Sex and Sexuality - Part 2

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By Robert and Christine McCafferty

Courtship versus dating
Dating is a custom of the world. It carries the same humanistic self-centred philosophy as "contract". It is often associated with dark corners and is often linked to isolation of couples and secretiveness. Dating requires one to put your best foot forward, to make an impression, because after all "first impressions count" especially in a "competitive market". It is a game of images. Dating (at least initially) is not based on honesty. It seeks to hide our insecurities and it seeks other flesh to meet our own needs instead of God. Dating is frivolous, self-indulgent and lacks commitment. Dating can lead to the formation of soul ties (sharing deep emotional treasures or sharing sexual intimacy). Once the relationship ends, the soul tie is broken. This is painful. The person then enters into another dating type relationship, forming soul ties and then breaking up again. The result is a scattering of the soul. This means that when one finally gets married, one's soul is so scattered that to focus on one person (your husband or wife) is virtually impossible. This is complicated by a lifestyle of breaking-up and moving onto the next date. This breaking-up and getting together with the next person, which is so much a part of the dating game, lays the pattern for divorce. Instead of working through problems it is easier to move onto the next relationship, resulting in a serious inability to communicate or commit. Dating is not God's pattern, it is not in the Bible. Covenant and courtship, however, are.

Courtship implies transparency, accountability, maturity and sensibility. Courtship is relationship building with the intention of getting married. Courtship implies openness, before the court, allowing others to speak into your lives - it is therefore accountable. Due to courtship starting out with the intention of getting married, it implies commitment, maturity and seriousness. Marriage is for life. It is therefore not recommended that scholars or high school students partake in courtship, as they are not ready for the seriousness of the marriage covenant. We all bring two things into marriage - our internal and external dowry (lobola).

Internal dowry
Internal dowry includes our character and our education - things on the inside. Character, unlike personality, is who we really are. It includes our value-system, integrity, and ability to serve, commit and see things through to completion. A person of solid character will make a good husband or wife. It takes years to develop Christ-like character. It is wise that we should all study at tertiary level. It is Godly wisdom to seek personal wholeness in Christ first (character) rather than seeking fulfilment in a date. By focusing on internal dowry, you will make yourself a greater blessing to your future husband or wife. By resisting the worldly pressure of the "dating game" you will keep yourself pure for your future husband or wife. Isn't that Christian love? "…that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" Eph 5:27. Your future husband or wife will appreciate it.

External dowry
External dowry includes our assets, finances and career/job. External dowry includes financial and material securities. For men, it is a Biblical requirement to provide for their wives, children and even extended family.

"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" 1 Tim 5:8.

Clearly it takes time to develop both. Therefore, the decision to abstain from the "dating game" is Godly wisdom.

Dating and contract are "me" centred; courtship and covenant are "other" centred.

Can dating be Biblical?
The frivolousness of dating raises some questions. Suppose a boy dates a girl who he has no intention of marrying, nor will he ever marry. She goes on to marry another man. Are this man's actions honouring before the eyes of the LORD? Are this man's actions honouring to his brother (her future husband) in Christ or defrauding?

"… that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you" 1Thess 4:4-6.

How far can I go before I say I do?
At the heart of dating is, "What can I get out of this?" At the heart of courtship (and covenant) is, "How can I honour my future husband or wife?" The question should therefore be, "How can I honour my future wife or husband before I say 'I do'?" And not, "How far can I go before I sin?" This therefore becomes an issue of boundaries. Christianity is not legalistic; keeping the law does not save us. There are, however, Biblical principles that must be considered. If you want to build a great building that will last for lifetimes, you need deep foundations. The greater the building, the greater the need for deeper foundations. The same is true in marriage. Many want a good marriage, but few are prepared to build great foundations. Biblical courtship is about deep foundations. By delaying the sexual act, couples are forced to find alternative ways to express their love for each other. This forces them to work on communication. Great communication makes for great marriages. Courtship is a time for ironing out any potential communication problems and establishing positive communication and conflict resolution patterns without the added complexity of sex. These communication skills become a blessing in marriage. By delaying the sexual act it tests, particularly, the man's commitment to the relationship. Is he prepared to commit to this relationship without having his sexual urges satisfied? This forces the man to develop further self-control that will help him to resist sexual temptation in marriage. It also deepens his ability to love as Christ, selflessly.

"Do to others as you would have them do to you" Luke 6:31.

From the woman's side, by postponing sex until marriage, she is saving the best for last. What she has communicated to her future husband is that all the excitement and discovery of sex is found inside the commitment of marriage. If however, she had given in to her partner before marriage, she has communicated that all the sexual excitement and discovery was outside of marriage, when he was "still single and free". He is therefore more likely to cheat on his wife, chasing excitement as it is to be found within his level of experience, i.e. outside of marriage.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" Isa 55:9.

