Christian Men & Christian Women Make Christian Homes
by Ryan Connor
We have all heard it said of some older couples who have been married for fifty or sixty years, "They have lived together so long that they look alike." And why shouldn't they? They have had the same surroundings their hopes and desires are the same, and their anxieties and purposes are similar. Why should they not be alike? The Bible says "And they twain shall be one flesh" (Mt 19:5). Marriage brings two lives together. As Christians, we want to be careful in deciding whom we join in marriage. Selecting a marriage partner is a crucial task. It is a choice that will significantly influence the course of a person's entire life. And the longer a couple is together the more alike they will become. With so much riding on this choice, Christians ought to affirmatively decide to marry only another Christian.
A Christian home begins with a Christian marriage. When a man and a woman are united in marriage a new family (home) is formed. This home can only be described as a Christian home when both the man and the woman are Christians. Do you want a Christian home? Of course, you do. So you need to marry a Christian. We need to look at this subject with our eyes wide open.
First, consider the order for the family given in God's Word. The Bible spells this out for us in I Corinthians 11:3. The Apostle Paul says, "But I would have you to know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." Here we have God's order for the family. The order of authority and responsibility is given with this principle of headship. As for children, the Apostle instructs, "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord" (Col 3:20). The order is: GodóChristóManó WomanóChild. The well-being of the family is dependent upon the observance of God's divinely appointed order. Any change from that form which God has ordained only brings forth a malformed, misshapen, and contorted home, for which there is no cure except a return to God's original order.
The Bible speaks of marriage as a mystery. In Ephesians 5:31, the Apostle Paul quotes from Genesis 2:24, which says, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." In the next verse (Eph. 5:32) Paul explains, "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Marriage is more than a mere social contract to be made and broken at will. It is a mystery. The Greek word pvotepiov, which is translated mystery here in this passage is referred to as "a locking up or that which serves for a locking up. . . It denotes in general something hidden or not fully manifest" (Zodhiates' Complete Word Study New Testament. p. 938). This word does not convey the mysterious as our English word. The idea is simply that marriage as an institution had to be revealed to men and women.
God revealed marriage to men and women. From whom else did the institution of marriage come? We can look to the Constitution of the United States and read the signatures of our founding fathers. We know from where, and from whom, we received the institution of government in our country. But the institution of marriage is much older than the government of the United States, or any other government on the face of the earth. Marriage came from God just as the seven day week also came from God, He revealed it.
The Apostle Paul is contrasting the marriage relationship with the relationship between Christ and the church throughout the fifth chapter of Ephesians. In Ephesians 5:32 the conclusion is that both the institution of marriage and the institution of the church had to be revealed to us by God.
Every Christian marriage is designed to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and His church. Earlier in this chapter (Eph 5:22-27) the Apostle Paul examines the analogous nature of marriage and the relationship between Christ and the church. What is the nature of the union of Christ and His church? "Holy and without blemish," the Bible says. There is no sin in the church. A holy church is deemed a glorious church. Thus, a holy marriage is deemed a glorious marriage. Where do unbelieving sinners fit into this picture? For a marriage to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church it must be without sin. No sinner can be a part of a Christian marriage.
Unbelievers have no part in the relationship between Christ and His church. Therefore, a Christian marriage cannot reflect the relationship between Christ and the church, as the Lord intends, when that marriage is not made up of two Christians. Why would a Christian marry an unbeliever? When a Christian looks to the world of unbelievers to find a marriage partner, has he not strayed from God's design? Will that marriage be a Christian marriage? Sadly, no.
Sometimes, Christians find themselves already in a marriage with an unbeliever. They are left to make the best of their cumbersome situation. Paul wrote, "If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him" (1 Cor 7:12-13); A person who finds himself or herself married to an unbeliever, whether he or she was a Christian before or after his or her marriage, is to remain in that marriage and make the best of it as long as the unbelieving spouse is "pleased to dwell" with the Christian spouse. Nevertheless, this is not what God intended. This is nothing more than plan B. Once a person is married however he is married for good. This is why making a good choice for marriage is so important.
Christians must seek to fulfill God's will in selecting a mate. The common way a person selects a mate today is by dating. Webster's College Dictionary defines the word woo as "to seek the favor, affection, or love of, esp. with a view to marriage." We commonly call this dating. Some have said, "Every date is a potential mate." This method, of course, is unknown to the Scriptures. Even so, we are not without guidance from God's Word when it comes to selecting a mate.
The first "woman" a Christian man should court is Wisdom. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived said, "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding" (Prov 2:1-6). Wisdom in selecting a mate begins with the Word of God.
While the Bible says little about the method of selecting a mate, the Bible has a lot to say about the duties and obligations of husbands and wives. So, if a person wants to find a mate, and he is serious about serving God, then that person needs to know what God will expect of him once he is married. Some important questions are: What are the purposes of marriage? What instruction has God given so that Christian husbands and wives can fulfill God's purposes in marriage. What are the responsibilities of the husband? What are the responsibilities of the wife? If a person knows what God will expect of him once he is married, then he will be able to use wisdom in selecting a mate.
