Being Single Today
Are you a single Christian woman or man confused about what God says about dating, courting, or the process of becoming engaged and married? How many seminars, church sit-ins, counseling sessions and peer discussions about fornication, sexual morality prior to marriage, finding the one for you, and the length of time that it will take to marry have you had in the last few months?
If you are a discerning, completely sold-out Christian you have these spasms of feelings that you constantly try to deny for Christ. I know, because as a Christian woman, I recorded in my memoir how I felt tortured and frustrated about being single; tired of married Christians telling me to be happy in my singleness and be married to God. And, I was tired of single leadership pretending that they were completely fulfilled. There is nothing wrong with having a desire for a beautiful relationship that results in marriage.
There is a reason God wanted Eve for Adam, and he says it right in the beginning of our manual for life. He says that it is not good for Adam to be alone. By design men will at some point need help and support, and women will want to be a help meet.
This is fabulous in marriage and dangerous in casual relationships. Of course, the support goes both ways, only furthering my point that for Christ’s sake, we do need each other in one capacity or another.
Each individual person has a different set of needs, and desires. There are people who want to make love once a week, and others once a day. Of course, my primary life principle in which I teach my child is that we must maintain complete and total balance in every area of our lives. With balance there is no addiction, only moderation.
The more that people try to control others through organized religion, tradition, government for example, the more that people feel the extremity of such control; but there is always a breaking point, and unfortunately some people turn away from God as a result of pressure.
In my book, Identity Crisis, Identity Christ Is: A Journey to Love I describe being celibate as torture at one point. I also point out that my last relationship did not work because of us “living in sin.”
The truth is, there are elements of reality in my story however more alarming was that for more than ten years my questions remained unanswered about dating relationships, courting, engagement and marriage.
The church that I grew up in was internally known for sexual immorality, even having to excommunicate an adulterous man who was a repeat offender after he slept with and bragged about having sex with a fifteen year old child.
Externally, the church was known for the unadulterated word of God that flowed through the mouth of the bishop that presided over the house. What he gave me in learning the word is embedded in my spiritual psyche and mental capacity in a way that has protected me, and shaped my entire life for the better. I can remember him saying that teenagers were not supposed to date.
I dealt with trauma from abuse, an emotionally absent mother and misinformation about sexual purity, so I had a child as a teenager. There are children sneaking into parked cars on the parking lots of churches to have sex, exchange inappropriate touching and who engage in sexual misconduct as a result of child sexual abuse trauma. The church is doing a poor presentation of sexual morality; prevention of child sexual abuse and sexual impurity within the congregation and the pulpit.
“We can no longer talk about fornication, homosexuality and ignore child sexual abuse, and the process for dating and marriage.”
- Ressurrection Graves
My bishop wrote several books and one of them outlined that in fact as Christians we are not supposed to date casually, rather we wait on God to bring us the person that he has ordained for our lives and we would become engaged and married. Still he maintained that we should not have pre-marital sex.
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Dr. Miles Munroe wrote a book about dating, and what he mentioned about friendships I found very powerful but his words about finding a mate, as if it was not a choice that was spiritual in nature was the direct contrary of the teaching I was raised on which further confused me in my twenties. It confused me because he made it seem like we will have many people that we have commonalities with and be attracted to; pick one.
My strong belief has always been that there is a specific person that will match you spiritually in a way that someone else will not. I do believe that you will be attracted to your mate, as many singles fear the answer to this question, “How does God envision me finding a mate?”
One lady told me that she dated a famous boxer (before he became famous), and that he cheated on her and broke her heart. She went to God and prayed that night that she didn’t want to be promiscuous so she solicited God for a husband and two months later – BAM! Just like that!
They have been married for about fifteen years now, and have three children. I assure you, I had no such answered prayer however, I did have the other experience that people kept telling me was possible. As soon as I take my eyes of it, he will come. And, he did.
In this blog, I am going to answer your single, Christian questions and I pray that it makes you free to be who you are in spite of critics and traditionalists who would rather be liked, than righteous.
