I originally posted this on Jan. 28, 2021, as “A Theology of Dating Your Spouse.”
Back in 2012 on a small Army base in eastern Afghanistan, I read a book with an eye-catching cover by Justin Buzzard titled Date Your Wife. If memory serves me right, it was a good read. But what has stuck with me more than anything is its simple little imperatival title. Since my deployment, my wife Christy and I have made an effort to spend time together in our own version of dating. The most important thing is just to do something. Getting a babysitter and going out might work great for you. For us, we’ve found simple ways to stay home and enjoy time together. A cup of coffee together in the morning. A game of backgammon or Dutch Blitz. (You’ve never played Dutch Blitz?!) On occasion, we’ll treat ourselves by ordering takeout and eating together after our children have had their dinner. These dates don’t have to be fancy. They need not be elaborately-executed grand gestures. The husband’s grand gesture is making the effort to spend time with his wife regularly.
God’s Word says in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
We’re quick to consider the physical aspect of marriage when we read this verse. But as Victor P. Hamilton points out, “Nothing is said yet about any procreating roles that this couple shall assume. The man does not leave one family to start another family. What is being pinpointed is solidarity” (181). God cares about a couple’s solidarity. Husband and wife have each other for support. They depend on one another. They need each other. And dating each other, however that might look, is one way to enjoy and maintain that dependence. It’s one way for the husband to hold fast to his wife. It’s a means of clinging together with the person on whom you depend. When Jesus quotes this same verse in Matt. 19:5 he uses the Greek word κολλάω (“to cling to”) as cited by Matthew (19:5). Mark opts for the similar word προσκολλάω (“to adhere to closely”) in Mark 10:5 as does Paul in Eph. 5:31. In its literal sense, κολλάω describes dust clinging to the feet in Luke (10:11). Outside of Scripture, it’s used to refer to attaching a handle to a cup (Michel 594102). In the Septuagint, the word προσκολλάω is the verb used to describe Ruth’s action of sticking close to the girls working for Boaz while gleaning. It’s also the word the translator chose for the action of Eleazar’s hand clinging to a sword after a long hard day’s work of slaying Philistines. You get the picture.
Husbands, cling to your wives. Wives, be clung to. For the sake of your solidarity as “one flesh,” brew some coffee. Play a game of backgammon. Order some sesame chicken. Or go on a walk. But do it together. Hold fast together to fulfill God’s mandate for your marriage. Dating each other is one way to flesh out this one-flesh relationship God intends.
Photos by Brent and Christy Niedergall.