Category Archives: Relationships Questions

Questions about Relationships: Is it wrong for a couple to live together before marriage? Does God have one specific person for you to marry?

 

The answer to this question depends somewhat on what is meant by “living together.” If it means having sexual relations, it is definitely wrong. Premarital sex is repeatedly condemned in Scripture, along with all other forms of sexual immorality (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes complete abstinence outside of (and before) marriage. Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality, because they all involve having sex with someone you are not married to.

If “living together” means living in the same house, that is perhaps a different issue. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with a man and a woman living in the same house—if there is nothing immoral taking place. However, the problem arises in that there is still the appearance of immorality (1 Thessalonians 5:22; Ephesians 5:3), and it could be a tremendous temptation for immorality. The Bible tells us to flee immorality, not expose ourselves to constant temptations to immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). Then there is the problem of appearances. A couple who is living together is assumed to be sleeping together—that is just the nature of things. Even though living in the same house is not sinful in and of itself, the appearance of sin is there. The Bible tells us to avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22; Ephesians 5:3), to flee from immorality, and not to cause anyone to stumble or be offended. As a result, it is not honoring to God for a man and a woman to live together outside of marriage.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: Is born again virginity possible?

 

Born-again virginity is the claim that after having sex, a person can be restored to virginity by a spiritual renewal, vowing sexual purity until marriage and asking God for forgiveness. Some women have taken the idea of born-again virginity so far that they actually have had surgery to physically restore themselves to a “virgin” physical-sexual state.

The pressure upon some Christians to become “born-again virgins” is likely due in large part to the fear of condemnation from Christian brothers and sisters, or perhaps fear that God will not accept them unless they take steps to become “born-again virgins.” Neither of these reasons should be a concern because God offers forgiveness and grace to all who ask with a sincere heart (1 John 1:9). We need not try to restore for ourselves what God has already restored in us spiritually.

The Bible says that when we are born again, we are new creations, our old selves are dead and gone, and we have new life given to us by the Holy Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). This means that God chooses to no longer remember our past transgressions (Jeremiah 31:34), including losing virginity before marriage. Our sins are as far away from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). There is absolutely no doubt that God will forgive sex before marriage. God’s love for a person is not diminished because of the mistakes that person has made.

However, though our sins are no longer counted against us, they are still very real and still carry with them earthly consequences. Once an act is done, it’s done. It is, therefore, not possible to claim physical born-again virginity, just as it is not possible to reverse the consequences of any other sins we commit. What we can be done with, though, are the guilt feelings associated with having had premarital sex. This kind of guilt can cause us to doubt the power of God’s forgiveness because we can’t forgive ourselves. We can be tyrannized by our emotions and feel we are too bad to be forgiven. There are several reasons for this. First, the conscience speaks against forgiveness. The only thing our conscience knows about is guilt and conviction. It knows nothing of grace and mercy. Second, Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10), and he will do all he can to obscure the love and graciousness of God. But Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Once we recognize that it’s to his advantage to keep us incapacitated and immobilized by our guilt feelings, we can reject his lies, cling to the promises of Scripture, truly believe that we have died to sin, and begin to live for God in Christ (Romans 6:11).

Consider the apostle Paul—consumed with rage against Christ and “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples” (Acts 9:1), full of blasphemy and ungodliness, yet God forgave him and made Paul His chosen vessel to preach the Gospel to the whole world. Notice that God never required Paul to become a born-again anything other than a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to tell us that although some of us were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9–12), yet through the infinite goodness and free grace of God, we are washed from the filth and guilt of our sins, justified by the righteousness of Christ, sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, and decked and adorned with the precious grace of Christ, holy and perfect in the sight of God. Knowing this, how can we possibly hold onto our guilty feelings?

Rather than seeking born-again virginity, a Christian who has made the mistake of sex before marriage should commit himself/herself to God and to abstaining from sexual intercourse until marriage. Claiming born-again virginity is not biblical. Believing wholeheartedly in God’s total forgiveness and making the choice to live righteously and in ways that are pleasing to Him—that is biblical.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: If an unmarried couple has sex, are they married in God’s eyes?

 

It is true that sexual relations is the ultimate fulfillment of a couple becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). However, the act of sex does not equal marriage. If that were so, there would be no such thing as premarital sex—once a couple had sex, they would be married. The Bible calls premarital sex “fornication.” It is repeatedly condemned in Scripture along with all other forms of sexual immorality (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes abstinence before marriage as the standard of godliness. Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality because they all involve having sex with someone other than your spouse.

