love & relationships 101


  1. Who’s in your drivers seat?
  2. Why preparing for marriage matters?
  3. What about sex before marriage?
  4. Dating, courting, or waiting?
  5. Is true love possible?
  6. How to choose the right relationship?


  1. Both of you must be faithful followers committed to Jesus Christ
  2. Marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship
  3. Sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only
  4. Every relationship is to be viewed as sacred
  5. You cannot get a refund on your relationships
  6. Seek someone with Christlike character


When Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers as Head Coach the team was a mess. The team did not function as a team. They were confused by complicated schemes and lack of discipline. During one of the first practices Lombardi gathered the men together and said, “This is a football.” It is not that they didn’t know what a football was, but they had forgotten the basics of the game. That summer Lombardi gave his men a 101 course in the fundamentals of football and their dedication helped them to become world champions.

Bookstores are lined with relationship advice. The internet is bogged down with sites sharing the newest dating and marital tips. You could spend over a thousand lifetimes reading all the love and relationship information in the saturated media-sphere until every orifice of your body is oozing relationship factoids. You might be a self-proclaimed expert on relationships and win the love and romance categories on Jeopardy, but in real life your relationships are flunking.

More information is not the answer, rather it is living as your were called within your relationships. Let’s make it simple, pull off your dusty Bible from the shelf and see what the wise inventor of human relationships has to say. God has high and helpful standards for our relationships. If God’s has a high standard for relationships so should you.

how to choose the right relationship?

“…and they lived happily ever after. The End.” These are the magical words every human wants within the relationship chapters of their real life love story. We go goo-goo over happy endings. Last week we looked at the story or Hosea and Gomer. It was a story that didn’t appear to have a happy ending, but God can restore any broken relationship to a point that it can be better than it ever was before. Today we will look at another love story from the Book of Ruth.

The story of Ruth begins with a family tragedy. Naomi’s family line has ended with the death of her husband. Naomi’s son dies from sickness, leaving his wife Ruth without a husband or children. To make it worse, both of Naomi’s sons die. So Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth are left as widows without home, without personal property, wandering in a foreign land, and without hope of marrying again. However, this sober scene of emptiness and hopelessness sets the stage for one of the worlds most wonderful and powerful love stories.

Throughout the story of Ruth you will see some quality characteristics arise that are essential to securing a godly future mate. I will use Ruth as a grid for excellent questions when considering and preparing for your future relationships.

excellent questions to ask a potential mate before you begin a relationship:

Are they stuck in sin? [Ruth 1:16-18] When Naomi heard that the famine had lifted in her homeland she decided it was best to go back home. Naomi gave permission for Ruth to stay and perhaps get married again, but Ruth does something very peculiar, she decides to go with Naomi. It can be easy to make more out of this situation than there is, but it could have been easy for Ruth to stay put and continue life in Moab. She decided to make the move away from Moab. In a sense Ruth moves from her home, culture, past, and gods to follow her mother-in-law and ultimately her God.

When pursuing a potential mate it is good get a panorama of their life to see if they are stuck in their sin. In order to understand if this is the case you will have to ask some vulnerable questions: Do they live in the past? Do they hang around people, places and things that keep them living in a virtual Moab? If the answer is yes to these questions then proceed with caution because in most cases these people will not change within a relationship with you. If there is good evidence that they have left these things behind to follow God you have the makings of a great mate.

Are they willing to put in the hard work? [Ruth 2:1-7] Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem on time for the yearly harvest. Though they were single and homeless they did not sulk or feel sorry for themselves. Ruth found work on a farm owned by Boaz, who was related to Naomi’s husband. It was a low level job, as respectable as flipping burgers or cleaning toilets. To Ruth it was a job that supported her and Naomi. She worked hard and did not complain. Boaz saw her working in the field and was attracted to her. He watched her work hard. He observed her character from afar. This is the turning point of the story for Ruth.

Before I began a relationship Sarah, I watched her in action. I was certainly attracted to Sarah. I was attracted to more than her beauty for she was a woman marked by her love for God, sensitivity to sin, hard work ethic, and contagious care for ordinary people.  How do you tackle a tough job? Do you tackle tasks with tenacity? Have you ever thought these tasks might be a test where someone is watching you to size up you character?

