1. It’s not bad to want to have sex with your significant other. It’d be another sort of worry if you didn’t. The key is to want to glorify Christ more than you want to have sex with each other.

2. The key to glorifying Christ more than you want to have sex with each other is that it is a decision to be made over and over again.

3. Persons in a dating or courting relationship are on their best behavior. So however they are now, you can expect, over time, for them to get “worse.” As familiarity grows, people let their guards down. Marriage does not fix bad behavior; it often gives it freer reign. Ladies, this means if your boyfriend is controlling, suspicious, verbally condescending or manipulative, he will get worse, not better the longer your relationship goes on. Whatever you are making excuses for or overlooking now, will get harder to ignore and more prominent the longer your relationship goes on. You can’t fix him, and marriage won’t straighten him out.

4. Nearly every Christian I know who is married to an unbeliever loves their spouse and does not necessarily regret marrying them, but has experienced deep pain and discontent in their marriage because of this unequal yoking and would now never advise a believer to marry an unbeliever.

5. Assuming you’re special and you’re different and their experiences won’t reflect yours is shortsighted, unwise, and arrogant. The people who love you and are warning/advising you against your relationship might be ignorant fools. Those sorts of people do exist. But odds are better that your parents, your pastor, your older married friends are wiser than you think.

6. Living together before marriage is a marriage killer.

7. Premarital sex de-incentivizes a young man to grow up, take responsibility, and lead his home and family.

8. Pre-marital sex wounds a young woman’s heart, perhaps imperceptibly at first but undeniably over time, as she trades in covenant benefits without covenant security. This is not the way God designed sex to fulfill us. Never give your body to a man who has not pledged to God his faithfulness to you in covenant marriage, which presupposes an accountability to a local church. In short, don’t give your heart to a man who is not accountable to anybody who provides godly discipline.

9. All of your relationships, including your romantic relationship, is meant to make Jesus look big more than it is meant to provide you personal fulfillment. When we make personal fulfillment our ultimate priority in our relationships, ironically enough, we find ourselves frustratingly unfulfilled.

10. You are loved by God with abundant grace in Christ’s atoning work, and an embrace of this love by faith in Jesus provides Holy Spiritual power and satisfaction to pursue relationships that honor God and thereby maximize your joy.

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Comments:


117 thoughts on “10 Things Young Singles in Romantic Relationships Ought to Know”

  1. Joe says:

    You should add a point about not being afraid to marry at an age younger than society accepts. There is no benefit to dating for 2-5 years just to “figure out if this is the right person.” For thousands of years humans have had arranged marriages and courtships…they have worked out just fine.

    1. Daniel says:

      I respectfully disagree. In a sense, for those that have other serious commitments to things such as school or the military, marriage has the potential (not always) to complicate those commitments. That, in turn, complicates the marriage. Never be too eager to commit to something for the rest of your life unless your life is ready to wrap itself around that person.

    2. emily says:

      Well.. If you add that, then you can also add not being afraid to marry at an “older age” & instead to put God first, and then trust that He will open the door in His timing..

      Shows that God works both ways & that this probably isn’t as much of an “absolute” as the 10 listed.. Just because it was your life experience, doesn’t mean that’s what God’s plan is for everyone else.

    3. JN says:

      Interesting perspective.

      You neglect to mention that arranged marriages over those thousands of years were primarily intended for the purposes of securing land, property, and wealth within clans or bloodlines…not centered around true love for one another.

      You also neglect to mention that for the vast majority of those thousands of years of arranged marriages and courtships, the women were considered property- and tended to be treated as such.

      Do we really want to return to those halcyon days?

  2. Mimi says:

    I just finished reading “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper and this list echoed the theme of that amazing book. Point number 9 is my FAVORITE one on the list!
    Grace and Peace:-)

  3. Fred Woodbridge says:

    In re 7, “Premarital sex de-incentivizes a young man to grow up, take responsibility, and lead his home and family.” I had to laugh at this one because you’re seeming to imply that marital sex does the opposite?

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      I’m not implying anything. I stated what I meant.

      1. Holly says:

        and I absolutely agree! If you can get the milk for free without buying the cow why do it? (old analogy but it still works) I mean many young men will say it was wanting to have sex with their love and knowing she wasn’t about to without commitment on his part in the form of him being able to take care of her and provide for her that caused them to get it together!!

    2. Frank Turk says:

      Keeping sex inside marriage means that a man must be a husband before he is a lover. It keeps the priorities straight.

      1. JN says:

        This has a poetic ring to it, but it implies that a lover is more than a husband…or the next evolutionary phase in a relationship.

        I would disagree and argue that a lover is a lover- a husband (or a wife) is a lover plus a good deal of commitment, maturity, and sacrifice.

        Anyone can be a lover. Not everyone can be a spouse.

    3. Ryan says:

      I felt it to be a bit bizarre myself. Frankly I think that if someone (and let’s be even-handed here, sexual frustration is felt by both women and men)were to say to themselves “Well, now that we’re having sex, I don’t see any point in us getting married,” then their understanding of the covenant of marriage is sufficiently shallow and warped that it’s probably something they ought not to be considering right away anyway.

      In other words, if you need to use sex as an incentive to get married, you’re probably stuck in a non-starter

    4. Zachary says:

      Actually Jared, I respectfully disagree. My girlfriend and I live together. We are not married. I have a full time job making more than enough to support us. I take full responsibility for our household. Our having sex without being married has never made me consider for a moment not holding down my responsibilities, or taking care of us both. I am 22 years old.

      I’m sure your example DOES correlate with a lot of situations, but I think you have misinterpreted the cause. I don’t think it’s the sex that “de-incentives” young men to get married, but rather that sex was their only goal. They had no interest in marriage, they wanted sex. They do not truly love that woman, they only want in her pants.

      To me, it sounds like much more of a commitment to live with someone you love, to have the privilege of sex with each other, and to continue to work to support that person and be responsible for that person, despite being under no legal obligation to do so.

      Just as Ryan points out, if you need the incentive of getting to have sex in order to drive you to marry someone, that this is the benefit of declaring your love for each other while also signing the most binding legal contract you will ever take part in, then I don’t think you’re getting married for the right reasons. Lovers come and go, you shouldn’t marry because it’s the key to a woman’s pants. You should marry because you know in your heart that the person you’re with is the one you love and want to be with, and honestly, you won’t know that for sure when you’re driven by hormones and sexual tension that you can only relieve after having sealed the deal.

      Sure, people’s hearts get broken, women and men alike, but you learn from that experience and become a better person for it. I would much rather be sad that a lover has left me, then spend the rest of my life with someone who I thought I loved, only to find I may have made a bad decision based on hormones and sexual tension.

      I don’t personally care for the heavy religious bias, but you have some pretty decent advice here for the most part, particularly number three.

      1. Jared C. Wilson says:

        Zachary, if you were as committed as you claim to be, you’d ask your girlfriend to marry you before you asked her to live like she already is. When you stop treating your relationship like a test drive for your own fulfillment and comfort, that’s when you’ll mature a little bit.

