by Jesse Jost
Love, sex, and romance are some of God’s greatest gifts to us. Romantic love is one of the most powerful forces in the world. But this is not a gift to be enjoyed any way we see fit. God gave us strict rules regarding love. It is only to be used in the context of lifelong commitment. God gave us these rules not to restrict our pleasure but to restrict our pain. If you violate these rules the gift ceases to function the way God designed it. A sports car will cease to function if you put the wrong kinds of fuel in it and don’t take proper care of it. In the same way, sex and romance can be ruined if the owner’s manual is not followed. Misuse of this gift can bring terrible pain and heartache if God’s design is ignored. However, these gifts are also the most amazing pleasurable experiences known to man, if they are accompanied by purity and holiness.
The gift of romance is like a superglue that binds two hearts together for life. If a man and woman bond together through sex and romance outside of bonds of lifelong commitment, when they separate, it will tear their hearts and calluses will form. The more times they bond and tear apart, the less “sticky” their hearts will become, and the harder it will be to permanently bond with the one they marry. These heart calluses will also make trust and deep love so much harder to achieve.
Marriages are under attack. Young people today don’t have much confidence that theirs will last. But God does have a better way. When you save all of yourself for you future spouse – your heart, your mind, your eyes, your body – the fusion can be so much stronger. Trust is so much easier to attain, because you know your spouse stayed faithful before marriage.
Now while staying pure and faithful is powerful glue, for a marriage to really last it needs two young people who are filled with God’s Spirit, and who have his love to give. It requires two people who are committed to becoming the right person, who are willing to change themselves instead of wait for their partner to be changed. To become the right person, there are several things a single person can work towards that will not only help them save themselves for their spouse, but will shape them into the kind of person that is necessary to make a marriage successful.
To make these suggestions more memorable, I have turned them into an acronym: ROMANCE. I pray that these ideas are as helpful for you as they were for me.
R-eality of your future spouse
It will be much easier to remain faithful to your future spouse after marriage, if you remain faithful to him or her before you are married – even before you meet. If God has marriage in your future, your spouse is alive and waiting for you right now. He or she is a real person and the choices you make now will affect him or her just as much as the decisions you make after you’re married.
Begin the habit of praying for him or her. Save your heart and your eyes for your future spouse. When you are tempted to look at something immoral, picture you future wife standing there, and think about how she would feel. If you are tempted to flirt with or be affectionate toward a guy or girl that you have not committed to, again ask how your husband or wife would feel if he or she saw this. Make your future spouse a reality and commit to him or her NOW.
And guys and girls, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the person you’re flirting with or being physical with might be your future spouse and then justify your wrong actions that way. Remember that until you commit to marriage you don’t know who your future spouse is. That guy or girl does not become your future spouse until commitment. Don’t be deceived! Wait for commitment. You will save yourself a lot of heartache and your future spouse will be very grateful!
O-pen up to your parents
Heidi and I found that the most effective way to battle infatuation (and believe me, we did have to battle it!) was to be very open and honest with our parents. Anytime I developed a strong attraction to some godly young lady, I would share these feelings with my mom. Bringing them out into the open made them so much easier to deal with. Mom helped a lot by reminding me of principles that I had lost sight of, and I was strengthened just knowing that she loved me so much and really wanted what was best for me. She often prayed with me about my current struggle and also for my future spouse. It was often during these prayer times that I found the inspiration I needed to guard my heart.
There have been so many benefits that have come from learning to be open with Mom. I learned how to understand her (as much as any guy can understand a woman!), and the things I gleaned from my relationship with Mom have paid huge dividends in my relationship with Heidi. It has been easy to share my thoughts, feelings, dreams, and fears, because I had learned to do that with Mom.
M-arriage Training Grounds: your family
Your family provides you with a great training school for marriage. You can learn so many valuable things about communication, patience, servanthood, selfless love, repentance, and forgiveness. All of these are absolutely vital to a happy successful marriage. I know when you’re young and your understanding of love comes from romance novels and your own daydreaming, you expect married life to be one long, blissful fairy tale. The reality is that marriage has just as many relationship difficulties as you find at home. If you often fight with your siblings or parents, don’t expect your relationship with your spouse to be much different. If you can’t communicate with your family, don’t expect a honeymoon to magically transform you. If you are difficult to live with and don’t get along well with your family, expect the same kind of problems in marriage.