Are they loyal and committed to relationships? [Ruth 2:11-12] Ruth continued to care for Naomi even though there was nothing Naomi could do in return for Ruth. Ruth was loyal and committed to her relationship with Naomi. She listened to Naomi and respected her mentoring. This loyalty and commitment to support her only surviving family made her all the more attractive to Boaz [vs.11-12].

When looking for a potential mate it is wise to observe if they have a good track record of relationships, especially with their parents, family, and friends. If the person you are pursuing plays dodge ball by running and jumping in and out of relationships, beware you just might be the next target to get hit.

Are they willing to protect your purity? [3:7-14] The scene to follow might sound a little risqué. Ruth comes into the threshing floor and lies down at Boaz’s feet. Why did she lay at his feet? It was Ruth’s way of telling him that she really wanted to marry him. It appears she is making herself available to him. They are alone, it’s late, and the opportunity to compromise by having sex could have come easily, but Boaz protects Ruth’s purity and loves her enough to wait.

What Women Want is a movie about a chauvinistic man who gains the ability to hear what women are thinking. Women went crazy over him because finally a man was listening. Most wish this was a reality, but the Bible is on track with what women and men want in a potential mate. What men really want is a woman with godly character [3:11]. What women really want is true love that protects [2:4], provides, praises, and honors their purity.

Waiting to have sex until marriage is part of God’s plan. God created sex to be beautiful, lovely, and too exhilarating for words, but He also commanded you to save sex for the marriage bed. It is important to adhere to God’s counsel concerning sex because the choices you make before the wedding will impact your marriage after the wedding. Couples who disobey God by having sex before marriage are at higher risk of divorce, adultery and serious sin struggles within their marriage. Seek a mate that will protect your purity.

Are they willing to consider wise counsel in difficult situations? [Ruth 4:13-17] Low and behold, Boaz is not the closest relative, which means he could be relinquished of the right to claim Ruth’s property to Ruth’s closer relative. Boaz does his homework and makes the arrangements to meet this man. As a result, Boaz is waived, redeemed, and is given the right to marry Ruth. They are blessed with a wonderful marriage, a newborn son, Naomi’s family is restored, and they lived happily ever after. The End.

the story of Ruth is about less about human relationships & more about a divine relationship

After a quick skim through Ruth it would be easy to conclude that this book is a Divine Guide to Dating for Dummies, or a thesis on all types of relationships from parenting, singleness, courtship, marriage, to grand parenting. Although read Ruth again and you will notice relationships are a secondary theme to the gospel theme. The Bible as a whole from cover to cover paints a beautiful picture of hesed—the loving kindness of Incarnation, resurrection, ascension, and kingly Return of Christ [i.e. the gospel]. This is the golden thread that weaves though the story of Ruth.

When you turn to the genealogy of Jesus you will see Ruth mentioned as the great grandmother of King David [Matthew 1:5-6], which ultimately is the royal line that leads to Jesus. Throughout the book of Ruth the hidden hand of God is present preserving His promises of a Savior even in the most unlikely situation. God uses Ruth [a foreigner] and Boaz to carry out His promised plan. Imagine if Ruth stay in Moab and never met Boaz. This story might not have been as glorious and God-centered. The lesson for you and me in this story is to follow God no matter how the present emptiness and hopelessness because God is at work. For you will be the most happy when you are in His hands.

wise resources to look at before settling on a future mate:

A Sweet and Bitter Providence [John Piper]

Redeeming Ruth

is true love possible?

From a young age, boys and girls grow up with the stories of true love like Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and countless romantic classics that depict men as chivalrous rescuers and woman as radiant beauties. As we grow older we love still stories like The Notebook and Braveheart because women want to be pursued and men want to sweep their beauty off their feet. We are wired to want life long love.

The Bible has a lot to say about love and relationships. Thus far we have discussed four of God’s standards for relationships. First, both partners must be faithful followers committed to Jesus Christ. Second, marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship. Third, sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only. Fourth, every relationship with the opposite sex must be viewed as sacred. And today we will see that you cannot get a refund your relationships.

You live a world where you can return anything. Even dumping your lover or signing divorce papers are easy as taking back a pair of shoes to Payless. So what’s the use of marriage vows? A vow is not “I hope so” or “I will try my best”; rather it is “I will!”  When I gazed into the eyes of my wife on the altar during our wedding ceremony I repeated to her, “I Justin, take you Sarah, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death takes us apart. And this day pledge to you my faithfulness.” In that moment, I was sobered by the serious this vow. I was committing myself to another human being. When it comes to relationships—particularly marriage—there is no return policy. No divorce or dumping can erase one-flesh.

