When you speak to your parents or maybe your grandparents, depending how old you are. You will notice one common thread. They seem to have had less options of who they could choose to be in a long-term committed relationship with. Several factors influenced this, the size of cities and populations, telecommunications and technology, segregation laws and policies etc. Another thing you notice when investigating those eras is that, the criteria for choosing a partner was also strict and heavily scrutinised by most families. The expectations were always high, and a significant number of people got involved in validating the relationship. At times in some families, the choice of your life partner was arranged by your family, a practice that is still prominent in most cultures and religions today.
Now fast forward to 2018, where the urban population is larger than ever. We are more connected and we know and interact with so many more people than the previous generations ever did. All these factors contribute to one thing that is certainly true of modernity, choice. We have more choices and options in so many areas of life, people can choose where they live, eat, play, we can choose friends, toys, churches. It seems as if the possibilities are endless when it comes to our choices. This perception of choice gives us a fundamental illusion of reality. The illusion is that choice is directly related to control. The more options I have, the more control I can exert in my life. That is not always true, especially when it comes to long-term relationships such as marriage.
Do a quick survey of young people born between the 80’s and the 90’s and ask them what they consider the most important aspect when choosing a spouse. You will get an array of items such as; Background, appearance, socioeconomic status, level of education, ethnicity, personality, and many more. Sometimes, but not always they will mention factors such as; love, integrity, relationship with God, activity in the local church, etc. As one can see from the items listed above, one can easily get overwhelmed by the number of tick-boxes that needs to be checked to determine whether the person is right for you as a Christian, more so if you want to spend the rest of your life with that individual.
The truth is, it is impossible to know what a person is going to be like tomorrow or in 10 years time. Generally we are 100% convinced that both ourselves and the partner that we are choosing will never change. However, more often than not, we see radical changes in people overtime. Changes that are so drastic, that they may even seem like a different person altogether. Is that why many marriages continue to fail, even though we had so much choice and options at hand? Clearly the choice and options are not yielding the expected results.
To be honest, it is because we are not in total control of our lives as we like to think we are. There is a living God, who governs and controls everything from the laws of nature, to every breath of life that you take. He knows what is right for you, and his criteria for a life partner is never based on superficial and materialistic worldviews that we have. Our nature as humanity leads us to desire things that are in opposition to what God planned for us. Now ask yourself, especially if you are single, whether the things that you are looking for in a person that you desire to marry are in accordance with God’s word.
As a married person myself, I have learned a lot about my wife in the last 5 years of marriage and a total 8 year relationship. The first time I met her she had me asking myself if I was the ideal person for her, this was because at that time I wasn’t really the “husband material” if you know what I mean. I was a Christian serving in a church at the time and yet, my life was not reflective of that. Now after all this time you would expect me to say that I miraculously changed and I am a perfect man for her now, no would be the answer. I am still the same person that I was when we met. A lot of growth happened but I am generally still the same person, yet we are in a marriage full of companionship and love. What’s the deal?
One thing that keeps couples together over the long haul is not the statistics, or crazy analysis that we mentioned earlier. It’s simple, if you are both loving and serving the Lord wholeheartedly, your love for each other will last forever. It’s all about love at the end of the day, loving God and your neighbour magnifies the love you have for each other many fold.
If that is not the case, you are gambling with your future. You see a marriage that starts with God as a central figure of adoration. A marriage between two people who love God and love their neighbour has a very slim chance of failing. That is because this bond will be modelled on the most inseparable bond of all, that is the relationship between Christ and his church. He will never forsake the church, with all its flaws and shortcomings. This is the bond and connection that God intended for all those who love him. This is one characteristic of a marriage that is guaranteed to withstand the storms and uncertainties of life.
Therefore, before you think of getting married or if you are already married. You need to always as a first option choose God and his wonderful word. There is no need to go through a criteria, options and tests. If you choose God every day, you will be equipped to make the right decision and choice. That decision will carry you through all the joys, blessings, challenges, sorrows and the general ups and downs of life. Therefore instead of thinking of the options and possibilities and a superficial criteria for choosing your partner. And for those that have already made the choice and are still not sure, I would invite you to choose God above all. That choice alone brings certainty and purpose to every other choice that you will ever make.
Remember; Mark 12:b says: 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.