Seeking A Mate (Part 3)

1. This study is primarily for the benefit of single, available adult Christians. 2. Have questions or issues like this crossed your mind?: A. Am I doomed to life-long single-living and celibacy? B. Is there a God-ordained special someone for everyone? C. How do I go about getting a mate? D. How do I attract a mate? E. What constitutes godly decorum in pre-marital relationships? F. Should I have to sacrifice any of my ideals in order to be married? G. Is marriage even for me? H. The "pickings" in our church are pretty slim. Where does that leave me? I. Is it a sin to marry someone who does not share my faith? J. "Falling in love" ---- is that how it should work? K. Could I stay single and celibate and be content? L. Could I stay single and celibate and not violate the "Dominion Mandate?" M. Does God even care whether or not I long to be married? 3. This study is not intended to deal with every possible question that this topic might generate or cover every scenario that individual believers face. 4. This study is not going to be a "silver bullet" or "Love Potion #9" to end the "misery" of single-living. 5. This study is designed to set forth some basic Biblical principles to help dispel faulty notions and encourage believers to exercise discernment. A. This may mean the casting down of imaginations that are exalted against the knowledge of Christ. 2CO 10:5. B. This could include casting down Hollywood or American cultural imaginations about romance. C. This could include casting down imaginations about what constitutes permissible behavior as a single or in unmarried relationships. D. This could include casting down one's own imaginations about what constitutes a good mate. E. This could include casting down imaginations about one's priorities or timetable. F. This could include casting down imaginations about emotions and their reliability. G. This could include casting down imaginations about "providential" leading. H. This could include casting down imaginations about compatibility. I. This could include casting down imaginations about a trouble-free relationship. 6. When all is said and done, the onus is on the believer to use their God-given ability to think, decide and act in a way that is in conformity with the wisdom and directives of the word of God. A. As noted earlier, the believer is encouraged to exercise discernmentand so also to have discretion. (1) Discernment: "The act of discerning or perceiving by the intellect; intellectual perception or apprehension. b. The faculty of discerning; discrimination, judgement; keenness of intellectual perception; penetration, insight." (2) Discretion: "Ability to discern or distinguish what is right, befitting, or advisable, esp. as regards one's own conduct or action; the quality of being discreet; discernment; prudence, sagacity, circumspection, sound judgment." (3) Discernment and discretion springing from good knowledge are keys to a guided Christian walk delivered from evilas opposed to a misguided which is delivered to evil. PRO 1:1-4; 2:10-17; 3:21-26; 11:22; TIT 2:3-5. (4) Many a saint has fallen into disrepair in the area of relationships for lack of knowledge (HOS 4:6) and sound judgment. B. Jesus Christ died to take away your sin, not your brain, judgment or responsibility. C. If acquiring a mate (spouse) would be for you a temporal salvation, mind that you are to "WORK out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (PHIL 2:12). D. You will need to put effort in prayer, needed reform of thought, wise and godly conduct, and in patience. E. Very little about the Christian walk is easy (MAT 7:14) except Christ's yoke (MAT 11:30), so faith says, (1) "...I esteem all thy precepts to be right...." (PSA 119:128), and (2) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (PHIL 4:13), and (3) " God shall supply all [my] need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (PHIL 4:19), and (4) "[I will] trust in the LORD with all [my] heart; and lean not unto [my] own understanding. In all [my] ways [I will] acknowledge him, and he shall direct [my] paths" (PRO 3:5-6), and therefore (5) "Though he slay me ['Lord, this single-life is killing me'], yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain my ways before him" (JOB 13:15). The First Priority 1. How important is your God and Savior to you? Is He your first love (REV 2:4) according to the greatest commandment? MAT 22:36-37. A. Do you sincerely count all things loss for Him and the knowledge of Him? PHIL 3:8. B. Mind that God is a Jealous God Who does not look with favor on feigned or divided admiration. EXO 34:14; MAT 6:24; MAT 12:30. C. If we covet anything more than