Is true love possible?

Have you ever heard of the love story of Hosea and Gomer? With a name like Gomer it must be one amazing love story!? Gomer might not sound beautiful, but the story of Hosea and Gomer is one of the most endearing true love stories of the Bible. Hosea the prophet married Gomer the prostitute. Now most romances usually do not begin like this, but God arranged this marriage. However, through their relationship you will see a husband’s unconditional love for his wife.

Hosea knew about Gomer’s promiscuous past and probably knew that being married to a woman with this kind of baggage would not be easy. He was right. After they had three children together [1:2-9], Gomer ran away from her home and went back to work selling herself on the street. In our day, she would be arrested and removed of all custody to be near her children. In her day, she could have been killed or sold into slavery. She was running from more than her husband and children, she was running from God.

God let Gomer run for a little while through the thorns, but He did not let her run for long [2:6-10]. All the while He was right besides her, pursuing her heart, blocking her path, and whispering in her ear, “Where are you running to, my dear child.” God is a pursuer-lover. He does not let go of those He loves, even if they shamelessly spit in His face.

The story of Hosea and Gomer has such similarity to story of the father and his prodigal son [Luke 15:11-32]. The son asked for an early installment on his dad’s inheritance. The dad graciously gave it up to his son only to have him bolt immediately to blow it all in a Vegas night. The night ends with the son wrestling pigs for their slop. The father freely let his son run, but when the son came back begging for mercy the father embraced his son and threw him a welcome home celebration. God gives you freedom to run with boundaries. Your God-given freedom does not give you the right to break God’s guidelines for life for this will make you a slave to your own sinful passions.

Gomer came to the place where she had nothing.  She was stripped of everything. I suppose she reaped what she sowed; she got what she deserved. In her mind, the only solution was to sell herself as a slave. The story does not end on here; Hosea buys Gomer from the slave market [3:1-3]. Can you picture the moment? Can you see Hosea leaving his home, looking in his wallet at the money he would use to purchase back his promiscuous wife and mommy of three children? Can you hear the auctioneer bidding with Hosea responding, “15 pieces of silver”? I can imagine Gomer’s eyes filling with tears as she sees her husband pursuing her to restore her as his wife.

The love story of Hosea and Gomer mirrors Gods love towards Israel. God in a sense wed Himself to an unfaithful people. God made a covenant relationship with Israel. This covenant came with blessings and curses depending on Israel’s fidelity and loyalty. Since, Israel was unfaithful the curses were being activated [cf. blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28; R.C Sproul, Curse Motif].

What are the relationship lessons learned from Hosea and Gomer?

First, God is angered by unfaithfulness. God is particularly outraged by unfaithfulness towards Him. When you rebel against God there must be a consequence. God is like a jealous husband who desires His wife solely and for her not to share her love with another.

Second, God is a loyal lover. God’s faithful love is unfathomable. Although the people He loves are unfaithful He bends over backwards to buy back His promiscuous bride. He runs with an eager pursuit to express His unconditional love to His people.

Third, idolatry can creep into any relationship. Israel’s unfaithfulness had to do with their love for another god. Moreover their religious practices became an idol that clouded them from seeing their One True Love. Idolatry is sharing your love with something other than God. People can be idols, but God never meant for marriage to be-all.

Fourth, God’s anger and love must lead to our repentance. This is the gospelman is responsible to God, man rebels against God, Jesus redeems man, and man responds to God’s love. Instead of Gomer being on the auction block it is you. Your sin put you on the slave market, but Jesus stepped in to purchase you as His own. He raised His nail pierced hands claiming you as His child. The gavel falls, “Sold!” The price for your soul was the Son of Man shedding His blood on the cross. The love story of Hosea and Gomer is most clearly seen in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

True love is possible. Obedience to Christ is the starting point towards knowing what true love is all about. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ you will not know what true love is or how to share it with another person. The sacrificial and unconditional love of Jesus Christ is our model for true love. I am certainly glad that God did not return me when I failed Him.

quick Q&A concerning difficult relationship situations:

Since Hosea married someone who is immoral is this okay for me to do too? This question must be answered carefully. First, it is true you are both sinners and you both marry with sinful baggage. Still you must careful consider whom you marrying. It is good to ask the question: Am I willing to partner with them know what I know about them?

