by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: I Peter 3:1-7
A. Many, if not most people, spend a fair chunk of their life trying to reach a decision regarding who they will marry
B. Sadly, most leave this important choice to impulsive feelings. Little thought is given
C. Others agonize over the decision because they aren’t certain what they should be looking for. They want the perfect mate, and are afraid they might make a mistake.
D. The reality is ...
1. Feelings can be manipulated, they are rarely stable, and they do change. Feelings are a miserable guide for decisions - Proverbs 28:26
2. No one is perfect. We all have flaws. To only consider absolute perfect is to ask someone, in truth, to ignore any imperfection or to be never satisfied.
E. But it doesn’t mean there is no criteria to consider. I want to present some things you ought to think about before selecting someone for your spouse. And think also what kind of partner you are setting yourself out to be.
II. Spiritual Qualities
1. It ought to go without saying, but one of the roots of love is mutual trust - I Corinthians 13:6-7
a. How can you trust someone who lies? - Psalm 5:9
2. A dishonest man doesn’t make a good provider - Proverbs 13:11
3. An honest wife brings safety to the relationship - Proverbs 31:11
4. Don’t make excuses.
5. Actual case: “My boyfriend used to be a heavy drug addict and he says he is clean, even though I find him lying to me and hiding his occasional drug use from me. I can't ever talk to him about anything because he gets mad and tells me to grow up and keeps on lying. How do I talk to him about how I feel about this and how do I get him to be honest with me instead of hiding everything from me?”
6. My reply: “What will it take to get you out of the fantasy world that you are living in? A drug user is not clean if he is occasionally using drugs. Though you have caught him a few times, the reality is that you have only caught a few occasions. He is probably using them far more often than you know. Of course he is getting mad. You are standing between him and his habit and everyone else knows which is more important to him. I'm wondering why you are refusing to see it. Talking, especially about your feelings, is definitely not going to get him to change. Drug users lie. They have to maintain their habit. They lie about their use. They lie about where they have been. They lie so often that they forget what is truth and what is not. Even if he promised to marry you, could you believe him? If he made wedding vows, could you trust him to keep them?
1. People today tend to demand trust. Trust isn’t given, trust is earned.
a. How is trust earned? Through time for observation - Matthew 7:16-20
2. Marriage is based on a covenant - Malachi 2:14
a. That means you should have confidence and trust that the other person will keep that covenant.
b. So how has this person demonstrated that you can trust them?
3. Immoral people break their word - Proverbs 2:16-19
4. If a person is willing to break God’s laws, how do you know they will honor your marriage covenant later?
5. Actual case: “Please help. I am a Christian and I have been in a celibate relationship with the person I love for 3 1/2 months now. We have told each other many times that we love each other and would do anything for each other many times. We have also said that we want to marry and spend the rest of our lives with each other. Recently we broke our celibacy by having sex, not out of lust, but out of love. I was wondering am I still committing a deadly sin, even though I love this person and I KNOW I'm going to marry her?”
6. My reply (in part): “You've only been serious about this girl for a little over three months, yet you are already having sex with her -- despite a commitment to wait until marriage for sex. I hope she is wondering how long it will take you to commit adultery after you are married. So far you haven't demonstrated strong reliability in your life. ... Is it kind to your girlfriend to risk getting her pregnant? ... Was the fact that you used her for your sexual gratification "not seeking its own?" As the days led up to your fornication were you thinking no evil in regards to her? Can you claim that though you sinned and led another person into sin while claiming it was "love" that you are not rejoicing in iniquity (sin)? My point is that what the two of you did is not love. It was selfish sexual gratification. You didn't do it for the other person, you did it for yourself.”
1. People make mistakes. There are going to be disagreements, even in the best marriage.
a. That fact means there are going to be times you or your spouse are going to have to apologize for being wrong.
b. It would make sense to look for someone who is able to forgive
2. It is requirement for Christians - Matthew 6:15
3. It is necessary for love (thinks no evil or does not take into account a wrong suffered) - I Corinthians 13:5
4. Don’t marry someone who only says they forgive but never lets the past go, whether it is to you or someone else.
D. Humble (accepts correction)
1. Because each of us makes mistakes there are going time we must correct each other.
2. Bluntly put - Proverbs 12:1
3. People who can’t receive correction will continue to make mistakes, which will impact all aspects of life - Proverbs 13:18
4. As with all Christians, a good quality in a marriage partner is humility, a lack of pride in self - Proverbs 11:2; 13:10
1. A lack of self-pride, doesn’t mean a person can’t have confidence.
2. A husband is expected to love his wife as himself - Ephesians 5:28-30
a. But what happens when a person despises himself?
