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INTERNET DATING, IS IT REAL;LY DANGEROUS OR NOT?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

  • “On the Internet, you may not actually know who the other person is.”—John, 17.*
  • “People can lie on the Internet. It’s easy to put on a front.”—Matthew, 26.

INTERNET dating continues to grow in popularity worldwide. As the preceding article in this series discussed, Internet romances may blossom quickly, but they often wither when reality sets in.# Still, there is a greater cause for concern than mere disappointment. Dating in this fashion may put you in serious danger—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

How can something that looks so innocent and safe—a computer terminal right in your own home—actually present a danger to you? Some of the dangers are related to an important Bible principle. The apostle Paul wrote: “We wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18) Now, this is not to suggest that it is dishonest to use the Internet or even that using the Internet will make you dishonest. However, we must recognize that other people often are not honest and that as the quotations at the outset of this article illustrate, the Internet seems to make certain kinds of dishonesty easier to practice and harder to detect. And when it comes to romantic attachments, dishonesty presents terrible dangers.

For example, note the kind of dishonesty described in this Bible verse: “I have not sat with men of untruth; and with those who hide what they are I do not come in.” (Psalm 26:4) What is meant by “those who hide what they are”? Some Bible translations here read “hypocrites.” As one reference work notes, this expression can be applied to “those who hide their purposes or designs from others, or who conceal their real character and intentions.” How is such dishonesty practiced on the Internet? And what dangers does this present to those who are looking for romance?

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

A father named Michael was alarmed to learn at a seminar that a large proportion of children disobey parental rules against visiting dangerous Web sites. “What troubled me even more,” he says, “was the shocking realization that pedophiles can use the Internet to lure minors into debased sexual activities.” When youths use the Internet to meet new people, they can be in far more danger than they realize.

Indeed, there have been news reports of adult sexual predators who pretend to be youths as they prowl the Internet seeking to prey on young ones. According to one study, “one-in-five kids who uses the Internet has been solicited for sex.” One newspaper also stated that 1 child in 33 between ages 10 and 17 were “aggressively stalked” through computer conversations.

Some young people have found, to their surprise, that the “youth” with whom they shared a budding romance over the Internet was actually an adult prison inmate. Other young ones have unwittingly become involved with sexual predators. These vile people first “groom” a prospective victim, building trust through friendly on-line chat. In time, though, they seek to meet in person in order to carry out their perverted desires. Tragically, young people have been beaten, raped, and even murdered as a result.

Wicked people do, indeed, “hide what they are” in order to find victims on the Internet. Such predators might remind you of Jesus’ illustration about false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s covering” but in truth are like “ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) Anonymous communication through the Internet can make it almost impossible to see through such deception. “When you talk with someone in person,” says George, quoted earlier, “you may learn something from his facial expressions and the tone of his voice. But on the Internet you don’t get any of that. It’s easy to be fooled.”

Wise, indeed, is the Bible’s advice: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself, but the inexperienced have passed along and must suffer the penalty.” (Proverbs 22:3) Granted, not everyone you meet over the Internet is a dangerous predator. However, there are additional ways in which people “hide what they are.”

The Dangers of Deception and Secrecy

Not surprisingly, a common practice among those seeking romance on the Internet is to exaggerate or invent good traits and to minimize or conceal serious faults. Further, The Washington Post quoted an author as saying: “Internet dating can be bad because people get deceived.” It adds: “People often switch sexes. . . . Income levels, . . . race, criminal records, mental health histories and marital status often remain secret long into relationships.” To warn others, many people have reported painful experiences of being misled by Internet dates.

Will people lie about something as important as their own spiritual side? Sadly, yes—some claim to be true Christians when they are not. Why all the deception? Again, one factor is that the Internet makes it easy. A young man from Ireland named Sean admits: “It’s very easy to pretend to be something you’re not when you’re typing onto a computer screen.”

