7 Mistakes Single Guys Make That Will Keep You Single

Often when I talk to guys about dating and marriage I hear a lot about what they are looking for in a woman. They have a whole list of demands that are non-negotiable. Normally, if you add the list up the women they’re describing sounds a lot like them. I barely ever hear a guy talk about how he can become a better man for his future and unknown wife. The problem is, if you are just focused on pleasing yourself, you are going to end up by yourself.th

So to help my fellow man, I’ve compiled a short list to help you begin working to become the man of every woman’s dreams—or at least not a man of every woman’s nightmares. I’ve made many mistakes on my way to getting married. I’ve also gotten to see a lot of other guys make mistakes during their bachelor years. This list comes from many of those experiences.

Now, when I refer to “single guys,” I’m not talking about being without a girlfriend, although many of these things can contribute to that too. I’m talking about single as in what you have to put on your taxes. Unmarried.

Keep in mind that just because you stop making these mistakes does not mean a wife will appear on your doorstep. But your odds of husbandhood will increase dramatically.

**Results may vary according to personality and God’s will.**

1. You don’t clean anything.

Of all my mistakes made in my single years, I may be most ashamed of this. My room in college was so bad that literally you could not see the carpet. My belongings and clothes didn’t just cover the floor, it was in layers—like stratified geologic timeline, layers. The deeper I dug, the farther in the past I could travel, finding things that were months old just lying there. Instead of stepping on my stuff—you never know what your foot may crunch on—I perfected the eight-foot jump from my door to my bed. (Which of course was not on a bed frame or box-spring. Just on the floor.)

When Rebecca and I were dating, she one time saw my bathroom and started crying. Wish I was joking.

If you don’t know how to take care of your space, it reflects on you. That doesn’t mean you need to be OCD and vacuum every speck of dust as it appears. But you should have a general cleanliness that proves you live in a developed country with electricity.

Hot tip: Cleanliness will automatically set you apart from the pack because so many men neglect it.

Laundry is good too.

2. You don’t clean yourself.

Learn how to keep yourself well-groomed. This means you take showers and actually use the soap and shampoo. Don’t forget to put deodorant on.

And shave. The patchy mustache may be fun for your guy friends but according to an informal poll I took of four women I randomly asked, they do not share your sentiments. Most women don’t think it’s as funny as you do.

Also the hair. Unless you know the girl you are into likes long hair, keep it shorter and nice. You don’t need to have some sort of fancy hipster Prohibition-era cut, but you should look like you have a job and a home. Which brings me to my next point.

3. You don’t have a job and are not working towards one.

Some may take issue with this but I think it’s important. Guys, we were created to work. To get callouses on our hands. To get dirt under our fingernails. To sweat. To create. To cultivate. To provide.

If you don’t have money for a date, you shouldn’t try to go on them. And you definitely shouldn’t try to make her pay for one.

If you don’t have a job but are pursuing one, that’s better than being static on the couch while your mom cooks up your Hot Pockets for you. Of course there are exceptions because of circumstances, but most likely you don’t qualify for such an exception.

4. You spend more time with pixels than people.

This includes video games, TV, movies, iPhone, iPad, social media, Candy Crush, or whatever. You eventually need to go outside. Learn to interact with flesh and blood. Learn to have real life conversations where you talk about more than just the latest Halo game or fantasy football league.

Learn to feel what other people feel. It’s called relationships and community. Just like we were created to work, we were created to know and be known. Your shoot-em-up buddies on Xbox Live from Sweden do not count.

If you don’t know how to interact with people, than you will not know how to treat a woman.

5. You are addicted to pornography

On a more serious note.

She may not know about your addiction, but I don’t care. You are not fit to date any daughter of God until you get this under control, let alone marry them.

This is not an unfair standard.

