A little girl, having just heard the story of Snow White for the first time, enthusiastically retold the fairy tale to her mother. After telling about how Prince Charming had arrived on his beautiful white horse and kissed Snow White back to life, she asked her mother, “And do you know what happened next?” “Yes,” said her mom, “they lived happily ever after.” “No,” responded Suzie, with a frown, “they got married.”
With childlike innocence, the little girl had spoken a partial truth. Getting married and living happily ever after do not always go together as evidence overwhelmingly suggests. However, God promises marriage and happiness can go together—if one obeys his teachings as found in the Bible.
Since one of the main problems in marriages arises due to a failure in choosing the right partner prior to marriage, this post addresses the subject of choosing a right marriage partner. How to strengthen existing marriages will be addressed in a later post.
By presenting five biblical truths, this post seeks to help single Christian folks in choosing a right marriage partner. Christian parents can also help guide their children to apply these truths when it comes to seeking partners.
Let’s start with a foundational truth.
1. Being single is not a curse. The world views singleness as a deficiency—even as a curse! However, Christians, rather than letting the world guide them, must first determine if it is the Lord’s will for them to get married. Not everyone is called to be married [Matt 19:10-12; 1 Cor 7:25-38]. Paul himself viewed his singleness as a gift from God [1 Cor 7:7]. If God calls you to be single, do not view that as a curse, but as a calling for his glory. God will give the appropriate grace and joy to those called to be single.
As Christians, we are all “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” [Eph 1:3] and “in Christ [we] have been brought to fullness” [Col 2:10]. Blessed and Complete—that’s the state of every Christian. What more do we need!
So, if God has called you to be single, rejoice and serve him joyfully all the days of your life. If God has not called you to be single, then the next 4 points will be of particular relevance to you.
A side note before proceeding further: When believers address single Christians, we need to guard our lips from speaking words that might give the impression that single people are incomplete in some way and they need to be married and that too as soon as possible. Statements like, “Don’t worry. You will soon be married,” or repeated questions such as “Are you really doing okay?” are not very helpful even if they are spoken with a good motive. Single people often carry enough pressure already. Let’s not add to it. Let’s be sensitive and remember that God accepts both single and married people equally. We are complete in Christ, whether single or married. Let’s pray for them and encourage them in their Christian walk rather than discourage them through our words and actions.
2. Resolve to marry only another Christian. The Bible is very clear in this regard. We are told in 1 Corinthians 7:39 that a believer is free to marry as long as this condition is fulfilled: the other person “must belong to the Lord.” Even in the Old Testament, God commanded his children to refrain from marrying unbelievers, “Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons” [Deut 7:3].
The believer cannot take his or her body, in which the Holy Spirit resides, and unite it with a person who is still in darkness and dead in sins [2 Cor 6:14-7:1]. Amos 3:3 also says two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. Thinking along the lines of “Perhaps I am the instrument through which God will save this unbeliever” is dangerous. None can guarantee another’s salvation [see 1 Cor 7:16].
Plainly stated, it is NOT God’s will for a Christian to marry a non-Christian. Violating the clear commands of God is sin. Hoping that God will bless and forgive when we deliberately sin is putting him to the test which is another sin [Matt 4:7]. See how easily sin multiplies!
God has not changed his mind on this subject. Therefore, one must not sit and dialogue with sin in this matter. We will surely fall! We must do what Joseph did when tempted to break any clear command from God—RUN! [Gen 39:12]. And this includes the temptation to marry an unbeliever—no matter how nice the other person is!
As a side note, even when seeking a Christian partner, we must refrain from fleshy thoughts such as, “Is he or she good-looking? Is the other person rich and well-settled?” Rather the main questions to ask should be along these lines: “Is he or she genuinely pursuing Christ?,” “Is there a visible love for the Lord, his Word and his work?” and so forth. When a person pursues Christ as the main priority [Matt 6:33], everything else will be taken care of. It is sad to see many focusing on external issues and delegating the faith issue to the last place—as if being Christian is more of a bonus!
3. Understand the biblical role of being a husband, wife and a parent. One needs to study relevant passages that describe the role of a Christian husband or wife [e.g. Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:4-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7, etc]. In addition, one needs to study about parenting as well [e.g. Prov 6:20, 13:24, 22:6, 22:15, 29:15; Eph 6:4; Col 3:21, etc.]. Biblical knowledge helps a person prepare wisely.
We must learn to have realistic expectations in a marriage. When two sinners, though saved by God’s grace, live together there will still be challenges. Both husbands and wives despite their best efforts to follow the Scriptures will have “down” moments. There must be a commitment to love and forgive the other person during those times. There must be desire to constantly depend on the Lord to sustain the marriage.
Every marriage needs two funerals on a daily basis—death of husband and wife to their selfish desires. Both must be committed to this kind of a self-denying lifestyle. Marriage must not be seen just a delight, but it must also be seen as a duty—a God-glorifying duty! There will be some days when the marriage won’t feel like a great delight—ask any couple who have been married for a while. They will testify to this truth. But even in those days, both must commit themselves to remember the truth that marriage is a promise made before a holy God and hence it is one’s duty to honor that promise. And with his grace, it is possible to honor that promise and thus regain the delight!
4. Wait for the Lord’s timing. God’s children are constantly urged to “wait for the LORD” [Psa 27:14; 40:1, 130:5-6, etc.]. Haste has ruined many a life. Abraham brought great grief by failing to wait for the Lord’s timing for a child [Genesis 16]. Saul lost the kingdom due to haste [1 Sam 10:8, 13:8-14].
Similarly, many marriages have been ruined due to hasty decisions. Yes, there is a pain and loneliness that can come from being single and it can be very hard to bear at times. And to escape that condition, many hastily [and sadly] rush into a bad marriage forgetting this fact: The pain and loneliness that comes as a result of being in a bad marriage can be a far greater burden to bear than the burden that comes from the pain and loneliness of being single. It’s the classic case of jumping out of the fire pan on to the fire itself!
So, beware! Wait for the Lord’s timing. Remember, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him“ [Isa 64:4, emphasis mine]. It’s amazing what God can do when his children yield to his timing.
5. Pray constantly. The Lord Jesus made it abundantly clear that apart from him we “can do nothing” [John 15:5]. Realizing this truth should move the believer to diligently keep praying about everything—including this very important matter. Even if situation seems to be unchanging, the believer “should always pray and not give up” [Lk 18:1]. Prayer must be accompanied by fasting too! The Lord will hear the persistent cry of his children who desire to seek his will in this life changing event!
Dear Believer, by following the commands given by God—The Author of Marriages, we can be married and live happily ever after [if marriage is his will for our lives]. We will not find ourselves saying what one unhappy wife said, “When I got married I was looking for an ideal. Then it became an ordeal. Now I want a new deal.” Marriage is not a game to be played—but a commitment to be honored before God! And it start with seeking the right partner before tying the knot.
One final point, marriage is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end—the end being God’s glory [1 Cor 10:31]. When our sole focus in life is to bring glory to God, marriage becomes one of the means through which God is glorified.
Perhaps, some reading this article may have made some bad marriage choices. Don’t lose heart. Confess your sins to the Lord and ask him to give you the strength to go through the situation. He will give you the necessary strength to live for him. You are not rejected by God because you made a bad choice in marriage or accepted because you made a good choice in marriage. You are accepted solely on the basis of the shed blood of Christ. So, rest in the gracious arms of this awesome God who has made you his son or daughter through Christ!