Dating and Marriage…
What does the Bible say?
This text is for you who are in a “dating relationship” and who want to live as “holy” and “clean” before God as possible while letting Him lead you in all things. If you “just believe” in God, but you otherwise want to control your own life, you can just skip this and move on, because if you keep reading, you are just wasting your time.
Here lately, I have earnestly tried to pray on the subject while digging deeper into the word of God than just my own opinion. This is because I really want God’s opinions and His principles to become part of me. For this reason, I would like to be directed and guided by the Spirit of God in all things…. This is also the reason why I have changed my opinions quite a bit compared to before.
Dating is actually a word coined by humans that isn’t really talked about in the Bible. Today, the term “dating” more or less covers having found a “chosen partner” – without being married. It’s an informal period, where you are not 100% committed to each other – more like an extremely close friendship. Your boyfriend or girlfriend should be your second-best friend, right behind Jesus.
So, what can you do while you are dating?
Can you hold hands? Can you kiss? Can you have sex…? Where are the limits?
According to the Bible, there is no such thing as dating, and since dating is for getting to know each other before getting married, “dating” is basically nothing more than a close friendship.… And that’s a little weird, because I used to be under the impression that as long as you didn’t have sex with each other, everything else was allowed… but as mentioned above, I have totally changed my opinion since I started studying the Bible about this specific topic.…
But what can you do, then…? Actually, you can do precisely what you can do with any close friend. Do you hold your friends’ hands… then it’s okay to do so with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Do you hug your friends? Then it’s okay with your boyfriend or girlfriend as well. Do you kiss your friends on the mouth…? No, right…? And it is actually a really bad idea to do that with somebody you are dating, because it leads straight into sin! And why is that, though…? It’s not like it’s sex or anything?
If we read in the New Testament, Jesus sharpens “the ten commandments” quite a bit:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
…In other words… if you look at a person with “lust”, you are skating on very thin ice, even if you really haven’t been sexually active physically speaking. Personally, I am a man filled with testosterone… and I have personally been beyond in love with my wife (then girlfriend) – and I will guarantee you that no man can say HONESTLY before God that he can kiss / make out with his girlfriend WITHOUT thinking much further than that and thereby lusting after his girlfriend. I freely confess I couldn’t do it either back then… Perhaps your partner will deny it because it is embarrassing, but I simply don’t believe that at least one of the parties is not turned on with actual lust and desire for the other party, if you kiss on the mouth beyond a quick peck. And already there, you are straight-up sinning against God… If this is not how you feel about the person you are dating, but the person you are dating actually feel that way about you (maybe without even daring to admit it), YOU are actually leading him/her directly into sin, and you both have a pretty big problem with God. REMEMBER…! You are not accountable to humans, but rather to the living God. You see, I don’t think the vast majority of people have a “problem” with kissing in a dating relationship – because they choose NOT to be accountable to God.
Also, remember that Satan is the one that tempts with sin. Satan wants to take all of God’s blessings from you and your boyfriend or girlfriend – and this is why his main purpose is to pull something impure into your relationship. So, because of the power of sin, the brain/soul is always thinking at least one step ahead of what you have going on. If you are holding hands, you want to intertwine your fingers. If you intertwine your fingers, you want to give long hugs. If you give long hugs, lust will compel you to kiss on the cheek. Kissing on the cheek is a direct temptation to kissing on the mouth – and finally… If you kiss on the mouth, temptation will really start pushing you with sexual images and fantasies to go on to make out and/or have sex with each other and/or simply to be naked together and enjoy being close to each other naked.
Maybe you think I am little over the top… but if there is a sexual lust/desire for your partner, you have simply gone too far. At that point, you have to take one or more steps back, even though that is practically unthinkable. Let’s keep reading in Matthew:
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
…So, in order to keep your dating pure and holy before God, you have to stop how far you go BEFORE you are lusting after your boyfriend or girlfriend in your mind. Once you are married, you can lust after him/her all you want – because the sexual relationship really is a beautiful blessing from God… and believe me… NO man (and only few women) can kiss the person he or she is dating on the mouth WITHOUT feeling like going further. If you don’t keep going, you can chalk it up to willpower, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is still a sin because of the lust it creates – and that particular lust belongs ONLY in marriage.
