Choosing a Life-Companion
Richard Burson is not one to ape at being an armchair pyschologist. He is Director of the youth camp operated by the assemblies in Kansas and Missouri. This article is the outcome of his experiences with the many young Christians who visit the camp at Hutchinson, Kansas, during the summer months.
Most young people have some idea of the kind of person who would be desirable for marriage. The thoughts expressed in this paper are for the purpose of encouraging a Christian in higher ideals relative to courtship and marriage, and to guide him into further thought on the subject of choosing a mate. The subject is treated in a general way so as to be applicable to persons of very different backgrounds.
That God expects youth to actively seek a life-companion seems evident from the very wording of Holy Scripture. The Book of the Proverbs contains much wholesome advice to young people and puts the matter of seeking a wife thus: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord” (18:22). The youth who desires marriage seeks an honourable experience and can expect the blessing of God. Seeking guidance from our loving Father in Heaven upon one’s association with others, expecting His blessing as one chooses a life-partner makes all romance deeply spiritual and enriching in Christian experience.
Love for another person is a deep human emotion, an experience to be treasured and nurtured. The time to settle standards of conduct, and to fasten the ideals required for a lifetime partner should come before seriously looking for a mate.
It should be settled once for all that a Christian youth should consider marriage only with one of like precious faith. A simple reading of 2 Corinthians 6:14 would convince the believer that he must not link himself with an unbeliever. No Christian can anticipate any true joy in Christ in his marriage unless he is subject to the expressed will of God in this matter. This in the most important consideration of all. One must remember that an unsaved person is in rebellion against God. No matter how beautiful or cultured; the unbeliever is lost. The young person who has made the matter of a life-partner the subject of consistent and persevering prayer is not the one who marries an unbeliever. From some experience in observing the conduct of various youths in matters matrimonial, it is my confirmed opinion that the young person who has been praying earnestly for a life-companion does not make the tragic mistake relative to marriage so frequently made by prayerless persons.
Attitude to Divine Things
If the attitude to things spiritual proves satisfactory, one may be free to consider further; what is the home-life of this person? Are the parents constantly arguing and bickering? Children who are the product of a home that in many respects resembles a battle-field are not likely to appreciate the peace and security offered by quiet discussion and decision by the husband. If the woman in the home makes the decisions and the man is not the head of the home, it may affect the new home you wish to establish. Scripture emphatically teaches the husband to be head of the wife (Eph. 5:22). Any other arrangement is disobedience to the revealed will of God for His people, and can only lead to unhappiness in the home.
Attitude in Human Relations
What is the attitude of the person in whom you are interested to the other members of the family? Are love and respect shown for their parents and for younger brothers and sisters? What are the relations between him and his parents? It could be set down as an axiom that any young person who is not gratefully respectful and lovingly obedient to his parents is not mature enough to enter into marriage. The person who has no sense of a debt of love to those who have cared for him as a helpless infant, who have provided food, clothing, shelter, education, and security is not likely to appreciate your efforts to make a home for him.
Attitude To Seniors
What is the attitude of this person toward your own parents? How do your parents react to this person? No one concerned for his own future happiness will proceed with a friendship upon which the parents will not place their blessing. If your friend does not meet the approval of your parents, a frank discussion should be introduced on the subject. It is quite possible that your parents, being older and more experienced than you, have reasonable objections. Never ignore their wishes in this matter. All your activities should meet the full approbation of mother and father. You, likewise, should submit to the same test in regard to your companion’s parents. Remember, in a very real sense you marry into the whole family. If there is enmity between you and some member of your companion’s family, this may later lead to strife and heart-ache in your own home. Strife can be avoided by not considering a person for marriage whose family you cannot respect and love.
What is the social and intellectual position of the person who impresses you? Some young persons mistakenly believe that marriage will correct social and personal faults. Nothing could be further from the truth! As a matter of fact, marriage only heightens and intensifies differences and in no way removes them. A personal habit that during courtship was only tolerated becomes unbearable after marriage because of constant, intimate association. To withhold one’s opinion before marriage with the idea of changing your mate after is the wrong approach. Any changes one expects to effect in the behaviour or attitude of your partner should be fully understood before marriage. This intimate relationship does not cure any personality differences.
You should actively seek the approval of your parents. A hearty attitude of generous love should exist between the two families thus being brought together. Seek not only the approval of your parents and the guidance of the Lord, but seek likewise the fellowship of the Christians with whom you associate. True believers in Christ are always happy to see young people who love the Lord Jesus, and who love each other, marrying in the Lord.
Association with the person you intend to marry should make a better Christian of you. If this is the sort of person God would have you marry, your every association with each other will tend to draw the two of you closer to Christ. Any person who does not ennoble your ideals and heighten your desires to live holy and to live more devotedly to the Lord is neither worthy of your time, nor your love.
Appraisal of Self
Now, consider yourself as to your qualifications for marriage. Are you mature enough to appreciate a home of your own, and to enter happily into the work of establishing and maintaining a family of your own? Are you able to give up some smaller personal desires so as to gain the one great goal? Are you prepared to assume the responsibilities of bringing another human being into existence? Children must always be considered the normal and expected result of marriage. Marriage is the spiritual union of two persons whose very beings have been made one. Are you mature enough to lose your identity only to gain it more definitely in your union with another, and thus make two lives one life? If you can honestly say yes to these questions, you are probably ready for marriage.
When you find the person you should have, you will be given the deep assurance that this is the right person. The more you pray about it, the more you reflect upon the matter asking God to guide you, the greater will be your assurance in the matter.
The Christian youth who waits on the Lord in matters of romance can join the Psalmist who said, “Our soul waiteth for the Lord: He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name” (Psa. 33:20-21).