Category Archives: Marriage

How Not To Get Married

Here is my quick and dirty list of things you should NOT do if you ever want to get married. Hopefully, you’ll find it entertaining, as I list the most common mistakes most single men or women make in their pursuit to find ‘the one.’ Feel free to comment and add to this list with your own items!

1. Be overly anxious

Stop always being so nervous and afraid that you’ll miss the good one ‘right under your nose’ and stop thinking that life just seems to be passing you by.  No one likes desperation, particularly that nice brother or sister who just joined the church. Sit still, keep to yourself, hold your head up and know that you know that God will reveal your husband or wife to you in time!

2. Keep saying things like, ‘God sent you to me.’

If God truly ‘sent’ that person to you, he or she will be just as aware of it as you are. You did not need to provoke, remind or beat that person over the head with that information. You may be a holy prophet or prophetess of God, but believe me, my brother or sister, God will leave that bit of prophecy for someone else to reveal to your intended. Know your role and stick with it. Repeat after me: “I am a holy woman (or man) of God. I need not be anxious for anything! If this man (or woman) is meant to be my spouse, God will reveal it to them in His own time!” Repeat as often as necessary.

3. Go out with everyone who asks you.

You are NOT desperate! (For reference, go back to point #1). You do not need to go out with everyone who asks you. All you are doing is creating an (unpleasant) reputation for yourself. You do NOT need the headache. Instead, choose to be picky and wait until it is clearly your time. Date a bit and have some fun, but don’t get emotionally invested unless you can see the relationship going somewhere. And if you are desperate (and Lord knows we’ve all been there), at least have the dignity to pretend you are not. Walk around as if you don’t have a care in the world, do your crying in private during your prayer time with and wait on God to openly reward you with a wonderful spouse for your ‘secret’ diligence (Mat 6:4)!

4. Talk about marriage on the first date.

Please, please, please don’t talk about marriage on the first date. And if your date brings it up, be very suspicious of him or her as well. Sure, most of us will end up married at some point in our lives, but you probably won’t get married that first date night. Talk about marriage when it is appropriate. Like if you’ve been friends for years and are ready for that next step. Or when you’ve diligently prayed and fasted over the matter. Or, heck, at least wait until the second or third date!  Don’t embarrass yourself – you’re better than that and don’t need the heartache!

5. Spend all your time at church

Though you should regularly pray and fast, meditate and study, for goodness sake, don’t spend every single free minute you have at church! The Bible study can and will go on if you don’t show up one week. All three services don’t need to see your face (unless you’re serving) and the anniversary committee doesn’t need to see you every single year for this event to go off without a hitch.  Think about it for a minute – how will a brother or sister ever get to spend time with you if you don’t have any to spare? Yes, the Bible says you should meditate on the word ‘day and night’ (Ps 1), but Lord, it would be nice to have something other than scriptures, your prayer life and what the Pastor had on to talk about on your first date. Read the newspaper. Hang out with friends on occasion. Be up on current events. Make sure you’re not one-dimensional and that every minute of your day is taken up with church or church-related activities.

Be Blessed 🙂

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Praying For a Spouse

Most of us can reasonably expect to get married.  God ordained marriage from the very beginning when he made Adam and Eve with the explanation that a man should leave his parents and ‘cleave’ (i.e., join together with) his wife (Gen 2).

Christ used marriage to illustrate his relationship with the church, advising husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself to it and for wives to respect their husbands (Eph 5). What beautiful thoughts – men loving their wives as Christ loves us – giving of himself for the relationship, while wives showed the proper respect and deference to their sacrificing husbands.

The Apostle Paul some interesting things to say himself about being married. He says,

I wish that all of you were like me, but God has given different gifts to each of us.

Here is my advice for people who have never been married and for widows. You should stay single, just as I am.

But if you don’t have enough self-control, then go ahead and get married. After all, it is better to marry than to burn with desire. (1Co 7:7-9) (CEV)

Paul is saying that while he would prefer single people to remain single, he realizes most people aren’t capable of staying single without committing a sexual sin, so it’s better for them to be married.  Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible puts it more explicitly by saying, “It is better to marry, even with all the inconveniences attending the marriage life in a time of distress and persecution in the church( 1Co_7:26), than to be the prey of raging, consuming, and exciting passions.

That makes it pretty clear – it’s good to remain single if you can, but better (and more the norm) to be married to control your sexual sin, among a myriad of other reasons (to procreate, because it is Divinely-inspired, etc.). It is also very possible that the Apostle Paul’s reference to the fact that he is able to remain celibate is in fact a spiritual gift. There are those among us who are asexual or have been given the power by God to remain single and celibate, but this is rare. Again, most of us can reasonably expect to be married at some point in our lives.

Which makes it reasonable to assume that, if you are still single, you can pray for your future husband or wife.  You can pray things for things like asking God to make you a better husband or wife for when the time comes, or that He watch over your future spouse. You can pray for your future marriage – that He help you two to overcome the obstacles you will face and that He will strengthen the relationship the two of you have. Or even that you two will always put God first in your marriage.