Many people take all this deception lightly, rationalizing that it is only natural to lie a little bit when embarking on a romance. Remember, though, that God hates lying. (Proverbs 6:16-19) And for good reason. Much of the pain and misery in this world stems from lying. (John 8:44) Dishonesty is the worst possible basis for any relationship, especially one that is intended to lead to a lifelong union. Worse, dishonesty is a spiritual danger; it damages the liar’s relationship with Jehovah God.

Sadly, some young people have fallen into another sort of dishonesty. They have pursued relationships using the Internet and have hidden the fact from their parents. For example, the parents of a teenage son were startled one day when a young woman who did not share the family’s Christian beliefs arrived unexpectedly at their home after traveling over 1,000 miles [1,500 km]. Their son had been dating her on-line for six months, but they knew nothing about her existence until that moment!

“How could this happen?” the parents asked. They thought, ‘Our son could not possibly have fallen for someone whom he had never met in person.’ In fact, their son had been deceiving them—in effect, hiding what he really was. Would you not agree that such deceptions are a poor foundation for a courtship?

Choosing the Real Over the Virtual

Internet dating may present other dangers. In some cases, an on-line friend can become more real than the people whom you see each day. Family, friends, and responsibilities become secondary. A young woman named Monika, in Austria, says: “I started to neglect important relationships because I spent much time on the computer with people I met on-line.” Troubled by this insight, she decided to quit using the Internet that way.

A young couple meeting face-to-face

When it comes to courtship, there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face

Of course, many are able to make balanced use of the Internet. Communication by E-mail can be a very helpful way to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Surely you would agree, though, that nothing is quite the same as face-to-face contact. If you are “past the bloom of youth”—the time when sexual desires are at their peak—and are interested in marriage, you are facing one of the most important choices you will make in your life. (1 Corinthians 7:36) By all means, make a responsible decision.

The Bible advises: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) Rather than believing all that is written to you by someone you have never met, consider your steps carefully. It is far wiser to initiate meeting and making friends in person. Find out if you are truly compatible, especially when it comes to your spiritual goals and values. Such a courtship can lead to a truly happy marriage.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO FALL INTO THE HAND OF INTO FRAUDSTERS, SO THAT YOU DO NOT BREAK YOUR HEART WITH INFATUATED LOVE.

DATING DANGERS ON THE INTERNET, HOW TO AVOID THEM?


The internet is a very useful tool for various purposes, and so can this useful tool post a danger in a person, yes it can. how? read through this page.

IN A remote village in India, a farmer checks the price of soybeans in Chicago, U.S.A., to determine the best time to sell his crop. At the same moment, a pensioner smiles as she reads an E-mail from her grandson, a traveler sees the weather forecast at his destination, and a mother finds helpful material for her child’s homework—all through the Internet. With an estimated 600 million people connected worldwide, the Internet revolution has transformed the way the world communicates and does business.

Especially has the younger generation, sometimes called the Cyber Generation, embraced the Internet. Increasingly, students use it to replace the library as a primary source of news and research. “In a nutshell, these students are . . . virtually 100 percent connected,” said Deanna L. Tillisch, director of a study involving college seniors in the United States. Yes, the Internet is a valuable tool in our modern society.

Generally, the more powerful a tool is, the more dangerous it can be. A gas-powered chain saw can accomplish far more than a handsaw; yet, it must be used carefully. The Internet is likewise extremely powerful and useful, but we must exercise caution when using it, as it also poses serious dangers. Concern about these dangers has caused more than 40 member nations of the Council of Europe to draft an international treaty aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime.

Why all the concern? What are some of the dangers that are of particular concern to Christians? Should they cause you to avoid using the Internet? What guidance does the Bible provide?

Need for Caution

Centuries ago, the Bible warned of dangers posed by evil men described as “master[s] at evil ideas” and “scheming to do bad.” (Proverbs 24:8) The prophet Jeremiah described them as “wicked men” whose “houses are full of deception.” Like birdcatchers, they “set a ruinous trap” to catch men and “gain riches.” (Jeremiah 5:26, 27) Technology has provided modern-day “wicked men” with deceptive traps of new dimensions. Let us consider some schemes that can present grave dangers for Christians.

