"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife and they two shall be one flesh" (Eph. 5:31).
There is only one ideal for marriage running right through the Scriptures, and that is one man joined to one woman. Nowhere do we get the idea that we should try various partners before choosing the right one. We see that the selection of a partner was often made by parents, or sometimes as a reward; but the suggestion in the New Testament is for two people to come together of their own free will; yet also in the will of the Lord. "She is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:39). This is the usual practice in the Christian Church and is in line with Scripture.
Marriage is for mature people; men and women (not boys and girls) who are able to form a separate family unit, independent both in financial and moral responsibility.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24).
Our natural desires can easily lead us into a wrong, even dangerous position. Especially when we are young it is easy to become so convinced that we have found the right one that our judgement becomes blurred if not blind. There have been many who through an impetuous decision have been led into a sad relationship or led away from a path of devotion to the Lord and obedience to His Word.
From 1 Th. 4, it is clear that competition between two people for one partner is hated by God. This is something we should consider carefully. "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in the matter" (v. 6). Many romance stories involve two men competing for the love of one woman or vice versa. This should not be so with those who seek to be guided by the Lord in these matters.
In Pro. 30, Agur talks about three things that are too wonderful for him; one of these is "the way of a man with a maid!" The romance of choosing a partner and the way this happens to us as guided by God is something very special for the different individuals involved. Our Lord spent all night in prayer before He chose His disciples; and to be guided into the will of God we need to be similarly exercised in prayer.
There is a different role for the man and the woman in these things. The man has the responsibility to take the initiative, the woman has the responsibility to respond, or not, as the Lord may lead. The man therefore has the duty to wait patiently upon the Lord before intervening in the life of a sister; and the woman to prayerfully wait upon the Lord to provide her with His choice.
The term "falling in love" is often used when a couple start to be friendly; this can be superficial, and we should be wary of this concept as it gives the idea of uncontrolled emotion. We could easily be led by our old nature in a mere infatuation simply because of physical attraction, because of being continually in another’s company, or even because of undue pressure from those around us. Some like to act as matchmakers, encouraging couples who they think are suitable for each other. This is a dangerous game and has had many sad results.
The love of the marriage relationship is an act of will under the guidance of our Master. An intelligent and permanent decision, which is taken in mature consideration of the issues involved and which will endure through every pressure and circumstance which might otherwise cause a couple to "fall out of love." The Lord has decreed that marriage is for life, and if we want the Lord’s blessing we must follow his instructions. It is the lie of the devil that we can be happy with someone else. We must reject his subtle whispers.
The question arises: "Will I get married and to whom?" The pressures around us from our peers, parents, and the world in general are often very strong. Young people are expected to have a boyfriend or girlfriend from a very early age, and if they do not they are seen to be failing. A relationship with a girl or boy may also be used as an expression of ego and superiority in young people who want to be seen with a partner. It may just be the done thing, "everybody else does it, so I'll do it too." We have to realise, too, that young people have natural desires to be with members of the opposite sex of their own age. The fear of being "left on the shelf," apparently unwanted, with the real stigma that this may bring can also lead some to be desperate to marry someone.
How does the young person steer himself or herself through this minefield? - Let's answer a few questions.
Firstly the Christian is a person who has committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ and come under His lordship and direction. If in our hearts we have truly yielded to Him then our own desires or indeed the plans of those around us are of no account. Only His will shall be my aim and only His will is BEST.
DOES GOD WANT THE BEST FOR ME?
If I trust the matter of my marriage to God will I have to make do with somebody that no one else wants? Will I ever get married? Will I perhaps miss out on a lot of fun? Let us think about our God! "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Rom. 8:28). "Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of His servant" (Ps. 35:27). "Delight thyself in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass" (Ps. 37:4-5).
The more we get to know and trust our Father, the more we experience that He gives only good gifts to His children. He knows whether or not we are best to be married, and He knows how we will be able to serve Him best. So if we are to remain single we know that His will is best – indeed, in 1 Cor. 7, Paul says that to remain single is better. If He wants us to be married He will have prepared a partner for us before we were born and He knows best how to bring us together.
IF WE DO IT GOD’S WAY, WILL IT BE BORING?
God created all the good things we associate with courtship: love, joy, happiness, and the physical and mental attraction of the opposite sex. Only as led in the will of God will these things be enjoyed to the full if we leave the choice of our partner to God: His choice and in His time.
Young people, with all the pressures you face are you prepared to go this way?
As a young man I had many lessons to learn. I thought I knew all the answers, but at the age of seventeen I came to realise that I needed to completely rethink my attitude to this subject. I came to the conclusion that God knew what was best for my life and if He wanted me to be married He would guide me to the right person when His time was right. I did not want to do anything that would prevent my receiving His best. I realised that God knew how to give me a wife, if that was His will, so I determined that I would not in any way commit myself to anyone until I was sure it was the Lord's will. (I was sure that in such an important matter I would not be in any doubt.) I made a simple rule for myself that I would not go out alone with or show attachment to any girl until I was sure of God's will. This way I avoided being carried along by a momentary whim.
I am sure that it will be different for each one of us, but God rewarded me beyond my wildest dreams with a lovely wife, a romantic coming together, and a oneness of feeling and purpose for which we constantly thank Him. We often spend hours reminiscing over the way we came to know each other and it gives much pleasure to see the way the Lord works. In giving these personal details I would be the first to admit much failure on my part, but of this I am sure - having committed my way to the Lord, He did not fail me.
As we have seen, the ideal of Scripture is that there should be one man joined to one woman, and I would love to be able to say to my wife that I have never shown affection to another, but through self will and lack of understanding that is not so.
God knew that I needed a wife and that we could serve the Lord better together than apart, and His will is best. Pray to God to show you His way; don't decide what you want and then pray about it. Pray that He may make His mind clear to you and then you will be able to thank Him when He gives the answer.