by: Dan Jarvis
Day after day, night after night, a machine has been running – for as long as you can remember. Dad used it, Mom fussed over it, even Grandpa has a few stories tinkering with it when he was “your age.” The quality or the products of the machine are never really questioned; as long as it keeps cranking and clanking, you assume all is well. Dad said it best, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Good enough. But what if the machine’s products are defective – nearly 50% of the time? Isn’t a change in order, or a least an honest evaluation? As time-tested as the tradition may be, sometimes machines need a tune-up, or some replacement parts. Sometimes they need a one-way ticket to the scrap yard!
In our culture, dating is the “machine” that produces our marriage relationships. In a way, it is the machine that builds our families. Boy meets girl, gets phone number, gives chocolate, invites to movie, slips ring on finger, watches her frantically prepare for wedding, spends big money on honeymoon and voila – a new family unit is created.
The dating machine sputters and rattles for awhile until a newly-minted marriage emerges on the conveyor belt, complete with cultural and even religious stamps of approval. Yet somehow not all these marriages are making it – in fact, many are in trouble. People who just years ago were proclaiming undying love for each other are litigating, divorcing, fighting and bickering. What’s going on? Is the machine broken?
Romantic relationships are a gift from God; a blessing from Him given to us in the beginning. How that blessing works for us is our decision to make – but it’s available. Amazing joy, fun, fulfillment and security are available in the context of marriage to any who will choose to do it based on the Creator’s blueprint.
There are plenty of shortcuts people have tried. Some set a low standard where God sets a high one. Some say morality doesn’t matter, but God says that morality is the foundation of fulfilling relationships. Some say they can date for fun without getting serious, God says we should carefully guard our hearts so we can give them totally to our future marriage partner. Some say they should live together and “try out” marriage before making a commitment, God (and statistics) say just the opposite.
Whether these are just loose screws in our machinery or there’s a deeper problem at work, we’ll decide later. For now, we know that to date successfully, we can’t rely on the machine we’ve been given. At minimum improvements need to be made, and a tune-up is long overdo.
Join us for part II of this series to discover the right tools for the job of tuning up the old dating machine.