathan reaches up and feels her breast. Sarah quickly pulls his hand away and asks Jonathan “Why did you do that – I thought we had an understanding?” Jonathan begins to cry – “I don’t know what is wrong with me, I am so sorry for what I did. I need to go”.

Sarah was worried about Jonathan. She texts him with no response all evening long. Finally the next morning Jonathan texts Sarah back “We need to call off the engagement and we need to break up. It is not because you would not let me touch you or have sex with you, it is because I cannot control myself when I am around you. You are intoxicating to me, and every time I am with you I think about what it would like to touch you, to see you naked and have sex with you. I need to work on myself and be a better man before I can be with any woman again”.

What went wrong with our Christian dating story?

Was it a flaw in Jonathan’s character that caused him to touch Sarah’s bottom and on a later date her breast? Or was it a flaw in something else?

The flaw was in the entire concept of modern Christian dating, the flaw was not in Jonathan’s desire for sexual intimacy with Sarah. It was not even in the pleasure he received from thinking of her body or what it would be like to touch her or have sex with her.

The flaw was with Jonathan being in that position in the first place. Being in that intimate relationship with that woman BEFORE he was married to her.

I have attended conservative Baptist Churches for most of my life. I still attend a conservative Baptist Church. I admire Bible believing churches of all Christian denominations. I also agree with many of my Bible believing Christian brethren that God designed sexual relations between a man and woman to be kept strictly within the bounds of marriage.

But I also believe that God designed emotional intimacy between a man and a woman to ALSO be kept within the bounds of marriage.

This is what is wrong with Christian dating. Christian dating tries to have a man and woman share many of the intimacies that a husband a wife share together except the physical intimacy of marriage.

The entire concept of Christian dating is flawed and encourages sin. It tells couples a lie. You can have all the emotional intimacy of marriage without the physical intimacy of marriage.

I am not saying that women are not also tempted to have sex too because I know they are. But I am sorry ladies – no matter what you say in most cases a woman’s temptation to have sex before marriage is a tiny fraction of what man’s temptation is – PERIOD.

“Christian dating” is cruel to men

Christian dating meets most of the needs of women in an intimate relationship and meets very few of the needs of a man in an intimate relationship. God never designed relationships between men and women to be half measures like this.

All forms of intimacy that exist in marriage between a man and a woman are ONLY to exist in marriage.

It is amazing to me how many Christian women will admit that a wife denying her husband sex is an act of emotional cruelty toward him but they are utterly blind to the fact that it is equally emotionally cruel to a man for him to be denied physical intimacy with a woman he sees on a regular basis while he dates her or is engaged to her. His needs before marriage are no different than his needs after marriage.

How to stop this emotional cruelty toward men

The answer to stopping this cruelty toward men is to abandon the entire of concept of Christian dating as we know it and return to a Biblical model of courtship and betrothal.

Before the last century this emotional cruelty we call “Christian dating” did not exist. For most of the history of mankind marriages were arranged and while the couple waited to be married they saw very little of one another for this very reason that I describe in the story above.

They knew that it was cruel to have a couple taste of the emotional intimacy that God gives a man and woman without them being able to express that intimacy at THE SAME TIME on a physical level as well.

The Bible gives us two ways to stop this emotional cruelty toward men

The two answers to this problem are for men to flee intimate relationships with women before marriage and only in marriage then pursue both emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy with a woman as God intended it to be.

Flee pre-marital intimate relationships

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” – Romans 13:14 (KJV)

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” – I Corinthians 6:18 (KJV)

There are some things God tells us to fight and other things he tells us to flee. God tells us to flee from fornication – which includes pre-marital sex. God also tells us to “make no provision” – which means don’t put ourselves in a position where we would be tempted to sin.

So as a Christian man – you really should not be entering into an intimate relationship with a woman before you are married and I mean intimate on ANY level. To do so puts you in the position of being tempted to sin and as you grow closer to this woman emotionally you WILL desire her body physically. It is how God designed you.

Remember there are NO half measures with God. The intimate relationship God designed between a man and woman was meant to be an ALL or nothing proposition.

