Mr. or Miss Right?

For any thinking, caring, concerned individual, we should all be interested in the welfare of marriage and family. Famously called ‘the building block of society,’ when marriage and family prosper, everyone prospers, including those unmarried and those never-married. The reason is that marriage and family provide stability, nurture, identity, and training for present and future citizens, who go on to make a contribution to society. When marriage fails, it is not just a tragedy for the couple and their children, but we all have to carry the can with increased welfare payments, court costs, societal dysfunctionality, higher crime, and more.
Recently I received some sad news from a long-time acquaintance: their 3 year marriage is over. This person is a solid, dedicated Christian, accomplished in their career, a faithful member of their local church. Having been married before conversion, they looked forward to having a ‘Christian spouse.’ Eventually, they did marry a ‘Christian’ but within a short time it all went sour. Though they waited years to remarry, once done, it was quickly over.
As tragic as this is, it need not be terminal for the believer. We all make mistakes and our faith in Christ can pull us through to victory, provided we ‘follow the instruction manual,’ namely the Bible.
Nevertheless, it is worth asking the question:
How can any decent, mature, thinking person, especially of faith, get it so wrong while looking for Mr. or Miss Right? More positively, when it comes to finding a spouse, how can we increase the chances of ‘getting it right?’
In this blog, Part 01, we would look at the pitfalls.
Our world today makes it easier to ‘get it wrong.’ Here’s why.
1. A corrupt, sex-saturated culture: Secular humanism has done an effective job of detaching western society from its moral Judeo-Christian foundations. Add to this a 50 year old cultural civil war between the so-called progressives versus the social conservatives. The sexual revolution, women’s liberation movement, abortion on demand, rise in cohabitation, and postmodern relativism, means our society has a distorted, devalued view of marriage and family. Unless you have a strong spiritual walk, you will be adversely affected by the culture around you.
2. False gods: Everybody worships somebody - or something. Whenever that somebody is not Almighty God Himself, we call such worship ‘idolatry.’ The Apostle Paul calls covetousness ‘idolatry’ (Colossians 3:5). Some of the modern idols include:
A) Materialism;
B) Narcissism (more about this in a moment);
C) Statism (‘big government’ that will ‘take care of you’ - socialism and progressivism are in this category);
D) Selfism (the religion and worship of self).
Let’s face it, in Australia, one of our biggest idols is sport. When Sir Donald Bradman died, Cathy Freeman retired, Ben Cousins pulled a hamstring, and/or the horses caught the equine flu, for some it was Armageddon. We even have a public holiday to celebrate a horse race! Yes, sport is good - just don’t worship it!
3. Opportunism: People who are perceived as being monied and successful will be tempting targets for opportunists - those who want to ride the financial and social coattails of that accomplished person for their own selfish gain. The Book of Proverbs says, tongue-in-cheek, that if you want many friends - then get rich (Proverbs 14:20)! However, when the riches sprout wings and fly away (Proverbs 23:5), so will those friends. If a person is showy about their assets, be careful of those who hang around.
4. Narcissism: This is about a distorted, fanciful self-image which has little to do with reality. Narcissists love to attract attention to themselves (hence, the posting of 500 ‘selfies’ on social media), practice seduction and rejection, and have no problem lying, intentionally or under their own deception, in order to prop up their desired image. Indeed, the narcissist is adept at putting on the mask and speaking the party-line for a considerable period of time. Some do it so well they would earn an Oscar if they were in Hollywood. However, the facade will eventually give way to reality. The big question: will it come down before you say ‘I do?’ You don’t want to marry an ‘image;’ you want to marry the real deal.
5. Pornography: This is the scourge of our time. Once restricted to ‘dirty magazines’ in questionable bookshops, the hard copy version are now going out of business - simply because pornography is freely available online. Let’s forget the notion that born is ‘what men do:’ porn addictively weakens when men should be strong; devalues women and sex when men should be protective, and provides a slippery slope to more hard-core imagery, when a man should be self-controlled. This author sadly remembers a nice Christian man, married to a beautiful Christian woman, who discovered his father’s pornographic magazines in the garage at a young age. He could not shake the addiction. In time, his lust was no longer satisfied merely by viewing the pornographic pictures. Ultimately, the stimuli caused him to seek a ‘3D version’ - he visited a prostitute. The bondage and shame were so great it led this man to commit suicide. Make no mistake about: pornography is addictive and dangerous. If you are hooked and can’t break the habit, seek help (hint: fasting and prayer can do wonders in this area).
