Marriage is one of the big ones. Most decisions in life don’t come close to it for life-altering consequences. What to wear, what to eat, how fast to drive, even what job or career to pursue pales in comparison. The potential implications of this question are staggering: How do I know if God wants me to marry this person?
Make the wrong decision when it comes to marriage and it can leave a mark for your entire life — and beyond, really, as children deal with the aftermath for generations.
No pressure; just pointing out what you already know if you are trying to figure out what God wants next for your life when it comes to getting married.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” I wouldn’t completely agree, although I’ve often wondered why we must make some of the most momentous decisions in life when we have the least experience to do so.
How Do I Know?
I hear from readers in all stages of life who struggle with this question, and so I thought it wise to share what I have learned along this journey as a FaithWalker with the hope that it helps those wrestling with the marriage decision.
In my own life, I nearly made some missteps before God guided me to marry a wife who has been the perfect complement for me. I thought I had figured out the right person to marry a few times, but God intervened. No, I didn’t leave anyone standing at the altar, but I also didn’t use all that much wisdom as I tried to figure it all out.
I am not saying that it would have been wrong, necessarily, for me to marry anyone else. It’s more nuanced than that, as we shall see.
God has given us a framework with which we can make momentous life choices. — Bill Blankschaen
Nor am I saying that God somehow flashed starlight to me in morse code to confirm my marriage choice. I didn’t hear angelic voices telling me I had found my soul mate. Nothing that weird, as much as I might have wanted that sort of clarity.
However, as with most decisions in life, I believe God has given us a framework we can use to make the marriage decision, one that—if we are truly willing to use in an authentic manner—can save us a whole lot of grief and position us for generations of blessings rather than decades of misery.
3 Questions to Ask before You Say “I do.”
Over the years as a pastor, counselor, and now parent of growing teenagers, I’ve discovered three questions that every Christian should ask before saying “I do,” similar to the questions contained in my eBook about how to discover God’s best for your life.
Remember that faith is more of a process than an event.
God brings us to these crossroads on the trail of life so we can more fully depend on Him for direction.
And so with that in mind, let’s begin to explore the 3 questions that can help any Christian get clarity and make the marriage decision with confidence.
Question 1: Is the person I want to marry truly a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?
Scripture is the one source of wisdom that must always be at the center of our decision-making process. And it is not silent on our choice of a marriage parter.
God has spoken unequivocally on this point: “Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever” (2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV).
In the biblical setting of an agrarian society, two oxen would be connected by a yoke so they could pull in tandem, working together rather than working against one another.
The analogy used here in this command — and it is a command from Christ — means we should not align ourselves with someone who does not share our commitment to following God wherever He may lead.
No matter how good-looking we may appear on the outside, we are dead in our sin without Christ. Through Scripture, God asks us, “What fellowship has light with darkness” (2 Corinthians 6:14, ESV) and how can “two walk together unless they have agreed to meet” (Amos 3:3, ESV)?
So as a Christian, the person you marry must at least “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead” (Romans 10:9, ESV).
But I would argue that outward conformity is not enough.
Where I live now in the South, we have plenty of people who claim to be Christian and are regular church attenders, but who are not committed to following Christ — not really. It’s more of a cultural thing than a heartfelt passion to live in loving relationship with their Creator.
That is what makes this question tough to answer. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, ESV).
It’s also what makes it so important to enlist wise counsel at this stage of the process. We need other perspectives, especially the views of those who’ve lived longer than we have lived and seen more than we have yet observed.
Jesus tells us we can and should judge others (perhaps evaluate is a better word here) by the fruit we see in their lives — as long as we understand that we will be evaluated in the same way (Matthew 7:1, ESV).
He tells us there will be many who look the part but are not truly His friends. He tells us we will know those who are his true followers by their fruit.
You Will Know Them by Their Fruit
So what does the fruit look like in the life of the person you are thinking about marrying? Is it lip-service to Christ or a pattern of faithful following that requires a principled stand for truth?
In my experience, we tend to excuse a lot of things in a potential mate when we feel all twitterpated inside (as they call it in Bambi). We simply do not see clearly when we are infatuated. We assume the best about people’s motives and tend to fill in the blanks with what we want to be there — rather than what is truly present.
Several of my friends from my Christian childhood upbringing had marriages that did not end well. Many of them married people who turned out not to be believers at all. It’s not that the signs were not there. They simply did not want to see the other person as he or she truly was.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to assess the heart of someone who has been forced to appear to be a Christian their entire life.
And it gets even more challenging when we feel unworthy ourselves. We’re far more likely to settle for anyone who will be willing to have us if we think we aren’t really worth much in the first place.
As a side note, the absence of fathers from so many families has produced a generation of young women who are desperate for acceptance by a young man, and also of young men who are looking for a wife who can replace their mother, because that is all they have known.
When we see ourselves as God sees us, however, we realize that He made us just a little lower than the angels, and He paid the highest price to restore us to relationship with Himself. We’re not perfect, nor will we ever be on this side of eternity, but we don’t have to settle for someone who simply checks the box and calls himself or herself a Christian.
If you insist on only marrying someone who passionately and steadfastly follows Jesus Christ, He will provide the right person. It is an act of faith to wait on God to lead you to someone who faithfully follows Him.
There was a time in my life when I effectively cut myself off from most Christians and then concluded that there simply weren’t many available young Christian women left in the world, so I had better take whomever I could find before it was too late.
My reasoning sounds silly to me now, but then it made perfect sense to me.
For all those who think they are out of options for marriage and will need to settle for someone who isn’t all that committed to following Christ, understand this: it’s a lie from the pit of hell, and it smells like smoke.
Don’t settle for anything less than a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and you’ve taken the first step toward finding the person God wants you to marry.
Question: What questions do you have about this first step? What other advice would you share? Share your thoughts by clicking here.
Photo credit: Allan Ajifo