FAMILY PLANNING GOD’S WAY:
PT.1 OF A STUDY ABOUT GOD’S PERFECT PLAN FOR THE FAMILY
As most of us know, the family is the most important institution created by God. Yet many Christian families struggle through various issues, whether it is husband and wife, or parents and children. Couples that profess to be Christian still end up in divorce court, and many Christian parents give in to culture and won’t lead and rule their children. God’s word talks about family issues much more than most people probably realize. Most of what will be dealt with in this article I’m sure has been brought up before if you are in a bible centered church that proclaims the whole counsel of God. There may be a couple of issues that will be brought up, that you have not heard taught before. My challenge to you as you read this article, is that you do not just dismiss some of these issues based on cultural differences. This also will not be as detailed a study as it could be, but hopefully will be used by God so that the readers will study the various family related issues further, even though I will be quoting some Scriptures and references. The more we do things God’s way when it comes to the family, the more we honor and glorify Him. By the way. Just to be sure there is no misunderstanding about where the writer of this article stands, I’m referring to marriage being between one man and one woman, just as the word of God says.
II Life Before Marriage
To Date Or Not To Date, That Is The Question
Society for some time now has treated dating as a common and acceptable practice. Not only that, but as the years have passed, dating has started at earlier and earlier ages. But does the word of God have anything to say about dating? I’m not going to begin to even try to tell the readers, that there is a place in the word of God that says anything comparable to "thou shalt not date." But the word of God does tell us much about marriage and the purpose of it, and the only time sex is not sin. I’m not going to get into the technical definitions of dating and courting in this article. Regardless of the term we use, hopefully this section will help you understand the purpose of dating and having intimate relationships. The purpose of marriage is three-fold: So that man would not be alone (Gen. 2:18); to populate man- kind (Gen. 1:24-28); to prevent sexual sin when the marriage is between one man and one woman (1Cor. 7:2, 9). When we take a close look at what God’s word says about the purpose of God creating woman, the purpose of sex, and the purpose of marriage, it should become evident that there is no purpose in dating or having a boyfriend (if you’re a girl) or girlfriend (if you’re a boy) except when both prospective spouses are seeking the Lord’s will to see if they are going to spend the rest of their life together as husband and wife. In other words, if you are not ready to marry there is no reason to date or have a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Think about it! Think and pray about what the word of God is saying. Don’t be so quick to dismiss this issue based on our culture. God’s purposes and plans are timeless. Parents, take an active role raising your children regardless of how old they are. What was just said should be enough to convince you to not let your children date and have personal relationships, but the temptations and pain that come with it are not worth it either. Teenagers, make it easier on your parents. Prayerfully consider what is being said here. Fun isn’t relegated to girls having boyfriends and boys having girlfriends. Do things as a group. Conduct yourselves as godly Christian young men and woman. Don’t start dating until you are ready to marry and want to see if that person you are interested in is the person you want to spend the rest of your life with in marriage.
No Unequal Yokes
2Cor. 6:14 says: "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? The King James Version reflects the original Greek better when it says "be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…" From this verse of Scripture we can clearly see that Christians are not to marry non Christians. But this is more than a mere profession of faith. Roman Catholics, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses profess to be Christians. Both the man and the woman need to be trusting in the Person and Finished Work of Christ with a repentant faith, and show evidence of a born again believer. Not: "are you a Christian? Yes. Okay then you are eligible for me to date you to see if we will get married." However, the more the prospective husband and wife are of like faith, the better. For example, just think of the problems that would exist of a Baptist married a Presbyterian, a Pentacostal married a non Pentacostal, a person that believes the doctrines of sovereign grace married someone that didn’t believe the doctrines of sovereign grace (free will). If the prospective wife is a Sovereign Grace Baptist and the husband is not, the wife will be the one that will end up submitting to the husband if he wants to go to a church that does not hold to what the wife believes. A person should only consider as a prospective spouse and marry someone that is already saved, and shows evidence of that salvation by conversation, action, and the desire to worship and serve the Lord through a local church that is God glorifying, Christ honoring, bible centered, and believes and proclaims the doctrines of sovereign grace. Christian parents need to not only teach their children this, but also only give their blessing, support, and participate in their children’s marriage if they marry a God-wrought, blood bought Christian that shows evidence of their salvation.