This is all reasonable and Godly. The trouble with us (Christians) usually begins when we spot someone we think would make a fine husband or wife. And we begin to pray specifically for that person to marry us. We ask God to open that person’s eyes so that he or she could see true love staring them in the face. You list to God (and your friends) why the two of you would be perfect, make certain to ‘run into’ this man or woman at odd places and find yourself serving on similar committees at church.  You wait patiently for this man or woman to notice you, ask you out and for the blinders to fall from their eyes as they realize you are ‘the one.’

We get confused sometimes because we know that certain people in the Bible prayed for God to reveal to their husbands or wives to them.  In Genesis 24, Abraham sent his servant out to find a wife for his most precious son, Isaac. When the servant reaches his destination, he prays, “You, LORD, are the God my master Abraham worships. Please keep your promise to him and let me find a wife for Isaac today. (Gen 24:14 (CEV))” The story then goes on to reveal Rebekah is the one chosen for Isaac and they eventually marry.

We seem to think we can engage in the same type of behavior when asking for a spouse, but instead of asking God to reveal our husbands or wives, we ask Him to force that person to marry us. This is not Biblical and this is definitely not the way God works.

God always gives us a choice. If He allows us to choose whether to serve Him or not, whether we choose to live or die, don’t you think He would also give us the choice of who to marry? You cannot (and God will not) compel someone to do something against his or her will.  By praying for a person to act a certain way, you are getting very close to engaging in voodoo or some other type of dark art instead of allowing God to reveal who your husband or wife is in His own good time.

It’s important to remember this point: prayer is to help you change, help others in your life as they go through adversity and, generally, to effectuate God’s purpose here on this earth. Instead, we pray for things selfishly, so that we can use them for our own selfish purposes (James 4:3). This is exactly what we are doing when we pray for God to force another person to marry us.

Instead of engaging in these dangerous practices, instead ask God to reveal to you His purpose and will for your life. Ask Him, first, if you are to be married. Then ask Him what you can do to prepare to be married. This might even be the perfect time to ask if the man or woman you currently have in your life is meant to be your spouse. He is willing to tell you, but are you willing to listen?

As a final warning – don’t try to misuse prayer. Don’t try to get God to force someone to do something he or she is unwilling (and not meant) to do. Instead, pray that God will use your life as He pleases. That He will reveal the man or woman of your dreams in His own time and that you will have the strength to acknowledge His will.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Mat 6:33).

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Do Open Relationships Work?

I was inspired to write this post after reading Actress/Comedian Mo’Nique’s remarks about her marriage in Essence Magazine.  (A link to an excerpt of this article can be found here.)  In this article, Mo’Nique says:

I married my best friend. Sid and I don’t put a label on what works for us because it’s ours. But some people might say that we have an open relationship. Some people consider sex outside of marriage to be cheating, but I think you’re cheating when you lie and keep secrets. We’re honest with each other.

Now I’m not trying to judge Mo’Nique or anyone else, but I have to admit her words took me by surprise.  Why?  Because I don’t understand why a person would enter a traditional institution (marriage) just to have a totally unconventional outlook (an open relationship). 

Which makes me wonder how people define ‘marriage’ nowadays.  A marriage (for believers) is a covenant between two people that is ordained by God.  Where two people become one.  Where a husband is admonished to love his wife like Christ loved the church and the wife is advised to submit and obey.  And, where adultery is forbidden.

Now I know we live in 2006 (and not 1006) and that people cheat all the time.  And, yes, I understand that people often have sex before marriage, get divorced and re-marry and that we have many forms of non-traditional ‘unions’ and blended families.  I understand that we live in a modern world.

But does that mean we can marry someone, have an open relationship and expect that relationship to work?  I don’t believe such a relationship lends itself to success.  A relationship should be built on openness, honesty and commitment.  How committed can you be when your partner is entering into that same type of relationship with other people?  Would that increase your faith in him or her or decrease it?

You know what I really think about people who are in ‘open’ relationships?  That it’s just easier to have an ‘open door’ policy because you just assume (nowadays) that your spouse will cheat.  Better instead to just allow him or her that freedom than to set yourself up for the inevitable pain of unfaithfulness.  Or, conversely, that it’s easier to excuse your own unfaithfulness if you go into the relationship with the understanding that you are still ‘free’ to pursue other interests.

What it seems to come down to for people in these types of relationships is an unwillingness to try and make it work in a one-on-one, monogamous relationship.  And again, if you feel that way – why get married at all? 

I hear a lot of celebrities (and non-celebrities) say that traditional marriage doesn’t work.  That men are by nature unfaithful and everyone has a natural curiousity about having other sexual partners.  And that no one can reasonably expect to be with the same person for 20, 30 or 40 years.  We’re living longer, I hear them all say – we should have more partners and more options during those longer lifespans. 

We are unwilling to accept that such an old-fashioned institution such as marriage can stand up to the pressures of a modern society.  So why even try?

I don’t know about you, but I still think the institution of marriage still has merit. God intended that a couple should marry, raise children in a Godly way, and that families become the building blocks for a healthy, God-fearing society.  That marriage imitate the relationship Christ has with the church – one of eternal love, sacrifice and sanctification.

