Single Christians: How to prepare yourself for a Godly marriage.
God created us in his image for a reason. His purpose was that we would be like him on the earth, representing him as a leader, a creator, a delegated authority over what he has created. He created the earth, but he created man to “subdue the earth and to rule over it” (Gen 1:28). This is an amazing privilege. One way in which we are created in his image is that we are given the ability to reason and solve problems. Some animals have a limited capacity to do this, but humans were given the intellectual power to turn crude into oil and gas, to turn aluminum, carbon, silicon, and oxygen into an iPhone. Because he is like God, a man can see a tree and produce chairs, tables, and houses. This was God’s intention for man to do, all for the glory of God, and the good of the creation.
A special mandate for Single Christians.
In the same breath that he gave the mandate to subdue the earth and rule over it, God also commanded his creation to “reproduce and multiply.” God saw Adam and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). Then he put him to sleep and took from him one of his ribs, and he used it to fashion a woman. When Adam awoke God brought the woman to him and Adam was pleased. One of his offspring would one day write, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Prov 18:22). Adam said, “This is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones” (Gen 2:23).
But when God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” he wasn’t just talking about Adam’s wife. He was talking about all single Christians. God made humans to live amongst other humans. The first man was given a wife out of his own body. For the rest of the race of men, it would not be so easy. Throughout the thousands of years that men have ruled the earth, there have been various methods and traditions that the societies of single men and women have adhered to in order to fulfill this function. In some cultures, there are matchmakers who decide who will marry whom. In others, it is the parents who arrange the marriages, often for family gain, rarely for love. In the last one or two hundred years, at least in the Western world, marriages were made more and more because of the feelings of a man and woman. Rather than matches made for the sake of advantage, or compatibility by the wisdom of parents, two people are attracted to each other, fall in love, and desire to spend life together.
God’s desire that men and women would populate the earth necessitated that he ordain the institution of marriage. This is important for the definition of marriage as a conjugal relationship. The biblical definition is that it is a relationship between one man and one woman that lasts for the entirety of their lives, until death do us part. The main purpose of marriage, besides being a reflection of God in the Trinity, and Christ and his Church, is for producing a family and godly offspring. For most of the history of man, this was understood, and the family was the foundation of all community. Countries are made up of states, which are made up of cities, which are made up of neighborhoods, which are made up of families. This was all a part of God’s good design. Society was what he was aiming for when he created Adam and gave him this cultural mandate.
The other, and more important aspect of marriage is that the whole thing was designed as a way for the world to understand the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church (Eph 5:22-33). Husbands are to love their wives and care for them as Christ loves and cares for the Church, giving his life for her, to cleanse her, and to sanctify her through his blood. He is to care for her as he cares for his own body, because she is his own body, having been joined to her by God. Wives are to joyfully submit to their own husbands, as to the Lord. Her husband is her head, as Christ is the head of man, and the Father is the head of Christ. As a husband and wife learn to live these roles in front of the world, the world is supposed to be able to see Christ and the Church. This is a great and good mystery (Eph 5:32).
Single Christians: Do not postpone marriage.
The preparation for marriage and family life, and the process of selecting a wife or husband has always had its complications. But now, more than ever, it can be down right perplexing. Because our increasingly post Christian dating world has shifted its view of marriage from the conjugal viewpoint, that says marriage is for the purpose of family life, to what some have called the revisionist view point, that says marriage is for the sake of happiness, both men and women have come more and more to rely on physical attraction and romantic feelings as the way to know who to pursue for marriage. In addition, the conjugal viewpoint is that marriage is for life. The revisionist viewpoint, made possible by no-fault divorce laws and even birth control, says that marriage is for as long as it is making you happy, expendable when happiness ceases. This makes finding the perfect spouse even more difficult. Questions come up in single Christian’s minds like: does this person make me happier than anyone else could? Couldn’t I do better than this one? Should I not be Christian dating more Christian singles? Should I put career over marriage?
God's calling for single Christians.
Until the incarnation of Jesus Christ, it would be a rare case indeed for a man or a woman not to seek marriage as part of God’s design. If populating the world with godly offspring was the order of the day, on what grounds would someone refuse marriage? But since Christ came, the orders have been altered. Yes, we are still under the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:26-28, but there is perhaps one of greater importance in the current Church Age that the world has been in since the ascension of Christ into heaven. That mandate is the great commission. Jesus is returning to complete the restoration of what was lost in the garden of Eden when our first couple rebelled against God and disobeyed him (Gen 3).
Since we entered this age, there have been some, such as the Apostle Paul, who have felt called to forgo the privilege of finding a wife and raising a family, so that he could be dedicated to serving God. Paul described his viewpoint on this topic in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 saying that, I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
Earlier he said that, “I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.” What he meant was that he wished all would remain single, like him, but singleness is a gift from God that Paul had, and he knew not everyone would be given this “gift.” So marriage is a calling, and singleness is a calling.
But it should be noted here that calling encompasses several aspects. To be born into this world is to be created by God. To be created by God means that we will have many callings in life. First, he has called us to bear his image for the sake of his creation. He has given us a mind, and he has told us to use it to act like him and continue bringing order on the earth, all in his name. Nonbelievers end up doing just that because it is human nature to function this way. Even those who don’t believe tend to search for their particular calling in life. They long to make an impact on the world. To be human is to be called.
Christians singles, what are You Called to Do?
The most important calling for each man and each woman is the calling to follow Jesus. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Why? To save the world. Alluded to earlier, man fell into sin near the very beginning. Christ came to restore what was lost. He came to bring life and life abundantly (Jn 10:10) to all who would believe in his name. Our first and most important call comes when we hear him say, “Come, follow me.” We are like the man who found a treasure hidden in a field. For joy he went and sold everything that he had so that he could buy that field and gain that great treasure (Matthew 13:44). To answer the call is to lay down our lives and go with Jesus. If you have never accepted the “call” to Christ, turn to him, say yes to him, and follow him.
