The Successful Home And Marriage
Planning and preparing for marriage involves the developing of Christian character. There can be no happiness in the home if sin and evil dwell there. Many Christian girls have married unsaved men, foolishly thinking they can change their sinful ways through marriage. They feel that if he truly loves them enough, that the mere fact of marriage will bring about conversion.
How many millions have found to their dismay that they have married ungodly men who have no intention of changing after marriage? Some even pretend a complete moral change before marriage, but the surface changes soon disappear as the normal day-to-day routine of marriage takes over. Unfortunately, many have fallen into this trap. Some young men are willing to act out a moral change to attract a girl’s attention, only to revert to true character soon afterward.
The point is, a girl should not date or go with an unsaved person to start with, and thus she will avoid future heartache. A Christian girl is not safe even dating an unsaved man, and certainly not in marrying him. By the same token, no Christian man is safe in associating with an unsaved girl. This is utter foolishness. Scripture clearly warns against being unequally yoked, and this is a prime example of this principle.
We read in II Corinthians 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”
No saved person can have real fellowship with an unsaved person. It is impossible. A married couple can’t live in agreement day by day with one saved and the other lost. Inevitably they will pull in opposite directions.
The Bible says, “What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God” (II Cor. 6:16).
Christian men and women, saved by the blood of Jesus, are children of God and the Spirit of God dwells in their bodies. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. When a Christian turns the temple of God over to the control and whim of an unconverted child of Satan, it is a blasphemous betrayal. The marriage of a Christian with an unbeliever is unfitting and, in a sense, even wicked.
This type of commitment should never be made. The Bible tells us that when two are joined together, they become one flesh. And when a man and woman marry, they should marry for life. Marriage, therefore, requires careful thought and planning. Being unequally yoked is contrary to Scripture, thus marriage to an unsaved person can cause a person a lifetime of living in a manner contrary to Scripture.
Another principle to consider is that of true love. A person wants to be loved and, when dating, it is very easy to mistake emotion for love. A person may love another with phileo love (physical, corporal, emotional love). While this may seem overwhelming at the time, we need a more binding relationship for a happy marriage. One needs the agape (spiritual, Godly) type of love in order for a marriage to survive.
Much attention is focused today on Hollywood-type romances and affairs. We hear constantly of this couple or that couple who are totally infatuated with each other. Gossip columns report that they are insanely in love. Perhaps they’re right. In a short time, they are in divorce court, fighting and cursing each other publicly.
Did they ever truly love each other to start with? Perhaps, in the worldly sense. Phileo love—animal attraction—can quickly turn to hate.
Many millions of young men and women have married because of this type of “love.” But, unfortunately, it just isn’t enough. Many have married principally on the basis of physical attraction and, once they have joined themselves in wedlock, find they have very little in common beyond this. There are many tragic cases of incompatibility—or lack of love.
For many, the fires of passion did burn, but this soon banks down to the smoldering ash of a hell on earth. Everything possible should be done to insure that the wrong kind of relationship is not entered into by Christians, and that a proper foundation exists before the serious commitment of marriage is made.
The Bible cautions against “mixed marriages.” The basic idea here is that God’s people are not to become involved with other groups. The basis is spiritual, but there are practical aspects as well. God is warning that His children are not to become involved with other cultures, religions, or ethnic groups. Christians are to remain separated from “strange flesh.”
While this basic principle concentrates on the spiritual aspect, practical considerations suggest that young people of dissimilar backgrounds, races, religions, or even social stratum, will find great difficulty as a result of their differences. Oftentimes, cultural differences become almost impossible to work out.
Sometimes individuals from different religious backgrounds marry. They say, well, I love him (or her) and love will find a way. Unfortunately, millions have said this and then found out that love doesn’t necessarily find a way. They have problems. Often there are differing perceptions of important principals. Sometimes one denomination insists on having the children brought up under their particular doctrines, and trained exclusively by them. This is a problem that doesn’t diminish with the passage of time.
There is another problem situation, too. There may be a man and woman who are both from the same church, but one is a worldly Christian (who believes there’s nothing wrong with movies, dancing, cocktails, gambling, and things of that nature) while the other person is fervent in his or her commitment to Scriptural principles and wants to follow the Lord as closely as possible. Conflicts will inevitably arise in such a relationship because they are not fully agreed. They are not of one mind, one heart, one soul, and one spirit. There must eventually be areas of disagreement.
