Does God Really Care Who I Marry?
Marriage is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful and fulfilling of God’s plans for mankind. But a quick glance at the state of marriage in our present society tells us that a successful marriage is a rarity. Why? Could the reason for our high failure rate in marriage possibly be due to the fact that we’re ignoring God’s specific instruction on the subject? And does God have something to say to Christians wanting to get married today? More importantly—are we listening?
Most Christians would be quick to agree with the statement that the Word of God is their guide for life and the daily practice of their faith. But it’s amazing how few believers actually check out the Word of God before taking a step like marriage!
Let’s take a look at some of what the Bible has to say:
It’s His Life
One of the first and most important issues facing a Christian considering marriage is the understanding that, as a Christian, our lives are to be lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we have been purchased by Christ, the payment being nothing less than His own blood. Because of this, our lives belong to Him—not us! (See 1 Corinthians 6:19 and 1 Peter 1:18-19) Jesus died to save you from your sin, and He now holds divine ownership over your life. (You will note that He does not force Himself upon you, or demand that you submit to His will. He is a gentleman, and lovingly moves upon your heart to choose His ways above your own.) And it is our love for Christ that motivates our obedience. “If you love me,” Jesus said, “you will obey what I command.”(John 14:15 NIV)
Unfortunately the number of Christians who’ve received clear biblical teaching on marriage are few. But God has given us clear and specific guidelines in His Word on the subject.
For starters, the Bible tells us that one of the fundamental purposes of marriage is companionship. In Genesis chapter two, we’re told that after creating the first man, The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NIV) Thus God created the first woman, and she was a perfectly suited companion for the man. It remains the heart of God that when a man and a woman come together, they become intimate companions on every level of life—emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual.
Intimacy is perhaps the greatest blessing of marriage. To know your partner and share your life with him/her is truly wonderful! But this can’t happen if you are “unequally yoked” —a term the Bible uses to describe a couple who cannot share spiritual intimacy because one of them is not a Christian. The Apostle Paul writes, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6: 14a-15b NIV)
If you marry an unbeliever you cannot be spiritually intimate with your spouse, because you don’t have Christ in common. If the person you are interested in is not born again by God’s Spirit, he or she cannot understand the things of God, nor relate to your personal walk with Christ.
Many Christians justify their interest and intention to marry an unbeliever by saying “I know he’s not a Christian but he’s interested in spiritual things and he‘s willing to come to church with me.” First of all, “interest” is fine, but it doesn’t make him a Christian, which the Word of God tells you he must be before you consent to marriage. And regarding his willingness in coming to church, just remember that he’s trying to win your heart. His openness and sincerity regarding Christianity may or may not be real. Either way, I wouldn’t count on it always being there. In many cases, an unbelieving spouse will become disinterested in church attendance not long after the wedding ceremony.
Another reason God wants you to marry a Christian is for the sake of your children. There’s a fascinating verse in the Old Testament book of Malachi that expresses God’s desire for a man and woman to be joined together in a lasting and godly relationship: “Has not [the Lord] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring.” (Malachi 2:15 NIV emphasis mine)
Frankly, there are many more reasons why you shouldn’t marry an unbeliever, but the most important one is that God has told you not to. Your Heavenly Father loves you and truly knows what’s best. Are you willing to trust Him for that, even if it contradicts what your heart is telling you? Remember, your heart can deceive you, but God never will!
Commitment to Christ
If the person you’re interested in marrying is indeed a Christian, the next question you need to ask is, “Are they a committed believer?” If you are a woman, you need to ask yourself whether the man you are considering as your husband has the spiritual depth and commitment to lead your family as the Lord expects. Is he the kind of man who is going to take the lead in spiritual matters? By the same token, if you are a man, the question is whether the woman you are thinking of making your wife understands what the Bible has to say about her role as it is defined in Scripture. If you aren’t sure, I would strongly encourage you to contact your pastor or elder and ask them to sit down with you before you get married and discuss these matters.
God loves you, and He wants your marriage to be as fulfilling as He created marriage to be. But you must cooperate with the guidelines our Lord has established in His Word in order to unlock all those blessings. Think of the Bible as God’s Manual for a successful marriage.
Worship God—not your heart!