Self-centeredness and idolatry are the two greatest destroyers of marriage, said one pastor at a panel on marriage and dating in Raleigh, N.C.
J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church, which sponsored the talk, said that being single "is [the] time to go to war against the things that will destroy marriage."
He, along with his wife and three other couples from the church, spoke candidly about how Christians should approach dating and marriage on a video posted on his blog this week. The video featured the "Determine The Relationship Talk" his church held for an audience of nearly 1,000 college students.
Greear emphasized during the talk that the culture approaches the idea of romance the wrong way. He said that people choose a mate base on how they make them feel.
Greear's wife, Veronica, explained this idea in more detail, saying people try to pick a mate based on attractiveness or social status and wealth, but "this leaves you in a mess if you get married on this basis," she said.
She said that single adults need to base the way they look at those of the opposite sex not on who is "the hottest," but rather, "who could be a good friend, and see out of good friendship what arises."
Veronica emphasized that our society has made marriage into an idol. "Society has determined that if you don't have a significant other you're not worth anything."
She told the nearly 1,000 students in the crowd that this is a lie because "God is enough, Jesus is enough. You can be perfectly fulfilled [through Jesus], but you don't see this done very often because it's an uphill battle. A battle of not bowing down at the altar of being married."
Omar King, an assistant pastor at The Summit, was also part of the panel discussion with his wife, LaToya. LaToya King echoed Veronica's thoughts saying that she got married later in life, and that it's important to "cherish the season [of singleness] the Lord has given you. You have your own life and God has his plan for you."
She said it is easy to get blinded by our own wants and desires, but if you do then "you'll miss out on what God is doing in your life right now."
LaToya also noted that oftentimes people think marriage is going to solve all their problems. "That's not necessarily true," she said. "You might think you know what you sign up for, but you don't know."
She said marriage is about growing together and "growing in grace with the Lord," and that doesn't mean it's always going to be easy.
Greear agreed, saying, this idea that marriage will be perfect as long as both parties are compatible is a myth. He explained that marriage of course should have a level of compatibility, but the biggest emphasis should be on cultivating "a gospel-based relationship."
It's about "learning to love within," and that is a different kind of fulfillment and love, he said. All of those on the panel agreed that the greatest human desire is to be known and loved. But Greear said, regardless of relationship status, "In Christ we are fully known and loved."
He told those in the crowd, most of which were unmarried, to use the season of singleness in their life to "ground yourself in the Gospel. The greatest thing you can do now is focus on growing in Christ and seeking him first."