Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Advice For Singles

Advice to Single Christians: How, Who, When?

Our culture tells us many things, but what if we only had the Bible?! What if we listened to the counsel of the God?

I. How do I prepare for marriage?

Marriage or Singleness NOT mingleness

1. Best preparation for marriage = true singleness: you will have time to be married when you are married.

What do we have at present? ‘serial monogamy’ one partner to another; a series of romantic disasters: not really marriage, and not really singleness: MINGLENESS.

We need to develop other ‘loves’ while we are single: learn to be interested in things besides just romance. Develop your talents: music, arts. Develop your mind: good books. Develop discipline: self-control in finances, eating, exercise, sports. Develop a deep love for God: a life of prayer and meditation on the Word of God daily.

Don’t waste your singleness!

The Eagles were right: “You can spend all your time making money; you can spend all your love making time.”

Before marriage, focus your emotional/temporal resources on growing in character, growing in skills needed in marriage, deepening and enjoying family bonds, good same-sex friendships.

My old roommate George once said: “I won’t be able to have a good romance til I have the foundation of good male friendships.”

You will never have time after you are married to give yourself to these things. Many men bemoan the fact that they don't have lasting friendships to depend on: the place to develop such friendships is before marriage. If you spend all your youth flitting, like a confused bumble bee, from romance to romance, you will no doubt enter marriage without solid friendships. You've reaped what you've sown.

There is one advantage to singleness: Undivided Focus. While single, you are able to focus singularly on the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:28,32-35). Take care that this does not decline into being self-centered; be God-centered. Use your "extra" time to focus more steadfastly on God.

So, use 'single' time wisely: develop God-centered interests; develop real friendships; use your gifts; cultivate a single-minded devotion to the Lord.

II. Who should I marry?

Christians! (2 Corinthians 7:14 ff): what do you have in common with an unbeliever?

The capital of the Christians heart is in Christ. For illustration: we'll say it in Washington DC; the capital of the Non-Christians heart is on the other end of the earth, in Moscow. It's impossible to bring these two together! You obviously want to marry someone who has the same allegiance, and the same loves, and the same capital of their heart. Note: I'm indebted to Tim Keller for this illustration.

One foundation of a happy marriage is friendship: the foundation of friendship is things in common! This is why it is impossible for marriage to be all it can/should be with a non-Christian.

Different Loves: This is exactly what gets you in trouble in marriage with non-Christian: the most important thing in your life is not common. You love God; by definition, the non-Christian hates God. 

Also, “Bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor. 15:33).” In marriage, you are inseparably yoked to this person the rest of your life: this will either be a great blessing, or a great curse. If their character is bad, you will find it a daily battle to maintain godliness; if good, you will find they enhance your love for Christ.

Two Christians together in marriage are like two embers from a fire: they grow brighter by virtue of being near each other.

Don’t court in sport or you will find yourself in the carriage of marriage (paraphrase of Spurgeon).

How do I know if they are a Christian? Jesus said, "you will know them by their fruits (Mt 7.16); how they live is more important than what they say.

Beyond the basic advice of marrying a believer:

1. Choose character: Proverbs 31:30.
"Charm is deceitful, and beauty if fading, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Pr.31.30)."

This persons beauty will fade in years to come: I don't care how beautiful they are now. Keep in mind: you will have to live with this person's character long after their body/face change. 

When I was a youth pastor, I often saw teenage girls obsessed with movie stars and pop singers: I wondered why this troubled me. I now realize: this teaches you to love the wrong thing

This does not mean that beauty is unimportant; beauty is praised in the Bible; we are not gnostics: those who believe the physical is unimportant; in addition: marriage calls you to physical union as well as spiritual union. 

2. Choose character over wealth: Proverbs 17:1

Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife (Pr 17.1).

Many women are tempted to gravitate toward the guy with the nicer car, or the comfy job. They believe this will give them security, and happiness. It won't. If you are married to a rich man, with bad character, who is a terrible father, and cheats on you, and treats you poorly -- well, all I can say is enjoy your fine China.

You will get what you want in life: but will you want what you get!?

Learn to desire the right things in a spouse and your vision will be changed.

Be sure you can, with all your heart, say YES! to this person. 

III. When should I marry?

1. Not hastily

‘Don’t be quick to tie a knot you can’t undo’- Spurgeon

You need time to observe someone’s character.

Character: what is it? It is moral DNA: the inner-world which breaks, eventually, into the outer world; moral instincts as seen by moral choices; the habits of heart and mind developed over a lifetime; the state of our conscience (seared or sensitive?); who we are in secret; our ability to keep promises to ourselves.

Character is who we are when no one is looking: WHO WE ARE: WHO WE REALLY ARE.

Note: it is hard to learn someone’s character as you gaze romantically at them across a candlelit table, then go to a movie, and then make-out for an hour. To observe character, note how someone navigates the little things in life: speech patterns, (especially slips of tongue which are more telling than rehearsed speeches); you can learn more about someone by the way the speak of others than the others they speak of; relationships; social settings; choosing friends; keeping small promises; small courtesies; how do they treat the server at the restaurant? how do they speak to mother/father?

3 areas to observe

1. Around families (theirs and yours)
You can generally learn more about someone by meeting their families than by 100 dates with them individually. (Girls, involve your fathers from the first: Remember the 5th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother). Men: practice courtship, and make sure to go to the father first.

2. Around friends (Proverbs 12:26).

Who are their friends? What is the character of their friends?).

3. In Difficult Circumstances (Proverbs 24:10)

A friend said: "I knew my (then future) wife had real character when I saw her physically ill on a mission trip. She responded with patience and virtue."

Trauma brings out what is really in us.

1. Not wastily (1 Cor. 7:9)

In general, long engagements are a bad idea: Once you have met the person you want to marry: Marry!

We should be seeking marriage -- not romantic frills.
This is general advice: within these principles: God is there, seek him.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2/14/2014

    On this Valentine's Day, I ponder these words and wonder who wrote them?