Much porn is linked to prostitution (Normally under-aged prostitution). If you are viewing pornography, even on “free” websites, you are feeding a monstrous system that preys on young and vulnerable women who have no power. At the very least, you are perpetuating a culture that objectifies women and treats them as objects to be used instead of women made in the image of God, whom Jesus loves and died for. Those women are daughters, sisters, and even mothers.

If you think it’s not as big of a deal as it is, read my series for the Ekklesia blog on pornography. It’s a big deal.

Get help and kill your sin.

Women: Don’t lower your standards. You deserve better.

6. You don’t know how to lead.

Specifically, I’m talking about leading spiritually. You should know how to point everyone around you to Christ—especially a woman you’re dating.

You know you’re ready to lead spiritually when you’re able to lead yourself spiritually. This means, you’re disciplined in your relationship with Christ. You know how to study the Bible. You’re a part of a vibrant church that preaches the Gospel and upholds Scripture. You seek the Lord in prayer. You serve your church and give to your church. And so many more things.

Ultimately, it’s not about going through a checklist of things and magically becoming ready to lead. It’s about your heart (Matthew 6:21). Is Christ the greatest treasure of your life? If not, then you need to work on that first.

If something else is the greatest treasure of your life, you don’t know how to lead yourself spiritually, let alone a woman. If you’re not leading, then very easily your sin will lead. If your sin is leading, then you may drag one of God’s daughters down with you. If your relationship is not about Jesus or honoring Him, then you’re not loving her like she deserves to be loved.

7. You don’t pursue women.

Assuming you’ve worked on the previous six problems, if you want to marry a woman, you must first talk to one—actually get to know one.

Don’t sit around and wait for her to come to you. She may never walk up to you because your silence is telling her that you’re not interested. You know what’s going to happen? Some other guy is going to come in and make her feel like a million dollars. Guess which guy she’ll be getting coffee with the next day?

But don’t overcompensate and be a player—or obnoxious. Making multiple women at the same time think you are interested in them is not pursuing a woman. That’s toying with their emotions. You’re using them.

To pursue a woman you have to get to know her. Ask her questions. What are her dreams, hopes, fears, desires, hurts? You should talk less about yourself and more about her.

If you’re growing in these things, pursuing Christ, and you see a woman you’re interested in, calm down. Take a deep breath. Put yourself out there. But this is important to know: If she says no or doesn’t seem to show interest, it means no, so don’t keep bugging her (It’s cute in the movies but creepy in real life). If she says yes, get to know her and see what adventures happen next.

I’m sure I could’ve added more, but seven felt like a good number. If you have more suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comment section!

The Great Love Hoax

A famous philosopher once said, “What is love?…Baby, don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me. No more.”

I think he was asking one of the greatest questions that is on our hearts.

We want to love and we want to be loved but do we really know what that means? Can you chart that out for me or give a precise definition? Have we even thought it through?

The world has its own ideas of love and portrays them through the media. For the most part, I think we give profess that Hollywood’s display of love is not all that accurate but as I talk to more and more Christians, I am finding that their definitions of love are more in line with the movies than the Bible.

Is this a problem? Yes. Since the two greatest commandments (Love God with everything and love your neighbor as yourself; Matthew 22:36-40) are wrapped up in love, then we ought to be certain we are loving rightly.

Here are the three most common misconceptions of love among Christians and Hollywood:

1.  Love is intense feelings and overwhelming emotion. 

Yes, there are certain feelings that can go along with loving someone but love is so much more than emotion.

If love is all about the positive emotions we feel toward someone (whether a friend, girlfriend, or spouse) then what happens when those emotions are there no longer? Or if we are married, what happens if you begin to feel attracted to someone other than your spouse? Does that mean you have fallen out of love with your spouse?

If love is emotion, then when the emotions change (they always do), you no longer love that person. You can say you don’t agree with me, but it is fairly sound logic (I love you anyways).

Instead, the Bible says that love is a choice and love is action. At the risk of sounding excruciatingly cliche, love is a verb.

