Happily Ever After – Marriage Questions
Grouped by Topic
During the worship services on April 28/29 and May 5/6 of 2012, marriage-related questions were submitted by the congregation as part of the “Happily Ever After” sermon series. Roger Storms, Senior Pastor, and Tim Hofmann, Director of Marriage and Family Ministries answered as many as possible during the service. However, many more questions were submitted. This Q & A should cover virtually all the remaining questions from those services.
- Dealing with the differences
- Changing the heart of another
- Living together without being married
- Forgiveness and trust
- One-sided marriage
- Addiction issues
- The past intruding on the present
- Boredom in marriage
- Boundaries in marriage
- Sexual questions
- Praying together
1. Question: Is there such a thing as a “soul mate”? Many people search too long for their soul mate, eventually giving up and settling?
Similar question: Many people believe ”united” must mean we must agree on everything and see every aspect of life the same way. True? False? Becoming one = symbiotic. Yes? No?
Similar question: Do you think that how people perceive conflict contributes to the troubles? Instead of conflict = bad, let conflict = opportunity for new understanding. Would that help?
Answer from Roger: The Bible tells us very clearly that it is for this reason that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave or be united with his wife. The Bible doesn’t say that there is one soul mate for any and every individual, but that we are to make that decision and to choose and become that perfect soul mate for that person
Answer from Tim: I’m not sure that I really understand the definition of a “soul mate.” If you set your criteria for a partner too narrowly you it will likely be depriving yourself of the lifetime of joy that God intends. There are no two perfectly matched people. “United” does not mean agreeing or perceiving in the same way. There will always be some differences in values, beliefs, and personality that will be the source of potential conflict. Marital research has demonstrated that success and happiness are more about the process by which you deal with the differences than the differences themselves. The keys to that process are good communications, conflict resolution skills and willingness to compromise.
2. Question: What can I do, besides constant prayer, to make my husband believe in Jesus again? He did believe when we got married but stopped shortly thereafter. Here we are, 19 years later. This is one of those items that we do not discuss.
Similar Question: I started attending church in December, and it has changed ME. It has been something I was missing in my life. But my husband will not attend with me. How do I accept he will not seek God with me? We have a family together and I desperately to be happy and in love, but I cannot force him. I don’t want us to grow apart.
Similar Question: My husband isn’t the spiritual leader of our home. He is a believer, but does not have an intimate relationship with Christ. How do I handle this? I want to grow spiritually with him, not ahead of him.
Similar Question: I cannot get him – my husband to come to CCC with me. He grew up catholic (we both did) and really doesn’t practice it. He needs spiritual renewal, how can I get this “tough guy” here? I love this place!
Similar Question: How can I best support/encourage/help my husband, who is a believer but does not/will not attend church with his family?
Similar Question: What is your opinion when before our marriage I thought that my husband and I were spiritually minded, but when it comes to church he will not go.
Similar Question: My boyfriend believes there is a God but doesn’t have a good relationship with Him. I want to be sure to marry a man who loves God as much as I do. How do I motivate him without overwhelming him?
Similar Question: How do you get your husband to tithe without nagging? How can I get my husband to be the spiritual leader of the home?
Answer from Roger: The Bible tells us clearly that we are to demonstrate by our witness and our faithfulness in 1 Peter chapter 3, the testimony of Christ. So that coupled with prayer, the strong Christian witness will have influence on the unbelieving spouse or the spouse that is not the spiritual leader he or she should be. So in this case, my encouragement would be to faithfully pray and faithfully do that which God calls us to do in a relationship and let God work the change in that person’s heart.
Answer from Tim: The short answer is that you cannot make him believe, attend, tithe, or take spiritual leadership. And sometimes the more you try the more he will reject your efforts. While you have some influence over your spouse, ultimately it is their choice. God gave us the freedom to choose and your husband may choose not to believe right now or not to take the role that you want. But I would also be careful not to limit yourself to thinking about belief or spiritual commitment in black and white terms, especially if your husband proclaimed to be a believer at one time. Many people reside somewhere in the “shades of gray” in their belief. So for you, as the believing wife, it would be useful to think in terms of inviting him to believe by planting subtle seeds along the way. One of the best seeds that you can plant is the example of your own life (1 Peter 3:1). As he sees the results of belief in your day-to-day life it can be an attractive inducement to revise his thinking.