Disclaimer: This blog is not up for debate or debacle. I have done research, prayed and have found answers for my own life that have brought even more overwhelming confirmation that is leading me to offer relationship counseling based on the word of God. Pastors are not answering questions and as a result, people are mislead and confused when they truly want to serve God. Enjoy.
The Beginning: Journey to Love
I really cannot think of anyone else in the whole wide world who wanted to be married more than I. For this reason, I put myself in boot camp when I turned about twenty. I started to search for scriptures that related to dating. I was interested in finding out what God had to say about the matter. I along with other passionate bible thinkers decided to search individually and meet up on the telephone as we hunted down answers, to no avail. At one point, I had people coming over my house, as self invited guests to pray and talk about God and relationships.
Finally, I joined a new church and saw the love oozing from the pulpit like cupid was God in the hallucinating flesh, had come down and found the biggest arrow he could find with its most potent love concoction for the pastors.
Of course I wanted to be married after watching them! So, even as a single I began going to marriage conferences and meetings. I started following Jimmy and Karen who are marriage counselors and pastors.
I mean I purchased books by Michelle McKinney Hammond, Waiting and Dating by Miles Munroe and a few other authors who spoke about Christian dating. Some of it was very practical and clear like the Proverbs 31 Man by: Michelle McKinney Hammond. It was a powerful and life changing read. When she began to talk about the spirituality of making love in the marriage bed I almost jumped through the book for a quick High-Five, because intuitively I knew that making love was something so carefully instituted by god – a righteous and holy experience that has become a common casualty to loneliness and selfishness.
Five Myths about Christian Relationships
- Dating without Purpose is Acceptable Christian Behavior for Teenagers or Adults
- Premarital Sex is Prohibited for Engaged Couples
- Premarital Counseling Comes After Engagement
- Engagement Requires a Ring
- Marriage takes time to decide
What I am sharing with you will include scriptures, and may not be exhaustive however I am providing enough information for self-study. We are all required to study to show thyself approved under God. We are all ministers of the gospel and hold a personal responsibility for our salvation.
DATING WITHOUT PURPOSE IS ACCEPTABLE CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR FOR TEENAGERS AND ADULTS
I never quite understood why people date people in church. It never set well with me and has always confused me as a woman. Church is a holy place where you come to date God, and I just never understood why anyone would want to cloud or create possible friction between the peace that passes all understanding and their ability to enjoy that on Sunday morning or five days a week if you engage in various ministries.
The exception would be hearing directly from God that someone is the mate for you. As a benefit of single’s ministries and connecting to others through church activities, it is fairly easy to gauge connections between you and someone else.
My Pastor said when I was a teenager through conversations that I had with him, through his published books, and through his teachings on the pulpit that dating was never meant to be casual. Dating has a specific purpose; marriage. The idea in Christian life is that if you date, you are dating because you are ready to marry. The person you are dating may not be the one for you, and contrary to some public opinion, it does not take long to figure that out.
As a Christian with intuition who is lead by a higher spiritual being (God), your discernment and relationship with God will reveal that the person that you are dating is not the one for you within the first three months. I have dated a few duds, and usually liars cannot keep face beyond three months. For many more however, you will know within the very first conversation. The person doesn’t have to be a bad person it is possible that they are just not the one for you.
If you don’t know what you want, and have not outlined what you need, you may want to read my blog: How To Ask for The Experience That You Really Want and in the meantime resist dating so that you can make sure that you attract what your heart truly desires.
And, honestly as you mature your financial needs may change for example – but outlining the experience that you want to have will not. I have always been, and will always be affectionate and intimate in my relationships. Therefore, asking for someone who does not like affection as much as I, or who is emotionally absent would make for a frustrating union filled with insecurities and starvation.
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People have said that the bible is silent on dating and courtship however, the bible has not changed, the world has. The bible doesn’t believe in dating for casual reasons. We are to date for marriage. As I said, if you are in the right place to meet someone for marriage, you can spot the wrong person within the first conversation.
