Something like six months ago I wrote a short post in conjunction with a shared link about marriage (please don’t go look for it. I deleted it.) In it I elaborated on the author’s sentiment about scrutinizing potential suitors. And I agree that one should choose one’s spouse with a sober mind. Don’t go marrying jerks. But while some of us need to be properly warned not to fall in love with dare-devil outlaws, others of us are turning away good Christian brothers out of some lofty ideal of marrying a Mr. Darcy (or Jim Elliot).
Over the summer I did a good deal of soul-and-scripture-searching, mulling over, not the idea of marriage, but the decision itself. What biblical bounds does God put on marriage? What is He thinking when you compare Jo and John and fall in love with Jacob?
What I found was this: There is really only one qualification that you simply must follow, and that is do not be unequally yoked. You must marry a believer.
But that’s it.
In 2 Corinthians 5 we read this: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. … If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”
It struck me, that’s how God sees each of us who are in Christ: holy, blameless, and washed in the blood of the lamb. And the more we are like Christ, the more we will see our brothers and sisters as God sees them: Redeemed.
Just a few paragraphs down the passage continues with: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?”
God doesn’t say: Young ladies, marry spiritual giants. Marry ministers and missionaries. Marry somebody as wise and experienced as your father. And make sure Mr. Right has a house already. He doesn’t say that.
Now wisdom says, marry a man, a godly man, who will lead you in righteousness. But every union is a union of sinners. And growing in holiness is part of why we marry at all. The question is: Which fallen, redeemed, individual will you yoke yourself to? Which besetting sins and personal quirks are ones you can walk alongside of for the rest of your life? The answer to that question is different for each of us–and deeply personal.
But what I took away from that passage is this: Within the Lord, we are free to love. It’s like the tension between law and liberty. God says marry in the Lord. And within those bounds—we are free to make our choice.