“God in his wisdom brings together two young people who are sufficiently alike, yet also sufficiently different, that they complement each other, forming one whole, forming a balance wheel for each other as well.” (Rev. Cornelius Hanko)
The covenant of God is unity. It is the unity between the perfectly righteous One and fallen, elect sinners in the cross of Jesus Christ. It is a unity of extreme opposites, the reconciliation of enemies by the atoning blood of the Savior. Precious is that blood and powerful is that work of reconciliation to transform enemies into eternal friends. Fallen man called into covenant friendship with the living God. What blessed unity!
As the covenant is unity, so covenant courtship demands unity. The God who calls his people into unity with him likewise demands unity amongst them. The relationship between two young believers must be established on the basis of their common unity in Christ. This is important because all other basis for unity is false and can only lead to spiritual destruction in any relationship.
Spiritual unity in courtship means that a Reformed believer seeks to find a partner who is of the same mind of Christ as he is (Phil. 2:5). He is deeply attracted to one who shares the same spiritual mindset and convictions that he does. Covenant courtship insists that we be “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2). The common knowledge and love for God grips two believers so strongly that it is often the manner in which godly relationships begin.
Of utmost importance is to understand that spiritual unity means unity in the Word of God. A couple that is to grow in Christ must firstly be grounded in a common conviction concerning what the Word teaches. The cardinal truths of Scripture must be deeply impressed upon their souls to the extent that it is the foundation for a couple’s relationship. Since the confessions of the Reformed church are the expression of unity amongst members, they also ought to be the expression of unity in courtship. As a general rule I believe that covenant relationships must be established upon a common conviction on the 5 points of Calvinism and the Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordrecht). These are strong foundations for unity in a relationship and we may only be deeply thankful to our Reformed fathers for establishing such strong foundations for us today.
A couple who establish their relationship on strong foundations in the Word will enjoy a strong relationship. Like the wise man who built his house upon the rock their relationship will not be easily swayed because of its sure foundations. Consequently they will be able to prosper in godliness and service to God who unites them in the same knowledge of his Word.
When a covenant couple love each other in the Lord, they express spiritual unity. The common knowledge of their sinfulness and salvation in Christ alone provokes them to love each other in the love of God. They seek to out-please each other because they are precious in each other’s eyes. They are brothers and sisters in the household of God and fellow members of the body of Christ. Marriage counselor Dr. Ed Wheat writes that love is always doing the very best for the object of one’s love. Covenant courtship raises this love to a higher level because love is deeply exclusive in courtship, given only to a specific person.
Being spiritually united also implies possessing the same hope for their lives together. As pilgrims on this earth they seek the blessed hope of the new heavens and the new earth together. Their affections are not set on the things in this world, whether it be their studies, careers or achievements, but are set on the things of the heavenly kingdom. Unlike the people of this world they seek for the blessed coming of their Lord and Saviour who has prepared a place for them in glory.
Service to God in the church is another expression of a couple’s spiritual unity. When the Lord brings two individuals together in courtship, he desires their united worship and service to him as a spiritually united couple. Together they learn to function as one in reverential worship and service to God. In their own specific place and calling in the church they serve the Lord God with a profound knowledge of their unity. As they do this they will be a tremendous source of blessing to their brethren in the church. Their loving and happy relationship is an example for other godly couples to follow because Christ is powerfully displayed in it. Such unity in courtship also serves to promote the greater unity of the church to which Christ calls it.
Finally their unity is demonstrated in the couple’s total submission to each other. In heart, mind and soul they surrender to each other as God calls them to. They care for the other’s good more than their own. When they surrender to each other their wills merge as one. This is where they experience the miracle of growing to be one flesh in the Lord. Rev. Cornelius Hanko writes that “their life is a giving to each other, even as God gives himself to us, to the extent that he brings us into his very heart, into his fellowship, into the intimate communion of life with him, reflecting his glory.”
Bound by the same truth, love, service, hope and mutual submission, there is indeed true spiritual unity.
CERC is placed in a unique position in Singapore, where the Reformed community is relatively small in number. Our young people face the temptation of dating professing Christians from other denominations. We tread dangerous waters when we do this because we sacrifice the distinctive edges of the faith that we possess. A relationship built with Christians of other faiths is a compromise to our Reformed faith. Our faith is a biblically distinctive faith, built by our fathers with sweat and blood. The truths that they have delivered to us must be carried on with all their power and sharpness even as we engage in courtship. How else are the Reformed truths of sovereign predestination and particular grace to be passed on to our children and their generations if couples are not doctrinally united? How else is the church to grow as the pillar and ground of the truth if covenant couples are not united in faith?
May the Lord so grant that we strive for spiritual unity in our relationships to the end that they may be powerful expressions of our unity with Christ!