Opening Prayer: Gracious Father, you are the Lord of love and romance and all of our relationships. Give us grace to submit to you as we consider your Word now. Give us your Spirit that we might hear you rightly, obey you, love your ways, and trust you for all the details. And bless us as we do so. Through Christ our Lord, Amen!
This morning we consider principles for courtship. This is one of the areas that we are called upon to love other people: parents, children, spouses, siblings, friends, and of course those other people who might one day become your spouse.
Marriage is the goal of courtship (Gen. 2:18-25). And the goal of marriage is a family (Gen. 1:28, Mal. 2:15). Believers may not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14). Fathers and mothers are to be honored in this process (Ex. 20:12, Eph. 6:1). Fathers in particular are required to assume responsibility for their daughters (Num. 30:3-16, Dt. 22:16). Father’s must not exasperate their children in this, and the best way to avoid provocation is by “feeding” them with lots of instruction and discussion before you get there (Eph. 6:4). Women need to be honored as sisters, and men as brothers (1 Tim. 5:1-2). The way you honor parents, siblings, and friends now is all training for how you will live with your family later. Wise decisions are more often made in the company of wise counselors (Pr. 11:14, 15:22). Do not be like the gentiles who worry about everything, but cast your cares upon your Father who cares for you (Mt. 6:8, 1 Pet. 5:7).
Principles and Methods
Every so often we need to be reminded that God wants us to grow up into unity and like mindedness, but that is not the same thing as cult-like uniformity. These are the Scriptural principles that are non-negotiable. We may not pick and choose from these principles. On the other hand, it is absolutely essential that we apply these principles with wisdom otherwise we’ve only multiplied fools not wisdom.
Thinking Through the Principles
Prepare for marriage by working hard now in ways that will actually be helpful when God gives you a spouse. Practice hard work, financial responsibility, serving others, and being faithful in all the little things (Mt. 25:21).
Don’t assume that because they’re (you’re) courting that means they’re (you’re) getting married. Obviously, wise parents and young people won’t get into relationships without some reasonable hope of success, but all parties need to take care that they don’t assume more than is true or make things more difficult than they already are.
Assume you don’t know and communicate more than you need to. Cultivate open, honest communication early, and go the extra mile to talk to one another. And practice this before you get there. It’s not too early to begin establishing this culture and these expectations with your children.
Get counsel: get wisdom. Related to the previous point, this means the only thing it’s safe to assume is that you need help. Seek out counsel and listen to those God has surrounded you with. In particular, trust God, and suspect your feelings. The Disney gospel is false; learn to hate it (Rom. 6:1).
Living in covenant community means that we must constantly guard against the twin errors of privacy invasion and ignorant isolation. In other words, mind your own business and watch out for one another. And much of this has to do with having humility and being gracious.
Beware of acting out of fear. Do not believe the lie that says if you don’t say yes now, you will never have an opportunity again. Remember that love is patient, and remember that God is good.
Because you trust God, trust the counselors he has surrounded you with: parents, teachers, pastors, elders, spouses, siblings, and friends. And remember that the wounds of a friend are faithful (Pr. 27:6).
Remember that the gospel applies to this area of life too, and it doesn’t stop applying after marriage either. The gospel applies in that Jesus is lord of love and romance. The gospel applies because forgiveness and grace have been provided for this area of life like all others. And the gospel applies because we are called to be a disciple here as well as everywhere else.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Closing Prayer: Father you have been so kind to us in this community. You have been merciful when we have failed in these things, and you continue to promise grace and mercy where we are still picking up the pieces. Thank you for the understanding you have already given many fathers and mothers and children in these areas, but we ask for more wisdom. Pour out your spirit upon our churches, our families, and schools, and give us faith to trust you, to cling to you, and to cast all of our cares upon you. Through Christ our Lord who has taught us to pray singing…