        1. JN says:

          Who says that Zachary is treating his relationship like a “test drive for his own fulfillment and comfort?” It’s more than a little silly to claim that his having a sex life renders him less mature than someone who does not, simply in and of that fact.

          Think about how you’ve worded your response and think about how he’s worded his points of disagreement. Who really sounds like they are overly focused on the sexual aspect of the relationship here?

          1. Jared C. Wilson says:

            Who says that Zachary is treating his relationship like a “test drive for his own fulfillment and comfort?”

            I said that.

            Who really sounds like they are overly focused on the sexual aspect of the relationship here?

            I was not referring to the sexual aspect of the relationship with my remarks about “his own fulfillment and comfort.” I was speaking to his personal sense of fulfillment and comfort, which he alluded to himself as needing addressing before he could commit to marriage.

            This conversation is nearly impossible to have, however, since I am willing to wager hundreds of millions of dollars we have different definitions of marriage and different visions of what marriage is meant to do anyway.

            Points 9 and 10 are my guiding principles. If you disagree there, of course you’ll disagree with (nearly?) all the rest.

          2. Zachary says:

            Actually Jared, Jonathan has a great point. You filled in your own answer for why my girlfriend and I aren’t married. I never said I was “test driving my relationship.” I never “alluded” to anything about my own personal comfort or fulfillment causing me to question marriage in my original comment (If you believe I did, please quote it when you accuse me). I also didn’t “ask my girlfriend” to live the way we live. It was a joint decision that we made to make it possible for us to both go to college.

            Actually, we live together because I encouraged her to start college so she could fulfill her dreams by becoming a counselor to people who have suffered abuse. We used to live separately, an hour away from where we go to school. Once I started working full time, it became nearly impossible for us to car pool to school. We took night classes, and now that I was making enough money for us to have our own place, it made more sense to get an apartment near school, rather than to drive more than an hour at the end of every work day, then an hour home after 10PM only to have to get up the next morning for work.

            We have put off marriage for multiple reasons. One, we want to both finish school and both have started a career before we get married and start a family, and two, I work so that my girlfriend doesn’t have to struggle to try to work and go to school at the same time. I support us completely, and because of that, we don’t have the money for engagement rings or weddings right now. Right now, I’ve just started a promising career and am finishing school, and my girlfriend has just started college. It makes more sense to focus on those goals right now, rather than on marriage.

            You made a lot of assumptions about me and my girlfriend, and why we chose to live as we do, in your reply to me. I personally feel very offended by the way you approached me, and the things you assumed about me. There is nothing “immature” about my decision. I work my a** off for the sole purpose of making college more attainable for the woman I love. We have the full intention of marrying once we’re finished with school, but right now that is just not a priority for either of us.

            As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this discussion below about how studies frequently take the limited data they have available and draw conclusions based on their own views, you took the limited data you had about me from my previous comment, applied your own views to what I said, assumed that the only reason we might live together without marrying is because I am unwilling to commit, and even took that a step further to assert that our living situation was my idea, and that I asked my girlfriend to do this. Then, you called me immature, because if your preconceived notions about our lives were accurate, that would make me very immature. However, you could not have been further from the truth in your assertions of who I am, or what my reasons are.

            I really would appreciate an apology from you. You may not agree with my philosophy or my decisions (just as I don’t agree with many of your beliefs) but nowhere in this discussion have I disrespected anyone who did not agree with me with labels like “immature” “unwilling to commit” or insinuating that I coerced my girlfriend into the decision to live together.

          3. Jared Wilson says:

            Zachary, I don’t owe you an apology. You are trying to enjoy the benefits of the covenant without the covenant. You are in sin. I’m not going to apologize for saying what the Bible says.

            Your excuses are hollow. You’re already living together, already, as you said, supporting her financially. Not to marry the girl before all that is sin. Not being able to afford rings is a dumb excuse. Wanting to finish school is a dumb excuse. What will change after that? You’re already living together as if you are married.

            We can talk data until the cows come home. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. But you aren’t seeking to honor Christ, which means you aren’t seeking to honor your girlfriend, which means we are using completely different frameworks in this conversation from which to say what is “okay.”

          4. Zachary says:

            Jared, I didn’t ask for an apology for stating your beliefs, I asked for an apology for you making several baseless and insulting assumptions about me. I don’t expect you to apologize for stating your beliefs, but I do expect you to apologize for insulting me. I don’t care what the Bible says, no where in the Bible does it say that I personally am doing any of the things you assumed I was doing.

            I make no excuses. I only show that you do not me, and that you were wrong in your assumptions of me. What will change after we’re done with school? We’ll have our lives back, everything will change! Have you ever tried working full time while also going to school? You are very pretentious and arrogant, to tell me that any reason that we have for making the decisions we do is a “dumb excuse.” As if you know the first thing about anyone’s life other than your own. I’ll say again, I did not agree with you above, but I never sought to directly insult you just to get my point across.

            As for the rest, obviously we have two very different opinions on this.

          5. Jared Wilson says:

            Have you ever tried working full time while also going to school?

            Yep. I’ve also worked 3 jobs while attending college. And I was married the whole time.

            We’ll have our lives back, everything will change!

            Your life is now. It’s not on hold. You are living your life right now. Things always change. There will always be reasons not to obey God. Quit making excuses; repent and believe the grace of God is there for your forgiveness and power to follow Christ.

          6. Zachary says:

            I’m not making any “excuses” to “not obey God.” I don’t need reasons to not obey the Christian interpretation of whatever created us, be it intelligent or completely accidental, because I don’t share the same beliefs as you do. That has nothing to do with school or work or anything else. That has to do with me having the right to believe whatever I like.

  4. Jonathan Sekhar says:

    Very helpful article, but isn’t the term “singles in romantic relationships” an oxymoron?

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Jonathan, I probably should have used the term “unmarrieds” or something like that.

      1. Jonathan Sekhar says:

        Ah, yes. I was shocked by the statistics Gerald Hiestand posted on Crossway’s blog about 20% of single evangelicals remaining abstinent. I don’t mean to be pedantic over your title when the content is so key.

  5. marylou says:

    The people who love you and are warning/advising you against your relationship might be ignorant fools. Those sorts of people do exist. But odds are better that your parents, your pastor, your older married friends are wiser than you think. The controlling and manipulative person in a relationship can OFTEN be the woman who has her designs on a man and often initiates the relationship from the beginning by asking them out on a date even if the man does not usually date. It’s the quiet, almost demure passive aggressive woman whose controlling behavior will only get worse, even while stating that it is God’s will that they be together. They are only looking to fulfill their desires and needs and don’t have the interests or dreams of the man in mind.

    1. Holly says:

      and it’s also the passive aggressive or controlling, possessive, obsessive, jealous guys who get worse too! What the writer said was correct no need to point fingers at one sex or the other …

      1. Greg says:

        Hmm… I would submit that there is nothing inherently wrong with jealousy, obsession, or possessiveness. Manipulation and control, yes. Those other things, no.

