19th December 2016

Rules of Engagement

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
Corinthians 11:2 (KJV)

Until relatively recent times, the engagement period prior to marriage was taken as a serious commitment. In Britain, until 1971 the jilted party could sue the other individual for Breach of Promise in the event of a breakdown in the relationship. A fine was often imposed.

Two thousand years ago, a Jewish couple who became betrothed were considered married, even though no intimate contact was made prior to the wedding. Betrothal could only be broken by legal divorce proceedings, with subsequent disgrace. In Matthew 1:18-19 we read that Joseph wanted to spare Mary that humiliation when he discovered her pregnancy, which showed he was a caring individual. In short, being espoused, betrothed, engaged, was a serious business.

Paul knew this when he wrote to believers in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:2). Jesus Christ, as the husband, has made His commitment by dying so that His bride would have sin-free, white clothing at the altar. Not only that, He has provided a token of the commitment on our accepting Jesus as Saviour, to be the equivalent of an engagement, you might say, through the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22). For her part, the bride (believers then and now), has made a commitment at baptism to be faithful to the bridegroom until that marriage supper revealed in Revelation 19:8-9.

There is no doubt that Jesus Christ will remain faithful during the betrothal period. Our responsibility is to ensure the same faithfulness from our side. That means no cohabiting with sinful practices. No flirting with worldly activities that endanger the purity of the relationship to the future husband. And no actions that remove the spotlessness that resulted from the atonement of Jesus Christ. We will fail at times and that failure is covered by the sacrifice of Jesus. Only Christ living in us can live this perfect life of faithfulness.

The engagement period is a chance for each party to get to know the other better. Our betrothal to Jesus Christ is no different. We get to know our groom through reading the scriptures and following the daily leading of His Spirit. And He gets to know us by our response.

By remaining faithful to our future husband, we who are believers can ensure we will be present at that magnificent marriage supper.

Dear Father, daily we need to remind ourselves of the wonderful promise of marriage to Your Son, and to ensure with Your help that we remain faithful to the commitment we made at baptism. In our future husband’s name, Jesus, we pray.

Study by Philip Stevens


philip StevensAbout the Author:
Philip Stevens attends the Great Baddow Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK (near Chelmsford).

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Great Baddow
United Reformed Church
High Street
Great Baddow

Meeting Time:
Saturday 1pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508-498165
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

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