6. No fear of God: When there is no concept of personal accountability towards God, people will do ‘whatever it takes’ to get ‘want they want,’ including nabbing a rich spouse for self-centered reasons. If we took the commands of Scripture seriously and remember, as Romans 14:12 says, that everyone of us will have to give account of themselves to God, then we would think twice before ‘telling a whopper,’ ‘jumping into bed,’ or ‘moving in first.’
7. Ignoring Wise Counsel: Proverbs 11:14 says it all: ‘Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.’ Don’t try to muddle through on your own, hoping to ‘get it right.’ Seek wise counsel from spiritual, mature people. And don’t overlook family, especially parents. Our parents are in an optimal place to assess the suitability of a potential spouse. This even applies if you are a Christian and your parents are not. If your parents clearly love and care for you, then listen to their counsel. It could save you a lifetime of grief. He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD -- Proverbs 18:22 (NKJV)
8. Seasons: Ecclesiastes says to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. There’s a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to pluck (3:1-2). There is also a time to marry when your season comes. We have a season of singleness which is a gift from God: during this time we grow, develop, form our values and prepare for our future. As maturity and commitment set in, there is a time to marry. With so many waiting until their late 20s and early 30s before marriage, the possibility is strong that they had been in their season long before they actually marry. This can present complications. In other words, don’t wait too long because seasons change.
9. Decision: First, we need to make a decision to marry even before we meet someone. Everything flows from decision. It is amazing how many people entertain the idea of marriage, but allow life to flow by without actually doing anything about it. Men especially need to ‘prepare to launch’ by deciding that the time of girlfriends and floating around is finished: it is time to be a man and find a wife. As Proverbs 18:22 says that the man who finds a wife finds a good thing and the favor of God will be on Him. At the age of 25, I came to the conclusion that my time for marriage had come. Weeks later, the Lord identified to my future spouse. Having made the decision to marry, it was no effort to ‘make a move’ once I knew who it would be.
Have realistic expectations: It is almost entertaining how people have ‘fairy-tale’ criteria of whom they are going to marry: a certain educational background, physical appearance, social status, the perfect gentleman etc. The problem with these things is that they are 100% natural, not spiritual. Proverbs 31 describes the amazing virtuous woman; note that it says little about her appearance. Her spiritual life and ‘fear the LORD’ is what made her suitable. Whoever God has for you will be ‘a work in progress’ (just like you), so don’t see them as they are, but how God will make them.
By Elijah Raines
I imagine that one day soon I will find myself pacing the card aisle at some store, and thinking to myself about what kind of a card to get my wife. I’ll have to push and shove my way, because most every husband waits for the last moment to go find “The Card”. Valentine’s Day comes once a year and we don’t have to do this to ourselves, it’s on the calender but we act surprised every time, we all wait until the early morning before the sun gets up... well, on Valentines Day all the cards are half price.
As I imagine myself in that store aisle, I think to myself “WKOCWJB”? Interpretation: ‘What Kind Of Card Would JESUS Buy?’. I think I’ll imagine going back two thousand years and I’ll see Jesus through Peter’s eyes...
“He had called each one of the twelve of us in a different way, but once we had looked into his eyes we had known that things would never be the same.
“I remember when I first saw him I told him I was a sinful man and I asked him to depart from me. His gaze said more than his words, but he told me to follow him and that he would make me a fisher of men. Jesus accepted me and called me, a crude fisherman with dirty hands, not only grime from fishing, but dirty with sin. Life had been a hard journey of sin and schemes to take advantage of the people around me. That was how he first called me out of the life I lived.
“I followed him with the others he called, each of us in his own way. Jesus never compared us to one another; his only goal was to do what the father was doing and to raise people up to that standard. We all hung on his every word. Sometimes we thought we understood what he meant; then he would blow us away with his insight, when you think you understand then you see as he speaks that there is a whole new level to his words.
