Beyond God’s grace, the biggest blessing in my life is my wife. I have been blessed with eleven years of marriage, and I believe in my heart of hearts that she is the person God intended me to be with from the beginning. Being faithful is not very hard for me because there is no other woman that even comes close in my book. I love her dearly.
I do believe that God creates us to be with one person and calls us to be faithful to that person. But I also recognize that one needs to find that right person and that we usually are not going to find that person immediately. Indeed, I met my wife when I was thirty-three years old. We didn’t date until I was thirty-eight, a bit older than most married couples. How do you remain faithful and also find the right person? My answer is one person at a time.
When we look to the Bible, we get clear directions for God’s people. But we get them from an era when social norms were much different. People frequently got married in their teens (something our society frowns upon at the oldest of teen years and outright forbids any younger). Polygamy was normal during great spans of the Old Testament (and I don’t think any of us want to endorse polygamy). Romantic love, the supposed basis for marriages today, wasn’t the norm in biblical times. Indeed, it much more frequently was the current Asian practice of arranged marriages.
So how do we follow God in the 21st century? For many 21st century Christians, it is to abide by biblical prescriptions while we are growing up in our parents’ homes and after we are married but to look the other way in the in-between years (which, not coincidentally, is frequently an age group the 21st century church has trouble attracting to its services).
I believe the Church needs to uphold fidelity first. Even if you are dating someone and are unsure of whether this is the right person to marry, any desire to explore other options should be curtailed as long as you are in a relationship with the first person. If you don’t feel this is the right person to marry, be honest and move on.
In the past, solo-dating was discouraged. The thought process for parents and older adults is that to be involved in a single relationship probably increased the chances for sex outside marriage to occur. But today, sex outside marriage is happening in both committed and uncommitted relationships. All too often, sex is occurring between people who hardly know one another, and this is something that everyone can agree is the worst of ideas and clearly outside of God’s intent for us.
In trying to re-enter the dialogue of social norms with the society around us, I believe a good starting point is for us to encourage fidelity between every couple, married or unmarried.
When trying to teach a high jumper how to jump, a coach doesn’t start by putting the bar up at a very high level. He or she works that bar up after the student has learned a certain skill level. And this notch of fidelity exceeds current social norms and is attainable.
That doesn’t mean we end up endorsing premarital sex. I believe the church should also teach that sex is intended within marriage. But the focus starts with fidelity rather than the sex.
Once fidelity is uplifted, the church then should point to the Bible and show how sex is a special gift from God. It creates a bond that is intended for two people. The more sexual partners an individual has, the more they decrease the chance of really bonding with another. If you read Song of Solomon you find an intense description of the love between two people. What is treated so casually today was never meant to be so.
Let us uplift that God did not create people to be promiscuous. Instead, God created us to be in a meaningful relationship. Beyond the morality, it is simply a bad health practice to be physically involved with multiple partners. And being faithful to one good, God-loving person (even if you aren’t with the right person yet) at a time is what God wants for everyone.
As a pastor and as a parent this is what I hope to pass on to those who follow after me.
What do you think?