The marriage institution began while man was still in the state of his original purity. Marriage is peculiar to our life on earth, not part of the needs for eternal existence in heaven (Matthew 22:30). Yet it is God’s permanent and perfect will for man on earth. Man is created as a social being to enjoy the marriage relationship (Genesis 2:18,24), to live in families (Psalm 68:6), to rear children (Psalm 127:3), to live in a local community (Numbers 36:5-9,13) and to live in a particular nation (Acts 17:26). Marriage is part of God’s plan to raise the Christian family. But the believer is not to go searching for a wife or husband, neither are they to resort to the abominable method of ‘sampling’ or ‘picking and choosing’. God’s original plan of the marriage institution reveals His permanent and perfect will for man as long as the earth lasts (Genesis 2:18,24; Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 11:8,12; Ephesians 5:31-33). His purpose for marriage is still the same – partnership (Genesis 2:18) procreation (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 127;3-5) pleasure (Proverbs 5:15-18) protection (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 1 Peter 3:7) preservation of purity (I Corinthians 7:2) provision (2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Timothy 5:8). God’s plan for our lives, including His will for us in marriage, is made plain in His Word. And as all His desires for us are good, God never “wills” anything for us that, to the slightest degree, clashes with that Heavenly Rule.
We are constantly faced with the necessity of taking decisions on choice career or business partners, taking or leaving an employment, employing helpers at home, new hands at work or workers in the church, strengthening or breaking new or old relationships, etc. The outcome of our frequent decisions will affect our lives now and hereafter. Some Christians think it is no longer easy to be led by God as saints of old were led. Even some ministers do not know how to recognize the call and will of God for their lives, so they cannot teach and guide believers under their leadership on how to know the guidance of God in marriage. God has not changed, He is still willing to guide His own today (Psalm 32:8; 16:7,11; John 10:3-5; 16:12,13; 14:16). The ability to follow the leading of God in major and important decisions that frequently arise in our lives will make satisfactory and fulfilling. Inability to know God’s will in marriage and other personal or family matters will make life miserable and eternally painful. You can follow the steps outlined below to discover and do the will of God in Marriage.
Genesis 2:18; 24:1-4; Psalm 68:6; Matthew 19:4-6
The institution of marriage begins when an individual realizes his/her need of a lifetime companionship, relationship and fellowship. And the Lord God, said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). God seems to be saying, “I am not going to allow the man to choose for himself”. “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman and brought her unto him” (Genesis 2:22). God did not bring a girl, an immature female or a teenager, but He brought a woman – (intelligible, sensible and mature) unto the man. He brought a perfect fit – two of a kind! God still leads His children to His will in marriage today. As of old, we still look up to God as the only perfect unerring Match-maker who can lead, guide and choose a fitting mate or life-partner for the unmarried. Marriage is for people who have developed or matured physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. One who is prepared for marriage has a matured or adult perspective on life, knows how to judge priorities and determine God’s will – not just live for fun and pleasure or selfish desires. S/He realizes love is a decision, not just a feeling and that while feelings may increase and decrease in intensity according to current circumstances, true love endures.
John 15:4; Proverbs 16:25; 20:24; 27:1; Ecclesiastes 8:7; 9:12; Romans 8:5-7; 1 Corinthians 2:11,14; 2 Corinthians 4:4
Man in his natural, unsaved state is ignorant and is not capable of the best choice of everything with God. The carnal, natural mind cannot receive or appreciate spiritual Revelation. Divine instruction and leading are foolishness to the carnal. Covetousness often blinds a man or a woman to spiritual realities. Until the heart is cleansed and purged, the carnal and covetous must remain in darkness. While in fellowship with God through Christ, we have His promises of guidance in important decisions in life. Everyone needs a change of nature, direction, life and perspectives through a new relationship with God. It’s hard to imagine an intimate relationship with Christ that does not include regular experiences of hearing God’s voice and knowing God’s guidance on matters concerning our lives. A dynamic, ongoing and interactive relationship with God helps us to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and to have the mind of Christ about all that we do.
