The apostle Paul writing in the seventh chapter of Corinthians (v39) writes that a Christian’s marriage must only be in the Lord. So what is a marriage in the Lord?
God Desires To Be At The Centre of Your Marriage
It’s easy to be swept away with romantic and sexual feelings that results in the rapid commitment of a guy and gal to each other. And its so very easy for these rapidly made unions to dissolve almost as quickly as they started because God is not at the center. It’s essential for a believer seeking a wife or husband to know what is the difference not only between love and infatuation, but more importantly that God can indeed bless their marriage union. A Christian marriage is only truly valid and able to have God’s presence fill it if it is between two born again believers; a union between two ‘heirs together of the grace of life’, (2 Pet 3:7).
The Trap of Being “Unequally Yoked”
The scriptures teach quite emphatically that a Christian is commanded NOT to get tied into any partnerships with non-Christians where the Incompatibility between a righteous lifestyle and ungodliness would cause friction. This principle applies of course, very strongly to the marriage of a Christian with an unbeliever; joining together with a sexual partner who is not in Christ.
2 Cor 6: 14 – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership can righteousness have with wickedness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Some Additional Considerations Before Deciding To Marry
Even when both persons contemplating getting married are both Christians, rather than just” falling in love” a couple need to build on the foundation of their Christian marriage wisely, lovingly and purposefully. Before they both ‘take the plunge’ its wise to know if they really are suited, or if the rush they are feeling is temporary infatuation. They both need to consider their compatibility. This is essential for the success of the relationship since various psychological studies have demonstrated that the intense rush of excited happiness from infatuation only lasts about 18 months. After this time, the dopamine body chemical that give a feeling of blissful happiness dies. It is only that which remains that a couple have spent time to build into their union that will determine the success or failure of the relationship. Dr. Susan Heitler wrote in Psychology Today, “It’s easy to confuse loving the feeling of infatuation with the totally separate issue of how loving you are likely to feel toward that person after the infatuation has worn off.”
We live in a culture obsessed with romance. Sweet stories of sensual passion, quick commitments and affectionate promises surround us this time of year. And yet, even while we seem to worship love, its crumbling runs rampant as divorce rates skyrocket. The truth is that what we often see portrayed as true love in love movies and other media is actually just the heat of infatuation.
So how can you tell the difference between love and infatuation? Thankfully, you don’t have to be fooled by your brain chemistry. There are some helpful things to keep in mind at the beginning of any whirlwind romance, before you take the plunge into marriage. Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
Are Romantic Feelings the Only Bonds In Your Relationship?
Ask yourself the question, “Would you have made friends together if romantic feelings had never developed? You need to have shared values and goals? You need to be honest with yourself and evaluate what’s left of a deeply loving friendship if romance fades. A Christian couple after all need to put God’s kingdom first.
Do Your Friends and Family Like This Person?
Do the people who know you best agree feel good about your relationship? It’s wise to consider the way the other person’s family and friends feel about your future union? It’s wise to maintain community and listen to the wisdom from those you trust is crucial.
Can You Truly Be Yourself With Your Intended?
In the early stages of a relationship, it’s natural to want to put your best foot forward. But if you’re still in performance mode (or if you suspect they are), give it some time. If you cannot truly be yourself with this person, do you really want to spend the rest of your life with them?
Has the Relationship Had Time to Grow and Develop?
It’s easy to want to jump into a lifelong commitment when you are wearing rose-colored glasses. Because we know that infatuation simply cannot last forever, one way to be sure you’re seeing clearly is to wait it out. Not only does this give you the opportunity to see the other person in a variety of circumstances, but the delaying of gratification is an important exercise for you both. Christian psychologists Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend wrote in Boundaries in Dating, “Love waits and respects, but lust must have what it wants now.”
How Do You Handle Conflict Together?
When you’re not feeling so happy, does your relationship still stand up? How you handle conflict as a team is an important indicator of whether your relationship can stand the test of time. When you fight (not if, but when), take note of how it is handled.