Internet pornography is a 2.5-billion-dollar-a-year industry. The number of pornographic Web pages has grown at the explosive rate of nearly 1,800 percent over the past five years. It is estimated that there are currently over 260 million of such pages, and the number continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. “Pornography is becoming so prevalent on the Internet that it is now difficult to avoid unwanted exposure, and this makes cybersex addiction more likely,” said Dr. Kimberly S. Young, executive director of the Center for On-Line Addiction.

The Bible tells us that “each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire.” (James 1:14) Viewing anyone with a computer as a potential victim, peddlers of pornography employ a variety of tactics to appeal to each one’s “own desire,” that is, “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes.” (1 John 2:16) Their intent is to entice—or as Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words explains, “to lure by a bait”—unsuspecting Internet users whom they “try to seduce.”—Proverbs 1:10.

Computer buttons

STAY CLEAR OF PORNOGRAPHY!

“Let fornication and uncleanness of every sort or greediness not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people.”—Ephesians 5:3.

“Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite, hurtful desire, and covetousness.”—Colossians 3:5.

“This is what God wills, . . . that each one of you should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in covetous sexual appetite such as also those nations have which do not know God.”—1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.

Like wicked men in Bible times, pornographers frequently employ deception. It is estimated that as part of an aggressive effort to attract new customers, some two billion pornographic E-mails are sent each day. Often the unsolicited E-mails have subject lines that make them appear harmless. However, opening one can launch a barrage of immoral images that is difficult to stop. Requests to be removed from the mailing list may result in a deluge of further unsolicited pornographic messages.

A birdcatcher carefully places seeds along a path. An unsuspecting bird pecks at one tasty seed after another until snap! the trap is sprung. Similarly, curiosity leads some to nibble at sexually stimulating imagery. And the viewers hope that no one is watching them. Finding it arousing, some return to this exciting and powerful imagery with increasing frequency. Shame and guilt may plague them. In time, what was once shocking becomes ordinary. For those inclined to view pornography, the Internet is like fertilizer that causes desires rapidly to grow into sinful actions. (James 1:15) Eventually such individuals may develop “a ‘dark side’ whose core is anti-social lust devoid of most values,” reports Dr. Victor Cline, a clinical psychologist who has treated hundreds of patients who were caught in this snare.

The Dangers of Chat Rooms

Internet chat rooms can be time wasters and are increasingly associated with relationship breakdowns. Expressing frustration over the amount of time his wife spends on-line, one man wrote: “When she gets in from work, the PC goes on and it can be five or more hours before she logs off. Our marriage is suffering as a result.” Yes, time spent on the Internet is time spent away from your mate and family.

Angela Sibson, chief executive of the marriage guidance service Relate, says that the Internet “is a gateway to other relationships. They can be very potent and break up existing relationships.” What starts as a friendly on-line conversation in a chat room can quickly become something more serious. Intent on engaging in immoral relations, those “cunning of heart” use “smoothness of the tongue” to tell potential victims what they want to hear. (Proverbs 6:24; 7:10) Nicola, a 26-year-old victim from the United Kingdom, explains: “It was like a love bombardment. He kept saying how wonderful I was and I fell for it.” Dr. Al Cooper, editor of Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians, says that we need to “warn people about the slippery slope that starts with online flirting and too often ends in divorce.”

Children are even more vulnerable to exploitation and harm by “computer-sex offenders.” Using “crookedness of speech” and “deviousness of lips,” pedophiles target inexperienced children. (Proverbs 4:24; 7:7) Engaging in a practice known as grooming, they shower the child with attention, affection, and kindness to make the youngster feel special. They seem to know everything a child is interested in, including that one’s favorite music and hobbies. Minor problems at home are accentuated in order to drive a wedge between the child and his or her family. To fulfill their evil desires, predators may even send their target victim a ticket to travel cross-country. The results are frightening.

Bible Principles Can Safeguard You

After assessing the dangers, some people have concluded that it is better for them to avoid using the Internet altogether. However, it must be acknowledged that only a small percentage of sites on the Internet pose a danger and that most users have not experienced serious problems.