3. Question: Would you address the issue of domestic partnership vs. marriage? We are legally separated having been married to one another. Does this still make us married in God’s eyes?
Similar Question: What is the church’s stance on the many couples who are members of our church that are living together in sin?
Similar Question: So many people today live together without being married. Is that wrong in God’s eyes or is marriage a “manmade law”?
Answer from Roger: The Bible makes it very clear that marriage is between one man and one woman for one lifetime. The scripture stance on marriage is that it be a formal ceremony or a covenant arrangement where one man be united. The word that is used in Genesis also in Matthew and again in Ephesians refers to a legal covenant that is binding upon both parties. Therefore, it’s not simply enough to say we are committed to each other, but if we are involved in a sexual relationship with each other, without the bounds of marriage, then we are living outside God’s plan. In God’s eyes, marriage is not a man-made law. It is a God made law that he expects us to obey.
Answer from Tim: Marriage is symbolic of a deep level of commitment to your spouse. As such, it is a strong predictor of how couples will respond when the going gets tough. Married couples tend to stay together and “weather the storm” more than those who live together. When the storm passes they often have developed an even deeper level of closeness and intimacy. Those couples who are not married tend to go their separate ways when faced with significant obstacles.
4. Question: Me and my boyfriend have lived together for almost 4 years and have a child together. We have talked about marriage but he always turns it into a financial thing or turns into us being perfect together before we get married. How can I get him to understand and open his heart to that marriage is not a financial or perfect thing?
Answer from Roger: If you are involved in a relationship that is very much like a marriage, then you need to encourage that person to be faithful to God. If one partner is a believer and the other partner is not, then you have to consider living outside God’s plan is your passion or your desire. If that person truly loves you, they will certainly want you to be comfortable in relationship to your God. Financially or a perfect relationship is always a challenge. My encouragement is that you speak with a counselor with regarding this issue and that you determine whether you will obedient to God or to man in this relationship. It’s a tough situation, but one that honoring God always results in positive things.
Answer from Tim: While the issues might be finances or perfection, it is likely that there is an underlying issue of commitment resistance. One of the questions that I ask of many couples is “What do you have to give up to be married?” I often get the “deer in the headlights” response or the “you shouldn’t have to give up anything” response. This is a question that anyone thinking about marriage needs to really consider thoroughly. Intuitively, most people know that being married will require some sacrifices, but without thinking it through it can seem like an overwhelming puzzle that is easier to avoid than to really address.
Having said all that, you don’t have control over him and you can’t make him commit. He has to make that choice for himself. If he is unwilling to commit, then you now have a choice to make. Is this what you want for you and your child? How does this fit with your Christian beliefs?
5. Question: What does the bible say about forgiveness and trust? I have heard you can forgive but do not have to trust. Is this what the bible teaches? Is this how God treats us? If we are supposed to be God-like, how it this true?
Answer from Roger: The Bible does say that we are to forgive one another. Forgetting is something that God can do perfectly, but we struggle with. My encouragement is that you set up boundaries with that spouse that will allow you to cultivate a deeper and deeper trust with that person and if that person values you, then they will do whatever they can in order to make sure that that trust is secure. We are to forgive and we can eventually learn to trust again as we confidently let the Holy Spirit work in our lives.
Answer from Tim: While believers strive to be like Jesus, we all fall short. Your spouse is going to do things that will hurt you and sometimes damage trust – it happens in all marriages. The life of Christ was all about grace and forgiveness, so we have examples throughout the New Testament of Jesus making the choice to forgive and encouraging the sinner to repent.
