Who are You Going to Marry?
Why Get Married?
When you look around at today's world, you see people living in many different situations. Some are married, some live alone, and still others live with a partner but are unmarried. Which should you do?
Marriage was instituted by God at the very beginning of the world (Genesis 2:22-24). In other words, it has God's blessing and approval. God recognized that it was not good for a man to be alone, so he created woman. Therefore, the primary purpose of marriage is to have a lifetime companion. It is fun to go and do things on your own, but it is a whole lot more enjoyable when there is someone to share the experience with you. Solomon recommends that we enjoy life with our wives (Ecclesiastes 9:9).
Right now, you are probably living at home. Your parents, brothers, and sisters have been providing companionship since the day that you were born. However, in the future, you will need to strike out on your own. You don't realize how much you depended on your own family for companionship until you find there is no one to turn to when you are away from home. Don't get me wrong. Some folk enjoy being independent. Some enjoy it so much that they never bother to get married. However, I suspect that most of you will prefer to have a wife one day.
Being married is honorable (Hebrews 13:4). After all, it is approved by God. Only a false teacher would forbid a person from ever getting married (I Timothy 4:1-3).
Without marriage, there would be a lot more sin going on in the world. Sex is only approved by God between married couples. Without marriage, many people would be guilty of fornication. Each of you has a strong desire for sex that will continue to increase into your early twenties. Marriage is the proper way to have an opportunity to satisfy that desire (I Corinthians 7:1-9).
When you get married, your wife has the right to expect you to have sex with her regularly. Similarly, you have the right to ask your wife for sex as often as you need it to satisfy your desires. It would be wrong for either of you to withhold sex from the other, except if you both had agreed to stop for a short time. Some married couples withhold sex from each other to hurt their partner when things do not go their way. However, God does not want us to settle our differences in this manner. Withholding sex tempts your spouse to find sexual satisfaction elsewhere. You do not want to be guilty of placing a stumbling block in front of a person.
If you feel you can't live without sex, then you better get married. If you don't know how to be a lifetime companion to someone, then you better learn quickly, because only in marriage does God allow Christians to have sex.
Who Should I Marry?
I hope that you have been thinking about this question since I assigned it two chapters ago. Deciding whom you plan to marry is a tough decision. It is a very important decision. Many of your friends will rush into marriage with just about any girl they believe that they love. To them, if it doesn't work out, they can always get a divorce and marry someone else. What they don't realize is that divorces are heart rending and expensive.
As Christians, you don't have the option of divorcing someone because you feel like it. Christians marry for life (Romans 7:2-3). There are some Christians who have been divorced, but it should be a rare occurrence. A divorce means that at least one partner in a marriage has committed a sin. A person cannot remain in sin and be pleasing to God (I John 1:5-2:6). The only reason that God has ever allowed for divorce is if one partner in a marriage has been guilty of having sex with someone else (Matthew 19:8-10). Even then, a person is not required to end the marriage. God only permits divorce when the people involved are too hardhearted to work out the problem. This allowance by God is not a license to have sex with someone else whenever you want to get out of a marriage. God said he will hold you responsible for adultery. If you ever marry another person, the person who marries you will also be guilty of adultery.
You can see that choosing a wife is a very important decision. You will be stuck with your choice for the rest of your life, so think long and hard about whom it is going to be. Each man is only permitted one wife (I Corinthians 7:2).
Pick out the characteristics of your future wife before you have any particular person in mind. If there already is someone special in your life, you will tend to slant everything toward that woman. Think about what is really important to you:
Are there things that you like to do that your future spouse should like as well? If you really like snow skiing, are you going to be happy with a woman who is miserable when the temperature drops below 50 degrees?
Do you both have the same ideas about how many children you would like to have? How soon do you want to start a family?
Are you comfortable with a wife that works outside the home? Should she work another job when the children are small?
Do you care about how neatly your wife will keep your house? If you are curious, consider how she keeps her own room at home. It will give you some idea about her standards of neatness.
Does she need to be a good cook?
Are you going to share in the household chores? Who is going to wash dishes after dinner? Who is going to mow the lawn? Who is responsible for repairing the leaking pipe?
