There is nothing sweeter and more innocent than a couple in the blossoming stages of young love. The other day my 3-year-old asked me why I was smiling so big, and honestly it was because I was reading a text from a friend who is in the throes of it. She was experiencing what almost every young woman hopes to experience. Sadly, though, as the years inch ever forward, I still find myself with many, MANY single friends still aching to experience that and marry the “man of their dreams”.
I don’t think their singleness is their “fault” by any means, and I absolutely do not think that marriage is the end-all goal for a woman. But I do know the growth and happiness it’s brought me, and I know that many of these single women do long for and dream of marriage. Yet, there seems to be a general pickiness that is throwing road blocks in their path to love and marriage.
Sometimes the pickiness comes from their own high standards and expectations. Other times, the pickiness stems from their parents and friends having too high of standards for them. Don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing wrong with having high standards! Only, sometimes I wonder if these standards are really biblical…and whether these women might be much happier and much less single if they stopped holding fast to man-made “spouse shopping lists” and relied instead on just the Bible.
Another friend of mine, who is very happily married, shared with me the three things her father and her thought were important in a spouse for her. In almost every case, if the answer is “yes” to these three things, then there is very little that wouldn’t be able to be worked through. I think these things are highly biblical and I share them with you today:
1.) Does he love the Lord and have a real relationship with him?
Frankly, I think this one should be an obvious necessity. Why would you want to be married to someone who didn’t serve your Savior, who will not be a spiritual leader in your home, and who will not be nodded and prodded by the Holy Spirit?
But if you need more convincing than that, look no further than 2 Corinthians 6:14:
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
If marriage isn’t a yoking together, then I don’t know what is.
But, really, if he’s seeking the Lord first and you’re seeking the Lord first, then what can’t be worked through?
But how do you know he has a real, active relationship with the Lord?
Obviously there are a lot of fakers out there (Josh Duggar, anyone???). But the Bible is pretty clear how we know the truth from the lie…look at the fruit.
Luke 6:45-45 says:
“For each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Sometimes a lack of fruit is the sign that something isn’t quite right. A guy can talk a great talk, and even talk up his Bible reading and memorization…but what fruit is there in his life? What ministries is he involved in? Furthermore, does he not just attend a local church, but is an active member in it (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31)?
Finally, watch for the little signs of fruit. One of the biggest assurances to my heart of my husband’s salvation is after we’ve had a fight. I know that the times when I hold my tongue and just pray, he will undoubtedly come back to me and apologize and make things right. The Holy Spirit is constantly tapping on his shoulder, and he’s listening.
2.) Does he love you?
Again, this seems like an obvious one, but it means so much more than that feeling of being in love that’s a crazy mix of emotions and hormones that people call “being in love”. That’s usually what starts it, but from there it becomes a daily choice to love and cherish you, no matter what.
But let’s look at what the Bible says.
Ephesians 5:25, 28-33a (and I love these verses in the Amplified):
“Husbands, love your wives [seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love], just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…Even so husbands should and are morally obligated to love their own wives as [being in a sense] their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members (parts) of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined [and be faithfully devoted] to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery [of two becoming one] is great; but I am speaking with reference to [the relationship of] Christ and the church. 33 However, each man among you [without exception] is to love his wife as his very own self [with behavior worthy of respect and esteem, always seeking the best for her with an attitude of lovingkindness]…”
The Bible doesn’t say, “Husbands, make sure you have an amazing job for your wife. Husbands, be perfect for your wives. Husbands, be able to stand on your own two feet without your wife.” Its merely says love your wives, sacrificing yourself for her daily.
No man can love you perfectly as Christ does, but if he’s genuinely trying and loving you out of a love for Christ, then you’ve got a catch indeed.
3.) Will he take care of you always?
I’m not talking about providing a big house for you and making all of your dreams come true in that area (although that’s not necessarily a bad thing either!). I’m talking about he will always work hard to provide the necessities plus some for you and your family. Titus 2:5 says that the older woman are to exhort the younger women to be “keepers at home”. It would follow, then that a husband is supposed to be able to provide so that his wife can do that.
1 Timothy 5:8 says that:
“…if anyone does not provide for his own, that is his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
So, obviously there has to be a balance. He can’t just sit on his rear end all day and expect money to fall off of trees, nor should he expect to be able to provide for all of his families needs by working a minimum wage job his entire life. Yet, providing isn’t the same thing that most equate it with today. The Bible says absolutely nothing about a man having to be ambitious, have high aspirations, or have a “good” job. (Because we all know a “good” job means nothing more than a very well paying one.)
Look closely at other verses in the Bible as well. The Proverbs 31 woman is bringing in money for her household (I’m not advocating that every woman has to work, just that her bringing in money didn’t make her husband “lazy” or a “bad provider”). The Proverbs 31 woman blesses her husband and he gains because of her. He is lifted up to a place of honor and respect because of her. My guess is that he wouldn’t be where he was if he didn’t have such an amazing wife standing behind him, helping and supporting him.
There’s also Matthew 6:25-34, that tells us not to worry about what we’ll eat or wear, but to seek first the kingdom of God. And the qualifications for church elders and overseers in both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus mention that he must not be a lover of money or greedy for gain. 1 Timothy 3:3 says specifically that he “must not be a bully, but gentle”. How many “successful” men in the world today could be considered “gentle”? Are we looking for men that are successful in the world’s eyes, or God’s?
Finally, I would add a fourth standard…
4.) Do you love him and want to marry him?
He may be a great guy and he may be crazy about you, but don’t even think about marrying someone unless you feel the same way about him too. Make sure you know your heart. Make sure you know that you could honor and respect and love him.
Furthermore, think carefully about whether the dreams and callings in your heart line up with his. If he feels called to be a missionary in Africa and you feel called to raise a family in your local city, then there’s a problem right there. Do your God given missions line up? Can you serve God better together rather than apart?
Think of Priscilla and Aquila in the Bible. They were an amazing husband and wife team that served the Lord together (how many women in the Bible are mentioned by name alongside their husbands?). They were a team in occupation (Acts 18:3 says that they were tentmakers), they were a team in their knowledge and proclamation of the Gospel (Acts 18:26), and they were a team in their sacred calling and mission. Do you feel like you could serve together in that way? (This article is a really interesting read for more on them.)
So think hard about whether you want to marry him. Going all the way back to Genesis 24, Rebekah was given the ultimate choice whether she wanted to go and marry Isaac (a man she had never met) or not. Her parents wanted her to stay longer, but she agreed to go right away. It was her choice. Her heart.
Your friends and parents and even the guy you’re dating may love you dearly and want what’s best for you, but they aren’t you. They don’t know the secret things God has laid on your heart, and they certainly can’t know what’s in your heart.
So don’t marry a guy just because everyone thinks you’re “perfect” for each other. Don’t marry him even because he’s crazy for you. Marry him because you love him and want to marry him. Marry him because you know without a doubt that God is calling you together, for His ultimate glory.
“Then Adam said,
‘This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.’
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”