Maybe he or she is not promiscuous but perhaps you have differences in where you want to live, parenting or other important things that can affect your whole life together. Perhaps they hate entrepreneurship and you only want to own companies. There are a myriad of reasons that you in one conversation could detect that the person does not meet your core desired experience however, you will not know at all if you are not clear on what experience you want to have in your relationship.
Salvation and Baptism
Remember, the bible is not silent on dating they just did not have it as an option. People were decisive. Think about our salvation for a moment. God gives us the choice, the ability to choose him. He makes himself available for us to choose, but he does not force or coerce our decision to have an intimate loving relationship with him. This is clear in John 3:16 among other scriptures. God is not a bully; a little gangster maybe, but not a bully.
In Romans 10:9-10 is clear that in order for us receive salvation we must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead for our sins.
There is a lot of significance in this text. For one, we can never know someone’s heart no matter what they recite. I took an in depth baptism class in bible school and in short, baptism is a type of resurrection.
Baptism is not salvation it is another step that takes place after salvation as a public announcement of what you have done in private. Likewise, what you will read below is the similarity in our relationship with God that the marriage relationship portrays.
Engagement and Marriage: One is a private commitment of marriage, and the other is a public ceremony. What you will learn today will help you to ensure that the person you are with is or is not the one.
I offer individual counseling for single women and men who are interested in identifying the experience that they want to have in their relationships. The more clarity that you have about what you are looking for, the easier it is to attract them to you.
God’s Desire for Dating is Marriage.
PRE-MARITAL SEX IS PROHIBITED FOR ENGAGED COUPLES
For many years it seems that the only types of sexual immorality that is preached about it fornication, adultery and homosexuality. My focus, are on the other sexually immoral sins like Child Sexual Abuse, Incest, and Rape. Additionally, I have always been fascinated by and passionate about marriage. I want to know how God sees marriage, and how to support others in finding the right one instead of compromising. Before entering the marriage bed we have a process, that many Christians are still confused about.
We want to know what the bible says but first, here is what the church teaches through the pulpit and peers:
- Date within the church
- Singles are scorned for desiring marriage or having sexual desires
- Do not have sex until you are married (don’t even touch)
- For mature couples (six months) before marrying
- For couple growing together (two years) before marrying
I will clear up a few things under this heading so that you are able to make decisions confidently about your relationships. If you are really in love with someone and you have connected spiritually, and soulfully, the desire for physical connection is not far behind.
According to teachings by Pastor Tony Brazelton, your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions or as he says, your thinker, feeler and chooser. When you have connected spiritually and there is a match, and in your soul, and there is a match, you physically desire to express your love.
So let me clear up a few items before tackling this pre-marital sex conversation. If you date within the church, it should be because God himself directed you to the individual. In biblical times, the man would ask for the woman’s hand however the woman had a choice to be betrothed. Betrothed in the bible is used synonymously with engagement and marriage.
Singles are not overly ambitious with sexual desires. Promiscuity and fornication are not acceptable Christian behaviors and it diminishes your own self-worth, leads you astray of your own dreams, and can cloud your decision making. Now, let’s talk about sex!
According to the scriptures, fornication is pre-marital sex. However, a woman who is engaged, is married therefore, fornication is not applicable to an engaged couple. Engagement in the bible is marriage. As an engaged couple, your family is aware of your marriage and a contract is drawn up. In present day, that can be achieved by going to the courthouse and getting a marriage certificate (as this is required before a wedding.) All that is needed is a legal document so an alternative could be to write a line to say, “I love you and yes, I will marry you.”
Of course, I am not making any suggestions as to how you formulate a proposal or signify an engagement however the point is that biblically speaking, asking someone to marry you is as covenant as saying “I DO.” If people understood this, less people would ask their mates to marry them just to shut them up or to pretend that one day marriage will happen.
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There are many things that the world does differently than the word. For example, in the world your actions constitute evil, however in the word (bible), it is clear that your thoughts are first recognized as sin.