God we have made that an idol. COL 3:5. (1) Do you covet a relationship more than God? (2) Do you covet a particular person more than God? (3) Do you covet a particular person's affection more than God? (4) Do you covet satisfied emotions, desires or lusts more than God? (5) Consider the folly of the statement, "He just idolizes that gal." D. If the flesh be one's master, spiritual living is impossible. GAL 5:17. E. Is God and His timetable to you worth waiting for? Or are you prone to run ahead of Him out of impatience or human reasoning and end up with a troubled outcome as did Abram and Sarai? GEN 16:1-4, 12. (1) Mind that God sometimes grants the impatient, the insistent and the dissatisfied their requests as a judgment. 1SAM 12:12 c/w HOS 13:11; PSA 106:13-15. (2) Discipleship to Christ is largely a matter of patient waiting for Him. LUK 12:35-36 c/w JAM 5:7. (3) LAM 3:25-26. "The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD." 2. How important is God's kingdom and righteousness to you? MAT 6:33-34. A. What is your chief joy and how does it rate against God's venue in this world? PSA 137:6. B. Is your place in the church and at the Lord's Table worth sacrificing for a present need of the flesh which God would supply/add in due time? HEB 12:15-16. (1) Fornication has cost many a saint his/her placein the kingdom of God. (2) Unwise relationships or marriages have cost many a saint his/her peace the kingdom of God and oftentimes also one's place. C. Are you willing to abandon or compromise His righteousness to get what you want? Mind that your God did not compromise His righteousness to give you what you needed. PHIL 2:8; ROM 8:32. D. Do you sincerely believe that God will add to you your needs (and a spouse may or may not be a need) if you seek FIRST His kingdom and righteousness? 1SAM 2:30. Prayer 1. It is not inappropriate to pray for a spouse. In fact, it would be inappropriate to NOT pray for a spouse if that is your desire. GEN 24:12-14; PHIL 4:6-7. 2. Effectual prayer is that which accords with the will of God (1JO 5:14-15). Compare these prayers: A. "Lord, there is this woman that I have seen in XXXXX; now get her for me to wife, for she pleaseth me well." JDG 14:2-3. B. "Lord, give me a spouse that satisfies my ego/lusts/flesh---I will settle for nothing less." C. "Lord, give me a spouse that loves you greatly and who would be good for my soul." 3. Asking is good, when the asking is from a humble, obedient believer who abides in God's word. JOH 15:7 c/w 1JO 3:21-22. 4. Asking is not good when one's own will and lusts are paramount. JAM 4:1-3. 5. The desires of the (godly) heart are granted to those who delight themselves in the Lord. PSA 37:4-5 c/w ISA 58:13-14. Is Marriage for Everyone? 1. This is a broad question which needs qualification. A. "Everyone" may of necessity not extend to some because of restricting health conditions. B. "Everyone" would not include someone who is single by man's definition but still legally bound in marriage by God's definition. C. There may be other exceptions to "everyone." D. For purposes of this study, "everyone" refers to capable (mentally, physically), single, available people of acceptable age. 2. Marriage is a good thing (when in accord with the Biblical model). A. It mirrors the covenant relationship of Christ to His church. EPH 5:31-32. B. It was ordained in sinless innocency and declared good. GEN 1:26-31; 2:21-25 c/w MAT 19:4-6. C. It is honourable in all. HEB 13:4 c/w ECC 9:9. D. The man who finds a (godly) wife is blessed of God. PRO 19:14; 18:22. (1) He finds an help meet (suited) for his subduing of his world. GEN 2:18; 1:27-28. (2) He finds the means to God's heritage and his own happiness. PSA 127:3-5. (3) He finds something of inestimable value. PRO 31:10. E. The woman who finds a (godly) husband is likewise blessed of God. (1) She finds her head and lord. 1CO 11:3 c/w 1PE 3:5-6. (2) She finds the very thing for which she was created. 1CO 11:9. (3) She finds her nourisher and cherisher. EPH 5:28-29. (4) She finds her savior and strength. 1PE 3:7 c/w EPH 5:25. F. The inability to marry was considered a grief. JDG 11:37-39 c/w PSA 78:62-63. G. Marriage is God's antidote to fornication. 1CO 7:2, 8-9. (1) Fornication: "Voluntary sexual intercourse between a man (in restricted use, an unmarried man) and an unmarried woman. In Scripture, extended to adultery." a. "Burn" as used in 1CO 7:9refers to sexual passion. c/w ROM 1:27; PRO 6:27. b. Fire contained in the hearth is a good servant; fire started elsewhere becomes a a merciless consuming master. (2) Sexual attraction and passion are not of themselves sinful. (3) Sexual arousal and release with someone of the opposite sex are God-ordained natural uses. ROM 1:26-27. (4) It is sexual activity with someone outside of marriage that defiles a person. HEB 13:4 ct/w GEN 34:1-2. 