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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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Lana October 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

Thank you for this article. I used to be believer some years ago, then drifted away from God, lost that personal connection with Him. I met someone and fell in love with person. I did everything wrong from beginning: had intimate relationsip before getting married to him, I saw that he had problems (I suspected that he had addictions before we got married, he was quick to anger, loving his parents but always had strife with them). Still i married him. We have children from our previous relationships who are not living with us. Now I am back to God, still married , going through hell nearly every day ( he even physically abused me twice). Still my heart is telling me that I need to help my husband, I feel that it’s coming from God. But in my church everybody telling me just “to cut him off” and move with my life. It’s hard for me to take some decision- one day I want to remember that I am a child of God, precious in His eyes, that I should not have to do anything with unbelievers. Then next moment I will be thinking about scriptures saying that we should rejoice in our suffering (Romans 5:3-10), that if someone slaps us on one cheek, we should offer another cheek (Luke 6:29), that we should love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12: 30-31).
It was actually my husband who brought me back to church, and I saw how he wanted to change and be good but his addictions took such a tight grip on him, that no matter how he tried, he finally gave up on himself and on God.
Now all my thoughts are rotating around my husband and problems we have. I feel like loseing myself in all this, forgetting about my own dreams, plans for my life, about my children who need me so much. Need advise. Praying all the time.

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Jack Wellman October 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Hello Lana. I am glad you came here to leave a comment and that you have said that you are praying always. I am also glad you are not giving up on your husband when everyone else around you says you should. I so admire that and you must believe that God put this in your heart to try & save your marriage. Please know that I will pray for you. Have you talked to your pastor about this in your church? What does he say? I would continue to love your husband even though he doesn’t seem to deserve it, but Christ died for us while we were still sinners and loved us while we were still enemies of His. Keep in the Bible, talk to your pastor and yes, keep praying. Rely on God for when we come to the end of ourselves, God is there waiting for us to help us when we can do nothing of ourselves.

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Derek Hill October 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Thank you for the solid advice here Jack. With divorce behind me, I will keep this advice in mind while finding a woman to marry in the future. This was right on the money. God bless you.

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Jack Wellman October 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thank you Derek my brother. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” I am more blessed than I deserve. I sought God’s will for a good wife and He answered my prayer…now, about her being blessed, I am not so sure about that.

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Pamela Rose Williams October 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Excellent advice Jack. I must drive home your point about “I Can Change Them After We’re Married”. Sometimes I just want to shout “NO YOU CANNOT!” No human can change another. That relationship with the Lord is so needed. It is Him and Him only that will change anyone. If your fiance is cruel and selfish before you marry them — they will simply be a married cruel and selfish person after you marry them. PREMARITAL COUNSELING (I shouted that too) — this should be a requirement for every marriage and one of the major point in that counseling needs to be the teaching of the role of the husband and wife. It is astounding to see how many people have never learned this and then they go into the marriage blind. More than 80% of our counseling cases at Selah Mountain Ministries are marriage related. Thank you for your advice Jack — well done.

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Jack Wellman October 28, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Thank you so much Pam. I can surely believe that since the vast majority of marital problems I have dealt with were never even discussed before the got married. I think this should be to ministers above all so that they might know to prepare couples before the get married. I wonder how many divorces could have been prevented by premarital counseling? I had, I think, 12 sessions before we got married and these all paid off well after the honeymoon was over. Thanks Pam. Your encouragement is a blessing to me.

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Robert October 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Jack,
Very sound advice you’ve presented here. So foundational to marriage is that the marriage is built on the foundation of the couple’s relationship with Jesus. If that relationship is not there, there will be problems…sooner or later. God bless you, brother.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Jack Wellman October 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Thank you Robert. You know that my own premarital counseling allowed me to go into our marriage with eyes wide open and with reasonable expectations. That alone was worth it. Again, thank you Robert for your encouragement.

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rozanna November 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Hello,
This is a very Interesting article. I know of a woman who got married to a non believer. She says that God showed her that, that was the man God prepared for her. and today the are still together after 21years of marriage and have 5 girls. But the funny thing is that this couple still follows two completely different ways, the woman is christian and the man does not even believe in anything.

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Jack Wellman November 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Very interesting about this couple Rozanna. I am certainly it worked out for them. I would not recommend marrying a non-believer though, not from my own personal opinion but from what the Bible commands. Even so, I am happy for them. I find it interesting that God “showed her that this man was the man God prepared for her” and then the Bible, which is God speaking to us, commands us not to marry non-Christians? Has God changed? No. How did “God show her”? In what way I wonder. Just curious. Thanks for the comment Rozanna. I wouldn’t recommend it though for I have seen the vast majority end in divorce and many more yet in terribly unhappy marriages, which is why God commanded us not to be joined with unbelievers.