What if my spouse leaves me? Forgiveness and restoration are always the goal, but you cannot control the responses or actions of other people. Your faithfulness [1 Peter 3:1-6] and sacrificial love [Ephesians 5:25ff] will speak more than your words will ever utter. Marriage will be tough at times. God designed marriage to you holy, not just happy.

What if my spouse my relationship is abusive and unsafe? Get help. Call your pastor, but if you are in immediate danger call the police. Separation from your spouse for a time is appropriate they can submit to self-control. I found this message, Living with an Angry Spouse, by Ed Welch very helpful.

Additional Resources to Prepare for the Marriage Relationship:

Should We Get Married? [William Smith]

Questions to ask before you Get Engaged [Sojourn Counseling]

The Mystery of Marriage [James Hamilton Jr.]

dating, courting, or waiting?

Dating is a big business—the Internet is littered with dating sights giving any kind of advice under the sun. Google “dating” and you will retrieve over 500 million hits. Dating is a hot topic. When it comes to being a Christian and dating you are in a pickle because the Bible does not talk about dating. This is lack of information has caused Christians to settle for the modern standard of dating, which has some obvious deficiencies that contradict God’s perspective of relationships. Can today’s way of dating be redeemed? Is there a better way to finding the “one”?

Thus far we have discussed three of God’s standards for relationships. First, both partners must be faithful follower committed to Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 6:14-16]. Second, marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship [Ephesians 5:25-28]. Third, sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only. Today we will discover from the Scripture that every relationship with the opposite sex must be viewed as sacred.

Statistics show Christian daters mimic non-Christians daters in terms of sex outside of marriage, living together before marriage, and adultery and divorce after marriage. The church and the world are mirrored images when it comes to relationships. This is a dishonor to Christ and the glory of His Bride—the church. In my opinion, the modern dating has a lot to do with this.

What are the Deficiencies of Modern Dating?[1]

First, dating often skips the friendship stage of the relationship. Second, dating often mistakes the physical relationship for love. The dating game assumes several test-drive relationships. Infatuation is not a true measure intimacy. Nor does sex equal love or commitment. Dating often fails to adhere to physical and emotional guardrails or purpose to run from temptation.

Third, dating often isolates you from other vital accountable relationships [friends, parents, teachers, pastors, etc.] making the one you are dating an idol. The idea of the man seeking the approval of the father has become a way of the past [Numbers 30:3-16]. Fourth, dating can distract you from preparing for the future. The biblical perspective of all relationships is for mutual encouragement to help one another become God’s kind of man or woman and preparing yourself for marriage.

Fifth, dating can discourage you from God’s gift of singleness [1 Corinthians 7]. As you become older you might think settling for any relationship is best because your biological clock is ticking. Maybe you think a relationship will cure your loneliness and make all your dreams come true. Human relationships are wonderful and helpful, however, no person can fill a relational void or loneliness quite like God. Your primary relationship will always be God. Therefore, waiting in singleness is not a waste of time; rather it is in moments of waiting that God’s infuses you with His courage and strength. Before meeting my wife, Sarah, I was a single man for many years. There were many moments when it was hard to wait, but God used my time of waiting to mature my faith and grow my faithfulness.

Sixth, dating can create an artificial environment to evaluate one another’s character [i.e. today dating is viewed as recreational—for the fun of it!]. Daters will ask, “Is there chemistry between us? Are they good looking enough? Are they fun?” This is the most important question you must ask, “Do I see myself committing to this person for life?” Finally, dating becomes an end in itself.

Is there a better alternative to dating?

Yes, I would propose courtship. Now many can argue that the Bible has nothing to say about courtship too. They are correct. Both dating and courtship were not part of the pattern of society in biblical times. Courtship and dating did not appear on the relational radar screen until the Victorian Era and WWII Baby Boomer Generation. Why choose courtship over dating? Courtship chooses: solid friendship before marriage, purity, and seeks wise counsel of parents, mentors, and mature Christians friends. Courtship does not pursue a romantic relationship until you are ready for long lasting love. Courtship prepares you for the permanent relationship of marriage, and it is content with singleness in times of waiting [Philippians 4:11-12].

The motives are often different between dating and courtship. Courtship focuses on being the right person, while dating focuses on finding the right person [cf. Matthew 24:38; Luke 20:34-35]. Courtship is the best move towards a marriage relationship today because it adheres to the most biblical relationship standard.

