Should I Say "I Do?"
How to Know If You Should Move Toward Marriage
“See how very much our Father loves us,” John wrote, “for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1, NLT). This should stop you in your tracks. Although you were once separated from God, because of Jesus, you have been welcomed into His family. How amazing! And as a son or daughter of God, you’ve been given a very special gift.
Romans 8:14 says, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God” (NLT). Jesus told His followers that the Father would send His Holy Spirit to teach them everything they needed to know. Because you are God’s child, His Spirit has committed to guide you through life. Like a coach or a personal counselor, He is available to give you the insight and confidence you need as you navigate the opportunities and choices that come your way—including the decision about who you should marry. As a single man, I experienced this firsthand.
Later in Romans 8, Paul explained how the Spirit leads us, saying, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit” (8:16). What does that mean, “bears witness?" It means that the primary way the Holy Spirit leads us is by His witness—or a sense—of peace.
When my wife, Lisa, and I were dating, I knew I really liked her. I loved her personality and was very attracted to her. But I only wanted to marry the girl that God selected for me. That’s the tricky part, isn’t it? Maybe you know that you want to marry someone, but how do you know if you should?
Lisa was living in Arizona, and I was in Texas. We both wanted God’s direction about our relationship. So I told Lisa, “Let’s pray in the Spirit for thirty minutes every day for the next thirty days. Listen to your heart. If you feel a gnawing or uneasy feeling, then God is telling us not to go further in our relationship. But if you have a sense of peace, the Holy Spirit is encouraging us to take the next step.”
As I prayed in the Spirit, I sensed an overwhelming peace accompanied by anticipation and joy. After the thirty days of prayer, we discussed what we sensed while we were praying and discovered that we had experienced the same things. We soon married and have been together for over thirty years. This is what I mean when I say that God’s Spirit will lead you by His peace.
Now, I hope that you are asking yourself if it’s possible to experience a sense of peace that isn’t from God—because it absolutely is possible, and it’s important to know this before you make a decision as major as who you are going to marry.
In Ezekiel chapter fourteen, God talks about people who come to Him with idols in their hearts. In the New Testament, idolatry is called covetousness, which means incorrectly desiring something. To have an idol in your heart means that you want something—good or bad—so much that you want it more than you want God’s will. A person with an idol in their heart might even go to another person and say, “Please pray with me and tell me what you think God saying about this.” But God’s response is, “I’ll answer them according to the idols in their heart” (see Ezekiel 14:4). In other words, He’ll tell you what you want to hear.
When we ask God for His direction about something, we have to make sure our hearts are neutral on the issue. There have been times when I have not done this. Because my heart wasn’t neutral, I experienced a sense of peace that wasn’t from God, and it caused me a lot of sorrow.
When Lisa and I set aside that time to pray about our relationship, it took me probably twenty-five days to not allow my attraction to her to dominate me. But at some point in those thirty days, I got to the point that I knew if God said, “No,” I would be okay with it. I knew it would mean He had somebody else for me and somebody else for her. Once I reached that neutral point, I started really paying attention to what the Holy Spirit was saying. That’s when I knew I could trust the sense of peace.
Deciding who to marry is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. It takes wisdom to know if you should move forward. “If you need wisdom,” James says, “ask our generous God, and he will give it to you” (James 1:5 NLT). As you make the time and space to seek Him, the Holy Spirit will lead you by His peace.
*This blog was adapted from chapters 5 and 6 of The Holy Spirit: An Introduction.