Choosing a marriage partner

coppia di fediLast night, I was blessed to listen to a sermon preached by my mentor, Vasile Filat. I first heard this message about 11 years ago when I was living in Moldova, learning how to be a missionary. He preached it again a few days ago at a church in Bucharest Romania. Someone was gracious enough to film it and put it online. As I listened last night, I was blessed once again by the message and I was also blessed with memories from my time in Moldova. I would like to share the message with you here and I hope that you will be as blessed as I was.

Choosing a marriage partner is one of the major choices that we all want to make in this life. We generally go through years of schooling to get trained for life yet, this aspect is often neglected. Is there a plan laid out in the Word of God for choosing a marriage partner? Do I just need to hope that I get “lucky” and pick the right one? Am I at the whims and desires of my deceitfully, wicked heart? We say things like, “the heart wants what it wants and I cannot stop it. Besides, you cannot control who you fall in love with”. Let’s take a look at a love story in Genesis 24, the story of Isaac and Rebecka. There are 10 principles that we can learn from this passage about choosing a marriage partner.

I. Your future marriage partner must be a child of God

1 Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way.
2 Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh,
3 and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live,
4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”

Abraham does not want his son’s future wife to come from among the Canaanites, not because of any kind of ethnic prejudice. He did not want her to come from among the Canaanites because they were pagan people who worshiped idols and Abraham knew a principle that the Apostle Paul wrote about many, many years after Abraham’s life was over.

33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (I Corinthians 15)

God would later tell His people who came from Abraham why they were not to intermarry with the pagan, idol worshiping nations.

3 “Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.
4 “For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. (Deuteronomy 7)

Some people have this idea of missionary dating. I have even heard things like “flirt to convert”. Please do not believe these lies. If you have convinced yourself that everything will be okay because you will be able to change the person once he or she is married to you, please, do not be deceived and stop deceiving yourself. If you marry a person who is not a born again Christian, you will be the one influenced instead of being the one who influences for good. This tends to happen among women more than men. Girls see the flaws and rationalize them away by thinking, “he will change for me because he loves me enough to marry me”. News flash, many a woman has thought that and the vast majority of them have been wrong. As Paul wrote, the bad corrupts the good, not the other way around. God said it to His people. They did not listen and paid a dear price for it. Do you want your marriage to become a living nightmare? I doubt that anyone comes into a marriage thinking/hoping, “I hope that this relationship becomes a war zone of torture”. Yet, how many would describe their current or previous marriage in terms like a “battlefield”?

II. Your spouse must not shift your focus from God’s high calling

5 The servant said to him, “Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?”
6 Then Abraham said to him, “Beware that you do not take my son back there!
7 “The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and who swore to me, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give this land,’ He will send His angel before you, and you will take a wife for my son from there.
8 “But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this my oath; only do not take my son back there.”

Abraham had a purpose in life, to follow God. He passed that vision and purpose on to his son, Isaac. Abraham wanted his future daughter-in-law to have the same vision and purpose in life as his son. He did not want her to cause Isaac to deviate from the high calling that he had received from God. Many time, single people are content serving the Lord and then along comes a girl or a boy and that same faithful, single person seems to lose his or her mind. The high calling that he or she received from God gets set aside while they work on their new relationship with each other. They do not serve the Lord together. Instead, their relationship causes them to deviate from the vision and purpose that they received from God. This will carry over into the marriage and both parties will miss out on the high calling that God has on their lives. Again, I turn to the Apostle Paul for some of his advice on this subject.

32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord;
33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife,
34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. (I Corinthians 7)

The main point is, we need to be devoted to God before we marry and we need to seek a marriage partner who will help us stay focused on our vision and purpose given to us by the Lord.

III. Your spouse must have the same vision and purpose in life

The best way to “find” someone like this is to minister together. You see a person’s “real” character when faced with difficult circumstances of ministry. The masks come off. The “politeness” is set aside. Stress has a way of bringing out what is really there. This is a good thing because in marriage, there will be plenty of stressful situations and you want to know beforehand how that person reacts. At the same time, you will discover if their vision and purpose in life is the same as yours. I met my wife at a Bible study. I got to know her on the international mission field. We developed a great friendship while serving in the ministry together. The sentimental feelings of “desire” did not cloud our judgment. We saw each other for who we really were. That was the one thing that convinced me that God had brought her to me to be my wife, the fact that we both had the same vision and purpose in life. Our marriage simply strengthened what was already there. This is exactly what Abraham told his servant. He was to bring back a girl who wanted to come and share the same vision and purpose as his son Isaac.

