September 26, 2008

Who Should I Marry? Two Resources to Help in the Struggle

This title comes from a booklet called, "Whom Shall I Marry?" published by the Banner of Truth Trust and available here to order.

With all the commotion around Christian circles today about singleness, dating and marriage, I thought I'd check out this booklet. Personally, I think a lot of the singleness/dating/marriage talk and books flowing through Evangelical circles are somewhat ridiculous. There is a certain point where you can talk about certain subjects too much (of course not including the gospel, which can never be spoken too much, yet I've been accused of that). Nevertheless, it still is an important subject and shouldn't be ignored.

I have been unmarried my entire adult life, which is going on seven years (if you consider age 18 to be adulthood). That means that I have had some time to wrestle with thoughts on this issue, (just as those close to my age can very aptly understand). People often ask me, "Why don't you have a girlfriend?" or "Are you looking for anyone?" and other similar questions. My most recent answers have been like this: "When Abraham sent his servant to get a wife for Isaac, the one thing he made his servant swear to do was not to get a wife for his son from the Canaanite daughters." (Genesis 24:3). There is one crucial thing for a Christian when considering marriage, and that is marrying "only in the Lord" (marrying only a like-minded believer - 1 Corinthians 7:39). The Canaanite women proved to be a disaster to every saint who ever messed with them (just remember Solomon who was the wisest guy, yet even he stumbled in this area).

The starting point of the booklet is a much needed reminder that we are not our own, but were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). We belong to God, and as His temple, we are to be holy and honor God with our bodies. This should be at the center of our thinking when choosing what to do about marrage. I especially like what 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us about being bought with the precious blood of Christ. That kind of love deserves our whole-hearted devotion to Him who first loved us.

Well, the booklet does a great job at explaining this familiar concept in a positive way as well as in the negative. It talks about why Christians must not marry unbelievers and gives a lot of good reasons for it, which I don't have time to list. One of them being that unbelievers are the enemies of Christ.

It keeps at the center of the message the truth that God is a benevolent Father who knows what our greatest needs are and how to provide for His children best (Matthew 7:11). It also offers some helpful advice, such as this: "In seeking a marriage partner, the first rule to observe is: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness' (Matthew 6:33)." I would recommend this resource to any single Christian friend thinking about what kind of person is acceptable to consider marrying. I really don't think there is anything too legalistic in it, (such as I've found in some of the other books I've read on Christian single male/female relationships). I wish I could say more, but my lunch break time is running out. :º

While I'm at it, I also want to list one of my favorite resources I ever found on this topic, which is a message by Mark Dever at a Desiring God conference called, "Christian Hedonists or Religious Prudes? The Puritans on Sex." I really think the Puritans understood more than we do all the trials and temptations surrounding this subject. If you have an hour to listen, or download it and listen in the car, etc. This one is really worth your time.

That's all for now, and may God's magnificent grace through Christ be your glory.

Related Posts:
Who Should I Marry? part 2
Is God's Grace Sufficient?

8 comments:

Angela said...

Penn,
Thanks for taking the time to post this and thanks for your comment earlier, as well as the link. I appreciate it. I am praying for God to deliver me from this area of bondage in my life, and a willing spirit! I can be so dense sometimes! Anyway, did you notice I added RefTagger? I like it. Oh, if you have itunes you should check out Undying Love by Jeff Johnson..it starts out "Grace, grace to all who love the Lord Jesus Christ" and it makes me think of you!

Penn Tomassetti said...

Hi Angela,

Your not the only one who has or does struggle with this temptation. Actually, I had a friend who told me she broke up her engagement because the guy she was going to marry wasn't sincere about being a Christian, even though he professed to be one. I also know others who's wives divorced them because they became Christians. It is rough for Christians to say the least. That reminds me of what Jesus said it would be like in John 16.

Thanks also for the song. I was looking on YouTube for it, but haven't found it yet. That is funny though, that it would remind you of me. I belong to sort of a clan of "grace men". We have "Mark Grace" in Pittsburgh, "Bob, the grace man", "Glenn Grace", "Grace Laborers." And to think I used to call them those things as a derogatory name, but later became one. Well, that's how it goes :)

semifl said...

