Most people will get married. But all of us will be unmarried for a time. Some people are unmarried for a time while they seek a mate. Others become single again through death or divorce. Some remain unmarried throughout their lives. In this lesson, we will consider how we prepare for marriage.
A. Prepare for a mate by making friends and having fellowship.
Whether we are married or unmarried, we all have a deep need for friendship. Unmarried people must strengthen their lives by having good friendships.
The unmarried, or single people, must seek and keep strong friendships. People may find a good friend in a family member such as a parent, brother, or sister. People can find deep friendships with those of the same faith. People can find friends among those who share common interests in things such as work, music, and recreation.
An example of making friends is one called the Apostle Paul in the New Testament of the Bible. Most scholars think that Paul was unmarried yet, we know he developed many deep friendships (1 Cor. 9:5-6; Rom. 16:1-16).
- He became a friend to Priscilla and Aquila through his work as a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3).
- He had fellowship with people who shared in his ministry. Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, and Titus are examples of Paul's friends. The greetings in his letters reflect the many deep friendships he formed through shared ministry.
- Paul had friendships within his family (Rom. 16:7, 11, 21).
- Paul also had close relationships with those to whom he ministered. The Ephesian elders were very close to Paul. They wept together when he left for Jerusalem (Acts 20:13–21:14). Their love was deep and enduring. They pleaded with Paul to avoid his suffering and stay with them. It was so hard for Paul to bear that he cried out, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?" (Acts 21:13).
Some single people are always looking for a spouse because they are lonely and think that marriage is the way to find a genuine friend. They may not know that married people also feel lonely from time to time. But there are many opportunities to fellowship without having to be married. One key way for an unmarried person to prepare for marriage is engage in genuine relationships so as to live a full life. This will help the unmarried person to be ready to interact socially and to consider the needs of others.
B. Prepare for a mate by finding and fulfilling your purposes in life.
Most single people greatly desire to get married. They may dream of the future so much that they neglect the present. They may think too much about the day when their lives will be fulfilled in marriage. But wise singles understand that God has a purpose for every day we live. God desires all single people to accomplish His purposes. Living with a purpose makes a person feel valuable, satisfied, and fulfilled.
Single people who desire to marry should know that they are more attractive to others when they live with purpose. This is very important. Those with a purpose are excited about life and can be used and anointed by God. This draws others to them. A person who is "just waiting"seems desperate, empty, cold, and needy to others. Which kind of person would you choose to marry: one who only dreams about the future, or one who is living every day with joy and purpose?
C. Prepare for a mate by discerning the reason for sexual purity (I Cor. 6:9-20).
God's plan is for a man and woman to become one flesh in marriage. There are several reasons why God blesses sexual relations only within marriage.
1. God commands sexual purity because of our relationship with Him. Salvation impacts the whole person. It is not just our spirits that are saved. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Since our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we must remain sexually pure. Sexual immorality—any sexual union outside of marriage—is a sin against the body and against Christ Himself. Our bodies are made for Christ and not for sexual sins (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
2. Sexual purity protects from disease. People everywhere are learning that sex outside of marriage brings disease and death. Sexual diseases are spreading and are destroying families and entire nations. Doctors have no cure for AIDS or many sexual diseases. Yet God has told us how to avoid sexual diseases. We are to remain sexually pure if we are single and to remain faithful if we are married. Sexual purity protects people from many diseases. The best protection from disease is for both marriage partners to have sexual relations only with each other in marriage.
3. Sexual purity protects fathers, mothers, and children. A man who is sexually pure and faithful never wonders whether he has unknown children. He never lives with the guilt of leaving a woman or a child. Sexual purity protects women. Single women who remain sexually pure never suffer from the heartbreak of having children outside of marriage. A woman and her child are blessed when her pregnancy is within the dignity of marriage.
Every child needs a father and a mother. The presence, protection, and provision of a father bless a child. Sexual purity brings God's blessings to all. The Lord's plan brings blessing and adds no sorrow! But poverty and suffering often follow the woman and child left by a lover outside of marriage. God's plan is not for children to be born outside of marriage (Heb. 12:8).