The question wisdom asks is "Will I be able to fulfill my obligations to God as a husband or wife with this person as my mate?" We are sometimes inclined to ask the opposite question: "Will this person be a good husband or a good wife for me?" We are always looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. But maybe, we need to work on becoming Mr. or Mrs. Right. Some men might be amazed how many women might become Mrs. Right if they first became Mr. Right. Far too often we hear folks say, "That young man just needs a good Christian woman and he'll straighten up." Well, if he would straighten up, then he might find a good Christian woman. The wisdom of God's Word must be put to practical use. A young Christian woman learns from God's Word that a wife must submit to her husband (Eph 5:22 ; Col. 3:l8). She should be asking in advance, "For what kind of man will submission come easily?" Notice, the answer to this question can never be an unbeliever. Yet, even within the church a wise Christian will be selective. A young Christian man learns from God's Word that a husband must be the spiritual "head" of the home (I Cor 11:3). Therefore, a young Christian man should be asking in advance, "For what kind of woman will I be able to lead spiritually?" Again, the answer to this question can never be an unbeliever. Of course, the bottom line question is, "Will this person help me get to heaven?"
Far too often our standards for selecting a mate are based on what the world praises, instead of what the Word of God praises. Romans 12:2 says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." The world esteems physical beauty and charm, but the Word Of God esteems inner beauty, purity, and gentleness. The Apostle Peter instructs Christian women, "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." Young Christian men need to be looking for this kind of woman.
Physical attraction is necessary, but it has a proportional value. A young Christian man may see a young lady for the first time and be very attracted to her. She may be physically beautiful. However, as he gets to know her he may find that her "inner man" is not very beautiful. A young Christian man may meet a young lady and not be attracted to her at first, but after getting to know her better she becomes very beautiful in his eyes. An outwardly beautiful woman may be found ugly on the inside. Then, even her outward beauty is diminished. Notice that inner beauty is incorruptible. We all know that outward, physical beauty fades away with the passing of time.
The book of wisdom teaches the value of a virtuous woman. Proverbs 31:10-12 says, "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life." Again, Proverbs 31:28-30 says, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Who is it that the LORD praises? The woman that feareth the LORD, that is who. Who are you praising when you seek out unbelieving persons of the world, instead of Christians who fear the Lord?
Some still ask, "What is wrong with dating out of the church?" Consider some plain Bible teaching. Christian widows are commanded to marry "only in the Lord" (1 Cor 7:39). The Apostles of Christ had the "right to take along a believing wife" (1 Cor 9:5 NKJV). Now, if an Apostle of Christ only had that right to take along a believing wife, and Christian widows are commanded to marry only in the Lord, both having ten times more experience and wisdom than any young person, then it seems clear that Christians marrying unbelievers is not pleasing in the sight of God; young or old.
Above all, when a young Christian knows what God's will is for the family, and in spite of that knowledge seeks a mate outside of the family of God, then he has chosen to disregard the will of God in his life. It is wrong to date out of the church, and it is wrong to marry out of the church. God has given us a design for the Christian home, and we must build our homes according to God's design. Anything less is wrong.
We will consider a few common reasons (excuses) given for dating, and even marrying, out of the church. The most common excuse is that there are not enough single Christians available to date. We have no choice but to date out of the church. First of all, at this moment in time this is simply not true. There are many young people in the church of all ages. We may have to go beyond out local congregations to meet them, but they are around. We may have to make an effort to go to the "big" meetings and visit other states. I personally know of many young married couples who lived in separate states before they were married. It can be done. And it should be added that parents who are concerned about the welfare of their child's soul ought to be sure that he or she has the opportunity to meet other young Christians, if for this reason alone. Beyond all of this, a person who is truly seeking God first in their life is going to have the help of God in finding a mate (Mt 6:33). Is it really the case that we have no choice but to go to worldly circles to find a marriage partner, or is it rather, that we prefer the company of worldly people?
Another common reason given for dating out of the church is evangelism. This is grasping at straws. Brother Don Pruitt has said well, "Dating is not a mission field." The Scriptures tell us how to do evangelism (1 Cor 1:21). The method is preaching, not dating. This excuse is not even worth the space of this paragraph. We hasten on. Another reason given for dating, and even marrying, out of the church is that others have done so, and it has worked out fine. Therefore, they conclude, if it works out okay then there is nothing wrong. The end does not justify the means. It is wonderful for those few Christians who date and marry out of the church, and their spouse becomes a faithful Christian. But what about the many who do not? For the most part it does not work out. Just ask any brother or sister who has been around long enough to know, and they will tell you that more have left the church than remained faithful after marrying an unbeliever.
Another reason given is that dating is just for fun. These folks say, "Ah, we are just dating. I don't really intend to marry her." The best laid plans of mice and men. This is all fine until someone falls in love. Friendship, companionship, and partnership do not require the dating relationship. If there is no intention to marry, then why be anything more than friends?
The bottom line is this: If you are striving to serve the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind, then why would you seek out a person who is not serving the Lord to join in marriage? Decide that you are going to have a Christian home that is pleasing in the sight of God. Decide that your marriage is going to reflect the relationship of Christ and the church. Decide that your marriage is going to fulfill all that God intended. The first place to begin is by seeking out a Christian. No less will do.