"However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:33 ESV
A form of the word "love" appears in the English Standard Version 730 times in 667 verses, 109 and 85 of them in John's writings respectively. It speaks of love in many forms: familial, intimate, of a friend, for an object, and of course, God's love. Needless to say, love is important to God.
In our culture, the month of February, specifically the 14th, is dedicated to the idea of love. We buy cards, stuffed animals, flowers and an abundance of sugar-loaded treats. We plan date nights, romantic getaways and grand gestures. On the surface, it seems love is important to our world as well, but is it the same love as the love mentioned in the Bible?
Unfortunately, sin has tarnished yet another gift from God and twisted it to apply to sports, seasons, clothes, food and sex. Yes, we have watered down love, but we've done more. We have now sullied love with so many toxic associations, it's becoming more fatal than ethylene glycol and sarin.
Homosexual love. Extramarital love. Premarital love.
According to a recent Focus on the Family broadcast, dating has only been around for 120 years. My goodness, how much it has changed in such a short time.
People are living in a "dating" culture which heralds "friends with benefits" and "do what makes you feel good." These trends are affecting people of all ages, but especially young adults, as they have grown up in broken homes and a sex-crazed culture.
In 1983, 74.9% of children were raised in a 2-parent household (not necessarily married or both birth parents), followed by 68.7% in 1995 and and 68.1% in 2012.
As adults, Millennials are less likely to be married (44% in 2019), and their average marriage age is higher than previous generations (25.4 for men and 22.8 for women in 1983 vs. 30.4 and 28.6 in 2021, respectively). They are also more likely to cohabitate, i.e. live with unmarried partner (44% in 2019). Dating and marriage are optional, sex is expected.
In the midst of this, dating has changed from more of a courtship, to one night stands, multiple sex partners and relationships solely based on sex. This is the norm for young adults, and it will be even more so for younger generations. Unless we change it.
As God's people, our romantic relationships are to reflect Jesus' relationship with His bride, the Church. Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loves the Church. Women are to respect their husbands. These are simple principles to us, but for those who were raised outside the church and/or in broken homes, godly relationships do not appear feasible nor beneficial. Let's change that. Here are some ways you can help young adults see the value in godly relationships:
Invite young couples to coffee or a meal (especially in your home) and show them how a godly couple lives.
Welcome young adults' questions about dating and marriage. If you don't, they'll seek the world's advice.
Encourage God's plan. Not everyone is meant to be married and not everyone's journeys are the same.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.