Monday, 19 November 2012 11:38

Should dating or engaged couples travel together...

Written by  Rev. Ho Ming Tsui
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Should dating or engaged couples travel together & stay in one room, just to save money?


Rev. Dr. Ho Ming Tsui

English Pastor of Richmond Hill Christian Community Church

It's a scenario that I've encountered more-often-than-not: A young couple has been dating for a while, and they've started earning their own money. They've been busy with work, social activities and even church commitments and it's time to enjoy some vacation time. But they face a dilemma: How do they travel together? Is it even appropriate? Is it a sin? Can we do it if we only stay in the same room and not have sex?

As a young adult pastor, I am frequently asked questions like these. And my answer is always the same: The marital bed or room is reserved for people who are married. Marriage is an exclusive and permanent commitment that is both sacred and special (Ephesians 5:22-33), and therefore it should not be taken lightly. If you are not spiritually, emotionally, financially united, then you shouldn't be physically united.

That means you should never share a room together if you aren't married. Even if you refrain from actual intercourse, or sleep in separate beds, you should not room together by yourselves because it's a matter of maintaining purity. Consider this: Would you allow another man sleep next to your girlfriend or wife? Of course not. No matter how they defend or justify it, you would maintain that is is inappropriate. And that's what I'm trying to get at: It's not as much about what kind of physically boundaries we can cross as much as it is about what are we saying about the marriage commitment when we stay in one room. When you stay in a room together before marriage, you are attempting to enjoy the benefits of marriage without the commitment of marriage. This is both dishonoring to God and harmful to your long-term relationship.

Of secondary importance is that is that by staying together before marriage, you become a stumbling block to others (especially younger believers). Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13:

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall."

The Corinthians lived in a pluralistic, multi-faith society (much like North America today), and one of the things they struggled with was this issue of what to do with old religious practices if one became a Christian. In Paul’s day, the big issue was meat sacrificed to idols by pagan religions.  Some of these people that participated in these rituals became Christians, and they became conflicted over whether or not to continue to this meat.  Some Christians said that it didn’t matter because it was just meat, while others believed that they should refrain as it was essentially “demon meat.”

What does Paul teach them? He says that we must change the focus from ourselves to others.

The church in the West needs to recover a communal view of life. When it comes to staying together in a room, besides the biblical reasons not to engage in such an activity, you should ask yourself the question, “What about your friend?” What’s more important than freedom? It’s friendship. Consider how this would be viewed by others in your community, your friends, especially new Christians: What would you be saying about the sacredness and specialness of marriage? In other words, God calls us to give away our freedom for the sake of others. One of the biggest problems we have in Canada is the issue of rights. We love to declare that we have the right to do something and therefore we will do it. We have become a society so bent on our rights that we only care about how things feel to us and how they can affect us.

Friends, If you are want to travel with your partner, go with others. Girls room with girls and boys with boys. This solves all sorts of logistical issues as well as provides a positive example of Christian dating for others. It is a good way to keep each other accountable, and therefore brings God glory. If you cannot travel with a group of friends, book a hostel where you can sleep separately. You can enjoy sightseeing in the day, and at night, you can rest knowing that you are doing the right thing.

To ground this in reality, let me give you an example. I recently talked to an engaged couple who had to travel together for a portion of their trip. As their friend, it wasn’t easy for me to write them an e-mail explaining the biblical reasons of staying in separate rooms until they were married two months later. But as their pastor, I did so anyway, hoping for the best. The couple responded within twenty-four hours. They thanked me for watching out for them, and agreed to pay more for two rooms, so they could honor God, their future marriage and our church community. I am proud of this couple for choosing to be inconvenienced for the sake of their purity and their church.

Marriage is the most important earthly relationship you will ever have. Don’t ruin it by staying together before marriage. Keep yourself pure by setting boundaries and sticking by them despite what others may think or do. If you do this, I am certain God will honor your marriage in more ways that you can imagine because you first honored him. “…Those who honor me I will honor…” (1 Sam. 2:30).

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 April 2020 11:32

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