by Hohn Chohe introduction to this series is here. As we look at a number of key biblical principles in the area of Christian dating, I'm going to start with the importance of Christian character. In many ways, this is kind of a "no duh" principle, and it's not uncommon for pastors preaching a dating series to lead with multiple sermons on this concept. So my goal in addressing it in this one blog post certainly isn't meant to be comprehensive.But just as there are matters of first importance in the Bible, there are matters of first importance with respect to specific issues as well, and when it comes to dating, nothing is more important than Christlike character. All through Scripture, we are called to imitate Christ, such as 1 John 2:6 and Ephesians 5:1-2. We also see calls to imitate faithful Christians among us, even as they strive to imitate Christ, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 11:1. So this concept of imitation, of Christlikeness, is very clear in Scripture.I'm initially going to aim this first principle inwardly: Are you displaying Christlike character, before you even start thinking about anything else? As a Christian, you really ought to be doing that to at least some degree, or else you probably shouldn't be dating at all. Without some minimum baseline of tested and proven Christian character, and the ability to demonstrate to others that your profession of faith is genuine, perhaps you should spend some more time working on yourself first.At the risk of being cliché, however, it's about direction, not perfection. Remember that historically, people got married both in general society and in the church quite a bit younger than the 2017 US median age of 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men, and today's modern trend of waiting longer and longer for marriage is actually both historically unusual and on some levels concerning, according to Dr. Al Mohler (a consistent warning he's sounded over the years) and numerous other Christian leaders.Although the idea of getting married before the age of, say, 25 might be an astonishing one to some Christians today, there's nothing inherently or biologically different between young people today and young people in the 1700's, or even young people in the Ancient Near East. Now, cultural expectations of maturity and overall life expectancy have certainly changed significantly, but even so, there's no reason to think that a spiritually mature 18- to 22-year-old Christian man or woman today couldn't get married. With that said, on a practical level, what are some ways that a young single Christian, and the key people speaking into that person's life, might be able to gauge his or her readiness for marriage?When I refer to gauging readiness for marriage, to be clear, my spiritual assessment of a 22-year-old single man isn't going to be the same type of assessment as a 45-year-old husband and father who's been a Christian for most of his life. Too often, I think, single Christians develop an unrealistically high expectation that their potential romantic interests need to match up to the godliness of their Christian parents, pastors, elders, and role models. And if anything, Christian parents, who are obviously going to want the best for their kids, and to protect them, can be even more stringent in this examination. And yet if we believe, as many of us do, that marriage and parenthood will be the most blessedly sanctifying experiences and relationships in our lives, then if anything, it's even more unfair to think that single people who haven't yet embarked upon those adventures ought to be held to the same standard of sanctification as older saints who are well under way on their journeys.Now, with that said, of course there are some assessments to be made in these areas, and some basic minimums ought to be satisfied. And it can get especially tricky when those minimums are considered on a case-by-case basis, by each individual romantic interest (and in some cases, by the parents of that romantic interest, as well). One young woman might look at a guy and say, sure, he's faithful and godly, I'd consider him . . . whereas another young woman and her parents might look at the same guy and immediately shake their heads. This helps explain both the intense desire within conservative evangelicalism for a standard "formula" and the (at times) messy and confusing results when the answer instead is that we need to figure this out for ourselves in our own Christian liberty, stewardship, and wisdom, as we mine the Scriptures for appropriate biblical principles to apply.For single Christian men, I suggest considering three key areas that are especially important for husbands: readiness as a leader, a protector, and a provider, as Tim Challies lays out in an excellent series. For over a decade, Chris Hamilton, the chairman of my church's elder board, has also identified the same three traits of leading, protecting, and providing as fundamental in Scripture for raising boys into young men. And all of this matches my own examination of Scripture on this topic.So as a future leader in the home, does the single man have some kind of goal or vision in terms of what he's thinking and planning with respect to a future wife and family? Proverbs 29:18 is clear on the wisdom of having such a vision, so what is that vision for the single man's future family, and is that vision biblical, in accordance with the Word of God? Having that vision and being able to articulate it to others would be incredibly helpful in terms of discerning how the single man would lead.As a protector, I'm not talking about just physical protection. Buying a gun doesn't check off this box! But will the single man be able to protect his future wife and family from error, from the dangers and deceptions of this world? 2 Timothy 3:1-7 warns about lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful arrogant revilers, haters of good, lovers of pleasure, who are nevertheless holding to a form of godliness. And we're told to avoid them, lest they enter your household and captivate the people under your care. Can the single man identify dangers such as these and guard against them?As a provider, Scripturally this isn't necessarily the highest bar to clear, because as 1 Timothy 6:8 says, we ought to be content with food and covering. Remember, most Christians throughout the history of the church have been relatively poor and would probably view today's modern abundance with a mixture of awe and even apprehension per Proverbs 30:8-9! But food and clothing and a place to lay your head all still cost money. Is the single man able to lay down a security deposit and first and sometimes even last month's rent, and pass a credit check? Even more importantly, is the single man a hard worker, and will he be able to earn some kind of living moving forward?For single Christian women, Scripture directly informs us in Genesis 2:18 that wives are to be helpers to their husbands. Titus 2:4-5 also speaks more expansively about the importance of young women being, among other things, lovers of their husbands, lovers of their children, and excellent workers in the home . . . not necessarily a worker at home only, this verse does not forbid jobs outside the home, and we see a clear example of a godly wife