“You will make your heaven or hell on earth by the person you decide to marry” (Ravi Zacarius). Do you think this is true? We sure do (and we continually hear from others who believe it as well). If so, then why are so many people approaching marriage in a way that is unrealistic and reckless? That’s a question we’d like to address in this message.
And by “people” we’re specifically referring to Christians, because that’s who we’re addressing in this message. For those of you who are followers of Christ who are looking to marry someday or maybe you know a Christian who is considering marriage (that you could pass this information on to), please keep reading. It’s vitally important to marry the right person the FIRST time and not give into the current divorce trend that is happening in today’s world.
We are not to be marrying with just our hearts, but use God’s wisdom, discernment, and insight as well. It’s important to “keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterward” (Ben Franklin). If you didn’t do this yourself (and/or your spouse didn’t), maybe you can join us to prevent future tragedies in helping others to NOT make the same mistakes. It’s the “live, learn, and pass it on” principle.
It’s truly puzzling to us, why Christians aren’t being more cautious in who and when they marry —especially when it’s such a life-changing decision for them, and it’s extremely important to God’s Kingdom work. Marriage is portrayed throughout the Bible as a living, symbolic picture of Christ’s love for His church. How we interact with each other within our marriage is a vehicle God wants to use to demonstrate to the world, the sacrificial love of Christ.
God has a loving message He wants to speak through our married lives to help draw those who don’t know Him, to Himself. How sad that so many of us aren’t recognizing this and being more careful as we approach marriage so our living testimony is a positive one.
Even when building a tower the Lord warns about how important it is to “consider the costs” so that in the end, things will come out as they should and the builder won’t suffer regrets as well as be “ridiculed” by those who are watching (see Luke 14:28-30). And yet how much more important it is to “consider the costs” of building a marriage, which comes on the other side of the wedding ceremony! The vows we commit to are supposed to last a lifetime, it’s not just a limited time offer until the “love” and happiness dies. God didn’t design marriage to be a temporary union until something or someone better comes along.
For this reason, we caution those of you who are approaching marriage to BE VERY SURE to make your vows ONLY to someone who is committed to building a marriage relationship for a lifetime with you and with God, as “a cord of three strands“ (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Love can be fun and grand when it’s all new and shiny, but eventually the shine wears off. At that point you’ll see how important it is to be married to someone who is committed to you and to God to build and rebuild, work and rework on your marriage relationship with unity as a goal.
In approaching marriage, be aware that many of us have “blind spots” that we don’t see or want to see concerning this sacred union and the person we think we should marry. Author Rob Eagar addresses this in his book “Dating with Pure Passion” (Harvest House Publishers). He wrote, “Some are too quick to think God has given them a revelation to marry through some inner feeling or ironic coincidence. They don’t do the hard work of carefully thinking the decision through.”
We’ve been contacted by many, many people who have gotten caught up in this phenomenon, only later to regret marrying without better preparing. God DOES sometimes reveal our future mate to us, but not very often. It’s important to slow things down, prepare just the same and make SURE you both rightly heard God and are willing to stay promise keepers in the future when things get tough —which they will. We all go through tough times in marriage. Just because God draws you together, it doesn’t mean that you are exempt from working through difficult issues that arise.
Rob Eagar also points out in his book that “similar problems (in overlooking blind spots) are caused by idealizing. We may hold to unreasonable ideals about romantic love or the perfect mate. Having ideals for marriage is crucial, but it is vital that these be realistic and in line with God’s best intentions for our life.”
Amen! Be aware that romantic love can sometimes be fantasy love, where you’re more in love with love and the person you THINK you’re marrying, than the one you are indeed marrying. For this reason, it’s best to prepare more for the marriage than the wedding. The wedding is only a one day fantasy event, which is nice and fun, but marriage is to be lived out for the rest of your lives together.
Don’t try to cheat by holding back on getting to better know each other and learn to work through important issues as you should in a healthy way. It will set the course for the direction of your marriage (if you find that it’s still wise to marry once you’ve done the work you should). We’ve got a lot of tools, articles and recommended resources on our web site to help you in this mission.
Keep in mind that once you’re married, your life will no longer be only yours to consider. You’re no longer ONE individual making decisions as to how you’re to proceed in every situation. From the moment you say “I do”, you change the dynamics of your life FROM THAT DAY FORWARD and your responsibility will be to consider your spouse in every choice you make (and for your spouse to do the same) so you “cleave together” in partnership as God intends. (Read 1 Corinthians 7 and Mark 10:2-9 for further explanation.)
Being cleaved together in marriage doesn’t mean that you’re so enmeshed in each other that one of you is erased. It means that the two of you, with very different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, expectations, and inclinations, may not always THINK ALIKE … but after you make your vows to each other, you are now committed to “THINK TOGETHER.”
Your goal will continually be to make daily choices, considering what’s best for the health of your relationship with each other and with God. Any decision you make that tears away from that sacred commitment comes with a very costly price to pay both emotionally and spiritually.
Marriage isn’t for those who want to hang onto their independence or those who aren’t willing to do the hard work it takes to grow in maturity and selflessness. You should only marry if you are prepared to be resourceful to FIND ways to weather even the toughest of times together.
You also need to look deep within yourself to work on your own issues to become the best you can be as a follower of Christ and a marriage partner — working together with God to love your spouse HIS way. Look to the Bible as your guidebook for that. The principles for loving your spouse are the principles for living that you find throughout the Bible.
“Marriage is a tool and a test to deepen your love and reverence, trust, and obedience for Jesus Christ. Marriage is not so much about you or your spouse —it is more about God” (Emerson Eggerichs). If you can’t love each other as God does, then marrying is not a good idea.
BE VERY SURE BEFORE YOU MARRY that you are BOTH able to live in marriage as God would have you. “Be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
May God give you wisdom in your approach to marriage,
Cindy and Steve Wright
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