Principles of Marriage – Considering Marriage Part 3
Principles to Consider for the Marriage Decision
It is important to approach the marriage decision using faith and godly wisdom. Many principles and cautions are laid out more extensively in the document, “Principles of Biblical Decision Making”. We encourage you to think through the principles of that document in the context of marriage. Consider walking through the wheel of biblical decision-making principles as you make your decision. A few guiding points for these principles are below.
God’s Word as the Foundation.
Psalm 11:3, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
Establishing that we will pursue a marriage decision based upon the foundation of God’s Word and His principles is a critical first step. Purposing that we will follow the truth of the Bible and not rest in what seems wise in our own eyes is crucial. While having personal motives, thoughts and emotions is not bad or wrong in itself, we must be aware that a feeling or sense of what is right or wrong apart from God’s Word can powerfully influence us. The marriage decision is by nature personally charged; we must balance out our personal persuasions with the unchanging counsel of God’s Word.
Having an Accurate Concept of God.
Our concept of God can greatly affect how well we trust Him with our marriage decision. If an individual does not view God as trustworthy (Psalm 9:10), they are more likely to take matters into their own hands. If someone does not believe God desires the best for them (Jer. 29:11-13), they struggle to have faith and confidence He is working “all things for good.” At times when we do not understand God’s ways (e.g., when someone desires to be married and is not or when a proposal does not go through), it is easy to feel as though God is withholding good things from us. It is wise in the marriage decision making process to spend time developing an accurate concept of God to further build on the foundation of scripture.
Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty.
God is the object of our faith as we consider marriage. No one knows the future. Ultimately, we move toward the future by faith. We are to put our faith in Him and commit, up front, to seek His guidance and direction throughout the process. This can be greatly liberating, comforting, and terrifying at the same time.
Faith asks us by its nature to give up control and surrender to the One who is greater than us.
Yet faith can bring comfort when we believe and trust that He loves us and desires the best for us. God’s sovereignty gives us the perspective to say, “I will move forward with the Lord, and whatever happens, God will be with me.”
Walking with God and Praying for Direction.
Our relationship with God is of utmost importance as we consider marriage. God places high value on this decision as it affects not only us but also our potential spouse. We should have a healthy relationship with God and be living an overcoming life by His grace. Our walk with God should be centered on the strong commitment to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteous. (Mat. 6:33) Our prayer life should be vibrant, filled with the confidence God can perform that which He desires but also filled with the humility to place our desires in submission to His will. Walking with God, praying in the Spirit, and continually conforming to the image of Christ are critical first steps in the marriage decision process.
Seeking Wise Counsel.
Seeking Counsel is Essential for the Marriage Decision.
A crucial check in the marriage decision making process is the counsel of others. It is a blessing to be a part of the Body of Christ where we are “members one of another.” (Rom. 12:5) These “members” can speak “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) by helping an individual check motives, determine a readiness or maturity for marriage, identify areas where an individual is not seeing clearly, and other aspects of wise counsel. It is strongly encouraged that counsel is sought from a support team of one’s parents and experienced and trusted mentors in Christ, not just peers. The wisdom of Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise,” is especially poignant in an emotionally charged decision such as marriage. Those who know us well can prayerfully help with the discernment process. Support people should help examine our readiness for marriage and in what areas of life growth and maturity are needed in order to be a healthy future spouse.
Get Counsel from Your Elder Early in the Process.
It is strongly encouraged individuals meet with their elder when they are starting to consider marriage. There are times individuals will go through the whole decision-making process and then only meet with their elder to make a proposal. For most situations, this is backward. The time of considering marriage is a deeply spiritual time. It is a time of self-examination, prayer, and pruning. Godly counsel and encouragement from an elder can be of great benefit during the entire process. This means meeting with the elder and seeking counsel well before bringing a proposal.
Trusting, Having a Surrendered Heart, and Waiting on God’s Timing.
At some point in a marriage decision process, there will be a “step of faith,” a decision to move forward with either a proposal or an answer. How sure do we have to be to take a step of faith? By its definition, taking a step of faith does not mean having perfect certainty or having everything figured out. It is walking in His strength and teachings today while trusting Him for the future and surrendering the outcome to Him. It is trusting God through the uncertainty.
In addition, there will be times where we seem to be waiting for God to act or potentially work in others. Sometimes the “who” and the “when” of marriage do not seem to line up. Patiently wait for God to orchestrate while praying that faith can remain strong in the promise God is working even when it does not seem like it. (Is. 40:31). However, care should be taken to ensure we are not passively waiting for God to work a miracle in our lives. Actively continue to serve the Lord faithfully. We should talk through our sense of leading toward marriage with our elder or godly mentor, continue to pray for our future spouse, and seek to walk with the Lord in large and small aspects of life. The first step in a marriage decision is a healthy relationship with the Father.
As a final point to consider, the Bible counsels us in Ephesians 5:15 to, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” As such, when we make decisions, especially a decision that will impact lives as profoundly as marriage, we must consider the implications both short and long term. Asking ourselves the right questions and prayerfully reflecting on our answers in the light of the scriptures is a critical aspect of the marriage decision. Please consider the self-reflection questions outlined in the document “A Guide for Self-Reflection During Marriage Decision Making
To view the complete PDF of The Marriage Decision, click here.
For Further Information:
The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry, But Why?
Author: Gary Thomas
In this 224-page book, the author helps single people of all ages make wise marital choices by rethinking what basis those choices should be made on. You will be encouraged to think beyond finding your ‘soul mate’ and instead adopt a more biblical search for a ‘sole mate’ –someone who will walk with you on your spiritual journey. Thomas asks, “What if we focused on why we should get married more than on who to marry? What if being ‘in love’ isn’t a good enough reason to get married?” And most of all, what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? The Sacred Search casts a vision for building a relationship around shared spiritual mission.