What does the Bible say about dating?
Dating and the practice of it, simply doesn’t exist in Scripture.
Boy, this is such an important topic because it will affect every single person as they grow up. Every single one! For instance it’s prom season right now and everyone is scrambling around for a “date.” They’ve GOT to have someone to take to the prom or take them to the prom, as the case may be. And if they don’t, then they are deemed unpopular and a “nobody.” Why? Because it’s a culturally “rite of passage.”
How was the prom for you? Are you married to that person you took the prom. I’m not. I was caught up in the same scene that many of you are and/or your children. The dating scene. Oh, if I only knew then what I know now.
Nobody taught this stuff to me when I was a kid. Nobody looked at Scripture and said, “What does the Bible say about relationships and how a person gets married.” It just wasn’t discussed. So, what did we do? We got us a little boyfriend or girlfriend in the second or third grade and off we went. And where does it lead? Broken relationships, broken hearts and a trail of emotional baggage, not to mention the physical…
We’ve been talking about marriage, relationships and dating over the last several posts and we’ll continue to look at what the Bible says. Not what the culture says…but what the BIBLE says. You know the B- I- B- L- E…that’s the book for me…(remember singing that as a kid). Well…if it’s our guide for all of life…(and it is)…shouldn’t it be our guide for how we handle relationships? I think so.
We’ve talked about how a man, according to Scripture, must pay the “bride’s price” in order to be considered qualified to marry a young lady. Quite simply, he must be able to provide for her. In other words, he needs to have a job and be able to put a roof over her head, clothes on the young ladies back and food in her mouth. Who’s been doing this up to now? Her Dad. Her Dad will hand her off to the young man at the altar after he gives her away in marriage. You know the “her mother and I” part in the wedding. That’s Scriptural. He’s handing off to his son-in-law the responsibility of being the young lady’s:
Those are the things he’s been doing, as the Father and so, he’s handing her (literally…giving her hand) to the young man in marriage. And what does he do? He backs away. He goes and sits down, right? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cleave (that means be glued to) his wife and they wll becme one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Here’s a picture of some “dad’s” (including me), who promised our daughters that we would protect them and protect their hearts and make certain we hand them to their future husbands with their purity and their “emotional hearts” intact.
Here are the daughters who participated. Don’t they look lovely!
Let’s dig deeper, shall we?
Why do we get married? What’s the purpose? According to Scripture, the purposes of marriage are both companionship and procreation. Eve, (woman) was created because “It is not good for a man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) In addition, marriage enables fulfillment of the first commandment: “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:28)
Now in the Bible, in the Hebraic form of marriage, the institution of marriage was considered holy and purposeful and was literally a contractual agreement between two people with legal rights and obligations. A Hebrew couple would sign a “Ketubah” together. Which is the marriage contract and this would happen at betrothal. Here’s a picture of one. You would hang this on the walls of your home as a keepsake and reminder of your wedding vows.
The Ketubah explains the basic material, conjugal and moral responsibilities of the husband to his wife. It is signed by the groom, as well as two witnesses, and given to the bride during the weeding ceremony. One of the main purposes of the Ketubah was to protect the woman’s rights during the marriage and in case she was divorced or widowed. It made sure that it was defined how she’d be provided for. Isn’t that wonderful? A so respectful and gracious! A whole lot better than a prenuptial agreement, if you ask me.
It was forbidden for Jewish couples to live together without a Ketubah. (Boy how things have changed!) If the Ketubahwas lost, a new one had to be written, again…for the protection of the lady (who was under the provision of the groom/gentleman). The Ketubah protected the lady and served as a disincentive for the husband contemplating divorcing his wife, because he would have to pay for the provision of her which was part of the bride’s price, he originally agreed to pay.
Sound to “stuffy” and “legal” to you? Maybe. But, folks…this is a big deal! Marriage is a big deal and we are so flippant about marriage and how we get to the altar in our culture. Marriage has become a joke in America. Over half of the 20-something’s living together in this country are NOT married. Why do they need to be? There is no stigma attached to it anymore. We’ve got parents allowing their sons and daughters to have sex in their own homes and let the couple live with them “unmarried.” Amazing!
