AGONY PEP TALK with AUNT SUE
Dear Aunt Sue,
ARE we supposed to be actively looking for a spouse, or we should wait for God to bring one to us?
At the risk of sounding non-committal, the answer to both questions is â€œyes.â€ There is an important balance between the two. We are not to frantically search for a spouse as if everything depends solely on our effort. Neither should we be entirely passive, assuming that someday God will cause a spouse to knock on the door, ring in hand, ready to recite the vows.
When the time came for Isaac to take a wife, he took action (rather, his parents did, according to cultural norms): they sent a servant to actively seek a wife (Genesis 24).
As Christians, once we know that it is time to start looking for a spouse, we should begin the process with prayer. Committing ourselves to Godâ€™s will for our lives is the first step. We should also be clear on the biblical characteristics of a godly husband or wife, and we should seek someone who qualifies on a spiritual level.
It is important to understand these qualities first and then seek someone who possesses them. To â€œfall in loveâ€ with someone and then discover he or she is not spiritually qualified to be our mate is to invite heartache and put ourselves in a very difficult position.
Once we know what the Bible says we should be looking for, we can begin actively looking for a spouse, trusting that God will bring him or her into our lives in His perfect timing. If we pray, God will lead us to the person He has for us. It is important to wait on the Lord and trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5).
Dear Aunt Sue,
How will I know when I have found the perfect partner for marriage?
The Bible does not address how to find the perfect spouse, nor does it get as specific as we might like on the matter of finding the right marriage partner. The one thing Godâ€™s Word does explicitly tell us is to make sure that we do not marry an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). While we are free to marry, we should only marry those who are acceptable to God – in other words, Christians. Beyond this, the Bible is silent about how to know we are marrying the â€˜rightâ€™ person.
The truth is that the Bible is so clear on what a Christian is and how we are to act that specifics are not necessary. Christians are supposed to be like-minded about important issues, and if two Christians are committed to their marriage and to obeying Christ, they already possess the necessary ingredients for success. However, because our society is inundated with many professing Christians, it would be wise to use discernment before devoting oneself to the life-long commitment of marriage. Once a prospective mateâ€™s priorities are identified – if he or she is truly committed to Christ-likeness – then the specifics are easier to identify and deal with.
First, we should make sure that we are ready to marry. We must have enough maturity to look beyond the here and now and be able to commit ourselves to joining with this one person for the rest of our lives. We must also recognise that marriage requires sacrifice and selflessness. Before marrying, a couple should study the roles and duties of a husband and wife.
A couple should make sure they know each other for a sufficient amount of time before discussing marriage. They should watch how the other person reacts to different situations, how he behaves around his family and friends, and what kind of people she spends time with. A personâ€™s behaviour is greatly influenced by those he keeps company with; you should agree on issues such as morality, finances, values, children, church attendance and involvement, relationships with in-laws, and employment. These are areas of potential conflict in marriage and should be carefully considered beforehand.
Finally, any couple considering marriage should first go to pre-marital counselling with their pastor or trained Christian counsellor. Here, they will learn valuable tools for building their marriage on a foundation of faith in Christ, and they will also learn how to deal with inevitable conflicts. After all these criteria have been met, the couple is ready to prayerfully decide if they desire to be joined together in marriage.
Biblical couple advice
Is there anything in the Bible that addresses age differences in relationships?
Dear Lizzie, the Bible very rarely gives us age examples in marriage relationships (or in any other situation, for that matter). We do know that Abraham was 10 years older than Sarah (Genesis 17:17), but there are no other couples in the Bible where both individualsâ€™ ages are given. It is often assumed, for example, that Joseph was significantly older than Mary. However, there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that indicates this.
Age can be important in a marriage, but it is far less important than other issues such as salvation, spiritual maturity, and compatibility. As people get older, age difference means less and less. Obviously, a 40-year-old marrying a 20-year-old will be questioned, while no-one will think twice about an 80-year-old marrying a 60-year-old.
The only warning regarding age in marriage is to avoid marrying someone young for lustful purposes, and avoid marrying someone older for money.
How will I know?
Dear Aunt Sue,
I am a 20 year-old girl, how can I know if I am in love?
Dear BB, love is a very powerful emotion which motivates much of our lives and often times people make many important decisions based on this emotion; even to get married because they feel they are in love.
Maybe, this could be the reason why about half of all first marriages end in divorce. The Bible teaches us that true love is not an emotion that can come or go, but a decision. We are not just to love those who love us; we should even love those who hate us, the same way that Christ loves the unlovable.
â€œLove is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
BB you are still young and it is very easy to imagine that you have fallen in love with someone, but there are some questions you need to ask before you can decide if what you are feeling is true love.
If you are considering giving your heart and emotions to one person, are willing to put that person above all other people and to put your relationship second only to God.
Another thing to consider is whether or not the loved one is a good candidate for being a mate. Has he/she already put God first and foremost in his/her life? Is he/she able to give his/her time and energy to building the relationship into a marriage that will last a lifetime? There is no measuring stick to determine when we are truly in love with someone, but it is important to discern whether we are following our emotions or following Godâ€™s will for our lives. True love is a decision, not just an emotion. True biblical love is loving someone all of the time, not just when you feel in love.
I hope I have answered you.
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AGONY PEP TALK with AUNT SUE