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Dating and Preparing for Marriage (Part 5) - Dating Guidelines for Different Age Groups, Dating Unbelievers

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For a master copy of the outline, click here: Dating and Preparing For Marriage

To listen to the previous sermon in the series, click here: Part 4
To listen to the next sermon in the series, click here: Part 6

VIII. Dating considerations for different age groups and statuses.
1. General considerations for all.
A. Men, watch out for the strange woman.
B. Ladies, watch out for the whoremonger who sweet-talks you.
C. Be careful to not spend a lot of time together alone.
D. Especially avoid spending time alone in a secluded place such as a house or apartment; abstain from all appearance of evil (1Th 5:22).
E. It is sad that this must be said, but if you are dating someone who is not a virgin, find out if they are disease free.
i. Approximately 1/3 of all Americans have an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). (More Than 110 Million Americans Have an STD: Report, US News Health, February 14, 2013)
ii. "One of the more concerning findings was that there are nearly 20 million new infections each year, and half of those occur among young people (aged 15 to 24)." (Ibid)
iii. This is one of the many reasons to find a virgin.
iv. Take the warning or be sorry later. "3) For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil:...8) Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: ... 11) And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, 12) And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; 13) And have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!" (Pro 5:3,8,11-13)
2. Teenagers
A. Early teens.
i. Children in their early teens (approx. ages 13-16) are not mature enough to be married and therefore should not date, since the purpose of dating is to find a spouse.
ii. Hormones begin to rage at these ages and kids will only be subjecting themselves to temptations which could easily be too great for them to resist.
iii. Kids at this age don't have enough sense to foresee the evil and hide themselves (Pro 22:3), so parents must be proactive and intervene.
iv. Parents should openly discuss these things with their children and explain why they have chosen to not allow them to date until at least the latter teen years (if that is their determination).
B. Late teens.
i. Young adults in their latter teens (approx. ages 17-19) begin to be mature enough (some of them) to be married and should be allowed to date if the parents think they are responsible and mature enough.
ii. I do not recommend getting married before age 20 (especially for men), except in rare occasions when the couple is exceptionally mature.
iii. Dating is a process that should take a considerable amount of time and is a process that may repeat as a person filters through his or her options; so if it is allowed to begin in the late teens with adequate guidelines and supervision, it would likely extend to a time in life when the young adult is ready to be married.
a. Extreme caution is needed in these years because a man's sexual peak happens around age 19 and sexual temptation is incredibly high.
b. Parents, you must make sure that your teens are well taught about the power and dangers of sexual lust at this age.
iv. Plan dates that will be interesting and will allow you have fun and get to know each other.
a. Some suggestions for dates would be coffee shops, restaurants, zoos, museums, and sports events.
b. Avoid idle time, which leads to sin (Eze 16:49).
c. Idle hands are the devil's workshop.
v. Make Christ a part of your date: discuss spiritual things.
vi. Group dating is a good idea for early dating which helps a young person to become accustomed to dating.
vii. Distinguish the difference between casual dating where different people may be dated in order to get to know them, and committed dating where only one person is dated, in which love could develop and engagement could be considered. (More on engagement later.)
3. Young adults (20s-30s)
A. Once a person reaches their late 20s and 30s, the likelihood of meeting someone that is either divorced or has children increases significantly.
B. You should quickly inquire as to whether a person you are interested in is divorced.
i. If so, then you either need to move on, or proceed to carefully find out if the divorce was due to adultery or abandonment by an unbeliever which are the only two justifications for remarriage after divorce (Mat 19:9; 1Co 7:15).
ii. See Section IV,4, B for more detail on this point.
iii. If they are not lawfully (Biblically) free to remarry, you must immediately cease pursuing them.
iv. It doesn't matter if the divorced (and not free to remarry) person is a believer or an unbeliever; God's law forbids you from marrying them (Luk 16:18).
a. The conversion and baptism of an unbeliever who is divorced doesn't change the fact that he is still bound to his wife and unable to remarry according to the law of God.
b. Adultery and other sins are washed away at baptism (1Co 6:9-11).
c. But a marriage covenant which was previously entered when one was an unbeliever is not a sin and is therefore not washed away at baptism.
d. If baptism washed away marriage covenants entered into by unbelievers, then all married persons who were baptized would need to be remarried to their spouse after they were baptized.
e. Divorce (a separation with both spouses remaining unmarried and celibate) is not a sin either, in that it is permitted by God (1Co 7:10-11), and is therefore not washed away at baptism.
f. Therefore, a Christian (or anyone else for that matter) is forbidden to marry a person who is divorced (and not free to remarry), whether they are a believer or an unbeliever.
v. If they are free to remarry, you have liberty to proceed, but be cautious.
vi. Remember, it takes two to tango, and rarely is only one partner in a marriage solely at fault for the divorce.
a. This is usually true even in cases of adultery.
b. Though the adulterer or adulteress is ultimately responsible for braking the covenant, thereby freeing the other, a person who commits adultery rarely does so against a spouse to whom he/she is happily married.
c. Thus, the freed spouse may not be guilty of adultery themselves, but they may not have been entirely innocent in the lead-up to the sin of their spouse.
vii. Therefore, it would be wise and prudent to carefully examine the person's character before getting seriously involved with them.
viii. Second marriages have an even higher rate of divorce than do first marriages; so beware.
