The Importance of Marrying the Right Spouse for those who are Called
The call of God on the life of a young person is second only to the call to salvation. What we do in life as a life mission determines our choices in education, vocation, and at times location. However, closely connected with this is also the decision about a life mate. If we are wise and discerning, finding God’s best in marriage will cause our spiritual life to continue to develop, resulting in support and encouragement in our life mission. For that reason, several considerations must be factored in to the choosing of a spouse.
Without question a spouse must be a genuine follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. A spouse must hold the mystery of the faith in a clear conscience and her daily habits and desires must give clear evidence of true conversion. In Paul’s discussion in 2 Cor. 7: 14, he states unequivocally that we should not be “unequally yoked.” This applies to all believers, we are not to do evangelistic dating, this rarely results in real conversion and often it leads to the believer’s compromise of their convictions. So, don’t start into a relationship with someone who you know is not a believer or says that they are but are not living a life that does not indicate a desire to follow Christ. Believers must marry believers and those who have that ‘peculiar’ call to the ministry MUST marry someone who is clearly a believer. No doubt that the enemy brings to those with a ministry call some very possible ‘prospects’ that on the surface seem to be a possibility and if he or she is not wise, they can get distracted from God’s call and lose their way.
But finding a genuine believer for a spouse is not where the discernment ends. That person needs to be spiritually and emotionally maturing so that they are equally seeking for God’s will to be fully realized in their life. The common adage ‘opposites attract’ must not be used in relation to spiritual things in the process of knowing God’s best for our life. In Genesis 2: 18 God spoke to Adam when ‘selecting’ Eve for him and identified her as one who was ‘a helper suitable for him.’ The word helper, ezer, has the idea of someone who assists and serves with what is needed. It has the idea of someone who completes the other to the point that whatever task that is before them can be accomplished. Although couples may be very different as to personality, they are to be virtually identical in life mission and purpose. Another way of putting this is that 90+ % of things that matter, on the essentials, there is unqualified agreement and conviction. The remaining percentages in the relationship are in the areas of learning to live with each other, working through differences of perspective and personality, and just doing life together.
The writer of Proverbs has a most instructional statement, “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” (18: 22) The word ‘find’ (motsa) has the idea of looking for something with a goal or standard in mind and the fact that ‘find’ is repeated shows both great intentionality and intensity in this pursuit. In some ways, as decisive as one may be about their college and seminary education, even more so, that he or she would engage a careful and prayerful search for his spouse. His or her life will personally be enriched and even improved because their spouse is ‘good!’ But also there is the blessing of God and His favor that comes with it as well. Marriage is challenging anyway but when that marriage is of one who is called into ministry those pressures, expectations, and spiritually wicked opposition are intensified. However, when God’s favor rest on this, this is the great counter to those things at work against it. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it… (Ps. 127: 1) Thus identifying someone who would be your spouse for life does necessitate and must have a clearly determined standard or expectation on which we do not waver.
Many start out in ministry but few reach their retirement years still serving in some ministry capacity. There are many factors along the road that influence effective longevity in ministry. Nothing more impacting than those dynamics related to the home life of that servant of the Lord. In those early years of seeking the Lord’s direction we must not only be committed to following Him wherever HE leads, but also to whomever He leads us to marry. We must be careful and discerning that our spouse has the same heart and will concerning the Lord and ministry that we do. Although this approach does not guarantee that we will spend our life together serving the Lord in ministry, but the possibilities of finishing faithful are significantly better and hopeful.
Tommy Middleton – Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge