Plan For God’s Sake!
This post and Ron’s previous article entitled “Sex & Engagement” are excerpts from an upcoming book that he is writing on this topic. Check this space for more information as it becomes available.
What we do is for Future Generations
I often say this to young couples in their pre-marital counseling. I say something like, “This is not about you. This is about God and the generations that follow you.”
Our dating, our engagements and our honeymoons are not only for us. Future generations will look to us in the way that we have conducted ourselves and what we have done. What we do now is also for our grandchildren. We do them a favor by planning well.
If we plan well, it will mark our actions.
We ask for pain if we do not think about future generations in our dating, our engagements and our honeymoons. We write a legacy by the way we date, the way we walk out our engagement and how we take our honeymoon. Will our legacy be a good one or a bad one? So much depends on our planning.
God told his people to write their experiences down for future generations. These future generations would learn and encounter his power by this. The Old Testament repeats this admonition, over and over.
We read that the first generation after Joshua rose up and did not know the Lord nor His word in the way Joshua and his generation did. Israel repeated this pattern-generation after generation. Joshua won, following generations in Israel failed. They did not know Godʼs testimonies, nor did they know the Lord himself like Joshua did. Judges 2:10 tells us that “there arose another generation after Joshua who did not know the Lord, nor the work which he had done for Israel.”
They did not know the work which the Lord had done in the past. Ignorance produced problems. Ignorance allowed idols. Ignorance brought pain for Israel.
Plan Engagements Strategically
I EXPERIENCED UNFORESEEN TEMPTATION, THE DAY AFTER I GOT ENGAGED, WHICH I CAN NEVER FORGET
I prayed for a wife for 5 years after I became a believer. It seemed that the more I prayed, the more God gave each of my friends their wives. Finally, I met the woman I loved. We dated from February 1 until July 4, 1975- then we got engaged. I experienced unforeseen temptation, the day after I got engaged, which I can never forget.
Here is the story.
As a seminary student on summer break, I worked at a yacht club, north of Boston during the summer of my engagement in 1975. I was the “house boy”. This meant, I basically oversaw everything that happened in the building and the facilities of the club. For all intents and purposes, I was the “right hand man” to the manager of the club.
The members of the club liked my work and gave me extra hours from 6-9 pm simply sitting in the office, answering the phone and eating whatever I wanted out of the club kitchen (fortunately, it was usually steak and fries). Directly, above my office, a young woman lived, who was a Ph.D. student at an Ivy league school. She taught the kids of the club members how to sail.
She stormed into my office at 6 pm, the night after I got engaged. She held a large bag of groceries, set it down on my desk, and pulled out a wine bottle from the top of the bag.
She said to me;
“I know you get off work at 9 why donʼt you come up to my room afterward letʼs finish this bottle of wine together.”
Someone could have hit me over the head with something and I would not have been more stunned. I wish I had said “Get behind me Satan.” Instead, I replied, “I will have to think about it.” I am embarrassed to have to write that.
I had been engaged 24 hours. I walked out of the office to the end of the pier and simply stared out at the water.
I do not remember praying. I do not remember thinking of any Bible verses.
I stared for 45 minutes in dazed amazement, thinking, “this girl wants to have sex with me.” From somewhere, this thought came, “If I would do this now (and cheat on Judy), I would do this after we get married.”
Because of the distaste of that thought concerning my future, I somehow dodged a bullet and avoided finishing (or starting) the bottle of wine with my Ivy League co-worker that first night after my engagement. For this, I am totally thankful.
Thinking of an unpleasant future effected my behavior that day in July of 1975. That temptation shook me so deeply that it was years before I even shared it with anyone-including Judy. I am not sure, I could have planned for that incident. The distasteful thought of cheating on my fiancé was so abysmal.
So, I managed my engagement without having sex-either with my future wife or with my sailing instructor co-worker. If the statistics are to be believed, everybody is not quite so fortunate.
When I think of how overpowering that sexual temptation was, I think we are called by God to seriously think in advance about all of this–and plan.
PLAN TO AVOID TEMPTATION AND PRAY TO STAY AWAY FROM TEMPTATION
Plan to avoid temptation and pray to stay away from temptation-Jesus told us to do so in the Lordʼs prayer. The apostle Paul told us to flee.
Plan like the future depends on it, ours and our childrenʼs. It does, it really does!
A lengthy engagement and the romantic moment got the better of my friends Julie and Timothy (not their real names). They had been engaged a long time (around a year). 10 weeks before their wedding, they had their first sex together and Julie got pregnant that night. They, properly repented, and have continued on in the ministry and have a wonderful and broad field of service.
So take heart, if you have failed sexually in your engagement. God still wants a bright future for you anyway! He loves you and can pick you up – if you will make room for Him to do it! It will be painful.
