Whom Should I Marry?
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 24 February 2001
Click here for Part 2
Today I would like to round off my three-part sermon on how to know the right person to marry. We have now covered a lot of territory. Let me very quickly remind you of everything we have discussed: 1. Choose a Believer; 2. Trust Yahweh: a. Obedience, b. Relationship to Yah'shua, c. Be content with what you have; 3. Consider Character: a. Submissiveness, b. Humility, c. A Servant attitude, d. Sexual purity, e. Devotion to Christ, f. Right priorities, g. Right beliefs, h. Commitment to Church, i. Loving attitude, j. Self-control, k. Honesty, l. Beauty below the skin, m. Responsibility, n. Good relationship with parents; 4. Wisdom 5; Get Advice.
Finally, I put before you five practical considerations:
1. Look in the right place
2. Ask the Lord for help
3. Don't base your decision on one 'sign'
4. Seek advice
5. Study the family
6. Don't rush!
If you're unmarried, all of this will give you a lot to think about. And if you're already married, the chances are that you will have children, grandchildren or simply friends who will come to you for advice. For the whole of your life you will meet people wanting guidance and ministry. They will probably go to many people for advice, if they are wise, and probably - if they seek counsel from non-Christians - they will get a lot of contradictory advice. For our part, we base all of our counsel on God's Word, the Bible, because we believe, with good justification, that the Creator of human beings and the whole Universe knows best.
At some point in your life you may ask yourself some very deep questions about marriage such as: What is its purpose? And, how much free choice to I have? What if I make a mistake and choose the wrong person? Do I have real choice? Or does God simply ensure, no matter who we are or how we live, that we will end up with the right spouse?
Many people who are lazy would rather believe in fate than intelligent choice. I have, over the years, met with many Muslims who have a fatalistic attitude towards not only marriage but also to everything else in life. You will often hear a Muslim, "It was Allah's will" if, for example, something terrible happens. I had one student in Oxford who repeatedly parked his car on a double yellow line and so risked getting a parking ticket. So one day I confronted him and asked: "What if the police catch you and you get fined?" He simply shrugged his shoulders and said: "Then it will be Allah's will."
Needless to say the true God, Yahweh-Elohim, does not work like the Muslim 'Allah'. There is no such thing as fate. As human beings we have genuine free will in the area of life we find ourselves in. If a person carelessly walks off the top of a building knowing how dangerous it is, and gets himself killed, then it is absolutely not Yahweh's will. It is only the Muslims, pagans and occultists who believe and teach that everything that happens to us is predetermined by either fate or by karma.
The fact of the matter is this: God has already determined who the right spouse for you is and He ensures that both parties are born at the right time and have the opportunity to meet one another. However, the Lord also gives us the freedom to marry the wrong people so that in all likelihood a proportion of people are married to the wrong spouses and they end up with marriages which are either war zones or completely stagnant. But even if we do make a wrong choice - and in nearly every instance you won't know that until the next life - the moment we are married and under covenant, we have to stick with the choice we made. That is God's Law.
Now some people may say that is unfair - that people can make an honest mistake - but that really isn't the point. For God's law has always been known and until atheism appeared and became institutionalised a century ago every culture - pagan as well as Christian - has had a basic knowledge about the sanctity of marriage. This in turn has led to various traditions which, though imperfect and often unfair and sometimes even brutal, at least recognised that marriage was very special. The Christian has had his Bible now for two thousand years, and before that Yahweh's marriage laws were known for another four thousand years at least. Of course God is merciful when we are ignorant, but when His Laws are known, people are without excuse. We have all the ingredients for finding the right marriage partners in His Word.
Having said that we have the freedom to make mistakes it is important to recognise that God is still in control. Even if someone chooses a wrong partner God is still lovingly and mercifully there to guide to make a marriage workable and even successful provided the parties are willing to make some sacrifices. In principle almost any marriage can work provided the couple follows Yahweh's Laws. It is quite useless and positively harmful to wonder if we made the right choice after we have committed ourselves and got married - once the decision has been made, it has been made, and is irreversible. If a mistake was made, the Lord will straighten it out in the next life and ensure everyone is united with their correct marriage partners.
One thing that is very clear about choosing a marriage partner is that it takes a great deal of time and effort finding the right person. It means that we have to be thoughtful - we need to think things out carefully. Very, very carefully. And it's a good idea to think out your plan of action long before you start meeting young men and women so that you know what to do when your heart starts to boil over with passion. Every young person should be thinking these questions over from the time they are teenagers. Because the issues are so very important, because the risks are so very great, a human mind needs a few years to carefully think the issues over. Ask yourself such questions as: Would common sense keep me from losing my head before getting married? What practical issues that the Bible speaks about are essential to a happy marriage? What makes me a practical choice for someone to want to marry me? What practical reasons might a person have for not wanting to marry me?
