What Kind of Person Do You Want Your Child to Marry?
When I was a kid, I never thought about getting married. I think that’s typical of most boys, and many girls, too. Even if a child talks about getting married, he or she doesn’t fully understand what that means.
I don’t know if my children will get married in the future. I know that the institution of marriage is a gift from God, and my wife and I are in our 16th year of celebrating this gift. But the New Testament also speaks about the gift of singleness, in that a single person is less distracted from serving God.
(I was so inspired by this thought that for a short while I was convinced and excited that I would be single my entire life. But that’s another post for another day.)
My children may not know if they will be getting married one day, and they may not know what marriage really is about. They have a long time before they figure these things out. After all, my daughter will be thirty-five before I allow her to start dating. (Kidding! ...Sort of.)
But just in case they will get married, now is the time when we need to be laying a foundation of what a God-honoring marriage looks like. We need to speak godly truth to them, before the rush of hormones and emotions flood their minds.
What Should You Look for in a Spouse?
Here’s your assignment: Ask your children, “If you get married someday, what will you look for in a husband (or wife)?”
Children (and adults!) will give a variety of answers:
- A good job, so he/she can provide
- Handsome / pretty
- A servant attitude
- Honesty and integrity
- Friendly and respectful
- Loves children
All of these are good answers, and important qualities to look for. But there is one aspect that I stress to my children above all else:
Whoever you marry should love Jesus above everything else, including you.
I’m not just saying that the man (or woman) says that they are a Christian, but that they live it out. While we can never know the exact spiritual condition of someone’s heart, we can look for clues. We must train our children to look for evidences (or, fruits) of the Spirit’s work in someone’s life, before they move into a committed romantic relationship with them.
When Paul writes about being “unequally-yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), he used a common (in those days) illustration from agriculture. Only an unwise farmer would yoke together two different beasts (such as an ox and a donkey) to the same plow. The two animals walked with different steps, and had different endurance and paces. Either animal would be fine by itself and could get work done, but would be frustrated by being tied to an unequal animal.
In the same way, a Christian marrying a non-Christian is unfair to both. One is growing towards Christ, while the other is not. At the start of their relationship, the difference in their desires and direction is small. But as they move through life, they will pull on their “yoke” in different directions. And marriage is stressful enough without the added burden of being unequally-yoked.
Training Your Children
As you teach your children about marriage, here are some questions you could teach them to ask about someone they want to enter into a relationship with:
- Is this person pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ, through daily Bible reading and prayer?
- Is this person a committed member of a local church, participating in regular corporate worship and service?
- Does this person honor God first in how they manage their finances?
- Whom does this person have that is spiritually investing in their lives, through mentorship and discipleship?
In all these questions, the overall theme that I would look for is the issue of accountability and authority. More than anything else, you want your child to marry someone who willingly and eagerly puts themselves under the authority of others – first God, but also church leaders and other godly men and women.
Why? Because when they come to a rough patch in their marriage, they need to submit to an authority that is higher than themselves or their spouse. They need to feel accountable to Jesus above everyone and everything.
No matter what the age of your children, don’t neglect to teach them about marriage and about the type of person they should marry. If they get married, their spouse must love and submit to Jesus above everything else.
And of course, your child should have the same focus as well!
Written by Joey Espinosa