James C. Denison, Ph.D.
President, Denison Forum on Truth and Culture www.denisonforum.org February 5, 2014
Taylor Swift has been making entertainment headlines since she released her first album at the age of 16. Her net worth is estimated at $220 million.1 An online magazine recently compiled "Taylor Swift's Rules About Love: A Comprehensive List."2 Here are some of her rules on the subject:
"I never chase boys. They don't like it."
"[Guys] can be a part of your life but never let the guy be your life. They can live in your world, but never make the guy your world."
"Relationships are like traffic lights. And I just have this theory that I can only exist in a relationship if it's a green light."
"Deciding not to play games is the best way to go because it keeps things simple:
If he messes it up by playing around with your heart, you'll know he doesn't deserve you."
"I think you can love people without it being the great love."
However, she also says, "I have rules for a lot of areas of my life. Love is not going to be one of them." So maybe her rules aren't rules after all.
Americans need advice on love and marriage. Our society leads the industrialized world in teenage pregnancy: one out of three girls in America becomes pregnant by the age of
20, 81 percent out of wedlock. Ninety percent of our youth have been exposed to pornography by the age of 18. Fifty percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and
74 percent of third marriages end in divorce.3
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.8 million sexually transmitted diseases were reported in 2012.4 More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV infection.5 Since the epidemic began in 1981, more than 641,000
Americans have died of AIDS-related causes. 6
Clearly, our love rules aren't working very well.
What if we applied God's rules for love and marriage? His word offers a "top 10"—10 principles that, if practiced, would transform our homes and society. Let's set them out as clearly and concisely as possible.
Rule #1: Sex is God's gift for heterosexual marriage
God created humans as sexual beings, instructing us to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28).7 Before the fall, "the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25).
Our Creator intends sexual intercourse to be between a man and his wife (Gen. 2:24).
Jesus reinforced his Father's intention that "a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Matthew 19:5; cf.
Rule #2: Sex outside of marriage is always wrong
We are repeatedly told, "you shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy
5:18; Matthew 19:18; Romans 13:9). We are not to have sexual relations with anyone who is not our spouse (Leviticus 18:6-18).
Rule #3: Marriage is intended to be permanent
Scripture teaches that "a wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives" (1 Corinthians
7:39; cf. Romans 7:2). There are three clear exceptions:
Divorce is permitted for adultery: "Everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32).
Abandonment by an unbelieving spouse is also grounds for divorce: "If the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved" (1 Corinthians 7:15).
I believe that abuse constitutes a third ground for "biblical" divorce, as life must be protected: "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13).
Malachi rebuked men who were faithless to "your companion and your wife by covenant" and asked, "Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?" (Malachi 2:14, 15).
Rule #4: Sexual purity begins with the mind
Job testified, "I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?" (Job 31:1). Scripture consistently affirms such