“God-fearing men seek God-fearing wives” (Prof. H. Hanko). In God’s counsel of election he chose a specific group of people to be his own. Leaving the rest of mankind to perish in the way of their sin, God chose a group of people unto salvation in Christ. Upon them he sets his favour and love, reveals to them his ways of eternal blessedness and happiness. These chosen ones enjoy God’s covenant friendship only because the face of Christ is ever set before them. God sees them as he sees his beloved Son dying the accursed death to redeem this group of sinners.
Although God in eternity has determined whom we shall marry, yet in time he leaves some room in our wills to seek that person that he has prepared for us. How God does this is a deep and profound mystery. We may only respond that God in his sovereignty is able to do this, although we never know precisely how. Nevertheless, the small room that God allows in our wills makes us responsible for the person we desire to be our spouse. It is necessary to discuss this responsibility because we are in the final judgment accountable before God for whom we choose to be our spouse. Our salvation in a very great measure is involved in this choice.
God wills the process of courtship to be the platform to marriage. Since the covenant God is so central in the life of courtship, it is desperately important that the one whom we choose to be our boy or girlfriend is the man or woman of God’s choice. Our duty is to determine God’s will for us when making this choice. His Word must instruct us and his Spirit must guide our hearts to make the right choice. Our prayers ought to echo the plea of the psalmist, “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths” (Ps. 25:4).
Choosing a spouse is perhaps one of the greatest decisions we will make in our lifetime. Choosing a boy or girlfriend is therefore equally important since courtship is the necessary platform for marriage. All too often young people are concerned only about the outward beauty, physical attraction, talents, charisma, wealth, social status and personality of a person. Consequently they place these things as necessary qualities for an ideal boy or girlfriend to the injury of their souls.
Covenant young people ought not to be so. They are the people of God, the citizens of the heavenly kingdom, called out of darkness into the marvelous light of God’s fellowship. For this reason they must seek the things of God in courtship. “The child of God,” says Rev. Cornelius Hanko, “is drawn to one who speaks his language in spiritual matters, who enjoys with him the things of God’s kingdom.” As a young person understands the truth that God has chosen him in Christ, so he will seek to find a spouse who, like him, is also a member of the body of Christ. He will desire a girl who by her confession and life demonstrates true membership in the Church of God.
A covenant young man is attracted to the spirituality of a girl. He is not so much concerned about the outward beauty or personality of a girl but her spiritual-mindedness. How much she loves God and values things of spiritual worth are of chief concern to him. He is concerned about these characteristics because the Scriptures dictate that they are of a great price in the sight of God. A girl who fears God and desires to grow in grace is a virtuous woman whose price is far above rubies (Prov 31:10). Rev. Steven Key writes correctly that “the fear of Jehovah is what young men must require in the young women they marry, and therefore in any women they date” (Far Above Rubies).
Such is the unique character of a godly person that it is attractive to another. This spiritual attraction is the means by which a godly young man is drawn towards a godly young woman. He finds her attractive because he sees God in her. On the other hand she is drawn to him because she knows that he is a man of God. This is the power that not only draws two young believers together but more importantly sustains their relationship. Ungodly relationships with unbelievers are destructive to the believer because God is not in them. Covenant relationships prosper because God upholds them by his almighty power, keeping and blessing them in his grace.
Scripture is emphatic in its warning against making wrong choices where it comes to relationships. God expressly warns against choosing unbelievers in relationships. The consequences for choosing unbelieving partners in courtship ought to be crystal clear to all covenant young people. There is nothing but spiritual devastation and misery to the soul that chooses an unbelieving partner.
The truth is that courtship is an important process of a covenant young person’s life because it shapes his spiritual character. In many ways his thinking and personality are dictated by his future spouse. The bishop J.C. Ryle offers his penetrating words, “Your wife must either help your soul or harm it: there is no neutral. She will either fan the flame of religion in your heart, or throw cold water upon it, and make it burn low. She will either be wings or fetters, a rein or a spur to your Christianity, according to her character” (Thoughts for Young Men). So we see that a young man’s relationship with God is profoundly related to the character of his partner. A girl who loves God will inevitably draw him closer to God as they engage in an intimate bond of friendship.
Such ought to be our choice when choosing partners in relationships. The man or woman whom we date must bring us closer to God in courtship. We must be able to know and enjoy God in fresh and deeper ways. We must be able to grow in the fruits of the Spirit. In a godly relationship we grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord, increasing in our love for him because of the new love he gives to us in our lives.
Only by godly wisdom as derived from the Holy Scriptures and habitual prayer with our covenant God may we make that right choice. This is a choice with eternal consequences upon our soul. This is a choice that will either bring to us joys of salvation or spiritual misery with the one we choose to spend our life with. In the following chapters we shall devote more time to discuss some of the specific qualities that young covenant people ought to pursue and what to be concerned about in the process of courtship.