|Volume 17 Number 8 August 2015||
Dating and Courtship
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Your lessons are very, very encouraging and beneficial to me and others. God bless you and your coworkers. Please sir, what is the Bible stand on “dating” and “courtship”? Should a Christian who is preparing for marriage practice them? Yours in Christ, Bro. Nkereuwem Sunday Akpan, church of Christ, NIGERIA.
“Dating” and “courtship” or whether there even are any “dating” and “courtship” prior to marriage pertains primarily to cultural norms rather than to a “Bible stand.” For instance, occasions can be observed within the Bible text of consensual as well as arranged marriages wherein at least one of the participants was not permitted to choose a spouse. Today, culture throughout the world varies widely, ranging from arranged marriages, arranged marriages with the right of the participants to object, and marriages in which the prospective spouses make marriage decisions with little or no input from their respective families.
However, acceptable conduct for “dating” and “courtship” is regulated by a “Bible stand.” As with every other facet of one’s life, “dating” and “courtship” where it does occur must be morally upright in accordance with biblical instruction. Everyone living today is bound by New Testament teachings and will be held accountable by them before Jesus Christ in front of His Judgment Seat. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV; cf. Romans 14:10).
Especially the child of God must not pursue sensuality. “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry [uninhibited conduct] and drunkenness [intoxication], not in lewdness [cohabitation] and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14).
Christians ought to know better than to handle one another intimately without the blessing of matrimony. “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication [sexual sin], uncleanness [a kind of lust], passion [a kind of lust], evil desire [a kind of lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
Now the works of the flesh [sensual passions] are evident, which are: adultery [sexual sin], fornication [sexual sin], uncleanness [a kind of lust], lewdness [shameful conduct], idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness [intoxication], revelries [uninhibited conduct], and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Certainly, the children of God must refrain from imitating the lost and ungodly world in partaking of sexual relationships outside of marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled [pure, unsoiled]; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
Where “dating” and “courtship” are culturally permissible, Christians need to provide the godly example of how dating and courtship ought to be practiced, which is in keeping with biblical instruction in the New Testament. Whenever one’s culture permits immoral conduct, then, the child of God must appeal instead for his or her normality in dating and courtship to the higher law of God (Acts 5:29).
Finally, if engaging in “dating” and “courtship,” imagine that Jesus Christ is along with you two as your chaperon or supervisor. Frame all of your conduct in godliness, and bring that mindset to consideration of dating and courtship. It also helps to associate oneself with others during the process of dating and courtship, especially companions whose conduct is godly and worthy of imitation. “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Are All Marriages
Amenable to the Law of Christ?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone posed the question, “Are all marriages amenable to the Law of Christ?” Usually, such a question as this is asked to ascertain whether the marriages of non-Christians are supposed to be regulated by the Law of Christ, the Gospel or the New Testament—in addition to marriages of those who first become Christians prior to matrimony. Essentially, Jesus Christ restored God’s original plan for marriage for under Christianity, namely, one man for one woman for life (Matthew 19:3-8). Our Lord provided only one exception—the innocent spouse in a divorce because of adultery may marry again someone biblically eligible to be married (Matthew 19:9). Therefore, the real question is does our Lord’s teaching apply to non-Christians as well as Christians? In other words, does God grandfather in biblically unscriptural marriages of non-Christians when they aspire to become Christians?
Simply put, our Lord’s teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage is as applicable to non-Christians as is our Lord’s teaching about how one becomes a child of God is applicable to non-Christians. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16). All of the Gospel of Christ is binding on all souls who are accountable for themselves, irrespective of whether or not they are Christians. There is no logical or no hermeneutically satisfactory way to excuse oneself from the application of Matthew 19:3-9 while at the same time acknowledging the responsibility to comply with Mark 16:16. Either they both apply to non-Christians or neither passage is obligatory upon non-Christians. Obviously, Mark 16:16 does apply to non-Christians, and so, Matthew 19:3-9 likewise applies to non-Christians and Christians alike.
Think about this for a moment. One is not innocent of violating a law simply because he may be ignorant of its existence. Disobedience is not somehow validated as obedience due to one being oblivious to legal requirements. Disobedience and obedience are at the heart of the proper human reaction to God’s redemptive plan (Hebrews 5:8-9). Biblically prohibited marriages are part of what some candidates for conversion must repent when repenting of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30).