How to get from 0 to Betrothed in 5 minutes!

How to get from 0 to Betrothed in 5 minutes!

Actually, unless God steps in with instant revelation about the marriage to all the parties involved, it probably won't happen in 5 minutes. In fact, if you make it happen in 5 minutes without God's revelation, you are probably not in His perfect will. And, really, you don't even want a marriage that isn't God's best for you anyway. So the main question approaching any marriage should be, "Is it God's will?"

The Bible gives us a few instructions for all marriage.

Obviously you can't marry a woman who is currently married to someone else in God's eyes (which includes many divorcees) so that's a deal breaker. And I know from the experience of someone close to me that people won't always tell you the whole truth or the whole story themselves when it comes to divorce.

We are also told not to be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers," so she needs to be a Christian. The problem there is, that as men, we can only look on the outward appearance. Someone raised in a believing family can put on a pretty good show of outward righteousness, so we have to rely on hearing from God about the state of the person's heart. So this deal breaker is something you can't find out in your own strength anyway.

In other words, when it comes to the deal breakers, you are going to need to have a close relationship with God and be able to hear His voice. So if you know you aren't there, I'd say that is a good sign you aren't ready to start determining who to marry.

The Bible gives four reasons for marriage. (Please supply the verses if you know more.)

  1. For Teamwork. "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." (Gen 2:18)
  2. For Producing Children. "Be fruitful, and multiply." (Gen 1:28) "And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed." (Mal 2:15)
  3. As an Object Lesson. "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Eph 5:32)
  4. For Purity. "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." (1 Cor 7:2)

There aren't any passages that I am aware of that give personal preference or happiness as a God ordained reason for marriage. In many cases, I think the reason people form pre-betrothal relationships is to try to figure out if they like or can envision a happy life with the person. The irony is, in the few scriptural cases where there was pre-betrothal affinity involved, they didn't end up with great marriages (David-Michal) or one spouse was of questionable character (Jacob-Rachel, Samson-Woman of Timnath) or the whole situation became sinful and disastrous (Shechem-Dinah, David-Bathsheba, Amnon-Tamar.)

On the other hand (while you could be called to a Hosea and Gomer situation) Proverbs talks about looking for a virtuous woman and avoiding unsavory ones such as a "contentious woman."

I see three major themes.

Hearing from God is the number one key. Information about the person's character is important. (Though, as in Hosea's case, this can be overridden by number one.) However, developing an affinity based relationship generally leads to trouble.

We know that lusting for someone else's wife is adultery in your heart. Is lusting for an unmarried woman allowed? Job said he wouldn't look on a maid so I think it is safe to say that lusting for an unmarried woman would still be committing fornication in your heart. In both cases, if the woman isn't yours, you shouldn't be treating her, even in your mind, as if she was.

Using that as a principle for determining what is off limits as far as pre-betrothal relationships seems like a reasonably Biblical line. If an action would be inappropriate for you involving a married woman, then treating it as also inappropriate towards an unmarried woman makes sense. So, are there circumstances where eating a meal or driving in a car alone with someone else's spouse are appropriate? Probably just a few. On the other hand, doing those things on purpose in order to form a relationship seems pretty foolish. I would recommend approaching pre-betrothal with the same standard.

Take these principles and apply them.

I think a pre-betrothal approach should include lots of seeking God's guidance, a reasonable investigation into the other person's character and avoidance of forming attachment or treating the other person in a way that you would not treat someone else's spouse.

I doubt that will look very much like dating since in most cases that isn't the most reliable way of finding out about a person's character and has substantial risk of at least one party forming an attachment. (Asking someone on a date in order to determine their character would be similar to warning someone you are about to get a warrant to search their house. You might still find something incriminating, but you are giving them every chance to hide it away.)

I could see it looking like a brief, family-involved, courtship in some cases, getting to know about a person from those who know them the best. (Be a little suspicious though if you are only being told the positive things.) I would recommend keeping the "courtship" short and then withdrawing to seek God's will in order to have the positive of knowing something of their character while minimizing the dangers of forming an attachment.

If you feel like God is leading you towards someone who doesn't have a healthy, Christian family, then joining a Church group project or perhaps short term mission they are involved in could provide a peek into their character. I don't expect that every situation will be the same, but I do think the guidelines and principles can be applied to every situation.

Supposing that you do this and hear from God about who you should marry. Proposing out of the blue may come as a jolt to the woman, and quite possibly you will need to explain your strange approach, but hopefully a woman of character would be able to apply the same principles back at you after getting over the shock. Don't expect an instant response, give her the time to seek God as well.

That is my (I believe scriptural) basic advice. As a disclaimer (since I've actually encountered someone who thought this) don't think that if you follow the right approach to marriage, your marriage will therefore be smooth sailing. Whoever and however you marry, you will marry a reforming sinner. It will take love, forgiveness, service and other sacrifices to build a good marriage. Getting to the point of commitment as righteously as possible is only a relatively minor first step.

Ready to learn about the next step? Read, Betrothal. What is it Biblically?

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