We all know that marital faithfulness is expected after marriage. We have all heard details of messy divorces and heartbroken romances at the hands of marital unfaithfulness. The world’s mentality is to have all the fun a person wants before marriage and settle down only after that person has sown his or her wild oats and slept around. “Oh, and for goodness sake… don’t get married before knowing if your future spouse is good in bed!” Wow. Such a mentality is so completely backwards from the way God created the marriage relationship. How His heart must break as He watches so many people walk headfirst into heartache. There are consequences to walking outside God’s perfect will and design.
When Does Faithfulness Begin?
What about those people who wait until marriage for sex. Can those people be automatically deemed as “faithful” by God’s standards? Faithfulness goes so much deeper than our actions. Faithfulness is an attitude of our heart.
Leslie remembers being a teenager and being taught this somewhat vague purity that said, “Don’t have sex, but if you do, ask God to forgive you and move on.” Does God forgive a truly repentant, broken person after he or she has sinned? Yes. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)
That doesn’t mean the scars and consequences will melt away though. We will likely still have negative consequences for our unrighteous decisions. This is one reason it’s so frustrating when the church has a lackadaisical attitude toward physical purity. People suffer when they step out of God’s design for the sexual relationship.
Deeper than simple sexual faithfulness, there is heart faithfulness. Most of us don’t think it’s wrong to give our hearts to someone other than our future spouse before marriage. We think it would only be wrong to do so after marriage. Well, one day, Leslie had an eye-opening experience when she was reading Proverbs 31. Speaking of the virtuous wife, Proverbs reads, “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” (Prov. 31:12, ESV) “All the days? Meaning, before marriage and after? Even before meeting each other? How can I do my future husband good all the days of my life if I don’t even know him yet?”
It’s a paradigm shift for most of us to consider being faithful to our future spouses in areas other than sexuality, but if we visualized the following scenario, it might make more sense. Picture this: God has given you a unique opportunity to see your future spouse. You aren’t able to converse with him or her, but you can sit back and observe his or her actions at a local coffee shop. You’re so excited! What will he look like? How will she laugh?
Visualize This Scenario
Just then you see your future bride walk through the door. You want to run out and embrace her, but you hold back. You know the rules. Your love sits alone at a corner booth and sips coffee, wondering why you’re staring, when that person walks in. That’s right… the current fling. This guy sits down, puts his arm around your future wife and whispers in her ear. She giggles. You feel your blood pressure rising. Then he leans over and kisses her. It takes every bit of your restraint not to explode. Stop kissing my wife!
Or, your future husband is sitting there when she walks in and giggles as she plops in his lap. Your stomach drops. You want her to get her flirtatious behind off of your man! Then she starts running her fingers through his hair. When he slips his arm around her waist and kisses her you want to run away and sob. Stop flirting with my husband!
If we had the opportunity to see our future spouse before our courtship began, we would still desire him or her to be faithful to us. Even if we told ourselves that it’s not realistic to expect such faithfulness at this point, we’d still feel hurt at the sight of our husband-to-be or wife-to-be giving their heart and body over to another person.
So, even before we meet the one we are going to marry, we can guard our hearts and our bodies. We can be faithful in our thoughts (striving to keep our minds pure towards the opposite sex), in our speech (not making promises or discussing ungodly topics with other guys or girls), and in our bodies (this includes heavy kissing, petting, sexual intercourse, and any other physical act you would not want to see your future spouse engaging in with someone else). Faithfulness to our future spouse begins when we do – at the beginning of our lives. We are to be faithful to our spouse all the days of our lives.
Is Faithfulness Always Possible?
“But what if I date someone thinking he or she will be my spouse, and then we break up? Will I have been unfaithful?” The way to accomplish this in any pre-marital relationship is to treat that guy or girl the way you would a brother or sister. After all, if you are equally yoked, he or she is your sibling in the family of God (take a second and think about it… if she is in Christ, she is a daughter of the King… you don’t want to violate her in any way – you think a human father’s revenge is bad…?). If you honor God in how you treat this guy or girl you are getting to know (e.g., guarding your heart, being led by the Holy Spirit, discussing topics that please the Lord, not putting yourselves in compromising situations, etc.), you will be faithful to your future spouse.
It’s not realistic to think that your future husband or wife won’t ever talk to other women or men. He or she may even have crushes on other women or men before meeting you. That’s a natural part of life. But imagine how much trust you would have in a man or woman who said, “Even though I had many opportunities to be unfaithful, I was faithful to you before we met and I’ll be faithful to you from now on.” If your future spouse was faithful to you before meeting you, how confident would you be that he or she would remain faithful to you in the future? I think that’s a pretty safe bet. ~smile~
Practicing Tender Love Before Marriage
“Doesn’t dating teach us how to be married?” Dating followed by multiple break ups and broken hearts is more of practicing for divorce than practicing for a successful marriage. So, if dating doesn’t teach us how to love a future spouse, what does?
You may find this to be the most unlikely training ground, but Eric Ludy suggests starting with your family. No one can get under our skin like family. It is harder to humble ourselves and show tenderness with our family, especially when they are purposefully pushing our buttons. But one day, our spouse is going to be our family. He or she will get on our nerves. Period. You won’t always find your prince or princess to be as perfect as he or she may seem today.
It makes sense to actively learn how to show faithfulness, tenderness, respect, and unconditional love to those people who know you better than you know yourself. And if learning to show your family tenderness were easy, it wouldn’t help you to grow. Your future spouse will benefit so much from this season of practice.
Are you in the habit of speaking harshly to your brother? Instead, try to give him one compliment every day. Do you sit on the couch and read while your mom vacuums under your feet? Hop up one day and give her a hand. In fact, send her out to dinner while you clean. Compliment your sister on her looks. Women have a need to feel beautiful just as men have a need to feel strong. And honor your dad by asking for his advice and helping him with projects. These are just a few ideas of how to actively show tenderness to those who don’t always make showing tenderness easy. ~smile~ Who knows, your decision to show tenderness in your family may influence your family to be kinder to each other. You may start a tenderness revolution!
As I read When God Writes Your Love Story for the second time, I found myself mesmerized by Eric and Leslie’s wisdom. Though it’s tempting to think that God randomly favored Eric and Leslie with such deep understanding about godliness and relationships, we see from reading their story that their wisdom came from a determination to follow Christ wholeheartedly. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8). If we surrender our hearts and lives to Him, He’ll be faithful to teach us just as he taught Eric and Leslie.
If you have not begun reading When God Writes Your Love Story, I would encourage you to dive into it soon. You will be blessed! ~smile~
Have you been faithful to your future spouse in your thoughts and actions? If not, you can repent, draw a line in the sand, and be faithful from this day forward!