In the past two centuries, the world has seen an unprecedented scientific, financial and intellectual growth which has come with a heavy price tag. It has crossed cultural and ethnic boundaries in its course. Until the beginning of the 20th century societies believed in a Biblical Morality which meant that there is such a thing a right and wrong and people knew why. For the next fifty years societies moved to ‘abiblical morality’. Societies knew there were such things that were right and wrong but did not know why. The 60’s and 70’s saw the influx of immorality where even though people knew that certain things were right and wrong, they did not ‘care’. Since then, the developed as well as developing societies have been under the influence of a state of ‘amorality’ or ‘relative morality’. It simply means that there is no such thing as right or wrong.
Amidst these chaotic times Communities have been facing some unprecedented challenges in balancing the contemporary trends and the age old traditions. In a frenzy to keep a balance between these two, the truth that an institution such as marriage is God-ordained, has been forgotten in many cases. Often times, it has come to the attention of Church leadership that a lot of ambiguities exist among the younger generation about the biblical basis for marriage. Preparation before marriage is extremely important in building the foundation for a successful marriage.
How can one discern the will of God before preparing for Marriage?
Psalms 37: 4. Delight yourself in the Lord. He will give you the desires of your heart. Genesis 2:22: Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib of the man. He brought her to him to be his helper.
What is the true divine pattern for entering into the greatest institution of marriage? God the creator is revealed at the scene of the beginning of human history in the role of a match maker! The greatest book in the history of mankind opens with a wedding in the book of Genesis and ends with a wedding in the book of Revelation. At the initiation of human history, the creator solemnizes the first wedding and the present human history will come to an end with the eternal wedding of the Lamb of God. Think of the importance God places in this divine institution! To prove it further, the Lamb of God coming in human form for the completion of the plan of Redemption chose to start his public ministry at a wedding feast at Cana.
God who opened human history with a scene of amazing intimacy---- intimacy between Him and man, went on to show the intimacy between man and woman all through the history of mankind. This began in the Garden and has stretched to the Galilee. Significantly, the Genesis account of marriage reveals four important truths about it, all of which apply even today because God has not changed even though man and church has. If we understand these four truths, the whole confusion on dating, premarital sex, abortion, and divorce will be solved.
1. The concept of marriage originated with God. Adam had no part in it. He did not formulate it. He did not ask for such a provision. It was God not Adam who decided that Adam needed a mate. Adam was not even aware of his own need!
2. It was God who formed Eve for Adam. He alone knew what kind of mate Adam needed.
3. It was God who presented Eve to Adam. Adam did not go in search of her.
4. God decided how they should relate to each other. The end purpose was perfect unity. Genesis 2:24 says for this reason a man will leave his parents, cleave to his wife and they will become one flesh.
If you follow God’s provision, purpose, and guideline and practically apply them to your life, you will never find yourself in the gutter. God’s plan has not changed even an inch for the contemporary Christians, but they chose to change the pattern without divine guidance and messed up their own lives. What do these four truths mean in practical terms?
• That a Christian will enter into marriage not because he or she decided it but because it is God’s Will.
• That a Christian will trust God and seek His guidance through His word and through his servants to choose and prepare for him the mate he needs and the woman will trust God to prepare her for the mate God has appointed her.
• That a Christian walking in the Will of God, will find that God brings to him the mate He has chosen for him and a woman will allow God to lead her to the husband for whom God has been preparing her.
• That the end purpose of marriage is still what it was for the first couple–– perfect unity.
Only those who fulfill the first three requirements can expect to enjoy the fourth. The irony is that all problems we see have cropped up because the end purpose was achieved without meeting the requirements. You may be tempted at this time to dismiss these principles as old fashioned and super spiritual that do not fit to your standards. There is never a devaluation of the heavenly currency. American and Indian currencies will be devalued, cultural values will be eroded, but divine standards are unchanging to eternity. For the followers of Jesus, the requirements are just the same as they were two thousand years ago.
These principles are not abstract theories to be followed; rather they are entwined with our daily Christian life with guidance and over ruling of the Holy Spirit.
God said that it was not good for man to be alone, and the craving to regain completion by getting the lost rib back can be satisfied only by this sacred covenant of marriage. In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul calls it a mystery. In proverbs, Solomon calls it a locked garden. No Psychology or Theology can solve this mystery or open up this locked garden. Those who are not married yet, may get the best counseling, and may be reading the best books in the market on this subject, but they will still be like a person standing by the swimming pool and trying to learn how to swim without actually going into the water. When God gives you the key, He actually guides you every step of the way in this learning process.
