While at Sarah’s house I read one of her research books on purity called “Before You Meet Prince Charming.” The author has many good things to say and her intention is excellent in desiring emotional and sexual purity. My intention is not to argue or debate with her but rather offer up some different ways to talk about purity and marriage. This won’t be a complete discussion – that would be called a book.
First let me address the idea of “meeting prince charming.” Setting girls and boys up to think in fairy tale terms is not helpful. Words like “rescue” “prince charming” aren’t real or true.
Why do women need to be rescued? From what?
What I see in Scripture is we all need to be rescued and restored (the two prongs of the word salvation) by Jesus. I don’t see where women need another kind of rescue. Isn’t Jesus that for us?
If so then what are men to us?
Partners is what I see in Scripture. (Genesis 1:26-28, Colossians 3, 1 Corinthians 1: 9)
Prince Charming? On behalf of women everywhere I want to apologize to my brothers. We have set you up for failure by telling you you’re to be our Jesus. We don’t need a prince charming – we need men who are willing to fight their flesh and follow Jesus. (We need women who do that too!)
We need to think deeper, more theologically when we speak of purity and marriage. For example in the book, dating is discouraged. There’s the idea that you don’t want to give away your heart or body to someone other than your mate. Friendships with the opposite sex are to be limited in depth. The author based her premise on the fact that we don’t see dating in the Bible.
There’s some faulty thinking in this. First, I think of what Paul calls brothers and sisters in the faith Colossians 3: 10-17.
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (NLT)
Surely forgiving, loving, teaching, counseling, singing spiritual songs to God are bonding actions. How do we do what Paul is calling us to (as brothers and sisters) if we aren’t to be intimate with those of the opposite gender? And if Matthew is correct, we are not married in the new heavens and new earth, the earthly relationship that will continue is brother and sister – think about that! – then shouldn’t we learn how to do that relationship now as we get ready to move there?
Second, I think we have elevated marriage to a place where I’m not sure God intended it to be. I remember a young adult youth leader, who married in her mid thirties, share how she tells her high school girls “Just wait for the right one God will bring him. Even if it’s in your thirties.” Really, God said he would give us a husband? Where does it say that? And what about the value of singleness? Paul said, “But I wish everyone were single, just as I am. But God gives to some the gift of marriage, and to others the gift of singleness.” (1 Corinthians 7: 7)
Thirdly, we can’t build a whole theology on dating simply because it wasn’t done in ancient eastern times (or most of modern times either). Dating isn’t in the Scriptures, true. But making the leap that refraining from dating saves you for your mate and provides a space for a better marriage to occur, is just is that – a leap. If I were to use that method of thinking then we could say marriage should also be pre-arranged, for economic & political reasons, love is not a factor, and women are property not partners. We see no dating in the Scriptures. We also see very few if any prince charmings or what we label biblical marriages either.
Think of how we teach on marriage today. Find one of our current ideals of marriage in the bible?They don’t exist. Think of it, what we teach as a biblical marriage isn’t found in the Bible. And the marriages we find in the Bible we wouldn’t consider biblical marriages. It’s kind of funny if you think about it.
Finally, I want to remind us to be careful of using words like “damage” when speaking of prematurely giving ourselves away. Too often I’ve heard youth leaders speak of premarital sex as if it’s the one sin the Gospel can’t redeem. When we say things like, “Every time you have sex before marriage it’s like plucking off the petals of a rose and all you have left is to hand your husband a thorny stick.” Really? Where is the Gospel in that story? Are we saying the Gospel can redeem all aspects of our lives except sex? Don’t get me wrong, there are consequences but I’m not sure they are what we talk of. We need a new story that fits more of who God is and what Christ has done.