Why We Decided To Get Married
Posted on 9 May 2020 by CERC
Considering Marriage in a Godly Way – Mei-Cheen
Marriage is often seen as the “happily-ever-after” that proceeds from the impulse of “love at first sight”. However, if Albert and I were to say that our relationship started off with, and is sustained by, “love at first sight”, that would be a blatant lie on both our parts. The reality is that it wouldn’t be very sustainable at all to base the decision to marry on a fleeting emotion.
We started off our relationship being unattracted to each other romantically – we just weren’t each other’s “type”. However, we both had the same mindset of being Christian – that God should be the greatest treasure and priority in our lives. This led to many enjoyable and interesting theological discussions and debates. I guess you could say we were theologically compatible? Is that even a term? Haha! It was natural for us to spur each other on to consider His Word more deeply and to put it into action in our lives and decisions. In time, this gradually led to greater friendship and a greater compatibility in our personalities and preferences. Slowly, we started to develop an interest in each other’s hobbies and attraction was the natural result.
As Christians, after plenty of reflection, we knew the next step was marriage. To be frank, we didn’t have any romantic notions about marriage. To us, marriage was a natural next step and we decided to commit in the way the Bible encouraged us to. There will be sunny days and rainy days, but we made the decision to commit to the “I will”. As God’s people, we have been loved by Christ in His redemption and love for His Church. We are thankful to have the marriage model of Christ and His Church that teaches us to love each other in the same way.
There are some helpful pointers Christians should consider at regular intervals in their dating life. These include watching out for each other’s growth and sanctification within the relationship. We need to acknowledge that as sinful people, some people are less “compatible” with each other. This may compromise Christian growth and even lead to sinning. Yet, for those who are “too compatible”, it would also be wise to remember that marriage is ultimately between the couple and Christ, and to focus on building each other up in love for Christ, instead of a Christ-less love for one another.
So, in short, our decision was really just the relatively unexciting fruit of steady affection and the desire to help each other mature in Christ for the rest of our lives, together.
Our prayer for the church is that all of us, whether single, dating, or married, will continue to treasure Christ in our lives and imitate Him in our interactions with the world. Remember that we are a chosen people saved from the rule of Satan and sin to glorious service to Christ as His Church. This is such a privilege despite whatever relationship status we are in. And as disciples, any and all decision making needs to be in light of this reality.
Marriage Or Not? – Jou Ee
Growing up, I’ve always been quite “decided” on marriage – or so I thought. Younger me pictured what I thought marriage would be like: a home filled with warmth and wonderful smells, clean sheets, favourite furniture pieces, children laughing, and a husband to cuddle up to. My pursuit of marriage was a whirlwind of unhealthy, me-centred desires, and I longed for the affection, intimacy, and safety I expected from a husband. I started dating too early, said “I love you” too easily, too soon and words like “love”, “commitment”, “faithfulness” were a confusing, emotional mess and I knew little about what it meant to be in a “Christ-centred”, “God-glorifying” relationship.
I made decisions related to relationships haphazardly with my emotional “good” sense at the helm and honestly, I had no clue – I only knew I didn’t want to be lonely AND I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with a less-than-perfect spouse (whatever “perfect” meant at that time).
God changed my bearing of what love and marriage meant when He opened my eyes and heart to His Christ and His gospel. The vision of marriage that Christ fulfils in God’s Word – a beautiful, radical display of sacrificial, persevering love for undeserving sinners – revealed how shallow and selfish I was. The gospel of God’s faithful love for hateful sinners is so deep! And by His Word and Spirit’s work, my view of marriage began to change, and along with it, the considerations that led to my marriage to Elden today.
I’ve summarised some key points both Elden and I have learnt below, but before that, I suppose I should share that we will have been married for 3 years this coming June; we have a 21-month old son named Ethan; and we’re expecting our second son this coming July! Our marriage has been a difficult and happy one. We have only just begun our lifelong journey of being covenanted in marriage and have yet to taste much of the bitter-sweetness many older couples have, but our hopes in penning down our thoughts on marriage is for God to give grace and clarity to you – whether you’re single, considering marriage, engaged, or even married – that you would find wisdom and encouragement from His Word for whatever season you may be in.
1. Marriage is not the end goal; devotion to God is.
Marriage really isn’t about you, and it also isn’t the point of dating. Our earthly marriage isn’t the end point – Christ is! In fact, there won’t be any marriages in the age to come (Matt 22:30). Marriage, as we came to learn from our church and Christopher Ash (a preacher and author residing in England), can be summed up with Ash’s book title: “Sex in the Service of God”. It is through sermon series such as “Relationship Rebooted”, “Relationships” and “1 Corinthians” that we’ve learnt:
- Whether you decide to marry or remain single is not a matter of “which do I prefer”, but rather what would help you to be anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please Him (1 Cor 7:32), and ultimately to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. Our purpose is to be devoted to worship and service unto Him; imaging Him and reflecting His glory like little mirrors in a darkened world.
