The Scripture I Use to Teach on Marriage, Sex, Dating and Relationships

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This is the second piece in our series, “The Scriptures I Use When I Teach On _____.” Our hope is to offer our readers some of the go-to Scriptures we use for teaching on certain topics that aren’t addressed directly by the Bible. The first in our series can be found here.

It would be really awesome if we could find a clear Bible verse that provides a clean and concise picture of what it looks like to biblically date, deal with the opposite sex, and find a spouse. 

Unfortunately, that verse doesn’t exist. 

So, students muddle through the awkwardness of attraction and of wondering if Jesus should be their boyfriend—r the guy in 4th period should—all the while looking for the “true love” that The Princess Bride and Hallmark have been promising them for years. They are surrounded by a 50% divorce rate, the redefinition of marriage from the SCOTUS ruling this year, and an overwhelming number of fatherless homes. For all of these reasons and more, it is important to have regular conversations on and to provide messages on dating, sex, marriage and relationships.

The primary passage I use when dealing with this topic is Ephesians 5:22-33. For me, the importance of this passage is found in how Paul connects marriage to the Gospel. The idea of covenant love and commitment is lost in a culture that sees marriage as a commodity. We can see this in the world of serial dating our teens live in: there is commitment until something goes wrong or someone better comes along. 

A couple years ago, when I read some research that found Christians were just as likely as non-Christians to compromise purity before marriage, I wasn’t at all surprised to see the link to the crisis of marriage. Instead of dating for the purpose of finding a lifetime commitment, teens were, instead, building habits founded on using relationships as a commodity; they bonded physically and emotionally far too fast. Without a solid understanding of the Biblical design of marriage grounding their concept of dating, our students’ dating trajectory leads to heartbreak and despair more often than not.

As a student minister, I come back to Ephesians 5:22-33 as my primary teaching point for marriage, dating, sex and relationships for four main reasons:

1. Marriage is a picture of the Gospel – Jesus tells us in Hebrews that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, and the same vows are important in marriage “til death do us part.” Paul uses the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives to show how Jesus takes care of, protects, and provides for the Church and how the Church lovingly follows His leadership. The bond between Christ and the Church is inseparable.

2. Marriage should be our endgame in dating –  Often, I’ll point to 2 Corinthians 6:14 to talk about how we need to only pursue those we could potentially marry and not waste time. Whenever I teach on this subject, I always point out that patience and discernment are important. For me, dating is less important than learning the value of cultivating a lasting friendship. The general principle I plead with my students is to hold off dating until they are in a place of spiritual maturity to consider marriage. That place is a destination that is difficult to be sure of having reached; but one indicator is that we recognize the sacred value of marriage and are ready to live, love, and serve like Jesus for a potential spouse. I knew I was there when I met my wife because I was willing to stick it out with her through any hard times, love her sacrificially, and make decisions that would be in her best interest.

3. Desiring to abstain from sex before marriage can be a powerful witness –When I was in high school, I can remember receiving t-shirts after a DNow weekend from the True Love Waits movement. It prompted a lot of conversations at lunch about sexuality and why so many of us had committed to saving ourselves for marriage. This sort of commitment is radical, unconventional, and rests more on God’s promises than our own. It opens the door for ridicule and temptation; but in a teenage culture that has lost its mind sexually, the passionate pursuit of following Christ can be contagious and freeing for those who have no idea of which direction to go.

4. It matters how we treat those we date – The people we date are someone else’s future wives or husbands (Matthew 5:28), but most importantly, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. As Christians, we recognize that our primary responsibility to one another is to spur on each other’s spiritual growth (Hebrews 10:24). Secondary to this, we use dating to try to determine the possibility of marriage. Christians who date should primarily desire to honor and treat each other well, considering not only their future spouse but the potential future spouse of the person they are dating. Always, we want to be asking how we can honor Jesus and build one another up as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Join us for Rooted 2015, an intimate youth ministry conference, where we will explore how the good news of God coming to mankind in the person of Jesus Christ offers student ministers and teenagers, hope, healing and connectedness.  

Also to learn more about gospel centered youth ministry, check more articles from Rooted’s youth ministry blog. 

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