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rozanna November 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I do not disagree with you, I myself don’t agree with that kind of marriage, and i also believe that God never changes. His word is yes and Amen. The woman i’m talking about has had a lot of trouble acepting him as her husband at the start of their relationship. It took someone of outsite, someone she never knew or met before to come and confirm to her what God already told her. I’m sure they’ve been through some tough moment, but i believe that this is what happens to every marriage. But the woman still believes in the miracle that one day God is going to change her husband’s heart and draw him near to him.

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Jack Wellman November 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Amen Rozanna. I do agree with you that this does happen every day and it is a very hard road to travel. I didn’t realize which woman you were talking about and so I apologize to you my friend. I am going to pray for this miracle that God does change her husband’s heart for even Saul became Paul and I went from disaster to pastor (& still somewhat of a train wreck today!) so maybe we can join together in petitioning our God for this miracle to do only what He can do…change the human heart and oh, what a glory to Jesus that would be Rozanna. I appreciate your words so much and I thank God that you came to the website. Please come back.

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rozanna November 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Thank you very much for your prayers and Yes i’ll always come back i really enjoy reading your articles. Those topics are very relevant to our day to day lives and the different challenges that us christians always face.

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Sophia November 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Hello, first of all, i would like to tell you my problem.

We have our premaritall sex in the first place and get married. All this time, I being thinking that if we get married, my husband wil change. He will not hang around with his old friend who will lead him to drug. He will love me more and willing to take care of me and our baby. But I admit i do have wrong too. We always use our own way to communitcate and throwing temper to each other. I admit I am in wrong. Now my husband insist dont want us to go back because he say if I go back to his side, the drama wil start again. I learning to put down myself and submit myself to lord and ask lord to change me. Please advice. How to convince my husband and allow him to let me go back to his side. Please pray for him not to continue fall into satan hands.

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Jack Wellman November 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Sophia, no marriage is free from problems and both parties have responsibilities but when we find that we can do nothing more and we are helpless, hopeless, and have no solution, we must trust God and put these in the hands of the only One Who can help. You can not convince your husband except by praying for him, loving him when we doesn’t deserve it (like God did us) and just showing him that you are praying to be a better and more godly wife and submit. My concern is for your husband’s salvation. If he is not saved, then this is what we need to pray for. Ask God to send him His Holy Spirit which is the only Power of God that can change a human’s heart from stone to flesh. That is what I will pray for. Sometimes we just have to let go…and let God. This is one of those times my friend.

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Sophia November 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Yes, this is what my pastor told me too. I do pray with my heart and soul. However I felt that am I not sincere at all. Do I really submit mydelf to god to letting him to do everything. Everyday, I feel hurt and pain in my heart and praying in my heart that god will change everything. I believe one day he will do his work and I hope he will come back with his heart to. Amen. Thanks

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Lana November 15, 2012 at 11:48 pm

There is time when you realise that nothing you can really do. You love, you care, you pay for everything- hoping that person will appreciate and start changing to the better side. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen this way. Especially when the spouse is an addict. All your care only enableing him to continue with his addiction. As I said before,people at church just advising me to move on with my life. It was only Pastor who said differently:” You can’t enter the kingdom of haven without going through trials and tribulations”.
At this point I just feel it’s dangerous for me to stay with my husband, I have to take care about my kids and old parents. I love my husband but all I can do now- let go and let God.

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sipora November 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Hi Jack
I’ve rededicated my life to God some years ago and everything was ok;my prayer life ,preaching etc.at first i was shy but after a few years witnessing others preaching i also became bold.but i have a problem.there is this guy I’m attracted to and know (thru common friends we have) that he is attracted to me.but i don’t know the kind of christian he is the practising or the formal one.above all i don want to involve in a relationship which involves sex.i don’t know why its when i intensively started praying for my future partner that i realised this guy.he has been of no interest to me at first.all i need now is prayers that if he wants just an emotional relationship,i should be able to say NO cause the word of God says there is no temptation which is above us.i have been praying but my mid is greatly troubled because i don?t want to hurt God.i get sick when i do something knowing that i will ask for forgiveness but for me sexual immorality is like the greatest sin.thanks and i’m expecting your answer

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Jack Wellman November 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Hello Sipora. I am so glad you came here and for your comment and question. I believe that Paul said that he who commits sexual immorality commits sin against his own body and sexual immorality is a great sin, even though all sin grieves God for He is holy.

