The Appropriate Time

SDA JournalDevotional


Scripture: To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

Observation:  Season. Literally, “an appointed time,” from a root meaning “to determine,” “to decree.” A season is therefore not merely a convenient time, but a decreed time. God has ordained certain seasons for the various natural phenomena (see Lam. 3:37; cf. James 4:15).
Time. From a common Hebrew word for “time,” often signifying the beginning of a period of time.
Purpose. From a Hebrew word whose root means “to take delight in,” “to have pleasure in.” The noun, therefore, basically means, “that in which one takes delight,” a vocation or an avocation. This same noun is translated “pleasure” in Isa. 58:3, 13; Mal. 1:10, and “delight” in Ps. 1:2; 16:3. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 3. 1977 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (1073). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application:  Dr. Scott Stanley, marriage researcher from the University of Colorado in Denver, speaks about the changes that have occurred in the last seventy or so years.  Before the 1960’s, the normal order of events for most people was that they would date, then get married, and then have sex.  When the 1960’s came, and with the sex liberation, the order of things changed so that many would date, then have sex, and then got married.  In the late 1990’s and into the beginning of the 21st century there’s a new pattern that is being set by many couples; they now meet and have sex, from that experience they decide if they want to date, and then they either choose to live together or proceed to marry each other.
While there is no such thing as “dating” in the Bible, God’s word reserves sexual intimacy for marriage – not before, and not outside the boundaries of this sacred union.  Even the Song of Solomon, a beautiful description of how the married relationship, describes the order of events as God planned for a couple.  Three times (SS 2:7, 3:5, 8:4), Shulamith, the bride, expresses her advice to her young friends, “do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
When God says there is an appropriate time for everything He also means for sexual intimacy.  Rushing to have sex before marriage makes the relationship more complicated, clouds the judgment, and often does not help the couple to make the correct decisions concerning their individual future, much less their future as a couple.  In fact, often premarital sex leads to, as Stanley calls it, “sliding into cohabitation,” by which he means that most cohabiting couples don’t sit down to talk about the reasons they have for moving in together but simply slide into that arrangement a little at a time.  Unfortunately, much research shows that people in cohabiting relationships often don’t marry the person they are living with, many experience higher levels of physical abuse than married couples, and they have a much higher probability of divorce if they choose to marry.
Follow the order of events prescribed in the Bible.  God, your designer and creator, knows what is best for you and your future.

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, in Your wisdom You have given us a pattern for our happiness.  Helps us to follow the path that leads to a long, healthy relationship.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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