Thankfully, the Scriptures provide guidance to “safeguard” us from danger. We are encouraged to acquire knowledge, wisdom, and thinking ability. Such qualities will ‘keep guard over us’ to ‘deliver us from the bad way.’ (Proverbs 2:10-12) “But wisdom itself—from where does it come?” asked God’s ancient servant Job. The answer? “The fear of Jehovah—that is wisdom.”—Job 28:20, 28.

“The fear of Jehovah,” which “means the hating of bad,” is the basis for developing godly attributes. (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 9:10) Love and reverence for God, along with a healthy respect for his power and authority, result in our hating and avoiding the bad things he hates. Clear thinking ability, coupled with godly knowledge, helps us recognize dangers that can poison our mind, heart, and spirituality. We come to abhor selfish and greedy attitudes that can wreck our family and destroy our relationship with Jehovah.

So if you use the Internet, be aware of the dangers. Be resolved to keep God’s commandments, and avoid flirting with trouble. (1 Chronicles 28:7) Then, if Internet dangers confront you, you will wisely flee from them.—1 Corinthians 6:18.

Computer buttons

BEWARE OF INTERNET CHAT ROOMS!

A young girl visiting a chat room on the Internet

A female police detective specializing in Internet crime invited Awake! to see the dangers of Internet chat rooms. She entered a chat room, posing as a 14-year-old girl. After just a few seconds, a number of individuals made contact. The strangers asked such questions as: “Where are you from?” “Are you a girl or a boy?” “Can we talk?” Several responses were from suspected sexual predators whom the police were tracking. That shows how easily a pedophile can get into a chat room with your child!

Some parents think that children are safe when using chat rooms because their conversations are accessible by everyone in the chat room while the discussion is taking place. However, once in a chat room, you can be invited to have a one-on-one conversation. Referring to this practice, sometimes called whispering, the United Kingdom’s Internet Taskforce on Child Protection warns: “This is like stepping out of a party full of people into a private room and having a separate conversation with a stranger.”

It is also important for parents to understand that most pedophiles want to do more than chat with a child. A paper prepared by the Internet Crime Forum reports: “Contact initiated in chat rooms may well be developed through other media, such as email and (mobile) phone.” A report from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation states: “While talking to a child victim on-line is a thrill for a computer-sex offender, it can be very cumbersome. Most want to talk to the children on the telephone. They often engage in ‘phone sex’ with the children and often seek to set up an actual meeting for real sex.”

To accomplish this, computer-sex offenders will give out their phone number. Should your child call them, caller ID will reveal the child’s phone number. Other predators have toll-free numbers or tell the child to call collect. Some have even sent the child a cell phone. Offenders may also send letters, photographs, and gifts.

Children are not the only ones succumbing to the dangers of chat rooms. Using smooth speech to tell women what they wanted to hear, one man recently made six women in the United Kingdom fall in love with him at the same time. One of the victims, Cheryl, an attractive 27-year-old postgraduate student, said: “I just can’t explain it now. It became so intense it took over my whole life.”

“Women find cyberspace comforting because they are not being judged by their looks,” said Jenny Madden, the founder of Women in Cyberspace. “But they also leave themselves very open to manipulation because there is a tendency, in chat rooms particularly, to give away a lot about yourself very quickly.”

A man typing on a computer

“All I have to do is turn on my computer and I have thousands of women to choose from,” said one man questioned for a University of Florida research study conducted by Beatriz Avila Mileham. She stated: “The internet will soon become the most common form of infidelity, if it isn’t already.” “We are hearing from therapists around the country reporting online sexual activity to be a major cause of marital problems,” said Dr. Al Cooper, editor of the book Sex and the Internet: A Guidebook for Clinicians.

In view of these sobering facts, it is wise to take sensible precautions when using the Internet. Talk to your children, and teach them how to protect themselves from danger. Equipped with proper knowledge, you can avoid the dangers of the Internet.—Ecclesiastes 7:12.