How do I come to this conclusion?

I believe the Bible is completely sufficient to give counsel for all areas of life, including relationships. Although the Bible would be considered ancient literature written in a different culture than ours, I believe the Bible transcends culture and people are just as sinful today as generations past. I believe the Bible is without error, authoritative, and inspired by Holy Spirit, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” [2 Timothy 3:16-17]

So how does the sufficiency of the Bible apply to our relationships? Christians today have bought into the current cultures standard for relationships, while the Bibles standard has become ignored or misunderstood. Even though the Bible says zilch about dating or courtship, it has a lot to say about personal relationships. Here are some key passages that talk about biblical relationships:[2]

  • I Corinthians 6:9-7:19 This is a command to be pure, and an exhortation on the seriousness of sexual sin and instructions regarding marriage. Biblical commitment precedes sexual intimacy.
  • I Thessalonians 4:1-8 It wrong to defraud one another in relationships—by implying a relationship or commitment by your words or conduct that does not actually exist.
  • Song of Solomon 2:7 “Do not awaken love before it pleases.” In other words, before the proper time, which is marriage.
  • Proverbs 6:20-7:27 This is a warning to avoid sexual sin and foolish relationships.
  • James 1:13-15 This shows the slippery slope of giving into temptation.
  • Romans 13:8-14 This is a command to love others, work for their soul’s good; don’t look to please self.
  • Romans 14:1-15:7 It is important to favor others, not self. Value what is good to their souls.
  • I Timothy 5:1-2 This is a command to treat single women as sisters in Christ, with absolute purity.
  • Titus 2:1-8 It is critical for young men and women should focus on self-control and godliness.
  • John 14:15 “If you love Christ, you will obey His commands.” Even above your own desires.

I have counseled couples before and after marriage. A common theme between each conflict within the relationship is not having a high biblical standard of the relationship before marriage. Sin complicates relationships. The Bible says that this kind of relationship can be restored through forgiveness and a commitment to change by following the example of Christ.

In summary, the Bible is our baseline for all relationships—dating, courting or waiting. God’s high standard for relationships is not to flex His divine muscles to crush our hopes and dreams, but to fill us with great Hope of His purposes and plans, which are for our good and His glory. First, the biblical goal of dating or courtship is marriage. Second, the biblical view of dating or courtship is purity and the spiritual growth of one another. Consider your relationship with the opposite sex as your brother and sister in Christ [cf. 1 Timothy 5:1-2]. Third, the biblical practice of dating or courtship is commitment always precedes intimacy. All of your relationships are sacred and an opportunity to shine the gospel to a sinful world.

quick question concerning dating & courtship:

How far is too far when it comes to sexual intimacy in dating or courting? This is not the right question. The right question ought to be, “How far should we keep one another away from temptation?” A counselor I know compares temptation to Niagara Falls. Your goal if swimming in the Niagara River is not how close to the falls before you reach the point-of-no-return. The Bible says the boundary is to do not touch or put each other in tempting situations. For the good of one another and the glory of God keep as far from the point-of-no-return as possible.

Great Resources for Both Men & Women on Relationships:

Great Resources for Both Men & Women on Singleness & Waiting:

Great Resources for Women on Purity:

Great Resources for Men on Purity:

[1] Adapted from I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris [Multnomah Publisher, Sisters, OR. 2003, 38-46]

[2] Adapted from Biblical Dating [Scott Croft]

what about sex before marriage?

Imagine a world without standards or limits: no traffic laws, no standards for society, or no code of conduct. There would be chaos. There are limits, governing rules, morals of right and wrong, and standards of living for the purpose of our protection. Rules are to be abided by not broken or bent. The speed limit law is not a simple suggestion and codes of conduct are not recommendations—they are requirements. Just as there are standards and rules to adhere in our country, so there are standards God gives towards our relationships.

Thus far we have discussed two of God’s standards for relationships. First, both partners must be faithful follower committed to Jesus Christ [2 Corinthians 6:14-16]. Second, marriage is a picture of a divine and permanent relationship [Ephesians 5:25-28]. Today we will discover a third standard God has set for marriage: sexual intimacy is for the marriage bed only.

Waiting to have sex until marriage is certainly not a popular message in our world today. Sex education classes promote safe sex and condom usage. TV shows and media, flaunt sexuality outside of marriage as normal. The idea of waiting until marriage to have sex is passé and seems to spoils the fun. Has chivalry gone out of style along with chastity belts? How do we reconcile God’s speed limit to wait on sex until marriage?

