The perfect biblical definition of marriage is “the act of a woman separating from her parents with consent of the later, and being joined to one man (also separated from his parents), the two now living and sharing their lives together as necessary and accomplishing parts of each other”. This is what happened in such faultless bible-time marriages as those of Adam and Eve (Gen 2:18, 21-24), Isaac and Rebecca (Gen. 23:1-4, 9-26, 28-51, 53-67), and all other such marriages However, the bible also has record of marriages that contradict this definition of “one man, one wife”, such as Jacob’s (Gen 29:15-30), King David’s (I Sam 25:39-43), King Solomon’s (I Kgs. 11:1-3), etc. This is polygamy, the error of which can be seen in the following scriptures (Math.19.4-6; 1Cor.7.27, 39; Eph.5.232, 31-33).
The Purpose of Marriage
In instituting the union of marriage, the Lord had definite objectives in mind. They include the following:
- The need for companionship, helping hand, accomplishment and the benefits derived from them (Gen. 2:18). From the beginning,
the principle of “Two are better than one” was at work (Eccl 4:9-10).
- The need for reproducing, increasing and multiplying (Gen. 1:27-28 e.g. of 21-22).
- Apart from the above original purpose of marriage, the need of the present to avoid fornication and adultery makes marriage mandatory for those who are susceptible to “burning” (I Cor. 7:1-2,9).
Finding God’s Perfect Will in Marriage
The Need: The necessity for the believer to find God’s perfect will in marriage is rooted in the fact that there is “the bone of his/her bones and flesh of his/her flesh” (Gen 2:23). It is also rooted in the fact that in many things, the very mind of God differs from the believer’s (Isa 55:8-9; Rom. 11:33-34). This is the reason we have been commanded not to make a choice with our eyes but lean on the lord (Prov. 3:5-7; Ps 37:23).
Also, the future of every man is only known to God. He only knows what shall befall any man at any time. Choosing by sight may lead one to a short-lived marriage or the like.
Again, God is the only one who perfectly understands the temperaments of every man, and He is in the best position to know one’s match. We must release our minds to accept God’s choice for us than to venture into uncertainty. One cannot afford to gamble with a lifetime program like marriage.
Above all, when God chooses a wife or husband for one, the one has a reference point before the Lord and a locus standi before God in times of need.
Knowing God’s will: The means of finding the perfect will of God in marriage is through asking (by prayers) for guidance and waiting for the same (Matt 7:7; Phil. 4:6; Ps 37:4). Such prayers must be from a heart that is free, a heart willing to receive whatever the Lord wants to give, knowing full well that the perfect will of God is the best for one. The prayers could be the type that Abraham’s servant made by asking for signs (Gen. 24:10-14; Judge 6:36-40). It could be prayers just asking the Lord for the guidance of whatever form, as He may choose.
NB: It is possible for one to have made a selection in the heart and yet pray for God’s guidance. This is hypocrisy, which thing often results in dreams from the devils, confirming what is already in the heart (Ezk. 14:1-4). All that glitter, they say, is not gold. The things that are highly esteemed by men may be an abomination in the sight of God (Lk 16:15). The standards set by men for themselves may be their undoing. The mind must be left unbiased for God to direct or lead it. Whereas it is possible for a person to desire a thing, such desires must not be presented as a yardstick for choice before God. Such will mean recommending to God What He should give or leading the Lord to choose, whereas He (God) should lead us to choose or rather choose for us.
We don’t choose a husband/wife and present to God to approve, rather He chooses for us and plants His love/virtue to prove His choice (Gen. 2:21-23). God brought the woman to the man Adam and Adam quickly recognized the woman as his missing rib and was glad.
Let us be careful to allow God to lead us, this is the best way. Remember that to find a wife is to obtain favour from God (Prov. 18:22).
