Courtship in the New Covenant
NCW 32, April 1996 (Part I)
Q. I am an investigator of the New Covenant Church and am interested in dating one of your members. But he doesn't seem to be interested in dating at all. Don't New Covenant Christians believe in romance?
New Covenant Christians do not believe in what the world calls "dating" nor generally in the western traditions concerning courtship. We certainly believe in romance but we place our relationship with God first.
A good New Covenant Christian believes not only that marriage is sacred but that God intends His people to create marriages that last not just for this life but into the eternities. In all the relationships we cultivate, whether friendship or marriage, we are interested in the celestial or heavenly perspective.
Most wordly romance is based on either chemical, physical or sexual attraction. The whole of our pop music culture extolls this. We do not say that these things are unimportant but that they are secondary to an enduring marriage relationship.
The man you are interested in will first and foremost be interested in whether you are a genuine Christian or not. It is not enough for him that you profess the Name of Christ and count yourself a Christian: he will want to see whether or not Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life, the One to whom first and prior allegiance is given. He will want to see that you will set God first in all relationships and not simply use Him as an instrument in your romantic ambitions or as an appendage in your heart-committments.
For New Covenant Christians God comes first. He is the most important personal relationship we have, so important, in fact, that we would in theory (if not in practice, if a romantic relationship proves not to be His will) be willing to set aside someone we were in love with for His sake. This means our heart-committment for God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be more important than any heart-committment to a potential husband or wife.
The emotional and sexual forces involved in marriage are powerful. They are also good and beneficial in marriage provided they do not supercede the spiritual forces that bind us to God. Marriage cannot save us, nor can it bring us ultimate spiritual fulfilment in and of itself. It is only God who can do that. Therefore true New Covenant Christians will want to ensure that any potential marriage partner is (a) 100% committed to Jesus Christ as Saviour, and (b) 100% committed to the Kingdom of God (Church) before even considering emotional or romantic investigations, let alone committments. He will want to have many non-physical, spiritual relationships with members of the opposite sex by developing close brother-sister relationships in the Lord. He will desire the stability of the spiritual rock of Christ to be the fortress that buffets against the emotional winds that inevitably blow in any marriage.
In order to ensure that relationships between the opposite sex proceed in a positive, unbuilding and Christ-centred manner, New Covenant Christians have been shown a courtship procedure through revelation which even today remains amongst the Samaritan people. It is divided into three parts called Dedication, Betrothal, and Marriage. Unique (as far as we know) to the Samaritans of Israel and New Covenant Christians is the covenant called Dedication which is an agreement between a prospective couple to develop a spiritual friendship in Christ through mutual service in the Church. The relationship focuses on serving others. If a couple find it difficult to serve Christ together in Gospel ministry the chances are they will not flourish in a New Covenant marriage. If this is successful and the couple obtain a witness for God that they should be married, then they are betrothed, which is binding marriage without sexual intercourse. In this stage they learn to develop further what they have gained in Dedication by deepening their ministry in the Church whilst developing mutual interests, making plans for family, etc.. Only after they have demonstrated to each other and the Lord that their relationship is well and truly established on the spiritual and not the fleeting passions of the heart are they fully married.
This is, admittedly, rather unfamiliar to outsiders who have been taught a fleshy approach to marriage of "fall in love" and then get married. For Christians this is usually something which happens in parallel with their Christian life. For New Covenant Christians this is fully integral. Of course, if couples fall in love from the moment they set eyes on one another this cannot be helped, for although New Covenant Christians prefer the gradual "growing in love" process to the dramatic "falling in love" explosion (which then tapers off as the couples discover who each really is, often disagreeably), we are realists. In this instance it is important that spirituality is intensely cultivated when a couple are in love and are contemplating marriage.
If you are interested in a man in the Church then my advice to you is give yourself completely to the Lord and His Kingdom. For such women are most attractive to New Covenant men.
This page was created on 8 May 1998
Last updated on 8 May 1998
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