        God himself can be characterized by his behavior towards “his” people as jealous, possessive, and obsessive. I would argue that a human being has a right, nay, even a moral obligation, to be jealous for, possessive of, and obsessive about “his” spouse.

        1. Daniel says:

          Greg, God created us. We’re eternally owned by him and he rightfully deserves our entire selves. Us humans, on the other hand, do not create our spouses. Our spouses are equals to us and we need to respect them, honor them, and be patient with them. If we go swinging fists at whoever bats an eye at our spouse, then we’re definitely in the wrong. If marriage banishes our freedom to live our lives not only with our (hopefully) equally committed spouse, but also to the other friends and family we had in our past, then marriage has failed. These are what jealousy, obsession, and possessiveness are.

          I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be defensive when a guy is hitting on your wife, but if your wife is flirting knowingly with other guys and letting them continue, then there’s something seriously wrong with the marriage in the first place.

          1. Greg says:

            I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be defensive when a guy is hitting on your wife, but if your wife is flirting knowingly with other guys and letting them continue, then there’s something seriously wrong with the marriage in the first place.

            What you mention first here is exactly the circumstance I was imagining, actually. Further, I’d argue that there is nothing wrong with behavior or communication that emphasizes the couple’s oneness by reiterating the possession each of the other.

            You haven’t really clearly demonstrated that jealousy, obsession, and possessiveness are. Please delineate these terms, rather than speaking so broadly. As to God having created us and therefore having that right, you seem to forget that God created marriage also, and therefore created two individuals for each other (e.g., Adam and Eve, leaving-and-cleaving principle). Paul states that when a couple marries, each is no longer his own, but belongs to the other. Therefore, the rights to each belong with the other, as a holy gift to each from God.

          2. Daniel says:

            As a newly married couple, like you said, the two become one flesh. Because of this, along with the life long covenant to God, that couple is now expected to coexist, live together, eat and breathe together. As they become one, they must also learn to trust, to collaborate on decisions (granted, there’s roles to be played), and to forgive.

            I didn’t explain the differences between jealousy, obsession, and possessiveness are because they are related terms. A jealous man is always possessive. An obsessed man feels jealousy.

            If the circumstance occurs that you were hinting at, it’s the husband’s duty to recognize that, if the wife is allowing a man to flirt with her, it’s the husband’s duty to recognize that as a sign of a bigger problem to be dealt with. Likewise, if a man is harassing your wife, it is certainly the husband’s right to step in and defend his wife.

            Don’t let spiritual and marital roles be smothered by testosterone. Not saying you’re doing that. But it’s always good to check up on that.

        2. emily says:

          Greg.. God’s characteristics are not flawed by the fall.. He can present these in a way that’s Holy & comes from total, perfect, love – I have not yet found a human that can do the same.. Those characteristics by themselves, not as components of others really would make me run for the hills b/c they typically stem from an imperfect jealousy, or attachment.

          1. Greg says:

            But… that’s such a “Jedi” thing to say (and not a Scriptural precept). Attachment in and of itself is a wonderful thing. Each human is to be most attached to his spouse. Simply because some individuals sometimes “do it wrong” does not mean the thing itself is wrong. That’s like saying sex is evil if you have never met a couple that’s married.

        3. Yiggoto says:

          Greg really? You said there’s “nothing inherently wrong with jealousy, obsession, or possessiveness. Manipulation and control, yes. Those other things, no.”

          I accept that those are some of the qualities of your god but I really wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with any mortal exhibiting any of those tendencies. If you love someone, let them go.

          1. Greg says:

            If you love someone, let them go.

            No, you don’t. You pursue them. You stick with them. You need them. I’m sick of this quasi-Christianese-Jedi-anti-emotionalist BS our culture feeds us on this topic. My fiancee, especially when she becomes my wife in two weeks, is mine. I am hers. (II Corinthians

            I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; (Song of Solomon 6:3a)

            Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

            Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

            To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

            To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. (I Corinthians 7:1-11)(emphasis mine)

            I accept that those are some of the qualities of your god but I really wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with any mortal exhibiting any of those tendencies.

            And that’s the crux of it. Do you think it really matters to me whether you would want to be in a relationship with someone like that? Both myself and my fiancee would. So, if you not desiring that sort of relationship can make it invalid, then us wanting that sort of relationship can make it valid, by your own standard.

            I would argue, however, that your standard is out of whack.

            Greg, really?

            Yes, really. Haha, not sure how else to respond to that argument.

          2. Yiggoto says:

            Greg, I hope your ownership of your soon-to-be wife lives up to both your expectations. Is there a section on sexual compatibility problems in the bible, just in case you need it?

          3. Greg says:

            Haha, wow. Now you’re assuming things about what we expect from intimacy. That’s a pretty big leap.

            No, there isn’t. That’s an excuse used by those who don’t communicate well, get bored with their current partner, and don’t see sexual relationships as really all that special. They love sex, but aren’t willing to actually bother trying to learn something about their partner.

            This is in essence the opposite of what marriage is. You devote yourselves entirely to one another, and as a result, the two become more “compatible” over time as they better understand the desires and needs of the other.

            “Incompatibility” is a cop-out for the non-committal and narcissistic.

          4. Greg says:

            Haha, wow. Now you’re assuming things about what we expect from intimacy. That’s a pretty big leap. Also, she owns me as well. It’s a two-way street, so don’t twist my words to make them sound worse than they are.

            Incompatibility is an excuse used by those who don’t communicate well, get bored with their current partner, and don’t see sexual relationships as really all that special. They love sex, but aren’t willing to actually bother trying to learn something about their partner.

            This is in essence the opposite of what marriage is.

            There are, in fact, things in the Bible about what you would call “incompatibility”; You devote yourselves entirely to one another, and as a result, the two become more “compatible” over time as they better understand the desires and needs of the other. The husband and wife are called to love and respect each other, and to live in patience with one another. As time passes, they will become more attuned to one another. True love is that which remains true; not that which at once “just feels perfect”.

            “Incompatibility” is a cop-out for the non-committal and narcissistic; those that treat sex as simply something to “get”, and therefore have had multiple partners and get sick of/bored with one when he/she doesn’t “perform” as they think they deserve. It’s an entirely different mindset that actually bothers to look at this factor in deciding a mate, one that we both utterly reject, as it is “incompatible” with a Christian worldview.

            Having difficulty “edit”-ing comment right above.

  6. Ernestine Summer Bonicelli says:

    This is very good and I agree with all but one concept. Dr. Rogers said he made a decision one time never to watch anything on television when he was traveling that did not line up with God’s word. That was because most, if not all, the motel and hotel televisions had available pornography. When he got to the place he was going, there was no decision to make; it had already been made. It is dangerous to wait until the sin is possible before you make a decision. I believe the decision not to have sex before or outside of marriage should be made once for all, and then see to it that you are not in a situation where you can be tempted in a way that could undermine that decision. Alcoholics should not go into bars or liquor stores. Single people should never put themselves in a position where sex is even possible. By the way, statistics bear out that sex before marriage is a marriage killer – the percentage of divorce among that group is about 50% higher than those who stayed pure. And even those don’t make it a lot of times so it’s a stupid gamble.