The Bible has three commands concerning sex [Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8]. First, do not give yourself to adultery—having sex with anyone other than your spouse. Second, do not give yourself to fornication—having premarital sex, even with someone you intend to marry. Third, do not give yourself to sexual immorality [Grk: porneia]—having sexually stimulating activities [i.e. pornography, oral sex, masturbation, sex-ting, flirting, etc.] outside of marriage or in marriage with someone who is not your spouse [cf. Matthew 5:27-28; Proverbs 6:27-28].

sinful reasons to have sex before marriage [1 Corinthians 6:12-14]

There are many reasons people justify breaking the limits God sets on sexuality before marriage. Paul says something very wise in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all thing are helpful.” In other words, sex might seem ok, but is it really going to help the situation? Here is some common reasons people sin in order to have sex outside of marriage:

We love each other.” Many people have equated love with sex. Love does not equal sex; rather it is the gift of committed love. Real love does not tempt one another to sin. Real love is willing to wait and commit.

We need to see if we are sexually compatible.” The plea for compatibility seems good, but compatibility is not tested—it is learned. You can be compatible with anyone. Test-driving is meant for cars not relationships. 70% of women who test drive are seeking a long-term relationship [i.e. manipulation]. 90% of men who test drive are seeking a short-term solution for their sex drive [i.e. self-gratification]. Sex is not a reliable test for compatibility.

Everyone is doing it. How could it be wrong if it feels so good?” Let the truth be known: not everyone is. Even if everyone was that does not make it right. Many people do choose to wait. Peer pressure and cultural acceptance are not always right. People who have sex before marriage have a far higher divorce rates, feelings of insecurity within marriage, and greater chance of unplanned pregnancy or STD’s.

We do not have the same values as you, so stop making us feel guilty.” This is especially true in an age of tolerance, which says “Don’t push your agenda’s on me. You can believe what you want but let me believe what I want.” However, the value of waiting for sex until marriage is not meant to pour on guilt or showcase a man-made value, rather it is God’s value for your good and His glory. He is the one who created you and created marriage. He even created sex. All with their purpose and place.

Sex within marriage might seem to be helpful for fitting into culture, finding compatibility or fulfilling love, but this is not the way God intended intimacy to happen. Two questions to ask: Is it helpful? Is it enslaving? [v.12] When we bend or break the rules this leads to chaos [vs.13-14]. Disobedience brings danger like jumping the guardrails hugging a cliff.

God’s reason to save sex for marriage [1 Corinthians 6:15-20]

God gives one reason to wait. He knows how sex is multi-dimensional—physical, emotional, and spiritual—but when two people have sex they become “one flesh.” [v.16] Even within causal sexual flings this occurs. Sex creates a miraculous bond between two people. Sex is superglue that keeps two together. God did not intend for “one flesh” to be shared, except with the one person you are faithfully committed to in marriage.

Paul bases his sexual purity on his identity in Christ. First, if you are in Christ you are a “servant of Christ” [v.12]. Christ has freed you from the bondage of sin and you are at liberty to choose what is right [cf. Romans 6:1-14]. Second, you are an “eternal being” [v.14]. This world is not all there is. The joy of sex does not compare with the joy of being with Christ. Third, you are “one with Christ” [vs.15, 17]. Followers are married to Christ. Remember, marriage pictures a divine union between Christ and His church [cf. Ephesians 5:25ff]. Finally, you are the “property of Christ” [vs.19-20]. God owns you. You are bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.

Sex is a gift from God. It is something that He created as “good.” [Genesis 1:31] Sex is great in so many ways–relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Sex is a gift that is greatest when waited for within the marriage relationship. When we abuse or misuse what God created by using it our way rather than His way it complicates our relationship rather than compliment.

Sexual immorality not only affects your relationship with the other person [vs. 17-18; i.e. Psalm 51:4; 66:18], but it primarily affects your relationship with God. Sin creates a roadblock between you and God. You can try all sorts of things to get rid of the roadblock, but until you deal with the sin and commit to change it will be a barrier that you will not be able to budge. Give your sexuality to God and commit to His standard for relationships. It is for your good and God’s glory [v.19-20]. Purity is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your future spouse.

quick Q&A concerning sex:

What happens if you already had sex before marriage? Can I be forgiven? Yes. Repent and restore [1 John 1:8-10]. Recommit to purity and saving sex for marriage. I have a good friend had a sexual relationship in high school, the gal got pregnant. He lived with the guilt of his sin for years. He later tasted the forgiveness of God and recommitted to God and is being used of God in mighty ways. He is now married with beautiful children. God is faithful to forgive. Be faithful to seek His forgiveness through repentance and restoration.