- Marriage in itself will not satisfy or fulfil you. We are designed and called to find fulfilment and contentment in God alone. It is God alone who gives us purpose, and God alone who is trustworthy and unfailing. Striving to find meaning or happiness outside of God is not only foolish and vain – it is idolatry.
- “He who marries does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better” (1 Cor 7:38). Singleness is not less, but more. Perhaps, we shouldn’t decide on marriage until we understand what Paul means in 1 Cor 7.
2. Don’t look for perfect, and don’t look for perfect-for-me.
Most people would readily affirm that there is no such thing as a perfect spouse. Yet, most of these people would probably also think there’s someone, somewhere out there who is perfect-for-me, i.e. someone whose strengths, shortcomings and quirks are compatible with me. And if we could find him/her, then we would be happy.
Let us not delude ourselves with such expectations.
Point at any potential spouse and we have there a sinner – because that’s who we all are: sinners.
If our minds and hearts are set on devotion to the Lord, the decision of who we marry is an important one. But apart from our rigorous questions on attraction and chemistry, which – let’s admit it – we hold onto much too tightly, our discernment on the matter should be clarified by the Bible:
- Both husband and wife ought to love one another as to the Lord, to spur one another on to greater love and service to the Lord (Eph 5:22-33).
- Husbands are to sacrificially love their wives as Christ loves the church. He is to lead and sanctify her with God’s Word, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:22-33)
- Wives ought to help and submit to their husbands, with respect for him (Eph 5:22-33).
- Fathers are to lead their households according to God’s Word (1 Tim 3:4-5).
- Parents are to love, nurture, teach and train their children in the instruction of the Lord (Deut 6:4-9; 11:18-19).
If we love God above all, the criteria above rule out marrying anyone who doesn’t know, love or belong to God. The Bible is clear in its stance that Christians should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14-18). However, more than finding someone who “loves Jesus”, find someone who embraces their biblical design and role, and desires Him above all else – including his/her love for you. Find someone who’s at the frontlines of living out and standing up for truth; someone who would, so to speak, die on the same hill as Christ their Lord, with or without you. A beautiful poem I once read by John Piper to his son, titled “Love Her More and Love Her Less” captures much of what I want to express (read it here).
Here’s a short excerpt:
A doctrine in a paradox:
If you now aim your wife to bless,
Then love her more and love her less.
Yes, love her, love her, more than life;
O, love the woman called your wife.
Go love her as your earthly best.
Beyond this venture not. But, lest
Your love become a fool’s facade,
Be sure to love her less than God.
It is not wise or kind to call
An idol by sweet names, and fall,
As in humility, before
A likeness of your God. Adore
Above your best beloved on earth
The God alone who gives her worth.
And she will know in second place
That your great love is also grace,
And that your high affections now
Are flowing freely from a vow
Beneath these promises, first made
To you by God. Nor will they fade
For being rooted by the stream
Of Heaven’s Joy, which you esteem
And cherish more than breath and life,
That you may give it to your wife.
If you’re considering marriage, remember that your choice of who you marry isn’t a pursuit of perfection, or perfect-for-me, but a mutually flawed pursuit of Jesus above all else.
3. Marriage is not an equation where ½ + ½ = 1, nor is it 1 + 1 = ½.
Marriage is neither about two halves making a whole, nor about two individuals getting caught up with one another. Marriage is: 1 + 1 = greater love and greater service for His Kingdom and His People.
If we’re marrying to “complete” our failing and flawed selves, then we need to grasp the gospel and find our saviour in the only one who can save us – Jesus. Marriage will not save you from your brokenness. You must not turn to marriage as a solution for your shortcomings, but neither must you allow marriage to turn you away from the Lord and hinder you in your undivided devotion.
If I can get your “amen” to what I’ve mentioned about devotion to the Lord and finding someone who loves God as much as you do, if not more, then naturally it goes without saying that marriage is kingdom-minded with a heart for His church. The Christian family unit is one that looks outside of itself to heed our Lord’s Great Commission (Matthew 28), and strives to stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). Our love for Him must radiate outwards in our love towards “one another” i.e. our local churches, the universal church and beyond. May our marriages help you, your spouse, and the people around you to see more of God and His gracious love for sinners in Jesus.