    1. Lois Kwon says:

      I think that’s a great point: “It is dangerous to wait until the sin is possible before you make a decision.” But I’m confused as to which concept from the article you are disagreeing with.

    2. Daniel says:

      Your argument is almost always true. But in the case of the relationship, where two individuals have to make the conscious and cooperative decision to remain abstinent, communication is key. By repeatedly communicating, there is no room for doubt, a change of mind, or misinterpreting body signals. It leaves less wiggle room for error or blame.

    3. Zachary says:

      Ernestine, I would posit that those high divorce rates are due to many people having unprotected sex with people they hardly know. A woman becomes pregnant, and getting married is “the right thing to do.”

      People never consider that even under those circumstances, that they could still both be parents to that child without submitting to a loveless marriage with someone they hardly know. I have two friends who found themselves in this very position. They got married after she got pregnant, and not a full year later, they are on the verge of divorce.

      It’s not the premarital sex necessarily that is killing their marriages. It’s that they are young people who did not take the proper precautions to be safe and soon found themselves saddled with responsibilities that they did not mean to create, and were not ready for. Living with someone is a big change, marriage is a big change. Change is stressful. Throw a child and all the duty and responsibility that comes with being a parent to that child, and two people who never wanted to be with each other never stood a chance.

      I can also quote statistics that abstinence only sex education doesn’t work (that 50% divorce rate bears witness to that as well), but I see little value in it, we can twist statistics to mean whatever we want, we often jump from a correlation to declaring a causation when we don’t have or understand all of the facts, and really we can take those numbers and make them mean whatever we want to mean. I only mean to say that just because a 50% divorce rate correlates with people who have sex before marriage, doesn’t mean sex is the cause. There can be plenty of other factors that affect divorce, not the least of which includes the results of unprotected sex.

      I can’t speak for everyone, and studies and statistics can never account for all of the possible factors in the situations they try to understand, they can only draw conclusions from what data they have available. I can, however, speak for myself, and say that premarital sex has not ruined my relationship with my girlfriend. We’ve lived with each other for over a year, and plan to be married. We’re very happy. I also know that many people jump into marriage quickly for whatever reason, and don’t take the time to come to know the person they’re signing up to spend the rest of their lives with, and that can surely (and from what I’ve personally seen, often does) lead to marital problems.

      1. me says:

        What I find amazing Zach is how noble you manage to make yourself sound while totally ignoring that the woman you are with is a child of GOD meant to have more than you are giving her. You certainly wrap the package to sound like you can give better than He would have her have. I pray that my daughter never meets anyone as slick as you.

        1. Zachary says:

          Also, I find the comment “I pray that my daughter never meets anyone as slick as you.” very offensive. You are suggesting that I somehow am a “slick” swindler who conned my girlfriend into her own beliefs which she held before we ever even met? Wow, you’re just lucky she isn’t reading this, she has far less patience and much less of a filter for what she says when someone pisses her off. :)

          But again, you just assume that my girlfriend must have been a “perfect” Christian before I met her, and I somehow corrupted her into our lifestyle, and even suggest I would do the same to your daughter? Not that it’s any of your business, but one of the first things my girlfriend and I ever talked about when we first met (and had nothing invested in each other) was a very engaging conversation on our views on religion, both organized religion and a true spiritual experience with something greater than ourselves. I haven’t done anything to shape her beliefs, nor do you completely understand our beliefs. I am not simply an atheist. My beliefs go deeper than that, but I suppose it’s easy for you to simply label me as such and then decide in your own mind that I must have also corrupted the woman I love with my dangerous ideas.

          Seriously, what is up with all of the judgment! You know that’s a double-whammy, right? You are not without sin, and according to your own beliefs only God is fit to judge, and yet you go right ahead and judge, and yet everything you know about me comes from a few paragraphs and the blanks you’ve filled in with your own imagination! Also, by calling yourself a Christian while you do this, you’re also being a hypocrite.

      2. Zachary says:

        To the anonymous coward above: You guys are all really judgmental to be true Christians… Where in the Bible did you learn that?

        Two can play that game. From my perspective, you’re very ignorant in that you harp on me for not taking into consideration a religion I do not subscribe to. Should I just go ahead and buy into all the other religious marriage practices of the world as well, since I don’t follow your religion, but am expected by you to adhere to the teachings of your religion? Maybe I should be in an arranged marriage with a woman who has to wear a Burqa in public and seeks reincarnation through good works? Maybe I can mix a few other practices from around the world in there as well.

        What I find amazing is that while I can be so tolerant of your beliefs, even though I don’t agree with them, that you all feel the need to attack me, call me names, or imply that I am somehow depriving myself or my girlfriend because we don’t believe what you believe. Also, what’s with the constant assertions that all of these decisions were my idea? My girlfriend is a very independent person with thoughts of her own, it’s not as though I just say “jump” and she says “how high.” You’re not even judgmental of me, you’re judging your preconceptions of me. It’s the two faced parishioners who preach the word while simultaneously acting against everything they purport to live by (and most don’t even seem to notice!) that I find to truly be “slick.”

        There’s really no purpose to this. Because we see the world in two very different ways, you will always believe that I am missing something in my life, while I will always believe that you are devoting yourself to a long since corrupted organization that has lost its way, which is further devoted to a religion which is only one of many in this wide-world. Everything thinks their religion is the “right” one, but really which one you choose depends largely on the geographic area and culture that you are born into. It seems like a very arbitrary way to decide who deserves eternal salvation.

        Also, it seems you’ve accidentally commented on the wrong discussion, we were talking about a high rate of divorce and pregnancy among young couples, not about me or my girlfriend. You’ll want to look up further in the comments for discussion relevant to what you’re talking about.

  7. Holly says:

    Spot on post!!! Sharing with all my kiddos and their friends ….

  8. Chris Bowen says:

    Really helpful and concise. That said, it takes two to go astray although I agree that it should be the guy who keeps the lead in the right direction. The key for me in this position at the moment is to see everything as part of the Christian walk; prayer, Bible studies together and the ‘non-spiritual’ part of things.

    If the need to keep Christ central in everything is seen as the essential point that it is, then it makes things easier but work is still needed from both sides.

  9. Tom says:

    RE: (3) Is it not the case that as Christ continues to sanctify us by his Spirit through his Word, we will become more godly, more patient, more kind, more Christ-like…and not worse?

  10. john says:

    I would never marry a girl that i had not had sex with. That’s absurd. Im not going to f*** someone that isn’t good at it for the rest of my life

    1. Daniel says:

      Then you’ve failed to understand what real marriage and commitment is. With that mindset, you will find yourself discontent in the long run.

    2. Kim says:

      I guess you’d have to have quite a few trial and error situations in order to ascertain which of the potential mates were “good at it” then. Time consuming activity, that.