3. Although sexual purity is mandatory (1TH 4:3-4), marriage is not. A. It was not sin that our example and apostle (Paul) was single. 1CO 7:8; 9:5. B. Jesus Christ never married in the flesh. C. Therefore if there was intended to be a continual universal "Dominion Mandate" based upon texts like GEN 1:28; 9:1, 7; PSA 127:3-5, etc., it would seem that Jesus Christ and Paul were delinquent in that regard. (1) We are under a New Testament which takes precedence over any previous laws or testaments. (2) Where is the Dominion Mandate to fill and subdue the natural earth in the N.T.? (3) A general pattern of Scripture is that things natural are/were precursors and models of things spiritual. 1CO 15:44-49. a. A spiritual "Dominion Mandate" was given to the Apostles. MAT 28:18-20; MAR 16:15. b. The Apostles were quite successful in filling (replenishing) the earth spiritually. ACT 5:28; 17:6; COL 1:6, 23. 4. Paul advised about the possibility, legitimacy and advantages of celibate life. 1CO 7:7-9, 25-40. A. Marriage comes with its own set of troubles in the flesh. v.27. B. Marriage affects one's freedom to please God. vs.32-35. C. Paul elsewhere advised young women to marry to prevent corruption. 1TI 5:14-15. D. Paul certainly wasn't by his advice forbidding marriage. 1TI 4:1-3; 1CO 9:5. E. Paul noted that celibacy is not a requirement but a gift of God only some are given. vs.7, 37. (1) Some can contain. LUK 2:36-37. (2) Some cannot contain. vs.9, 36. (3) Some hot; some not. 5. Jesus Christ made an observation similar to Paul's in MAT 19:10-12. A. Eunuch: "A castrated person of the male sex; also, such a person employed as a harem attendant, or in Oriental courts and under the Roman emperors, charged with important affairs of state." B. The Greek word translated eunuchdenoted "a castrated person (such being employed in Oriental bed chambers); by extension an impotent or unmarried man; by implication a chamberlain (state officer)." (Strong's Greek Dictionary). C. The disciples were tweaked by Jesus' restriction on Mosaic divorce laws (vs.4-8) and so said, "If the case be so with his wife, it is not good to marry." (1) In response, Jesus said, "All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given" (v.11). (2) The implication is that marriage is not the only estate for men but most men are not fitted for what he goes on to describe. D. Jesus speaks of three categories of eunuchs here; the first two are involuntary and the last voluntary. (1) Some are so born from their mothers' wombs. This could include genetic or birth defects or possibly damage during childbirth. (2) Some are made eunuchs of men. This would involve castration and was no doubt the fate of some of the descendants of Hezekiah. ISA 39:7. (3) Some made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. a. Some have supposed that this is justification for self-castration to avoid sexual impurity. b. Some have wondered, "Could Paul have done this to himself?" If so, how would that square with his statements that he had power to lead about a wife (1CO 9:5) and that a wife must be rendered conjugal love? 1CO 7:3. c. Paul flatly taught against the idea of ascetic, outward operations for purposes of sanctification. ROM 2:28-29; COL 2:20-23. i. Israel and her priests were not to cut their flesh, a heathen practice. LEV 19:28; 21:5; DEU 14:1 c/w 1KI 18:28; JER 41:5. ii. Self-mutilation is indicative of lunacy. MAR 5:5. iii. In an age of confusion about sex, sexual identity, inverted morals and ideals, etc., a tragic Body Modification Cult has developed which even includes penectomy, orchidectomy (castration), mastectomy and clitorectomy. iv. Clitorectomy is a not uncommon practice amongst Muslims to "help" keep women sexually pure. d. Paul recommended marriage, not castration, to avoid fornication. 1CO 7:2. e. Paul emphasized conscious restraint through mortification of sin and self. COL 3:5. i. He would "keep under [his] body and bring it into subjection" (1CO 9:27), not mutilate his body for lack of subjection. ii. Sexual sins come from the heart (MAT 15:19), so if surgical amputation is to be a successful means to spiritual victory, it would seem that the source, not the outlet, is where the cutting must be done. f. Paul was one who made himself a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven's sake. i. He was "able to receive it..." (MAT 19:12). ii. He had the gift of containment. 