Thank you to this contributor for offering these additional comments after reading the article, To Date or Not To Date? That is the Question.
I sincerely enjoyed reading [To Date or Not To Date? That is the Question.]. This is a topic my dad has well-educated his children on, and on which I personally have done some studying. I’m not an expert, but here are some of my musings…
It’s completely illogical to believe that you can expect an eternal marriage by having your whole focus be transient. The whole mindset of dating subconsciously–if not consciously–trains the participators into the mindset of, “Marriage/relationships aren’t serious or eternal. This doesn’t have to last. If I become dissatisfied or bored with this relationship then I can just get a new one.” We fail to remember that eternal marriage is more of a vertical covenant than a horizontal one. In other words, when we promise to love that person, we are making that promise to God. We are covenanting with God to love that person. It definitely holds more weight than, “If we make each other happy, I’ll love you; and if not, then I have no obligation to love you or even stay in this arrangement.” In fact, it almost seems that most of the world believes that if the latter part of that statement were true, it would actually be right to end the relationship. The focus is self instead of God. With whom can I best build the Lord’s kingdom? How can I best seek out someone with that goal? By spending our time in frivolous ways, just for fun, in an environment that has nothing to do with real-life experiences, with someone to whom we have a no real commitment, how can we expect to find someone who is committed to eternity?–which is a very real, serious, not-just-for-fun relationship. Should courtship be enjoyable? Yes! But what are we enjoying? A no strings attached date, or a preparation for something so wonderful that we take every care to be in line with God-given authority and guidance, and especially the authority and guidance of God himself?
The Jewish betrothal fascinates me because everything about it communicates that the couple involved, and indeed the entire families combined, are focused on the preparation of a ready, worthy, holy relationship. They respect the legitimate prerogative of their wiser parents in recognizing someone who would best suit them for the beginning of a new kingdom. The focus is not on themselves, but on a bigger picture.
Taking it one step further: if Christ is the bridegroom, how does He treat His bride? He does not seem interested in the dating mindset when it comes to His wife, the Church. It’s not temporary, it’s eternal. It’s not for amusement, it’s for sanctification and exaltation. He does not overstep boundaries by demoralizing His bride! It’s unthinkable! He keeps her holy. He certainly acts according the laws set in place by His Father. He loves her and gives Himself for her. The whole picture of dating becomes ridiculous when placed next to the Savior’s example.
I am also extremely grateful for the barrier that my father forms between me and an interested party. He is my defense, counselor and support; he is not a dictator-like father who walks around threatening with a shotgun, or who sits apathetically in the corner and hopes I’ll just find the right one. My mother is my advocate, guide, and friend. They do not simply encourage us to pursue whoever happens to catch our attention. They know it is their responsibility to help us discern in a matter so important, and we know it is their right to do so. God expects it of them. It’s a teamwork. It’s a great strength to know that you have so much support and wisdom helping you make one the most important decisions of a life time. Why would I want to rely on inexperience or feelings? I need the Lord’s guidance and my parent’s guidance. Expecting dating to create a marriage of eternal caliber might be compared to using a pencil to write a permanent record. it’s not made to last. That’s not it’s purpose or design.