If you read last week’s post, you may be interested to know that I’m still friends with Serious Boyfriend No. 3. He comes for dinner when he’s in town and we call each other on birthdays. We also call each other if one of us, eh, blogs about the other. Clint Archer is a husband, father-of-four and pastor in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He’s really rad. I’m happy for him to challenge my thinking, and honoured to welcome him to the blog today. Here’s Clint’s perspective on
How to know if he’s The One: 3 Questions to ask before you get married
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I understand better than anyone in the world why Serious Girlfriend #3 (Dalene) believes what she does: it worked well for her. I know her husband, and the guy was definitely worth waiting for. My admiration falls just shy of a man-crush. I am sincerely happy that they met, married, and multiplied their combined awesomeness in two extraordinary sons who will, like their dad, meet any standard any young lady sets.
And I am especially grateful that my Serious Girlfriend #4 turned out to be The One for me. Incidentally, her list included two items: first, cannot be a seminary student (they’re all far too geeky and serious), and second, must want to live forever in Los Angeles near her friends, family, and church. Well, after six years in seminary we moved to Africa, where we’ve lived happily for the first eleven years of happily ever after.
That said, I’d like to offer a different perspective for those who don’t get what they are waiting for, and in the process pass over the gracious provision of God in their lives, possibly for the wrong reasons.
Here are three alternative questions to ask yourself if you’re getting a bit nervous about whether Mr Right exists.
Dalene was asked, ‘Is he your list?’ I say,
Is your list too long?
‘I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favour of one against another.’ (1 Corinthians 4:6)
I like Paul’s principle that what stands written in Scripture is enough for us to base life decisions on, and we ought not to go beyond it. We need to be cautious when tempted to pile on standards to those God has set, because it can lead to us being puffed up on what we believe we deserve, and may result in us looking down on those who fall short of our supra-biblical standards. I think this passage can apply to the search for a spouse.
The entertainment industry, romantic literature, and the picture perfect examples of our acquaintances conspire to puff up our corpus of expectations over time. ‘Oh, they have such a cute story about how they met, how he proposed, how she told him about their first pregnancy—I want that for me.’ Those desires can be harmless and might even inject passion into a relationship, and they can be part of the DNA of what makes marriage the grace of life. But these great expectations might also play a part in keeping some people single for longer than would be necessary.
I’m not talking about choosing a poor match for the sake of self-induced suffering; I’m simply saying that if you are looking for the ideal Mr Right you risk missing out on Mr Right-in-front-of-you.
In response to, ‘If he doesn’t change, is that ok?’ How about,
What if the Holy Spirit is real and can change him over time?
‘And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 1:6
Christians believe in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in every believer. The most important question to ask should be ‘Is this person a born-again, Spirit-indwelt, committed follower of Jesus Christ?’ If affirmative, then little else matters as much.
I am all for exercising our right to select a spouse according to preference, but when preference displaces a primary focus on spiritual character traits, it ignores the transcendent wonder of the work of the Spirit in a person’s life.
Christians who are committed to pleasing Jesus over anyone else in their life do change over time. They do improve. They get more godly, patient, generous, over time. They might not get better at fixing the car, or keeping their hairline, or developing a sense of direction, but if they are improving in character, earnestness for Christ, and knowledge of His Word, life with them will be richly rewarding in many of the ways that matter most.
Sure, you can ask, ‘Look 10 years from now. What do you see?’ I reckon,
Look 10,000 years ahead. What do you see?
In Heaven we will all be perfect, and yet none of us will be permanently paired off. This life is as ephemeral as steam on a hot bath.
We only live twice: the first time is super short, the second time is super long. If perfection is your thing, don’t fret, you’ll get to enjoy lots of it forever. But for now, there is so much joy and passion and adventure to be had in a loving, committed, romantic marriage, that delaying it on the off chance of someone even more well-suited sweeping you off your feet even more effectively, might hinder you from finding that happiness at all.
Admittedly, I agree with the practical question, ‘How do you see your life with this person in ten years?’ And the reason for my agreement is not because it led to the demise of Serious Boyfriend #4. It is very wise to ask yourself if a future with this person will likely be one that you are still as excited about in a decade as you are now.
But that sentiment must be balanced by the biblical truth that we do not know what the future holds (James 4:13). And that if you are married to a believer who is as committed to your Saviour as you are, then you will always have in common what is most dear to you. And that oneness marinates your philosophy of parenting, finances, socializing, and everything else.
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