This means that I could think about killing someone and it be as sinful and spiritually illegal as actually doing it. Likewise, God has a different standard of rules for relationships. We were never meant to try to people out, to be indecisive, to break hearts or to be brokenhearted, and to live promiscuously.
Can a Christian Couple Live Together?
Generally No! However, as a Christian Engaged Couple the answer is, yes. This is a great current into addressing sex before marriage. The bible is clear that a betrothed couple (which is an engaged couple), is considered married, possessing a legal binding agreement between each other, and living together.
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SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE
Mark 10:7-9 7For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Deuteronomy 20:7 7And what man has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.
Deuteronomy 24:5 “When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.
These scriptures indicate that a man and a woman would make love during the betrothal period. We have already established that betrothal is engagement, and engagement is where a marital contract is assembled much like going to the courthouse and getting a marriage certificate today. You can type up a document and sign it, and it is legally binding.
Again, the wedding ceremony is for public announcement and celebration, just as baptism is to salvation. Once you “marry” Jesus, you perform a baptism ceremony to celebrate with the public what has already been done in private.
I am only going to use a few scriptures here. In 1 Corinthians 7:36 Paul was saying in layman terms, “Marry or Burn.” At least, that is what the church taught however if you read the entire text (before and after the scripture), Paul is speaking about your personal choices to live married or single.
He was speaking of sexual morality and saying that you should get married if you have sexual desire instead of fornicate. This scripture is not relevant to being a betrothed woman or man as it relates to waiting until marriage to have sex. An engaged or betrothed couple is married. The matrimonial ceremony is what follows.
There is another scripture that is often used is that we must avoid the appearance of evil. We are often taught as Christians that we are in the world but not of it. We are here on assignment. We are not supposed to live like the world. An example that is often given with this scripture is that we as Christians should not walk into liquor stores, or sit at a bar in restaurants because it could make people think that we are drinking. As a side bar, being a drunkard or alcoholic is a sin, however having a drink with a meal is not.
There are many things that I have never chosen to do partly because of my Christian faith, but many times because of something else. My father was an alcoholic so I never drink quite honestly because of that – not because I thought I would go to hell if I had one drink at a party. I hate the feeling of not being in control of or protecting myself therefore, I would never be found stumbling down Adams Morgan or a Georgetown block unable to identify my car or the people that I am with. I am not that trusting. True to my Christian faith however, I wouldn’t be a drunkard because again, it is sinful behavior but there is no indication that being in balance and moderation with respect to social drinking ( one or two glasses of wine, beer or liquor), will strip me of my relationship with God.
The scripture to avoid the appearance of evil is also used relating to living together before marriage. I know of many churches who will ask an engaged couple to live in separate residences while they attend pre-marital counseling so that they will not be living in sin. One theologian that I found broke down all of the translations and clarified that the appearance of evil scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:22 was really referring to interpersonal relationships. Either way, I know it is not applicable to living together because according to the word of God, our manual for ethical and moral living, cohabitating as a betrothed/engaged/married couple was not evil.
Typically the man would go back to his father’s house and his father would be the authority on when the home was prepared for the woman to come and begin living there. She moved in prior to the ceremony. The agreement to marry was already arranged.
MYTH #3: PREMARITAL COUNSELING COMES AFTER ENGAGEMENT
I dedicated an entire blog to this subject so I will not elaborate for long here. However, pre-marital counseling in our current tradition is instituted to support engaged couples in deciding whether they are compatible to marry. The process of dating and courtship looks something like this:
- Dating (just in case he/she is the one)
- Courtship (Monogamous)
- Premarital Counseling
- and if you make it through all of that, Marriage.
As we have already established the bible does not confirm that this is the way to do things. As a relationship Christian Counselor (clergy), my created and focused method is:
- Waiting until you know what experience you want to have in a long term relationship
- Asking for what you really want with maturity and clarity
- Dating for Marriage
- Premarital Counseling
- Move in Together (not as a trial- according to the word you are married)
- Matrimonial Ceremony
Premarital Counseling comes before engagement because your engagement period was never meant to be on trial. You were never meant to enter a covenant and then run because you don’t share the same beliefs on household products or which way to use the toilet paper.