HOW TO BUILD A HAPPY MARRIAGE

The originator of marriage Arrangement, Jehovah God, instituted marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman. Says Genesis 2:18, 22-24: “Jehovah God went on to say: ‘It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.’ And Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and to bring her to the man. Then the man said: ‘This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one will be called Woman, because from man this one was taken.’ That is why a man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.”

True, building a lasting, happy marriage is not easy, but it is certainly possible. Many couples have been happily married for 50, 60, or more years. How do they do it? They work at their marriage continually and unselfishly to “gain the approval” of their mate. (1 Corinthians 7:33, 34) That takes work. If you are willing to invest the time and effort, you too can build a happy marriage, one that will last a long time.

A married couple reading the Bible together

Follow God’s blueprint for marriage, found in the Bible

Follow the Blueprint Carefully

A trustworthy contractor would never start construction without first consulting a drawing. Similarly, we cannot succeed in building a happy marriage without carefully consulting God’s blueprint for the project. It is found in the pages of God’s Word. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial . . . for setting things straight,” wrote the apostle Paul.—2 Timothy 3:16.

Husbands and wives can learn a great deal about marriage by considering how Jesus dealt with his disciples. How so? In the Bible the relationship between Jesus and those who will rule with him in heaven is likened to that between a man and his wife. (2 Corinthians 11:2) Jesus remained loyal to his associates, even during the most turbulent times. “He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1) As a compassionate leader, Jesus always took into consideration the limitations and frailties of his followers. He never demanded of them more than they were able to do or give.—John 16:12.

Even when disappointed by his closest friends, Jesus remained gentle. He did not berate them, but, rather, with godly humility and kindness, he tried to readjust them. (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 14:34-38; John 13:5-17) Thus, if you examine closely the way Jesus tenderly treated his followers and the way they returned that expression of love to him, you will learn practical lessons on building a happy marriage.—1 Peter 2:21.

A man laying a block foundation

Make unselfish love and loyalty your solid foundation

Build on a Solid Foundation

Inevitably, stormlike trials will lash at the foundation of your marriage. This will test the underpinnings of your relationship with your spouse. However, the sturdiest foundation on which to build a happy marriage is loyal commitment based on love. Jesus highlighted the importance of commitment when he said: “No one should separate a couple that God has joined together.” (Matthew 19:6, Contemporary English Version) The expression “no one” would include the man and his wife, who have vowed to remain faithful to each other.

Some may view commitment as burdensome, its demands and costs being too great. Today convenience usually wins out over the sacrifice involved in being committed to someone.

What can sustain marital commitment? The apostle Paul wrote: “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:28, 29) In part, then, being “joined together” means that you feel as concerned about the welfare of your mate as you do about your own. Married people need to shift their thinking from “mine” to “ours,” from “me” to “we.”

Successfully weathering stormy attacks on your marriage will make you wise. Such acquired wisdom can result in happiness. “Happy is the man that has found wisdom,” notes Proverbs 3:13.

Use Fireproof Materials

A married couple praying together

Develop spiritual qualities that can withstand fiery tests

For a house to last and be safe, it must be well built. Therefore, resolve to build your marriage with an eye to a lasting future. Use durable materials, the kind that can withstand fiery tests of your loyalty. Value as gold such precious qualities as godly wisdom, generosity, discernment, fear of God, warmth, loving appreciation for God’s laws, and genuine faith.

Happiness and contentment in marriage are not built on material possessions or secular advancement. They are built in the heart and mind, and these traits are strengthened by the truths from the Word of God. The exhortation “Let each one keep watching how he is building” can also be applied to marriage.—1 Corinthians 3:10.

When Problems Arise

A married couple talking

A good marriage needs to be maintained

For a building to stand the test of time, a good maintenance program is necessary. When husband and wife regularly support each other in their goals and when they show honor and respect for each other, their marriage is kept strong. Selfishness does not take root, and anger is kept under control.

Deep, unresolved anger and frustration can kill love and affection in a marriage. The apostle Paul counseled men: “You husbands, keep on loving your wives and do not be bitterly angry with them.” (Colossians 3:19) The same principle applies to wives. When spouses strive to be considerate, kind, and understanding, they contribute to their happiness and contentment. Avoiding ill-tempered and confrontational behavior helps prevent conflict when difficulties do arise. “Become kind to one another,” urged Paul, “tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another.”—Ephesians 4:32.

