Courtship/Dating

On How to Choose a Spouse

Few SI readers are in a spouse-seeking phase of life. What follows is mostly an effort to organize some thoughts for my own kids and, likely, a future teen Bible study or Sunday School opportunity. Perhaps some readers will find these thoughts useful in their own family or ministry setting.

A brief word about prayer and the will of God. The advice here takes it as a given that the process should be conducted prayerfully. It also assumes that prayer is never a substitute for due diligence. Third, it assumes that although God has a plan for every life, it is not our role as believers to “know the plan.” Our role is to behave wisely, obediently, and worshipfully, and experience the plan as it unfolds. Last, it rejects the idea that the way we follow God’s leading is to get a feeling of peace about an option, then basically go with our gut. “What does your heart tell you?” is Disney, not doctrine.

Five questions for evaluating a potential spouse:

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Why Can't We Be Friends?

Today’s ideas about “biblical” love, dating, and courtship come from a variety of sources. Notable influencers in this area have been Bill Gothard, Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Josh McDowell and Richard Ross (True Love Waits). I’m sure all of us are affected by our own experiences as a young person navigating the mine field of romantic relationships, and all this combined together may add up to more confusion than clarity.

My biggest concern is the lack of Bible in “biblical” advice about The Search for a Spouse. The Bible guides us in several ways, including command, doctrine, principle, precedent, and illustration. Taking in all the preaching and teaching I’ve heard over the years would lead me to believe that there is a mandate for every Christian to focus on acquiring a spouse with an accompanying list of commandments so each can find The Right One.

We are not very quick to acknowledge the few clear Scriptural reasons we are given to pursue marriage: to avoid fornication, as a picture of Christ and the church, and to raise godly children. Even though Paul advocates for singlehood, we can ignore him whenever he speaks by permission and not of commandment. Right?

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