How Do I Know God’s Will for a Marriage Partner?
Christians have a variety of views regarding selecting a husband or wife according to the will of God. Many Christians fear that they might go out of the will of God or miss out “on God’s best.” Many believe that there is only one person whom the Lord has selected for each Christian and it is up to each Christian to find that person. This person is the “right one” according to the will of God. Finding the “right one” is the key to finding God’s will and marital happiness over a lifetime. Many believe that If a Christian should marry someone else by accident or by desire, then he or she will not be in God’s will. They can still be happy, but will not have God’s best. However, those who marry the wrong person also risk the possibility of divorce. Christians often feel that couples get divorced because they have married the wrong person. Are all these beliefs true? Are these principles what the Bible teaches? The answer is no. They are not true and the Bible nowhere teaches these views.
“Is he or she the right one?” is the wrong question to ask.
“Is he or she the right one?” is the wrong question to ask. The right question, which the Scriptures teach is this one, “Is he or she the right kind of person to marry?” Prov.18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the Lord.” In other words, it is good for a man to find a woman and get married. The converse is true as well. It is good for a woman to find a man and be married as well. This means that getting married is beneficial and a blessing for humans.
However, it is not just marrying any woman or man, but the right kind of woman or man. Prov.19:14 says, “A prudent wife is from the Lord.” That is, if you want a wife that is from the Lord (i.e. the Lord’s will), find a prudent one (one with discernment and self-control). This would apply to the husband as well. This is just one attribute of a wife or husband that will be a blessing from the Lord. This verse gives the focus God has revealed in the Scriptures.
The Bible focuses on finding the right kind of wife or husband. Finding the right kind of wife or husband is God’s will for you. This is how you will receive God’s blessing. The Scriptures do not teach that believers need to find a specific person the Lord has chosen, but rather the Bible says that we are to focus on choosing the right kind of person and avoiding the wrong kind of person.
Although Abraham and Isaac sought wives for their sons as the Lord had directed them, their experiences are not the norm. They were very significant in terms of the covenant God made with Abraham and were major figures in the line of messiah. We are not. The normal Biblical approach in these non-moral areas (See the CD “How Do I Know God’s Will for My Life?“) is to choose whomever you desire to marry as long as you choose the right kind of person according to God’s priorities. You must also commit yourself to follow God’s standards for marriage.” God’s will is that Christians marry Christians.
The first priority is that he or she is a Christian. 2 Cor.6:14-16 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” This is a clear instruction from the apostle Paul that Christians are not to be bound together (in a marital/physical relationship) with non-Christians. Christians have been declared righteous in Christ and have been brought into the light of the truth. They should not have intimate fellowship with those that have not been declared righteous and are still in spiritual darkness.
This does not mean that Christians can’t have non-Christians as friends, but friendship is not a bond for life as marriage is. It means God wants Christians to marry other Christians. He wants his children marrying other ones who are his children. As a Christian husband or wife, your life is centered in Christ; an unbeliever’s is not. Your beliefs and values are established upon the Word of God, an unbeliever’s is not. You need continual encouragement to trust and obey the Lord. How can an unbeliever give you that? How will you encourage him or her daily if he or she does not trust the Lord?
This is an important commitment that you must make as a Christian to see God’s blessing in your life in this area. This is a boundary that you must draw when it comes to whom you allow yourself to “fall for” or even date. Is it possible to have romantic feelings for someone who is not a Christian? Yes, it is. Attraction is part of being human. However, it is not an indication of God’s will. God’s will is clearly stated above. The world says that if you feel it, it must be legitimate. This is not true! If you feel it and it is within God’s will, it is legitimate. Marrying a non-Christian is never the Lord’s will.
Dating unbelievers is emotionally dangerous! If you are going to be wise in following this, you also need to realize that it is emotionally dangerous to even date an unbeliever. You can think at the beginning that you can stop yourself short of marrying an unbeliever. I have heard Christians say, “I am only dating an unbeliever, I won’t marry him/her.” The Christian who does this is playing with emotional fire.
What happens if you date an unbeliever and develop the desire and romantic passion to marry him or her, now what are you going to do? Your feelings are powerful and you are going to hurt yourself far worse than if you had never gotten involved. What happens if the unbeliever develops a desire to marry you? Now, you are going to hurt him or her. You say you care about that unbeliever, but do you? You have defrauded that unbeliever by allowing him or her to develop a desire to marry you when you know you can’t marry him or her. What will that unbeliever think about Christ and Christians after his painful experience with you?
You say, “but there are no Christians around who want to date me.” That may be the case, but that does not change what is God your Father’s plan for you. Trusting the Lord in these kinds of circumstances is what being a Christian is all about. Prov.3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” God’s will is that Christians marry Christians who have godly characteristics.
Finding the right kind of wife or husband begins with his or her faith in Christ. However, being a Christian, does not guarantee he or she has the qualities necessary to make a successful marriage. Proverbs is very clear that men are to find women who have godly characteristics in their lives. Besides a prudent wife, which we have already seen, Prov.31: 10 says, “Find a wife of noble character.” Prov.12:4 says, “Find a wife of noble character, avoid a disgraceful wife.” Prov.19:13 says, “Avoid a quarrelsome wife.” Women, likewise are to find men with these godly characteristics.
