A few years back, a friend of mine began dating a young man from her church. She was out of college and certainly in the age range when most people begin seriously considering marriage. Few people would have faulted these two consenting adults from spending a lot of time alone together and conducting their relationship the way they saw fit. However, they chose to go a different route.
Instead of saying, “We’re grown and we don’t need all these people in our business,” they decided to utilize the godly people in their lives and spent a lot, if not the majority, of their time together with other couples from their church. They had people available to mentor them, keep them accountable, and invest in their lives. Though this may sound like drudgery, my friend seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time with others. It kept their relationship from moving too quickly, it provided further incentive to remain pure, and it was a time of growth as they learned from couples who had walked where they were walking.
After some months, my friend decided it was in her best interest to discontinue their dating relationship. She had some good reasons and I think her decision was incredibly wise. Had she and her former boyfriend spent time alone kissing, sharing mysterious parts of their hearts with each other, and focusing on emotional intimacy that is best saved for marriage, her judgment would have been clouded. But, she’s human! Of course she wanted to spend time alone cuddling and kissing, but she desired to be in a committed, loving, God-centered, healthy relationship leading to marriage more than she desired a few moonlight make out sessions.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: mentors matter!!! While you and your boyfriend or girlfriend are dating, it is wise to seek out some couples in your church or community (as long as their relationship is solid and they love God) for guidance and mentoring. You won’t connect with every couple available from your church (and that’s fine); yet, after getting to know a number of couples, there is a good chance you and your sweetheart will connect with at least one older, married couple. Believe me, it is so refreshing to us married folks when young people show a desire to learn, grow, and be wise with their dating relationships. In fact, I believe most of the couples in my church would jump at the opportunity to share their experience and wisdom with a young man and woman who wanted to please God with every aspect of their blooming romance.
When you cross over to the married side of life, you won’t regret the preparation time you spent prior to marriage. And if you develop friendships with other couples, they can continue to mentor you and invest in your lives long after you’re married.
When dating couples get to know each other while spending time with others, it helps them keep a clear mind (e.g., not make rash decisions due to emotional highs, see the truth about each other, etc.), it helps them not move too quickly (i.e. do too much spiritual, physical, and emotional bonding too soon), and it encourages their personal spiritual growth.
One excellent way to bond spiritually, but at a slow, steady, safe pace, is to spend a lot of your together time with others who have been in your shoes. Allow your relationship to grow in the safety and shelter of your church family. Ask them what they would do differently if that had to live their lives over again. What would they refuse to change? What are the secrets to their success? How do they handle reoccurring disagreements?
Eric and I are thankful for the people who mentored us prior to marriage (and after marriage). If you study the New Testament church, it’s clear that relationships are important in the body of Christ. We weren’t meant to walk this life alone (except for those times when God calls us away for a time of solitude so He can minister to us, speak to us, and teach us). God has given us others (i.e., a community) because we need them. It’s unwise, and somewhat arrogant, for us to believe that we couldn’t possibly learn anything from older, more experienced people.
We hope you meet an amazing mentor couple if you haven’t already – and, later when you have more life experience, strongly consider making room in your life for a young couple who is walking where you have walked (or, are currently walking). ~smile~
Do you and your sweetheart have wise people in your life who are teaching you God’s Word and how to develop a strong, God-centered relationship?