The greatest example is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.” It does not say, for God so loved the world that he felt butterflies in His stomach, gained a skip in His step, and doodled your name in His journal. It says He gave. He acted.

True love is not stationary and passive. True love does something. If you look at Paul’s vivid explanation of love in 1 Corinthians 13, you will notice that it is all made up of verbs. If you were to look at the original Greek of the passage you would see even more clearly that these are active and continual verbs. There is a striving, a bearing under, a fighting for the one you love.

If love is all about positive emotions, we would never be able to obey the commandment to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Instead, we should choose to love and act on that love whether we feel like it or not. If we do that, the feelings will follow. But if a bad happens and those good feelings leave again, our choice to love still remains.

2.  Love is about acceptance. 

Yes, we accept others unconditionally and love unconditionally, but most people think of acceptance as approval. As in, if you truly loved me you would approve of and support all my choices.

They say, true love doesn’t judge. It shouldn’t confront someone or correct them. You should love them enough to stay out of their business and let them make their own decisions.

Instead, the Bible shows that true love is willing to strongly rebuke—because true love seeks the highest good. Yes, we do not dictate people’s lives but when we see someone living their life contrary to the Bible, we should love them enough to steer them the other way. We should love enough to tell them, you are heading in the wrong direction and it is going to hurt you.

Proverbs says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (27:6). The person who loves you enough to risk their happiness and awkward-free relationship with you by telling you that you are acting like an idiot, is your friend. The one who always tells you what you want to hear is who you really need to worry about.

3.  Love is all about happiness.

Once again, this sees love as all about warm and fuzzy emotions. If I make them happy and they make me happy then we are doing well. Yes, along with love comes a bit of happiness but anyone who has been married for longer than the honeymoon knows that happiness is not eternal when you are with the one you love.

America sees happiness as the highest pursuit. Heck, it is in our Declaration of Independence as one of our three unalienable rights as humans. In everything we do and with everyone we love, we are seeking after happiness.

The problem is that getting married is not going to make you happy. Having friends will not make you happy. We may gain happiness for a little while or at least what we think is happiness, but we know there is something more.

The Bible shows that true love is not about happiness but holiness, and in holiness we can find our fullest of joys. True love always seeks the highest good and it does not settle for anything less. True love understands that happiness is not the highest good, but holiness.

Christians always quote Romans 8:28 as a banner verse over their lives, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good of those who have been called according to His purpose.” The problem is that we think we know what that good is: our happiness.

We are wrong.

Look at the next verse for what God says our highest good is: “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” That we would be like Christ. That we would be holy. In John 14, Jesus connects His love for us and our obedience to Him (9-10). This sort of holiness is so “that your joy may be full” (11). Following Christ brings true satisfaction, true abiding joy that will not fade.

Quick side note. True love cleanses, while sinful lust defiles (Ephesians 5:25-27).  If you are dating someone who wants to compromise you sexually in any way, they do not love you. They want what pleasure you can give them to make themselves happy. They have no regard for the guilt and shame that they will be bringing you for a quick moment of pleasure. They are not seeking your holiness, just your body.

Praise God that He loves us enough to cleanse us when we dirty ourselves up. He loves us enough to make us holy.

So, the most loving thing I can do for my wife is not cater to every whim of hers so she would be happy with me, but to point her to Christ, the only one who can make her holy and bring her fullness of joy.

Photo credit: “Romantic Heart form Love Seeds” by epSos.de through CC 3.0

5 Proverbs for Life from Boy Meets World

If you grew up in the 90’s then you know the TV show Boy Meets World. It was a huge show back then and one of my wife and mine’s favorites growing up. We loved it so much that recently we decided to rent (via Netflix) the whole series and watch it through again (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). We have made it to season five!

The show is centered around Cory Matthews (played by Ben Savage, little brother of Fred Savage who is the kid in The Princess Brideso you know Ben is legit), a quirky, kind, and somewhat neurotic teenager. His life-long friend, Shawn Hunter, and life-long girlfriend, Topanga Lawrence, come alongside Cory as they travel through middle school, high school, and eventually college together.

