The Core Sunday Gathering

May 15, 2011

Love Life: Wedding Planners

Mary & Joseph

-Question: Do you believe in love at first sight?

- Jacob & Rachel

Genesis 29:9 While he was still talking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and Laban's sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle's sheep. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and began to weep aloud. 12 He had told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father.

Question: Is this a genuine example of love at first sight?

        -How long does REAL love take?

        -Jacob and Rachel probably set the record for biggest gap between the spark and the wedding (7 years)

[Title Slide] A lot of the marriages in the Bible were arranged by their parents, so romance really doesn’t enter into it.

        -So it’s tough to get the Bible to tell you anything about the dating experience.

        -But I found at least one other example of a pre-married couple with a real love for each other

-Apparently there’s some rule about only mentioning Mary & Joseph in December, but rules are made to be broken…

[Phrases Slide] Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

-What does this mean about being “pledged”?

        -Joseph is called Mary’s husband, and he plans to divorce her because he presumes she’s cheating

        -So that sounds like regular marriage… although a weird one.

                -Because they also haven’t slept together yet

                -But then the angel tells Joseph not to be afraid to take her home as his wife.

        -So they’re married, but they’re not married. This is the nature of Near-Eastern “betrothal”

                (They are married by commitment, but not by consummation. We’re more used to it the other way around.)

                (Some people talk about friends with benefits… here we have spouses without benefits….yet.)

        -But it was a very strong commitment. It was a signed contract between the families.

                -Doesn’t seem terribly fair for the two of them. They’re bound together, but they don’t get to be married.

                -Not only that, they really didn’t get to “date” or even see each other much.

                -After becoming engaged, she would go home to wait for about a year, for Joseph to prepare their home.

-So we’ve looked at a couple of couples here that are just pure as silk… very righteous

        -And sometimes very difficult for most of us to relate to

        -So where can we find a dating couple in the Bible with a few warts and major imperfections?

        [SLIDE] Samson & Delilah

Assign Scripture: Judges 14:1-3 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me."

                

        -It might seem romantic at first for a couple to fall in love from enemy camps (Romeo & Juliet)

                -And it would be romantic, if there were any trust or true motives going on

                -But with Samson and Delilah it was all lust and selfish motives

        -I think we’ve all seen examples of how the romantic desire is so strong that it can pull our lives off track

                -In Samson’s case it blinded him to how untrustworthy Delilah was

                -And it ended in his capture and literal blindness… and ultimately his death.

                -Are we too naïve to see how easily a foolish relationship can destroy our lives. We’ve all seen it happen…

        -Question: How can a single person guard against making destructive decisions like this?

-Scripture does tell us not to unify ourselves with a person, unless our faith is unified. So that provides some help…

        -But apart from that, there’s lot of confusion about what God really wants for the dating phase of our lives

        -One looming question: How far is too far?

-It’s a dead-end street to try and answer that question with specifics.

        -1st base, 2nd base, etc.

        -So many Christians find loopholes in the Bible that allow them to push the envelope physically

                -But then create their own kind of legalism.

                -Legalism is not defeated when you’re just moving the boundary lines around.

                -We only overcome legalism when we replace behavior-oriented morality with motive-oriented morality

                        -And ask ourselves “What is the condition of my heart?” and “What do others need from me?”

-A few years ago, my cousin and I met regularly to support each other spiritually.

        -He asked my advice about physical intimacy; about how making out always led to something else

                -So he wondered if he and his girlfriend should stop making out

                -I usually don’t have solid answers for questions like this

                -But this time I felt God giving me something tangible.

                -And told him that if he could kiss his girlfriend without feeling compelled to go farther,

                        -then it was a good sign. But if not, he should consider backing off the kissing.

        -If you can’t enjoy a moment of physical intimacy for its own sake

                -If any expression of love is worthless, except as a prelude to something more intense

                -Then you’ve exchanged what ought to be a gift to your S.O., for a privilege you grab for yourself.

                -It would be like taking him or her out to dinner, and as soon as their food arrives, you eat both meals.

        -My cousin seemed to appreciate that answer, because it’s not “one-size-fits-all”

                -It doesn’t draw a legalistic line in the sand… it draws everything back around to motives and mindset

                -Which is what Paul gives us in I Timothy 5

Assign Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-2 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

        -When it says “younger men” and “younger women” it doesn’t mean “younger than you”

        -It means “younger than others”, or just “young”

        -In other words, for most of you, it’s talking about people your own age, even if they’re older than you.

-But the big question here becomes “What does purity mean?” it all hangs on that one word.

        -If we try to make it a matter of sexual behavior, we’re still stuck… we’d still have to draw a line somewhere

        -But if it’s about the heart: “Purity of Motive” then it’s different.

-There’s that classic question: What are your intentions toward my daughter?

        -It’s pretty old-fashioned to talk that way. But maybe there’s some value in it:

        -What ARE my intentions? What are our motives when we seek out these relationships?

        -If we follow Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy, we’ll ask “What are my intentions towards my sister, or brother”

        -Question: What do you want most for your opposite-sex siblings? Happiness? Maturity? Health? Success?

                -I think we’d answer the same way about our brothers and sisters in Christ, right?

                -But as soon as I find a romantic interest in one of those brothers and sisters,

                        -It flip-flops and becomes about my needs, doesn’t it?

                        -We’ll fool ourselves into thinking we only want the best for them

                        -But we’re not willing to treat them like they’re somebody’s sister, or brother, or son or daughter.

                -Obviously you’re not going to behave exactly the same toward your S.O. as toward your sibling

                        -But we should have the same respect, working hard to protect their well-being and their future.

        -I’ll admit that I’ve made my share of mistakes in this area

                -But I’m going to tell a success story instead

                -After my freshman year in college, I got really interested in a girl who lived in Ohio

                        -Who I saw every summer at a conference.

                        -When she decided she felt the same way, the emotions ran pretty high

                -I won’t say exactly where we drew the line physically, because that would defeat the purpose

                        -But I will say that later on, when she found the man that God had for her to marry

                        -That man was able to thank me for respecting her purity, even though it would have been easy not to.

        -I’m not trying to pump myself up… like I said, I’ve made my share of misjudgments, too.

                -But sometimes we forget that a Significant Other may end up with someone else.

                        -And if, God forbid, that should happen, we don’t want to be “the other man” or “the other woman”

        

        -I know that if we’re really able to treat the opposite sex with the same care as a brother or sister

                -Then we don’t have to wrap ourselves up in knots trying to figure out how far is too far

                -And we can apply that same respect to an understanding of so many other facets of relationship

                -Whether you’re married, or divorced, or engaged, or dating, or just single.

                        -It all comes back to the gift we can offer the people around us.

                        -Is our purpose on this earth just to get people to meet our needs?

                        -or can we live lives that other people can be thankful for… and be the source of their blessing?

        

        -When people come to my funeral, years from now, I want them to say that my life was a blessing to them.