So where should one draw the line before you say "I do"? This is really up to each couple to decide, but they need to take the following criteria into account: the need to honour each other; build deep foundations; not sinning sexually against the LORD, each other or yourself and the fact that we do have a sexual nature. If our sexual natures are awakened long before the wedding date, the chances of falling into sexual sin are much greater. Therefore for some couples, "You may now kiss the bride" was their chosen first kiss.

The devil's counterfeit
The devil has a counterfeit. Promiscuity destroys souls. Romans chapter one is perhaps one of the finest expositions on the nature of man and society anywhere to be found. It also links sexuality and worship together. It speaks of man's sin and how God gives him over to idolatry "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised. Amen" Rom 1:25. Through sexual sin each time we have sex with a person a transference of spirits takes place - the two become one. "Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, 'The two will become one flesh.'" 1 Cor 6:16. Furthermore a soul tie is created, because sex has a spiritual (worship) dimension. As the relationship is broken, the person you have fornicated with takes a piece of your soul: the end result of a promiscuous lifestyle is a person with a scattered soul. A scattered soul is an idolatrous soul, it struggles to worship one God. This then causes a person to become desperate - they crave life. God gives men over three times, each time the level of depravity and idolatry is worse than the former.

"Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another" Rom 1:24. At this stage of idolatry, people chase their desires, their desires lead or lord it over them. This stage is characterised by co-dependent relationships with need meeting need. This is typical of shack-up couples or serial monogamous relationships.

"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones" Rom 1:26. At this stage man is more desperate. Lust, unlike desires, is even more selfish, it is not interested in 50-50 type relationships, with need meeting need, but rather preying on others (especially weaker and more vulnerable persons) to meet their own deep-seated needs/lusts. Under this the Apostle Paul includes homosexuality.

"Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice…" Rom 1:28-29. At this stage the depravity has gone so far that the person is willing to prey on innocent flesh, taking that which does not belong to him. This would include paedophilia, sex crimes, rape and even murder (vs. 29). For murder and rape, the Bible calls for the death penalty (Gen. 9:5,6; Deut. 22:25-27)

A culture of Courtship versus Dating
If you are a pastor or youth pastor and want to introduce the Biblical concept of dating into your church or youth group, the advantages are great. The incidents of sexual sin and backsliding are reduced. Most youth respond and feel secure with firm boundaries.

Is it wrong to have friends of the opposite sex?
Courtship is incredibly balanced and Biblical. The Bible commands us to, "Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" 1 Tim 5:1-2. It is ridiculous to date your sister or brother? It is an abomination to have sex with a sibling or parent. But in the light of this Scripture isn't that what dating becomes?

However, by having brothers and sisters in Christ and treating them as such, we can develop friendships with both sexes within clear boundaries. By having these Godly friendships, communication and respect of the opposite sex is learnt. It is advised that the youth of opposite sexes should go out in groups (this increases accountability) rather than alone where there is greater temptation to fall into sin. The question that should always be asked is how deep should a friendship with the opposite sex go? A good principle to judge by is - as far as a future husband or wife would be comfortable with. Would your future husband or wife be uncomfortable with the level of intensity of your relationship with this person of the opposite sex? If yes, then the chances are your friendship is too close. An emotional soul tie can develop. It is a blessing to have friends of the same sex, especially ones that keep you accountable, who care enough about you to tell you not only what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" Prov 27:6.

Courtship does not deny the sovereignty of God
Courtship and covenant, unlike dating and contract do not deny the hand of God. The Bible is clear that "a prudent wife is from the LORD" Prov 19:14. God is our Heavenly Father. He is good (Ps. 34:8). He has our best interests at heart (Hebrews 12:10). Courtship and covenant are based on faith in Christ and do not deny the sovereignty of God. It was God that brought Eve to Adam ("… He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man" Gen 2:22, and likewise God can do the same in our lives today. Many Godly couples testify of how God has brought them together, although the final choice or commitment is always left to us because after all we say "I do".

A generational blessing
Courtship and marriage are long-term. Marriage should be entered into with a long-term vision (even beyond our lifetimes). The Bible says, "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands" Deut 7:9, and "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children" Prov 13:22. This inheritance is more than material, it is spiritual too. It is recommended that marriage be entered into with such a vision. If you want your children to achieve more than you, do greater things for God than you, then you need to give them the security of a Christ-like marriage with solid foundations. The blessing of your purity is transferred to your children. As you honour God and love Him by obeying His commandments ("If you love Me, you will obey what I command" John 14:15, He blesses you. "If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb…" Deut 7:12-13. This blessing promises that an inheritance will come down the generations to a thousand generations. The covenant we have with God can be transferred to our children. It would be a wonderful thing for a son to say that he would want to go about finding a wife and honouring her the way his dad did.