3. Even when the young woman wasn’t certain of her position, she still understood she wasn’t worthless - Song of Solomon 1:5
4. As her relationship grew, her confidence rose as well - Song of Solomon 2:1
5. Clothed in strength and honor - Proverbs 31:25
6. Don’t marry someone who lives in constant fear or runs themselves down.
F. Discretion (good judgment)
1. Throughout marriage choices will have to be made.
a. Do you want someone who makes impulsive decisions or someone who thinks things through?
2. Hasty people tend to be poor - Proverbs 21:5
3. They tend to make foolish mistakes - Proverbs 29:20
4. The worthy woman considered before buying - Proverbs 31:16
5. Actual Case: “I have a question about my relationship. I have three children out of wedlock by two different men. I am currently with my youngest two's father for the last seven years. My question is: I have always heard of karma. My children's father and I got together seven years ago while he was in a relationship with the mother of his two eldest children. (They were not married.) We had sexual relations which led us to living together and having children. I was always persecuted against for cheating with a man who was involved. But his answer was that he had never felt true love until I came along and he was never in love with his oldest children's mother. We had a string of bad luck this past five years, which led him to prison. I have the feeling that I was destined to have a bad relationship because of what I had done and him. Is this true? But we honestly love each other beyond words can describe. We plan to marry next year.”
6. My Reply: “One doesn't have to go looking for a mystical karma to explain what is happening. You've been making a long series of bad choices which lead to the typical bad consequences. You had sex and a child with a man who didn't stick around, that isn't a great surprise. You chased after a man who was willing to have sex and two children with a woman he says he didn't truly love. But he says nice things to you, so that doesn't matter. Now he is in jail and you are hoping that he'll marry you when he gets out. Dear, he's not in jail because of bad luck. He's there because he was caught breaking the law! Quit making up excuses and face reality. The man is no good and you have given zero indication that either he or you plan to straighten up your lives. I feel so sorry for the children being raised in this environment. ... You are only destined to continue to have bad results if you continue to insist on doing things wickedly. "He has brought on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; the LORD our God shall cut them off" (Psalm 93:24). The only sensible solution is to make an immediate change in the course of your life. Stop taking sweet-talking men into your bed. Insist that the next man you ever sleep with is a man who loves you enough to first commit his life to you in marriage. Then find a man who will be a good provider and a good role model for your children, someone you will be proud if your children grow up to be just like him. Then you might start seeing your fortune change. And for yourself, start learning the ways of righteousness so that you can both improve your life and the lives of your children.”
7. One way to check for discretion: How quickly do they get angry? - Proverbs 19:11
1. Not everything will be available immediately. Some things just take time.
2. Patience gets a person through rough times and able to continue - Romans 2:7
3. Actual case: “Hello, I and my girlfriend tried foreplay a couple of times, but we have not had sex. She is not just my girlfriend, she is almost my wife. I will marry her next year; this will surely happen. Also I didn't have any sexual experiences before. I have gone through all the chapters in your book and now I feel guilt over whether I attempted sin. However, she is my girl and I am going to marry her. Is it wrong?”
4. But love is patient, not out for instant gratification - I Corinthians 13:4
5. My reply: “For a moment, let's pick another sin and make an argument similar to yours. Suppose someone stole your vehicle. Would you accept the argument, "I was only borrowing it. You weren't around to ask, so I thought you won't mind. I had every intention of returning it in three months. So, you shouldn't call me a thief because I am planning to return it to you." Most people would not except the excuse: 1) Stealing is wrong, 2) intentions to make it right later doesn't change it, and 3) you can't guarantee the future.” - James 4:13-16
1. Marriage is two people working together in a family
2. Look at the description of the worthy woman - Proverbs 31:13-19, 27
3. Laziness bring poverty - Proverbs 24:30-34
4. A person who spends most of their time in front of a video game isn’t going to make a good spouse.
1. One sign of industry is how clean a person is. It takes effort to maintain yourself and your environment - Ecclesiastes 9:8
2. Sloppiness indicates that a person doesn’t care either about himself or those around him
3. There is a reason why Naomi advised Ruth - Ruth 3:3
1. Marriage involves two people living close together. There are going to be times in the best of marriages when you will get on each other’s nerves.