What if feelings of powerlessness, exasperation, or being underappreciated cause annoyance? In a calm manner, state clearly to your mate the reason for your concern. However, it may be best to let love cover over minor matters.—1 Peter 4:8.

One husband, who has experienced several trials during his marriage of 35 years, says that no matter how angry you may feel toward your mate, you should “never stop talking.” He wisely adds, “Don’t ever stop loving.”

You Can Build a Happy Marriage!

True, building a happy marriage is not easy. However, when marriage mates are determined to work hard to include God in their union, happiness and security will result. Thus, watch closely the spiritual dimension in your family; have a rock-solid commitment to marriage. And remember that according to the words of Jesus, neither the husband nor the wife receives all the credit for a happy marriage. Rather, the credit primarily goes to the Originator of marriage, Jehovah God. “What God has yoked together let no man put apart.”—Matthew 19:6.

What Can Help You to
Build a Happy Marriage?

WHAT IS NEEDED TO MAKE MARRIAGE SUCCESSFUL



Would you choose to dive into a river without first learning to swim? Such a foolish act could be harmful—even deadly. Think, though, of how many people jump into marriage with little awareness of how to take on the responsibilities involved.

JESUS said: "Who of you that wants to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense, to see if he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28) What is true of building a tower is also true of building a marriage. Those who want to get married should carefully count the cost of marriage to make sure they can meet the demands.
A Look at Marriage

Having a mate with whom to share life's joys and sorrows is truly a blessing. Marriage can fill a void caused by loneliness or despair. It can satisfy our inborn craving for love, companionship, and intimacy. With good reason, God said after creating Adam: "It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him."—Genesis 2:18; 24:67; 1 Corinthians 7:9.
Couple in a rowboat

Yes, being married can solve some problems. But it will introduce some new ones too. Why? Because marriage is the blending of two distinct personalities that are perhaps compatible but hardly identical. Hence, even well-matched couples will experience occasional conflict. The Christian apostle Paul wrote that those who marry will have "tribulation in their flesh"—or as The New English Bible renders it, "pain and grief in this bodily life."—1 Corinthians 7:28.

Was Paul being pessimistic? Not at all! He was simply urging those considering marriage to be realists. The euphoric feeling of being attracted to someone is not an accurate gauge of what married life will be like in the months and years following the wedding day. Each marriage has its own unique challenges and problems. The question is not whether they will arise but how to face them when they do.

Problems give a husband and wife opportunity to show the genuineness of their love for each other. To illustrate: A cruise ship may seem majestic as it sits idle, moored at a pier. Its true seaworthiness, however, is proved at sea—perhaps even amid the crashing waves of a storm. Similarly, the strength of a marriage bond is not solely defined during peaceful moments of romantic calm. At times, it is proved under trialsome circumstances in which a couple weathers storms of adversity.
"The Best Description of Love I've Ever Read"

"How do you know if you're really in love?" writes Dr. Kevin Leman. "There's an ancient book that contains a description of love. The book is nearly two thousand years old, but it is still the best description of love I've ever read."

Dr. Leman was referring to the Christian apostle Paul's words found in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

"Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."

To do so, a married couple needs commitment, for God purposed that a man would "stick to his wife" and that the two would "become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) The idea of commitment frightens many people today. Yet, it is only reasonable that two people who truly love each other will want to make a solemn promise to stay together. Commitment accords the marriage dignity. It provides a basis for confidence that, come what may, a husband and wife will support each other.* If you are not ready for such a commitment, you are not really ready for marriage. (Compare Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5.) Even those who are already married may need to enhance their appreciation of how vital commitment is to an enduring marriage.


Older married couple

Even those long married can strengthen their marriage bonds

A Look at Yourself

No doubt you can list the qualities you would want in a mate. It is much more difficult, however, to look at yourself to determine how you can contribute to a marriage. Self-scrutiny is vital, both before and after taking the vows of wedlock. For example, ask yourself the following questions.