IV. Focus on character

10 Then the servant took ten camels from the camels of his master, and set out with a variety of good things of his master’s in his hand; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.
11 He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water.
12 He said, “O LORD, the God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today, and show lovingkindness to my master Abraham.
13 “Behold, I am standing by the spring, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water;
14 now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also ‘-may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”

This servant is a very wise man. He is not asking God for a sign, instead, he is looking for a girl with a servant’s heart. Many times, we focus so much on the outward things that we tend to forget about the person’s character. After being married for a time, the outward appearance tends to take a back seat to the person’s character. If the character is ugly, the physical beauty seems to lose its luster. On the other hand, when the character is beautiful, that just enhances the physical beauty. In marriage, those of us who have been married for a while will tell you, character is way more important that physical beauty. The servant is not looking for a beautiful woman. He is looking for a woman of character.

15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder.
16 The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.
17 Then the servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar.”
18 She said, “Drink, my lord “; and she quickly lowered her jar to her hand, and gave him a drink.
19 Now when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw also for your camels until they have finished drinking.”
20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, and ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.

Rebekah is a beautiful girl of good character with a servant’s heart. This is the beauty of what God does for us as His children. We marry up when we follow Him. He provides a person of good character and that good character simply enhances the physical beauty.

V. Look for someone who is relational

When young people “date” they usually end up playing roles that they think that the other person wants to see. It is challenging, and often times, deceptive. I have counseled many couples who say things like, “he changed once we got married” or “she is not the same girl that I dated”. It is clear that both sides play theater type roles to show they other person what they think they want to see and hear. That stuff disappears in marriage because you break character and revert back to who you really are. If you really want to know who a person is before you marry them, watch the way that they interact with their immediate family. Look at the way that they treat their extended family. The masks are off during these times. Rebekah has a very good relationship with her parents and her siblings. She is a relational person. She knows how to build and maintain relationships. This is very important in marriage because marriage is all about building and maintaining a relationship. Also, as servants of the Lord, together, you will need to build and maintain many good relationships with others.

VI. You need to have your  parents’ blessing

50 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The matter comes from the LORD; so we cannot speak to you bad or good.
51 “Here is Rebekah before you, take her and go, and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has spoken.”
52 When Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself to the ground before the LORD.

This is not just a formality. The idea is that you ask your parents for help/advice in choosing a marriage partner. Listen to their advice, if it is according to the Word of God. Let them share with you from their perspective. Parents are very intuitive. They see many more things than you think that they see, especially when you are a teen or young adult.

VII. Accept marriage of your own free will

57 And they said, “We will call the girl and consult her wishes.”
58 Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.”

Do not allow others to pressure you or force you into marrying a person that they have chosen for you or a person whom they feel would be the best choice for you. You need advice from others but, mainly, you need to hear from the Lord that this is the person whom God has chosen for you. You must marry of your own free will. Don’t say yes until you are convinced that this is the will of the Lord.

VIII. Do not become obsessed with marriage

There are some young people that live and breath in hope of getting married. Marriage is not the main reason that you exist. The main reason that God created you is so that you can have a personal relationship with Him. God wants you to learn to love Him and to learn to serve Him all the days of your life. The gift of time is from God and it is with this purpose, to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him. Seek to serve the Lord while you are single. Singleness is not a burden. Single people are not of less value in the eyes of God. Marriage is not the culmination of life. It is a part of life. It is part of the journey of walking with God. Singleness is also just a part of life. It is also part of the journey of walking with God. Whether married or single, here is the Apostle Paul’s advice to all of us.

35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. (I Corinthians 7)

In the Bible, there are many couples who served the Lord faithfully while being married. There are also many single people who served the Lord faithfully all the days of their life. This is the holy calling that the Lord has given to all of us. Are you ready to answer that holy calling? Are you ready to wait for a spouse who will help you answer the holy calling and live it out daily. If you truly want a marriage that lasts, a marriage that brings joy and satisfaction, I recommend that you study the Bible study course, “Marriage without Regrets” by Precept Ministries International.




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