The show brought in millions of viewers for seven seasons because it accurately depicted the trials (and ridiculousness) of growing up as a teenager.

In my opinion, one of the greatest things about BMW was the life lessons that they always drew out of everyday experiences and conflicts. Most of the time the lessons were handed down by the venerable Mr. Feeny, the trio’s everlasting school teacher and neighbor to Cory—I definitely feel like Mr. Feeny helped raise me as a child. Other times Cory, Shawn, and Topanga figure out the truths for life on their own.

Usually, the lessons were pretty standard Disney stock such as, work hard and you can achieve your goals. But as my wife and I were watching the show Monday night, we realized that BMW also taught downright biblical truths!

So I thought I would pull five biblical life lessons, proverbs if you will, from the few episodes we watched that night.

1. Respect your parents

In one episode, both Cory and Eric (Cory’s older, somewhat crazy, brother) get jealous of each other’s relationship with their father. This causes both of them, at different times, to shove their father down to the ground. As soon as it happens, both are ashamed and know they have done wrong. They know that you just don’t do that because sons are called to respect and honor their parents even if they don’t agree. Cory even makes the remark that he’ll probably be stoned for shoving his dad. After coming clean and apologizing, Cory and Eric are able to end up having a more full relationship with their father.

It’s pretty popular in media today to depict parents, especially fathers, as idiots who do not need to be taken seriously. The message to kids is: your parents are clueless so it is your job to clue them in, or just defy them outright. But Cory and Eric’s parents are good people and good parents. They are portrayed as respectable people because parents are to be respected.

Proverbs reflects this notion, stating, “He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach” (19:26). It also has strong warnings for those who have strong words for their parents, “If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness” (20:20). I’m not sure what that whole metaphor means, but it sounds intense.

Better to respect those God has placed in authority over you.

2. The foundation for love is not lust but friendship and commitment

This lesson was actually one of the most surprising to see taught on television (and I wasn’t watching Fireproof). Shawn is known as a lady’s man around the high school but he is also known by the girls as a jerk. He tells girls what they want to hear, that he loves them and never will leave them, then he uses them for his own pleasure and dumps them the next day.

This is Shawn’s mode of operation until he meets Angela, a girl he truly wants to cultivate a relationship with. But on Shawn and Angela’s first Valentine’s Day together, Shawn’s past come back to haunt him—in the form of three psycho ex-girlfriends who kidnap him and lock him in a boathouse.

Hell hath no fury.

Through the whole ordeal, Shawn realizes how fleeting and shallow a relationship purely based on make-out sessions is. If you say you love someone, but don’t really know them at all (besides their body), how can you back up that claim? Shawn and Angela decide to take a few steps back in their relationship to first build a friendship, get to know each other, and save saying, “I love you,” for when it actually is backed up by commitment and time.

It really is easy to confuse love and lust. The emotions and the hormones are raging and all you can think about is that person. They live in your mind, day and night. This must be love, right?

Song of Solomon shows that your beloved must also be your friend too (5:16). It also warns not to rush into love before the time is right (2:7).

If your relationship and ultimately marriage is based solely on physical attraction, what happens when your sexy spouse seasons into a saggy spouse? You will not have a marriage anymore, you will have an 80 year-old roommate. When the looks have all gone away, a friendship will always remain.

3. A good friend will tell you when you’ve done wrong

Although Cory tends to walk the straight and narrow, there is one episode where he cheats on his girlfriend, Topanga, with a girl at a ski resort. They talk all night and end up kissing. To make matters worse, Cory then lies about it to Topanga.

Normally Shawn is the morally compromised character of the show, but to his credit he calls Cory out on his lies and his unfaithfulness; and Shawn does it with gusto. Shawn even, although in a humorous way, exhorts Cory to “Read the Bible!” Yes, Shawn and Cory are the best of friends, but Shawn cares enough for Cory to get in his face and let him know he is doing is wrong.