The secret to a successful relationship is being filled with Christ’s selfless agape love. Your relationship with your family is an excellent test of what kind of relationship you will have with your spouse. If this section has sobered you, remember that it’s never too late to begin anew in your relationships. Invest in your future spouse by investing in your family right now.
A-ll you really need is God
True love is selfless. In order for us to be selfless, we must be satisfied by God. Our deepest emotional needs can only be met by God. If these needs are not met by God, nothing will satisfy. It is not fair to put on any person the terrible burden of looking to them to meet your deepest needs.
If you desire marriage, prepare for it first by a diligent seeking after God. The closer you are to God – the more you love Him – the closer you will be to your spouse and the more vibrant your love will be for each other! Learn to be emotionally fulfilled by God right now and be content right where he has you. If you can’t find contentment now, marriage will not provide a lasting solution.
When you are not blinded by infatuation and not feeling the pressure of trying to impress a certain someone, you will find a delicious freedom to enjoy a healthy relationship with the young people you spend time with. You can then begin inspiring each other towards godliness; rather than drag each other down by defrauding and distracting.
Guys, learn to be a gentleman who treats every young lady and woman with courtesy and respect. The world needs examples of men who know how to honor and respect woman and show them their true worth. As a guy, you have a high calling to provide protection for the women and children you encounter. Lay down your life for them right now. Chivalry that is only inspired by infatuation is worthless!
Girls, learn how to respect the men in your life and how to encourage the men you see towards greater purity and God-ward focus. Dress modestly to help prevent your weaker brother from stumbling.
C-atch your calling
As a single, you never have to feel like your life is on hold until you are married. God always has a work for you to do, a life’s calling that He has for you to fulfill. Pour all your energy into serving God and advancing his kingdom. God created you for His purposes. You will always find the most fulfillment in doing what God made you to do and in becoming the person you were created to be. As a single it is easy to think about marriage as the be all and end all, partly because this is how the fairy tale ends – the hero and heroine get married and live happily ever after. But marriage is not the end; it is a means to the end. Your life purpose is not marriage. God may bring marriage to you so you can be more effective in fulfilling your calling.
E-nvision God as He truly is
In some ways this last step is the most important. It certainly is the most helpful in learning to wait. When I was finding it hardest to be satisfied, the thing that helped more than anything was meditating on who God was.
He is infinite in love. This means He wants what is best for us. He wants to satisfy us with good things. He wants to see us satisfied. He loves you like a Father. Until you are a parent yourself it is hard to grasp just how awesome God’s love is. When I look at John-Michael, a love so strong swells in my heart that I can’t contain it. I marvel that I could love anyone so much. I want do anything that I can to protect little Jonny-Mike, and provide for his every need. To realize that this love is just a tiny taste of the love that God has for us – that thought is truly overwhelming!
He is infinite in wisdom. He not only wants what is best, but He, better than anyone else, truly knows what is best. He knows what you want in a spouse even better than you do and He knows what you need in a spouse. He created you with all of your unique attributes and He created a person to compliment you. He also knows the perfect timing to bring you and your spouse together. He knows when both of you are truly ready. We have such a limited perspective. We can’t see who a person is behind-the-scenes. We don’t see the person they will become. We don’t see the trials and struggles we will face down the road. But God does, and He knows which person will best be suited to face life with you.
He is infinite in power. God is in complete control of every detail of the universe; there is not a molecule that is outside of God’s sovereign rule. Therefore, God not only wants what is best and knows what truly is best, He has the power to bring it to pass! If He has the power to create you and fling this universe into existence out of nothing, then He has the power to put you with a spouse that will be all that you want – and more.
God has proved Himself so trustworthy. He has lavished upon us gifts far greater than we deserve. He has given us His only Son and eternal life with Him. He is good. As Hudson Taylor said, He does “save the best for those who leave the choice with Him.” God created romance to be life-long and to be exclusive, because romance is a picture of how God loves us. He never splits up with us, He will never dump us, and He wants us to love Him above all else. He wants to be our all-in-all. God loves you so deeply; He only wants to protect you. His rules are empowering, not restrictive burdens.
Even as a single person I knew that God wouldn’t let me down. I asked myself once, “Will I ever wish I hadn’t trusted God so much?” I answered immediately, “NO, I will only ever wish I had trusted Him more.” When I gaze into the eyes of my beautiful wife over the candle-lit dinner that she has prepared and I am overwhelmed with love for her, I echo those sentiments. I only wish I had trusted Him more. He knew what was best all along.