Trust is an essential element in any healthy marriage. Without trust you cannot have the true connection and intimacy in the relationship that makes it worthwhile. But, like many things in life, trust is not all or nothing. Trust is earned over time. As trust grows, so does the capacity for an ever-deepening marital relationship. So, if you really want the quality of marriage that God intends for you, you have to learn and practice forgiveness in generous amounts, just like our Savior did for us.
6. Question: How do I survive in a marriage another 25 years with a husband who wants nothing to do with me? I have been as good a wife as I can be, but still he ignores me. I’m not even home much, so I am not even in his face much. But when I am around, it’s the computer that takes precedence. I only stay for the sake of Jesus.
Similar Question: How do you survive the painful loneliness that often occurs in a one-sided marriage?
Similar Question: Have you ever heard of one example of staying together for the kids ever working?
Answer from Roger: Of course it is difficult to survive in a one-sided marriage and as I stated in a message, my heart goes out to those who are involved in it. However you made a convent relationship and a promise before God and God expects you to be faithful to it. So unless that person has been unfaithful in the aspect of adultery or abuse or desires to leave then your commitment is to faithfully co-exist in that relationship. Through prayer and Christian example, our prayer would be that that spouse may turn and embrace the same faith that you do and enhance the marriage relationship. But if that person does not, then the realization is that God has created marriage for the purpose of perfecting us and making us holy like God and in that same parallel there are times when we are not as supportive of God as we should be and yet he still loves us and is committed
Answer from Tim: Marriage should be about much more than surviving, and what you have described is a very difficult and complex problem. This is a situation that deserves more in-depth work, so I can suggest two things. First is a book called “Walk Out Women” by Stephens and Gray. It will give you some biblical guidance on where to put your focus and how to take care of yourself. Second, I would suggest that you consider some professional counseling to help to address the situation. We have a number of excellent Christian counselors on our referral list here in the local area.
7. Question: What about cross-cultural marriages? My husband is Asian and in his country the husband has absolute control. I feel like a slave rather than a wife.
Answer from Roger: The Bible encourages couples to be yoked equally. In fact, it discourages being unequally yoked. When you enter into a relationship with someone and that relationship is outside that boundary, then there are always difficulties in it. My encouragement again is that you follow 1 Peter chapter 3 and prayer and counsel to strengthen the relationship and until then, that you faithfully trust God to work a miracle.
Answer from Tim: Certainly the cultural background of each person in the marriage will have an influence on how the marital relationship operates. However, assuming that your husband is a believer, the teachings and examples of Jesus should take precedence over the some of the more extreme cultural norms.
8. Question: How does a couple deal with each other if one of the spouses is an alcoholic but not willing to go to AA or Celebrate Recovery? He loves Christ but still wants to drink daily.
Answer from Roger: This is indeed a difficult situation. Again my encouragement is through prayer and following a Christian example and displaying it as 1 Peter 3 speaks of, you should go on faithfully with that individual. Yet, if at anytime you feel that you are in harms way by their actions, then you do have a responsibility to seek and provide safety for yourself and for your other family members. There may be a time when as a drastic result, separation needs to happen in order to bring that person into the realization of what they are doing to themselves and to the relationship. My encouragement is that you seek counsel through Celebrate Recovery or through an Al-Anon relationship or a Christian counselor to see how to take the next step to faithfulness
Answer from Tim: Addictions of any kind will slowly erode away the foundation of love and trust in a marital relationship. The addiction becomes a barrier to the intimacy and emotional closeness that is necessary in any healthy marriage. One of the key dynamics to addiction is avoidance; and often times what an addict is avoiding is intimacy.
The spouse of an addict needs to be very careful that they don’t fall into co-dependence, which frequently shows itself in “rescuing” or “enabling” the addicted person. The addicted person needs to experience the consequences of their choices. While it is easy to say, it can be very hard to do. You will need support to do this consistently. Regardless of what the addicted person does, the spouse should be attending Celebrate Recovery. Sometimes Al-anon can be useful as well to help the spouse cope with the addiction issues.
9. Question: If you have gone through a divorce, does God still consider you married to your spouse if you have not remarried?
