By Beth Ann Baus, Crosswalk.com
Your kids are nearing that age where romance seems a little less yucky and somewhat intriguing. Don’t assume that just because they don’t talk to you about that they aren’t thinking about it!
As parents, we need to be prepared to help guide our kids in their thinking about dating, courtship, and marriage. Remember, your kids are your disciples and it’s vital that you help them think Biblically about marriage and choosing a spouse.
Unfortunately, the world lies to our kids about three basic aspects of marriage: marriage isn’t necessary, marriage isn’t forever, and marriage isn’t just between a man and a woman. Let’s dig a little deeper into what messages our kids are receiving from these lies.Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/digitalskillet
Lies about Marriage the World Is Telling Your Teen
Knowing the message our kids are receiving from the world, you can see why it’s so important that we, as parents, give advice that stems from the Word of God.
Believe me, I know this can seem overwhelming! Below I’ve made a list of topics to help get you started. This is not an exhaustive list! Books have been written on this topic and for good reason!
But, my hope is that the 9 topics below will help guide conversations about the covenant of marriage and things to consider when choosing the person to enter into that covenant with.
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1. The Purpose of Marriage
I think John Piper explained this best when he said, “The most ultimate thing that can be said about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory...it is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to the church and therefore the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship between Christ and His church on display in the world.”
John Piper is looking at marriage through the lens of Ephesians 5:22-25. In marriage, the husband portrays God and the wife portrays the church. While our culture puts emphasis on falling in and out of love, the Bible puts emphasis on commitment.
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2. The Importance of Being Equally Yoked
I’ve heard amazing stories about people coming to faith through their dating relationships. Certainly, God can bring about faith in any way He chooses!
But we can’t forget that 2 Corinthians 6:14 warns us about being unequally yoked. There’s a difference between dating someone who doesn’t have a full understanding of the gospel and is in search of that truth and dating someone who doesn’t claim to know the Lord at all.
When thinking about marriage as a covenant relationship, it’s easy to see the importance of being paired with someone who shares the same desire to uphold that covenant.
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3. The Role of Physical Attraction
Hollywood likes to depict relationships being about physical attraction and lust. And while we need our children to understand there is more (much more) that drives a marriage than physical attraction, it isn’t something to ignore or deem as unimportant.
While we don’t want our kids to give value to a person based on their physical appearance, and while they need to be careful with how they handle their sexual desires, we shouldn’t discourage our kids from finding beauty in God’s creative artistry of the opposite sex.
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4. The Importance of Being Committal
When you’re looking at a teen or young adult, we have to leave room for growth. We all, hopefully, become better at commitment as we get older and grow in our faith. But some good advice I’ve heard other parents give is to look for patterns of a noncommittal attitude and if you see some, consider them potential red flags.
For instance, does this person have a hard time holding down a job? Do they jump from one extracurricular activity to another? Are they known for jumping from one dating relationship to another? Are they easily swayed in their decision making?
While these habits don’t necessarily mean the person can’t stay committed to their spouse for the rest of their lives, it’s certainly worth considering, discussing, and praying about!
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5. The Art of Suffering
One thing we know for sure is that this life will bring suffering. We’re guaranteed it. Not just because we are followers of Christ, but because we live in a broken world. So, knowing that suffering will come, isn’t it wise to consider how a person deals with hardship and stress before committing your life to them?
Here are some questions to ask. Is this person quick to anger when faced with trials? Do they run to the Lord for comfort or to earthly pleasures to mask the pain? Do they bottle their emotions up until they explode or do they seek wise counsel and support from others?
James 1:2-4 shows us how to suffer well. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
While I would say the majority of us are still learning how to count our trials as joy, this is an area of life where we should expect to see the Holy Spirit at work in the life of a Christ-follower.
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6. The Destruction of Pride
We all struggle with pride. I do. You do. Our kids do. So if you tell your kids to never date or marry anyone who isn’t 100% humble, you’re basically telling them to stay single their entire lives. However, there are some questions worth asking to assess someone's level of humility vs. pride.
Do they think they know everything and always have the right answers? Do they always have to have the last word? Are they willing to listen to the advice of others? Are they willing to ask for and accept help from others?
God’s Word has a lot to say on the subject of pride and humility. Here are a few scripture references to get your conversation started: James 4:6; James 4:10; Jeremiah 9:23; Phillipians 2:3; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 11:2; Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 16:5, 18, 19; Proverbs 21:4.
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7. Seeking the Input of Others
Our culture is currently on a kick about speaking your own truth, only needing your own approval, only surrounding yourself with people who fill you up, etc. In other words, the world is telling our kids to believe whatever they want to be true, that it doesn’t matter what anyone else says, and that they should only be friends with people who agree.
If your child is in the early stages of getting to know someone better, it’s likely best to keep the circle of involvement small.
But, once they have officially started dating, it’s important that the couple spend time with not only their biological families but also their church families and any mentors they have. Then, as time goes by, hopefully, those who have been invited to be involved will give approval, but if not, our kids need to be willing to listen when others point out concerns.
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8. The Importance of Prayer
I started praying that the Lord would provide spouses for my sons since before they were born. Even though I don’t know their names yet, I’ve prayed for the two women that will one day, Lord willing, be my daughters-in-law.
Even now, as our oldest son is dating, I often pray for their relationship during our family prayer time because we want our boys to know this is to be taken seriously and it is a matter to be taken before the Lord.
Encourage your kids to pray about this on their own, but also invite them to pray during your family prayer time. Even if they aren't in a relationship yet, praying for the future is never a bad thing! Consider Colossians 4:2; Philippians 4:6-7.
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9. Don’t Assume We Know the Future
I would be doing us all a disservice if I failed to mention that we don’t know if our kids will get married or not. They may stay single by choice or find themselves in a situation of unwanted singleness.
As we talk to our kids about dating, courtship, engagement, and marriage we should also take time to discuss and pray about contentment (Phil 4:11). We need to, as best we can prepare our kid's hearts for a lifetime of following Christ and living lives that bring glory to Him whether they are married or single!
When we talk to our children about the joys of marriage, we should be careful to not make singleness sound like a curse or a missed blessing. We mustn't forget that in 1 Cor 7, Paul calls singleness a gift!
Singleness and marriage both provide unique opportunities for serving the Lord, for being sanctified, and for being happy. So be bold--talk to your kids about romantic relationships. But above all, focus on their relationship with the Lord.
Beth Ann Baus is a wife and homeschooling mom of two boys. She is a freelance writer and author of the novel, Sister Sunday. In her writing, Beth often pulls from her own experiences of abuse, anxiety, depression, and OCD. Beth has a heart for women’s ministry and is in the process of becoming a certified Biblical Counselor. She loves serving alongside her husband and pointing couples to the Word for strengthening their marriages and home life. You can find more from her at www.bethannbaus.com.
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