"He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour from the LORD" Prov 18:22.

A generational curse
Unfortunately the same is true for generational curses "…I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me" (Deut 5:9; Exod 20:5). How many times have you heard of an alcoholic father having an alcoholic son or grandson? How many times have you heard of a mother falling pregnant out of wedlock giving birth to a daughter who also becomes sexually active before marriage? We can either pass on a blessing or a curse to our children, depending on our obedience to God and His covenant.

"… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" Deut 30:19).

It is wise to repent and to pray into these generational curses and break their power over your life before entering into marriage. "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."" Gal 3:13. Jesus took the curse for us, that we need not be cursed. Likewise, it is wise to pray blessings down the generations.

How do I break sexual addictions?
Be vigilant - we all have a sinful nature. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" 1 Cor 10:12.

Confession - "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" James 5:16.

Accountability - "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken" Eccl 4:12. The minute you are tempted, phone a friend.

No cross counseling - stay accountable to the same person, don't change counsellors to avoid unwelcome advice.

Prevention - burn all pornographic materials. Purchase pornography filtering software. Subscribe to Covenant Eyes http://www.cvnt.net/?promocode=noporn

Forgiveness "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" Rom 8:1.

Renewal of the mind. Meditate on the Scriptures and desire to have the mind of Christ "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will" Rom 12:1-2.

What about dress-code?
South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world. This is due to many factors, such as the availability of pornography and the failure of the justice system, but another reason would be inappropriate and immodest clothing. The way we dress as Christians should be different from the world. We are in the world, but not of it. "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (Col 3:23), this includes the way we dress. "… women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, … which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works" 1 Tim 2:9-10. "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" 1 Pet 3:3-4. The above Scriptures do not forbid any adornment, but rather emphasize inner beauty with attractive but modest dress, so as to bring glory to Christ.

What guidance should I look for in choosing a husband or wife?
There is much truth to the statement, "love is blind". Avoid making the biggest mistake of your life. The Bible is clear that a husband or wife must be Christian - "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?" 2 Cor 6:14-15. Apart from this take cognisance of the following factors:

  • Does this person have long-standing good friendships? If yes, you can safely assume that the person has developed faithfulness, communication skills and other people skills such as conflict resolution and kindness.
  • Does the person have a steady job? Much can be learnt in the workplace - their willingness to submit to authority, their ability to work with others, complete tasks and provide for their family. If however a person has a problem holding down a job for any period of time, alarm bells should be going off.

    Is the person a dedicated member of a Bible believing church? If yes, then this is a reliable indication of their love and zeal for God and their willingness to serve and be a blessing.
  • Does the person come from a good home? Many of our values and attitudes are shaped into us from birth, through our families. A man is likely to become like his father and a woman like her mother.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised" Prov 31:30.

Practical suggestions on courtship

  • Develop a Godly internal and external dowry so as to be a blessing to your future husband or wife.
  • Go out in groups and avoid isolated and "romantic" places with a person of the opposite sex.
  • Develop good relationships with the same sex, this will help build commitment and communication skills.
  • Pray, ask your Heavenly Father for you to be a great husband or wife and that God would bring the correct person across your path.
  • Before entering into any courtship, get to know the person first in a group context.
  • Submit what you think the will of the Lord is, i.e. this potential relationship. Seek counsel. A parent, pastor or youth pastor should give excellent counsel. Test your heart. Are your motives pure? This is critical because at the heart of the dating culture is a rebellious spirit that wants its own way and will not seek counsel. We all have this sinful rebellious nature.
  • Once you are sure this relationship is from the LORD, seek pre-marital counseling as a couple. Do not neglect your friends and family. Grow in your friendship as a couple with all these people.
  • It is recommended that the marriage date be set within six months of engagement.

Hope for the sinner and sexually broken
At the heart of the Gospel is the Good News of our redemption from sin through Jesus Christ's death on the Cross. God is our healer and the one Who atones for our sins. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool" Isa 1:18. If you have blown it in the sexual area, there is hope in Christ. Repent (change your mind); confess (agree with God and His standard) and ask Him to forgive you for your sins. It is important that you forgive others their sins against you, and that you forgive yourself. For sexual brokeness we recommend that you seek Christian counselling from a recognised counselling ministry or Bible believing church.

The blessing of singleness
Often in the church today, there is much emphasis on marriage and family, without considering the person who is called to be single. Singlehood is given a special place in the Scriptures. "An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world-- how she can please her husband" 1 Cor 7:34.

Rob McCafferty is the Communications Director of Christian Action Network. Christine is the Author of The Pink Agenda-Sexual Revolution in South Africa and the Ruin of the Family.

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa info@christianaction.org.za - 021-689-4481 - www.christianaction.org.za
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