What commitments should I make before considering marriage?
To avoid the trap of moral failure, every son and daughter should make three basic commitments long before he or she is ready to consider marriage. The goal of these commitments is to guard your heart so that you can give your whole heart to your future spouse, as opposed to emotionally giving away your heart, piece by piece, to numerous individuals through dating relationships.
1. I will make a lifelong commitment to marriage.
This is a commitment to reserve yourself—emotionally and physically—for the one person God directs you to marry. It will take courage, faith, and determination—and much grace—to reject the choice of dating. However, as you depend on the Lord and His wisdom, He will sustain you and bless you in your commitment to trust Him to lead you to the right life partner. (See Proverbs 3:5–7.)
After you are married, this decision is a commitment to no longer consider marriage or intimacy with anyone other than your spouse. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shalt be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
2. I will forego dating and choose courtship.
Instead of dating—“trying out” lots of different people in order to find the one who can make you happy—choose to trust God to lead you to the one person He has chosen for you. Instead of frantically searching for “the right one,” you will be able to rest in the confidence that the Lord will fulfill His plans for you, including His plans for just the right life partner. (See Philippians 1:6.)
The decision to choose courtship rather than dating will demonstrate your faith in God to bring His will to pass in your life. God’s will has been defined as “exactly what we would choose if we knew all the facts.” This commitment will free you to devote your energies to deepening your relationship with God, as He builds in your life a strong foundation for marriage. (See Matthew 6:33–34 and Psalm 37:4–5.)
3. In all of my friendships, I will do my best to avoid all appearance of evil.
All believers are to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22). As an ambassador for Christ, your words and actions should be above reproach. It is impossible to achieve this goal in your own strength, but the Holy Spirit can enable you to choose purity and resist temptation. (See II Corinthians 5:20, Galatians 4:6, and Ephesians 3:14–21.)
- “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13).
- “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
- “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father … that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:14, 16).
As Christians, in honor we are to “prefer,” that is, “show deference to,” one another. (See Romans 12:10.) One way to practically apply this instruction in your life is to save your affections as a gift for only your future marriage partner.
As you safeguard your affections, you will be showing deference not only to your future spouse—because you have saved your affections for him or her and not given them away—but you also will be showing deference to others as you choose to not tempt them to give away their affections prematurely.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The word "keep" in Proverbs 4:23 is the word "natsar" in the Hebrew which means "guard" or "protect". Guard your heart and body for the one you will marry. It is easy to ignite passions that God designed to be satisfied in marriage. Keep your heart with His Truth, humbling yourself under His Mighty Hand, understanding that He wants you to have His best! By His grace, commit to following God’s Plan for your life, knowing that the Lord knows what is best.
Pray that God would prepare your future spouse as a person, partner, parent, provider, and proclaimer. Pray for God’s protection, for God’s guidance in their life, and for them to love the Lord and people. Pray that they would hunger and thirst after righteousness. (See Matthew 6:33.)
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).
God will give you the grace to guard your heart and wait for His best provision for you. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:22).
Marriage is a covenant: a permanent agreement between two individuals, for the benefit of both. In order to prepare for the covenant of marriage, a wise son or daughter will establish these convictions long before it is time to consider marriage.
As you choose to guard your affections, keeping them only for your life partner, you will have many opportunities to obey Christ’s command to “love your neighbor.” This instruction is found in Matthew 22:39: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” These commitments will guide you to treat everyone with honor and purity, and to reserve all that you are for your future spouse. Put your hope in the Lord; He will enable you to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11).