Last week I wrote about using good judgment in finding a marriage partner by developing an internal “list” of criteria. The responses I got were interesting. One reader suggested that I write another blog, this time suggesting where to find a man who meets the criteria:
My “criteria” last week included (1) Genuine Christian faith (2) Good family background (3) Dependable character (4) Pleasant disposition and (5) Talent and resources for marriage.
The reader’s suggestion may have intimated that men who meet such standards just don’t exist, or are already taken.
Perhaps it is easier to make the list than to find the person. He may not turn up “across a crowded room” as the romance-prone might wish. On the other hand, he may materialize in an unexpected place, like the case of the shy building supervisor who was sent by his boss into a community to supervise the building of a new church and ended up marrying the preacher’s daughter.
Yet my reader’s suggestion deserves some thought. Where are the men of strength and vision? Men who are eager to shoulder the challenge of marriage and eventually experience the drill of parenthood? Too many may have been acculturated away from such a vision.
So is the Internet the new directory? A pastor friend tells me that over a period of time he coached ten couples who had met through Christian Internet dating services. He had the privilege of serving as counselor to them as the relationships developed. Then he officiated at their weddings. Some time later, he reports that all ten couples remain together and are doing well.
The Internet as the source to find one’s life partner carries some risks. Thus, it was wise for the couples just mentioned to include Christian counsel and support until a real and deserving trust has been developed — a forerunner to real love.
It is still possible that not only the Internet, but equally or more so one’s “socialnet” can be a resource. I learned in Japan that both young men and women who consider themselves ready for marriage openly make their wishes known to their counselor. In Christian circles it is usually their pastor. Then the counselor begins the search. We may think that could never work here because our culture is individualistic and each person must launch his or her own search.
The facts don’t support that. I read recently that 60% of relationships that lead to marriages in America come about with the assistance of friends or associates who introduced the couple or otherwise expedited their meeting.
Awaiting that possible boost, what can those do who are single but hopeful for marriage? Always keep the hope of marriage alive in your heart, but continue to do now what you believe God has called you into this world to do. Live out your life as a vocation. Serve. Be where other people near your age gather – at church, in Bible study, service projects, at camps, at retreats, on mission trips, etc. Be fun to be around. Be a happy friend and hope for a happy friendship that might lead to a romantic commitment.
But, remember that for all of us – married or single — doing God’s will is our first assignment in life. And pray only that whatever might develop somewhere along the road will be marked in your heart as God’s will. Paul writes to “test and approve what God’s will is – his good pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2b). Elsewhere he exhorts, “find out what pleases the Lord” (Eph. 5:10).
For Christians, there’s one thing worse than being unwillingly single and that is being willingly married in a risky relationship outside the will of God.