Avoid long engagements

“But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.” – I Corinthians 7:36 (KJV)

When you as a man are prepared to take on a wife – meaning you can provide for her as the Lord expects of you, then you need to make the engagement period as short as possible.

In a previous article, “12 ways to transform modern dating into Biblical dating”, I gave several ways that Christians could date in a way that honors God. I listed several ways to “vet” a potential spouse and I made it clear that Christians need to guard their hearts when they are dating.

If we are to truly avoid emotional cruelty toward men and men being placed in highly tempting positions then Christian dating needs to be approached in a very logical and methodical manner.

A man and woman definitely need to “interview” one another and then have their families and friends interview prospective spouses. Once compatibility has been established the wedding should be planned very quickly. During this short engagement period the couple should seek pre-marital counseling with a Pastor to make sure they both fully understand and agree upon the Biblical roles of a husband and wife in marriage.

Answering the Naysayers

But shouldn’t men just learn to practice self-control as they date?

“Self-control” is something the Christian ladies often like to bring up in this discussion of dating and pre-marital sex. Often they will point to these translations of I Corinthians to bolster their claim:

“But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. “– I Corinthians 7:8 (NASB)

“You see – avoiding pre-marital sex is all about self-control, it does not mean we have to give up dating.” This is what advocates of Christian dating tell us today.

But what these same people miss is that God has clearly answered how a man can avoid pre-marital sex with a woman and self-control is not God’s answer:

“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband… For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that….” – I Corinthians 7:1-2 & 7 (KJV)

What is God’s answer to a man avoiding pre-marital sex? Marriage. Not dating and practicing self-control, no my friends the answer is marriage.

But what about Jacob and Rachel?

In Genesis chapters 28 and 29 we see the story of Jacob and Rachel. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this story offered in some Church circles as a story of pre-marital romance.

In this account we see that Jacob’s father Isaac has sent him to journey back to the land of their family to find a wife. He comes upon his Uncle Laban’s land and meets Laban’s daughter Rachel.

The following passages from Genesis 29 are cited as evidences of pre-marital romance between Jacob and Rachel:

“And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.” – Genesis 29:10-11 (KJV)

So we are told this was a romantic gesture – love at first sight by Jacob and a passionate embrace between the two of them. What else could this be but romantic?

Well if we look down at verse 13 we see another kiss taking place:

“And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things.” – Genesis 29:13 (KJV)

Would these same people who say Jacob’s kiss of Rachel in verse 13 was pre-marital romance say that Laban’s embrace and kiss of Jacob was romance too?

The truth is that this was the custom of family members when greeting one another. Rachel was Jacob’s kin – she was his cousin, the daughter of his mother’s brother. What he did was not an act of pre-marital romance, but rather an act of greeting toward family.

But advocates for pre-martial romance in the Bible point to this next part of the story as definitive proof for their position:

“And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, it is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” – Genesis 29:16-20 (KJV)

It says Jacob loved Rachel BEFORE they were married. It even says the seven years he worked for Laban to buy Rachel were like “but a few days” because of how much he loved her.

I can hear it now “You see Mr. BGR – if Jonathan in your story had truly loved Sarah he would have had no problem waiting those two meager years to have sex with her – Jacob waited seven years because of his love for Rachel!”

Well if you are thinking that – you would be WRONG.

Jacob did not date Rachel during this time – there is absolutely no Biblical evidence that they spent any intimate time together and in fact the customs of the day would have prohibited any intimate contact or speech between them.

In fact this story illustrates something that infuriates many women. Why did Jacob love Rachel? Was it because she had a great personality? Was it because he got to know her and connected with her emotions and her soul? Nope.

It was because she was beautiful.

“Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.” – Genesis 29:17 (KJV)

Yep. Jacob worked seven years to marry a beautiful girl whom he knew little about – only that she was a kin to him and she was hot!

This would be the equivalent of a young 18 year old man today seeing a beautiful woman, finding out she was a Christian woman associated with a good church and then asking her father for her hand in marriage.  Her father tells him he must be able to support her first.  So he goes out gets his degree, starts his career and then buys a house.

Seven years later he returns and finally comes back to marry the woman after having NO intimate contact with her during that time.