Answer from Roger: Divorce was granted by Moses in the scriptures as Jesus said because of the hardness of people’s hearts. This was a protective action, specifically to protect a wife who had very little rights in the Old Testament and antiquity system. My encouragement is that you realize that you made a promise to that person and if that marriage has ended in divorce, that you are not free scripturally, the Bible says, from the bounds of that covenant that though divorce has happened until that person has broken the covenant through adultery or through leaving you and not seeking reconciliation. In that case, that person is considered dead to you and as a result, remarriage can take place. Again, I would be slow to act on this, hoping that reconciliation can still be possible. But if that spouse has indeed married, they have broken the covenant. If they have committed adultery, they have broken the covenant and if they have left you willingly and are not seeking reconciliation, then they have broken the covenant and you are no longer bound to the covenant of marriage
10. Question: I wasn’t worth fighting for- How do you deal with those scars?
Answer from Tim: A divorce can be one of the most painful and traumatic events that a person can experience in their life. Recover takes time, support, education, and sometimes professional assistance. There will be grieving that eventually has to be resolved before you can move forward in your life. Chandler Christian Church offers DivorceCare and DivorceCare for Kids to help families recover from this tragedy. You can speak with Pam Reed at 480-963-3997 x 177 to find out the current information and get registered for these programs.
11. Question: I have a problem with being overly critical of my husband stemming from past relationships, without having to see a therapist, how can I change this?
Answer from Roger: I guess if you are serious about trying to change your behavior, then you will seek a counselor in order to help that change take place. There are many root problems that cause misbehavior in relationships. You have to sort through those root problems in order to find healing and the help to become whole in the relationship again.
Answer from Tim: When the past intrudes into present-day relationships it can be distressing for everyone. Typically, these types of responses are emotion-laden at the unconscious level and buried deep enough that trying to resolve them on your own can be very difficult. They are not logical and usually do not respond well to the use of “willpower.” Of course, nothing is impossible for God. The scars of the past can be healed through Christ who, in His infinite wisdom, put people on this earth to help. While I know that you would like to fix this without a therapist, from my view this is depriving yourself of the very resource that God put on this earth to help.
12. Question: How do you spark a relationship again?
Answer from Roger: In the Book of Revelation, one church has lost its first love and the advice by Jesus is that they begin to do the things they did at the beginning. To spark a relationship, you have to re-engage and maintain a courtship, one of seeking those little things that bring joy to a relationship. My encouragement is that you seek that out through the resources provided by our Marriage and Family Ministry.
Answer from Tim: Start doing something different. Getting out of the rut can be one of the biggest hurdles to adding the spark back into the marriage. You each have to give yourselves permission to explore and try things. Some of those things will be “flops” and end up in the “we’ll never do that again” pile. But you will also end up with a list of those things that you enjoy together. I can also recommend the book “101 Nights of Grrreat Romance” by Laura Corn.
13. Question: How do I as a wife deal with my husband’s friends of the opposite sex that I’m not friends with when you have been raised in a family were parents never had friends of the opposite sex that both parties were not friends with
Answer from Roger: You need to clearly establish communication that sets boundaries in your spouse’s relation with people of the same sex and even opposite sex. My encouragement is that you begin an open discussion and even consider counseling in order to find healing in that regard.
Answer from Tim: The answer to this question is going to vary a great deal with the couple. Generally speaking, when a couple gets married the relationships that they had with those of the opposite sex are going to have to change. Close personal relationships with anyone of the opposite sex tends to be threatening to the spouse. A close emotional connection outside the marriage can also divert the need for intimacy from the spouse (where it should be) to this outside party (where it no longer belongs).
The key to this situation is honest communication and compromise with your spouse. You need to develop and honor mutually agreed upon boundaries for your marriage before the issue arises. Both spouses should understand what is to be kept within the marriage and what can be discussed with others. Chapter 12 of “Boundaries in Marriage” by Cloud and Townsend discusses this subject in more detail.
14. Question: Being my spouse’s number one tool that God is using to sanctify him is a lot of pressure! Especially in the bedroom, if I am supposed to satisfy him so that he does not sin. Is there a line between doing my part as a wife and him indulging in the flesh?
