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  • Writer's pictureLauren Wells

Instruction Manual

Have you ever noticed that company manuals will advise you not to use their product until you’ve first read all the instructions? And do you? Yeah, me neither. I like to try to figure it out on my own, but I’ve learned that’s a big waste of time. Flashback to grade school, one of my teachers handed out a seemingly normal multiple choice test to the class. Despite my speedy responses using my high-tech mechanical lead pencil, almost everyone in the class looked to have finished before me, sitting with their arms crossed, gazing up at the ceiling as if struck by boredom. I flipped back to the first page to read the instructions that I initially ignored and there it was: “To show that you have read these instructions, do not complete this test. Sign your name at the bottom and you will receive full credit.” My jaw dropped. You mean I answered all those questions for nothing? Point proven. 

Speaking of time wasted...who’s wasted their time in the dating game? It’s okay to admit that, it’s not meant to offend the person or people you’ve dated in the past. I think a majority of us have been there. And most likely it’s because we didn’t read the instruction manual ahead of time. No, there’s not a Christian Dating for Dummies, trust me I’ve checked! I’m talking about the Bible, and although it’s considered the best-selling book of all time, an estimated 5 billion copies sold worldwide and counting (according to Guinness World Records), we have a tendency to ignore what Scripture says and do things our own way. 

You might say, “The Bible doesn’t mention the term dating.” True, but it’s packed with wisdom that can be used in a multitude of situations.

Even instruction to married couples is useful (and I would argue necessary) information for those who are dating and desire marriage. The Scripture I later reference will knock your socks off if you’ve never read it before. That is why we cannot just “wing it” when it comes to making one of the biggest decisions of our lives! We have to know all that marriage entails, starting with God’s design for it. 

Many Christians are familiar with the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” Here he’s addressing sexual immorality, but he gives a mandate to all Christians — “Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV). Basically, show that you belong to God and revere Him by abstaining from activities that defile the body. Okay, the whole self-denying thing is easier said than done right? But at least you’re surrendered to a perfect God who can never fail you. 

Now let’s talk about marriage. Did you know that your body is not your own in marriage?

Hold onto your the following chapter Paul writes, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife” (1 Corinthians 7: 3-4 NIV). To show that you solely belong to one another under a holy covenant on earth, your body is yielded to your spouse. The difference? They are an imperfect human who is capable of hurting you, lying to you, and betraying you. No wonder marriage is so difficult! Could you give complete authority over your body to another person knowing the risk? 

Before I scare you off (and you now consider joining a convent), we should talk about how this actually works according to God’s design for marriage. If we’re not yielded to God first, we are not going to be yielded to a spouse. God wants us to follow the order that He designed so that we receive the fullness of His creation. That is why marriage is meant to be between two believers who are equally yoked. Both individuals have surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ and have put self-denying into practice while single. That is the kind of person to look for when dating. You both understand and live out sacrifice as defined by God, and will therefore be able to apply this in marriage.

Maybe this all sounds radical and restrictive in a society that promotes doing whatever you please with your body. But remember, both married individuals freely and willingly yield themselves to each other in agreement. And there’s no other relationship like it. To the world, it’s meant to be a holy representation of oneness. However, the wrong person can abuse it. God’s instructions aren’t stand-alones, they’re all-encompassing. If you’re not loving to one another, compassionate, patient, long suffering, etc, then this “yielding rule” in marriage could feel suffocating. Know what you’re getting yourself into and with who!

This is just one of many aspects of marriage. I recognize not every Christian circle talks about sexual intimacy, therefore my fear is that Christian women are unprepared for marital expectations because the topic was avoided or never researched. If you’re considering marriage, get connected with a married, Christian woman who is aligned with the teachings of Scripture and discuss these things together. I don’t want you to feel isolated in this process, that’s where mistakes get made. I know the conversation may feel awkward at first, but remember marriage is a decision for the rest of your life, it’s not to be taken lightly! Prepare in all the ways that you can, don’t waste your time thinking you already know the answers, read ALL of the instructions first. 


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