Additionally, and I am giving you this one for free, if you are dating for marriage it is quite difficult to be selfish or inoperable with your time. When you are dating for marriage you spend time together as often as possible to learn the heart and soul, and spirit of your mate. You talk about everything and leave out nothing, knowing that some things will come easier to discuss with time, and some things are unnecessary to relive like how many boyfriends or lovers you have had (unless it is a qualifying factor in your decision to marry.)
For my past article on Premarital Counseling which gets fantastic reviews, please click here after reading this article and commenting… and sharing on your social networks!
ENGAGEMENT REQUIRES A RING
Here is a Q&A that was answered by Richard Anthony’s blog on the same subject. We differ in one area but the rest of the article I found to be fantastic.
“Question: “Is giving jewelry and gifts to the bride scriptural, or is it from a heathen origin?”
Answer: It is a scriptural principle. When Abraham’s servant, Eliezar, went to get a wife for Isaac, he gave Rebekah Abraham’s dowry gifts of a gold earring and two gold bracelets, clothing, and articles of silver and gold. He also gave other members of her family precious things (Genesis 24:10, 22, 30, 47, 53).” -Richard Anthony
As stated earlier in text Engagement requires a gift or dowry where the husband would present gifts to the wife and members of her family. Some gifts would be to show that he intended not only to take care of his family but leave an inheritance for his children.
There is a vast cultural climate on dowries. What I can summarize from my brief study on this is that some believe rings were created as a pagan ritual and that there is no biblical origin or allegiance. Who offers and receives the dowry depends on the culture.
What I can hold as true and clear is a repeat of what is written above. In order for any legal contract to be valid, there must be an exchange of financial gift. In order for the marriage during the betrothal to be legal, even if were cattle, land, a ring, or a currency like gold this would have been necessary to enter into the marriage.
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You can do more study into the specification of ring but I say, talk as a couple, and come up with something that you can mutually agree upon as a gift. If you are applying this biblically, the ring or whatever it is that you choose is not necessarily what hold the meaning, the present is what holds the ability to enter into the contractual agreement. Dowries may differ based on family finances. The most beautiful thing about a marriage is the merger of two families becoming one.
What is really important is that both families become involved which will create a tighter union for the couple as they execute wedding and ceremonial plans.
I am totally not a believer that the family should completely take over your wedding but it is a beautiful thing when your Aunts and your parents are making all of your favorite dishes, or that they are involved with their gifts and talents. It makes it more memorable and special in some ways.
However you choose to honor each other talk about it. One of the most amazing truths about marriage is your authority and power in agreement. You will have whatever you say!MYTH #5 MARRIAGE TAKES TIME TO DECIDE
I was sitting in the congregation when my former pastors held a singles question and answer event. They answer pressing questions that singles had concerning the process of dating and marriage. Truth be told everyone wanted to know the same thing, “When will the one show up?”
I mean, if you believe in God and you have taken the initiative to not fornicate and are a virgin or to renew your vows to God through repentance, and stop fornicating the first thing you want to know is how long will I suffer without what feels good.
To be honest, I can speak because I have been down that road and it feel so much better to not be in a relationship with someone who I don’t like or to try to make it work with someone who I know is not God’s best for me. Sometimes we stay because we don’t want to start over. Men and women are guilty of staying beyond the revelation that this person is not the one God has hand crafted just for you.
If you are mature, and only you know what that means for you, then you may be ready to marry. If you were to ask me, I would measure during personal examination my spiritual maturity level and my character to determine if I need to work on me before entertaining the idea of marriage.
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Quick Example: If your mate, or child for that matter were to spill milk on the floor and that would send you into a raging beast from hell, you are not ready to be married because you could be an abuser emotionally.