When a Christian man and woman become engaged they should go through pre-marital counseling with their pastor. I won’t go into all of the details of pre-marital counseling, but you’d be surprised of the things that a prospective couple doesn’t think or talk about before deciding to get married. Whether or not to have children, how many, how to raise and discipline them; Jobs and careers, is the wife going to work; Where and how you’re going to live; what type of church are you going to be a member of; and so much more. The counseling is more than just trying to help prepare them for a whole life together, but also so the pastor can advise them whether or not they should proceed to get married. Whether or not the pastor should agree to do the wedding should be based on the word of God, but he should still advise the couple as to whether or not they should marry based on biblical principles and practical issues that come out of the counseling. If the pastor advises against the marriage based on practical reasons, the couple should prayerfully consider his reasons. And if the pastor’s conscience just won’t permit doing their wedding, the couple needs to respect that. Many baptistic sovereign grace pastors will only do weddings for believers. Some will do the wedding for either two believers or two unbelievers. But no pastor should do the wedding if one is a believer and other isn’t, including those who profess to be a Christian but may not be, based on what was said in the "no unequal yokes" section. There may possibly be times when the pastor will not do a wedding and recommend they go to the Justice of the Peace because of divorce and/or sexual sin in the past by one of the prospective spouses. But one thing is for sure, a Christian couple shouldn’t get married unless they have pre-marital counseling first, if at all possible, from one of the pastors at their church.
Sexual Abstinence and Purity
Perhaps some may think this doesn’t need to be mentioned since most of this article is from a Christian perspective. On the contrary, it does need to be dealt with. As already touched on briefly in the second paragraph of the section on dating, sex before marriage is sin regardless of feelings, intentions, etc. People, especially Christians, should honor God and respect their future spouse by not having sex until they get married. Parents and churches need to be bold and loving in teaching children this. Parents need to use wisdom and set up rules and standards for their children. Don’t let them go where ever they want, listen to what ever they want, watch what ever they want, and dress how ever they want. One thing that Christian parents need to remember, is not to assume their children will not give in to the peer pressure and temptation that is out there because they may be saved. Even if your children are saved, it is still not impossible for them to give in to temptation. But let me say something that may be hard for some parents reading this article to accept. You children may not be saved and indwelt with the Holy Spirit. As 1Cor. 7:14 reminds us, if there is at least one believing parent, the whole family is sanctified and even the unbelievers are influenced outwardly by the Holy Spirit, so that it may be hard to tell whether or not your children are truly saved. Recognizing the possibility that they may be unregenerate and therefore totally depraved, parents need to set up boundaries and take an active role in their children’s lives. But even young adults who are still unmarried should set up standards in their lives to help them deal with possible temptation that could lead to sin. Now before someone starts screaming "legalism" consider such verses of Holy Scripture that talks about making no provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14) and others that deal with who and what we keep company with (Ps. 1:1 etc.). Also, even though it is often wise and good to have standards in one’s life to help prevent them from sinning, certainly if the standard itself breaks down we should not treat it as a sin. One example is a standard that I think would be wise for all Christians to do. Do not be alone in a private place with someone of the opposite sex unless it is your family. Again, this applies to unmarried and married, children and adults. But to further the example, if something happened and I ended up alone in a private place with a woman other than my wife and daughter, that of course is not a sin. Some times professing Christians knowingly or ignorantly try to do as much as they can, get as close to that line as possible without sinning. Thinking that even Christians can watch and listen to sin (certain movies and lyrics in music) without it affecting them is wrong-headed and unwise. Thinking that unmarried people whether teenagers or older can intimately hug, kiss, fondle, and do anything else short of sexual intercourse itself without it affecting them is wrong-headed and unwise. How sad it is today, that those who desire to honor the Lord by setting up standards in their life to possibly help them keep from giving in to temptation and committing sexual immorality, are looked down up even by many in the body of Christ as being legalistic or "holier than thou." The world for the most part says that there is nothing wrong with sex before marriage. Many in the professing body of Christ think there is nothing wrong with it or will not deal with it because it will offend, affect church attendance, or be "too" judgmental. But God’s word says sex before marriage is sin. And God’s people should do everything they can by the grace of God to stay sexually pure and remain abstinent until marriage.