Thoughts of the mystery of when I was going to propose were consuming Emily. What if today is the day? What should I be wearing? went through her head. She had to read 2 Timothy to keep from over thinking the situation. We just finished having our Christmas together on this brisk day and I had the plan set: propose on this walk through the park. Emily had no idea. She was carrying on about random things when I found us at the point when I was going to ask. I glanced at her when she finished telling her story (yes, in risk of mitigating what she was telling me, but I did pay attention!) and said, “Emily, I have an important question to ask you.” I dropped to one knee, nearly fumbled the ring box, opened up the box upside down, and blurred out the question (I told myself I wouldn’t be nervous either!).

She put on the ring, and that’s it! We were engaged! So in that moment what changed from the previous hour? Nothing but the title. We don’t act any differently toward each other we still plan to be married for the same reason. This is the issue with most dating relationships in the Church. A guy “asks out” a girl and then they feel as if everything has all of a sudden changed in that instant: the doors to holding hands, relating to pre-established pseudo-romantics, making out, and being snugly with one another have just been unlocked! How? Just by saying, “I’m committed to you as long as I committed to you.”

In an age that prides itself on naturalism and logic does this relationship sound logical? No, because, “although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21 ESV). This, commonly noted as the noetic effect of sin, along with blinding hedonism has led our culture into a mentality of oneness seeking apart from marriage. Just because the world may glorify human reason, does not mean everything the world does is reasonable.

Why should we partake in any type of oneness that is only designed for marriage? C.S. Lewis argues, “The idea that ‘being in love’ is the only reason for being married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made.”[1] Under the logic of modern worldly processes of dating, marriages should not even be considered! One might as well date whomever and find all the pleasure in that person until they “fall out of love”. This person spits in the face of Christ who sacrificed to show us what love really is: not a mere feeling.

Therefore, Emily and I are nothing more than brother and sister in Christ until our day of marriage when we become husband and wife in Christ. The only display of affection (private or public) we have is a hug. We receive all types of flak from this decision. “They must not have any ‘chemistry’” or “What? They didn’t kiss right after they were engaged?” No, in fact, after I proposed, we prayed then went to a local coffee shop to discuss Ephesians 5.

In establishing us as an example, I am in no way saying we are perfect nor an epitome. It is very easy for me to say the things we do are just a conviction for us, especially in widely accepted areas of sin inside the Church. In risk of being labeled legalist, I will proudly state this is not a mere personal conviction Emily and I hold to that does not necessarily have to be widely practiced. We believe this is what the Bible firmly teaches: Christ and the Church as the reality and marriage as its epitome established by God. In current dating and engagement it is important to understand the man and the woman are simply brother and sister in Christ until marriage. Worldly dating is not found Biblically, but what is in the scripture is pursuit. Pursuit is to glorify God better in the marriage. Marriage is the only context when “relationships statuses”[2] change (unlike what Facebook says). soli Deo omnis gloria

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Chicago, IL: HarperOne, 2012), 107

[2] To be clear, I am using the phrase “relationship status” not as mere title change as is should be, but as the world views a relationship as “being able to experience pleasures only designed for the context of marriage outside of marriage due to the title change”. A title change is great because it allows others to recognize your intentions. Terminology is key. Before Emily and I were engaged if someone were to ask me if I were dating someone, I would tell them I’m pursing someone. This wasn’t because I thought dating as a verb is evil, but so that others would know my intentions to marry her. Now dating has been redefined from a verb to and adjective describing the type of relationship.