If you cannot keep your hands to yourself, you are absolutely not ready for the spiritual commitment to marry. If you are argumentative, insecure, selfish and not affectionate, these are signs that you may want to work on yourself before pursuing relationships that lead to marriage. In the meantime though, what sets the Christian world apart from the secular world is how you handle not being ready for marriage. Do you date or work on you?
In the bible, the longest “promise” to marry was with Jacob and Rachel. Jacob did call Rachel his wife because Laban (Rachel’s father) promised Jacob that he could have her after seven years. The issue with using this passage is that in my opinion Laban was a jerk.
He required Jacob to work for him for seven years, and then tricked him with the wrong daughter. Jacob then worked another seven years totaling fourteen years of service for this woman. This text is often misused with the idea that a man or woman should wait that long to be together. This is not a biblically accurate scripture to use in order to say that betrothal does not mean sexual consummation. This is because Laban did not have to make Jacob work that long, nor did he have to trick him.
Jacob wanted Rachel and was willing to do what it took which is why female Christians may romantically fall for this passage in scripture but the truth is Laban made a choice to treat Jacob that way and it was unnecessary punishment. Laban called the shots. With that handled, I am removing the idea that we should be connecting ourselves with the mistreatment that Jacob endured for fourteen years, unable to lie with his wife.
So, to answer your question my former pastors say six months if you are mature, and no more than two years if you are not having sex before marriage. What they asked was (because they teach no sex before marriage), what are you doing beyond two years? How can you hold out any longer than that if you really love this person and have connected with them deeply?
I offer pre and post engagement Christian individual sessions and group workshops for those who love God and want to make sure that they are following scriptural protocol for marriage. As a facilitator, my desire is not to change your beliefs or to choose your mate for you, I am simply available to offer biblical and practical support that challenge you and your mate to create the best marriage possible.
Premarital counseling is also Pre-Engagement Counseling. During Pre-Engagement Counseling you will be able to bring any concerns you have to the table that may be self-indulgent or about your potential mate. We consider the options, look at some key factors and you get to make a choice in your own time.
For singles, I offer sessions that support you in determining if you are really asking for the experience that you want to have in your life partnerships. Sometimes I offer these sessions through a group counseling vision board party format. I also speak on the topic upon request in corporate settings, educational institutions in high school and university/college level, and churches without respect to denomination.
I have one caution, if you are engaged and you present the information here about sex before marriage to your spouse and she/he maintains that they want to wait until honeymoon night, I highly encourage you in keeping communication open, respecting and honoring your betrothed husband or wife, and choosing a path together that is agreeable.
I wrote this blog not intending to find the information that lead us to discuss sex before honeymoon night, but to make sure that single christian women and men have a proper outline for and the purpose of dating for marriage.
My analogies of salvation and water baptism are used here to help you imagine the process of engagement and marriage in biblical times. Such commitment cannot by any means be taken lightly. Marriage was never intended to end in divorce and if you are fortunate enough to be considering marriage for the first time around, it is very important that you be true and honest with yourself first about who you are and what your needs may be.
Self-examination will help you to become a better person in weak areas, and will help you to figure out what your life long needs are in a multitude of intimate relationships that you will develop from here on out.
Marriage does don’t make one of you lose yourself for the other. You keep your individual thoughts, beliefs, gifts, and existence and you merge into one beautiful being spiritually, emotionally and physically. To be honest with you, being married is the most selfless thing that you can ever do.
Having children can even be a selfish act, but being married will expose you to yourself, and your accountability partner, your mate. Marriage is a ministry and I pray that this blog has in some way aided you in putting dating with purpose, engagement and marriage in proper perspective. Pastor Cynthia Brazelton says it absolutely best,
The way you treat your mate should be a tangible expression of your relationship with GOD.
Please feel free to contact me if you:
- Have specific questions about your relationship
- Are trying to determine whether you want to continue your relationship
- Have questions about dating for marriage
- Have questions about having pre-marital sex
- Or have more specific questions concerning one of the topics in this article
I offer a 15 minute consultation free. For more information please click here.