Issue at Hand, March 2019

“We just need to stick it out until we get married, then all our issues will be resolved.”
Have you or your significant other said something like that?
It’s not true. Marriage—after the “waiting period” (dating) your parents impose upon you and always seem to want to know too much about—is not a switch. Flipping the switch does not immediately introduce sunshine and rainbows into your life. Simply put, marriage is hard work. Two different, sinful people must now live together for the other. That’s why the marriage form begins with the words, “married persons are generally, by reason of sin, subject to many troubles and afflictions.” Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? By God’s grace, the transition into marriage is more blessed if it is begun properly. To begin marriage properly, you must date properly. But what is dating?
Dating is not. Dating is not a game in which you play with the fire of lust and hope not to get burned. Dating is not a challenge to date that person because they are the most popular. Dating is not for you to satisfy your desires. Dating is not “just to have fun” because you can grow up later. Dating is not just that period of time you have to endure until you are old enough or able to get married. Dating is not a time in your life where you act like someone you are not so that you can get with that girl or that guy. Dating is not the tool you use to convert an unbeliever to the faith. Dating is not wearing that shirt with a low enough cut to show just enough to catch his eye while hopefully not raising their eyes. Dating is not going to those places and doing those things you normally wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) in order to bump into that girl.
Dating is. Dating is for getting to know your possible future spouse. How does she think? How does he act? Dating is for working together to resolve any differences that would imperil your future marriage. Does she really love Christ and his church? Would he really give thousands of dollars per year to send our children to a Christian school? Dating is for having those deep, honest, and open discussions about the realities of married life. Don’t get married and then say, “If only I had known he really thought [this] about [that].” Dating is for investigating how your future spouse will act in marriage. Is he an abusive tyrant who walks all over you now? He will probably continue to do the same when you are married. Is she a brawling, contentious woman now? She probably will not stop when you are married. Dating is for beginning to assume those proper, God-ordained roles that you will fill in marriage. Would she be a loving mother for my children? Would he love me, care for me, and defend my honor? Dating is for beginning to have devotions with your future spouse. A strong devotional life while dating will help you begin a strong devotional life as a married couple.
Dating is not. Dating is. But how should you date?
Read on.