Taking a Test Drive

While burning calories at the gym, I flipped the channel to a cooking show to pass the time. I tuned in just in time to hear some famous chefs sum up the popular beliefs on sex and living together:

I know some people who didn’t have sex before marriage. I know this is technically, quote, not the right thing to do, unquote. What if you get married and the sex is terrible? And how will you know the habits of someone unless you live with them first?

It all sounds so logical. After all, isn’t it common sense to take a test drive before you buy a car? And isn’t it wise to research everything about a profession before you commit thousands of dollars to studying it?

The problem is, that’s not what God says in his Word. God says that sex and the building of a family together are reserved for those who make the commitment to marry (Genesis 2:24; I Corinthians 6:18–20; 7:1–5).

I feel for my sons and other young adults today trying to live up to the standards of God’s Word. Our society is making it very hard. But I too have to fight this philosophy. It is too easy to use their logic to justify my struggles and pain. For, let me be honest, if I had followed the advice of these chefs and taken my husband for a “test drive,” we most likely would not be married today.

Now, first of all, since when did chefs become experts on sex and marriage? God alone is the expert, for he created male and female, sex and marriage. He has good reasons for putting the boundaries where he does. For God means marriage to be so much more than great sex and compatible lifestyles.

Commitment and exclusivity has provided the security I need to be vulnerable, open, intimate and real. Commitment gives us the motivation to work out our differences. Commitment reminds me that even when I feel rejected or unloved, I will not be abandoned.

There are other ways to test out a potential partner and develop intimacy without living together or having sex. Much research can be conducted by observation, asking questions, looking at family history and culture, volunteering together and praying together. Remember, even those who live together can ignore the red flags, fail to listen to the advice of friends or be so enamored by the sex that other dysfunctional signs are ignored.

After all, don’t we all wish we had the 20/20 vision of hindsight? Have we not all said “If I had know this, I wouldn’t have done this or that”? But if we could see into the future, would we ever take the plunge? And does not every relationship have some area of challenge? Yes, it may turn out that the sex is unsatisfactory or your partner may leave his clothes on the floor. For the truth is, marriage is a risk. (But is it not just as much a risk to reject someone after the “test drive” and hope that another better “test subject” will come along?)

But if I had listened to the “wisdom” of these chefs and not taken the risk, I would have missed out on so much. I would not have my two amazing sons. I would not have learned grace and mercy for those who suffer. I would not have the deep friendship I enjoy with my spouse. I would not have learned true intimacy, which is so much more than mere sex and takes years to develop. I would not have experienced self-giving love that serves me even when the romantic feelings aren’t there. I would not have learned what a Blessed Alliance means.

As for the leading officials [chefs?] I admired so much—their troubles multiply, they desire other gods. I will not pour out drink offerings of blood to their gods, nor will I make vows in the name of their gods.

Psalm 16:4

Like the Psalmist, I will not admire the teachings of the world. I will not give my heart and lifeblood to their ways. I will not desire and vow to have what they offer—cheap sex and pleasure for a moment without intimacy and commitment for a lifetime. I will instead follow God’s path of life to experience stability, absolute joy and sheer delight (Psalm 16:5, 11).

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