Proverbs 18:22; 20:6; 19:14; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Psalm 37:3-5,25; 84:11; Isaiah 49:14,15; Matthew 6:32,33; 7:11
The will of God is discovered by praying and patiently waiting for answers from God, our Father who delights in revealing His mind in all things to His children. The will or choice of God for you in marriage will bring peace, quietness and assurance forever. That being the case, you should do nothing that will make it attract snares, traps, scourges to our sides, and thorns to our eyes. Thus, you must resolutely remain within the confines of the Word of God. “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” It is the favour of the Lord, to find a godly spouse suitable for your marital needs. But if you are to find this good thing, then you must pray. Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, made prayer a priority when sent by his master to go and negotiate for a wife for Isaac. Not knowing where to turn to, he promptly began praying for guidance from God. He also prayed for a goodly spouse for his master’s son. He prayed for a giving and generous spouse. He prayed for a gracious and good natured spouse. He knew that what you ask for is what you get from the Lord. Those seeking for a spouse should therefore, follow the principles evident in Eliezer’s prayer. Such prayers are shun of any fleshly or worldly coloration or consideration. They are based absolutely on the will of God, being assured that the Judge of the whole earth will do only what is right for us. In seeking for a spouse, you should pray for God’s leading, ask for His kindness in providing you with a spouse that will do you good all the days of your life. You must be convinced that only God can direct your steps to the house of His chosen spouse for you. It is with this notion that you should approach the Lord in prayers, fully confident that you will receive your heart’s desire. You dare not and should not go to God with idols in your heart, or else you will return empty. Worse still, God may answer according to the multitudes of the idols in your heart. In such a state, you would become a victim of grand deception, only to come back with what fleshly, finite, corrupted mind could offer, which is altogether disastrous. (Ezekiel 14:1-4).
There are enough promises from God that He will give answers to all petitions you raise in faith. (Jeremiah 33:3; Hebrews 11:6; Matthew 7:7 ; Luke 11:9; Isaiah 30:21). “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it,when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” With confidence and faith in God, there should be no reasons for any disappointment. It is time you forgot about past failures due to your long wilderness journey indulging in trial and error and making unprofitable permutations. Now is the right time to hear directly from God. Psalms 85:8 “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.” Many people are yet faced with the challenge of waiting. To such, the Scripture brings words of comfort and hope. Psalms 30:5: “…….. In his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Dependence on God’s faithfulness, clearing your heart from all idols, living by faith, trusting God to lead and give you the best, will win the day. If God “made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel”, your case will not be an exception. He will richly guide you on the path to go. (Psalms 103:7).
Habakkuk 2:1-2; 1 Kings 19:11-12; 1 Samuel 3:1-9; Ephesians 1:18; Psalm 62:5
The reason many people pray but don’t hear from God is because they are too busy. It’s hard for people these days to station themselves and get quiet. Hurry is the death of prayer. If you want to hear God you have to become quiet. Not only do you need a quiet spot to pray you need a quiet mentality. Many people may find a quiet place to pray but don’t slow their minds down. We may be resting physically but our minds are still pacing and racing. Our thoughts flip from one subject to the next. You think of all the unfinished tasks you have, while waiting to hear or receive from God. You think of all the things you could be doing. Signals from the radio station is best received when the radio is tuned to the correct frequency. Settling or tuning the radio to a frequency that lies between 2 stations will only result in missed and messed signals. Focus is the key point. Focus on who you are talking to. Focus on who you are listening to. If you need to – set up a chair and visualize Jesus sitting there. Talk to him and listen to what He has to say. Be still – focus – and know that He is God. Habakkuk declared “I’ll listen and hear”. It says, “I’ll watch and see”. Usually when we talk about communication we talk about listening and hearing. But this verse talks about watching and seeing. This is because God has made us people who can hear and also see. This underpins Paul declaration that “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know….the hope of his calling, and….the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:18).
Job 33:14-18; Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Kings 19:13; 1 Samuel 3:10-11; Genesis 18:17
Many Christians are not sufficiently clear on how to discern God’s will and leading for the decisions of every day life. This ignorance will spill over to other areas such as marriage, service, career, job, where to settle or live and other important issues of eternal consequence. The confusion arises because of a lack of teaching, self-management, non-reliance on God, prayerlessness, lack of meditation on God’s Word and failure or indifference to understand the way(s) God speaks to you. Even after marriage, we still need to know how to continually recognize God’s guidance in daily decisions of life (Psalm 73:16,17; Exodus 13:17,18,21,22; 1 Samuel 23:1-5,8-132; 2 Chronicles 18:1-8,24-34; 20;35-37). If we remain open to God, He will lead us in the way we ought to go. Believers can be led by the Lord in marriage via the following timeless, proven, profitable methods:
(a) VOICE OF THE INDWELLING CHRIST: John 10:3-5,16,27; 1 Kings 19:11,12 Ezekiel 10:5; John 12:28-30; Isaiah 30:20,21.
The voice of a stranger is difficult to recognize. On the other hand the deaf cannot even hear the voice of a lover. Believers who do not live in close, constant communion with the Shepherd may have difficulty knowing the Voice of the Lord (Isaiah 1:3). As in the natural family, so also in God’s family, we recognize the voice we hear so often. If you wait until the time of seeking God’s will in marriage before hearing from God, you may not easily recognize His Voice.