Most of today’s society would say: follow your heart; what is true for you is true for you; don’t judge other people’s choices. Instead of proclaiming truth and calling sin sin, friends are expected to sit back and be the biggest cheerleaders while the people they care about are driving their lives off a cliff in flaming glory.

Even a 90’s sitcom and the biggest womanizer (outside of Eric) on the show knows that following your heart is not always the correct thing to do. There is right and there is wrong, and a friend needs to love enough to point out the difference.

Solomon says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). It’s the people that never confront you who you should worry about.

4. When you play with fire, you will be burned

Same episode as the previous point but different lesson. Cory’s fall from grace did not happen suddenly, it occurred with one wrong decision after another.

First it was long gazes, then flirting, then staying up all night talking, then pretending to be injured so he could spend time with her and not Topanga, then lying to Topanga, and then finally the kiss and subsequent lies to cover that up. Shawn, the ever faithful friend, warns Cory multiple times that he is “too close to the fire” but Cory does not take heed and eventually he does get burned. A couple episodes later, he loses both Topanga and the other girl.

In reference to adultery and sexual sin, Proverbs says, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?” (6:27-28). The obvious answer is no. You play with fire and you will be burned.

In spite of common sense, people always like to test this theory out. They first inch closer to the fire. They feel its warmth. They extend their hands out. But they do not stop there. They get closer and closer until they are in the thick of it and by the time they realize it, it is too late. Their pants are on fire.

5. Husbands and boyfriends, listen to your woman

My wife probably appreciated this episode the best. In a pretty comedic setup, somehow every main male character on the show ends up angering the woman he cares about because he simply did not listen to them. Instead, they stubbornly hold to their ideas and opinions and every guy ends up in the doghouse.

The men hold a conference to try and figure out what went wrong. They finally come to the conclusion that guys are idiots—not only that, but they are big idiots. Specifically, they are idiots because they want to make their woman happy but are unwilling to listen to them to find out how to do that. They eventually reconcile with their woman by a joint dance number to “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer.

Peter exhorts his male readers to “live with your wives in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7). This means to be gentle and listen. You must close your mouth and open up your ears. I am speaking from experience here—what you think you heard and what actually was said may not always be the same thing, so listen carefully. The one who is too quick to speak is a fool instead (Proverbs 29:20).

Let’s take a page out of Boy Meets World as we seek to live for Christ in the real world.

How to Not Waste Your Vacations

Last week, my wife and I got the privilege to go on vacation. We packed up our little Mazda and headed north of the border to a cabin in Washington. While we were up there, I made an effort to not fall into my typical vacation traps because normally I waste my vacations. Instead of taking advantage of the time I have been given, I would use it for things I shouldn’t, have attitudes that are not beneficial, and then end up coming back home drained.

Wasting any sort of gift is a shame, especially one as valuable as a vacation, so before we left town Rebecca and I spent some time in prayer about how we could use this free week we were given. God gave guidance, we followed it and it was amazing (isn’t it always awesome when we obey Him?).

Here are a few reflections from our week of vacation:

REST

We need rest; this is the whole point of a vacation. It may seem funny that I would even need to point this out but I know of a lot of people (my self included) who do not make their vacations restful.

Life cannot always be go, go, go. You are human, which means you are finite (in strength, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, relationally). We eventually need to recharge our batteries or else we will burn out and be forced to take time off, whether in the hospital or the morgue. Resting reminds us that we are just flesh and bones—mere mortals. This is a good thing; it keeps us humble.

This is why God instituted the Sabbath for the Jews in the Old Testament. They worked six days out of the week and were required to rest on the seventh (Saturday). It must have driven all the workaholics and type A’s crazy.

“How are all these things going to get done? I have so much to do!”

