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Say Yes to Arranged Marriages

• Christena Cleveland, Greg Boyd

In ancient times, fathers would arrange marriages for their sons and daughters. In modern times, it is the individuals who broker their own marriage deals. We live in a consumerist dating era where people can pick their own mate. In this sermon, Greg and Christina Cleveland give a few guiding principles on how to date in the modern world, and they also give insight into who should really be brokering our marriage deals.

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Good dating makes for good marriages. In our culture, dating has dramatically changed from ancient days. Back then people had their marriages arranged, but people now have a choice in whom they marry and why they marry that person. In the Kingdom, dating looks different than it does in the world, and there are some guiding principles to reflect that difference.

In today’s world, we don’t depend upon our fathers to broker a marriage deal for us. Instead, we broker our own deal. We choose someone to our liking, who makes us feel good, and who we want to compliment and make our lives better. This is the consumerist model of dating. We’re the consumer, and we survey the dating field and find the best product.

Modern and ancient dating are fueled by people’s emptiness. In ancient times, it was fueled by a father’s need to fill his own emptiness, whether it was political, social, or financial needs. In modern times, it’s fueled by our own need to fill our emptiness. This emptiness can come in many different forms, whether it’s emotional, physical, financial, mental, or spiritual. This is why it’s so important to seek fullness in Christ before we ever try to fill it with things of this world. Without that fullness in Christ, we will be sucked into the trappings of modern dating.

God wants dating to honor and carry out his will. Dating is meant to bring people to marriage, and there are several principles to invest in when it comes to dating. These are manifesting the Trinity, growing together in conformity to Christ, and functioning as dynamic duos for the Kingdom.

The first guiding principle in dating should be that couples should manifest the Trinity by sharing their fullness. The Trinity is the fullness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together as one. When we share in our fullness together, we represent the Trinity here on earth. No longer do we conform to the model of consumer dating, rather, we bring our fullness to enjoy the fullness of another person.

The second guiding principle is that we should grow in our conformity with Christ. Couples, whether dating or married, should help each other grow. Too often, people date and become married in order to fulfill a need to be happy, but God’s goal is character refinement. This can change dating mindsets. Instead of bailing on the relationship whenever a flaw is detected, people can help each other grow.

The final principle is couples should be a dynamic duo for the Kingdom. We should date and marry people that, together, make us better workers in the Kingdom. Greg is a good example of this. He would have an extreme amount of trouble keeping a schedule without his wife. Shelley also provides encouragement and insight that Greg has trouble seeing himself. Together, they are better for the Kingdom than apart.

While these principles are great guides, we want to give some practical advice. It is important to seek God’s will when dating. Pray and ask for guidance when thinking about dating a person. Ask God if it’s a match he would arrange for you. In addition to praying, find your own missional purpose in the Kingdom. Without knowing your own purpose, you will never know if another person will add or subtract to it as your spouse. Use imaginative prayer as well. While praying, invite God into your imagination as you invent scenarios of the future in your head. Pay attention to how God infiltrates those times and shows you his will. Finally, invite community into your dating life. Instead of dating and keeping things in the darkness, expose what your relationship looks like to trusted friends and family. In this way, you can help keep yourself accountable and also use the wisdom of those that have been there before.

Whether it is God’s will that we remain single, dating, or married, we should trust in his ability to arrange our marriages for us. Don’t let loneliness or failed relationships move you away from God. There are many more variables that affect relationships than God’s will. In all things, remember, God is seeking the best for you and wants you to build the best relationships for marriage.

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Topics: Family, Love, Marriage

Sermon Series: Relatively Speaking


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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 2:9-10

    For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

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8 thoughts on “Say Yes to Arranged Marriages

    Kristen says: Monday November 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I liked this message, but I have to admit, I really hope this isn’t the only message that will touch on the marriage relationship. I’ve got questions as a married person that I’m hoping will be answered or addressed in a series like this one. Greg usually goes deep in explains things in detail, please may he do that with marriage. Like what does a godly marriage look like? What does Scripture mean when it calls men to be the head of the household, and for women to submit to their husbands? What is THAT supposed to mean? I hope it will be addressed in this series..I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

    Reply
    Jim LePage says: Monday November 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Good point, Kristen! Next weekend we’ll cover marriage and divorce and the week after will be on parenting, so the issues you mentioned should be covered more in depth in the next couple weeks.

    Reply
    Jessi says: Tuesday November 8, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Just a thought, Kristen…is that Scripture says that the husband is supposed to be the head of the WIFE (not the household)…and in, they are to be ONE together…connected as a single unit, as a head and body are…like Jesus and His Body, the Church.

    Reply
    Earline says: Wednesday November 9, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    I guess at this point in my life, being a widow for nearly nine years, I look at marriage or even the idea of becoming married in a much more comical way. This is not to devalue marriage in any way but I have had some time to step back and really look at this social phenomena. Sometimes when dating or married we can take ourselves and each other way too seriously. After all God gave us a sense of humor and laughter. What better place to laugh at yourself and each other than in marriage when you can see all of your “little” idiosyncracies. When a couple is dating if they take the time to laugh at each other they might actually ask “hey, I wouldn’t want to marry me, why does this other person want to”? As a previous responder stated, I hope Greg goes even deeper.

    Reply
    LadyElaine80 says: Wednesday November 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Interesting, but I have a question: How do you as a single Christian live in Christian community when that community socially segregrates you based on your marital status?

    Reply
      Therese says: Friday April 6, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      After years of seeking a partner, I married at age 35, believing the man was God’s answer to my longing. After 20 years of frequent abuse, I am again single. I found out after marrying, that he had lied to the priest about accepting children as a gift from God. I stayed, in large part, because of my commitment, believing it was God’s will. He divorced me 7 years ago. In my experience, within individual church communities, nearly all emphasis is directed toward supporting family structures. There is little within the community to support singles in their need and so, seeking support is frequently done outside of the community. Paul tells us that ‘it is better to remain single’. Why do church communities mostly ignore us?

      Reply

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