Is This the Right Person for Me to Marry?

DiceWhen I was twenty years old I was an aspiring gospel singer, and I traveled with a preacher five years my senior. At the time, we were both single.

In spare moments the subject of qualities to look for in a lifetime partner came up. This was back when marriage meant one man and one woman in covenant for life, and when young men and women were typically more ready to marry by their early twenties.

By his repetitions the list was fixed in my mind so I believe I can reproduce it accurately, before adding my brief comments.

First, he would ask, is this person a committed Christian? According to the Scriptures, Christians are to marry only Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). So one should ask: is there evidence that he/she loves the Lord and manifests that love in lifestyle, attitudes, and habits?

Christians who ignore this requirement relative to marriage go contrary to clear Scriptural teachings. In doing so they disobey the Lord and deprive themselves of a spiritual dimension to their marriage that God intends to be unifying and enriching.

Second, is this a person of good character? In the early stages of a relationship, one looks for such traits as honesty and trustworthiness; a vision for life that includes serving others; respect for parents and little children; a strong work ethic; and empathy for others. Also, do friends and family give off cues and comments of affirmation or reservation — even alarm?

Third, what about disposition? It’s true that parties in a marriage have down days for which their mates make allowance. But prominent and frequent pouting, grumpiness, anger, or me-first behaviors even in a person of great charm should be noted because such traits will dissipate a lot of the life force that could otherwise be turned to positive, outward and even Christian ministry purposes.

The Proverbs warn against a “quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife” (Proverbs 21:19). If the Proverbs were being written today for our culture they would have cautionary words against choosing a “quarrelsome and ill-tempered” husband also.

Fourth, what about family background? Marriages tend to be stronger and more fulfilling when a bond between the two families also forms. Cultural and family similarities are certainly not absolute prerequisites in our multicultural society, but they can be helpful if present. If very different, they will require extra effort to bridge.

It is family values, character traits, disposition that of course trump all else. However, and one question to shed light on this issue is: Do I want this prospective mate’s brothers and sisters to be aunts and uncles to my children?

Fifth, (a modern adaptation to my preacher friend’s fifth question): if two vocations are represented in the potential union, is the success of the marriage more important than the full achievement of either partner’s vocation? For example, one partner wants to teach in Minnesota and the other in Florida. It is possible that a relationship could even be dissolved by unyielding differences.

While it might not answer the specifics between Minnesota and Florida, the couple in which each individual values the marriage above where to live will be more likely to survive this kind of modern-day dilemma.

Some may feel the above questions are too plodding for something so enthralling as love that points toward marriage. Why should a couple care about “little issues” in the realm of such areas as faith, character, disposition, and family if they are in love?

Passion is very much a part of the love that God gives to bind a man and woman together for a lifetime. But while passion may be sufficient to get a relationship started, it is not by itself enough as a foundation for a wonderful marriage. And, generally speaking, it is better for the mind to lead with questions like those above and the heart to follow than for the emotions to take over and the rational mind to be switched off until after the wedding.

And so, for the young person wishing to follow the path of wisdom to the altar and to deep satisfaction beyond, both clear judgment and romantic passion should have their appropriate place and contribution.

Christian young people must never forget to bind all this together with a strong cord of prayer. Pay attention to the answer to the above questions (and others); seek godly counsel if perplexities arise; ask for wisdom from God; and you are likely to experience the kind of love that blesses you and your spouse, survives all vicissitudes, and lasts a lifetime.

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Photo credit: Anne-Lise Heinrichs (via flickr.com)

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5 thoughts on “Is This the Right Person for Me to Marry?

    • Fro an evangelical point of view what matters first is: Do both know the Lord in a personal way. Sometimes the difference you pose is simply a matter of two levels of maturity which may be healed. But in other cases the difference may mask that the one is not yet a true believer. It takes spiritual discernment to look beneath the romantic feelings to discern the true state of faith in both.

  1. Like everyone who grew up in a family or is part of a neighbourhood or work community with married people in ,good marriages are important to me.

    It’s sad to see marriages that fail and marriages where discord is more frequent than harmony.Good marriages make families and communities happier and healthier for everyone.

    People fall in love but perhaps heart’s feeling is not enough.Compatibility should be contemplated too.Marriage is such a great life step , it should be considered from many angles.