Is sex in marriage really better than sex outside of marriage? You bet. Being pure is always better than settling for second best. Think of how much better it is to drink mountain spring water versus drinking from a sewer pipe. Purity satisfies completely, while sinfulness leaves you empty craving more [Jeremiah 2:13].

How can I fight the temptation of sexual immorality? Toying with your sexual desires is like a pyromaniac playing with fire. Feeding the fire of desire does not calm the temptation; it only intensifies it. You will get burned [James 1:14-15]. Pushing the limits is dangerous. Basing decisions based on feelings of right and wrong can be just as dangerous. Sex feels good, but it was never meant to fulfill what only God can. Sex was never meant to be worshiped [Romans 1:18-27; Ephesians 5:3-7].

Here are some helpful ways to fight the temptation to give into sexual immorality: First, commit to obey God. Second, learn from the Word the joy of waiting. Third, be accountable to God and a strong Christ-follower. Finally, create and implement a battle plan [purity contract]—do not touch [1 Corinthians 7:1], do not look [Matthew 5:28; Job 31:1], and do not be alone [cf. Genesis 39]. Purity never happens by accident. Make a plan to fight for it.

Great Resources to Check out:

Sex Before Marriage: How Far is Too Far? [Timothy Lane]

Guidelines for Sexual Purity [Randy Alcorn]

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ [John Piper]

who’s in your driver’s seat?

The first two cars I owned were hand-me-downs. When I was 16, I bought the 1987 Dodge Daytona from my stepmother for $500. She lasted about 6 months before she gave up the ghost. My second car I bought while in college—a 1989 Chevy Corsica from my grandmother. She was a fairly reliable 4-door sedan. I named her Angus, mostly because she was black and I wanted her to have a bold name for the complex I had while driving her.

Angus had issues. First, my door got stuck. I felt like one of the Duke brothers climbing through the window of the General Lee to get into my car. Second, the ignition broke, so I had a buddy hotwire a toggle switch to help start the car without a key. I was embarrassed to take dates in this car because I never knew what would happen next. On one occasion I took a gal out for dinner and it started raining really hard. I turned on the wipers to full blast and they rocketed off the windshield never to be found. I spent the rest of the ride with my head out of the window like a panting dog to see where we were going. Nothing like that to dampen your date!

I did upgrade to nicer cars, but never really got the car of my dreams. If you could have any car what would you drive? Many people desire the German BMW or Mercedes, while others adore the Italian Lamborghini, Ferrari or Bugatti Veyron. I would settle for a Ford Mustang Shelby. I often daydream about what it would be like to drive one of these hot wheels around town, feeling the roar of the engine; proud of wow-factor I get from people I zoom past.

Have ever realized how much cars and relationships have in common? The next few weeks I will share a series on dating and relationships. We are going to approach this topic from the biblical standpoint. You might be thinking, “I know what the Bible says about relationships, it’s so old fashion and culturally irrelevant.” Stay tuned. You might be pleasantly surprised how practical and helpful the Bible is when it speaks about relationships with the opposite sex.

you get what you pay for

There are two ways to look at buying a car: either you get something really cheap that quickly breaks down or you get something nice that will last you a lifetime. There is no middle of the road. When it comes to relationships, God is in it for the long haul for “nothing can separate us from the love of God” [cf. Ephesians 3:17-19, Romans 8:35-39, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7]. He has put the miles in for you and He expects you to go the distance with those you committed.

Jesus says marriage—the chief earthly relationship—is a visual illustration to the world of Jesus’ commitment to the church [Ephesians 5:25ff]. Never will He abuse, neglect or separate Himself from His Bride. The love binding together Christ and the church is eternal. He has a covenant relationship with His followers built on sacrificial love for His followers. Relationships are no small matter or a place for shallow commitment.

