This week Bethlie and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. We have walked together through many stages of life. Friendship, courtship, and dating (“Dourting” if you put the last two together, according to one my friends!). Marriage. Newly-weds. Pregnancy and new born babies. Toddlers. Children. Teens and College kids. Successes and failures. Mountaintops and valleys. And now . . . kids considering marriage! Wow, that last one is a bit scary and has provoked lots of conversations and lots of prayer and lots more prayer and some more prayer on top of that. Are we scared? A little, I guess. Are we hopeful and excited? Absolutely. Do we know what we are doing? Not a chance, lol! Do we have a plan? Most definitely. And it is a plan based on the Scriptures and on the experiences of our own family and the way they helped us to find our way into this glorious journey of marriage! So what does the Bible say and how did my late father-in-law help his daughter to find such a wonderful man?
Let’s start here: What does the Bible say about the steps one should take in finding the right spouse?
Nothing. Really! Nothing at all.
That has puzzled me for a long time. Why is the Bible so silent about how to find a spouse? It is an important topic and it would have been a blessing if God had given us some very clear steps to follow. Some of my friends do nothing and are very comfortable with an “oh well, they are old enough to decide for themselves” attitude. Others are so concerned that a wrong decision might happen (or are so determined to follow a specific “spiritual” model) that they attempt to control every aspect of every detail of every relationship their son or daughter might have. Some will use the story of Abraham and his son Isaac to determine the steps they take. Usually though, the steps they take don’t measure up to the details of that story. Most apply it to finding a husband for their daughter, but Abraham didn’t choose his daughter a husband. He chose a wife for his son. He sent a servant to hopefully find a wife for his son among their relatives! The servant met a girl, and her daddy gave her the choice of whether or not to accompany this man to marry his boss’ son – a perfect stranger to her(???)! I am not comfortable using this story for many reasons. I don’t have a servant to send. If I did, I would certainly not want him to go to my relatives — even though I am from Tennessee (lol). And on and on I could go. That story is hard for our culture to wrap our minds around. Yes, the Bible is rather silent in the “steps” one should take.
Does it offer any help at all? Of course it does. Instead of listing specific steps to finding a spouse, the Bible instead tells how we should live our lives, starting first with us as parents. For instance, I am to train my children so well that they love the Lord and follow Him and the truths of His Word all the days of their lives (cf. Deuteronomy 6). The Bible definitely teaches that my training will affect their adulthood (cf. Proverbs 22:6). The Bible also teaches that I am to train them to live as “believing” adults, in my opinion, on their own (again cf. Proverbs 22:6 and Psalm 127:3). So, the first step appears to be the training I give to my children to prepare them to follow Christ as an adult. The other truths cover relationships and heart matters. My children are to learn to keep their heart with all diligence just like I am to keep mine (cf. Proverbs 4:23)! They are to love God first and foremost, just like I am to do (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5). They are to keep him first in their lives and in their finances and in the decisions they make, again, just like I am to do so (cf. I Timothy 6:6-19). I also have to train my sons to treat younger women as sisters and older women as mothers with all purity and my daughters to treat younger men as brothers and older men as fathers in the same way (cf. I Timothy 5:1-2). As they learn to walk with God and honor Him as adults, they are on the path of knowing and enjoying God’s will. As they pursue hearts and relationships filled with purity of motive, purpose, and practice, they are able to remain on that same path. He promises that if we do, He will direct our paths (cf. Proverbs 3:5-6).
So here are truths we believe are clearly taught in the Bible. When we as Christian parents train our children to live as spiritually successful Christ-Honoring and Bible-believing adults, we are helping them to prepare for life and marriage — if marriage is, in fact, God’s plan for them. When our adult children follow the Bible with a pure heart they are headed in the right direction to enjoy God’s will. And when they enjoy relationships based on clear Bible principles, God is able to direct them and bless them and use them. Combine that with Christian parents who are praying for them and so close to them that they are able to walk together as both family members and fellow-believers, and we are on the right path for God to direct our children to the one He has prepared for them to marry.
Is it simple? In some ways, yes! However, it involves teaching, time, and trust. God gives us between 18-20 years to raise our children. That is a lot of time for a lot of teaching. Apparently He expects us to help them get going “in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6) so they will go that way as they head into a future of serving Him and living for Him and someday repeating the process in their own family. The whole process involves a lot of trust. I have to train my children so well that I can trust them to be the Christian adult I have trained them to be. I can trust them to the God who has lead me. And, I can most definitely trust the God who has lead me, to also lead them and me and Bethlie regarding their future spouses. What wonderful and glorious truths!
So there you have the first part! In my next post in this series, I will write some specific things that my Dad Dennis did to help Bethlie and me to get started on these first 25 years together. I hope you will read that post as well.
Thanks for reading,
Your sincere friend,