The story of Jacob and Rachel DOES NOT illustrate pre-marital romance in the Bible.

But Christ shares an intimate relationship with his betrothed bride, why can’t Christian men do the same?

This is a question that has been raised to me when I have discussed this subject in the past and my opposition to the invention of modern Christian dating.

I agree that the relationship of Christ to his Church is pictured as a groom to be and his betrothed bride. But it is not an identical relationship to marriage here in this world. It is not a physical relationship. It is a spiritual relationship. The relationship between Christ and the Church is emotional and spiritual. The relationship between a husband and wife is emotional, spiritual AND physical.

When a man and woman marry – they become “one flesh”, not “one spirit”, “one mind” or “one heart”. Marriage while being symbolic of a much great relationship between God and his people is a physical and temporary relationship for this world only. That is why many of the components of marriage also exist in the relationship between God and his people, but some of them do not and sex is a big one.

Because of this distinction between physical marriage in this world, and spiritual marriage to come between Christ and his Church it is not Biblically correct to say that men should submit themselves to the emotionally cruel system of Christian dating so that they can demonstrate Christ’s patience in waiting for his bride. There is no comparison between the two.

But what about pre-marital romance?

I think most Christian men if they looked objectively at God’s Word and were honest with themselves about how they feel when they are dating a woman will say that what I speaking from God’s Word is the truth.

But most women will have a very hard time swallowing this pill. The reason is that women crave and love that pre-marital romance time that we now have in our culture. Songs, movies and books are written about it.

I think if women truly stood back and looked at how what brings them so much pleasure “pre-marital romance” can at the same time bring so much emotional cruelty to their prospective husband they might rethink that position.

In a Biblical model of marriage – physical intimacy is what generates emotional intimacy. The two are to exist in marriage together, neither of them are to ever exist apart from marriage.

Three choices that are set before today’s young people

  1. Embrace the “full abstinence” that God’s Word shows us as the example of relationships between men and women prior to marriage.  Don’t put yourself in a position where you are trying to have an emotionally intimate relationship with the opposite sex while trying to abstain from physical relations with them.  This type of “hybrid” relationship is emotionally cruel to men and puts them in position to be very tempted to have sex before marriage.
  2. Continue the current practice of “half measure abstinence” that is taught in most Christian Churches today resulting in emotional cruelty toward men and placing them in a very compromising position where they will be tempted to sin.  Continuing telling young men that they just need to “control themselves” instead of teaching BOTH young men and young women that they need to fully abstain from both emotionally intimate and physically intimate relationships with the opposite sex before marriage.
  3. Disobey God’s Word and leave abstinence behind completely.  Engage in emotional AND physical intimacy before marriage. Many Christian young people are doing just that today.  There are a lot of Christian young people that think they can have that emotionally intimate relationship with the opposite sex without physical intimacy. But not far into their relationship, many young ladies actually realize how cruel it is for a man to be in an emotionally intimate relationship with a woman yet be denied physical intimacy so they give in and give him that physical intimacy.

The sad news is that today the majority of Christian young people are choosing option 3. I know this first hand from talking to many teens and college students (my teens tell me about their friends as well) and I get emails from teens and college students all the time. But even for those Christian teens that are not choosing option 3, most of the rest are going with option 2 and the “half measure abstinence” that is emotionally cruel toward men.  A tiny fraction of teens and college students are choosing Biblical Dating and Courtship over our modern style of dating.

We need to stand up and teach the truth on this issue no matter how politically incorrect it is – especially in our home and Churches.  We need to return to the Biblical model of full abstinence before marriage.

See my previous post “12 ways to transform modern dating into Biblical dating” for more on this subject.

12 Ways to transform modern dating into Biblical dating

What does the Bible say about dating? How can you as a young Christian man or woman date in a way that pleases God? Are their Biblical principles that can help young people find the right spouse?

Before we seek to answer these questions we need to look at how young men and women used to enter into relationships.

“Dating” as we know it today did not exist before the last century. Men did not have to romance women to get women to marry them. Men did not need pickup lines or any of the other tricks of getting women to show interest in them. Women did not need to “put out” before marriage to give the man a “taste of the goods”.