…And if you are already in a dating relationship, so forget the idea of praying about how far you can go, because Satan is sure to tell you that it is okay to take it one step further (or stay where you are), so you are teetering right on the edge of sin. The feelings of being in love are so powerful (been there, done that) that they are MUCH too loud for you to listen to the principles of God in it all. So, for this reason it’s a good idea to make decisions BEFORE finding your girlfriend or boyfriend – and then stand on principle and have willpower once the emotions really start to take off. Because when your feelings are taking off, you can easily hear it as though God is giving you His blessing to take it a step further.…
God Himself has instituted marriage – and ALL sex, lust, and desire need to be kept within the framework created by God… and no, even if you are engaged, it doesn’t change ANYTHING. As long as you are not married before God and man, any sexual action/desire/lust is a straight-up deliberate sin. In fact, sexual sin is probably the most frequently discussed sin in the Bible, because those are the areas of life, where Satan tempts us so much.
Many of those who truly want to be pure within their dating relationship choose ONLY to hold hands, and once they are engaged, they may intertwine their fingers and perhaps kiss on the hand – NOTHING else. But seriously, isn’t that just a little old-fashioned? No, not if you want to live HOLY before God and respect what He has created: Marriage. If you can’t wait to be sexually intimate or kiss on the mouth, then get married! …But personally, I would probably consider the “wait” a victory where you, as boyfriend and girlfriend can have a victory TOGETHER over Satan’s temptation. You see, it is extremely difficult…! Therefore, it is necessary that you back EACH OTHER up in it. Precisely like after fasting for several weeks, it is extremely difficult not to “fall in”, but if you replace food with “prayer”, God blesses you. Dot the same in your dating relationship and let God bless it.
Do things change when you are engaged?
No…! The only difference between being engaged and dating is that you have now promised each other that you will get married, and you may even have picked a wedding date. You are still NOT a married couple – and ultimately, an engagement CAN be broken all the way up to the actual marriage happens. Therefore, the “engagement” period is still an extremely close friendship where you focus on getting to know each other better, culminating in a wedding.
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Until a very short time ago, I was of the impression that as long as you were married with “God’s blessing”, it was actually okay to live together as a married couple…. But here, I have changed my mind as well by reading the word of God – and one of the reasons I have, is that God has reminded me that …
1 Peter 2:13-17 (NIV)
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will [a]bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.
Thus, we are always subject to following the laws and rules of the land, as long as they don’t go against God’s principles (you can read two concrete examples in Acts 4:19-20 and in Acts 5:27-29, where the laws of the land go directly against God).
As far as “marriage”, the “law of the land” says that you are only legally marriage (and therefore in a valid married relationship) after taking vows in front of proper authority with a legally binding signature. Does this go against the Bible…? No, because we can actually read a single example in the Bible where Boaz marries Ruth in “city hall” – or by “the ten elders at the gate” (read Ruth 4:9-12) or that in Malachi 2:14, a “marriage covenant” was entered into. We don’t see a whole lot of other examples of it, but we certainly can conclude easily that the law of the land about a legally binding agreement is NOT in conflict with the Bible – on the contrary.
If you are upcoming husband and wife and you come from two different countries, you have to apply to BOTH countries. If you legally have your common addresses in same country, you have to follow the specific law for that country – and NO…. you cannot bend the legal law to fit into your own wishes, if you by heart want to follow God and His word.
Then the next question is if you can live in marriage with approval from the state but WITHOUT God’s blessing… No – you can’t if you want to live under the direction of God. Reading the Old Testament, there wasn’t really a “God’s blessing” when people entered into marriage, but we read over and over about wedding celebrations. The Bible doesn’t tell us concretely how people were married, but since marriage was instituted by God, and if you truly want to live with the blessing of Jesus, then it is a very good idea to let God bless the marriage, and that you go before God (not just before people at city hall) and take the same vows “before witnesses”. This is because a covenant – which is what marriage is – according to the Bible needs at least 2-3 witnesses to be valid. In Acts we read…:
As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.
So, people put into service are publicly blessed after prayer and fasting and then sent out… It is a pretty good image of marriage, where you are sent out TOGETHER into service for God – to serve God, to serve each other as a couple, but also to generally serve God in your life.
The Bible says about marriage “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 – and later the verse is quoted several times – even by Jesus)… but at the same time, Jesus says to the ones who truly believe AND follow Him:
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
So, when we who follow Jesus are in Him and at the same time one with our spouse through entering into the covenant, it also means that a marriage consists of 3 persons : Jesus, the husband and the wife.
Can you just agree between you that you are married?
NO! Because marriage is a covenant – and a covenant is only valid and binding with at least 2-3 witnesses, so you can’t just do it by “horse-trading” between you and your partner… and you are still subject to the law of the land. That’s really all there is to say about that.
Marriage is holy – even the sexual part that belongs in marriage. God has created it as a blessing – so don’t indulge prematurely … because then it’s a sin that separates you from God.
Further, Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 7:4
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
1 Corinthians 7:9
…but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
24 November 2019
Translated from Danish
by Lisbeth Agerskov Christensen