Answer from Roger: We discussed this in our services on the weekend. My advice is that sexual appetites need to be agreed upon by both the husband and the wife. Otherwise, one is indulging themselves, but not truly making love as they are involved in the sexual relationship. The purpose of sex is not for self-pleasure; it’s to bring pleasure to the other. Therefore, limitations need to be based upon what the other is willing and comfortable with. In addition, anything that is physically uncomfortable or creates health issues should not be involved in. And thirdly, anything that is being manufactured as a result of an outside stimulus, i.e., pornography, etc., is a selfish act where you are not seeking to make love with your spouse as much as you are trying to self-fulfill and actualize something seen on a 2D screen. I think if you follow those rules, the Bible does not limit what expression of sexual behaviors may take place between a husband and wife and the aspect of making love.
Answer from Tim: First, be careful not to take responsibility for someone else’s choice to sin. That choice resides with the sinner. Second, like many aspects of marriage, your physical relationship should be the subject of open communication and compromise. These conversations can be very difficult for both parties, and are often avoided by one or both people. Individuals vary widely in what activities they consider acceptable in the bedroom, and this is an area where mutual respect is one of the keys to success.
Due to physiology and socialization, the sexual relationship means different things to men and women. Women usually have a close tie between the emotional connection that they have with their husband and their desire for a sexual relationship. Intimacy comes BEFORE the physical relationship. For men, it is often the other way around. They see sexual activity as a demonstration of love and feel close to their spouse as a result of the sexual relationship.
15. Question: I’ve been married 35 years and my husband hasn’t made love to me in 10 – 12 years. He always has a reason.
Answer from Tim: The sexual relationship is both a reflection of the quality of the relationship and a contributor to happiness and satisfaction in the relationship. I am assuming that you have communicated your needs effectively, so my best guess is that there are other issues that are barriers in this case. Given the complexity of the issue, it is probably time to seek some professional counseling.
16. Question: If I am saved already, I do not see what the big deal is about having sex outside of marriage!
Answer from Roger: The Bible makes a very clear delineation between fornication, that is sex outside of a marriage relationship and adultery, which is sexual participation with someone other than your spouse. Both are clearly forbidden in the scripture. Both can clearly jeopardize your salvation.
17. Question: I don’t remember what verse it is, but there is a verse that says something about having sex is bad and we should only get married if we can withstand from having sex. Opinions?
Answer from Roger: In 1st Corinthians, chapter 7, the Apostle Paul encourages us to realize the commitment to marriage is second only to that of your faith in Christ. The encouragement of withstanding marriage in order to be more faithful to God is an issue of having more time to dedicate to God’s service, not necessarily to forbid marriage. Yes, it is true that the Bible does indicate that we should get married rather than burn, i.e., have sexual relationships such as fornication, which is sex outside of the marriage relationship. The root word for fornication in the Greek language is the word “pornea” (sp) from which we get the word pornography. It is an illicit sexual relationship and the Apostles encouragement is that, in light of the kingdom work, to be married than to find yourself guilty of this sin before God. The admonition is not necessarily to get married just for the purpose of sexual expression, but as a deep concerted aspect of true love
18. Question: How long should a spouse stay in an abusive marriage? Even when the church, prayer, and counseling have not worked.
Similar Question: New at CCC, marriage in crisis. I have learned that he warns our kids, immediate family and friends about me. (“Watch out, don’t trust her”) Could it be because of his insecurity and protect himself in case I tell anyone about his abuse?
Answer from Roger: Abuse is never correct in a marriage relationship, be it physical, emotional or verbal. If it is an unsafe place for you or for children, then you should separate and do so legally even to the constraints of putting a legal separation in place in order to accomplish the purpose of changing the relationship and making it strong again. If it’s emotional or verbal, my encouragement is to consult with a counselor in order to determine what the cause might be, what the depth might be and whether separation is truly going to be helpful or not. Again, God does not want you living in an unsafe relationship, you or your children. Therefore, separation may be the correct cause and case of action.
