In our modern-day society, multitudes have fallen victim to the 100-meter love race as opposed to a marathon commitment. To our own detriment, we have acquiesced to a “Speed Racer” lightning-fast approach to courtship. In the words of Ricky Bobby from Adam McKay’s “Talladega Nights,” “We wanna go fast!” And sadly, most do.
The effects can be harmful, as we tend to deny red flags the size of skyscrapers, and ignore flashing sirens with red lights a-blaring. Instead, countless singles take the “butterfly in the stomach” detour and make life-altering choices during the 6-8 month infatuation phase. By the time our feet are back down on Earth from the half-year we spent levitating, we are at the altar, vowing “until death do us part.”
Don’t misconstrue the momentum of my primary point; I’m not over-polarizing the opposite. Unfortunately, the procrastination of not pursuing, or relational stagnation, is the opposite dilemma. However, this should not be a reason to pop the clutch, drop the gear and turn on the afterburners, hiring a wedding planner after just a few dates.
Singles have heard me utter the following phrase when I speak at our Home-Team events in Dallas and Houston Texas …
“Simmer down, POP-TART!”
While it is comical, it is even more so applicable. Pop-Tarts only pop out of a toaster when they are hot, and they come out with speed. That is analogous to a Christ-follower who is in season. But just because the tart is cooked and ready to eat, it doesn’t mean it’s time to grab a napkin and start noshing. It first needs time to cool off. The cooling-off period of discernment and observation offers an adequate amount of time to become better acquainted with the one you’ll be spending the rest of your life with. That’s not only beneficial, but also needed. On a deeper level, a time of waiting can and will offer confirmation that only God through the Holy Spirit’s leading can give.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8, ESV).
If ever a choice deserves and needs godly instruction, it is whose hand you will hold when your body is lowered into the ground. It is the person you will connect your DNA with to create another seed that will outlive you both. This decision should not be given flippant attention, but instead complete focus.
Both parties need to ask an abundance of questions, invest a forthcoming approach, and volunteer unedited responses with an open heart toward Christ and each other. All guards need to be lowered. All thoughts and actions, both present and past, need to be given with total transparency. It is laborious, challenging, and takes time, but it’s an investment that’s worth it! There is no functional way to rush through this process. Even with assistance and under the tutelage of a pre-marriage Christian counselor, it still takes time and lots of work.
The travesty that can occur if this discipline is omitted from the courtship process is that a couple can get married but not adequately know each other. They’re in covenant, but not connected.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, ESV).
Scripture proves that while it is easy to get married, it is difficult to get to know someone. That is the primary issue and also one of the keys to cohabitation between two people. If I am going to say “I do,” then I should have an unambiguous recognition of who I am marrying. Beyond the surface … beyond the title … beyond the camouflage … and beyond my thoughts of who they may be … do I REALLY know them, and do they REALLY know me?
Or am I on the verge of gambling the second most important decision of my life on a foolish hypothesis?
If you have not asked the right questions before you say “I do,” you have no right to complain after you say “I do.”
Before you set out on the race, do these things:
- Do your homework.
- Make eye contact.
- Observe and discern fruit.
- Seek godly counsel.
- Be mentored in the midst of the fluffy feelings and the constant cloud nines.
- Have some heart-to-heart dialogues about money, children, beliefs, family, in-laws, ambitions, past relational hurts, pain, forgiveness, what has happened in the past, what could happen in the future, sex—past and future—testimonies (ALL of it unedited), Jesus and everything else your mind can fathom. Where there is no transparency, there can be no intimacy. Anyone can exchange bodily fluid; that’s cheap.
The real value is in intimacy, which isn’t formed while racing to the altar. While taking time has a high cost, it is worth it.