You said that you were preaching? Are you a woman or man? Either way, sex outside of marriage is considered very serious to God. Here are two articles we can suggest you read and take the steps that are involved in this first article at:

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-to-overcome-an-addiction-to-pornography-help-for-struggling-christians/

The next one is called 7 Tips to Avoid Temptation at:

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/7-tips-to-avoid-temptation/

Please let us know if these help you Sipora.

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sipora November 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm

i am a young woman of 21 from Africa living in Italy.yes i used to preach to students and once to the whole congregation when it was the turn of the youth group to preach.i did the pastor.i really witnessed the Holy Spirit cause i had never spoken like that of bible and could not believe i was the one.in fact i was not the one.my greatest fear is that i have never been in a relationship and don’t want to just seize the first chance without examining all the possibilities etc because i know of many who rushed and are now regretting and don’t want to be like that. thanks once more for the reply its really of great help

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Gen April 10, 2013 at 9:24 am

Hi Jack,

You have a very good article here, these things are good to be thought of before entering marriage. I just want to know your point of view when it comes to knowing God’s will. How will you know if he’s already the one after considering these things in the article? Thanks in advance and have a good day.

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Jack Wellman April 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Hello Gen. Thank you for your question and comment. I would try to re-read the article and also you need premarital counseling to be sure. If you still feel comfortable and have peace about it and have seen evidence of his walking with Christ for a long period, you can also talk to his friends, talk to his pastor, and pray, pray, pray and even fast over this. This is such a serious step in life and once you are married, you must realize that save for biblical grounds for divorce like adultery, you are committed for a lifetime and there is no backing out. Count the cost. See how he is with children, in stressful situations, how he treats his parents, how he regularly (or not) reads his Bible, the patter of his prayer life, the language and his tastes in movies and music. These are all important factors to consider when marrying for life.

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Adeyemo Timothy Olaniyi May 31, 2013 at 8:16 am

Thank you so much for this article God will continue to be strengthen you the more in Jesus Name.. Please my question is that; I’ve involved myself in premarrital sex, with my fiancee, what do i do to receive forgiveness from God. Thanks

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Jack Wellman June 1, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hello Adeyemo. Let me say that God forgives us of all our sins once we confess them and repent of these (1 John 1:9). My question, is your finance a Christian? You must stop from any more sexual activity before marriage. Just know that God has forgiven you already and your fiance too if she also has asked for His forgiveness and repented of this sin and determined not to do it again.

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Lincy G September 15, 2016 at 4:20 am

Well said – Please can you add one more point – if you feel its OK.
When God wanted to give Adam a mate, God took only one rib and made only one women and presented her to Adam. Adam did not ask for another Eve so he could see if the other was better than the one presented in the first place.
Neither did God make many Eve and ask Adam – please choose the one women who you think is giving you a chemistry or feel compatible.
It was an arranged marriage – Father knew the likes of the son, so He made a women suitable to him. Issac waited for 40 years till Abraham his father would find a wife for him. Of-course Abraham knew Issac’s likes and dislikes and he knew he would find a similar one in his family. Easu’s two wife’s were a pain to their parents because he married an unbeliever.

Not suggesting a forced marriage, but at least the children should share their likes and dislikes with their parents and it is the duty of the parents to find a bride suitable for their son (Vis a versa for women). And a chance for both boy and girl to have a 10 minute talk under the protection of both parents before agreeing to engage and a 4 to 6 month time to accept this new person as spouse (no direct contact during this period) is the best proposal for a successful marriage. If not felt acceptable during first visit, then they can always reply that a answer will be given after discussion from home.

First, basic needs are fulfilled with absolutely no expectation of either persons behavior of how it would be, as always a false front is displayed before marriage and we can find something different after marriage. The attitude carried here, is, acceptance of all faults and goodness of the person we agreed to marry with, which by itself brings a tolerant nature when we see what we do not like in the other. A give and take discussion on how it hurt later gives a time to develop understanding of each others sensitivity. It is not adjustment but the level of understanding of each other that makes a marriage a success.
However it is the duty of the parents to find the past character of the boy or girl (from a neighbor or church elder/ member or friends) if one of them is short tempered, addict, infidel or a eunuch for that matter. If both parties are honest as a true christian, most arranged marriage is a success.
Every marriage has its problems even if deeply loved, it takes forgiveness and love to cover each others faults. Proverbs 10:12

Very rare arranged marriage fail – the only cause being “lies / dishonesty before marriage”.

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