    In other cultures arranged marriages are traditional.A young persons family chooses their spouse for them,not wanting to risk taking a chance on love.

    Here in western cultures,in the past, marriages were often arranged by families,either to bring about family alliances or to secure economic well being or higher status for their children.

    In many cases ,for royals ,marriages are still arranged in the west,for reasons of state.Perhaps if Prince Charles had been left to marry for love rather than having a ‘suitable’ bride arranged for him,his first marriage may not have ended in tragedy.Only God knows.

    For Christians ,marriage is far more than a legal settlement or an economic or status based arrangement.It is almost a sacrament.In fact, according to the Roman Catholic catechism,it is considered an actual sacrament.

    I believe all Christian churches consider the act of matrimony to be holy. Husband and wife become united in holy matrimony,according to scripture , become one flesh.

    ”And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:8 NIV

    We call imarriage sacred and matrimony holy , because God is deeply involved.God is essential to every marriage.

    Imprisoned by the Nazis for resisting the corrosive changes Hitler was forcing on the German churches , Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer ,gave a wonderful wedding sermon from his prison cell, for the benefit of his family members Eberhard and Renate,about to wed.It is a good sermon for consideration by all couples approaching wedlock. It can be found in Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘Letters and Papers from Prison’, ed. Eberhard Bethge 1997.

    Dietrich Bonnhoeffer advised couples about to wed to determine to be the comfort of each other,both in body and soul,for life. To say ,boldly, ” iron and steel may pass away, but our love shall abide for ever.’’

    Pastor Bonhoeffer preached that God adds His yes to the couples yes ,and confirms the husband and wifes will ,with His Will, making them instruments of His will and purpose ,a link in the chain of the generations.He preached that marriage is God’s holy ordinance,His designed way to perpetuate His human creation til the end of time.

    ”Love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God.It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.God makes your marriage indissoluble.it is His act, not yours.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer ‘A Wedding Sermon From A Prison Cell’

    No earhly power,temptation or frailty has the right to dissolve marital union.What God has joined no one may put asunder.Husband and wife belong together til death.

    God has established His rule of married life,not on the world’s quicksands, but upon His own stable nature ,which is peace, love, joy, purity and permanence.Obedience to God’s law of marriage by both husband and wife jointly ,ensures their happiness.

    The Bible,God’s Word,tells us that the greatest human happiness comes to the man who finds a wife who is a virtuous and wise woman.

    ” She is far more precious that jewels’’ Proverbs 31:10.

    ”‘A virtuous woman is the crown of her husband’’ Proverbs 12:4

    The greatest blessing of marriage is the joy of children ,as parents will avow.

    ”‘Children are a heritage of the Lord’’ Psalm 12:4

    No marriage is all plain sailing.Since our fall from grace,a wife must bear her children in pain and a husband must reap thorns and thistles as he labours with the sweat of his brow to support his wife and family.But marriage is a deep Christian fellowship with Christ it’s foundation. So Christ’s message to live together in the forgiveness of each others sins is of paramount importance to a good marriage.

    Pastor Dietrich advised Eberhard and Renate , on the eve of their wedding :

    ” Accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer ‘A Wedding Sermon From A Prison Cell”

    It is God Himself who establishes, confirms, sanctifies and preserves marriage.

    A maried couple must together look to rely on God ,every day of their married life, and must help and support each other to live as Christians.

    How true that marriage,God given ,is itself a vocation for Christians.The family that prays together stays together.

    Marriage is a God given blessing, and when blessed with children an even happier blessing, bringing even greater responsibility . God must be part of every marriage,for marriage is a precious blessing that husband and wife must never risk losing,for themselves and their childrens sake.

    Marital union between a Christian man and a Christian woman is a high and holy calling which glorifies God and furthers His plan for humanity.Marriage is sacred and precious.

  2. Francis: Thanks again for a wonderful statement in reply to my piece on marriage. The two pieces together are like a duet on the subject. I hope you have a place to get your comments where many others read them. We have been married for 68 years. God brought us together and blessed our union. We are still very much in love though Kathleen especially is dealing with some problems like sciatica and serious back pain. We are in this together. God bless you for your great thoughts. Don Bastian

  3. Thankyou Pastor Don.I will keep you and Kathleen in my prayers ,especially for help with Kathleen’s back pain and sciatica.Francis.

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