1CO 7:7-9, 37. iii. He was a practical, not an anatomical eunuch. iv. I have known people who had such a gift. What to Seek 1. The assumption is that a seeker is desiring a good relationship / marriage. ECC 9:9. A. No sensible godly person has a goal of a miserable marriage to a disappointment. B. Yet sometimes sensible godly people end up in miserable marriages to disappointments. (1) This may be because a spouse did not show his/her colors before marriage. (2) This may be because a spouse did show his/her colors before marriage but the seeker was blind to the obvious. (3) This may be because a seeker saw the obvious but planned on reforming him/her after marriage. Watch out for this one! a. Flaws seen before marriage tend to magnify after marriage. b. Apply LUK 13:6-9before commitment. (4) This may be because a spouse underwent a serious life-event after marriage which changed their character. (5) This may be because a seeker was looking for the wrong thing to start with and got exactly what he/she desired. PRO 20:17 c/w PSA 106:15. (6) Of these above five reasons, #2, #3, and #5 are problems with discretion. Remember how importantly discretion and discernment figure in a believer's life! PRO 2:11 c/w LUK 14:28-33. a. Lot was a righteous, godly man who for lack of good judgment brought much misery upon himself. 2PE 2:7-8. b. Abram, in a moment of poor judgment, took Hagar as his wife and produced a troubling Ishmael. GEN 16:4, 12. c. How often have believers voted for poor public leaders because of romantic emotion-led surrender to a candidate's supposed faith without due regard to his known character, policy and public record? (7) One other reason that an otherwise sensible, godly person might end up in a miserable marriage to a disappointment is because they are deceived into the "easy in, easy out" divorce mentality which makes marriage as easy to get out of as a Wal-Mart purchase. a. This thinking corrupts the seeking process since no discretion is needed. b. Marriage is meant to be a commitment until death. ROM 7:1-3. 2. The seeking process is regulated by one's value-set. A. If someone is fleshly-oriented, flesh will be his/her goal. ROM 8:5. (1) Do you desire a mate that primarily will satisfy your carnal instincts (lusts, emotions, power)? (2) Do you desire a mate that primarily satisfies your ego? (3) Do you desire a mate who will primarily enrich you materially? (4) Do you look for outward beauty more than inward beauty? a. Would you down-play the value of inward beauty if your dream-boat lacked it? b. Would you only be satisfied with someone that has both? c. Would you only be satisfied with someone who has inward beauty AND rates a "10" outwardly? d. Many years ago a brother in Christ was soliciting my thoughts and prayers about acquiring a wife. He thought his happiness depended on a Christian "Barbie" and the godly Christian women he knew didn't meet that standard. I asked him, "If you were blind, would a sub-Barbie Christian make you happy?" He said, "Yes." I told him that I would begin praying that God would make him blind so he could be happy. He got the point. (5) Do you place little or no value on the faith (or lack of it) of a potential mate? (6) Criteria such as these fall under the censure of 1JO 2:16and GAL 6:7-8. (7) A relationship entered into according to these values is not only displeasing to God but is virtually guaranteed to be a disappointing failure. B. A major and common error in judgment in seeking a mate is being led primarily by the sight of the eyes. (1) This is particularly a problem with men who are by nature more aroused by sight. (2) God has put within man a natural desire stimulated by the sight of the eyes which itself is not wrong. DEU 21:10- 11. a. So much is this the case that Canticles bemoans the young woman whose physical endowments were limited. CANT 8:8-10. b. A single man must be very judicious in governing the desire of the eyes so as to: i. reserve the enjoyment of the female body for marriage. ii. not be captured by the lusty, sensual beauty of the immodest woman. PRO 6:23-26. iii. not be lead to forget that beauty may be only skin deep and if so, it is not worth much. PRO 11:22; 31:30. (3) Samson was one of the heroes of faith (HEB 11:32) but consider how his life was plagued by the consequences of decisions made according to the lust of the eyes. a. He saw a Philistine woman of Timnath. JDG 14:1-3. b. She pleased him well. She satisfied his carnal desires. c. But she was of the idolatrous Philistines and should not have even been considered as a possible wife. d. He sought not the counsel of his parents but rather told them what he had already decided upon. This is the arrogant pride of life in action. e. She betrayed him in short order (vs. 15-18). She was hardly