      1. Zachary says:

        Kim, I don’t think your suggestion that he would spend a lot of time having sex is going to be dissuading to him. :D

    3. LG says:

      Yeah, because no one ever gets really good at something they practice at for many years. Oh wait yes they do.

  11. Pat Sawyer says:

    The counsel is fine as far as it goes, but it feels like the typical current Evangelical comment on this and related topics where the boys/men are put in the role of the offender and the girls/women are put in the role of the victim. It is noteworthy that the Bible often does the opposite.

    1. Chris Bowen says:

      That’s a valid point and sort of what I was trying to say, that is takes both sides for things to go wrong.

    2. emily says:

      Absolutely agreed.. The bible also calls for men to lead though, which in turn raises the bar for them when it comes to responsibility.

    3. Jason says:

      Hi Pat, Well done. I picked up on the same message which leads me to conclude that the author Jared Wilson has allowed feminism to influence his Christian worldview to some degree. It’s a Shame because he does make some Biblical points especially in regards to premaritial sex.

      1. Jared C. Wilson says:

        Feminism. That’s a good one. Two weeks ago I was being accused of misogyny. You guys need to get your story straight.

      2. Zachary says:

        Jared, that’s likely because we’re all individual people with our own ideas and perceptions. One person may see you as being heavily influenced by feminism while someone else may see you being misogynous, and still others may simply see you as being a highly opinionated A-hole.

        However, when you group everyone who disagrees with you together in one group, and address them as such, saying “You guys need to get your story straight.” It comes off as though you think that anyone who disagrees with you is part of a collective hive mind sharing all the same thoughts and ideals, and that because one person disagrees with you in a different way than another person does, that somehow this collective of “all the people who disagree with me” is contradicting itself, and is therefore very easy to dismiss as being wrong.

        Even though what’s actually happening is that different people with their own thoughts and ideas are disagreeing with you for their own individual reasons, and by stereotyping them in this way, you’re actually closing yourself off to new ideas.

        That being said, I don’t necessarily agree with Jason. I don’t see much feminism at all in your discussions with me, or with some of your other like minded commenters. There seems to be a very common misconception in that everyone suggests that I make all of the decisions for my girlfriend, and she goes along with what I say. And on top of that that she couldn’t possibly be truly happy with my decisions, but chooses to live with them anyway.

        So, definitely more weighing towards misogyny if either way at all. Hard to say really. Your blog post is very much empowering to women, but your suggestions that I have enslaved my girlfriend in a life of sin against her will is much more misogynous. So, I guess it balances out to neutrally inconsistent?

  12. Josh says:

    Good stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Dale says:

    I definately agree with all the arguments in this article. Good solid advice…I especially loved #s 3, 5, 6 and 7…but all of them were very helpful…Glory 2 God 4 this! :)

  14. Rebecca Hannah says:

    Brian Hughes and I dating about 8 year ago for this year and we been thinking about magger and we thourth we Did have sex we did went down to our church and ask forgiveness told my t
    Doctre and ass doctors say that we did not so I am not that happy just Becase of all my friend kowe about it and Get maan about it thanks the father to forgive us we love u 8 more

  15. Kaye says:

    God Bless you for this!! This is so on point. Definitely a blessing to my life right now.

  16. Justin says:

    Great post! I’m 23 and single but this is definitely a breath of fresh air. What would you recommend reading as far as a young single who is looking to date? I know that that’s kind of off topic, but I don’t see a lot of material out there. Most of it assumes you are already in a relationship or married etc. In any case, great job on this post, Jared.

    1. Yupp says:

      The personal ad section in a newspaper…. :)

      1. Daniel says:

        hahahahahahaha

    2. bee says:

      read “Holding Hands, Holding Hearts” by Richard D. Phillips & Sharon L. Phillips

    3. Daniel says:

      My roomie recommended me, “The Day I kissed dating goodbye”. It talks about the things discussed here, but it provides some serious topics to consider before looking to get married.

  17. Amazing post and will remember these 10 things. Wonderful and delightful message. Thank You!!!

  18. Arria says:

    Absolutely excellent counsel! Unfortunately, many of us believers learned these truths the hard way, if at all!…an added note for ladies, mind your time spent waiting on a man to “make you the one”. It doesn’t take years to figure it out. He is either still maturing our you’re not his “one”.–men mature, women become old maids. Don’t allow yourself to be strung along.

  19. Yiggoto says:

    Go have sex and enjoy the experience. Be safe and use contraception. Who is this God that needs all this gloryfying anyway?

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      This God is the one true God revealed to us in the flesh by Jesus Christ, who died and rose again that we might be forgiven of all sins for all time and escape condemnation into joyful eternal life by his grace when we repent and put our trust in him. He doesn’t need our glorifying but he is worthy of it, because he is God and because he is awesome in wonder and power and everlasting love.

      1. Clarice says:

        Amen!

      2. Yiggoto says:

        The one true god, really? You are deulded Sir.

        1. Jared C. Wilson says:

          Funny, I don’t feel deulded.

          1. Yiggoto says:

            You won’t. You have too much to lose. No eternal life and a belief system that you would have to disregard.

          2. Daniel says:

            Contrary, a nonbeliever sees his situations as an occurrence of chance, that randomness and relativity seek to serve him. To believe in absolutes and accountability would mean that he would have to answer to the deeds he committed and the abandon the lifestyle he holds to be “desirable”.

      3. Yiggoto says:

        Daniel, can you decipher that?

    2. Zachary says:

      While I say that I do not share in the beliefs of the Christian faith, the moral standards which I set forth and hold myself to would never allow me to mock someone’s religion.

      Whether we believe it to be true or not, religion (or the lack thereof) is an important part of who we are as individuals, and is the basis for many of our most important decisions in life. No one would want the basis under which they live their life to be openly mocked.

      I don’t think anyone should HAVE to believe. I’m not sure that I do, but that doesn’t mean you have any right to belittle someone else for their beliefs. Just as you or I would not want to be attacked here for our beliefs.

      1. JN says:

        Does pathologizing the right of adults to make their own decisions about when to have sex with their significant other and claiming that it will destroy their marriage qualify as “belittling someone’s beliefs?”

        Beliefs are not in and of themselves sacred or beyond challenge and critique. In fact, those that are not informed and supported by experience, fact, reason and evidence are often simply inferior to those which are.

        It’s a bit offensive (and frankly silly) to have adults who choose to restrict themselves from a healthy, fulfilling and responsible sex life and that entire realm of experience outside the confines of marriage telling those of us who do not that our relationships and sense of commitment to our significant others are going to therefore be retarded by virtue of having that experience and knowledge of our own sexuality to draw from.

        Someone who has never had a sex life outside the confines of marriage or never had sex at all is ill-equipped to give any meaningful advice on the subject.

        1. Zachary says:

          JN, I certainly don’t oppose questioning the beliefs that others offer us. If I did not, I would be a Baptist, because that’s what was presented to me as a child.

