Friday, June 16, 2006


Evaluating a suitable spouse

On several past occasions, I've expressed serious concerns about the wisdom of using one's emotions as a primary factor in making major life decisions, especially the matter of determining whether a member of the opposite sex would be a suitable marriage partner. Thus far, I think I've invested more verbiage in expressing my thoughts regarding what's unwise. Now, I'd like to share some thoughts I've had about how to properly go about evaluating a person for suitability. Since I'm a guy, I'll use my male prerogative and refer to the person under consideration with feminine pronouns. If you're a gal, I encourage you to reverse the gender of all pronouns as you see fit. :-)

  1. If you are single and you do not feel that God has called you to remain unmarried (in case of doubt, assume that He hasn't), make it your business to be looking for a spouse. Don't make it your top priority--laying up treasure in Heaven ought to be tops--but make it one of your highest temporal priorities.
  2. Suitability tests fall into two categories: (1) spiritual tests and (2) temporal tests. Place a substantially larger weight on spiritual tests compared with temporal tests. Spiritual tests ask, "According to Scripture, is this person a suitable spouse?" whereas temporal tests ask, "Is there a reasonable likelihood that I'll be able to conduct myself towards her in a God-honoring manner?"
  3. Consider everyone you meet who has any reasonable chance of being suitable. She must be a believer, and it would be best if she's substantially like-minded doctrinally, but if she appears to be willing to be taught and led wherever the Scriptures lead, you may be able to consider her further.
  4. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times and places, but pay the most attention when you're in a venue where you're most likely to meet a candidate. Your church or other places where reasonably like-minded Christians gather are the very best places to look. Personally, I wouldn't bother checking out a gal at Borders or Barnes and Noble unless I spy her in the Religion section intently poring through a tome by someone like Spurgeon, Sproul or MacArthur. :-)
  5. When you encounter somebody and have an opportunity to converse with her, make a mental note of your emotional reaction, but don't put too much trust in your emotions. Since we continue to struggle with remaining sin, our emotions can and do often mislead and deceive us. For my part, I've learned not to trust my emotions very much. They may tell me that a bad person is attractive or a good person is unattractive.
  6. Continue to pursue an acquaintance as long as you have a reasonable hope that she might prove to be suitable for you. Give her the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
  7. If you discover something about her that fails one of the aforementioned spiritual tests, you ought to drop the acquaintance as soon as possible. Be kind and gracious, but GET OUT!!!
  8. If you run into a temporal issue that concerns you such as a habit or behavior that really annoys you, make a note of it, but prayerfully consider the issue before you decide to break off the acquaintance. Perhaps God will grant you grace to bear with her regarding this issue. Keep Christian liberty in mind: where God has not bound the believer's conscience in Scripture, the Christian is free.
  9. If you come to the decision that she would not be a suitable wife for you but yet you find that you enjoy her company and friendship, you may continue on as casual friends, but you are not free to continue as close "platonic" friends who spend a considerable amount of time together. Although you should by all means maintain a cordial relationship with her, you must not hinder her or yourself from the task of seeking out a suitable spouse.
  10. Take your time. Don't allow fear to rush you into a hasty decision to drop the acquaintance or marry the person.

OK, that's enough for now. I'll reserve the right to post further thoughts on the matter of proper courtship at a future time.

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