(b) SPIRITUAL INTUITIVE PERCEPTION: I Samuel 3:4-8; 1 Chronicles 4:1,2; Nehemiah 6:10-12; Mark 2:8; Luke 20:23; Jeremiah 32:6-8; Acts 27:9-11,21.
There are times we say that something is deeply impressed on our hearts, producing a deep conviction that we cannot shake off. Sometimes, this `light’ or `knowledge’ comes suddenly to the heart like the coming sudden rain (I Kings 18:42-45). At other times the `conviction’ comes slowly or gradually until it reaches a climax. Such knowledge is attended with peace, and assurance in the heart. Acts 10:19-21; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 1 Samuel 9:15-19; Proverbs 20:27.
(c) INNER WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT: Acts 10:19-21; John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-12; 1 Samuel 9:15-19; Proverbs 20:27.
Inner witness of the Spirit should not be strange to a child of God. The assurance of salvation is the confirmation of the Spirit’s witness in the believer’s heart. In our Christian life, “walking in the Spirit” also demands that we know and recognize the inner witness of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25). The Holy Spirit, being the Spirit of truth cannot lead into error. The Spirit of holiness will not lead into uncleanness or unequal yoke. The Spirit of grace will not lead into bondage.
(d) SPIRIT’S CONFIRMATION OF A SERIES OF EVENTS: Acts 9:26-28; 11:22-26,29,30; 13:1-3.
God is not limited to one or two ways of guidance. Sometimes God arranges providence in line with His ultimate plan. His final Word is sometimes the conclusion of a series of events He has been wisely guiding and monitoring. Let’s be attentive, so we don’t miss His Word to us.
(e) SPIRIT’S RESTRAINT IN OUR SPIRIT: Acts 16:6-10; 1 Samuel 16:6-12.
The Holy Spirit may restrain you or caution you in a decision you are taking through the loss of peace and spiritual joy. If there is confusion or sorrow or cloud or darkness on the heart after taking a decision, it would be necessary to seek God’s face afresh. Disturbance in your spirit and sense of sorrow as if a great thing had been lost because of the decision may be a check and an indication that you have decided wrongly.
(f) DIRECT REVELATION: Job 33:14-17,23,24; Acts 2:17,18; 8:26-29; 9:10-15.
In Bible days, God guided some (not all) people through dreams, visions and revelations. He has promised to pour out His Spirit on all fresh. And in the Spirit’s outpouring we can receive direct revelation from God. Whenever we receive such revelation, we must carefully diligently compare it with Scripture. If any present day revelation contradicts the Scripture we must reject the revelation as false (Isaiah 18:19,20; Jeremiah 23:21-32; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Revelation 22:18,19).
(g) DIVINELY IMPARTED UNQUENCHABLE LOVE: Songs of Solomon 8:6,7; Ephesians 5:22-29; 2 Corinthians 13:1-7; 1 John 3:16,17.
This type of love is supernaturally bestowed on the hearts of both for each other. It is not the product of intimacy or closeness, constant contact, interaction or communication, physical, professional, denomination or tribal attraction, sensual or erotic feelings, familiarity or self-produced affection. It is completely God’s work, and He puts the deep-seated love in the individuals for each other.
Habakkuk 2:3; Jeremiah 30:2; Luke 1:3; Revelation 1:11
The next step is to record the insights / revelation. This will ensure that the correct account and record of what God said, the timing, and the place can clearly rehearsed, reflected upon and reproduced in the future. This activity is also vital because humans are prone to forgetfulness. Writing things down is a good way to remember. That’s what Habakkuk did – and because he did so, in accordance to God’s instruction, we can read the book of Habakkuk today. The record should be clear. God instructed Habakkuk to write it down – but notice that he is instructed to clearly write it down.
Psalm 119:60; 40:8; Romans 2:13; James 1:22
After Praying to know the will of God, a brother or sister should first see the leader of his/ her local church who would refer him/ her to the Marriage Committee after proper counseling. When coming to the Marriage Committee for the first time, he/she should come with 2 (two) recent passport photographs and file folder. He/She is then giving an appropriate MC form to complete. The questionnaire would request detailed information about the Christian life, evidence of God’s leading, state of preparedness, etc. of the candidate. The Marriage Committee will thereafter interview or discuss the response declared on the questionnaire by the brother or sister. Immediately after the interview, the candidate is sent for a Medical test. The result will be sent to the Marriage Committee. A sister who is of age, free and ready for Marriage must pray and hear from God before giving the reply directly to the brother who proposed to her. She is requested and reminded to be polite, courteous, very plain and clear while giving her answer to the brother. After a sister/ brother has given her/his consent, the two of them, are invited to see the Marriage Committee to confirm their convictions. They are then advised to seek their parents’ consent. While they are free to see other relatives if they choose to, it is mandatory to see their parents for their consent.