          I believe you start disrespecting people when you start telling them they are deluded for believing in “God” and that is what I took issue with. I’m happy to debate the finer points of the Christian message and its many interpretations until I’m blue in the face, but you’re not really debating the message or its effect on society anymore when you just tell someone they are deluded for having a religion. That feels more like an insult than an argument to me. No one likes to be insulted, and insults are usually resorted to when one has no further intelligent information to add to a discussion, or becomes backed into a corner. It’s not something that I enjoy seeing in any discussion or argument. You CAN disagree without being disagreeable or disrespectful to another.

    3. Greg says:

      He doesn’t need it so much as he simply (being the Creator of everything) deserves and demands it.

  20. dfngdj says:

    I’m not sure why I’m commenting on this. When I was a young Christian, I listened to this kind of preaching, and I remained sexually pure. Looking back on it, I got married younger than I might have (although I waited until I was 24) and faster than I might have (after 18 months of dating) because I wanted to stay within the sexual norms of my church— and I wanted to obey God. I was committed to the gospel. The man I married told me everything I wanted to hear– he lied about his faith. He prayed with me, I believed him. As soon as we were married he revealed that he was an atheist. He also became emotionally and verbally abusive (although it took a while to recognize that for what it was). I was stunned— and devastated. I didn’t feel that I could divorce, because I was a committed Christian. It took 8 years before I was ready to leave. Why did he deceive me in that way? Some of it was sex. Some of it was because he wanted to possess me. I am physically very attractive. Looking back, I think that if I’d simply had sex with my ex rather than marry him over it, it would have been a much wiser. I think he would have shown his true self over a longer period of time (you will certainly criticize me for my failure to wait even longer than 18 months, I’m sure, or for letting sex be a factor in my choice of mate— yet, if you’d asked me then whether I was marrying out of lust I would have honestly have said no. We don’t always understand our own motivations, or see them clearly. Sex is a powerful drive. Looking back, it’s easier to see that factor. I was earnestly trying to do the right thing– and I prayed earnestly over my decision). I can see that sex within marriage is better than shallow promiscuity and that you’d want to encourage young people not to be promiscuous, but there is room for something in the middle— long-term meaningful adult (sexual) relationships that allow for long deliberation and exploration of self and partner before lifelong commitment. That’s what I want for my children (who were born after their father tampered with my birth control).

    1. Yiggoto says:

      Thanks for taking the time to share this. It is an example of one of the reasons I detest organised religion. It messes with peoples’ heads and places them in impossible sutuations. All because someone is telling others to go against their instincts because it is what their imaginary friend would want.

      Your God gives you this ‘desire’ to procreate and then his minions tell you it’s evil unless you are married. What is all of that about? I’m all for a stable family but not if it is causing people to be miserable. Don’t get me started on the Christian attitude to Gay sex!

      1. Winston Montag says:

        Yiggoto, would you ever tell anyone to go against their instincts?

        1. Yiggoto says:

          I don’t know Winston but religion is very good at reining people in and controlling them. I say have sex. Enjoy it. Experiment. Don’t be coerced and use contraception. Don’t think that you have to have a meaningful and lasting relationship with everyone you f***. Understand yourself. Understand what you need from others. It may be sex or love or both.

          1. Jared C. Wilson says:

            Yiggoto, no more profanity. I won’t edit it any more; I’ll simply remove your comment.

            All commenters ought to review my short comment policy:
            http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2012/02/01/brief-note-on-comments/

    2. Zachary says:

      This is an excellent example of some of my earlier points in this discussion. When you don’t consider sex or living together before marriage, you don’t really know the person you’re signing up to live your life with.

      Also, it’s terrible that someone would lie to you like that. There are a lot of bad people out there, and whether he had been an atheist or a Christian really is irrelevant, sex isn’t the reason people should be marrying. Nor to try to possess someone.

      1. Jared C. Wilson says:

        “you don’t really know the person you’re signing up to live your life with.”

        Zachary, you *never* do. Not totally. People change. Even if you’re engaged and engaging in intercourse for 10 years, you’re still not going to know what your spouse will be like 20 years later. People change; people get hurt; people have accidents that changes their physical and emotional and psychological well-being. Familiarity is good; but marriage is always a step of faith AND an act of grace.

        1. JN says:

          It’s a valid point that you never *totally* know who the person you’re signing up to live your life with will become or how they may change over time. But this in no way changes the fact that living with someone and having a sexual realtionship with them makes you privy to a wide range of living habits, quirks, and lifestyle peculiarities that you simply would not be aware of if you lived in separate places and were abstaining from sex with one another.

          I know this from firsthand experience. I understand that some (many of my family members and my own parents come to mind) might disagree, but my honest question to them is- how would you know?

          1. Jared C. Wilson says:

            this in no way changes the fact that living with someone and having a sexual realtionship with them makes you privy to a wide range of living habits, quirks, and lifestyle peculiarities that you simply would not be aware of if you lived in separate places and were abstaining from sex with one another

            Exactly. The difference is that in your view, when someone doesn’t meet the standards, you move on and try someone else. In mine, you learn what it means that Christ forsook his heavenly station to die for people who didn’t deserve it and couldn’t ever measure up. Yours is a self-centered legalistic contractual relationship. Mine is a God-centered grace-driven covenant union.

            The breakdown is that my view does not involve treating people like they’re auditioning to meet my needs.

    3. Brad says:

      I’m so sorry. That is a terrible situation to go through. I can’t even imagine how that must feel. I don’t think you did anything wrong, but a lot of injustice was done to you. Sex really isn’t the issue, but that lying and deception caused you incredible pain. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. I’m praying tonight that you will see some justice in your life and that God can put some truly trustworthy people in your life.

  21. Sean says:

    Part of the problem with the Evangelical church is the narrow focus of christians being involved in “church issues” and the running of church things.

    If church leaders started seeing that Eph 2:10 is about all things in creation which is linked back to Genesis 1:27-28 then couples would have things to grow into. The trouble with Evangelicals is that you end up with the relationship police as leaders rather than people who help you to expand your relationships in the world.

    If you want to glorify God in your relationships through the gospel then start looking at the rest of creation and how to restore broken things in a now/not yet way!

    This picture is a helpful illustration

    http://www.google.co.za/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&biw=1280&bih=670&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=VB90-ppPX5bkPM:&imgrefurl=http://dieulaprevilon.blogspot.com/2011/08/when-helping-hurts.html&docid=ytKMBMsfcRP92M&imgurl=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1Er3wP4r-Kg/Tlv6C2j4bOI/AAAAAAAAAWg/NPy7zOt3L2U/s1600/helping3.JPG&w=968&h=1296&ei=LEXkT5-FFomJhQeM9u3TCQ&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=485&sig=104133551007532721006&page=2&tbnh=142&tbnw=103&start=21&ndsp=28&ved=1t:429,r:13,s:21,i:179&tx=33&ty=46

    1. Sean says:

      So we wouldn’t have many of the relationship issues (the list) above happening if we had the right focus for growth.