God’s choice: God’s choice of husband or wife for a child of God cannot be from among the unregenerate (those who have not the salvation experience of Christ) (II Cor. 6:14-18). The Israelites were prohibited from marrying or being married by the gentle nations that worshipped idols (Ex. 23:32-33; Deut. 7:2-4; Josh. 23:7-8; Ezra 9:10-12). Abraham knew this so he made his servant swear that he was not going to get wife from the Canaanites for Isaac but form his kindred, not because of ethnic sentiments, but because there was knowledge of God with them (Gen. 34:1-5, 29-50). God cannot and does not contradict Himself, and He is not an author of confusion (I Cor. 14:3). It will amount to self-contradiction if God should choose an unbelieving husband/wife for a believer, after instructing them not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (II Cor. 6:14-17). Holy things must not be given to dogs (Matt. 7:6). God’s choice of husband or wife for a believer will always be a believer. However, this is not indiscriminate i.e. any believing brother to any believing sister. Among the believers, there is always one perfect will of God among the lot for every individual. God’s choice to be specific is that perfect will (Rom 12:1-2).
Revealing God’s Perfect will: There are very many options in the hand of the Lord in making His perfect will known to His children who are praying aright. The Lord uses the following methods among many others;
Dreams or other forms of revelation (Matt 1:19-20; Acts 16:9-10)
Signs to convince and prove His choice (Gen. 24:11-21; Judge 6:36-40).
Some definite impression in the heart, usually very strong to be ignored.
Special love springing out for the person He is giving to the other. It is advised that in order to avoid confusion and misconception, counsel of genuine, experienced and spirit-filled ministers of God should be sort for purpose of guidance and clarifications. God has His own way of making His leadings and revelations distinct from counterfeits of the devil for those who are careful, diligent and conscientious in their walk with Him.
Information to the Pastor or Marriage Elders (Committee)
When a believer (a brother) has sought the will of God and become convinced that he has known same, the first port of call is the Pastor, or marriage elders (committee) set up by the pastor to act for and report to him. This is so because the Pastors and elders of the church are the whom the Lord has raised to feed, direct, rule and oversee the flock in all things until heaven is achieved (Acts 20:17-18,28; I Peter 5:1-2; John 21:15-17). Following this information, the Pastor or marriage elders will proceed to scrutinize and investigate to ensure genuineness of the brother’s testimony of God’s leading. The committee will then send the brother and sister for medical examination to determine medical/physical fitness or otherwise to enter into a marriage program with each other. The freeness, soundness and maturity of the sister in question is also ascertained. On their being convinced of the sister, coupled with their medical compatibility, the brother is permitted to share his testimony with the sister, which thing must be done in such a place and manner that make for holiness.
It is not uncommon that some unsaved fellows can cook up marriage testimonies or the devil could deceive some people by marriage vision or otherwise. This makes the testimony scrutiny necessary.
Some marriages were discovered to be thrown into untold sorrows, regrets and anguish due to medical incompatibilities of the couples, arising from genetic and other health-related factors. The marriage committee owes the intending couples the duty of discovering these factors and counselling the brother and sister appropriately to avoid the grave consequences/hazards of such factors in marriage.
In the case of a sister bringing the testimony of God’s leading, such should pray and wait for the brother to know it and make the approach since it is usually the men who approach women. However, in some cases or peculiar circumstances, a sister can be allowed to share her testimony with a brother (as may be instructed, advised or arranged by the marriage elders).
After the said brother’s testimony has been related to the sister, sufficient time must be allowed for the sister to pray for confirmation or otherwise. No tactics or any form of influence or inducement must be used on her while her prayer last.
All the above rules are rooted in the fact that it is the will of God that must be done (Matt. 26:39,42; Act 21:14), the Lord is not the author of confusion (I Cor. 14:33), the church is not a place of confusion, but a place of where all things are done decently and in other and to the glory of God (I Cor. 14:40; 10:31).
In the event of the sister confirming that the brother’s testimony is true and informing the brother of same, the two can now be allowed to go into courtship.