The two ways men acquired wives in pre-modern times

First let me address the word “acquired” which is a word usually associated with getting property. It is a well-known fact of history that women were considered the property of their fathers (or other male relative if the father was dead) and these property rights were transferred to husbands in marriage.

So it is historically correct to say that in the vast majority of cases men did not “win” their wives (by romancing them) but rather they acquired them by purchasing them from their male relatives.

The first way was the marriage was arranged by the parents when the man and woman were children and they were betrothed but the marriage was not consummated until the man had the ability to support the woman and had a home established for her.   Sometimes the arranged marriage was not from the time of the man and woman being children but was a quick arrangement when two sets of parents realized they had two adult children who were not yet married and they would have them to marry.

The second way was if a man found a woman attractive he would NOT approach the woman directly – instead he would approach her father, her brother or other male relative who was responsible for her. He would then demonstrate his ability to provide for the woman and then these two men would agree upon a bride price.

While a woman’s male relative might take her opinion into account of whether she wanted to marry a man often time’s women had little say in whom they married.

A third but rare way that men acquired wives

A third and very rare case would be if a woman had no male relatives in charge of her (no father, grandfather, brother or uncles). Only in this rare condition would a man have to deal directly with the woman herself to see if she would be interested in marrying him.

Even in this last rare case – the idea of dating did not typically happen because it was socially unacceptable for single women to entertain men who were not their husbands. If they did they might be seen as a prostitute or a whore.

There often was little to no romance involved even in the case of a man approaching a woman directly who had no male relatives in charge of her. He simply demonstrated his ability to provide for her and she would decide if she wanted to marry him.

My point in all this is, before the last century the vast majority of marriages were formed because of economic and political necessity – they were not formed based on men romantically pursing women as we see is the case today.

For these reasons you won’t find any reference to anything close to what we call dating in the Bible – it simply did not exist in pre-modern times.

The randomness and chaos of modern dating

As I have previously shown, in times past marriage was a very ordered ordeal. Parents or others elders that were looked up to often helped young people to find suitable spouses that would benefit one another economically or politically.

Today however, instead of marriages coming together on the grounds of spiritual, economic or political reasons – most marriages in the Western world come together because of pre-marital romantic feelings that a man and a woman share for one another.

Most young people enter what we now call “the dating world” without a clue of how to find a prospective spouse. They wonder aimlessly at school, college, work, church or other social functions hoping to bump into that right person.

Even when a person does “bump into the right person” or so they think – dating itself today is far from how God’s Word would have it to be.

Men pursue women by buying them gifts and make all kinds of romantic gestures to show their affection for the women they are with.  They continually have to come up with romantic words to flatter the women they are with.

Women often feel pressured to give sex not long after dating to “keep him hooked” on them.

In many ways modern dating and romance has become a form of idolatry. Listen to romance songs on the radio or watch romance movies. Are the things that these people say to each other often times not a form of worship and idolatry toward one another?

Even if a Christian couple has committed to not having sex before marriage often times our ideas of modern dating put Christian couples in very tempting positions with little to no safe guards against sex before marriage.

But there is a way to bring order to the chaos of modern dating and the answer is found in God’s Word.

12 ways to transform modern dating into Biblical dating

Here are several ways to apply Biblical principles to the modern concept of dating to bring it into line with God’s Word and it may also help you to find the right spouse that God has for you.

Dating is for marriage – not for sex or fun

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” – Psalm 25:7 (KJV)

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV)

“Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” – I Corinthians 7:2 (KJV)

It is not wrong for a young person to desire to find a spouse and be married one day. In fact this is a noble and right desire and should be encouraged by all parents. When you as a young person desire to be with someone whom you know you would never marry – that is by definition a “youthful lust”. When you desire to possess something that God did not intend for you to have that is lust.

So unless you see someone as a potential spouse – you have no business seeking an intimate (emotional or physical) relationship with them.

Follow your spirit not your heart

The world will tell you the very opposite thing – “listen to your heart” is the theme of many romance songs and movies. But it has no basis in Bible.