  22. MC says:

    This was HILARIOUS.

  23. Jared, thanks for taking the time to print this up. I would say to the non=Christians that are reading this…I understand…it’s almost as if we are speaking a different language than you. And…a lot of this is hard to get at on an online forum. If any of this though does pique your interests or thoughts or just sounds different from anything you’ve heard or thought about, I encourage you to ask a solid Christian and strike up a conversation with them about it…that will be easier than the back and forth online.
    God bless.

  24. I have a few thoughts. For those who don’t believe in God and admittedly do not hold to the Christian faith, you are misunderstanding the entire point of marriage. Marriage is a wonderful gift created by God. In the Christian view, marriage is a window into what we Christians call the gospel. The gospel message is this: we have sinned – all of us – against a holy God. We were made to be in communion with God but we played the whore and went astray, thus breaking the covenant relationship. God, being the holy and good God that he is made a way to bring us back into relationship with us by coming down to earth in the form of a man – Jesus. Jesus lived a perfect life, totally obedient to God, and then died on a cross to absorb the entire wrath of God that should be poured out on all humans. The one human, Jesus, then rose from the grave three days later so show that the sacrifice of his body for our sins was accepted. He then ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father where he himself intercedes for those who believe in him and sends the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of each individual believer. The marriage, once torn apart by us, is restored by Jesus. He’s a good husband. We’re a terrible wife. But his work transformed us into the perfect wife we should have always been.

    Now, translate that into marriage between a man and a woman and you see this gospel message played out time and time again. We grow in holiness in marriage. Why? Because we are united as one when we marry. Two lives are put into one covenant. Two humans become one flesh. This is to show the beauty of the gospel. One is going to sin against the other and the other is to forgive and bring them back into right standing in the marriage. Total forgiveness is necessary. It’s the true reason marriage exists. Not to mention it is incredibly sweet to be married. I can type this and know that without a doubt, because of the grace of God, my wife is 100% committed to me and I to her. We made that commitment together and we sealed it with marriage. To be in love with someone and have sex with them outside of marriage is not saying anything particularly great about you or the one you’re involved with sexually. Marriage goes beyond sex. Sex is simply a symbol of the one flesh union.

    If you won’t commit to someone in marriage, you are essentially saying that the other person is expendable. You yourself don’t want to feel that way but your lifestyle says constantly that your partner isn’t worth committing your life to. Jared’s point about taking responsibility fits in here. Marriage is the ultimate commitment. If you won’t commit then you don’t really take responsibility. Your proclamation of responsibility is contradicted by your inability to commit yourself to them. It’s an empty promise that both parties know can end at any minute with no real outward problems – such as filing for divorce, sorting finances out, etc. it’s all simply you go your way I go mine – at least as far as everyone else is concerned.

    So, bringing this back to the gospel, if God were to have said to us, “you cheated on me, you did what you should not have done, now I’m leaving and will never return”, what would we do? We don’t have a God who abandons us but one who rescues us. A man faithful to a woman is not one who simply doesn’t cheat on her or doesn’t do her any harm but one who goes out of his way to make her feel loved. He pursues her. He woos her. He rescues her when she needs it. He lavishes her with gifts. A man who will not marry cannot do this. It is impossible. You cannot say to someone “I love you and I will forever” if you aren’t willing to say it in the deepest way possible, which, wouldn’t you agree is by getting married?

    The issue is beyond sexual. It’s ultimately redemptive. Being in a marriage covenant where grace and forgiveness is necessary on a daily basis points us to something greater and more wonderful than our marriages. It points us to the Savior. If you don’t want to marry because you don’t want to be stuck with someone then don’t look at God at the end of your life and ask why he won’t stick with you. Your unwillingness to marry will have proved you didn’t think you needed anything more than your own comfort. That in the end will cause you to perish. Not because God is bad but because you in your stubbornness refused to accept the free gift of grace he extended. You are bad and wouldn’t accept the way back into right standing. You wanted freedom from Christ, not freedom in him. And, because I have written this, and because you have read it, you will have no way to say at the end that you never knew.

    I know that Jared doesn’t want an argument; he wants to see people love Jesus. Therefore, rather than dismiss these ideas as unrealistic and incomplete, consider the source from which these ideas came down – that is God as revealed to us through scripture. Don’t listen to Jared. He’s wrong on some things (though not on this point). God, though, never is.

    God didn’t design marriage to be a burden on your life but to lift you to the burden bearer, Jesus. Will you consider him?

    1. dfngdj says:

      Are you trying to say that I don’t hold to the Christian faith? I do— I feel that my faith is stronger and truer than it ever was, although I am less religious. I should tell more of my story. When my husband was abusive I was heartbroken, not (only) because of the terrible things he’d say (that I was sexually inadequate, that I was stupid and a loser— at the times when I needed support and encouragement the most, like when I experienced a professional setback or when I lost my virginity to him) but because I’d prayed about the marriage and that God had still allowed it to happen— I’d had a sense of peace about it. But I took responsibility— God is never wrong. I was at fault for marrying my ex. I started to believe that it must be that God wanted me to grow through suffering. I forgave day after day. I prayed for my husband. But the thing is, when you are growing spiritually, you’re supposed to get stronger. I began to get weaker— I started out confident, with a healthy self image. I thought my ex’s put-downs wouldn’t get to me, because I was strong. Over the years, however, I noticed that being the object of someone’s deep contempt and then taking off my clothes for him and sleeping with him got to me. It was extremely degrading. I started to believe some of what he said. I became insecure. I never blamed God, but I had a hard time praying, and I wept when I went to church. I was just too hurt. This went on for years, this hurt. Why has God appointed me to suffer this way— it didn’t seem to do much good, and that’s all I could see for the rest of my life, (and I was led to have high expectations for my life because of some good qualities that I have) just being this abusive man’s punching bag. He never was physically violent, but he was moving that way. He was getting worse, despite my prayers. This went on for years, this hurt that blocked me from praying or trying to God (I’d just start crying when I prayed— it was so raw and emotional), until somehow, it dissipated. I was talking with a friend about spirituality after years of not talking about spirituality. I realized that the hurt was gone and I was able to really pray again. I can’t explain why. That very next week, I was surfing on the internet and found information about emotional abuse. I realized that was what had been happening to me—because he never hit me, I didn’t realize that he was actually abusive. I began to consider whether it was moral or ethical to leave an abusive marriage. A marriage is a contract. Contracts have terms and can be broken. Looking back, God was moving. I got into a great professional school, one I didn’t expect to get into. My ex was not supportive, to say the least, about my attending. I decided to go anyway. I feel that God was directing me– things started happening very quickly– unexpected and great things. Opportunities opened up. Prayer opened up, since I wasn’t hurt any more — the peace beyond all understanding was there, as it had always been, waiting for me. I’m on what feels like a radical path now. I’m divorced– something I never expected. I have this whole life in front of me— it’s unknown, when I thought I could see my days stretching out in front of me in shackles. I was my own jailer– when I was able to really hear God again, He led me out of the situation. Maybe I’m an outlaw now— my social status in the church has changed radically– I’m a divorcee. But, eh, big deal. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. For a while I tried to figure out whether I sinned by divorcing, or whether I sinned by getting married. Somehow, the emotion surrounding that internal debate has even dissipated. I don’t care. It’s just the wrong question. I’m so thankful I can feel God’s presence again. I spend time in contemplative prayer. Picking apart whether I am in compliance with this or that rule — that doesn’t interest me. The thing is, my experience must mean something. I followed the rules. I tried to do it all right. I’m not trying to be antagonistic with my comments— this is just my experience, and my reflections about how this church doctrine played out in my life. Maybe the church message and emphasis on sexual politics is not positive– you can choose to read the scriptures in a way that emphasizes different things. You can choose to look at the historical context, and the policy behind the sexual moors of the day. It’s political. I’ve just had a long time to think about it. I didn’t want to be the one with the story that presents doctrinal difficulties– I wanted purity and a loving husband. I think that some of these church guys are not so hard hearted– I think they’ve just have been lucky that they haven’t been confronted with domestic violence (which messes up the neatness of a whole world view), and they haven’t really thought it through. Some are hard hearted and love power and authority. Marriage IS a burden in a DV context. I’m sure you mean well, but have you thought about what it means, that you’re holding yourself out as the authority on God’s design? There are a lot of ways to read scripture. I’d be careful speaking for God if I were you.