The Scriptures also give other specific characteristics of the kind of people to avoid. This would certainly apply to marrying any of them. There are three kinds of people that Proverbs says to stay away from, the fool, the sluggard, and the one who does not control his tongue. A fool is one who acts foolishly. Prov.14:7 says, “Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.”
The characteristics of someone who is foolish are given in several places in Proverbs. Prov.12:15 says that a fool “does what seems right to him and does not listen to advice.” Prov.14:16 says that he is “hotheaded and reckless.” Prov.18:2 says he “delights in airing his own opinions” and Prov.20:3 says he is “quick to quarrel.” Prov.28:26 sums up the basic problem in his life when it says that a foolish man “does not walk in wisdom.” Prov.29:11 also says he “gives full vent to his anger, and has no self-control.” We should avoid marrying people with these characteristics.
Proverbs also says to watch out for a man who is lazy (the sluggard). Prov.19:15 indicates that a sluggard is sleeping all the time and thus going hungry. Prov.26:15 shows that he is too lazy to put out the effort to feed himself. Prov.24: 30-34 says that laziness brings on poverty. Women especially are to avoid a lazy man who will not meet his financial responsibilities. It is sad to see a woman married to a man who is always talking about making the “big bucks.” Yet, he is one who is not willing to get a steady job. Beware of allowing yourself to be attracted to a man who cannot keep a job. It is a strong possibility that he won’t suddenly change after he gets married.
We should avoid those who lie (Prov.6:17). Lying destroys any foundation of trust in a relationship. You will never know whether he or she is telling the truth or not. Prov.28:23 warns about someone who has a “flattering tongue.” This kind of a person praises you when he doesn’t really mean it. He just wants to get something from you. Prov.15:1 shows another kind of person to avoid, one who uses harsh words. Harsh words destroy the hearts and minds of others and make a lifetime relationship a lifetime of hurt.
Another characteristic to avoid is a one who lacks self-control. Prov.25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” A “city which has no walls” is a city which has no defense against harm. A person who lacks self-control has no defense against harm. Ruin and destruction will be his because he cannot keep his emotions and desires under control. He cannot or does not restrain his behavior. Self-control is an important quality for success in life and relationships. God has set forth limits of behavior; self-control keeps his actions within those limits.
These are just some of the guidelines that God gives each of us in selecting a wife or husband. No one can be perfect, but the lives of those mentioned above are characterized by these qualities so that they are known by them. That means those characteristics are regularly manifested in their lives. These are fatal flaws that destroy relationships, not build them.
If you find a wife or husband that has the kind of personal faults that destroy relationships, trying to build a lifetime relationship together will be like building a house on sinking sand. If you find a wife or husband that has the personal qualities that can develop and sustain a lifetime relationship in the Lord, you have followed what the Lord desires in finding a mate. Then, if you both desire to marry and to live together as husband and wife, then assume it is the Lord’s will unless the Lord clearly prevents it. The Lord wants to bless you as you seek a godly mate. If it doesn’t work out, trust that the Lord will work all things out for your good (Rom.8:28). Choose whomever you want to marry within God’s moral boundaries.
So, the Lord gives you the free choice to marry or not to marry. If you choose to marry, you may marry whomever you wish as long as he or she is the right kind of person and he or she desires to marry you. This gives you the joy of walking down the aisle to make a lifetime covenant with the one person you want to live with the rest of your life! Remember this, God has given marriage to be a free choice for you. When you walk down that aisle you should want to marry that person with all your heart. You should not be doing it because you think it is good for you or it is the right thing to do, you should want to be with that person the rest of your life!
You need to trust the Lord to bless you as you follow his guidelines. That blessing will come in two major forms. He will either bless your union together (this may include waiting for awhile) or he will turn you away from each other according to his sovereign will. The Bible says that if we delight in the Lord, he will give us the desires of our hearts (Ps.37:4,Ps.20:4,Ps.21:2). That is, if it is within his will (1Jn.5:14-15).
I believe these verses taken together mean that God as our Father wants us to be happy and if we find someone who is the “right kind” of person of the opposite sex for us, then the Lord will bless our union unless he has some specific reason for not doing so. What that reason is may not be revealed to us, but it will always be for our good (Rom.8:28).
What do I do if I can’t find anyone who wants to marry me? Does that mean I have the gift of celibacy?
Wanting to get married is normal and natural. Remember Prov.18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the Lord.” If you have a desire to get married, that is good. If you do not have a desire to marry and want to focus all your energy on the kingdom of God, that is good also. This is the gift of celibacy.
It is described by Jesus in Matt.19:12 “some have made themselves eunuchs (figurative expression for those who choose not to marry) for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” Paul had it. He says in 1 Cor.7:7 as he encourages Christians to stay single, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I [single]. But if they cannot contain themselves [sexual desires], let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn [with passion]. This means that if you want to get married, you don’t have the gift of celibacy. If you want to get married, it is a good thing.
If I want to find a mate, then why can’t I find one?
There are many possible reasons too numerous to discuss here. I suggest you speak with a pastor or other mature Christian who knows you to help you assess your particular situation. Ultimately, though, God is sovereign and you need to trust him with your present circumstances. Following Prov.3:5-6 is so important. You should not suppress the desire to marry nor pretend it doesn’t exist. It is a natural desire, but you need to pray about it and leave your welfare in the Lord’s hands.