My good friends let the present moment take over their future, so God had to rebuild their future for them after a failure.
Engagements need to be thought through, discussed in depth and strategically planned so that the fury of the moment does not take over sexually.
I think the advice of wisdom is to approach your engagement with a well thought out and discussed strategy.
Plan engagements-our future and the future of our children depend on it.
To be brief-The shorter engagement the better!
Martin Luther (one of the brightest lights in church history) got engaged and married on the same day!
Eight thoughts on planning your engagement:
- Set Scriptural boundaries (they are different for different people). 1 Thessalonians 4 states that the standard is “holiness and honor”. Any sexual arousal or genital touching or stimulation is out of bounds. Late night or unplanned dates can be dangerous.
- Get good and participatory counseling (the counselors should meet several times with you).
- Read in preparation for your marriage (1. A money book, 2. A communication book, 3. A sex book 4. IVP published, A Handbook for Engaged couples.)
- Stay in the word, in prayer and in fellowship with other believers
- Be reasonable with wedding and honeymoon expectations
- Be faith filled with wedding and honeymoon expectations. (Remember future generations will watch what we do and follow our lead). God can do miracles!
- Talk, talk, talk–the more the better. (There is an inverse relationship between how physical you are in your engagement relationship and how well you actually get to know each other).
- Get married for Godʼs sake!
Plan your Honeymoon Thoughtfully
Alcohol and honeymoons often create pain. We need to think!
Raymond and Estelle, young honeymooning couple, went to the popular Mexican destination, Cozumel. Ray drank Corona beer. Stella drank Margaritas-a lot of them! The ice was made with local water (live with bacteria, parasites and germs). The fire of romance was extinguished for a few days by the fire of Montezumaʼs Revenge!
Another new bride thought it wise to relax with a glass or two of champagne. She never drank. Having downed a glass or three, her husband exited the shower room on his wedding night, to find his new bride under the bed instead of on it.
FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL NEED YOUR ADVICE, EITHER TO FOLLOW OR TO AVOID
The key theme is to plan and think for Godʼs sake!- and for the sake of your spouse. Future generations will need your advice, either to follow or to avoid. We might as well give them something good to follow (or we might give them something to grimace and laugh at).
My friend, Rich, honeymooned in sunny Thailand. He burned! Not with the passion of romance-but from the fire of the sun with a serious and third degree sunburn. Another of my friends, Jake, honeymooned in a beautiful winter ski resort. After skiing one day, he stood too close with his back to the fireplace in his honeymoon suite for far too long. His wife romantically applied aloes to his second degree burned butt for the rest of their time in the mountains.
I have other friends who decided to fly somewhere exotic in the world. Going somewhere unknown can be counterproductive. Places can look great online and not be so nice when we get there. Culture shock is an unwelcome guest on a honeymoon. Others get to their hotel late the first night and want to fly out on the first flight the next morning. This does not make for an optimum first night together. Another friend and his wife spent the first couple of busy days recovering from the unsettled frenzy of the nuptial events surrounding the wedding date. Exhaustion rather than sexual excitement marked their first days together!
It is also important to think about how one leaves the wedding reception. One of my friends, Kyle, drove 30 miles down the highway to find that his 10 year old brother had been hidden in the backseat of his getaway car. That poor little kid was put out on the side of the road on the side of a west Texas highway. Another pair of friends found themselves driving 60 miles an hour down the wrong side of the highway because of their amorous antics on the way from their reception to the honeymoon hotel.
Letʼs not be moronic!
Speaking of planning: My friend Brad, tells the story of his pastor. He failed to properly plan for his wedding night. How you ask? — by forgetting to book a hotel room. Hard to believe but, nevertheless, true. He and his new wife spent their highly anticipated wedding night together in his Ford Pinto!
Plan – and think (!) for Godʼs sake!
Seven thoughts on Planning your Honeymoon:
- Discuss Expectations thoroughly. Talk about them at length and honor each otherʼs wishes.
- The longer the honeymoon-the better! You are setting a foundation for the rest of your life (and also setting a foundation for following generations)!
- Listen discriminately to honeymoon stories for people who had a good engagement experience and a good honeymoon experience. Do not listen to honeymoon horror stories.
- Remember you only get one honeymoon-Celebrate!!
- Think strategically about the first two or three days. Do not travel far, do get married early in the day, and go easy on the alcohol!
- Do not be foolish leaving the reception and traveling to your honeymoon hotel. (People have endangered their own lives and the lives of others by being foolish and not paying attention to the road while driving.)
- Be practical in your packing: sun tan lotion, birth control, correct clothing, passports, plane tickets etc. etc. Make a list.
- Remember to pray!
Did you enjoy this post?
This post and Ron’s article entitled “Sex & Engagement” are excerpts from an upcoming book that he is writing on this topic. Check this space for more information as it becomes available.