“We traveled with him for three years, we gave up everything to follow him, but we gained so much more than what we lost. We never felt lack as we looked at him and followed his every word. You may say that the last three years were the most fulfilling years of my life. Every time we worried about where our next meal would come from he would do something amazing and we would end up having more than enough.
“Jesus is the messiah, the promised one we waited for to declare his kingdom and to set all things right. I had my sword at my side and we thought that this meal was going to prepare us to march with Jesus to take over the empire, to overthrow the Romans and set things right in the temple.
“We gathered together for a meal, the 12 of us, with Jesus of course. As we sat and shared another meal with our teacher, we all seemed to feel this was a different sort of a meal. Jesus took the bread and broke it and passed it around like he had done many different times over the years. He spoke as he passed it out: he said, “This is my body, which will be given up for you.”
“We all looked at each other, wondering what he was talking about. We sat at the table with the bread in our hands not knowing what was next. Jesus ate and motioned to us and we ate along with him. This meal was not like every other. Jesus had so much to say that night. It grew dark as Jesus spoke, and after Judas was sent on another errand, Jesus took us out to the vineyards spoke to us more and more. He said every word with such purpose, he did not notice the lateness. We were tired & cold, but we still hung on his every word.
“He spoke about him leaving, but for us to not be troubled because he would send a comforter. He said he could not send the comforter if he did not go. We left everything to follow and now he is going to leave us? We were all confused and felt lost even though he was still there. We had no idea what to do with ourselves if he left us. All we did for the last three years was follow, if he was not here to follow then what would we do.
“It was the coldest part of the night, and we huddled there at the fire, not knowing what was next. Did I hear silence? Jesus was finished talking and we sat there processing what he had said. It seemed that Jesus took a breath.
“As we sat the silence of the night was broken, we heard marching, soldiers marching with torches and clubs in hand. In the front of the group of soldiers was Judas, and he came straight to Jesus and gave him a kiss on the cheek. ‘Teacher!’ he said.
After the soldiers grabbed Jesus, we were terrified, and we ran just out of sight. What was going to happen next? Was Jesus going to overthrow the Romans? What was his plan? How far was he going to fall before he rose up to conquer?
“The next day was the worst of all. Jesus had his trial and it seemed that no one could agree on what to do with Jesus. The priests hated him and wanted him dead, but the rulers sent him from one court to another. Finally it was ordered that he should be beaten.
“After the beating the priests stirred up the crowd. They began to shout out ‘crucify him’ and ‘let his blood be on us and our children.’
“He was released to be crucified, Jesus was taken to a hill called the Skull, with two other prisoners to be crucified. Roman soldiers are cruel in the execution of prisoners. They take a cross and nail the prisoners to it and stand the cross in the sun. Prisoners are thirsty and sweating and bleeding, sometimes it takes days to die. Jesus was there hanging in the middle he did not yell at the guards like the others, but he cried out to God.
“We stood there in disbelief. Only hours ago we shared a meal with our teacher, enjoying his words and his fellowship, and I had felt on top of the world. With Jesus my Messiah, we were going to take over the world.
“This had turned into the longest day of my life. I could not process all that happened. It seemed like everything was lost. We stood at a distance, not knowing what to do. Had we missed it? Did we get taken in by his gaze? He loved much. He loved everyone that he came into contact with. As I was thinking about these things, I heard him say, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’...
Fast forward two thousand years and commercialism tells us that we have to buy a card to tell someone that we love them. Valentine’s day is a day for couples to show their devotion to each other. But what can one say with a card that has not been said a thousand times before? Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Can you see Jesus at the card shop looking for the card that cost the most? Jesus’ words echo for eternity and they are for all people. Can you hear Jesus’ words to the homeless, to the stressed out businessman, or his words to the housewife that can’t catch up with her duties? Jesus came to seek and to save all people. His plea to the Father is the most powerful Valentine’s card and it is for everyone. Jesus’ Valentine to you cost him everything. “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save it through him.” John 3:16-17