A few years back, a dear friend excitedly shared his desire to marry his girlfriend. When I asked him why, he rattled off the typical responses such as a commitment to ministry, personality, and cuteness. When he was done, I asked, “Does she make you a better Christian?”
“Hmm,” he replied, “I’ve never thought about that.”
“Hmm,” I thought, “How is that possible?”
Believers understand glorifying God is the their highest goal and ultimate aim. When dating, the desire is to be pure and Christ-centered so as to honor the Father. This segues into pre-marital classes in which the engaged couple vehemently nod their heads when the issue of loving Christ above one another is taught. Yet, somehow, when choosing a spouse one rarely thinks about whether or not this person they are about to spend the rest of their life with will make them a godlier person. We wrestle with issues of physical attraction, personality, teachability, and commitment to service as well we should. After all, after salvation, your choice of spouse is the biggest decision you will make in this life.
So how is it that people never seem to ask the question: Will this person make me a better Christian? We ask questions about education, background, race, upbringing, etc, etc, etc, but never ask about the most important factor in life: one’s walk with God.
When I was dating Jennie, I was on the mission field and dating long-distance (thank God for Skype!). As time went on, there was only one issue that concerned me before I was sure she was “the one”: my sin had undoubtedly come out in our conversations, yet she didn’t rebuke me. I brought this up with some of my teammates, and they were shocked that I was concerned about this. I, in turn, was shocked that they were shocked. After all, isn’t it right and biblical to want to marry someone who will sharpen me to be a godlier man? Shouldn’t Christians pursue marriage with someone for reasons other than companionship and romance?
Unfortunately, Christian dating and marriage has taken one too many cues from Hollywood, and our American church culture has created an unbiblical stance on marriage that pressures godly singles to say “I do” for the wrong reasons.
We all know Christian couples who have been married for years, yet one or the other has a trait or attitude that does not reflect the Lord they serve. You look at this couple and can’t help but wonder: Doesn’t his wife talk to him about this? Hasn’t her husband confronted her on this? How have they been married so long and this sin seems to go unchecked? There are many reasons for this, but one big reason is that back when they were thinking through whether or not to get married, they never asked the question at hand. It’s not so much that you’re looking for a definitive answer to the question but asking the question brings the issue into the limelight.
If you are single, learn from the mistakes of so many around you. Pursue romantic relationships in which your walks are sharpened by one another. If your relationship with Christ is the most important part of your life then naturally you want your permanent roommate and best friend to be someone that stimulates rather than stagnates that relationship.
If you are married and reading this and realize that your most important earthly relationship does not enhance your heavenly relationship, it’s not too late. You need to have a potentially long and hard conversation with your spouse, but it’s a conversation that will change your life and reveal blessings of marriage that you have yet to experience. Pursuing Christlikeness in a marriage is more than just reminding each other to pray or talking about the preacher’s sermon on the way to lunch. Unfortunately, far too many Christian marriages make individuals worse Christians rather than better because people become comfortable with their walks since their spouse accepts and loves them the way they are. Friends, sanctification doesn’t end with marriage (again, a message our church culture inadvertently promotes far too often). And if, for you, it has, it’s time for a change. Your marriage may not be at stake, but greater joy and deeper blessings are.