The two most important decisions we will ever make in life are whether we will follow Jesus Christ and who we will marry. After all, these choices have long term impacts as to our behavior, thoughts, social circles, and career decisions. So then when it comes to choosing a godly spouse, it’s critical that we pace ourselves and look at it from an objective standpoint, using the Bible and wisdom as our guideline.
I’ve already shared about so many other perspectives on the matter here. But up to this date, I’ve never elaborated on the science of how we ourselves are to pursue a spouse. It’s really worth two separate articles (unless your an extreme Egalitarian) to share from both the male and female perspective. In this case, I’ll share about general guidelines that apply for both.
For the record; I am a 31, single male pastor who is praying for a spouse but wholly committed to God’s ministry and would happily do it single.
With that out of the way, here are 5 essentials we can look for in a spouse:
1) Look for a Christian
The most obvious one which I need to re-iterate. God will never direct you in a romantic relationship with someone who doesn’t know Christ. It contradicts 2 Corinthians 6:14. It doesn’t matter how good they look or how successful they are. That means placing yourself in places where you can find them – church, fellowships, Bible studies, Christian conferences, etc. Never settle for less than a Christian.
2) Look for solid friendships
Most marriages don’t fall out of the sky, but start slowly. They grow out of a foundation that is deeply rooted in friendship and trust. So instead of constantly asking yourself ‘is he/she the one?’ focus on building Christ-like friendships with those of the opposite sex. That means going out together for coffee or a games night as a bunch of friends to learn and grow together. Don’t be socially awkward and live in a cave – go out to the park and have a barbecue with a mixed crowd. Just be careful with your modesty; be friendly but don’t be flirtatious. Use 1 Timothy 5:1-2 as a guideline (whether married or not) when treating those of the opposite sex:
Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
3) Look for missional similarity
Look for a spouse that shares the same missional statement as you. Simply put, look for 3 M’s in sequential order:
- Who’s my master
- What’s my mission
- Who’s my mate
When we discover who our master is, then we can discover our God-given mission, and pray for a mate to carry out that mission.
If you have a heart for homeschooling children, don’t look for a man who can’t viably financially support a family on his own. If you have a heart for homeless ministry, don’t look for a woman who doesn’t get excited about evangelism. If you enjoy volunteering at a church, don’t find a spouse who’s a bench warmer. Like someone said to me, ‘marriage is like a missions team’. We need to have kingdom focused families, not self-focused ones.
4) Look for cultural similarity
Whether we like it or not, culture plays a huge part in relationships. How we were raised, how we view family, our ethnic background, our choice of friends, what language(s) we speak, what we deem socially acceptable, all of these need to be evaluated when choosing a spouse. And that’s why you’ll notice a majority of marriages form out of similar cultural overlaps. Certainly Christ-like love can overcome any cultural divide, but we must be pragmatic. Marriage is mostly about doing the mundane tasks of life. This includes butting heads on things that seem trivial; who cleans the dishes, laundry, cooking dinner, sleeping habits, and mannerisms to name a few. If you don’t see eye to eye on the small things, it will eventually naw into the big joy of marriage.
Notice I’m not saying racial similarity. For it doesn’t matter whether an Asian male dates a Caucasian woman or a Nigerian woman dates a Korean man (I have seen both situations exist!), but its very difficult for a marriage to work out if both of you live on different ‘cultural planets’. If you study how cultures view honoring one’s parents, or personal independence, you’ll see they are vastly different. Whether or not one is willing to compromise, is a matter of the heart.
5) Look for confirmation
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
It’s VERY easy to fool ourselves into thinking person X is a good match on our own. Ask other godly people around you, and better yet ask their friends (assuming they’re walking with the Lord) if they think you would be good together. Be open that a relationship may not work out. Here’s a warning sign: if nobody has any objections, there is cause for concern. Because there is no perfect relationship on earth. There’s always problems that need to be pointed out, as long as we are gracious about them.
We do need some balance here though. I have seen people who need all the ‘ducks to line up’ and it paralyzes them to enter into relationships. If we’re waiting for a sign from heaven and bolts of lightning to fall down; it just ain’t gonna happen. You need to step out by faith instead of walking in fear.
If naturally everyone thinks you two would work well together, you’re good friends, prayed about the matter, walking with the Lord, then step out of the boat and see if you’ll walk on water. Marriage is an exciting adventure.
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