If an unmarried couple has sex, does that mean they are married? The Bible gives us no reason to believe this to be the case. The act of sexual relations may have made them for a moment physically joined, but that does not mean God has joined them together as husband and wife. Sex is an important aspect of marriage, the physical act of marriage. Sex between unmarried people, though, does not equal marriage.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: If a Couple Gets Pregnant before Marriage Do They Have to Get Married?

 

Sex before marriage has become so commonplace in our society, even to the point of being expected, that many professing Christians don’t even consider it to be a sin. Our culture assumes that people do not possess the amount of self-control necessary for abstaining until marriage, so the idea has become unrealistic. God’s Word does not change, however, and the Bible tells us that sex outside of marriage is immoral (Matthew 15:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 6:13, 7:2; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3).

Any person who has become a born-again Christian by putting his or her faith and trust in Christ no longer belongs to himself. First Corinthians 6:18–20 (NLT) says, “Run away from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Or don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

Disregarding God’s plan for marriage, sex, and family always results in these kinds of spiritual or physical consequences: grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), guilt, shame, regret, loss of respect for self and others, division in families and between believers, poor role modeling, pain for future spouses, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and sexually transmitted diseases. God intends for sex to be an intimate expression of love and commitment, to be shared only between a husband and wife. Sex just for the physical pleasure of it damages our spirituality and pulls us away from fellowship with God.

Anyone who has made the mistake of having sex outside of marriage can be forgiven, even if the mistake results in an unplanned pregnancy. First John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong.” This does not mean that He will erase the consequences of our actions, but we can be restored spiritually by confessing and repenting from our sins. This means turning away from our sins and making the commitment to love and serve Christ.

There are some cases in which getting married before the baby is born would be wise. If a committed couple who was already planning to get married commits fornication which results in pregnancy, it would probably make it easier for the family and the child to marry before he or she is born. But if an uncommitted couple commits the same sin, getting married will not make them right in God’s eyes. In such a situation, getting married will only set them up for marital failure. The Bible does not instruct people as to whether or not to marry under these circumstances, although both parents are still obligated to support the child emotionally, spiritually and financially.

None of us are made right with God through works. We are saved by faith alone, trusting in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, which lead to death. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God does not want us to try to right our wrongs, but He wants us to give Him our hearts. By laying down our own will and submitting to the sovereignty of God, we can be assured of not only a fulfilling life on earth, but also a place in heaven for eternity.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: How young is too young to be in a romantic relationship?

 

How young is “too young” to start a relationship depends on the individual’s level of maturity, goals, and beliefs. Often, the younger we are, the less mature we are due to a lack of life experience. When we are just beginning to figure out who we are, we may not be firmly grounded enough spiritually to form solid romantic attachments and may be more prone to making unwise decisions that can leave us with emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual damage.

Being in a relationship puts one in almost constant temptation, especially as emotions begin to develop and the attraction to the other person deepens. Young teens—even older teens—are besieged by hormonal and societal pressures that seem at times almost unbearable. Each day brings new feelings—doubts, fears, and confusion coupled with joys and exhilaration—which can be very confusing. Young people spend much of their time just figuring out who they are and how they relate to the world and the people around them. To add the pressure of a relationship at this stage seems almost too much to ask, especially when the other person is experiencing the same upheaval. Such early relationships make it more difficult to avoid damage to the delicate and still-forming self-image, not to mention the problem of resisting temptation. If being marriage-minded is still far off, it is probably too early to begin dating or courtship. Much safer for all concerned are group activities where young people can develop social skills and friendships without the pressure and inherent difficulties of romantic attachments.

No matter when a person decides to begin a romantic relationship, this should be a time of building on the foundation of faith that he or she has been taught, of growing and figuring out what God wants him or her to do. We are never too young to begin this exciting process. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: How will I know when I have found the perfect spouse for me?

 

The Bible does not address how to find the “perfect spouse,” nor does it get as specific as we might like on the matter of finding the right marriage partner. The one thing God’s Word does explicitly tell us is to make sure that we do not marry an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14–15). First Corinthians 7:39 reminds us that, while we are free to marry, we should only marry those who are acceptable to God—in other words, Christians. Beyond this, the Bible is silent about how to know we are marrying the “right” person.