the character of a virtuous woman. PRO 31:11-12. f. The rest of Samson's life was characterized by eye-oriented, sensual judgment until the Philistines put out his eyes. JDG 16:21. C. Jacob preferred Rachel over Leah because of her looks. GEN 29:17. (1) Later developments indicated that Leah was God's preference. (2) Leah outlived Rachel. (3) Leah and her handmaid bore twice as many children as Rachel and her maid. (4) Leah bore Levi through whom the O.T. priesthood came. GEN 29:34. (5) Leah bore Judah through whom the Messiah came. GEN 29:35. (6) Leah was buried in the cave of Machpelah beside Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah (GEN 49:30-31) while Rachel was buried along the way to Bethlehem. GEN 48:7. 3. Character is infinitely more important than looks or any other false or weak standard. Virtuous character is durable and the lack of it becomes unendurable. A. The most important character aspect to look for is an evident like precious faith. God, Christ, His church and the truth of Holy Scripture should figure highly in one's selection of a spouse. (1) A divided household is unlikely to thrive. AMO 3:3; MAT 12:25. (2) Scripture is prolific with warnings to believers to not become entangled with unbelievers. a. Abraham rejected Canaanite women as possibilities for Isaac. GEN 24:3-4. b. Israel was forbidden to marry Canaanites because they would turn the Israelites from God. DEU 7:3-4 c/w JDG 3:6-7. c. All his wisdom did not save Solomon from being turned away from God through marrying unbelievers. 1KI 11:1-8 c/w NEH 13:26. d. The preceding O.T. verses are written for our learning (ROM 15:4) but will we learn the obvious lessons from them? e. "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners" (1CO 15:33). f. The principle of avoiding an "unequal yoke" is seen in 2CO 6:14-18. i. This is not strictly addressing marriage. ii. The context here is church-related. The church is not to pollute the membership with unbelievers or the service with the elements of false religion. iii. To not qualify the "unequal yoking" by its context would also forbid a believer from working with an unbeliever in the world. 1TI 6:1 c/w 1CO 5:9-11. g. 1CO 7:39is not an absolute forbidding of believers marrying unbelievers. i. It does not say, "she is at liberty to be married to whom she will only if he is of like precious faith." ii. EPH 6:1. Are children only to obey their parents if their parents are believers? AA. Or, are children to obey "in the Lord" their parents whether they are believers or not? BB. "Sit up straight and be quiet" should be obeyed by children of believers or unbelievers. CC. Submission and service to human authority should be in general rendered in the Lord, or as to the Lord. vs.5-8. iii. COL 3:18. Is a wife only supposed to submit to her husband if he shares her faith? AA. Believing wives are to submit even to unbelieving husbands. 1PE 3:1. BB. As long as her submission to her husband does not demand her disobedience to God, she is doing so "in the Lord." iv. A widow who is a believer (1CO 7:39) may remarry. AA. She must do so "in the Lord." BB. She may not abandon her faith to get married. c/w 1TI 5:11-15. CC. She may not marry someone who is still legally bound in marriage to another woman. This would be adultery which is certainly not "in the Lord." h. That a believer may marry an unbeliever is one thing. That a believer should marry an unbeliever is entirely a different story. i. Not everything that is lawful is expedient (conducive to advantage in general, or to a definite purpose; fit, proper, or suitable to the circumstances of the case). 1CO 10:23. ii. Liberty is not to be used for an occasion to the flesh. GAL 5:13. iii. The many O.T. proscriptions against marrying unbelievers have valid principles that should not be lightly discarded. iv. The many O.T. and N.T. warnings about the corrupting nature of companionship and communication with an unbelieving world should not be lightly discarded. v. The many O.T. and N.T. warnings about the likelihood of a divided house's fall should not be lightly discarded. vi. The many known personal examples of troubled or failed marriages where there is not a shared precious faith should not be lightly discarded. vii. The many known personal examples of a believer abandoning Christ for the sake of an unbelieving mate should not be lightly discarded. viii. Licitus perimus omnes---Lawful things undo us. ix. Discretion preserves (PRO 2:11) but the lack of it destroys. PRO 13:23. x. Prudence and circumspection are as critical in the area of mate-seeking or marriage as in any other. PRO 22:3; EPH 5:15.
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