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The system today's young men and women have inherited for finding and marrying a future spouse leaves a lot to be desired.

We often hear complaints from readers about the confusion, hurt and sexual sin they've encountered despite their best intentions.

But God had much more in mind with romance than orgasms or even procreation, and so should we. When people in the world are expecting less and less of each other in dating, God isn’t.

So, as singles we have to work harder in our not-yet-married relationships to preserve what marriage ought to picture and provide.

Nothing in my life and faith has been more confusing and spiritually hazardous than my pursuit of marriage. Maybe you’ve wanted the relationship or liked the guy or girl, and you’ve never had the chance.

From far too young, I longed for the affection, safety, and intimacy I anticipated with a wife. I experimented too much with our hearts and allowed things to go too far. And now my singleness is a regular reminder that I messed up, missed opportunities, or did it wrong. Maybe all the suggestions and advice you’ve collected has become a confusing mess of good-intentioned contradictions and ambiguity.

You will not truly love anyone else if you do not love God first and most.

And no one will truly love you if they do not love God more than they love you.

The first step in dating should always be the step of faith we take toward our Lord, Savior, and greatest Treasure, King Jesus.

He captures our into his goal and plan for our life: to make disciples who love him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Will we trust him, even when we want something else for ourselves?

Sadly, my immature and unhealthy desires predictably did much more harm than good. Maybe dating has been hard for you too, for these reasons or others. It’s enough to leave you like an eight-year-old, asking, “Mom, where do weddings come from?

” The vision of marriage we see in God’s word — the beautiful, radical display of God’s infinite, persevering love for sinners — makes it worth it to date, and date well.

It is fascinating to see how such a small change can be so empowering.