In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
My son recently popped the question to his lovely girlfriend, now fiancé, Christine. My husband and I are excited to watch them build a life together. As they look towards starting their own family, they will put into practical practice the tools they received from both of their families about marriage.
With the divorce rates still being so high, we must acknowledge the sad truth that many people give up on their marriages. That is why it is so essential that we train our kids for marriage so they will not become another statistic.
You may be thinking, “I have a great marriage. My kids have seen that modeled, and that’s enough.” You are correct that modeling a healthy marriage for our children is extremely important, but we can further prepare them for healthy and God-honoring marriages. As followers of Christ, there may be other people in our lives who we can influence as they walk the journey towards marriage. That may be relatives, friends, or even co-workers. As you read this, ask the Lord to show you, people, you could mentor in this area.
What is the purpose of dating?
While some treat it as a sport that they go in and out of, like the seasons of the year, the purpose of dating, according to Pastor Jonathan Pokluda, is actually to find a spouse. That makes sense. So if a 12-year-old isn’t quite ready to settle down, why date?
When I was in junior high, my parents were already drowning in their marriage problems and heading towards divorce. I compensated by making sure I always had a “boyfriend.” The unhealthy pattern came at a cost. Many tears were shed over the drama of dating far too young.
When my husband and I started talking about how we wanted to raise our kids, we knew we wanted to do everything possible to help them avoid the heartache that can accompany young love.
Here are some ways you can encourage those you love towards godly marriages.
- Date with intention – As I said, little Junior likely isn’t looking for a wife, so maybe decide on the age that dating is appropriate for your family. Help them be intentional about what they are looking for in a relationship. What are the dead set boundaries that can’t be overlooked? For example, if they are walking with Christ, making sure the person they date is also walking with Christ would be one of those intentions.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14
- Date in community – There is a reason the Bible talks about the benefits of community. We have so much to learn from one another. Encourage your loved one to find a group of trusted friends and invite them to weigh in on the relationship as it unfolds. That could be parents, a small group at church, or some other mentor. Your community can sometimes notice things that may go overlooked when clouded by the love in the air.
- Don’t settle – I get it. The “gift of singleness” doesn’t always feel like a gift. It can be easy for a person to have such a desire to marry that they take the first interested person, even ignoring warnings about the relationship. Help your loved one patiently wait on God’s perfect timing. The problems you see in a dating relationship will not disappear after the wedding. They will be magnified. Pray the Lord would reveal to your loved one the truth of the character in the person they are dating.
We want to see divorce eradicated. When people enter godly marriages and strive to serve the Lord together, that can happen. We all can play a role in that as we guide the next generation towards the beautiful sanctity of marriage.
You can hear more on this topic in our conversation on the Fight for Your Marriage Podcast.