Do not settle for anything less than the best. What is the best when it comes to relationships? God says the best is for both partners to be committed followers of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, believers are commanded to set their relationship standards high, “Do not be yoked with unbelievers.” To understand this verse you must learn from the farmer. Back in the day, farmers used oxen to plow their fields. They would match up two animals that were similar in size and strength to get straight rows. A smart farmer would never match up a goat and Clydesdale, or wild stallion with an old donkey. If so he would simply spin in circles getting nowhere. Do you see the illustration God gives to us about relationships? A believer and non-believer pull each other in opposite directions, in fact, the relationship will spin in spiritual circles if both parties are not committed to Christ.

beware of lemons

Beware of the dodgy deals from the used car lot. In other words, be careful of the worldly messages you hear and see on TV, Internet, or romance novels. The message is of compromise not commitment, “Dating is just for fun and sex.” Also, be careful of ungodly advice from friends who are sinful sympathizers. His or her message is listen to yourself not your God, “You should be with someone who makes you happy or makes you feel fulfilled.”  Lemons are sour deals that as you think back on them you regrettably know you have bought into a lie and you should have been cautious enough to search under the hood of that person’s heart before you signed the paperwork. Here are common lies and excuses about dating a non-believer:

“He or she is really nice person and is very good to me.” This is admirable and chivalrous. Some non-believers truly have better character than believers. However, if they are not in Christ their motives in the relationship are always selfish. Use your friendship as a God given opportunity to share with them the gospel. Let them know that Christ wants to reconcile an eternal relationship with them.

“Don’t worry, I will share my faith inside our relationship.” Missionary dating is sin. You have already compromised the relationship. How can you tell your partner to obey God when you are not being obedient to God by dating them? It is never God’s will to sin, even if it feels so good and right.

“If God was loving He would let me date who I want.” Remember, God is the standard. What He commands is for my good and His glory. God is not being cruel when He commands you to date believers and steer away from non-believers. He is protecting your heart. Take the time to read the story of Sampson [Judges 13-16] and Solomon [1 Kings 1-11]. You see how quickly love blinds their hearts from their God to the idols of their women. God warns about inter-spiritual relationships because He knows how distracting and spiritually detrimental they are for both parties.

In order to prevent yourself from getting a lemon you need to do some research into the person you want to partner. When buying a car you will get an inspection from the mechanic, check under the hood yourself, or go to to see the specks and history of the car. When it comes to our relationships we must go to the Word of God. The Bible says by their fruit you will know the kind of person they are [Matthew 7:16-17; John 15:8; Galatians 5:22-23].

How can you see someone’s fruit? See how they handle conflict [Proverbs 9:8-9], probe their passions, and ask x-ray questions: First, who is driving your life? If they give you a shallow answer or they are offended you asked this should be a red flag. Second, what is your relationship like with your mom and dad? You can tell a lot about how someone will treat you by the way they treat or speak to their parents. Third, are you involved at church? If they are serving others and loving the church this gives you a seek peak at their passions and priorities [cf. Philippians 2:4]. These are not fail proof questions since people can put up good fronts or change, but they are a starting point. [Note: more on danger signs for relationships next week].

no more backseat driving

Backseat drivers are annoying. They whisper or wail in your ear what they think you need to be doing. They are never satisfied and always complaining about your driving style. Are you a backseat driver to God? Do you say to Him things like, “Stop telling me how to run my relationships,” “Can you get going already? I am tired of waiting for the right guy or gal to come along,” Now if I were God I would be like the parent who says, “If you do not stop it right now I am going to pull this car over and give you something to think about!” Good thing I am not God, but if you say that God is in your driver’s seat let Him drive.

quick Q&A about concerning biblical relationships

Just because someone is a Christian does that mean I should date them even if I do not like him or her? What if never meet a Christian that I am attracted to? Waiting is never a bad option. In fact, while you wait, your primary relationship—between you and God—can be growing some great fruit. Also, pray to God asking Him to provide you a partner that will love God more than you.

What if you are in a relationship that you are convinced is second best? Repent and respond by doing the right thing. Speak honestly with your partner and break off the relationship until you are both faithfully committed to Christ.

How can you tell who is behind the wheel when it comes to your other relationships? Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Surround yourself a great examples of faithful followers who have done it right. Take good notes.
  2. Learn from the examples of failed relationship. Don’t let history repeat itself.
  3. Keep accountable to someone wise while dating. Ask them to assess your relationships often with objectiveness.
  4. Listen to the advice of your parents and heed the warnings of the Word of God.