      1. Jared C. Wilson says:

        dfngdj, what happened to you is terrible and should never have happened. I can’t imagine the pain and confusion you felt. I also wonder how things might have been different had your husband been accountable to godly discipline from church elders that could have made you feel heard, safe, and confident in appealing to. That is the whole point of #8 in my post: that women ought to know the man they are marrying is accountable to a local church for his behavior in his marriage. This is why I see marriage as a covenant between two people in the context of a Christian covenant community.

        1. Yiggoto says:

          Church elders? The dirtbag needed to be accountable to a criminal court. Once a man hits a woman that should be it. Relationship over. So many women have inferiority issues that are exacerbated by ruthless men and indeed your misogynistic religion. Your view on Godliness and marriage is a fantasy as is the god that you proclaim to know. He was nowhere when dfngdi was being systematically abused.

          1. Jared C. Wilson says:

            Yiggoto, she said he was never physically violent. If he had been, you are right, the police should have been called in. And good church elders would insist upon that too. But in her case, as stated, police and the criminal court could have done nothing. Verbal and emotional abuse is not a crime, at least as the courts most often consider it between adults. But it is a disturbing sin and an affront to God, and godly elders could have taken this guy to the woodshed, spiritually speaking.

            You have stated your case numerous times. I’m unclear why you are in this thread. The post is written to Christian singles in relationships. It obviously does not immediately apply to atheists. So if you’re just here to let everybody know you think it’s stupid, mission accomplished. Time to move on, perhaps?

  25. Kirsty says:

    Thank you for this. I’m 22, single and nowhere near a romantic relationship but this is massively helpful nonetheless. The more antagonistic comments on this thread just serve to make me praise God for giving new hearts to those of us who are in Christ… how strange our desire to glorify Him is to the world. And how worthy of glory he is as he gives each of us grace to fight this constant but temporary battle against our own flesh.

  26. DL says:

    I would like to share a perspective from perhaps a more “mature” point of view. I am nearing 70 and in my third marriage. My first wife and I called ourselves “Christians,” but I now know that we were that in name only. We did not have sex before marriage, primarily because of her “proper” upbringing for that time rather than out of a desire to honor Christ. We were married almost ten years before she decided she wanted to go in a different direction. During that marriage, God never played a significant part, although we did go to church sporadically. My second marriage was a “rebound marriage” and there was no pretense of God in the picture. That marriage lasted almost 12 years before we decided to take different “paths.” I am now 22 years plus into my third marriage, and God is the focal point for each of us. We understand that by putting God first in our lives, as we draw closer to Him, He brings us closer to each other.

    With that background of personal experience, I offer three observations. First, I wholeheartedly endorse Jared’s list of 10 things for singles (unmarried) romantic relationships, with number 9 being most important. My first marriage failed over the issue of our (lack of) relationship with God. But I do believe our decision to not have sex prior to marriage—even for the “wrong” reason—did strengthen our relationship for several years and gave us a better chance of success than we would have had otherwise. If we had done it out of a mutual desire to honor Christ, perhaps the marriage would have succeeded. Second, to “dfngdj.” don’t beat yourself up over your divorce. By your account, you did the best you knew to honor God in your marriage, and God will honor that. Yes, divorce is sin, but once you have asked for forgiveness, accept the forgiveness that is promised in Jesus Christ, learn from the experience and move on in your life in a way that is honoring to God, with the assurance of Romans 8:28 that God will work all things, even divorce, for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Not only did I learn from my first two failures, I know my third marriage is all the more precious for my failures in my first two. If you feel that you are an “outlaw” in your current church because of your divorce, perhaps you should consider finding a new church. Third, for those planning Christian marriages, first get solid Christian premarital counseling and be sure you both have a clear understanding of what it truly means to be a “Christian” and that you have a common goal of using your marriage primarily as a way of honoring God. (If you don’t have that common understanding, don’t get married until you do—Jared’s point 4!) Commit to regular attendance in a Bible-teaching church where you can get both support and accountability—Jared’s point 8. Also, before and after marriage, read good Christian books on marriage and discuss them together. One I highly recommend is Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy, by Gary Thomas. The subtitle says it all. If both parties have the perspective that marriage is about growing in learning to serve the other as a way of exalting God rather than taking as a way of exalting self and about forgiveness, marriage cannot fail. That is a daily commitment that I can only fulfill by the grace of God. For that reason, I can reply personally and with certainty to “Yiggoto” that neither the godly marriage I have nor the God I worship is a fantasy. I pray that in some small way these comments will benefit someone and it is for that purpose alone that I offer them.

  27. Ryan Seth Locklear says:

    Thank you for this article it is very encouraging considering I’m currently engaged right now.

    Touching any woman before marriage in a sexual way is fornication. It is plainly given to us in the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 6 and 7.

    One verse that has encouraged me especially during my engagement has been Eph 5:25. Here we are told to love our wives like Christ loved the church. When I consider the love that Christ has shown me through His death, I feel ashamed to touch my fiancé in any sexual way. Her purity is my responsibility to protect and if Christ can die for me the surely I can at least control my hands and keep them off my beloved.

    1. Yiggoto says:

      You poor man. You must get in such a state of sexual repression. God giving you all thise feelings and then forbiddig you to act on them until you are married. I bet your God doesn’t like masturbation either.

      If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny.

  28. Jared C. Wilson says:

    I’m going to go ahead and close comments on this post, mainly because I’m gonna be away a bit and won’t be able to moderate, but also because we appear to have tapped out on the ability to say anything new or constructive.

Comments are closed.

Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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