If there is one principle that I do want to underline several times it is the importance of thinking ahead. A person who likes swimming doesn't dive headfirst into a lake without learning first how deep and how warm or cold the water is, does he? How many stories have you read of people being crippled or killed because they dived into a lake or a swimming pool that was too shallow? I've even known of people who have dived into empty swimming pools believing it was full of water. Would you buy a house without looking over it and checking it our thoroughly first? Would you accept a job if you didn't know what you'd be doing, how much you would be paid, or what the working conditions were like? Only fools make important decisions on impulse. And what is an 'impulse'? An impulse is a sudden desire or feeling we get without knowing where it came from or where it might lead. To be sure there are occasionally times when we have to make sudden decisions but not when it comes to marriage. You may impulsively buy a car which breaks down or a house that leaks. But you can repair or sell a broken car or house. You can't just dump a marriage without eternal consequences.
With a proper biblical view of marriage we can know what we're getting into. People who follow other rules often run into conflict situations in marriage which they find difficult or impossible to solve because of all the wrong expectations they have. They end up ignoring their problems and just hoping they will go away, or get a divorce. That's why it's so important for those contemplating marriage to think ahead about what they're getting into.
I wonder what Rebekah and Isaac thought they were getting into? We aren't told much in Genesis 24. We can only assume that the principles which were first received in the Garden of Eden were faithfully passed down to them. And even more importantly, they were able to watch their God-fearing parents respect the Lord's plan for marriage.
Isaac must have known that marriage had strong implications. He knew that his wife was not to be a pagan idolater but someone who was spiritually compatible - the very first and most important qualification in our list - a person who would join with him in preserving the faith and in passing it down to the next generation. For the 37 years before his mother had died, Isaac had observed his parents' relationship.
Yahweh designed marriage to be the closest and best of all human relationships. Men and women were created to compliment one another's physical, spiritual, emotional, and social needs and abilities in the special relationship called marriage. Their union was to be more than merely a sexual act, it was to be a union of purpose, hearts, and souls. Your selection of a marriage partner must be someone who compliments your needs, and someone whose needs you can joyfully fulfil.
Yahweh conducted the first marriage ceremony and He has been involved in every ceremony since, both Christian as well as pagan. Since the very time that He told husbands and wives to be unselfishly united as one-flesh, He has insisted, as Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself repeated, "Therefore what Yahweh has joined together, let not man separate" (Mt.19:6). We all know what Yahweh thinks about divorce - He hates it passionately (Mal.2:16). So do His true believers. New Testament passages such as Ephesians 5 extoll the sacredness of the marriage relationship and the need for husband and wife to give each everything they have.
These things need to be carefully thought about. Why you get married is as important as who you marry. Let's end by actually looking to see what marriage in fact is and what the different responsibilities of those involved are.
(1) Sexual faithfulness. Husbands and wives are expected to be faithful to each other sexually and to no-one outside their covenant. They owe no sexual favours to anyone else than those they are married to. They aren't even to think about sexual matters except within the context of their own marriage (Ex.20:14; Gal.5:19). That means they must look at marriage as something holy and sacred, something to be protected at all costs. It is, after all, the most precious relationship there is.
(2) Distinctive rôles. It is very important to realise that whilst husbands and wives are equal in worth, importance and salvation, Yahweh has nevertheless given them different rôles (1 Cor.11:3-16; Eph.5:22-23; Col.3:18-19; 1 Tim.3:4,12; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Pet.3:1-7). Husband and wife do now have identical missions in life.
Firstly, Yahweh has appointed the husband the head of the family and of the marriage relationship. He is to provide loving leadership (1 Cor.11:3; Eph.5:23,25,28; Col.3:19) and to do all he can to understand his wife's needs, treating her with tender respect (1 Pet.3:7).
In her turn, the wife is to provide loving help to the husband and family (Gen.2:18; Eph.5:22; Col.3:18; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Pet.3:1).
These days it is popular for these distinctive rôles to be thrown out and marked down as sexist and outdated stereotypes which, they say, no longer apply to our modern, enlightened world. The problem with that view is that Yahweh created men and women with different biological and relationship rôles. They are to work as a single team and not in competition with one another. A family cannot have two heads, a government two Prime Ministers, a school two Principals anymore than an individual can walk in two directions simultaneously.