Yes – God tell us to love him with all our heart:

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” – Matthew 22:37 (KJV)

But God also tells us that our hearts can deceive us:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)

So instead of going with your heart which can lead you astray, instead you need to follow the spirit of God in your dating.

Test the Spirit by the Word

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit of God will lead us in “all the truth” and that includes who we should date.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” – John 16:13a (KJV)

But just as we can be lead astray by our hearts, we can also be lead astray by false spirits.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world…We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” – I John 4:1 & 6 (KJV)

When the Bible refers to “false spirits” it is not restricted only to evil and demonic spirits. It is also referring to false teachers and those who would give us bad advice or advice that does not line up with God’s Word.

So how do we know if it the Holy Spirit leading us or some other false spirit or bad influence? It is by listening to the Word of God. The Holy Spirit of God will never lead us in a direction that is contrary to God’s Word.

It is amazing to me how many people, whether it is in dating or even religious practices who are doing things that are completely contrary to the Word of God and then claim “but the Spirit of God lead me to do this and gave me peace about it so it must be right”.

My response to these folks is – “Yes you were led by “A spririt”, but not “THE Spirit”.”

Young people you need the follow THE Spirit of God as you seek the spouse God would have for you.

Only date Christians

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” – II Corinthians 6:14-16 (KJV)

Contrary to popular belief – the Bible does NOT teach the concept of evangelistic dating. We are not to date or marry unbelievers.

This goes back to the previous points about not following your heart and testing the spirits. You heart and other false spirits will tell you – “It’s ok if they are not a believer in Christ, you can help them to be one”. Other false feelings you may have are “but they are such a good and kind person, surely God wants me to be such a good person”.

But the truth is the Bible says “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

Prove that they are indeed a Christian

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)

I tell my children the first two things they should ask about a person before they would ever consider dating them should be – “Are you a Christian?” and “Where do you go to Church?”.

Obviously each one of those questions needs more detail.

Does the person really understand what it means to be a believer?

Do you sense the Spirit of God upon their life?

Are they a faithful member of their church or do they only attend a few times a year around the holidays?

Guard your heart

So up to this point you if you have followed the previous steps you placed boundaries on yourself and made yourself accountable to your parents or other godly Christians in this dating process. You have determined that dating is for marriage, not for fun. You have sought to be led by the Spirit and not by your sinful heart. You have a found a person who claims Christ and faithfully attends Church.

But it is not yet time to let yourself “fall” for this person, or let your guard down.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)

The phrase “keep thy heart” could also be translated as “guard your heart” as the NIV translates it. We need to be careful of whom we allow into our hearts. When we open our hearts to someone we can make rash decisions that we later come to regret.

The young woman who gives her virginity away to the man with flattering lips who promised to marry her but later leaves her after he gets what he wants will have many sorrows.

The young man who overlooked the fact that a young lady did not believe in God’s roles for Christian women but was simply captivated by her beauty will one day come to regret his decision.

Once a person passes the initial screening processes you need to truly investigate them. There is an old saying that “A man is known by the company he keeps” and the Bible has a similar statement to this:

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” – Proverbs 13:20 (KJV)

Does he or she have wise and godly friends? When you talk to their friends what do they reveal about the character of this person you are dating?

Guard your body

Ok the cat is really out of the bag now. When I say “dating”, I am referring to a relationship between a man and woman that could potentially lead to marriage and I am referring to what is known as courtship. Now this is one even my teens have a very hard time swallowing because of the culture we live in.

Those who have read any of my posts on Biblical sexuality know that I do NOT believe we must suppress our sexuality even before marriage. Our sexuality is a gift from God meant to be experienced and enjoyed before marriage and after marriage.

I just read on another Christian site that young Christian men should avoid learning too many details about sex until just a few days before they are married for fear that they might have sexual fantasies about their wives to be.

What a ludicrous statement to make!

Yet many Churches all across America and the world teach this unbiblical philosophy of about sexual fantasy and sexual imagination.

HOWEVER – while we might be able to enjoy our sexuality before marriage through sexual imagination and even masturbation (which the Bible does NOT condemn) we are forbidden from pursing any kind of sexual relationship with a person before we have entered into a covenant of marriage with them. That includes cybersex, phone sex or any other kind of sexual activity.