• Am I willing to make a lifelong commitment to my mate?—Matthew 19:6.

In the days of the Bible prophet Malachi, many husbands left their mates, perhaps to marry younger women. Jehovah said that his altar was covered with the tears of the abandoned wives, and he condemned men who thus "dealt treacherously" with their mates.—Malachi 2:13-16.

• If I am thinking about getting married, am I past the youthful age when sexual feelings run quite strong and can distort good judgment?—1 Corinthians 7:36.

"It is very risky to get married too young," says Nikki, who was 22 when she married. She cautions: "Your feelings, goals, and tastes will continue to change from the time you are in your late teens until you are in your mid-to-late 20's." Of course, readiness for marriage cannot be measured by age alone. Nevertheless, marrying when one is not past the youthful stage when sexual feelings are new and especially strong can distort one's thinking and blind one to potential problems.

• What traits do I have that will help me contribute to a successful marriage?—Galatians 5:22, 23.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians: "Clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering." (Colossians 3:12) This counsel is appropriate for those who are contemplating marriage as well as for those who are already married.

• Do I have the maturity needed to support a mate through difficult times?—Galatians 6:2.

"When problems occur," says one doctor, "the tendency is to blame the mate. Who is to blame is not what is most important. Rather, it is how both husband and wife can cooperate to improve the marital relationship." The words of wise King Solomon apply to married couples. "Two are better than one," he wrote, "for if one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. But how will it be with just the one who falls when there is not another to raise him up?"—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.

• Am I generally cheerful and optimistic, or am I predominantly gloomy and negative?—Proverbs 15:15.

A negative person views each day as bad. Marriage does not miraculously change this attitude! A single person—man or woman—who is largely critical or pessimistic will simply become a married person who is just as critical or pessimistic. Such a negative outlook can put a terrible strain on a marriage.—Compare Proverbs 21:9.

• Do I keep calm under pressure, or do I give in to uncontrolled expressions of rage?—Galatians 5:19, 20.

Christians are commanded to be "slow about wrath." (James 1:19) Before marriage and during marriage, a man or a woman should cultivate the ability to live by this counsel: "Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state."—Ephesians 4:26.
A Look at Your Prospective Partner

"The shrewd one considers his steps," states a Bible proverb. (Proverbs 14:15) This is certainly true when selecting a marriage mate. Choosing a marriage mate is one of the most important decisions a man or woman will ever make. Yet, it has been observed that many people spend more time deciding which car to buy or which school to attend than which person to marry.

In the Christian congregation, those who are entrusted with responsibility are "tested as to fitness first." (1 Timothy 3:10) If you are thinking about getting married, you will want to be sure of the "fitness" of the other person. Consider, for example, the following questions. Though they are presented from the standpoint of a woman, many of the principles also apply to a man. And even those who are married can beneficially consider these points.

• What kind of reputation does he have?—Philippians 2:19-22.

Proverbs 31:23 describes a husband who is "known in the gates, when he sits down with the older men of the land." The older men of the city sat at the city gates to render judgment. So, evidently, he had a position of public trust. The way a man is viewed by others tells something about his reputation. If applicable, consider also the way he is viewed by those under his authority. This may indicate how you, as his mate, will in time come to view him.—Compare 1 Samuel 25:3, 23-25.

• What kind of morals does he have?

Godly wisdom is "first of all chaste." (James 3:17) Is your prospective mate more interested in his own sexual gratification than in his and your standing before God? If he is not putting forth an effort to live by God's moral standards now, what basis is there for believing that he will do so after marriage?—Genesis 39:7-12.

• How does he treat me?—Ephesians 5:28, 29.

The Bible book of Proverbs tells of a husband who "has put trust" in his wife. Moreover, "he praises her." (Proverbs 31:11, 28) He is not obsessively jealous, nor is he unreasonable in his expectations. James wrote that the wisdom from above is "peaceable, reasonable, . . . full of mercy and good fruits."—James 3:17.

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