The Jews were an agricultural society and for them to take a day off was real risky business. What if something happened to the crop? What if one of the animals got sick? You know what it took for the Jews to obey God and take a day off? It took faith in God—trusting that God would still provide for them, trusting that while they were resting God was working, trusting that He is sovereign and remembering that they were not.

Now, although we no longer are required to take a Sabbath anymore now that Christ has come (cf. Colossians 2:16-17), the overarching principles behind the Sabbath still apply today. We are weak and we need to be reminded of that. We are not in control and God is. The world will not stop turning the minute we turn our iPhones off.

While we are resting God is still working. Rest in Him.

SEEK GOD

Sabbaths were not just a time for the Jews to sleep in on Saturdays, they were a time for the people of God to seek His face. They would all join in the temple or synagogue and hear the Scriptures read. They would sing as a congregation the Psalms of David, worshipping the Lord. It was a time to remember that God is our greatest pursuit, not work, not family, not life.

To my shame, many times on vacation I have also taken a vacation from God. This does not mean I was an atheist for the week. Instead, I kind of put my relationship with Christ on the back burner, reaching for him only when it was convenient. Maybe I would crack open my Bible, maybe not. Maybe I would pray to Him, maybe not. Maybe I would find a good church where I was staying, only once. Then I would come back from vacation and pretend it never happened.

This time it was different, and I felt it. Rebecca and I decided that vacation was not an excuse to take a break from God but an opportunity to spend even more time with Him than we normally could with work, church, friends, and family to balance. We dedicated the week to seeking His face. He refreshed our souls. He strengthened our marriage. He gave guidance. He gave depth. Isn’t that what we are truly longing for?

WORK

This may seem like a contradiction but you make your vacations count by working hard before you go off to Cabo and by working hard when you get back—and loving it the whole time.

Yes, we need rest. Absolutely. But the reason we need rest is because we were created to work.

I hear men complain about work all the time—the hours are long, the work is menial, their boss is a tyrant—but then with a little bravado in their voice they announce, “Well, it’s just my cross to bear. Work is just a part of the Fall,” and then everyone around them applauds them for their perseverance. What a joke.

Work is not a part of the Fall; Adam began working the very day he was created. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Work has always been a part of human life; this means that work is a good thing. We were created to work. We were created to cultivate. We were created to create.

What happens with the Fall is not that we have to work but that our work is cursed. Now what we created resists. What we cultivate rebels, just like we did to God. Work is a lot more difficult now, but we are still called to work.

It is not work for work’s sake. Our work is worship to God. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” We are to work and work hard and remember the whole time that our true boss is Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and Savior and He is the only One who can give us true rest.

I Don’t Want To Be Alone: God’s Solution

Having only been married for a year and a half, I do not claim to be an expert on marriage.

Far from it. Ask my wife.

Much has been said about marriage—its makeup, its role, and significance. Many books in the Christian realm have recently been written on this subject.  And marriage is even one of the hot button topics of society in America. Traditional roles in marriage are seen as archaic. Young adults are waiting longer to get married than ever before in our nation’s history showing that marriage is not necessarily a valued step into adulthood as it once was for our society.

But what does the Bible have to say about marriage?  As Christians our worldview cannot be conformed by society’s mold (Romans 12:1-2), instead we ought to live by a different standard.

Genesis 2:18-25 shows God’s standard for marriage—His creation of the first marriage. If one is to learn about biblical marriage, it is necessary to understand the marriage that God forged with His own hands.

This passage comes on the heels of God’s first five and a half days of Creation.  Light and dark, the ocean and the sky, the birds and the fish, the plants and the animals—the entire cosmos was created by the words of the Lord.  Then the Lord decides to create “man in His own image” (1:27).  Different than the rest of Creation, man was not called into existence but he was formed from the dust (2:7).  This man was given dominion over Creation and freedom to part take of the fruits of his labor in the Garden of Eden.

Everything was good except for one thing.  Man was alone (and every single man said, Amen!).

