14 Sep Preparing for Marriage
“Is your daughter’s complexion dark or darker?” A highly “relevant” question asked by an educated Christian groom to my parents. My parents dropped that call by replying “our daughter is beautiful”. My mother’s tone changed and tears were waiting at the corner of her eyes to roll out after that call.
“People are ready for wedding but not for marriage” – this quote caught my attention as I was flipping through the pages of a magazine. Triggered by curiosity, I started exploring further as I was also into that phase of decision making. As I started expanding my boundaries, I understood how the definition of marriage varies from one person to another and how the definition plays a major role in making this most important decision of a person’s life. Finally, what made the person to ask the question to my parents?
Marriage is legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship, according to the Dictionary.
The Biblical Definition
Marriage is the beginning – beginning of a family. It is a lifelong commitment. More than a physical union, it is a spiritual and emotional union. This union mirrors the one between Christ and His Church. In reality, people are into marriage for different reasons, which might include social, economical, religious, or emotional. Understanding what the Bible says about marriage is very important. The values and criteria for selecting a partner should be based on the Bible for a Christ Centered Marriage.
India is a country with rich diversity; our culture changes for every 30 kilometers. As we are growing up in this society of varied cultures, the belief system being formed in an individual is based on the people they meet and incidents that happen in their life. We live through stories, myths, folktales, films and other experiences. Our beliefs, customs, practices are molded by these. They will emerge and evolve over time. When we enter into a proposal with our belief system, there are chances that we may miss other important criteria that should be considered.
I am from a society where marrying a boy from other castes is believed to bring shame to the family and the marriage will turn unsuccessful. During an LTC session, I came to know that caste should not be considered in a marriage proposal. It was quiet shocking to me as throughout my life I was taught the importance of caste by my society. But thanks to God, I met a prayerful aunty at the right time. When I explained to her about my struggle, she asked me “Did you pray about this? “ She also added, “no one can change others’ hearts except God. Ask God to reveal the truth to you to change your perspective”. I started doing that and eventually not only me but my parents were also convinced that caste is not a criteria.
While searching for an ideal spouse, some believe in fair complexion, some in a 5-digit salary, some in family backgrounds, some in profession, some in church background, some in caste and some in beauty. They think that by marrying a person with these criteria, any marriage will be successful. The belief system varies from people to people, instead of criticizing them or judging them, it is the responsibility of the elders to understand the belief system of the individual and guide them in a Biblical way. There is nothing shameful in having a wrong belief system but after accepting Christ it is the responsibility of the individual to check always whether their belief system is aligned with the Word of God.
Importance of Choice
Another unique aspect in making this decision is to understand the responsibility God has given to make a choice. There are some things in our life we cannot choose, we cannot choose our place of birth, we cannot choose our father, mother, siblings, uncle or aunt. In fact, we cannot even choose our offspring. But God has given the freedom to make a choice or to choose the most important relationship in our lives. After salvation, the biggest decision we make is to decide with whom we are going to live out our lives. This decision is not something we can revert or change; it is not something which is momentary, but it is an unchangeable lifelong commitment. Understanding the importance and uniqueness of this decision will help the individual to understand the importance of God given responsibility. God has given the freedom to choose this relationship and it is our responsibility to honor it.
Importance of Non-negotiable Criteria
A Criterion is a reference point against which other things can be evaluated. God has beautifully gifted His Word to be our reference point.
The Bible clearly says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14)”. If you marry an unbeliever, then expect the Devil to be your Father-in-law. So this is one uncompromisable criteria every child of God should have. Some people used to discuss with me that they will change the person after marriage in case they marry an unbeliever. I used to reply to them in a funny way – “You cannot even change the TV channel after marriage”. I have seen many youngsters who married unbelievers and left their life of faith.
If you have a commitment to be involved in God’s work, consider it as a very important criteria while making your decision. There are many youngsters who don’t take this seriously. Later they struggle to involve in ministry as a family. I have seen many young graduates actively involving in ministry but disappearing after marriage as their partner does not have the same commitment. If one wanted to serve God throughout their lifetime, this criteria should not be compromised.
The above two criteria should not be compromised at any cost. If anyone compromises this now, their life of faith and the walk with the Lord will be compromised later.
And the rest of all the criteria come into negotiable and it varies from person to person. These negotiable criteria should not be major factors in choosing your life partners.
Today’s generation is provided with a lot of information from the internet, social media etc., By reading and listening to various teachings they are exposed to many false doctrines. The most important among these teachings is God’s will in our life. It is very natural for any human being to accept a teaching which is very easy, and which does not need any effort to practice or to put into action. In a nutshell, listening to God’s voice and obeying His words need actions that are anchored in faith, but to follow a principle you don’t need to listen to God’s voice at all. Another interesting fact is, God’s Will becomes a major topic during the time of marriage. Yes, it is true that God’s Will is the most important factor in your marriage, but it is also applicable in every other area of life. If God’s will is denied in one aspect of your life it is also denial of God’s plan and purpose concerning the whole of your life.
Our God is not a God who just flows with incidents, but He is an active God who involves in every matter of our lives. He is the one who speaks, who listens and one who will not waste a single incident in our life to train us and to grow closer to Him. Also, He is not a God of random things, but He is a God of purpose and plans. We make thousands of decisions each day, most of them unconscious, but there are still several decisions that are significant enough to capture our attention in the course of each day. A deliberate acknowledgment of the presence of God during these times will carry us far in making God’s Will a way of life rather than a crisis experience.
The fabric of our lives is woven out of the threads of such minor choices, so it is wise to form the habit of being conscious of God while making them. This habit of taking God seriously in small decisions will make major decisions like marriage less traumatic. Making the decision by listening to God’s voice is very important in marriage. God is ready to reveal His Will always, are you ready to listen and obey by faith?
God will accomplish His purpose for the individual in His own way and in His time. Waiting for the person of God’s choice while facing rejection by others is not an easy thing. But with God’s help we can pass through this valley too. Sometimes rejection brings discouragement and doubt but God is Faithful and will accomplish the things in His children’s life at the right time, neither late nor early. Through this waiting period, God will mould the individual to depend on Him and tune them to accomplish His will. Regular walk with the Lord, being part of a fellowship, having a mentor and active involvement in the ministry will help to go through this waiting period joyfully. Indeed, waiting time is not a wasted time in God’s plan, it’s a preparation time for the greater things. In fact, I have waited for 6 years to marry the person of God’s choice. It is not very easy to take a tough stand at home. My parents were not happy sometimes when I told them that I wanted to marry someone who is involving in the ministry. During these 6 years, God helped to change my perspective towards marriage and to learn a lesson from every “No” I have received. Getting “no” as answer is not rejection, it’s God way of (protecting) keeping you for the best. But at the end, it was worth the waiting and I have entered the marriage with confidence that it is from God. God has given me the person who has also grown up in the UESI ministry and actively involving in the ministry.
People are ready for the wedding – the wedding gown, pre wedding, post wedding shoots; candid photos – these are just the beginning of a wedding. To be a part of marriage ordained by God, an individual should make the decision by depending on God and His guidance. One has to evaluate the alignment of their belief system with the word of God, understanding the importance of decision making in their life. When the Lord accomplishes His plan in an individual’s life, it will be an occasion for Christian witness and the world will come to know that our God can be trusted at any time irrespective of circumstances and situations. Are you ready for wedding or marriage?
Mrs. Jesintha Robin. The author lives in Bengaluru and works with a Defence PSU. She is married to Dr. Robin Wilson. They have considered ministering students with UESI as the specific call for them.