It’s a highly volatile idea with repercussions for your future. It’s the “Marriage Material” label. Oh, we’ve all heard it. It is a concrete concept to everyone, and it has an abstract application. You can make a list of things you think are qualifiers for marriage partners, but that’s just too simple.
I could list off so many things I prefer in a marriage partner, but what is the standard that I use? Well, I could say that a man should measure up or compare to my dad. He’s a great man. I could say that he should love his family and have high goals for himself in life…you might look for someone motivated, hard-working, ethical, thoughtful, intelligent, handsome/beautiful, caring, going places in life, all of the above and more (yikes, the list that could just go on, right?!)… However, these are just basic things that sort through a sea of faces. It’s really no way to find one out of 7.9 billion people, right? There has to be a critical point where we say yes and no to one.
I’ll define two MAJOR PROBLEMS >>right here<< about my/your expectations:
One, I am an imperfect person, so my expectations and standards are imperfect. No one that is imperfect can have a flawless expectation of another. I find that my expectations are high, and at any given time, I fail at one or more of them simultaneously given my human nature. If the foundation of my standards is flawed (which, it is because…I’m me.), then my standards are also flawed and somewhat unreliable.
Two, I can only describe qualities or characteristics that I prefer before being married. This is not Lord of the Rings, and I am not Sauron’s all-seeing eye. What could be the qualities that I’ll like in a marriage partner? Folks, I have no idea because I’ve never been married. I haven’t ventured like Star Trek’s Enterprise to, “boldly go where [not this girl] has gone before.” I’ll probably not even know after “x” number of anniversaries, and I’d vouch to say that no one can describe the perfect marriage partner. Even people who are happily married go through life with some toil and strife in their relationship – it’s a part of being human having to work through the struggles. Luckily, that’s not the stuff that God deems as “making or breaking” a marriage in Scripture, and to have a godly marriage with noble “Marriage Material” expectations, God’s laid out some simple things to guide you.
I know, you’ve got it by now. There is NO standard that any person can create that will be perfect, and that’s where God’s plan for his followers takes place.
#1: Establish that prayer is your greatest weapon. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Trust in Him. That includes in prayer and in your hopes for a marriage partner.
#2: Lean on God, and Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And, here’s the follow through in Psalm 21:2, “You have given him his heart’s desire, and You have not withheld the request of his lips.” Search for God to fulfill His will, whatever that may be. Be faithful to a Lord that is faithful. Beyond prayer, put your actions into a path of obedience with God’s Word.
#3: Maestro, drum roll, please! God’s has one deciding statement on what kind of person to marry – here’s what real “Marriage Material” is if you would oblige…2 Corinthians 6:14-16 says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” That’s the best answer to any question you might have. Set your one standard to the highest one of all. Does he or she love Jesus? If the answer’s not yes, say goodbye to romance with that one, love. I can’t stress it enough, take it and leave it where God says to. Date and marry someone who loves Jesus, and that’s a match made in heaven (literally!).
#4: The Bible describes what a great wife and a not-so-great husband look like.
TO THE GUYS: Proverbs 12:4 & 19:13 says, “Find a wife of noble character, avoid a disgraceful wife… Avoid a quarrelsome wife.” So, find someone with noble character and a good temperament. Proverbs 31:10 says, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Wives are not only to be noble in character, but their lives are to be actively reflective of Christ’s character. 1 Peter 3:2-1 says, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” Finally, Proverbs 18:22 & 19:14 says, “A prudent wife is from the Lord. He who finds a wife finds what is good, and receives favor from the Lord.” So there you have it. You must choose, but choose wisely, Indiana Jones. A wife is a gift from God that you may choose to seek after and pursue. There are so many factors to finding a wife of noble character, but there’s hope for you. God’s given you His Word, so cling to it.
TO THE GALS: Proverbs 14:7 says, “Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.” Proverbs 14:16 & 20:3 says that a fool is “hotheaded and reckless, quick to quarrel.” Essentially, stay away from the fools, ladies! Know a man that is lacking self-control or is highly argumentative? Well, Proverbs 28:26 sums it up: a fool “does not walk in wisdom.” Is he lacking self-control? LOOK OUT! Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” He will not be a protector to you, a safeguard for your heart, or a wise man in times of trouble. Get away, and move toward the godly. God-fearing, Christ-following men are out there, lovelies!
#5: One passage sums up everything we’ve covered. Ephesians 5:22-33 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
If it wasn’t for Christ and the Word of God, we’d be lost forever on marriage and what qualities to look for in the opposite sex. Christ, being both fully God and fully man, gave us some guidelines and bits of hope that reveal his plan for the folks he cares about. “Marriage Material” is perfectly pictured through his relationship with us, and he’s told us to look for someone that follows him.
Heed this in your heart: God’s Word is unfailing and it is fully inspired by God’s love, care, and attention for your well-being. And, friend, if you have a hard time seeing that, just read the Word and reflect on its place in your life. Christ was sent to redeem the World, to offer us forgiveness through his blood, and to bring us into a perfect relationship with the Father. Marriage is the joining of two bodies and two hearts into a single body for the service and care of one another. When you give your life to God, he begins to transform your heart from stone to flesh – changing from human-hearted ambitions that harden our hearts to seek self to the heart experiencing God’s goodness & compassion without a chasm or separation between you and God. Psalm 145v9 says, “The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” He brings you into himself and gives you his spirit to dwell within you. He has a relationship with you that is constantly growing you and changing your heart.
Likewise, a marriage partner should be as iron-sharpens-iron. If your partner isn’t saved by God’s grace, can you really run the race of life side-by-side? Grace leads us to be unlike our human nature and more like Christ. I might hate to admit it, but I’ve been wrong all my life. My prince charming isn’t a fairy tale, shining-armor, strapping young lad that meets my marks. He’s a man that is flawed, is struggling, is broken, and is hurting. He’s a man that daily has faults and failings, and he’s not enough on his own. He’s a man that knows this, and he’s made the choice to let God change his heart. He’s been filled with a new spirit, been made into a new creation, and been transformed by the blood of Christ. To see him for who he is in Christ, I’ll have to use fewer of my human expectations. “Marriage Material” will have to go out the door, and I’ll have to let Christ come in. So, will you let Christ change your expectations and replace them with his? Are you leaning on and trusting in his ways? I encourage you to keep pressing on toward the ultimate goal: Christ being the center of your life…and someday, your marriage, too.
For additional study, let Scripture be your guide. I’ve compiled some suggestions, and I encourage you to keep studying on your own. The Bible has multiple places where it describes a person that is noble, valuable to others, hard-working, etc. If you’re wanting to evaluate a potential mate or to improve your relationship with Christ while you’re prepping for marriage, keep the following verses in your arsenal:
• Psalm 112:6-7 says, “For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” A righteous man (or woman) trusts God.
• Psalm 15:1-2 says, “O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart.” Honesty and integrity are the effects of having a heart that pursues the Father.
• Romans 6:12-13 says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” A Christ-follower is disciplined in his or her commitment to God’s Word and His saving grace. They’re in pursuit of God’s redemptive grace daily.
• He or she must also put love into action. As Christians, we’re supposed to have a stable foundation, clinging to the cross. Romans 12:9-12 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”