THE PERFECT FIT

Originally, the Lord had stated that His Creation was good—very good, in fact (1:31), but there was one thing that the Lord proclaimed as not good, “that the man should be alone” (2:18).  The Lord’s solution to this dilemma was to create “a helper fit for him” (2:18).  The NIV translates this as a “suitable helper.”  God is not just looking for a quick fix of the man’s companionship problems—a dog could have just fixed that—but He is looking for the perfect fit for the man.

This fit was not found in any of the animals (2:19-20).  The man went through every animal that God had created, naming each one of them.  Although names were found for these animals, a suitable helper was not found for the man.  To understand what the Lord was looking for, one must examine the term “suitable helper.”  This term implies a complementary aspect, such as a “partner” or “counterpart.”

The obvious reality is that an animal would never have made a complementary partner for the man. Pets are fun for a while but the conversation is a little one-sided. Luckily for Adam, God had a better solution in mind.

After being placed into a deep sleep, the man awoke to his perfect partner, a woman.  The Lord had taken “one of his [the man’s] ribs…and the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man” (2:21-22).  She was the perfect fit because she was handcrafted by the Lord from the man for the man.

ONE FLESH

The narrator of Genesis begins the conclusion of this passage with the saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (2:24).  The narrator is not necessarily making a sociological mandate, that men always need to leave their families to join their wives, but the point is that they are to become their own unit—“one flesh.”  This verse shows that what had happened between the man and woman of Genesis 2 was mankind’s first marriage.

The man who was formerly alone—the only part of creation that had been declared “not good”—had found a wife, and they completed each other, forming one perfect, cohesive unit.

The narrator describes the first marriage by ending this passage with the conclusion, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (2:25).  This verse is contrasted, where innocence is lost, shame is found, and nakedness covered.

To be naked and unashamed was to exemplify a relationship with nothing to hide themselves from.  I do not believe that this means they were unaware of their sexuality because their sexuality is tied into fulfilling the divine mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28) and also their sexuality is the physical manifestation of the two becoming one flesh (2:24).

What this does mean is that their sexuality was not something to be ashamed of because there was no sin within their sexuality because it was within a sinless marriage; it was sexuality being expressed as God intended it to be.

BRIDGING TO TODAY

Why was it not good for the man to be alone?  John Walton states, “When something was ‘good,’ it was functioning as God intended it to function. Thus the statement that ‘it was not good for the man to be alone’ is one of non-functionality.”

Basically men, we need a wife because we cannot function on our own (and all the wives said, Amen!).

Our “non-functionality” goes far beyond cooking only Top Ramen and never doing laundry. Because man was created in the image of God, man was created to be in a relationship, a relationship that could not be fulfilled with a non-image-bearing creature; he needed a partner who was like him and who could complement him and complete him (a suitable helper).

Instead of the man being able to find his partner on his own, the Lord steps in and fashions the God-intended companion for the man, a woman.  This becomes the prototype marriage.  A man, a woman, brought together by God and united together without any sin or shame to hinder them.

What this means for those of us who are married: Continue to tear down the barriers that would keep you from being unashamed with your spouse. This means continually repenting of sin to each other. Continually asking for forgiveness. 

What this means for those of you who are single: Seek Christ. Get plugged into a church. Seek to become the right spouse instead of seeking for one. And men—grow up. 

Do that and you never know, you may not be alone for long!

What We Can Learn About Marriage From the Kardashians

The news is overrun with yet another celebrity divorce, this time concerning reality TV star Kim Kardashian and basketball player Kris Humphries. Sadly, it is never really a shock when a celebrity gets divorced but the extent of Kim and Kris’s marriage was shorter than a college semester—72 days.

While many have resorted to potshots and gossip, I think it is easy to forget that Kim and Kris are people too with real emotions. Divorce is never pretty and clean, no matter how long the marriage was.

Instead of resorting to dancing on the ashes of someone else’s broken marriage, I have two things to keep in mind for those thinking about, considering, dreaming, wishing upon a star for, or desiring marriage.