The Basic Foundations that form the Guidelines for a Relationship are:
• God initiated it.
• God made the decision.
• God knew the mate. Man did not.
• God prepared the woman. Man did not.
• God presented her to man. Man did not go in search of her.
• God’s end purpose was unity.
• Jesus upheld the plan and the disciples followed it.
God’s standards are high but are not unattainable. God wants every man and woman to be led into a gate way that leads to this great institution of marriage. When we go through this way, all the guidelines set by God will be completely fulfilled. What is this gateway?
In Romans 12: 1, Paul introduces us to this great door–– Offer your bodies as living sacrifices. When he says living, he is distinguishing the sacrifice distinctly from the Old Testament sacrifice. Here you offer your active, living body dedicated to Him, which in essence is a complete surrender of one’s will. You no longer have ownership. You no longer make decisions or choices. The purpose is to make your bodies holy and sanctified. Unfortunately, many young people have abused their bodies by drugs, illicit sex, and other degrading practices without knowing that their bodies are the temples of the living God. When you present yourself as the sacrifice, your flesh is burning on the altar of God. Once the surrender is done, there is a renewal of the mind. That changes our goals, motives, attitudes, priorities. Dear brothers, and sisters, once you entered through this gate, he wants you to cultivate some important attitudes.
Reverence and humility are essential to approach this sacred mystery. The mystery hidden in Ephesians 5: 25-32, should literally be translated to one’s life. Human marriage is a counterpart of the relationship between Christ and the church. It is an intimate, perfect, and eternal oneness. Please have the humility to accept the fact that in His time He makes all things beautiful. In His time, not in our time and thus be willing to wait for His time.
Attitude about yourself is equally important. A sense of self worth is essential in having a successful life. Let not your past life haunt you at any time as you are preparing for marriage because if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone completely.
Apostle Paul quotes another attitude after he gives instructions on marriage in Ephesians 6: 1-3
TO HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU. The first four of the Ten Commandments or the last five do not have a promise attached to it. However, the fifth is a conditional promise and a commandment at the same time. Thus, a proper attitude toward parents is essential in receiving God’s blessings in any one’s life.
Assume that you cultivate a wrong attitude toward your parents in your marriage! You may be zealous for God, you may be a world evangelist, you may be active in church, and you may be energetic in the ministry. You may have a place reserved ion heaven. What you lack is the blessing and favor of God in your family life because His commandments are always yes, and yes.
Many young people struggle with problems in marriage that they are not able to trace to
the source. They are committed to the Lord and one to another in their family life. There is genuine love between them. Still something is lacking - problem after problem - no peace of mind - children do not walk in the ways of God - no security in life! Don’t we see these couples around us? Only one medicine is available in the whole wide world. Examine your attitude toward your parents. Make amends that the scriptures require you to make. God’s statutes do not change whatever man does. The only act of man that can change God’s mind is a prayer of repentance.
The right attitudes will lead you through the guidelines of the right actions to right relationships. Grace operates through laws written by the Holy Spirit which function as the finger of God. The Holy Spirit makes this high system of morality to an easily attainable state. Imagine the growth of the potted creeping plant that we have in our homes. Small nails or other projections are placed on walls and ceilings, so that this plant can reach out a tendril and grow onto it. The prompting and guidance of the Holy Spirit help us to reach one step after the other. The growth will be complete at His appointed time and you will see the blossom.
? PSALM 119: 105. THY WORD IS A LAMP UNTO MY FEET AND A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH. When future is dark, the word of God shows you the way. HE WILL LEAD YOU TO THE PERSON HE HAS PREPARED FOR YOU IF YOU TRUST IN THE WORD OF GOD.
? 1 JOHN 1: 7 IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT, WE HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER. It clearly gives us the result of walking in the light. It leads us to fellowship with one another and relate to one another. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 clearly warns a believer not to be yoked with an unbeliever. AS YOKE SIGNIFIES MARRIAGE IN THEOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL TERMS, PAUL WARNS US THAT IT IS ALWAYS WRONG FOR A CHRISTIAN TO MARRY A NON CHRISTIAN. IF THAT HAPPENS, YOU STEP OUT OF THE PLAN OF GOD IN YOUR LIFE AND YOU ARE NOT WALKING IN THE LIGHT. The best protection against wrong relationships is establishing right relationships. Psalm 119: 63 says that I am a friend of all who fear you and follow you. Can we sincerely say that?