Answer from Tim: Abuse can come in many forms including physical, sexual, and emotional (verbal). Physical and sexual abuse are relatively easy to identify and need to be addressed immediately. If you or anyone in your family is being physically or sexually abused, it is time to remove yourself from that situation. If you feel threatened, get the police involved (911). The Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence can help you plan and take action in these situations. Their national hotline is 1-800-799-7233 and their local number is 602-279-2900. This separation does not necessarily mean divorce, but you need to get yourself in a place of safety before you can take any steps that might lead to reconciliation.
Emotional abuse is sometimes more difficult to recognize. Generally speaking, emotional abuse is a sustained pattern of verbal aggression, controlling/dominating behaviors, and/or unwarranted jealousy. The victim of emotional abuse can often develop depression, anxiety, trauma reactions or other psychological problems as a result. If the abuse is not physical in nature you can start with counseling; preferably couples counseling. If the abuser won’t go, then get some individual counseling. This form of abuse may eventual lead to separation as well, to give you the space needed to recover and get healthy, and to give the abuser a “wake up call” to their own behaviors. The eventual goal would be reconciliation, but of course, considerable change has to happen before that you can do that in a healthy way.
19. Question: What do you do when you start getting into a whirlwind of fighting and playing the hate game, and it escalates into days of silence?
Answer from Roger: My guess is that neither of you have ever engaged in constructive counseling in regards to how to deal with issues of conflict. Conflict resolution is a skill and often times we have not seen it modeled in parents. Therefore, seeking counsel will be the best way to learn how to deal with conflict and resolve it in a positive way.
Answer from Tim: It is quite common for couples to have a recurring pattern of conflict that spirals out of control. The result can be damage to the relationship in many forms (including the “silent treatment”). One of the keys to fixing this is to change the pattern of how you interact. Any change must be introduced early in the process (before the individuals get too emotional). Basically, both parties need to have the presence of mind to detect when the conversation is heading into a bad place and then do something to intentionally de-escalate the conversation. John Gottman, in his book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” describes this process as a “repair attempt.” Take a look at the book for more information. Of course, depending on the severity of this pattern, outside assistance may be necessary to learn skills and make changes that will truly improve the quality of the interaction.
20. Question: As a couple we want and need to start praying together. It is uncomfortable for us to do so. Where should we start so it will be joyful?
Answer from Roger: There are a host of devotionals and even prayers that have been written in books and other resources that will help you deal with being uncomfortable in praying and studying the Bible together. I’m sure by consulting with our Marriage and Family Ministry, they can direct you to some of those sources.
Answer from Tim: First, I would say to give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable, at least a little bit. Start with small, simple prayers out loud until your anxiety is minimal. Then add to the prayers little by little. In essence, you want to “push on your comfort zone” consistently until you have reached your goal with little or no discomfort.
21. Question: What if there is adultery going on, on the other person’s side?
Similar Question: How do you re-establish trust in a marriage when your partner has been unfaithful?
Answer from Roger: Jesus makes it very plain in Matthew that adultery is one reason for divorce, a legal divorce in a marriage. Adultery means that the other person has broken the covenant with you. However, the Bible does not say that adultery necessitates divorce. My encouragement is that you seek counsel and try the best you can to resolve the issue and rebuild trust if indeed possible. If there is no remorse or repentance, then the action of divorce may be the next step in the process. If you are married to a person who has involved themselves in adultery and there is no repentance or restoration possible, then when divorce happens, you are set free from the covenant and free to marry another.
Answer from Tim: Different people have a variety of definitions for the term “adultery.” While it certainly includes sexual infidelity, in my mind it also includes a non-physical betrayal of intimacy (the emotional connection) that should be occurring within the marital union. Infidelity can cause so much damage to trust and intimacy in the relationship that it may feel like it is irreparable.
Any form of adultery is not going to get repaired if it is not addressed directly. That may mean some form of confrontation. Professional assistance in that process is highly advised. The professional can help to manage the high emotional levels that can result from communication in this area, and also help to move the couple down the road to healing and change.