TAKE TIME
The Song of Solomon (the book of loooooove) says multiple times to “not stir up or awaken love until it pleases” (2:7). The lesson here is to not rush things.

Get to know the person. Ask questions. For goodness sake, go on a date.

So much of our culture is about instant gratification (fast food, fast internet, fast pass at Disneyland) but we cannot treat marriage like a cheeseburger.  When dating, emotions are high and hormones are raging but you have to remind yourself that good things take time.

Being hot is not the only foundation for a relationship.  What are their beliefs? What are their political views? What are their interests and dreams?  What are their future goals and plans?  What are their struggles? Finding out the answers to these questions are extremely important.

According to some gossip sites (take it for what its worth), some of the reasons for the Kardashian divorce were that they could not agree on when to start a family and where to live.  These are issues usually talked about and decided before marriage.

There is no formula or set amount of time to wait—it could be months for some and years for others—but it needs to be long enough for you to know what you are getting into. No major decision should be made without a little bit of research. You do not want to wake up on your honeymoon and realize that you do not know the person lying next to you!

Consider this: when dating everyone is usually on their best behavior. Do you really know them or do you only know the dating version of Mr. Tall Dark And Handsome?

See how they act around other people. If you are a girl, watch how your boyfriend treats his mother; is he gentle with her, encouraging, and a humble servant? If you are a guy, watch how your girlfriend treats her dad; is she respectful?

Understand that you can never fully know someone—there are couples who have been married for fifty years who are still learning about each other—but take the time to know someone enough that you are not blindsided by an awkward hygiene habit or something potentially more damaging to the relationship.

LOVE NOT LUST
It is really easy to confuse the two.

You look across the table at your date and they seem to be glowing. Everything they say sounds like angels playing harps. When your hands touch little jolts of electricity pulse through your fingers. He’s got nice abs. She’s got dreamy eyes. Whenever you think about your future, they are there, holding you in their arms.

This must be love…right?

Our culture has confused love with lust. Lust says, “I need you, I desire you, I’ve gotta gotta have you!” Movies, books, songs, and magazines paint this overwhelming desire as love. While possibly romantic sounding, the root of it is selfishness. That person wants you to make them feel better and in most cases to satisfy their sexual desires.

If your marriage is based off of this view of love, what’s going to happen if the spouse begins to feel some sort of spark with someone else? The inevitable conclusion will be that they have fallen out of love with you and now love someone else. Too many marriages have ended because the “spark was gone.”

The Bible pictures the love between an man and wife differently. Sure the emotions are there and the fireworks but underneath that is a foundation—an action. John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved the world that He felt fuzzy feelings and saw fireworks whenever you prayed to Him.” Instead it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.”

God loved so much that He acted selflessly. It’s a choice to say, “I have your best interest in mind and not my own.” It starts with realizing that the relationship is not about you at all.

This kind of love is based on a choice, not emotions. Emotions run on a roller coaster, up and down and sideways with every new circumstance. If your love is predicated upon the emotions you feel then you are in for a rude awakening when they change—and they will change.

Marital love that the Bible portrays should be unconditional. You can’t earn it and you can’t lose it. It is given freely.

It is eternal. It is not going to end because it is time for something new and interesting.

It is sacrificial. Their needs go before yours. You’re tired from a day’s work and want to watch football but she needs help with the dishes and kids—guess which one love chooses?

This kind of love takes time and it takes a lot of work. I am just a beginner at it…ask my wife. But what is great is that this kind of eternal love fosters a satisfaction and joy that outshines any rush that any new relationship could offer.

Which would you rather?

Further reading:
Mark Driscoll’s article on Dating, Relating, and Fornicating.
The Resurgence explains Why the World is Wrong About Marriage.
Kevin DeYoung tries to explain where all the dudes’ brides are and gives some advice about What Not to Say to a Single Woman.