So why doesn’t God spell out for us what we should look for in a mate? Why do we not have more specifics about such an important issue? The truth is that the Bible is so clear on what a Christian is and how we are to act that specifics are not necessary. Christians are supposed to be likeminded about important issues, and if two Christians are committed to their marriage and to obeying Christ, they already possess the necessary ingredients for success. However, because our society is inundated with many professing Christians, it would be wise to use discernment before devoting oneself to the lifelong commitment of marriage. Once a prospective mate’s priorities are identified—if he or she is truly committed to Christ-likeness—then the specifics are easier to identify and deal with.

First, we should make sure that we are ready to marry. We must have enough maturity to look beyond the here and now and be able to commit ourselves to joining with this one person for the rest of our lives. We must also recognize that marriage requires sacrifice and selflessness. Before marrying, a couple should study the roles and duties of a husband and wife (Ephesians 5:22–31; 1 Corinthians 7:1–16; Colossians 3:18–19; Titus 2:1–5; 1 Peter 3:1–7).

A couple should make sure they know each other for a sufficient amount of time before discussing marriage. They should watch how the other person reacts to different situations, how he behaves around his family and friends, and what kind of people she spends time with. A person’s behavior is greatly influenced by those he keeps company with (1 Corinthians 15:33). They should agree on issues such as morality, finances, values, children, church attendance and involvement, relationships with in-laws, and employment. These are areas of potential conflict in marriage and should be carefully considered beforehand.

Finally, any couple considering marriage should first go to premarital counseling with their pastor or another trained Christian counselor. Here they will learn valuable tools for building their marriage on a foundation of faith in Christ, and they will also learn how to deal with inevitable conflicts. After all these criteria have been met, the couple is ready to prayerfully decide if they desire to be joined together in marriage. If we are earnestly seeking the will of God, He will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5–6).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: What Does It Mean that Iron Sharpens Iron?

 

The phrase “iron sharpens iron” is found in Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” There is mutual benefit in the rubbing of two iron blades together; the edges become sharper, making the knives more efficient in their task to cut and slice. Likewise the Word of God is a ‘double-edged sword’ (Hebrews 4:12), and it is with this that we are to sharpen one another—in times of meeting, fellowship, or any other interaction.

The Proverb also indicates the need for constant fellowship with one another. Man was not made to be alone, for did not the Lord God say this, even before the Fall (Genesis 2:18)? How much more, then, after the Fall of Man, do we need to come together with our brothers and sisters in Christ for seasons of fellowship and prayer. Clearly this was recognized by the saints of the early church (Acts 2:42–47) who “devoted themselves” to the teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer, all corporate activities that provided opportunities for sharpening one another. The result was that they were “filled with awe” and when they met together, they praised God for the favor they found with one another.

There are two points to make about the above proverb. First, the meeting of two together in the Lord’s name will always guarantee blessing. It is a means of grace that the Lord Himself promised—where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is among them (Matthew 18:20). Also, we see a similar meaning in Malachi for those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard (Malachi 3:16). When we sharpen one another in real Christian fellowship, the Lord bends an ear from heaven and is pleased. Not one word about Him which brings Him glory escapes His notice.

The fragrances of divine ‘unity’ are best sensed in the relationship of David and Jonathan, son of Saul. When David was being hotly pursued by Saul, Jonathan sought David out “to help him find strength in God” (1 Samuel 23:16), which leads us onto our second point. Iron sharpening iron is an opportunity to fulfill the Law of Christ. The apostle Paul says that we are to carry and share the issues and burdens that we face daily, to lament over personal sin, advise on how best to repent of it, and rejoice over the conquest of it. This is the same “royal law” mentioned in James 2:8, where we are exhorted to love one another.

Returning to the analogy, if a knife is blunt, it still continues to be a knife, although it is less effective, less useful in the Lord’s service. Let us therefore be encouraged to spend more time together, exhorting, encouraging, praying, admonishing, sharing God’s Word, praying over God’s Word and the needs of our local church, that we become sharper, more cutting in the ministry that the Lord has assigned to each of us. Too often what passes as fellowship in the modern church is centered on food and fun, not on sharpening one another with the Word of God. In far too many instances, the only knives being sharpened are the ones used at potlucks.

Finally, a knife that has been sharpened will also shine more because all the dullness has been rubbed off its surface. Likewise, we will shine better for our Lord if we do the things mentioned above consistently, all of which will unite us in harmony. “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). Therefore, as the author to the Hebrews says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: How Can I Heal from the Hurt of a Broken Relationship?