C. A person with children (especially young children), whether divorced or never married, will bring a lot of baggage to a relationship.
i. The children's other parent can sometimes make your life very difficult with custody battles, etc.
ii. If the other parent has a different parenting style, you could continually have to "unteach" a lot of garbage and bad behavior that was picked up at the other home.
iii. You may also have your hands tied when it comes to disciplining the child because the other parent might object to spanking and try to get you into legal trouble for doing it.
iv. These things ought to be seriously considered before dating a person who has children.
v. If the person is widowed, these problems will be less significant because there is not "another mommy" or "another daddy" to deal with.
4. Older adults (40s+)
A. Most (not all) people in their 40s or older who are able to date have already been married themselves and are either widows/widowers or have been freed to remarry due to the unfaithfulness of their former spouse.
B. The likelihood of finding a person who has never been married and has no kids at this age is very slim.
i. Therefore many of the same considerations concerning dating people who are widowed, lawfully (Biblically) divorced, or have children apply (see previous section on young adults (20s-30s).
ii. The older you get, the more likely that the children of the person you are interested in will be grown, which may make things easier.
C. If you have been loosed from a spouse, seriously consider before seeking to remarry (1Co 7:27).
D. Your age or previous marital experience doesn't make you immune from becoming infatuated with someone and blinded by lust to the point of being tempted to make a hasty and foolish decision to marry someone you don't know well enough.
E. Be careful about "rebound" dating soon after being freed from a former spouse.
F. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are really over that other person if it's only been a few months, or even a year or more.
G. Even though you have already experienced sex (if you were previously married), you still must abstain from sex until you are married again (1Th 4:3).
i. Fornication n. - Voluntary sexual intercourse between a man (in restricted use, an unmarried man) and an unmarried woman. In Scripture extended to adultery.
ii. It could be harder to abstain from fornication after having been married because you're already experienced, so vigilance will be necessary.
H. Be aware that a potential spouse in your age range could have a lot of debt, so you would be wise to find out how much debt they have before getting seriously involved with them.
I. Beware also of "gold diggers" who are after your money.
J. If you have wealth or possessions that you want to leave to your children, make sure that your potential spouse is aware of that, and make sure you have a will which makes that clear.
5. Divorced, but not free to remarry
A. No matter how badly you may want to remarry, you must not because to do so would be for you to commit adultery (Mar 10:11-12).
B. See Section IV,4, B.
6. Divorced, but free to remarry
A. Before jumping into another marriage, consider remaining unmarried (1Co 7:27).
B. If you do decide to pursue marriage, take it slow and keep your eyes wide open (Pro 19:2).
C. Review the considerations in the sections on young adults (20s-30s) and older adults (40s+) concerning marrying divorced people, especially if they have children.
7. Widowed
A. When one's spouse dies, he/she is free to remarry (Rom 7:2-3).
B. It is good for a widow to remain unmarried (1Co 7:8,40).
C. But she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, but only in the Lord (1Co 7:39).
i. Though it is wise and advisable to marry a person of like-faith (more on this in Section IX), "only in the Lord" cannot be understood to mean "only a believer of like-faith".
ii. If this were the case, then children would only have to obey their parents if they were of like-faith (Eph 6:1).
iii. "In the Lord" must be understood as "in accordance with God's word."
iv. Therefore, a widow may marry whom she will as long as they are available to marry according to the scripture (not already married, divorced, etc.)
D. Young widows should remarry and start a family (1Ti 5:14).
E. Review the considerations in the sections on young adults (20s-30s) and older adults (40s+) concerning marrying divorced people, especially if they have children.
IX. Dating considerations when dating believers and unbelievers.
1. Guidelines for dating unbelievers (a believer dating an unbeliever - whether a complete unbeliever or a "believer" of a different "Christian faith").
A. Dating an unbeliever is not forbidden in scripture, but it must be done very cautiously.
B. Remember, the purpose of dating is to find a spouse; and though it is not absolutely forbidden to marry outside of the faith, it is not wise.
i. Can two walk together except they be agreed? (Amo 3:3).
ii. Consider the principle of not being unequally yoked to unbelievers (2Co 6:14 c/w Deu 22:10).
a. This is a warning to the church to not be joined with unbelievers and idolatry.
b. If the church should not be yoked with unbelievers, then a Christian should seriously consider the danger of marrying one.
iii. But 2Co 6:14 is not a proof-text that expressly prohibits "unequally yoked" marriages.
a. Paul is writing to the church (2Co 1:1) which is the temple of God (2Co 6:16), and telling them to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, unrighteous people, and idolaters (2Co 6:14-16).
b. He didn't tell them to not GET unequally yoked, but to BE not unequally yoked with unbelievers, meaning that the church should never be unequally yoked with unbelievers at any time.
c. He tells them to COME OUT from among them and SEPARATE from them (2Co 6:17).
d. If this passage is used to prove that a believer is forbidden to marry an unbeliever, then it also proves that a believer must separate from an unbeliever.
e. Paul contradicted that idea in (1Co 7:12-15).
f. Remember, if an error proves anything, it proves too much.
iv. The principle of not marrying outside of the faith was taught in the OT (Deu 7:2-4; Ezr 9:2-3; Neh 13:23-26).
v. Jesus said a house divided will not stand (Mar 3:25).
a. It could be the case that a weak believer marrying an unbeliever may not be a divided house -- the weak believer will simply compromise.
b. A "church admission certificate" type of faith where only the form of godliness (2Ti 3:5) has been attained doesn't guarantee an undivided house either.

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