It’s in the air. It’s probably also in the water too. And no, I’m not talking about a social media service of 140-character statuses.
I don’t know about you, but all of my friends seem to be getting engaged and married. I am feeling a little left out. Okay maybe not. I’m not necessarily anxious to get married right now, but I was. I felt a little bit like Ted in How I Met Your Mother, constantly searching for that special someone, only find myself merely watching all of my friends find happiness. I wasn’t focusing on the big picture; rather I was focusing on what I thought I wanted and what I thought I was ready for. But that’s enough about me, this isn’t what I want to talk about.
I know a lot of couples out there – old, young, new, and almost there; I’ve seen successful marriages and I’ve seen unsuccessful ones in all four categories. I am one of the lucky kids in the United States of America whose biological parents are still together. Let’s face it – the world we live in is not exactly known for its reputation of “Happily Ever After.” Everyone knows that current divorce statistics say that about 50% of all marriages end in divorce. But did you know that 42% of all Christian marriages end in divorce? And 65% of those divorces were between two people who were married before they turned 25! It’s early in the morning, and I’m no statistics major, but if I did my math correctly, this means that of the six recent engagements I can think of right off the top of my head, 3-4 of them will end in divorce. Now 11 of those 12 people are people I know personally, and this is a fate I would never wish on any of them. Actually, I don’t wish the fate of divorce on anyone. These stats are not conjured up from my imagination. They are real. So what I want to do now is give anyone who chooses to listen a little word of advice.
Marriage is wrong…
Paul specifically states in 1 Corinthians that it is good for a single person to remain single.
As a lot of you may already know, I’m slowly but surely going through a study of Paul’s letters. A week or two ago I came across 1 Corinthians 7, but I didn’t exactly understand what I was reading. A few nights later, I reread it, and it read so plainly, I was taken slightly aback. In this passage, Paul is actually strongly advising the Corinthians against the act of marriage. In the verses 32-34 Paul says this:
“I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband.”
Paul is basically telling us that we don’t need to be married, and that actually it would be better for us if we didn’t. God has called us to a life of serving Him – I mean it’s the least we can do for Him, right? We can best do that when our one and only concern is for tending to God’s will. That’s what Paul is trying to say: “the time is short” [verse 29], he says, because it’s true. We don’t know how much time is left for this earth, but we have to do as much as we can with the time God has given us here. Paul is saying that given the short amount of time we have, our services to God are best rendered when we concern ourselves only with the Lord and not with anything (or anyone) else. Marriage is a hindrance.
…for some people.
Paul knows this life isn’t for everyone. Some people need a significant other to accomplish God’s will for them.
Now just because Paul is saying all of these things to the church, it doesn’t mean that he believes that no one should ever get married; and, of course, neither do I (just in case you were concerned). In fact, just two chapters later [1 Corinthians 9:5], Paul states that everyone should have the right to marry. Toward the end of chapter 7, Paul even admits that some people can’t go through life without marrying their God-given significant other:
“If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to [“acting improperly” here merely means something along the lines of “leading her on without giving her her proper marriage”], and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.” [7:36]
Additionally, Paul states the inability of two people from refraining from being married.
“But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” [7:9]
Paul knows that it’s in our blood to want to be united with a husband or wife. It has been that way since Genesis 2:24. Paul is wanting people to see that it isn’t necessary to become married. He wants those in the church who are content to be single to remain that way and not feel pressured to find a spouse, because it may not be what God has planned for them. “But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin – this man also does the right thing” [7:37]. So Paul’s point here isn’t to tell us that marriage is wrong, but that for some people, it would be better for them spiritually if they were to remain single.
However, this isn’t my entire point.
You might want to think a little harder before you decide to tie the knot. This isn’t just a commitment to yourself and to your fiance, but also to God.
I know, I know. I’m probably one of the last people you’d listen to when it comes to marriage advice, but God put this on my heart for myself – I would just like to share it with you.
My point is this. As Paul told the Corinthians, being in a marriage makes it much more difficult to concern yourself with the will of God, because you are also devoting your attention to your spouse. That is why you must make sure that both of you are certain of God’s will for your marriage. You need to be sure that when you are married, you don’t bring your spouse down from his/her discipleship with God and vice versa. If this is going to be a problem, wait, by all means. You guys aren’t going anywhere, but in order for your marriage to be successful by worldly standards and by God’s standards, you not only must be on the same page with one another, but also with God. Each of you should build the other up toward God and not tear each other away from Him.
Not so long ago, I was in a relationship with a wonderful woman of God. To this day I am convinced that God wanted the two of us together. Unfortunately, I was not spiritually ready for such a relationship and I drew her away from her walk with the Lord. This not only caused spiritual turmoil, but also it caused emotional pain. I don’t want people to find themselves in this situation, especially in marriage. That’s why I wanted to share this passage of Scripture with you. I don’t tell you these things because I want to scare you away from marriage. Not at all – I love a good wedding and am a sap for a good romance (emphasis on “good” – like Titanic or The Notebook. None of that chick flick garbage released in theaters every two weeks). I really just want you to know that you are making the right decision.
Now let me emphasize that I am not trying to undermine the institution of marriage, or any marriages or engagements individually. I’m just trying to offer a piece of advice that has been given to me. Don’t rush into a binding commitment just because you two have passions for one another and are like minded. Make sure you are both on the level that God wants you at before you start risking becoming a burden to each other. And if one of you isn’t at that point yet, wait. Waiting isn’t going to hurt you. You both will spare yourselves tough times ahead if you’ll be patient and make sure you are “equally yoked.”
I know this blog was geared toward a small percentage of my already tiny audience, but I felt these things that God revealed to me in past weeks needed to be expressed. My hope is to have a new blog on a new topic out to you by this weekend. In the meantime, stay prayerful to God, studied in His Word, and in fellowship with like believers. All these things will strengthen your relationship with Him, whether you realize it or not. I pray for all of you every time I think of you. I pray that the things I say will help in some way, no matter how little. I also pray for those of you who are newly married or engaged, that God will be at the center of your marriage and that He will be the pillar that holds that establishment together.
Please pray for me too. As Spring Break draws near, I need to find the courage to do what God has put on my heart to do. I also pray that He gives me additional ideas to set my heart toward. You guys have a wonderful week.