Christian Advice Before Marriage

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

With the divorce rate soaring, what can engaged couples do to lower the risks for divorce?  What about living together first?  What about Christians marrying non-believers?  What about couples who are dating?

Unequally Yoked

The Bible is clear that a believer — a Christ-follower should not marry a non-believer.  In fact, they should not even be dating a non-Christian.  Why?  For one thing, the Bible teaches that Christians are not to marry, not to mention even date, non-believers.  Paul said Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness (2 Cor 6:14). It’s like mixing water and oil.  They will never mix properly and one will always tend to separate from the other.  Like Paul said,what fellowship can light have with darkness?”  We are commanded to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Eph 5:11).  If you are a Christian and dating or engaged to a non-Christian, John gives a clear warning; If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth (1 John 1:6).

If a Christian marries a non-believer, then where will the children go on Sundays?  Will they go to church or will the other spouse say “No!”?  This is why Paul warned against this type of association with non-believers, sayingWhat accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you (2 Cor 6:15-17).  Paul also said, Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals (1 Cor 15:33).  If you are a Christian and marry a non-Christian, then you will tend to be less effective in your walk with Christ because you will be heavily influenced by the unbelieving spouse.  Besides that, God commands believers not to marry unbelievers.  That should be reason enough.

Premarital Counseling

Premarital counseling makes good common sense and usually makes for a more successful marriage because they know what to expect going into it.

Time and time again I have seen couples that I married either refuse to have premarital counseling or even take a compatibility test with their fiancé.  What happens is that one spouse decides that they don’t want children while the other decides that they do.  The other person likes to go out dancing and to dinner but the other would rather stay home.  One loves to live in the country while the other loves the city.  Premarital counseling makes good common sense and usually makes for a more successful marriage because they know what to expect going into it.  Some pastors or priests have refused to marry couples that refuse premarital counseling because they know that some couples are just not meant for each other and are trying to help them avoid unnecessary heartache, or worse, divorce.

Living Together Before Marriage

I know about half a dozen couples who insisted, against my advice, to live together first so that they could “get to know” their potential mates and to help lower the divorce rates.  They reason that this will allow them to make sure that they are making the right choice for a husband or a wife.  This could not be further from the truth — than the North Pole is from the South Pole.  Most of these couples have already split up and they had children, which makes it even worse.  The innocent victims of these shattered relationships are the children.  The divorce rate is nearly 3 times as high when a couple lives together before they are married than that of a couple that unite in marriage after first living a separate life.  Marriage the biblical model and God always knows better than people who say “they believe.”  What a person or couple believes does not change what the truth of what God says in His Word. This goes for premarital sex as well; that is sin and there is no exception.  Even a couple that is engaged should not be involved with premarital sex because they can not expect God to bless their marriage if they can not be faithful before marriage. They are openly sinning before God.  It is no excuse to say that they want to make sure that they are compatible with each other.  There is no compromising with the Word of God.

I Can Change Them After We’re Married

Another fallacy is that if a potential mate has problems before marriage that once they get married, they will change or they can be changed by the other spouse.  For one thing, only God can truly change a human heart (Prov 21:1).  We are not the Holy Spirit and it is His job to work in a person’s life to change them.  We can positively influence them but not by negative pressure or the power of suggestion.  This can sometimes have the opposite effect.  Many have married with the thought that they would change or that they would stop drinking or doing drugs or…  The fact of the matter is that marriage does not change one’s behavior. It may actually make it worse and no marriage is always better than a bad marriage.  Marriage does not change a person’s life style or solve their problems.  It tends to only exacerbate or increase their problems.

How Do They Treat Their Parents?

A person can often see how they will treat their spouse by how they treat their parents.  Does the man show loving affection for his mom or does he hold grudges about how he was treated?  Does he have hard feelings about his father or still act unforgiving of him?  Does the woman show found memories of her childhood?  Does she think affectionately about her mom and her dad?  How does the potential mate treat their mom or dad at the present time?  Do they remember birthdays or anniversaries?  Do they keep in contact or want nothing to do with either of them?  How do they talk to them when you’re with them?  Do they show them respect?  If you see serious relational problems with your potential mate in regards to their parents, then this could drastically impact your marriage to them.  How they treat parents may be a strong indication of how they will treat you.

How Are They Around Children?

Do they want to have children in the first place?  Have you observed them while they’ve been around children?  Are they short-tempered or patient with them?  Do they have unreasonable expectations for young children for how they should behave or do they understand how children operate?  Does the fiancé have brothers and sisters or do they have young nephews or nieces?  How do they treat them?  How do they talk about children who they see misbehave in the store, in the mall, or at the playground?  How they treat or think about children is relatively the same way that they will feel about their own children.  No one can dislike being around children and expect to be loving, compassionate parents.  These are warning signs if a couple wants children but one of them doesn’t even like being around children.  How do they react to crying babies and toddlers having “terrible two” moments?  These are important issues to bring up before a couple decides to say “I do.”

Conclusion

A successful marriage is more likely when both couples are Christian and from the same faith.  They will tend to agree on the major points in the Bible.  The Bible commands couples to not be unequally yoked for their own good and the good of any subsequent children which may come later. Also, premarital counseling reduces the chances of divorce because even Christians may have drastically different preferences and these differences can cause division and strife; knowing them before marriage helps to set expectations after marriage.

There is no excuse for living together or having premarital sex just to see if they are compatible or that things will work out.  God says that is sexual immorality and it is never in the best interest of couples to live together before marriage because it is sin.

Don’t expect the marriage to solve your fiancé’s problems.  If anything, their problems will be dragged into the marriage and may even grow worse.  Marriages do not solve problems.  People must solve serious problems like anger and addictions to drugs or alcohol before they get married because marriage can not be expected to solve these issues.

Finally, how they treat their parents and children will be how they will likely treat you and your children.  Marriage is a very serious institution.  It is a vow made before witnesses and before God. God will expect you to honor your mate, to love them, and to never, ever leave them or forsake them. Once you are married, you are bound to that person until death.  Think about these things before you get married and you will have a better chance at a successful and godly marriage than those who do not.

Looking for more about Christian Marriage?

Take a look at these articles:

Sources:

New International Version Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

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