2. Look for someone who is kind to other people, even when he is treated badly - Ephesians 4:32
3. Love is kind - I Corinthians 13:4
4. Why consider someone who is rude or ungrateful?
5. Think of the problems in Abigal’s marriage - I Samuel 25:3, 25
6. From such people come abuse - Proverbs 27:3-4
1. The righteous and unrighteous cannot get along - II Corinthians 6:14-19
2. Actual case: “Please I need your help. I have never had sex. I am a proud 22 year old virgin and I plan to stay that way until I am married. See the problem is I have a boyfriend now and, well, he likes to touch certain areas. ... Does this officially make me a non-virgin and a disgrace onto myself? Or am I just blowing the whole thing way out of proportion?”
a. This person is not following God’s law - I Corinthians 7:1
3. Actual case: “I am frustrated because after being through a very serious relationship, I realized that I put a lot of love into it for almost nothing. I never cheated, I was honest, loving, loyal and I even was willing to and then got pregnant for my boyfriend just to make him happy. I was willing to do just about anything for him.”
a. This person was willing to do anything, including sinning - Hebrews 13:4
4. My reply: “How do you know if a man will be committed to you? Because he will first bind himself in a formal covenant of marriage before having sex with you. A man willing to have sex outside of marriage is declaring by his actions that he doesn't really care about God and His law -- so how well can you trust such a man to keep his word? A man willing to have sex without a marriage covenant is declaring that his desires are more important to him than what is right or wrong. Could you trust such a man to remain faithful throughout a marriage?”
5. The fact is that evil tends to drag down the good - I Corinthians 15:33
1. Little things, such as carefully choosing one’s words can go a long way to make life pleasant
2. Colossians 4:6 - It is useful in all situations
3. It is an indication of wisdom - Ecclesiastes 10:12
4. It benefits others - Proverbs 15:4; 16:21
1. Listening to what another person actually says often times avoids problems - James 1:19
2. People often think they are listening, but they are not. They are too busy thinking about why a person says something and assigning motives, as a result they miss the facts - I Corinthians 2:11
3. One way listening is demonstrated is when a person remembers things you’ve said, days, weeks, or even years later. It is one of the subtle points made in the Song of Solomon - Song of Solomon 2:14; 8:13
4. No greater complement can be given than to show another that his words are worth being heard and thought about.
1. Actual case: “I had been dating my boyfriend for some time, but then I ended the relationship for some reasons and I told him my reasons. The reasons were a bit petty, but I still ended the relationship. Now I feel like I made a mistake. Should I approach him and ask him if we can still date or should I just wait for him to come back to me?”
2. My reply: “Honestly admitting that you made a mistake never hurts and you ought to do it whether he comes back to you or not. Few people think about the hurt that they cause to another person when they break up. When you are close to someone and they tell you that you are not adequate, it forms a deep wound. But whether he wants to return to dating someone who is willing to break a relationship over petty things is really up to him. You can let him know you are available, but you should show him enough respect to allow him to make his own decision -- and then to respect that decision, whether you like it or not.”
3. There is a reason numerous warnings are given about contention
a. No peace - Proverbs 19:13; 21:9; 21:19
b. Strife - Proverbs 22:10; 25:24
4. I’m always amazed how many people date people they don’t get along with. They seem to be on again and off again so often that it is like trying to follow the ball in a tennis match. So what is marriage going to be like when you can’t go “off again”?
5. Peacemaking is a sign of being righteous - Proverbs 16:7
6. What thrilled the woman in Song of Solomon is that she found peace - Song of Solomon 8:10
1. There are going to be bad times in any marriage. It is optimism, hope, which pulls people through - Proverbs 18:14
2. Worry can consume a person and keep them from making any move - Philippians 4:4-7
3. That is why love always hopes - I Corinthians 13:7
4. Don’t marry a gloomy person. Find someone who appreciates things - Colossians 3:15-17
1. Moses warned about fooling yourself into thing you can have peace while stubbornly remaining in sin - Deuteronomy 29:18-20
2. A fine quality in older men is soberness and that is one you should look for in a mate - Titus 2:2
3. Drunkenness and drugs can lead to violence - Proverbs 20:1
4. It can cause poverty - Proverbs 21:17
5. People do all sorts of things they later regret when they are not sober, so why borrow trouble?
1. Have you seen the person who plays the role of a victim? Nothing is ever their fault. Nothing gets fixed because they are certain that they have no involvement in the cause.
2. Good spouses are strong and brave - I Corinthians 16:13
3. The same thing that makes good Christians make good spouses - Titus 3:14
4. They also fulfill their obligations to family - I Timothy 5:8
5. Being married means taking on a lot of responsibilities. You don’t want someone who looks for ways to get out of their duties.
H. Loves Others
1. One of the attributes of the excellent wife was her generosity - Proverbs 31:20
2. Far too many people are possessive of their love. They act as if there is a limited amount and so can’t be shared with others without limiting their own.
a. But love has no upper limits - Philippians 1:9; I Thessalonians 3:12
b. The reason it is important is such people tend toward jealousy. They can’t share what they have for fear of doing with less – including the love and attention they receive.