I don’t think having an open relationship can even begin to capture God’s idea of marriage.  What do you think?

Should You Marry a Man Who Still Lives At Home?

A recent conversation with a good friend of mine (whose adult son still lives at home) brought this question to my mind:  Should you marry a man who still lives at home (with mom and/or dad)?

 A lot of Christians will tell you that a man is supposed to get a job, have a home and be prepared to take care of his wife and future children prior to getting married.  That a man should at least be self-supporting, before he should even consider supporting a mate (and a few will add that he should be college-educated, established in his career and driving a nice car).  Not because the Bible tells us this is true – but because conventional wisdom does.  So what does the Bible say about it? 

Surprisingly – not a whole lot.  The Bible is filled with wisdom for a man who is a husband – how to treat his wife, the role of a husband in a marriage,  and the role of a husband who holds church office.  But not one scripture I've seen directly addresses the money-making capabilities or responsibilities of a potential husband.

So where does that leave us?  Would it be okay to marry a man who does not have a job, a vocation, is not in school and/or still lives at home?

In the absence of direct Biblical direction, let us instead look at the original purpose of marriage.  And what better place to start than the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-5)?

  According to the Bible, God first created Adam and then created Eve (some argue they were created at the same time, but you should read the scriptures yourself to see what you believe).  After Adam's creation, the Bible tells us God created Eve because it was not good 'that the man should be alone' – and Adam needed help.  So God created one who was perfect in every way for him – a woman, whom Adam named Eve.  So there were two purposes of mariage fulfilled at that time – to provide companionship for Adam and to give him a helping partner.  After creating Adam and Eve, God then enjoined them to 'be fruitful and multiply'.  So, another purpose of marriage was to procreate.  But, before all this – God gave Adam a job – to name the animals, to tend to the garden and to watch over the two trees that were forbidden to them (of knowledge and eternal life).  Adam had a job;.  After Eve had been created, God further stated that 'Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh'.  And there, I believe, lay the keys to the man's responsibility in a marriage.

God intended for a man to leave his mother and father and begin a new life with his wife.  And, Adam had a job before Eve was ever created.  So what does this tell us?  That a man should be prepared to start a new life with his wife and that he should be gainfully employed before doing so.  So, in looking at this evidence, we can see that this does not necessarily exclude a man who still lives at home with his parents, with the caveat that he has a job.

I can only say, in closing, that although I don't think it is Biblically or societally incorrect to marry or date a man who still lives at home, you seriously need to consider the maturity and responsibility of such a man.  Most adults who come of age willingly leave the nest, to return only out of financial need (on a temporary basis).  Therefore you need to ask yourself – why is this man still living at home?  Is he in school?  Did he just graduate from college?  is he helping his parents in any way – or are they helping to support him?  And, most importantly – does he have any plans to leave? 

I personally do not believe that a man can come fully into a knowledge of his own identity under the protective influence of mom and dad.  And that it would be a mistake to overlook a potential red flag about the man you intend to marry.  After asking yourself the above questions, my only advice to you is that you should trust your instinct, pray diligently about the matter and trust God to lead you on the right path.

Does Being Single Mean Putting Your Life on Hold?

Many people equate being single with putting your life on hold – you are waiting to get married, waiting to have children (if you don't have any yet), waiting for the father or mother of your children to marry you – waiting.  Does being single mean you have to put your life on hold?

Absolutely not!  It says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34:

"32  But I would have you to be free from cares. He that is unmarried is careful for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33  but he that is married is careful for the things of the world, how he may please his wife,

34  and is divided. So also the woman that is unmarried and the virgin is careful for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married is careful for the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

It was not meant, as is so often interpreted, as an injunction against marriage.  What it was meant to remind us is how very productive we can be towards the Lord as a single person.  See, a very natural thing occurs when you get married – your interests, your time and your thoughts begin to turn towards your spouse.  You think about ways to please your spouse and turn your energies toward nurturing the relationship, the home and your children.

An unmarried person does not have those concerns.  While a single person may still have children, the number one relationship in his or her life is still God (or, at least, it should be!) and that is where this person's time, energy and passion ought to go.  If you are dating someone, it is good to spend time with him or her, go out on dates, talk on the phone, etc., but remember that, as a single person, you can do so much more to serve God than you ever will after being married!

So, if you find yourself single today, make the most of it!  Do what you can to serve God, honoring Him with your time and your resources.  It is a decision that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life.

Characteristics of a Christian Mate

(Continued from Characteristics of a Christian Husband and Characteristics of a Christian Wife) 

The following scriptures give traits and characteristics for a Christian spouse of any gender:

You Must Be Sexually Attracted to Him/Her

1 Corinthians 7:3

  The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:4 

 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.

Must He/She Be A Believer?

2 Corinthians 6 

 14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  However, the Bible also speaks about an unbelieving husband or wife being sanctified through marriage:

 1 Corinthians 7

 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.        

 In the search to find your Christian mate, pray, as in all things and ask God to help you to find that person.  But remember – it is all in God's timing and not your own.  Pray, be diligent and, in the meanwhile, seek to fashion yourself after God's idea of a Christian husband or a Christian wife.  Your search might just end that much sooner!