4. Sexual purity protects the emotions. A sexual union can affect a person's emotions forever. Many societies encourage a couple to try having sex and living together to see whether or not they want to marry. But this is rebellion against God's wisdom. The commitment of marriage protects the emotions. The couple can learn to live and love each other in the security of a marriage relationship. Sexual union without commitment often causes a person to feel insecure and of less value. Sex outside of marriage makes people feel devalued. Men, women, and children feel of little worth because of sex outside of marriage (See Prov. 6:26). They feel like used goods instead of feeling new. In contrast, remaining pure protects the way a person feels about self. Sexual purity raises a person's value in his or her own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Proverbs 31:10 states that a woman with virtue has great value. "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." Sexual purity protects self-esteem.
Casual sex between unmarried people deadens the emotions. A person is seen as an object to be used. The only thing important in casual sex is selfish desire. The user and the one being used cannot escape emotional pain. When two people have sex, they become one flesh (1 Cor. 6:16). This union unites bodies and emotions. Tearing this one flesh apart will cause damage, like tearing two pieces of paper apart that were glued together. A part of each must remain with the other.
Sex before marriage affects emotions after marriage. Guilt and feelings of betrayal may trouble the marriage. Sexual memories may cause a person to compare a spouse to a former sexual partner. The person who has had other sexual partners may have a harder time remaining faithful to a spouse. Jealousy and insecurity may come when a person learns a spouse has had past sexual partners. There are many negative emotions from sex outside of marriage. Sexual purity protects a person's emotional life.
5. Sexual purity leads to trust and security. When sex is only within marriage, there is no fear of disease. There is no guilt of infecting your spouse and children. If a child is conceived, the man is certain that he is the father. The woman is certain of support. And the child is certain who the parents are. Intimacy is strengthened by knowing that neither person had sex with anyone else. Neither spouse is compared with another person in the sexual union. They can each learn to please the other. A valuable and precious gift that you can give your future spouse is your virginity; your sexual purity. Do not give this great gift away before marriage! Save your purity for the special person you will love for a lifetime!
D. Prepare for a mate by remaining sexually pure.
Here are some important thoughts and actions that will help you to remain sexually pure.
1. Do not let people who do not follow Jesus pressure you to act like they act (Rom. 12:1-2). People who do not follow Jesus will do whatever the lust of their heart and mind lead them to do. They approve of those who rebel against God. In contrast, Christians do not live by the world's standards. They follow God's plan in all areas of their lives.
2. Fulfill sexual desire in the way that God approves. The desire for food is a normal part of being human. But a person should not steal food; he should work to buy it. Likewise, sexual desire is normal. Work and plan for marriage. Then you can fulfill your sexual desires through God's plan.
3. Renew your mind (Rom. 12:1-2). There are two parts to this. First, we must protect our minds from the things that feed sexual desire. Many forms of entertainment increase sexual desire. We must control what we think, read, watch, and speak. We must pull down bad thoughts and make them bow to Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5). Jesus wants to be Lord of our thoughts. Likewise, we must manage our time with others so that we avoid situations where sexual temptation is strong. Second, we must fill our minds with good things. Philippians 4:7-9 teaches us that thinking about noble and pure things helps us to guard our minds and hearts.
4. Use personal energy in good ways. The Bible warns men, "Do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings" (Prov. 31:3). Many kings like Solomon wasted their strength in sex with many women. In contrast, a man should use his strength for good things such as work, worship, family, ministry, or community life. An idle mind is the devil's workshop. Do something good instead of something bad.
5. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Believers are not led by the sinful nature (the flesh), but by the Spirit (Rom. 8:4). If the Spirit causes you to feel guilty in an area of your life, repent and turn in a better direction. Submit to the Spirit. But reject guilt that is not from God. For example, do not feel guilty about what happens while you sleep! The body must have sexual release. Men's bodies produce sexual fluids that the body releases. Sexual tension builds in both men and women. Men and some women experience sexual release while they are sleeping (Lev. 15:16-17). This often comes with a dream. It is best to accept this as the way our bodies provide for sexual release. Dreams are mysterious. They are not always from God. A sexual dream does not always show a problem with character. If we are seeking to keep a pure mind and body when we are awake, we do not need to accept guilt for sexual dreams. God made your body the way it is.
6. Accept grace for your past and move forward in holiness. God is serious about sexual sin. Breaking His commands brings many bad results. But, thank God, His grace can cover sexual sins. First Corinthians 6:9-11 states, "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God". God forgives all who repent and turn away from sin (1 John 1:9).