3. Someone who loves others is going to have room to love children when they come along. They are going to love strangers because they are naturally hospitable.
I. Loves You
1. You would think it would go without say, “Marry someone who loves you.”
2. Of course, a great deal of problems come from not knowing what love is. Too many things are called love, which really aren’t - I Corinthians 13:4-8
3. Love is shown in how the loved one is treated - Ephesians 5:25-29, 33
4. One aspect of love is its staying power. Love lasts. A “love” that comes and goes isn’t love - Song of Solomon 8:6-7
V. What a woman should look for
A. A leader
1. The man you pick for your husband is the one you choose to lead your household.
a. Just as the church looks for men who rule well, a woman should look for the beginnings of those qualities as well - I Timothy 3:2-5
2. Leadership isn’t about demanding to make every decision.
a. The worthy woman did much on her own and had her husband’s praise as a result - Proverbs 31:28-31
b. Leadership is about guiding the general direction.
c. It’s about going first and asking others to follow your lead
B. A provider
1. Christians know the value of work - II Thessalonians 3:10
2. A person who spends more time out of work than in it, won’t be able to support a family.
3. One thing a manager looks for on resumes is the job history. He knows that a person who bounces from job to job or has long gaps between employment won’t make a good employee. Guess what? They also make miserable providers.
4. Actual case: “Ok, my fiance and I have been living together for almost six months now. We are not married. For a while I let myself get away from God and I didn't care if we were living together unmarried. I'm trying to get closer to God and receive forgiveness for my sins. I know the Scriptures quite well and what it teaches about fornication. We are living in sin and I cannot ask God for forgiveness unless I turn away from my sins. That would obviously mean that we would have to get married. The only problem is, he doesn't want to get married right now. It's not that he's not ready, it's just he's scared his dad will take him off medical insurance, auto insurance, and his phone bill. I know he has to get his monthly medications, but he has a good job and his doctor even told him not to worry about it, that he'll get his medications with no problems. ... I'm so confused and worried and hurt. God has told me plain as day that I cannot continue living a sinful life.”
5. My reply: “Do you realize something? Your boyfriend is putting money before you and his God. As you pointed out, it isn't that he can't afford insurance and medications. It is just that once he marries, mom and dad aren't going to cover some of his bills any longer. That is more important to him than marriage to you and that is more important to him than going to heaven. And this is the guy you want to marry and raise your children? It is guys like him who give Christianity a bad name. He is claiming to be something that he isn't living. The standard word for that is "hypocrisy." He is just playing at Christianity, just as he is just playing at marriage.”
6. A person who thinks too much about money is not a good provider because he is reluctant to spend money when it is needed.
1. Ladies, you want a man willing to give his life for you - Ephesians 5:25
2. If his goals and his desires are always first, then he isn’t good husband material.
3. A wife needs an environment where she can focus on her duties in the home and trust that her husband is handling the outside world.
VI. What a Man should look for
1. Most marriages end up with children - Psalm 127:3-5
2. Wouldn’t it make sense to find a wife who loves children? - Titus 2:4
B. A quiet spirit - I Peter 3:3-4
C. Not looks or charm - Proverbs 31:30
VII. A Christian makes the best mate
A. So many problems can be avoided when two people share the same faith - I Peter 3:7
B. Actual case: “I attend a church of Christ but my fiance practices Calvinism. ... Every time we try to talk about the Bible and God we argue because we are so into our religion. How is it possible to talk to someone about things of the sort when they always have an answer, but they take the verse out of context. They pretty much write their own "Bible". How do I go about helping him without bringing myself down in the process? Any help and suggestions would be appreciated.”
C. My reply: “I need you to think long and hard about the following because it is a truth that is hard to face. You are planning to marry a person to whom you cannot come to an agreement about religion. What are you going to do after you are married? Do not deceive yourself with the line that you'll change him after you are married. If he isn't interested in the truth now, when he is strongly motivated to win you as his wife, why would you expect it to change once he has what he wants? What belief system will your children be raised in? The fact is that children raised in an environment where the two parents have different beliefs generally grow up with no belief of their own. They see their parents constantly arguing and contradicting each other and decide they want nothing to do with religion. Is that what you want for your future children?”
D. When you consider someone for marriage, look at who they are, not who you hope they will become.
1. So many people marry their hopes instead of the person in front of them and then are dismayed to find out they got the person in front of them.
2. Yes, people do change. So look for the changed person, not the dream person.