- RELATIONSHIP (COURTSHIP)
After parents’ consent which need not be in writing, is obtained, the intending couple is allowed to enter into a period of courtship. Courtship, as opposed to playing the “dating game”, is what the scriptures recommend. Courtship is a period for the intending couples to understand one another and plan for their future together, their expectations from each other in the area of finances, size of family anticipated, extended family, career and future ambitions, etc. Visitations and exchange of gifts at this stage are not acceptable, before the wedding. Before commencement, however the Committee gives the intending couple a very comprehensive courtship briefing, instructions, and warnings which they need to adhere to in order to have a successful courtship. During the courtship sensitive issues such as Money Management in the home, Extended family, Career and Marriage etc. are expected to be well thrashed out. The courtship is recommended to run between 6 and 9 months. This approach is intended to help safeguard the intending couple’s purity, and to keep their bed undefiled before the marriage ceremony (Hebrews 13:4).
Psalm 68:6; Genesis 1:28; 5:2
Dowry is usually paid to parents’ in-law either in form of cash or gifts may be required for the bride herself. The period of engagement is the time the dowry is paid to her parents (Gen. 34:12; 29, 18: 1 Sam.18:25-27). After the payment of dowry, the intending couples will both go to the marriage registry along with two witnesses for filing of notice. A certificate will be given from the marriage registry after twenty eight days from the date notice was filed or received during the wedding ceremony. It is wrong to file notice in court before dowry is paid. Church wedding should take place after the payment of dowry and obtaining court license or marriage certificate. Man is complete only in the unity of marriage. The wife is the fulfillment of the man’s incompleteness. The objective and consequence of the marriage relationship is the growing together in unity of the intellects, emotions, personality and spirituality of the partners.
From the parables and actual marriages in the Scripture, weddings were moments of rejoicing and feastings (Jeremiah 33:11; John 2:1-11; 3:29; Isaiah 62:5) and special garments were provided for the bridegroom, bride, and guests at the wedding (Matthew 22:12; Revelation 19:7,8). Yet, Christian practice must be guided by the uniform teaching of Christian living in the New Testament (I Corinthians 7:29- 31; 6:12; 8:9,13; Romans 14:15; I John 2:6; 3:2-4). The believers therefore must shun every form of worldliness and worldly imitations in dressing and in the manner of entertaining guests. Simplicity and modesty must characterise the wedding in order that God’s name may be glorified.
The first step in creating a new union with one’s spouse is the dissolving of the old one: a severence of relationship with one’s parents (Genesis 2:23,24; Ephesians 5:30,31). He is to ‘leave father and mother’, which means departing, loosing oneself, finding freedom from them. Many who have violated this scriptural principle have discovered to their chargrin a hurt to their marital joy. Marriage is “until death do us part”, and God did not make any provisions for divorce or re-marriage.
In marriage, lack of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy usually precedes a break down of physical intimacy. When couples fail to expose their secret thoughts to one another, they shut off the line of communication to one another. The great secret of conjugal happiness is mutual love, kindness, tenderness and loveliness of character in the home. The wife should respect and obey the husband and the husband should love and care for the wife (Ephesians 5:22-31). “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord …” Submission is not the obliteration or nullification of the woman’s personality. It is neither subjugation nor an imposed obedience. Submission is a voluntary subordination. It is obedience motivated by love (Philippians 2:5-8). “Likewise, ye wives be in subjection to your own husbands …” (I Peter 3:1-6). Such a life speaks loudly and clearly, and is often the most effective way to influence a family member. Christian wives should develop inner beauty rather than being overly concerned about their appearance. When the wife lives the Christian faith quietly and consistently in the home, her family would see Christ in her.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it … So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:25,28). Christ is the model of love. The husband can never love his wife too much; yet, that love is inconsequential when compared to his love for the Lord. The husband’s love makes him to be considerate, understanding and is able to bear with his wife. The husband is also the head of the family. This headship has the idea of authority, an authority after the analogy of Christ’s headship. In that sense, the husband is the spiritual head of the family and his wife goes along with his leadership. A wise and Christ-honouring husband will not take advantage of his role, and a wise and Christ-honouring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership. “Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband ” (Ephesians 5:33).