In a few short weeks I would be traveling to Boston for my third visit with John. It would be a pivotal time in our relationship; either we’d become engaged or we’d part ways. As the day of the trip drew closer, I frantically sought to discern God’s will about the matter.
My pastor, ever the Charismatic, simply remarked, “It’s hardest to discern God’s voice about marriage because so many emotions are involved.” Sadly, he didn’t mean rightly interpreting Scripture; he meant receiving direct revelation from God.
Actually, single ladies, I beg you not to seek signs, words from God, visions or dreams when deciding whether or not to accept any marriage proposal you might receive. I agree with that pastor that emotions can cloud your judgment, manipulating any of these impressions so that you make an unwise choice. Mysticism is never a good idea for Christians anyway, but it can have disastrous consequences when people use it for selecting a spouse.
The Bible, of course, didn’t include a verse saying “Thou shalt marry John. But it clearly directed me to choose a man who belonged to Christ (1 Corinthians 7:39, which extends to any woman who is free to decide without her father’s direction, and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.) Four years of daily conversations with John, as well as several conversations with his pastor and people from his church, convinced me that he genuinely knew the Lord and had a solid theology that affected how he lived.
Also, God’s Word taught that, as a wife, I would have the responsibility to submit to whomever I married (Ephesians 5:22-24 and 1 Peter 3:1-6). That being the case, I had to ask myself if I could trust John to lead me well.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me confess that I did better at submitting to John in the early years of our marriage than I do now. The fault is mine, not his. Nevertheless, in deciding whether or not to marry him, I needed to evaluate his worthiness to be trusted. I determined that, given his godly character, I indeed could trust his leadership. It wouldn’t hurt to remind myself of that fact now and again.
Additionally (though perhaps most importantly), the Bible showed me that I had to consider John’s commitment to sexual purity. Would he refrain from touching me inappropriately, waiting until the wedding night before engaging in physical expressions of love? 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 taught me to look for an man who controlled himself sexually.
It’s flattering when you date a man who can’t keep his hands off of you. But such men usually won’t keep their hands off anyone else either. And certainly, they care more about satisfying their selfish desires than about leading you into holiness. I knew John would control himself after marriage because he controlled himself before the wedding.
The Lord by all means requires us to use discernment in deciding whom to marry. In fact, we must be especially discerning in that decision! So this critical area of discernment demands that we know and apply God’s Word faithfully as we think about marriage. Following His Word keeps us on the right path.