The most important thing to consider is your religion. Is your wife going to encourage to you to be a better Christian, or is she going to moan and groan about having to go to church on Sunday morning? Consider this point carefully. Some women will regularly attend services with you while they think you are interested in marrying them. After marriage, they often find excuses to stop going. Did she faithfully attend services before you met? If you have to go out of town, does she continue to go to worship without you? Does she enjoy studying the scriptures? Can you study together? Are you comfortable praying with her? Consider the words of Paul:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. II Corinthians 6:14-7:1
Paul was addressing the more general responsibility of not compromising your faith. However, the most important contract you will make with another person on this earth will be the one you make with your wife. In this important binding of two people, it is very important that they be equally yoked.
What you believe is also important. You are in for unending battles if she wants to go to her church and you to your own. Marriage is a time for doing things together and that includes worshiping God. Even if you could arrive at a compromise in the early part of your marriage, what will you do when you begin to raise a family? Are the children going to be raised in your faith or hers?
Save yourself future heartaches and marry a faithful Christian who believes as you do. Jesus prayed that his disciples be one, just as God and Jesus were one (John 17:20-23). Make sure that oneness fills your lives as husband and wife.
After saying all of this, I must warn you not to go overboard and start looking for the absolute perfect companion. Everyone you meet will have some "flaws," the question is how important are those things to your (and her) future happiness. You have lived a long time with your parents, brothers, and sisters. You did not get to pick them, yet you have managed to live with them for many years. In some cultures, like in the days of Abraham, a man did not get to choose his wife. The parents arranged the marriage. In Isaac's case, Abraham's servant was sent to select Isaac's wife from distant relations whom Isaac never met. Even in these circumstances, a man lived with his wife for their entire life.
Once you are married, you must stop looking for a better mate. It will be harder than you think. After spending years trying to decide whom you would rather live with, you will find that it is hard to drop the habit. Many marriages have been broken and affairs started because a man thought he found someone even better than his current wife. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of women that you could have married and with whom you could have happily lived. However, once you have made the commitment, you must do everything in your power to uphold your end of the deal. It may seem that someone else would make you a better wife, but that is probably because you haven't been living in the same house with her. Instead of wishing for what might have been, be prepared to throw all your energies into making your marriage prosper.
Of course, it is easier to live with some people than with others. That is why it is so important for you to make a careful decision. A story is told of a man who was trying to illustrate this very point to his student. He has the boy climb up on a table and try to pull him up to the boy's level. The boy struggled earnestly, but he was unable to budge the man. The man then calmly pulled the boy off the table with one hand. It was very easy to do. "That," he said, "is why you must look for a Christian wife." Yes, you could marry a non-Christian in hopes that one day you can influence them to become a Christian. However, that non-Christian wife will have an easier time influencing you to give up your faith, if she so desires, than you will have of turning her toward Christ. Paul warns, in I Corinthians 15:33, that bad companions will corrupt your good morals. Abraham understood this problem. He refused to find a wife for his son Isaac among the nonbelieving people around him. Instead, he sent his servant back to his own people to find a wife for his son (Genesis 24:1-4).
Can you understand now why God forbade the Israelites to marry non-Jewish people (Nehemiah 13:23-27)? Those marriages lead more Israelites away from God than any other factor we can find in the Old Testament. For a similar reason, God told the Corinthian widows, in I Corinthians 7:39, to only marry another Christian. If it makes sense the second time around, doesn't it make good advice the first time? Don't become unequally yoked to a nonbeliever (II Corinthians 6:14-18).
When Should I Marry?
Take your time and don't rush this important decision. First, let your body finish maturing and wait until your hormones settle down. Don't marry out of passion. Strong sexual desire for someone lasts for only a short time. There needs to be something else - something stronger and more enduring to build a lifetime relationship upon. When you find the right person, the passion will be there, but there will be another feeling there as well. When you find yourself caring for a woman, thinking of her as someone important in your life; when you find that she is your best friend, someone you trust with your deepest thoughts and with whom you thoroughly enjoy talking; then, maybe, just maybe, you have fallen in love. Take time to read I Corinthians 13:1-8 and see if these points apply to your relationship with this woman. Only then ask her to consider spending the rest of her life with you. Get married and enjoy the wife of your youth for the rest of your lives together.