Having said all of these things don not assume that marriage is easy. It isn't. Love takes a lot of work. A person who goes into marriage with the idea that life will be total romantic bliss has a rude awakening ahead. Most people are more realistic, but their expectations are still usually far greater than the reality they meet. That is why learning to work co-operatively and selflessly while you are still at home is such vitally important preparation work for future married life. Those who are idle at home and don't do much to help around rarely make good husbands and wives because they are more concerned about themselves than others. Marriage, as I said last week, is mainly about what you can do for your partner, not what you can get for yourself!
Since marriage is the only legitimate and permissible place to have sex, it is important that this is carefully worked out too. It is the expression of the most intimate relationship of body and soul. The sex drive is a powerful force and should never be underestimated - that is one reason why Yahweh designed marriage where that drive can be fulfilled (Heb.13:4). Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:2 and 9 that marriage is the only place where the desire for sexual fulfilment may be found with God's blessing. There it may be enjoyed without reservation or fear because it is sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Prov.5:15-19). But sex outside marriage is cursed by the Lord and brings no spiritual blessings at all. Finally, the husband and wife have as their first sexual duty to provide satisfaction to their mate and not consciously seek it for themselves (1 Cor.7:3-5).
Why do so few people marry today compared to the past? If you ask someone on the street they will give you many reasons, most of them nonsense, like the need to be 'free', and so forth. But the real reason people don't marry is because they are either scared of, or are rebelling against, taking responsibility for their actions.
Sex brings responsibility. On the physical plane, it brings forth children, which is one of the chief reasons Yahweh created it. How do people avoid responsibility in this area? They either use preventatives or murder their unborn. In the United States alone more unborn babies have been killed by so-called abortion since it became legal there than men and women were killed in wars, murder and by famine and disease throughout the last one hundred years! The holocaust of the unborn is worse than anything the nazis or communists ever did combined, and what they did was awful enough.
There is no such thing as sex without responsibility because it is the creative force of the universe. It is holy and commands great power.
On the spiritual plane, sex brings either the blessing of the Holy Spirit when married people are true to one another or opens doors to demon infestation when they are not, or when unmarried and uncommitted people engage in it for recreation. Because it is such an open door to demon infestation, Satan devotes a lot of effort to promoting perverse sex. Why are the demons so interested in it in human beings? Because they can't have it themselves as they are only spirit beings, denied physical bodies because of their rebellion in heaven. That is why demons congregate in droves around people having unlawful or perverse sex. Their chief aim is to have spiritual sex with men and women and there is a whole class of demons who specialise in this called Incubi and Succubi. This they do through various forms of sexual magic and perversion as practised by occultists and Satanists. Once demons get into people by this channel they get all kinds of unnatural cravings which leads them to even more perverse sex.
Perhaps now you will understand why sex is so holy and why God has thrown the hedge of marriage around it. Once you act sexually outside that hedge it gives Satan and his demons legal rights to make trouble for you. Worse than that, it causes God protection to withdraw. You are then on your own to fight against these filthy creatures of the dark who swarm around and take possession of paedophiles, homosexuals, adulterers and fornicators.
Marriage not only protects your sex life - whether you are a believer or an unbeliever is besides the point in this instance - but when you have the Holy Spirit in your life as a born-again believer you also received God's blessing in sex. Then He wants you to positively enjoy it as His gift.
I want to end today by asking you to consider what marital love really is - and especially Christian marital love. True love is more than a sensation - it is more than feeling wonderful when you are with the one you are married to. Feelings, as you know, can lead you up a mountain one day and down into the valley of desperation the next. The kind of love which is needed to enter a marriage fully prepared is a love that is self-sacrificing - a love that gives of oneself for the sake of the other.
Now no one on this earth has ever exhibited this perfect love except Yah'shua (Jesus). We should begin by first desiring this kind of love and by then working on it by trusting Christ to empower us with it as we exercise faith in His resurrection power and strive to obey His commandments. To be truly in love with someone, that is, in the Christian sense, is to be filled with Christ-like love that fulfils the criteria laid down by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I'm going to give each of you a copy of this list. Notice that everything is repeated twice in two separate columns - one for you and one for your spouse or for the one you are looking for. I want you to privately write in your name in the blanks as you successfully fulfil the condition:
||Qualities of Love|
||Is not jealous|
||Is not boastful|
||Is not arrogant|
||Is not rude|
||Is not self-seeking|
||Is not easily angered|
||Does not hold grudges|
||Does not delight in evil|
||Rejoices in the truth|
May Yahweh bless you whether you are not married yet, whether you are married now, or whether you are alone having lost your partner, for which ever category you are in, there is always the next life to consider. For if we are loving as we should, we shall be with our husbands and wives forever. If not, then we must prepare to be alone. Amen.
This page was created on 21 February 2001
Last updated on 21 February 2001
Copyright © 1987-2007 NCCG - All Rights Reserved