Preparation. A good marriage requires that young people prepare their lives by a know-so salvation, by moral purity, by learning God’s Word, by spiritual growth, and by learning the basics of family life. The best time to learn about how to build a Christian home is before marriage. The preparation should be done by the church and by the home. The young person needs to build true Christian character by walking with Christ so that he or she will be ready for marriage.
Respect for authority and good counsel (Prov. 20:18; Eph. 6:1-3; Heb. 13:17). We teach our young people not to depend on themselves in regard to finding the right mate but to seek help from the parents (particularly saved parents) and church leaders and other mature and godly adults. Wise young people will lean heavily on the counsel of such people. This is the opposite of the world’s way whereby young people seek to find a mate by dating and chance, which often ends up in moral shipwreck. The traditional Jewish practice is for parents, rabbis, and other qualified matchmakers to help the young people choose a spouse. “They very carefully look at compatibility--it is not left to chance. They do their homework on their characteristics, their values, morals and life goals” (“Marriage: Can Messianics Learn from Orthodox Jews?” Israel Today, Nov. 2016). The matchmakers propose a “shidduch date,” which is an opportunity for the couple to talk and get to know one another, and they decide then whether to continue meeting. If they determine to continue, they have more dates until they decide whether or not to get married. The marriages are not “arranged” in the sense of force, because each individual makes the final choice of whether or not to marry. Such marriages are arranged in the sense that the man and woman invite help from older and more mature authority figures. After 35 years of study, Robert Epstein of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology found that “arranged marriages are far more likely to lead to lasting affection than marriages of passion. Those who have had their partner chosen for them by a parent or matchmaker tend to feel more in love with time, whereas those in typical marriages often feel less in love over time” (Ibid.). This is because “those who marry for ‘love’ are often blinded by passion, and when the pressures and unavoidable challenges of family life crop up, they crumble.”
Not dating but courtship. The dating culture is an invention of the rock & roll culture. It forces young people to encounter temptations they are not ready to face and to make decisions they are not ready to make. The biblical pattern is courtship under close parental and pastoral supervision. Pastor Mario Schiavone of Sydney, Australia, says, “The idea of dating is anathema as far as we are concerned. I found a good book that deals with the issue, and I think all of our main families have a copy of it. It is called Just Friends by Mike Ray and Cary Schmidt. It takes a good position against the dating philosophy.” Some of the basics of courtship are as follows: (1) The young people are under the supervision of spiritual authorities and are in submission to those authorities. (2) They do not spend time alone together. (3) They do not touch until the wedding (Prov. 6:27). The closer the wedding comes the more potential there is for a couple to let down their moral guard. (4) There must be no pressure or manipulation by any party. The goal is to know God’s will, not to make something happen at man’s hands. The girl, especially, should be protected from making a purely emotional decision. I think of a young woman who is a pastor’s wife today. When the young man who is now her husband began to show interest, she understood that her heart was easily moved just by his attention. She slowed down the process and drew close to the Lord in order to remain sober minded so that God would be in control rather than her emotions. There are no set rules to courtship, as each situation is different; the elders set the rules and the young people obey. For example, the elders might say that all communication must be done at first through a father or pastor and not directly between the young man and woman. This is for protection. If the Lord gives peace to all parties, the young people can begin to communicate more directly.
Agreement (Amos 3:3; 2 Cor. 6:14). It is not God’s will for a believer to marry an unbeliever or someone of another religion or a different Christian faith. This is confusion. It is impossible to raise children properly in a divided home. Likewise, for the zealous believer to marry a lukewarm one or for a believer with a vision of reaching the world for Christ to marry someone lacking this vision is confusion. Usually what happens is that the lukewarm and the lack of vision dominates the relationship and pulls the other party down spiritually.
Peace as opposed to confusion (1 Cor. 14:33; Col. 3:15; 2 Th. 3:16; Jam. 3:13-18). God’s will is the way of peace and righteousness, whereas the devil’s will is the way of confusion and sin. A major principle of finding God’s will is to seek peace. Among our young people, we have seen God’s will done as well as the devil’s will. I think of one promising young man and young woman. The young lady received Christ in her early teens, and though her unsaved family persecuted her, she was faithful to the Lord. A young preacher, who showed promise got his eyes on the young lady and began to call her and meet her. When her parents and the church leaders found out about it, they were unanimous that it was not God’s will. Both the parents and the church leaders exhorted and warned the young couple to break off the relationship. They pretended to agree, but they continued to talk and meet in secret. The relationship had an immediate negative effect on their spiritual lives, resulting in deception and rebellion toward authority. Finally, they ran off together. They refused to repent before the church; they have not done anything in the Lord’s service since then; and they have a poor testimony before unbelievers to this day. Another young man and woman prepared their lives and waited on the Lord. They leaned on the counsel of their church leaders. When the leaders recommended the young lady to the young man, he prayed about it and agreed that it was the Lord’s will. The young lady did likewise. Both sets of parents were 100% supportive. (The parents are believers.) The church was 100% supportive. Everyone had peace, and there was no confusion. Their lovely wedding was a powerful testimony to believers and unbelievers alike of the beauty of God’s will.
Patience (Rom. 8:24-25; Heb. 10:36; Jam. 1:3-4). Patience is mentioned 46 times in the New Testament. It is a fundamental part of Christian living. It is a fundamental part of living by faith. God doesn’t act according to our human time table, and we must wait on Him. Contrast Saul, who sinned and lost his position because of his impatience (1 Sam. 13:8-14). Likewise, a great many young people have missed God’s will by being impatient in major decisions such as friends, employment, education, and marriage, instead of trusting God and waiting until His will is clear. Patience means the young person will not try to manipulate circumstances like tricky Jacob or Sarah (in the matter of Hagar) or Rebekah (in the matter of deceiving Isaac).
The above is from THE MOBILE PHONE AND THE CHRISTIAN HOME AND CHURCH. ISBN 978-1-58318-198-0. Many Christian homes and churches are losing a frightful percentage of their young people to the world. This practical and far-reaching youth discipleship course deals with the parent’s part, the church’s part, and the youth’s part in discipling young people. It covers salvation, child discipline, the Christian home environment that produces disciples, reaching the child’s heart, Bible study techniques, how to protect young people from dangers associated with the Internet and smartphones, how to use apologetics, and many other things. The section on building a wall of protection deals with such things as having a basic home phone that teens can use under parental oversight, using filters and accountability software, controlling passwords and apps, the power of pornography, the dangers of Facebook and video games, avoiding conversation with members of the opposite sex, and monitoring the young person’s attitude. The course explains how the church and the home can work together in youth discipleship. It describes the characteristic of a church that produces youth disciples, such as having qualified leaders, officers, and teachers, maintaining biblical standards for workers, being careful about salvation, being uncompromising about separation from the world, building godly homes, discipline, prayer, and vision. It deals with how to train young people to be effective Bible students and how to involve them in the church’s ministry. Finally, the course deals with eleven biblical principles of spiritual protection that young people must build into their own lives. These are living to please the Lord, living by the law of the Spirit, practicing humility, pursuing Christian growth, pursuing edification and ministry, pursuing honesty, practicing vigilance and separation, pursuing pure speech, redeeming the time, pursuing temperance, and obeying and honoring one’s parents. 200 pages, available in print and eBook formats.
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