? ROMANS 8:14 THOSE WHO ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT ARE THE SONS OF GOD. Our spiritual maturity is achieved through the indwelling of the spirit of God in us. Among the millions of people in the world, God is PREPARING A PERSON FOR YOU WHOM YOU HAVE NOT YET MET, AND WHOSE NAME YOU MAY NOT KNOW YET. ADD TO IT THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOUR MATE MAY NOT EVEN BE LIVING IN YOUR COUNTRY. How can you find this person? It is as easy as finding a needle in a haystack. GOD’S SPIRIT WILL LEAD YOU- NOT YOUR PARENTS OR FRIENDS-TO THE PERSON AT HIS APPOINTED TIME AND PLACE. THE HOLY SPIRIT MAY WORK IN UNION WITH YOUR PARENTS. Be sensitive and dependent to the Holy Spirit and cultivate the right attitudes discussed earlier.
PROVERBS 4:23- ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT IS THE WELL SPRING OF LIFE. Be watchful as to what you allow into your heart. You are being bombarded with things that undermine biblical standards on sex and marriage. Media, school, peers and may be even some of the decaying churches of this century. GUARD YOURSELF AGAINST FANTASY BECAUSE YOU MAY COME TO A POINT WHERE YOU ARE UNABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN FANTASY AND REALITY. IT CAN AFFECT YOU IN TWO WAYS.
1) The mate that God has appointed for you may not correspond to your image of your fantasy and you end up rejecting God’s will.
2) You may end up imposing your fantasies upon a real person and marry that person. Later you will discover that, this person is totally different from the one in your fantasy.
The results of both are disastrous. Be careful in the things that you release out of your heart as well. Do not indulge in flirtations or the so called superficial relationships with the opposite sex. It is exciting to stir up emotions, but one day you will find out that the emotions have taken control over you. The ship is supposed to be sailing in the sea, but imagine the plight of the ship that has water in it. Fire in the fire place is warm, inviting, pleasurable, and exciting. Imagine it being on your lap!
ISAIAH 64:4 - SINCE ANCIENT TIMES NO ONE HAS HEARD, NO EAR HAS PERCEIVED, AND NO EYE HAS SEEN ANY GOD BESIDE YOU WHO ACTS IN THE BEHALF OF THOSE WHO WAIT FOR HIM. HARDEST RULE TO FOLLOW?-BE PREPARED TO WAIT! If He unites us quickly, let’s praise God for that, and if He wants us to wait, praise Him just the same. WAITING TESTS OUR FAITH, PURIFIES OUR MOTIVES, AND BUILDS OUR CHARACTER.
PROVERBS 12:15 - THE WAY OF A FOOL SEEMS RIGHT TO HIM, BUT A WISE MAN LISTENS TO ADVISE. PROV. 15:5 SAYS THAT A FOOL SPURNS HIS FATHER’S ADVICE AND DISCIPLINE, BUT WHOSOEVER HEEDS CORRECTIONS SHOWS PRUDENCE. Exercise patience and self restraint and take the advice of parents in order to receive the blessings of God in your family life. Seek the counsel of godly men and women who are older in years and in faith. They have already traveled the way that you are going to tread. Before taking the steering wheel for the first time, let a successful and experienced driver guide you.
If we want the Lord to give us the right mate, we must diligently cultivate God’s favor. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Make God’s favor the objective of your living. He will make the choice, do the preparation and give the provision of your mate in the right place at the right time.
GOD INITIATED IT –– MAN DID NOT.
GOD DECIDED IT –– MAN DID NOT.
GOD KNEW THE MATE–– MAN DID NOT.
GOD PREPARED THE MATE–– MAN DID NOT.
GOD PRESENTED THE MATE TO MAN–– MAN DID NOT GO IN SEARCH OF HER.
GOD’’S END PURPOSE WAS PERFECT UNITY.
JESUS UPHELD IT.
DISCIPLES FOLLOWED IT.
FOR US TO FOLLOW UNTIL HE TAKES US TO GLORY.