in Scripture working outside of the home in Proverbs 31:16-18. But the example does assume, and display, that the wife is being an excellent worker within the home, as well. And I can again recommend Hamilton's message about how fundamental the traits of being lovers of their husbands, lovers of their children, and excellent workers in the home are for raising girls into young women.So as a future lover of her husband and helpmate to him, does a single woman know what that entails? Does she have any role models in her life in this regard, has she seen how a godly married couple behaves toward each other? Has she ever worked alongside others closely in a team environment, in a support role? Proverbs 31:11-12 is a helpful passage here, is she trustworthy and benevolent, seeking the good of others even more so than herself (which is a general call to all Christians, per Philippians 2:3)?As a lover of her children, has a single woman spent any time with children, either with younger siblings or babysitting or observing a godly family with each other? Proverbs 31:25-28 paints a picture of a strong, dignified, wise, kind, conscientious, and diligent mother whose children "rise up and call her blessed," a classically maternal image. And again, we're not looking for perfection here, especially in a single woman who has yet to bear any children, but are those traits at least in progress, or anywhere in view? For that matter, in our modern day and age, does the single woman view the development of these characteristics, and even the very notion of motherhood itself, as desirable (or as a blessing, as we see in Psalm 127:3) to begin with?As a worker in the home, does a single woman know how to be an excellent at that, how to manage a household? Is she industrious? How is she with money? Given a certain level of provision, can she supply her household with its basic needs? Once again, we see a helpful passage in Proverbs 31:13-15 on this topic, even as I also feel the need to reiterate that the portrait in Proverbs 31 is of an ideal, of a woman who has been at this whole "wife and mother" thing for quite some time. (And for another thought-provoking take on Proverbs 31, here's an interesting piece by Jasmine Holmes.)Of course, there are many other character traits in Scripture which are critically important for single Christian men and women, such as purity, humility, love, teachability, contentment, willingness to serve and put others first, and most of all, a love for Christ and His church. Again, this article is not intended as a comprehensive word on the importance of Christian character in (or prior to) dating. But prayerfully it will serve as a helpful and practical encouragement. And now that you've considered this question with respect to yourself, next in the series we'll consider this question in connection with the person you're interested in, with our second principle being to cast off consumerism.
"This know also..." Paul's words to Timothy (and to the Church), describing the perilous times to come, were not just a warning to turn away from these characteristics, but to turn away from those who portray or embody them as well. To any child of God it is obvious that these characteristics absolutely define the times we live in now. There is no place in history where these things have been so utterly fulfilled as to the point where they seem to be overflowing and ready to explode, as today. If fallen, sinful man is a vessel for these things, I cannot imagine how he could hold any more of it. Even the world's heroes, icons, leaders and entertainers manage to glorify and justify these things to those who follow them. Simply turn on your tv, or walk through a bookstore, or go to a university campus, or even sit down to dine at a local restaurant. These characteristics are pervasive, invasive, and almost overpowering. "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." ~ 2 Timothy 3:1-5These verses were read from the pulpit a few weeks ago, and I was suddenly struck by the following understanding:Turn away from people who love themselves.Turn away from people who are covetous.Turn away from people who boast.Turn away from people who are proud.Turn away from people who are blasphemers.Turn away from people who are disobedient to their parents.Turn away from people who are unthankful.Turn away from people who are unholy.Turn away from people who are without natural affection.Turn away from people who are truce breakers.Turn away from people who are false accusers.Turn away from people who are incontinent.Turn away from people who are fierce.Turn away from people who despise others who are good.Turn away from people who are traitors.Turn away from people who are highminded.Turn away from people who love pleasure more than they love God.But this is nothing new. What I am writing has been written many, many times before. So why write about it now? For personal reasons. I write about this now to share my convictions with you. I've heard this passage before, but this was the first time I thought to apply that last phrase from verse 5 to each of these characteristics of the last days. I have only just realized the scope of the words "...from such turn away". This resonated through me during the service when I heard it. Why? Because I don't always turn away from these things. How? Every time I allow myself to be "entertained" by this world's media. Am I so prideful and self-assured as to think that I can somehow filter out this garbage from the things I let into my home, in the form of "entertainment"? Why would I ignore this warning before? When I watch a program that I may even deem as "innocent," yet plainly it contains some element of the characteristics from 2 Timothy 3:1-5, why do I not turn away? Why have I been so prideful for so long, thinking that I could pick and choose which parts of the Bible I want to ignore because they infringe upon my use of time, and the lusts of my flesh? Why do I turn away from only a few of these things: the ones that are gratuitous, glaring, outwardly dangerous, and avoidable? Why not all of them? Am I in less need than Timothy of this prophetic warning? Do I know more than Paul? Does my confidence in my flesh outweigh my fear of God, who breathed these words into existence? These are perilous times today. Timothy saw a vision of the future through the apostle Paul's words that was comparable only to the days of Noah. Now, in the nearness of the extent of their fulfillment, do I heed them? Or do I obey the flesh? "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." ~ Romans 13:14Make no provision for the flesh. There is my answer. And to what end? Obedience to my Lord and Master; glory to God the Father; separation from the world; and the edification of God's saints - my brothers and sisters in Christ.Able to write to you by the grace of God,Aaron EveringhamRomans 12:1,2Aaron Everingham and his wife Brittany live in Edmonton, Canada, and by the loving grace of God they were saved through the ministry of an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in June of 2007.Ã‚Â He is currently preparing for a life of serving the Lord as a pastor of a local New Testament Baptist Church.Ã‚Â For more articles like this one please visit his blog at Aharown Qadowsh.
Powered by Ekklesia-Online