For any thinking, caring, concerned individual, we should all be interested in the welfare of marriage and family. Famously called ‘the building bloc of society,’ when marriage and family prosper, everyone prospers, including those unmarried and never-married. The reason is that marriage and family provide stability, nurture, identity, and training for present and future citizens, who go on to make a contribution to society. When marriage fails, it is not just a tragedy for the couple and their children, but we all have to carry the can with increased welfare payments, court costs, societal dysfunctionality, higher crime, and more.
Recently I received some sad news from a long-time acquaintance: their 3 year marriage is over. This person is a solid, dedicated Christian, accomplished in their career, a faithful member of their local church. Having been married before conversion, they looked forward to having a ‘Christian spouse.’ Eventually, they did marry a ‘Christian’ but within a short time it all went sour. Though they waited years to remarry, once done, it was quickly over.
As tragic as this is, it need not be terminal for the believer. We all make mistakes and our faith in Christ can pull us through to victory, provided we ‘follow the instruction manual,’ namely the Bible.
Nevertheless, it is worth asking the question:
How can any decent, mature, thinking person, especially of faith, get it so wrong while looking for Mr. or Miss Right?
More positively, when it comes to finding a spouse, how can we increase the chances of ‘getting it right?’
In this blog, Part 01, we would look at the pitfalls.
Our world today makes it easier to ‘get it wrong.’ Here’s why.
1. A corrupt, sex-saturated culture: Secular humanism has done an effective job of detaching western society from its moral Judeo-Christian foundations. Add to this a 50 year old cultural civil war between the so-called progressives versus the social conservatives. The sexual revolution, women’s liberation movement, abortion on demand, rise in cohabitation, and postmodern relativism, means our society has a distorted, devalued view of marriage and family. Unless you have a strong spiritual walk, you will be adversely affected by the culture around you.
2. False gods: Everybody worships somebody - or something. Whenever that somebody is not Almighty God Himself, we call such worship ‘idolatry.’ The Apostle Paul calls covetousness ‘idolatry’ (Colossians 3:5). Some of the modern idols include:
B) Narcissism (more about this in a moment);
C) Statism (‘big government’ that will ‘take care of you’ - socialism and progressivism are in this category);
D) Selfism (the religion and worship of self).
Let’s face it, in Australia, one of our biggest idols is sport. When Sir Donald Bradman died, Cathy Freeman retired, Ben Cousins pulled a hamstring, and/or the horses caught the equine flu, for some it was Armageddon. We even have a public holiday to celebrate a horse race! Yes, sport is good - just don’t worship it!
3. Opportunism: People who are perceived as being monied and successful will be tempting targets for opportunists - those who want to ride the financial and social coattails of that accomplished person for their own selfish gain. The Book of Proverbs says, tongue-in-cheek, that if you want many friends - then get rich (Proverbs 14:20)! However, when the riches sprout wings and fly away (Proverbs 23:5), so will those friends. If a person is showy about their assets, be careful of those who hang around.
4. Narcissism: This is about a distorted, fanciful self-image which has little to do with reality. Narcissists love to attract attention to themselves (hence, the posting of 500 ‘selfies’ on social media), practice seduction and rejection, and have no problem lying, intentionally or under their own deception, in order to prop up their desired image. Indeed, the narcissist is adept at putting on the mask and speaking the party-line for a considerable period of time. Some do it so well they would earn an Oscar if they were in Hollywood. However, the facade will eventually give way to reality. The big question: will it come down before you say ‘I do?’ You don’t want to marry an ‘image;’ you want to marry the real deal.
5. Pornography: This is the scourge of our time. Once restricted to ‘dirty magazines’ in questionable bookshops, the hardcopy version are now going out of business - simply because pornography is freely available online. Let’s forget the notion that born is ‘what men do:’ porn addictively weakens when men should be strong; devalues women and sex when men should be protective, and provides a slippery slope to more hard-core imagery, when a man should be self-controlled. This author sadly remembers a nice Christian man, married to a beautiful Christian woman, who discovered his father’s pornographic magazines in the garage at a young age. He could not shake the addiction. In time, his lust was no longer satisfied merely by viewing the pornographic pictures. Ultimately, the stimuli caused him to seek a ‘3D version’ - he visited a prostitute. The bondage and shame were so great it led this man to commit suicide. Make no mistake about: pornography is addictive and dangerous. If you are hooked and can’t break the habit, seek help (hint: fasting and prayer can do wonders in this area).
6. No fear of God: When there is no concept of personal accountability towards God, people will do ‘whatever it takes’ to get ‘want they want,’ including nabbing a rich spouse for self-centred reasons. If we took the commands of Scripture seriously and remember, as Romans 14:12 says, that everyone of us will have to give account of themselves to God, then we would think twice before ‘telling a whopper,’ ‘jumping into bed,’ or ‘moving in first.’
7. Ignoring Wise Counsel: Proverbs 11:14 says it all: ‘Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.’ Don’t try to muddle through on your own, hoping to ‘get it right.’ Seek wise counsel from spiritual, mature people. And don’t overlook family, especially parents. Our parents are in an optimal place to assess the suitability of a potential spouse. This even applies if you are a Christian and your parents are not. If your parents clearly love and care for you, then listen to their counsel. It could save you a lifetime of grief.
Now that we have a better idea of the pitfalls in finding a great spouse, Part 02, which is available next month, we will give some practical advice. Stay tuned.