Healing a marriage which has been damaged by adultery is a long-term proposition. There will be grieving, repentance, and forgiveness required. It is normal for trust and intimacy to non-existent for months, even if the couple does everything right in this situation. The marriage will never be the same (you can’t just go back to the way it was before). But, handled correctly, it is an opportunity to resolve the long-term, underlying marital issues and transform the marriage into a solid and mutually satisfying union. It will require work and change from both spouses, but hang in there – it is worth it!
22. Question: Where in the bible does it say that Adam & Eve were married? Who performed the vows? Did God say “you are married?”
Answer from Roger: In the scripture, the Bible says that a man will leave his father and mother and cleave or be united to his wife. This is a term that means to be bound together. In many contexts, it was used to describe a covenant or an agreement between two parties. Down through the years, that has become formalized as something that the court as well as the church has endorsed. I think it is fair to say that this was a covenant marriage and done according to the laws of God and the laws of man. In the more modern times, that has been recognized by the state and thus the aspect of marriage has been a legal affair as well as a religious affair. I believe it is very clear in the scripture that we need to be formalized in that relationship. In the story of Joseph and Mary, though they were engaged, the Bible says that when he considered the fact that Mary may have had relations with another that he was going to divorce her. So the formality of a covenant relationship even included engagement in the times of Christ. So it’s a formal arrangement sanctioned by the church and sanctioned by the government and we should honor it in that very same way.
23. Question: How should we go about finding someone to honor God within a relationship? Dating, courting, etc.
Answer from Roger: There are a myriad of different ways to try to find someone who will honor God with you and help you become equally yoked. There are a number of Christian websites out there that I know people who have had success with. My encouragement is that you set your boundaries, that you set your values and that you do not relinquish those values and boundaries no matter who or how attractive that person might be. Again, through the years, people have found other relationships in singles groups in churches or even by someone pairing them up through the church relationship. My encouragement is to go slow, keep your boundaries, keep your values and be careful because there are predators out there.
Answer from Tim: First, pray that God will bring that person to you. Second, you have to put yourself in social situations where it is likely that someone who honors God will be. This might be church or singles events for Christians, volunteer work in ministries that attract singles, small groups that have connections to singles, etc. For some people this level of social contact may be a bit uncomfortable. Give yourself permission to feel uncomfortable and do it anyway. Third, when you find someone you are interested in, remember that you won’t really know their heart for a while. People are on their best behavior early in relationships, and it will take contact over time to fully understand the beliefs and values of the person that you are dating. Don’t try to rush it.
24. Question: What if he says he will get help with his issues, but he never follows through? His word means nothing, because he never keeps it, and some of the issues bring danger to the house and family. What do I do?
Answer from Roger: Again, if the issue deals with abuse, alcoholism or drug addiction then we’ve answered that question in one of our previous ones. I believe that consulting with a counselor is the best course of action here to determine what you should do in order to make sure that the relationship can be healed or restored and if it cannot be healed or restored, what the correct action should be.
Answer from Tim: First, if the issues are abusive or addictive in nature, please see the answers in the respective sections of this Q & A. Second, I would suggest prayer for everyone involved.
One of the common themes throughout this Q & A has been that you can’t control someone else. God gave them the freedom to choose and, at best, all you have is some limited influence. You only have control over you and the choices that you make. If you are struggling with where or how to draw the line, I would highly recommend the book “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend for some solid bible-based advice. If the book does not meet your needs then it might be time to consider some professional counseling to help you sort out your choices and make a decision on what action to take.
At the same time, I Corinthians 7:32-35 talks about reasons not to marry. Paul indicates that for some people marriage would become a distraction from their devotion to the Lord. When Roger talked about becoming holy through the marital relationship, it was in the context of the marital relationship being an opportunity to demonstrate our love to someone else just as Jesus demonstrated His love to us. The marital relationship is not the only relationship were you can demonstrate this kind of love or face other challenges that will help you become more holy. So, the short answer is no, there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that remaining single would make you any less holy than a married person.