 

The world is full of people with broken hearts, broken spirits, and broken relationships. The pain of a broken relationship includes a very real sense of personal loss, not unlike bereavement. Sometimes the hurt is so great it prevents people from functioning properly and, in extreme cases, can result in mental breakdown or even a desire to commit suicide. The world puts forward various ways to assuage the pain: taking antidepressants, writing an angry letter and tearing it up, going on a shopping spree, getting a makeover, etc. Some advocate the power of positive thinking. The most common “cure” is time. While the intensity of a heartbreak may wane over time, only a child of God can experience complete recovery because only the Christian has access to the power of the Spirit of God, the One who “heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Jesus understands the pain of rejection. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11, ESV). Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest associates (John 6:71; cf. Psalm 41:9). As we deal with the pain of a broken relationship, we must take our burdens to the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). He weeps with those who weep (John 11:35), and He is able to “empathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).

A broken relationship can be the source of many negative emotions. Christians understand the futility of allowing their emotions to guide them. Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing and has made us accepted in Him (Ephesians 1:3, 6). This acceptance transcends all feelings of rejection we may have because it is not based on “hope so” but on “know so.” We know that God has accepted us because God’s Word tells us so, and as we appropriate this truth by faith, it changes our hearts and lives.

Everyone experiences the hurt of a broken relationship at one time or another. We are bound to be hurt and disappointed, for we live in a fallen world. What we choose to do with that hurt and disappointment can make us stronger in our walk with the Lord. God promises to walk through the disappointments in life with us (Hebrews 13:5), and He wants us to know His provision for us is sure. His grace and comfort are ours as we rest in Him.

Every born-again child of God has blessings in Christ, but we have to choose to utilize them. Living in constant gloom and dejection over a broken relationship is like having a million dollars in the bank and living like a pauper because we never make a withdrawal. It is also true that we cannot use what we do not know. Therefore, every believer should seek to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord” (2 Peter 3:18) and to be “transformed by the renewing of [his] mind” (Romans 12:2). We must face life armed with a real understanding what it means to walk by faith.

As believers we are not defined by past failures, disappointment, or the rejection of others. We are defined by our relationship with God. We are His children, born again to newness of life, endowed with every spiritual blessing, and accepted in Christ Jesus. We have the faith that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).

God has prepared for each of us unique opportunities to walk through the “all things” of this life. We can either walk in our own strength and what the apostle Paul calls our “flesh,” or we can walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is our choice. God has provided us with armor, but it is up to us to wear it (Ephesians 6:11–18).

We may suffer disappointment in this life, but we are children of the King, and the rejection we experience is a momentary bump in the road to glory. We can allow that bump to derail us, or we can claim the heritage of a child of God and move forward in His grace. Like Paul, we can be “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13).

Forgiveness of others is important to the healing process. Holding on to bitterness or nursing a grudge only poisons our own spirit. Yes, we may have been truly wronged, and, yes, the pain is real, but there is freedom in forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift we can give because it was given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

What a comfort to know the God who said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God is always near to comfort the believer. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4). God, who cannot lie, has promised to go through our trials with us: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2).

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22). In reality, feelings come from thoughts, so, to change how we feel, we should change how we think. And this is what God wants us to do. In Philippians 2:5, Christians are told, “Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” In Philippians 4:8, Christians are told to think on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy. Colossians 3:2 says to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” As we do this, our feelings of rejection diminish.

Overcoming the hurt of a broken relationship requires taking one day at a time, praying for God’s guidance, and reading and meditating on God’s Word. The healing can never come from our own efforts; it comes only from the Lord. It helps to take our eyes off ourselves and focus on God instead. He can make us whole. He can take our brokenness and make us into what He wants us to be. A broken relationship is painful, but the Lord is gracious. He can give our lives meaning, purpose, and joy. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37). Our Lord’s relationship with His children is one that will never be broken.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: Why Is Finding True Love so Difficult?

 

We all have a desire to love and be loved. We experience different levels of love from parents, siblings, friends, and others. But most of us also want to find that special someone we can share a deeper level of love with. Finding true love can seem incredibly difficult, and it’s often hard to understand why. A big question to consider first is, “what is my definition of true love?” Understanding what we mean by “true love” can help us see what we’re really seeking and why or why not it’s working.

