It has been said that the second most important decision in life is who you marry. The most important decision, of course, is whether or not we commit ourselves to Christ Jesus the LORD and be saved. The right choice in respect of a marriage partner is vital because the closeness of the marriage relationship means that we are immeasurably impacted by our husband/wife. We are therefore going to seek to discern some principles from God’s Word which will guide us in this important matter.
You may not marry – It is important to establish initially that it is not the calling of every Christian to be married. Paul gave the counsel Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Cor 7:8-9). Similarly in Matthew 19:12b the LORD speaks of those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. So let us make no imposition that everyone should find a marriage partner. But for those who seek marriage they should:-
Marry another Christian – The act of a Christian marrying a non-Christian is seen by God as a serious disobedience to His command. The LORD says in 2 Cor. 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? Joining in marriage with an unbeliever then is strictly prohibited in Scripture. The issue is laid bare in Ezra 10:2a where we read that Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us….”
Marry in the LORD – In 1 Cor 7:39 Paul speaks about, what most Bible versions, refer to as marrying in the LORD. This seems to reflect a degree of unity between husband and wife which goes beyond that of just finding another Christian to marry. It means that you share common views on many basics of the Christian faith and how we live this out. If this is not the case then you may find that the marriage is dominated by continuous disputes and bickering. It may mean as well that husband and wife end up attending different churches which is always unsatisfactory. This means that you must talk seriously about many issues before you are married. The book by Brian and Barbara Edwards: “No longer Two” is a great help in making sure we discuss relevant issues.
Be in the right place – As Christians we do not go to church to find a marriage partner. However, if we do not go to church then we are unlikely to find a godly person to marry. If you commit to being in the right place in your life, which is always the place where God wants you to be, then you can trust Him to direct you in His ways. The principles of Proverbs 3:5-6 are tried and tested: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. If there are not people of your age in your church then make sure that you link up with others of your age who are in other good churches in the locality. God makes a way for those who seek to honour Him.
Seek Counsel.– The major consequences of committing to a lifetime with someone else mean that we should always be careful to make sure we seek the wise advice of others. In Psalm 71:18 we read Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. Older ones in particular have learnt things which can help us. Falling in love can lead to blindness; we just do not see the dangers of this potential marriage because of a failure to see the character deficiencies of the other person. In particular we need to respect our parents in this matter. Unless, our parents are non-believers and their advice is completely anti-Christian then we should take careful heed to what they say.
Be godly – The best marriage partner you can have is a godly one. To have a husband or wife who longs for God and to serve him and live for him is such an amazing blessing. However, such a person is only likely to be attracted to another who is godly. Young Christian sisters if you want to attract a husband who is godly then do not dress and make yourself up like worldly girls. A godly man is primarily looking for your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Pet. 3:4). Young men in Christ give yourselves to prayer and the Word; a godly sister will only be interested in a brother who wants to know God.
I am married to an unbeliever. – You may say that all the information above is all well and good, but here I am stuck with an unbelieving spouse; what am I to do? The first thing you may need to do is repent. It may be that you have ended up in the position through a sinful rejection of God’s commands. If this is the case you need to repent of this. Then, you must set yourself to pray for your husband / wife; that above all that they would be saved. Related to this is the need to pray for yourself that you would be a good witness for God in the marriage. Peter gives the wise counsel that Wives, in the same way be submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behaviour of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (1 Pet. 3:1-2). And in all this you should get the church to join you in praying. How we should all in the church be longing that those with unconverted spouses have the joy of seeing their husbands/wives saved.
And finally let us be careful to handle these matters with prayerful care. If you hear that someone is to be married there is often a knee-jerk response to offer effusive congratulations. However, the couple may be completely unsuited and a disaster may be at hand if they go ahead and marry. And even worse if there is a believer marrying an unbeliever then the matter is simply sinful. So be careful how you respond to the news of a planned marriage.
Christian marriages, when found to be healthy and strong, are an amazing power for good. As much that lies within us then let us make sure that marriages are arranged according to God’s pattern. And remember if we refuse to follow God’s pattern then we are always headed for problems.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of January 2010)