This is the third and final week in this little dating series. I also feel that this is the most important of the three because if you don’t get what I say here, the previous two posts will be worthless. While we need to understand men’s and women’s shortcomings and roles in dating, the most important thing to understand is why. What is the purpose behind dating and marriage? Anyone who is married or has ever dated knows all the difficulties involved, so why do we put ourselves through it?
Culture tells us to go through with dating and marriage because it will make us happy. Terms like “soul mate” “better half” and “what I have been missing all these years” make it sound like finding our spouse will finally make us feel complete or happy. So, many people want to date or marry to find joy. They feel like finding a mate will fill that void in their life and make them happy. But is that all dating and marriage is about? Happiness?
Actually, this is what has gone so drastically wrong in our world. Almost every movie, TV series or song now has something about affairs, one night stands, or sleeping around. In fact, many movies and shows even show cheating and sleeping around in a positive light! Our culture tells us that dating and relationships are only about what you can gain from it. And this is what we have become. Every time I turn on the news or get on Facebook I see another affair, unmarried pregnancy or some guy bragging cause he hooked up with another hot chick last night. Sadly, the movies and the TV shows have become our world’s sinful reality.
People no longer view a relationship as it was meant to be but rather as a means to satisfy their own desire for happiness. The cultural thought is “If she makes me happy I love her, but if someone else can make me more happy then I will run off with her.” This is extreme selfishness. We may care and even consider the other person, but ultimately it comes down to what makes ourselves happy. Culture has taught us to pursue happiness and pleasure above all else, even if it hurts others. Affairs and one night stands are at all time highs because people no longer care for others but only for their own pleasure or happiness.
So if culture is so wrong, where can we find the right answer? The Bible of course! The first thing we have to learn about dating and marriage is that it is not about you and your happiness! The most important reason we date and marry is to represent Jesus and the Church. Ephesians 5:22-33 is probably the best section in the Bible about marriage. Throughout these verses Paul shows how the way a husband and wife relate to each other is a representation of how Jesus Christ and His Church relate. Men are to love and sacrifice everything for their wives just as Jesus did for the Church, (Verses 25-28), and women are to follow the leadership of the husband just as the Church follows the leadership of Christ, (Verses 22-24).
This is a much different call than that of culture. While culture tells us to live for pleasure and for self, the Bible tells us to sacrifice for others and represent Christ. Think about it guys. Our job is to represent Christ! People get all excited if they get to represent their company at a meeting or their country in the Olympics. Men, we get to represent Jesus Christ in how we relate to women! And women, you get to be his pure and perfect bride. Instead of being that hot girl with a new guy every week, you get to represent sinless perfection and submission in your relationship.
Secondly, we need to know where joy and happiness comes from. If you are looking for a boyfriend of girlfriend because you are lonely or because you think it will make you happy, STOP! It may bring you momentary happiness, but at what cost? You cannot possibly find pure joy in another person. While non-Christian marriages may seem happy and joyful, they will not and cannot ever possibly be as fulfilling and joyful as a Christian marriage. This is not because Christians are better people, but because Christians will seek their joy in Christ first, and their spouse second. Matthew 6:33 says “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Lastly, the reason we date and get married needs to be mutually beneficial. When I say mutually beneficial I do not mean that I make her happy and she makes me happy, but rather that I help her to see and serve Christ more and she helps me to see and serve Christ more. I believe happiness is a fairly natural result of this. This is why Paul warns about being “yoked with unbelievers” in 2 Corinthians 6:14. When looking to date and marry we need to find someone we can work together with that will cause each of us to grow closer to Christ.
They have found that two oxen yoked together can actually do double the work of two oxen individually. So who we decide to yoke or join ourselves with in dating and marriage will be very important as to the service we can do for Christ. We will all have tough times and struggles. In those down times we need our spouse to be able to pick us up and push us towards Jesus, (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). If our main concern is pleasure or happiness it may cause us to marry someone who is there in the good times, but gone when we are really in need or hurting.
I hope you all understand that while dating and marriage are important and can bring you a lot of happiness, that is not the ultimate purpose for love. So what is love? 1 John 4:16 tells us that “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” May we all come to see that dating, marriage and love are all about God. Stop following the lie of culture that tells you pleasure or happiness is the goal of love. Realize the goal of finding a spouse is not self-satisfying but rather God honoring. May we all live for and represent Jesus and the Church in our relationships, and may we find our joy and pleasure in Jesus above all else. And finally, may we all find someone who will help us know, honor, love and serve Jesus Christ more.