The next thing is to begin to understand what you as single Christians are for. In this stage you are learning to fix your eyes on Jesus. You are following him because he is moving and going somewhere. As you seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33), you will begin to have added to you certain interests by which you will discover your gifts and talents. These are from God. The principle of stewardship runs all the way from the beginning of the Bible to the end. God created us to grow. He told us that we must prove faithful with whatever we are given, with whatever we are entrusted. The principle of stewardship says that we are to make the most of what we have. Rather than worry about what we don’t have, wishing we could be like someone else, we are to be faithful with what we do have. From Jesus’ parables of the minas and the talents, it is clear that we will be expected to produce something according to what God has given us. As we do this, our responsibility is increased, along with our potential to produce. We work and live for the day when God calls us to account and we get to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in your Master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21).
Single, Christians and an abundance of life.
This is not to say that our only reward comes at the end. The abundant life of following Jesus with our whole heart is itself a reward, for both married and single Christians. Not that there won’t be troubles, but Jesus has overcome the world and we are to take heart in that (John 16:33). We can walk faithfully and joyfully through anything with our Savior who suffered more than we ever could “for the joy set before him” (Heb 12:2).
So, for Christian singles it is important to work faithfully. If you have an interest, pursue it for the glory of God. It may be that what you feel called to can only happen in the future, but what must be done now in order to gain that future? For instance, perhaps you feel called to be a surgeon. It is not advisable to begin cutting on people today! Rather, take greater care in your basic biology class. If you do well with this “one mina,” then you can take the more advanced class next time. If you do well in those, perhaps you can get into medical school, and so on.
Do you know what is the most beautiful thing about the faithfulness in stewardship approach? You don’t have to know today that you want to be a doctor for certain in eight years. You only have to know that you must do well in biology as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, because you might become a doctor, or you might be led to another path. This should not be because you were not diligent in the biology studies that you put your hand to, but, being diligent, God’s Spirit nudged you toward something else through your interests. Live every aspect of your life this way, keeping your eyes on Christ, doing the very best you can with everything that you’ve been given, and you will be amazed at where he takes you without any worry on your part. He has everything already prepared for you to do (Eph 2:10), you just have to walk in faithful stewardship of what he has shown you.
Single Christian and the Special Calling To Marriage.
We have already said that it is possible in this age to live faithfully as a single Christian. There are many benefits to this. But still, it seems that most Christian singles will be called to find a wife or a husband, and start a family. Assuming one has a biblical viewpoint of marriage (conjugal) and Christian dating, and one is well on the way to working out faithfully the other aspects of life, including stewardship of vocational calling, one can begin to look for, and pray for a spouse.
Today, there are all kinds of ways that people attempt to do this, and some of them are better than others. In the old days you had to walk up to someone, talk to them, and risk rejection by asking them out on a date. It takes a strong stomach. Many times Christian singles find their spouses in the environments where they spend the most time around one another. For some it is a fellow college student, or even high school. For others, it is someone at work. But at some point, perhaps the young man mustered up the courage to approach the girl he liked, ask her out, and he found out that it was fit. She liked him too. They would date, engage, get married.
For Single single Christians, it can't just be anyone.
For single Christians, the stakes are much higher. This can’t just be anyone. We are not to be yoked with unbelievers, so the first thing one must do is make sure the other person is a Christian. Really a Christian. There have been many unhappy situations created because the more committed Christian rationalized and overestimated the faith of the one he or she liked, because they were lonely. “He said ‘Jesus’ once in conversation. He must be a Christian. I’ll go out with him.” This is a trap, and will lead to misery.
Other single Christians convince themselves that God is using them to convert the other. “I’ll tell her I only will marry a Christian. As long as she is open to God, I’ll date her and get her saved.” This usually doesn’t work either. What kind of witness will you be when you compromise for a romantic relationship, lying to yourself, to her, and to God? Some call this CHristian dating evangelism. It is foolish.
Christian dating sites has become a massive industry in the internet age, and there are even Christian websites devoted to helping Christians find other Christian dating and marriage partners. There have been many who have found spouses this way.
There is something powerful about pursuing God, and your vocational calling with all your energy, and trusting him to put the person in your life who he wants you to be with when the time is right. Then, when you think you have met the person you want to be with, you must be courageous and take the next, scary step, risking rejection. It’s actually good for you.
And here is a subtle point. If you place seeking a spouse as a priority over seeking God’s kingdom, and pursuing the work he has for you, you will start out your relationship mis-prioritizing. This is a good way to put a spouse and marital happiness above God, which is a fast track to marriage problems in the future. For the man, the woman is a help-meet. For her to be a help-meet, he must be doing something with his life that she can come along and help him with, in addition to raising a family.
Christian singles: Seek ye first the kingdom of God.
So for both the man and the woman, seek first the kingdom of God, and pursue what God has for you. As Christian singles, serve him. Give him your life, and ask him to bring your spouse to you when he is ready. Be involved in a church with some wise people who can call you on any lies you tell yourself about the faith and acceptability of a potential spouse. In a similar way that you felt drawn by God to certain work, you will feel drawn by him to a person. Learn to love that person with God’s love, as a brother or sister in Christ, before you allow yourself to love them with romantic love. And then date in purity until it becomes clear that this is someone God would have you marry. Get engaged and stay in purity, setting boundaries, keeping accountable to other Christians. This will prepare you for the challenges of marriage and family in a fallen world.
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