So, why do you want to get married in the first place? And what makes you think you have the right person in a world full of potential candidates?
Before you allow those questions to sideline you with unwelcomed doubt about your engagement, you best wrestle with those questions now or they will overtake you later. It is imperative that you can articulate not only why you desire to get married but why you want to be married to this specific person. Most likely, your fiancé either fascinates, fixes, furthers, or fulfills you in a way that no other person has.
It may seem odd to you, but I knew I wanted to propose to my girlfriend when I couldn’t be around her for months. You might think that close proximity was what sealed the deal, but actually, having to experience cutoff communication caused me to realize what I had in her. I was serving as a summer missionary overseas, and for a period of time, we were unable to contact any person due to security reasons with our group. During those long weeks, I was growing so much spiritually, but God was also poignantly clarifying his direction for me during that time.
I knew that I wanted to serve God, but I was also learning that I didn’t want to serve him alone. I prayed about it often during that summer. The burden in my heart for God’s work was only intensifying and so anyone willing to accompany me for life would be unable to know what all that entailed. In reality, any person, regardless of vocational aspirations, is unable to know for sure what the future holds. If couples knew what awaited them after the moment they repeated “for better or for worse,” they might have second thoughts.
Life is unpredictable, and I wanted to make sure that any relationship would further his direction for my life rather than frustrate it. I wanted the same for that person too.
I read and reread the Apostle Paul’s take on marriage and considered if I could follow God single. Paul reasoned that serving Jesus in this world would bring trouble, and if you had a spouse to consider, that would only create additional challenges (1 Cor. 7:28-35). Marriage isn’t sinful, but it does dramatically increase responsibilities. As a follower of Jesus, you still have to maintain the same pace and intensity but add on the extra considerations to caring for a spouse wholeheartedly. In Paul’s uncertain times, he knew that his ministry would be complicated if having to think about how to protect his spouse and care for her if he was imprisoned or killed.
With those words, I wrestled. Could I follow Jesus on my own? In reality, my desire to be married would remain a distraction for me. I wanted to follow Jesus, but if able, I wanted to follow him with her beside me.
And that’s exactly what Paul was trying to express. “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:35).
If you can be more devoted to Jesus single, then stay single. If you can be more devoted to Jesus married, then get married.
On the other side of the world, I reasoned that I could follow Jesus better with her than without her, and everything changed as a result. During that summer and the college years when we were apart, I desired her even if she was absent more than someone else who might have been nearer or more convenient. I truly believed that she could help me be who Jesus was calling me to be, and I could do the same for her as well.
If we go back to the original question of why someone should get married to a particular person, we are starting to get closer to knowing how to discern a suitable answer. God designed marriage to provide a helper because he knew that, even before sin, we were in need of someone to walk beside us in life. We aren’t wired to navigate life alone.
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make a helper fit for him.”Genesis 2:18
In the opening pages of Scripture, God revealed something paramount about the human condition that marriage was supposed to address as no other relationship or institution could. Before sin was ever committed as an act of treason against God, it was evident that something significant was missing from Adam. In reality, someone was missing.
So, should you get married? If you have an ongoing desire for that type of companionship, then yes.
So, should you get married to that person you are considering? If that person will serve as a suitable helper to you as you follow Jesus, then yes.
If either of those answers are no, I would do some serious consideration.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.