This post is dedicated young men who are considering marriage. There are certain characteristics common to young men that I want to address, and attempt to do so here. They are unspoken, typically. However, in the years of ministry, these have surfaced in many situations and with many young men. In short, this is not a statement about any one young man, but all young men as these things, I believe, are common enough.
When Adam fell, the turmoil left behind was unimaginable by him. The pervasive damage to the heart and life of man was irrevocably altered to such a degree as to cause God tremendous grief:
6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Now, instead of man expressing the glory of God in his work-a-day life on this brand new planet, man now works against the glory of God by his life (Romans 3:23). Adam was created to serve God by means of his work, his worship, through obedience to God’s Word, and with his woman, whom God made (a summary of Genesis 2). This alone is the glory of God in this created world (Genesis 1:28). However, once Adam fell, the glory was lost. Man now works for his own ends, worships the creation and not the Creator, rejects God’s Word in every detail, and uses women for his own purposes and not the purpose of God. Women are not innocent either. Instead of loving their Adam, recognizing his leadership, receiving the Word through him, women now seek to reject a man and his authority, lead over the man, rise up independently, and create her own world by her own standards. I say it again, this turmoil, and its offspring, is truly unimaginable. No wonder God was so deeply grieved that He sent the flood.
When a young man prepares for marriage, all of a sudden he is coming face to face with these realities. For so many years, he has been most concerned with himself. This is not wrong, mind you. However, it simply does not work in marriage. He has eaten when he was hungry. He has slept at night when he was tired. He has exercised when he felt like it. He has had some restraint from his parents, but overall, he has pretty much made his life an expression of his own interests. Again, this is not wrong and is to be expected in the life of a young man.
But, when it comes to the process of engagement and marriage, he must leave all of this behind. He must bring with him all the lessons the Lord has taught him about concern, provision, care, etc.. (in short, leadership) into his marriage. However, the object of his concern, provision, and care is no longer himself. His interests are not first in line any longer. His food intake is not his concern any longer. His hobbies are not a priority any longer. Now, a young lady and her concern, provision, care tops the list of priorities (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). When these wheels begin to move, it is unlike anything he has ever experienced. It is new. He does not even know what is happening. How can he?! It can be enough to call the whole thing off and run the other way!
Yet, God still says,
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
And obtains favor from the Lord.
14 House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,
But a prudent wife is from the Lord.
This is why, it seems, making the decision to marry, or who to marry, cannot be based upon feelings. Feelings are a bad guide. Married men, can you imagine your marriage running only on feelings? Not a pleasant thought. Neither should engagement be. The decision to marry a young woman must be made from the standpoint of who she is, not what he thinks about her! A young man’s perspective, if the man is honest, is not all that stable.
So, here are some objective criteria for a young man to have in his heart when it comes time to consider marriage:
Does she fear the Lord Jesus Christ?
Notice I did not put a woman’s beauty, or lack of it (in your eyes), first on the list. Like a flower, her beauty is only beginning to bud at a young age. But unlike a flower, the deep beauty of a woman who fears the Lord does not fade over time, but only intensifies.
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Does she attempt a gentle and quiet demeanor?
If so, this is the product of the work of the Holy Spirit in her. If not, this is the work of the flesh in her. That does not mean to call it off. It means she needs you all the more!
1 Peter 3:4
4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
Does she enjoy you?
This is more a statement about you than her. What is meant by this is, does she enjoy being with you? Or, to say it another way, “Are you enjoyable to be around?”
The Rewards of Wisdom
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
The decision to marry is a (the) greatest decision in this life (1 Peter 3:7 “…the grace of life…”). The decision concerning who to marry is even greater! Why? Because, as a young man, if Ephesians 5:26 is any indication, you are now committing your life to really one thing-her sanctification. Are you ready for this? Are you able let go of your childish infatuations and “act like (a man)?” Can you take this responsibility seriously enough to see with the eyes of Christ? Does this scare you? It should! It had better scare you! But, instead of running from all of this in fear, thus allowing fear to make your decisions, run to it through the fear and fall on Christ in obedience and do your part to make one more young woman holy again. And, if you are looking around at others to see who else is doing it this way, you won’t find them. The love described here is a rarity and demands that you simply stop looking at other human examples and keep your eyes on the divine example of love, Jesus Christ and His church-“the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). Be the example.