The world tosses around the word love very loosely. Love is often associated with intense feelings that, in truth, are self-centered and noncommittal. In so many movies and TV shows, we see characters who follow their hormones and have sex before marriage. When “love” is shallowly rooted in pleasant emotions or physical feelings, it turns off as easily as it was turned on. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to experience good emotions toward the person we love; however, if that is the foundation of the relationship, the relationship is in trouble. If the kind of “love” we see demonstrated in today’s sex-saturated culture is what we’re looking for, no wonder it seems difficult to find; it’s not true love we’re after but an experience that, by nature, can’t last for long.

The Bible gives a much different picture of love. True love is of God—in fact, Heislove (1 John 4:8)—and He’s the One who put the need to love and be loved in us. Therefore, understanding His design for love is crucial. True love, according to the Bible, is rooted in sacrifice, commitment, and an impulse to benefit the loved one (see John 15:3). God’s love for us took Him to the cross. We know for certain that Jesus was not experiencing “happy” emotions on His way to the cross (Luke 22:42–44). The Bible describes our relationship to Jesus as that of a bride and bridegroom (Matthew 9:15; Ephesians 5:32). True romantic love is designed to lead to and grow within a marriage commitment (Genesis 2:24) and should be rooted in sacrifice (Ephesians 5:22, 25–28).

Any number of things could make finding true love, according to God’s design, difficult. Here we will focus on a few big obstacles that we face:

Thinking there is only one “right” person for us. This is a lie that can keep us fearful that we’re settling for less than the best. Waiting for one’s perfect “soul mate” to show up can be a long wait. Whomever we choose to marry becomes the “right” one for us, because we’ve made a lifetime commitment to that person. The Bible has narrowed the field: our true love must be a believer who is living for the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:14–15); beyond that, God will provide wisdom and discernment (James 1:5). Wise, godly people who know us well can also provide guidance in finding true love.

Thinking that a person will or can fulfill us. Only God can truly fulfill us, so we don’t have to find romantic love to have a sense of fulfillment! None of us are perfect, and to expect another imperfect human being to meet every need is unrealistic, unhealthy, and can only lead to disappointment.

Not being willing to change or grow. It’s easy to imagine the kind of person we would love to be in love with, but how much effort do we expend in becoming that kind of person ourselves? We all have our own issues that we must address with God’s help in order to be the kind of people He desires us to be. It can be tempting to think that finding true love will magically solve those issues. But being in a close relationship with someone will not fix our problems; it is more likely to expose them more. This can be a rewarding part of the relationship, as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), if we are willing to change and grow. If we’re unwilling to change, the relationship will be strained and could eventually be destroyed. This does not mean that every personal issue must be dealt with before we get married. Rather, we should get into the practice of asking God to show us what things need to be cleaned out of our lives (Psalm 139:23). As we become the people God wants us to be, we will be better suited for whatever relationships are in store.

Thinking it’s too late to find true love. Finding true love and getting married is an important step and not to be taken lightly. A cautious step is better than a quick and reckless one. Three times, the Song of Solomon warns, “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5; 8:4). God’s timing is always best.

We know that God cares about our desire to find true love. When we fully surrender that desire to Him, we release the burden of trying to make true love happen ourselves (Matthew 11:29–30).

Love is an essential quality of God, and He shows us in the Bible how real, true love works. Redefining love or trying to find it outside of God’s design is asking for frustration and disillusionment. Surrendering our desires to God, submitting to His will, and finding our fulfillment in Him are the keys to finding true love. “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: How Can I Overcome the Pain of Betrayal?

 

Betrayal is a gross violation of trust and can be one of the most devastating forms of pain inflicted upon a human being. The suffering of betrayal is often magnified by a sense of vulnerability and exposure. For many, the pain of betrayal is worse than physical violence, deceit, or prejudice. Betrayal destroys the foundation of trust.

David was no stranger to betrayal: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God” (Psalm 55:12–14). The closer the relationship, the greater the pain of betrayal.

Jesus knew the pain of betrayal firsthand. The worst, most treacherous betrayal of all time was Judas’s betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9, NKJV; cf. John 13:18). But Jesus did not become vindictive, bitter, or angry. Just the opposite. After receiving the traitor’s kiss, Jesus addressed Judas as “friend” (Matthew 26:50).

Despite the pain, there is a way we can overcome betrayal. The power comes directly from God and the strength of forgiveness.

After David laments a broken trust in Psalm 55, he provides a clue to how to overcome the pain. He says, “But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice” (Psalm 55:16–17).

