“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)
The goal of God’s covenant friendship with us is his glory. He befriends us for his glory. He saves us for his glory. The church is his glory. For her he gives himself; loves, cherishes and nourishes her according to his marvelous perfection. We experience this warmth and tenderness because we are part of the church. We are members of his covenant.
As a mother who feeds and nourishes her child, so does the faithful church feed and care for her members. The child of God is duty-bound to honour and to promote the cause of the church in the world. For the church he must spend and be spent. For her he must be prepared to lay down his life. His pursuits in this life must revolve around the church as he seeks her welfare.
A covenant young person seeks courtship and marriage to promote the welfare of the church. Covenant courtship is not meant solely for his personal desires but for the church of Jesus Christ. When godly marriages and families are established, the church is strengthened in her cause. Happy covenant families testify of the goodness of God. His truth is developed and promoted as it is passed down from one generation to the next.
If our young people love the church, they must be concerned about her welfare as they enter into courtship. They must ask: does my relationship with my partner promote the cause of the church? Does my courtship properly reflect God’s covenant love for his church?
CERC is placed in a unique position in Singapore to serve the cause of God’s covenant. It is necessary for our parents and leaders to treat the covenant courtship of our young people seriously because they are the church of tomorrow. If we are lax in our preaching and instruction on covenant courtship, our young people will find partners outside the church. If parents fail to instruct their children on what covenant courtship involves, they will love pleasure more than God in their relationships. Their relationships will be carnal, worldly, pleasure-seeking and spiritually empty. This spells destruction for the church of tomorrow.
We must be prepared to sacrifice the Reformed faith if we allow our children to marry outside the church. When they marry without being doctrinally and spiritually united, the faith of the church is weakened. The faith of the next generation grows weaker. The Reformed faith loses its distinctive power and character. It gradually grows cold, abandoned and despised. This paves the road for false doctrines to creep into the church and spirals her into apostasy.
In contrast, there is hope if we treat covenant courtship with its due biblical importance. If we teach our children to date and marry in the unity of the Reformed faith, there is hope for the next generation. Our children, being spiritually united, can then develop the faith entrusted to them. They will echo the voice of their fathers and confess the beautiful Reformed truth with all its power and sharpness.
As covenant young people, it is our most high privilege and honour to carry on the faith of our fathers. Courtship is a time where we fulfill this faithful calling to God. I know the insistence on dating in the unity of our faith places many of us in difficult positions. But if we love the church and our Reformed faith, this is necessary.
I know it seems difficult to date somebody in the church that we have known all our lives. Perhaps when we know so much of the person we are familiar with his flaws and weaknesses. This has the natural tendency to put off dating that person. I believe we ought to place our perspectives in a spiritual focus when we consider this. Is it not an advantage to me that I have known this boy or girl all my life? I am very familiar with his background, family, siblings, friends, character, personality, habits and goals in life. True; he may have his own set of flaws as much as I do. But he believes in the same faith and loves the same God that I do. He confesses the same doctrines that I have been brought up in and hold so dearly to my soul. Should not this unity in the faith thrill us enough to date within the church?
When we date and marry in the unity of the faith, we promote the cause of God’s covenant. We reflect our spiritual unity with him who is our covenant Friend. May the Lord so teach us as covenant parents and young people to approach covenant courtship to the end that we may enjoy his covenant blessings!