Differences of opinion can cause problems within a marriage and these attitudes should be a prominent part of the considerations explored during courtship. There should be compatibility in as many areas as possible because major differences in religious beliefs, moral convictions, or even intellect, education, or age, can be difficult factors to overcome.
The standards one sets for happiness in marriage need to be established during the dating period. One’s aims should be high, seeking God’s best for the relationship. In order to realize this, guidelines, together with practical wisdom revealed in Scripture, must be followed.
Much prayer should be involved in the process of choosing a mate. Dating is a serious matter. Prayer is vitally important in preparation for marriage. God’s direction in choosing a mate is most important.
After a person has committed his life to Christ, the next most important decision he can make is the choosing of a life’s mate. The choice is more important than the choosing of a vocation, since marriage can make or break a vocation. Prayerfully preparing, prior to marriage and during the time of dating, can help an individual enter into the best possible relationship and an enjoyable marriage. Don’t fail to make it a matter of much prayer.
The basic principles of a happy home can’t be adequately discussed unless we first deal with the matter of an honorable engagement. Becoming engaged to be married starts an extremely serious and important period of preparation for the marriage.
First of all, the engagement commitment must be genuine and honorable. If the young couple do not fully expect to marry, a formal engagement means nothing. They aren’t actually engaged in heart and spirit. If young people have nothing more than a passing infatuation for each other, and choosing to “formalize” the liberties they intend to take by “becoming engaged,” they are sinning against each other—and themselves—as surely as if no engagement were involved.
Secondly, and engagement period ought not be too short. People who become engaged should have at least a few months during which they really begin to know one another better. This is a time to be more frank and open—a time to become better acquainted.
There should be time for exploring all aspects of personality, likes, and dislikes. Engagements can be broken without a corresponding moral breakdown. Marriage, on the other hand, is a firm contract “until death do us part.”
Much of the happiness individuals will have in the future (or the unhappiness they will suffer through), will be the result of their decision as to a marriage partner. Marriage is, therefore, one of life’s most important decisions. The sad fact, though, is that many young people enter into marriage knowing nothing of commitment and responsibilities involved. Engagements, therefore, ought to be not only genuine, but should extend over a long enough period for the young couple to get to know each other well.
Thirdly, engagements should not be considered a “legalization” for improper conduct or for physical liberties. Engaged couples are not married, and if they have no reserve, and exercise no restraint, there is an excellent chance they will become disillusioned with each other. If this happens, they are destroying their whole life’s relationship, before it has even had a chance to begin.
Young people who are engaged sometimes feel they belong to each other and thus take liberties proper only for married people. When you do this, you are headed down a road filled with dangers.
Anyone who wants to maintain love ought to observe the rules of a decent society and decent living. The privileges of husband and wife do not extend into the engagement period.
Adultery and fornication are shameful and hateful. And that is what your sins will be—even though you are engaged—if you do not restrain yourself. There are many who have carried a lifetime burden of guilt because they have engaged in sexual activity before they were married. Not only is there the guilt of sin, but often there is a loss of respect on the part of one for the other. Sometimes there is the haunting thought that the other person might be unfaithful after marriage—if they did not exercise restraint before marriage. Premarital sex is therefore a breeding ground for jealousy.
Each partner may ever wonder if the mate had allowed advances with others prior to this—as well as the possibility of later lapses. Undoubtedly this has been a factor in so many marriages concluding in the divorce court. Marriage is an honorable and holy state, and it is meant to be a lifetime commitment. Exercise the greatest care possible in preparing for the best kind of marriage.
A Christian should not marry anyone without the clear leading of God. You should pray about it and seek God’s face over it as earnestly as you ever have over anything in your life. Until you get a clear, definite leading from the Holy Spirit, do not enter into a commitment. You will save yourself an unlimited number of problems.
Parents are often extremely concerned for their children, and Christians would normally pray seriously in regard to their son or daughter and their prospective mates. Even young people themselves should seriously be in prayer concerning this matter. When young people are brought together by the Lord, their lives can be a great blessing to society and to each other. A young man and a young woman can be much better off with their mate by their side. Their lives can be a living testimonial to service for the Lord.