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Dating: Choosing the Right mate
Dating is usually defined as the process of choosing a mate. The term dating and courting has often been used interchangeably. Given that God is the architect of marriage and every good and perfect gift comes from God. We have to believe that God is very much interested in who you date/court.
Contrary to popular beliefs, God wants us to use all the resources He has provided for us when choosing a spouse. By resources, I mean, the HOLY SPIRIT (our teacher, counselor), the BIBLE (God’s manual for how we should live our lives), the MIND (for we have the mind of Christ), our personality (before He formed you, He knew you and had ordained you). You are wonderfully and beautifully made by God in His image and likeness. All these resources must come into full use when deciding on a potential spouse.
Unfortunately, dating has often been abused. Most people see dating/courting as a means to explore like going to shop for a dress or shoe. You spot the perfect shoe from the store, buy it, bring it home, wear it a couple of times and then decide you no longer like it. You either send it back or get another pair of shoes. When we approach dating/courting with such a carnal mindset, we are prone to make mistakes. Many have entered relationships with such a mindset, only to be bruised and have suffered needless breakups. It’s like bringing your personal choices to God after convenient trials using human wisdom and then bringing it to God (the creator and originator of marriage) for approval.
The next time you meet someone who could be a potential spouse. Pray about it, get to know the person first from a distance, followed by closer observation, build solid friendship, make sure your values align, create proper boundaries, know your non-negotiables (behaviors that you absolutely cannot tolerate in marriage) and above all seek Godly counsel in the process. Getting to know someone and building solid friendship before making your intentions known is one of the best ways to minimize pretense. It allows people to be their authentic selves and to know each other better. On the contrary, beginning a relationship with intensive outings and strong romantic and sexual intimacy only awakens love prematurely, only to be broken after a couple of weeks when you realize that the character and values do not align.
God ordained marriage to be enjoyed, He wants you to be happy in your marriage and His plans for you is to enjoy marital satisfaction. When Eliezer was going to find a wife for Isaac, he prayed a simple prayer (seek God first, Genesis 24:12), then had a list of qualities in mind for the right woman for Isaac (know your values and non-negotiable, Genesis 24:13-28), and finally embarked on a divine journey guided by the Holy Spirit with confirmation on every side. Ultimately, when Isaac saw Rebecca, he LOVED her (Genesis 24:67).
God is very interested in who you choose for a spouse. Involve God from the very beginning.
Marrying Out. How to navigate Intercultural Marriages
Globalization has made the world a small place. You are now more likely to meet and interact with people from countries you didn’t know existed. For this reason, inter-ethnic marriages are becoming increasingly common. According to Pews Research, one-in-seven New marriages in the United States in 2008 were between couples of different race, ethnicity or cultures. Interestingly, Intercultural marriages are not a 21st century phenomenon. In fact there are many biblical examples of inter ethnic marriages that were both ordained by God for His providence. For example, Moses (a Hebrew) married an Ethiopian woman (Exodus 2:16-21) and Rahab a Canaanite woman married a Jewish man and became an integral part of the genealogy of Christ. Ruth, a moabite widow married Boaz a Jewish man and became the grandmother of King David and was ultimately a part of the genealogy of Christ. In these examples, God approved the marriages and used the couples to not only write history but to achieve his master plan.
In other examples such as Samson and Delilah (Judges 16) and Solomon and his many foreign wives (1 Kings 11-16), the end of these characters were tragic because the focus of the relationship shifted from God to self. Inter-ethnic marriages come with their own unique beauty and challenges.
Whether we like to admit it or not, our view of marriage is highly influenced by our backgrounds and upbringing. In our subconscious minds, we have expectations, assumptions, and perspectives based on the cultural or ethnic background or our parent’s marriage. Some cultures see themselves as superior to others, and gender roles and expectations varies across cultures.
When marrying/dating, it is important to understand that you are not only marrying an individual, you are also marrying a set of circumstances surrounding that individual. Isolation, breaking family ties, language barriers, and expectatations and assumptions regarding gender roles and in-law relationships are just a few of the many potential challenges in inter-ethnic relationships. Here are some 5 practical steps to deal with these challenges
- Educate yourself and your family about the other culture by asking questions of your partner and be open-minded to learn.
- Identify your own personal bias, false beliefs and assumptions about the other culture. It takes humility, courage and love to develop your own self-awareness. Identifying your own biases and beliefs and being ready to unlearn false beliefs is a step in the right direction.
- Be patient with yourself and your partner. Like all relationships, it takes a million doses of GRACE, LOVE and PATIENCE to understand your partner and make the necessary adjustments. Change does not happen overnight. Nagging, blaming in-laws, constantly correcting your partner, and noting every little mistake are the surest ways to destroy the relationship.
- Challenge all false beliefs and assumption with the word of God. God created all humans in His own image and likeness and He wants us to love people as ourselves. If you struggle with Inlaw relationship, think of how you would want to be treated in your old age as someone’s Inlaw. The scriptures has all the answers. Ruth was able to develop a strong relationship with Naomi even though they both came from different countries and cultures. Moses and Jethro (Moses’s father inlaw) had such a strong relationship, Jethro became and advisor and mentor to Moses. God could very well use you to extend his love and grace to your partners family. In other words, you are not only a son-Inlaw or a daughter-inlaw, but you may very well be the vessel God will use to reach a different culture and family. Let God direct you
- PRAY, PRAY and PRAY. Prayer is one of the many powerful weapons you have as a Christian. It’s an opportunity to relinquish control to God and invite His presence over situations. Prayers can do things that your words and actions cannot accomplish. Remember, you cannot transform a person’s heart, heart transformation is a divine process that only God can do. Pray and Trust God.
The Battle of the Mind
“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].” Philippians 4:8 AMP
Are you feeling stuck? Do you feel lost in your mind, overcome by emotions and thoughts that seem to paralyze your very life? Use the Philippians 4 checklist. If it does not meet the checklist, then use 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
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