People such as myself and others that embrace the idea of courtship believe that young people should not be allowed by their parents or themselves to be put in a position where they might sin sexually with one another.

I can hear all the teens and young college students yelling at me at this point.

But the Bible says we should not put ourselves in a position where we know we could possibly be tempted to sin:

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” – Romans 13:14 (KJV)

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” – I Corinthians 6:18 (KJV)

I think the best policy is for parents and young people to agree that they will always be in a group setting, whether it is with a church youth group or college and career group or a least around a larger group of Christian friends or relatives at all times.

Agree on Biblical marriage roles

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” – Ephesians 5:22-27 (KJV)

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” – I Timothy 5:14 (KJV)

There are many people who truly believe in Jesus Christ and are saved and regularly attend their churches but reject all the Bible’s teachings on God design of gender roles. They believe these teachings are outdated and were not meant for all time.

Listen to me young man. Listen to me young lady.

You can find the nicest person in the world, even a Christian who regularly attends church.

But if you do not agree on the doctrines of Gender roles as taught in Scripture you will be in for a lot of heart ache!

Seek your parents blessing

“Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.” – Proverbs 23:22 (KJV)

If your parents are believers – you should have their blessing before proceeding in marriage. Even if they are not believers – they may still have some helpful advice.

In most cases your parents are the ones who know you better than anyone else in this world. Even if everything seems to match up – your father and mother may see some incapability between the two of you that you did not notice.

In fact because Samson did not listen to his parents advice about a woman it ended up costing him his life in the end (Judges 14:3).

Now there are some cases where parents are wicked and unbelieving people. So please don’t think I am saying parents ALWAYS have to give their blessing. But I do think in most cases you should have your parents blessing before marrying someone.

Seek other Godly counsel

Before agreeing to marriage with this person seek wise and spiritual advice from those around you.

“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14 (KJV)

Bring the person you are dating around your Christian friends and then ask them afterwards privately what they thought of the person.

Pray and ask God to show you the right spouse

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)

Last but certainly not least you need to pray! This should be the first thing you do before you set out to date and it should be the last thing you to do before you open your heart to a person and let them in.

Even if you apply all these other Biblical principles there are so many variables when it comes to choosing the right spouse that God has for you. There are different types of personalities and differences in preferences. Pray and ask the Lord to guide you to that right person.

Premarital counseling with a Pastor is CRITICAL!

I know this is really tough – but even up this point you must still continue to guard your heart. I know of many Christian men and women who discovered things about their soon to be spouse in pre-marital counseling but they felt they were too invested with a wedding planned and the time they had spent with this person.

Please listen to me young person. It is NEVER too late to back out of an engagement. You may find in pre-marital counseling that your spouse does not really believe in Biblical gender roles. You may find out that they do not have a Biblical philosophy of sex in marriage. These are critical things that will affect you for the rest of your life.

Conclusion

So after reading all these 12 ways to transform the chaos of modern dating into Biblical dating the question you are probably asking is “When can I stop guarding my heart?” I believe the answer to that question is after you have completed premarital counseling and have determined that this person is a spiritual match for you in all the important ways I have mentioned here then you can begin to let your guard down.

But really I think until the day you are married and have entered in the covenant of marriage with this person – you need to be careful with your heart.

Even after marriage – do you realize how many people have allowed their spouses to lead their hearts astray from God? We must never allow that.

But after we are married that is when we can fully give our hearts and bodies to our spouses while still remembering that God must always be first in our marriage.

Please don’t misunderstand me. There is no perfect person out there. There is no person with whom you will agree on all things. There is no such thing as your “soul mate” – sorry to burst your bubble. But there are good Christian people out there who love the Lord more than anything including you and that is why they will always love you because of their commitment to God.

There are no perfect people, but there are men and women who truly believe in Christ and his Word and they embrace Biblical gender roles and want to live their life by the God’s Word. If you can find a person like that – this is the person you want to marry.

In some upcoming articles I will give some more gender specific things to look for in Biblical dating. But everything I have said here I think Biblically speaking applies to both men and women.