The first key is to cry out to God. Though we may want to strike out at the betrayer, we need to take our cause to the Lord. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Another key in overcoming the pain of betrayal is to remember Jesus’ example. Our sinful nature impels us to “repay evil with evil,” but Jesus taught us otherwise: “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.… Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:39, 44). When Jesus “was abused, he did not return abuse” (1 Peter 2:23). We should conform to His example by not repaying abuse for abuse, including the abuse of betrayal. Believers are to do good even to those who harm them.

Another powerful key in overcoming the bitterness of betrayal is our God-given ability to forgive the betrayer. The word forgiveness includes the word give. When we choose to forgive someone, we actually give that person a gift—the freedom from personal retaliation. But you are also giving yourself a gift—a “grudge-free life.” Trading our bitterness and anger for the love of God is a wonderful, life-giving exchange.

Jesus taught that “loving our neighbor as ourselves” should be proactive: “But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Without question, it is enormously difficult to forgive a person who’s betrayed our trust. It is only possible with God (see Luke 18:27).

Those who have experienced God’s love understand what it means to be loved unconditionally and undeservedly. Only with the help of God’s Spirit can we love and pray for those who seek to do us harm (Romans 12:14–21).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: Is Missionary Dating a Good Idea? Can’t God Use It?

 

Missionary dating is the modern idea that a Christian can date a non-Christian with the goal of leading that person to faith in Christ. While God can use such relationships for evangelism, the Bible says our most important relationships should be with fellow believers.

One problem in evaluating missionary dating from a biblical perspective is that dating of any type was not widely practiced in biblical times. Most marriages were arranged. Yet, since dating is often seen today as a “pathway” leading to marriage, biblical principles for marriage can be applied to dating, the precursor of marriage.

The Bible teaches against marriage between a believer and an unbeliever. In 1 Corinthians 7:39, Paul says that a widow “is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.” Paul’s stipulation that her spouse “belong to the Lord” is a clear directive to marry a Christian.

Paul also writes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). The principle here is that a close association with unbelievers often leads to compromised faith. Becoming romantically involved with an unbeliever is playing with fire. “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

What about those cases in which a Christian has dated a non-Christian, and the non-Christian did come to faith in Jesus? We praise the Lord for each conversion, but the fact that God has chosen to save someone who dated a Christian does not prove the wisdom of missionary dating in general or that it is a biblical practice. In truth, there are far more cases of missionary dating in which a Christian has lowered his standards or compromised her beliefs than in which someone was led to Christ. Despite the best of intentions, missionary dating remains a risky business, and there are far more effective forms of outreach.

The Bible does not speak explicitly regarding dating of any kind. However, since dating ultimately leads to marriage, we can glean some principles from what Scripture says of marriage. The indication is that believers should only date other believers.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Relationships: Does the Bible Teach that There Is a Gift of Celibacy?

 

Two passages in the New Testament are typically used to discuss what is sometimes called “the gift of celibacy.” The first is Matthew 19:9–12, “ ‘I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.’ The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’ Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’ ”

The phrase “only those to whom it has been given” refers to people receiving what some call “the gift of celibacy” or “the gift of singleness.” Regardless of what we call the gift, Jesus teaches that most people do not naturally desire to remain single and celibate for a lifetime. The exceptions are those who have “renounced marriage” for the kingdom’s sake. Such celibates have received a special gift from God.

The other pertinent passage is 1 Corinthians 7. In this chapter Paul states that it is not wrong to get married, but that it is better if a Christian can stay single. (The reason is that a married man’s attention is “divided” between pleasing the Lord and pleasing his wife; a single man is free to be more focused on the Lord’s work, verses 32–34.) Paul says, “I wish that all men were [unmarried] as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (verse 7). Paul is careful to state that this is “a concession, not … a command” (verse 6). The ability to stay single and serve God apart from marriage is a gift. Paul and some others had this gift, but not everyone.

As we see, the Bible does not explicitly call this “the gift of celibacy,” but it does express that the ability to remain unmarried to serve God more fully is a gift. Most adults desire marriage, and this desire is not sinful. In fact, marriage can keep us from sin: “Since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Rather than engage in immorality, believers are to be married. Sex within marriage between one man and one woman or celibate singleness—these are the only two options for Christians.

Although the Bible does speak of celibacy as a gift, it is not listed with the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12; Roman 12). Singleness is a gift that God gives everyone, at least temporarily. For some, the gift of singleness is permanent; for others, God takes that gift away and gives the gift of marriage in its place. The Bible encourages those who are celibate in Christian service that they are an important part of God’s family.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.