Helping couples navigate dating to lifelong marriage Print
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:38 AM America/New_York

Pastor Matt Chandler examines the wisdom of Solomon as a biblical model for relationships

TheMinglingOfSoulsPastor Matt Chandler is continually asked about how dating should work. The questions often reveal a desire for godly relationships, he says, but also a lack of wisdom and practical knowledge. His own courtship with his wife suffered early on, he admits, because he didn’t have a full biblical understanding of conflict.

Chandler leads The Village Church, a multi-campus congregation in Dallas with attendance topping 10,000. He is president of Acts 29, a network of churches planting churches, and author of several books, including The Explicit Gospel and To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain, both written with Jared C. Wilson.

Chandler and Wilson have partnered again on a book that David C Cook releases Jan. 1. The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage and Redemption is for singles and marrieds and relies on the wisdom in the Old Testament’s Song of Songs.

Solomon’s love story shows a couple pursuing romance, yet refraining from physical intimacy until marriage, then wholly celebrating their union and nurturing their relationship into old age. It is, Chandler asserts, a biblical model pointing to the hope of the gospel.

In The Mingling of Souls, Chandler states that love, marriage and sex were created and designed by God for His glory and our good.

“In a gospel-centered marriage, when two souls are mingled together with the Holy Spirit’s leading, we find confirmation after confirmation that grace is true, that grace is real—that we can be really, truly, deeply known and at the same time really, truly, deeply loved.”

Chandler warns against worldly approaches to dating, which, he says, seek to hide one’s true self and stir up love too soon. He believes “there are few things as damaging to the human soul as casual sexual encounters.”

Often, Chandler reminds readers that the God-given desire for physical intimacy is not inherently bad. However, he adds: “It must be held in check until marriage.”

He defines courtship as the stage where couples consider weightier issues. The point, he writes, is to determine “if the attraction is evidencing real love, the kind of selfless love the Bible calls married couples to embrace.” He stresses judging a prospective spouse’s character with help from godly counsel. Chandler also gives suggestions for conflict resolution, emphasizing forgiveness and the wisdom of responding rather than reacting.

Chandler speaks against all kinds of potentially abusive relationships—physical, verbal, sexual and spiritual—advising victims to “get out and get help.”

The final chapter of the book discusses fueling a healthy lifelong marriage. Chandler acknowledges that marriage often seems mysterious, yet adds: “What a great reassurance it is to know that God … knows exactly what he’s doing.”

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