Great thoughts, Penn. Another great pre-marriage resource for couples who are considering marriage is David Powlison's rescourse about Pre-Engagement:
http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/163/nm/Pre_Engagement_Five_Questions_to_Ask_Yourselves_RCL_Booklet

I thought the questions in this 10 minute read were great points of discussion for any believing couple considering marriage.

As a married guy I can attest that he who finds a wife finds a good thing! Our marriage has sharpened us and gives us opportunity to live out the Gospel every day; living grace before one another. (PROV 18:22)

Penn Tomassetti said...

Thanks Sean, for the resource recommendation. I think that will be a real helpful one for those considering marriage.

"As a married guy I can attest that he who finds a wife finds a good thing!... (PROV 18:22)"
You know, that is a great verse for Christians who have found a wife... but I personally like this one: "House and wife are inherited from fathers,
but a prudent wife is from the LORD." (Proverbs 19:14).

Rita Martinez said...

Oh the dreaded question:
"Why don't you have a girlfriend?" or "Are you looking for anyone?"
that is brought up especially when there's a family gathering, at least in my case.
This is an area I've definitely struggled with.
When I became a Christian I was still in a relationship, with an unbeliever but when I understood why we couldn't be together it was clear to me that the relationship needed to end. It was by far one of the hardest situations I've been through, relationship wise. I've been single ever since, and ever since the question family members seem to always greet me with is "so how are the boyfriends" (for the life of me I cannot understand why the pluralize it???), the last one to ask was dad! this Friday when he picked me up at the hospital, he looked at me and asked "mija(which is spanish for my child), when are you going to fall in love?" (my dad is the kind of jealous man who once told me and my sister that he'd rather not know if we had any boyfriend, so to hear him ask that was beyond weird)
The truth is I was struggling with this issue until not so long ago, until I read a post on Kaysie's blog and then another post on Stephanie's blog about this subject. I learned that there is a time for one to wait in the Lord, and in that time we can grow in said area and grow in our faith and in stead of stressing we must trust in Christ and know that He will provide in His time.

As for the Mark Dever message, 1 word: wow!
Here's some of the quotes I loved:
Oliver Cromwell
"Dear heart, let not thy love for thy spouse in any way cool thy desire for Christ. That which is most lovable in thy spouse is the image of Christ in Him, look to this and love it most and everything else for this."

Jonathan Edwards
"Give my kindest love to my dear wife and tell her that the uncommon union which has so long subsisted between us has been of such a nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever."

"God set up good sex as part of evangelism in the sense that intimacy in marriage is to help our spouse to love God, to be a part of how we understand how Christ has loved the Church, to build a marriage that is distinct from unfaithful marriages, but A marriage that is marked by tender passion and self-giving love."

and finally the Richard Baxter quote:
"When husband and wife take pleasure in each other, it uniteth them in duty, it helpeth them with easy to their work and bear their burdens, and its not the least part of the comfort of the married state." - Richard Baxter

Great post Penn, thanks for the resources!

Penn Tomassetti said...

Rita,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for those quotes! Wow... did you write out all those quotes while listening to Mr. Dever speaking!? I listened to that message a bunch of times and have given it to my younger brother when he was considering marriage. I love the Richard Baxter quotes the best, because he always uses words like "uniteth" in his sayings. :D

P.S. And I also understand about the family interrogations. (Song 8:4).

Rita Martinez said...

oh no I've been caught!
yes I write those quotes while listening to Dever...I do that quite often when I'm listening to a sermon/message/etc and something catches my attention.

I know what you mean about the Baxter quotes, I don't know but for some reason it makes words and everything else sound prettier...I sometimes wonder why did it all have to change?

Penn Tomassetti said...

Rita,

I think that is really great that you take the time to write down quotes you hear in sermons. That is a good practice.

I also like what you said about the words the old timers used. I know what you mean. I sometimes wish I could say things so well, but I still need a lot of help. If you've ever read John Bunyan or any of the puritans, it is like they could just make the words flow and every one of them struck at the heart.