Is there any wonder we have such an amazingly high divorce rate? We are the most “divorced” nation in the world. Did you know that? So sad!
In Scripture, a young man and young lady would see each other in the community and they would become attracted to each other and they would discuss this attraction with their families (unlike today, where parents are simply “informed” on who their son or daughter is dating). It’s funny. A dad will help his daughter pick out her first car and help her decide which college to go to…but has almost zero “say” in who her boyfriend is. Amazing! We’ll kick the tires on a car…but, not on the man who might be her husband. Wow!
As time, went along the fathers of both families would discuss along with the son/daughter the relationship and if all agreed, ultimately, when a young man wished to marry a particular young woman, it was customary for the prospective groom’s father first to approach the girl’s father with the proposal of marriage. The two men would discuss this possible union including the price offered by the groom for the bride (the bride’s price…showing he could provide for her). If the girl’s father agreed to the suggested amount, the two men sealed the agreement with a toast of wine.
Now, the young lady would then enter the room where the prospective groom proclaimed his love and asked her to be his bride. All of this was done with the blessing of both families. If the young woman wished to be his wife, she accepted his proposal at this time. The validation of the agreement made by the engaged couple was the presentation of a gift by the groom. He offered it in the presence of at least two witnesses. As he gave the gift, he said to his intended bride, “Behold you are consecrated unto me according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”
Arrangements were also made right then concerning the terms of the marriage and written in the “Ketubah.” This is what is called the “espousal or betrothal.” Remember, Mary was betrothed to Joseph in Matthew, chapter 1.
This espousal/betrothal meant that the two people were committed to each other as much as a married couple would be. You could only break the betrothal with a certificate of divorce. Remember, Joseph was going to “divorce her quietly,” when he found out marry was pregnant (not by him).
The groom then departed, but not before he assured his bride with the promises of building a home for her and returning to complete the marriage ceremony. He usually took a year to prepare her new home which often consisted of an addition built onto his own father’s house.
The bride was expected to remain true to her groom as she prepared herself. She lived for the day of his return for her which would be heralded by a shout from the members of the wedding party. The impending return of her groom was a time of great excitement for the bride to be.
The typical Jewish wedding took place at night. As soon as any members of the wedding party spotted the moving torches signaling the groom’s approach, their cry echoed through the streets, “The bridegroom is coming.” The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia tells us, “Mirth and gladness announced their approach to townspeople waiting in houses along the route to the bride’s house.” Upon hearing the announcement, the excited bride would make her final preparations and dress in her finest.
Rather than the groom entering the bride’s house, the bride came out to meet him. The two, accompanied by their wedding party, returned together to the groom’s home for the marriage ceremony. Following the public ceremony, the newlyweds entered their bridal chamber to be intimate with each other for the first time. This was where the marriage was consummated. After this union, the groom came out and announced to the wedding guests, “Our marriage is consummated.”
Upon receiving the glad news, the wedding party began a “festive” seven-day celebration. The celebration lasted seven days only if this was the first marriage of a virgin girl. During this time the bride and the groom stayed with each other in seclusion. At the end of this time of privacy, the groom would present his unveiled bride to everyone in attendance. The newlyweds then joined in the wedding feast with the guests.
So there you have it. That’s the Scriptural process of relationships and marriage. What are your thoughts?
Won’t work in our society?
Not appropriate for our culture?
Well, those are valid concerns. But, let me ask you something. Aren’t believers in Christ called to be different? To be peculiar people? Aren’t we going to be persecuted for doing the right things? Sure we are. So, you and I have a choice. We can “walk the narrow way” or we can go the “broad way that leads to destruction” and a 50% failure rate. You decide.
More later in the week on how the marriage customs of Scripture match exactly what the relationship will be like and is between Christ Jesus (the groom) and us (the Church). This will be fascinating.
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