Marriage was the first institution established by God, for the purpose of implementing his mission for man to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. It was to provide a lawful framework for man to achieve companionship, sexual fulfilment and bring about procreation and perpetuation of the species.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.
Genesis 2:21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
Genesis 2:22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Genesis 2:23 Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (ESV).
Adam, the first man God created, had no choice in the selection of his wife, as Eve was literally given to him by God. He was put to a deep sleep and woke up only to find a woman by his side! Adam had no say at all in choosing his bride, making him the only man who could legitimately blame God for marrying the wrong woman! And he did blame God when things went wrong between him and his wife!
Genesis 3:11 He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?
Genesis 3:12 The man said, The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate (ESV).
After this accusation by Adam, God stopped giving spouses to people. He has since then allowed people to make their own choices when it comes to finding a spouse. Now, everyone has to find his/her own spouse. If you make the right choice, you enjoy your marriage. If you make the wrong choice, you suffer the consequences and may endure a lifetime of agony and regrets.
Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD (ESV).
The choosing of a spouse is one of the most important decisions an individual will be confronted with in a lifetime. This is because God intends for marriage to be a lifelong union as he hates divorce and separation. Marriage is not intended to be a trial and error stuff, so it should be entered into in the most careful and sober manner! It’s supposed to be a union that ought to be put asunder only by the death of a partner!
St. Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
Matthew 19:4 He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
Matthew 19:5 and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh?
Matthew 19:6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
Matthew 19:7 They said to him, Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?
Matthew 19:8 He said to them, Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Matthew 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery (ESV).
Romans 7:2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him.
Romans 7:3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man (ESV).
Because marriage is intended by God to be a lifelong union that should be dissolved only by death, people have to be very careful how they choose their spouses. This article intends to give a scriptural guide on how to choose a partner that will increase the chances of lifelong enjoyment of marriage and the blessings that go with it.
Let’s start by reviewing the purpose of marriage. This will guide in making the right choice of a partner who will help one achieve those purposes. Marriage was designed by God to provide intimate companionship between a man and a woman, allow for lawful sexual intercourse, child-bearing and rearing, as well as ensure mutual support and encouragement. The scriptural references above confirm some of these purposes. The references outlined below validate the rest.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
Ecclesiastes 4:11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
Ecclesiastes 4:12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken (ESV).
1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 7:3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband (ESV).
Having broadly outlined the purposes of marriage above, let us now consider the qualities one should look for in a partner, taking cognizance of one’s make up and the need to achieve the goals listed above. We should look at one’s make up in terms of the body (physical compatibility), needs of the soul (spiritual compatibility) and needs of the spirit (social compatibility). The tripartite bonds achieved at these three levels will ensure a strong relationship that will not be easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken (ESV).
Let’s start with spiritual compatibility. The first thing a Christian should consider in choosing a spouse is spiritual compatibility. Christians should marry people of like precious faith who will be able to encourage and assist them in their spiritual race, and not pull them down or derail them spiritually. If you marry someone whose faith is opposed to yours, you will make a shipwreck of your faith. In both the Old and New Testaments, God’s people are commanded not to marry outside of the faith, so as not to get corrupted spiritually.
Exodus 34:11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
Exodus 34:12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.
Exodus 34:13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.
Exodus 34:14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Exodus 34:15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
Exodus 34:16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same (NIV).
1 Corinthians 7:39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord (NIV).
Solomon, the wisest man that lived under the Old Testament, was derailed in his faith and ended up worshipping foreign gods and serving idols, because he married women who worshipped and served idols. Solomon ended up departing from the true God because his heart was seduced and turned to idols by his idolatrous wives. That’s why a Christian is commanded by Scripture to marry only a fellow believer like himself or herself!
1 Kings 11:1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter —Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites.
1 Kings 11:2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love.
1 Kings 11:3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.
1 Kings 11:4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.
1 Kings 11:5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites.
1 Kings 11:6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.
1 Kings 11:7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites.
1 Kings 11:8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.
1 Kings 11:9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.
1 Kings 11:10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command.
1 Kings 11:11 So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates (NIV).
A Christian marrying a non-Christian or marrying someone with divergent spiritual beliefs is a disaster waiting to happen! You will most certainly end up like Solomon did, and lose favour with God. Your heart will be led astray from God. And when you backslide or fall spiritually, there will be no one to lift you up! Rather than being united in faith with your partner, there will be discord and spiritual disunity at home! You can’t afford to live your entire life under such spiritual tension, discord and disunity. The strain and stress will be too much for you to bear. You will not enjoy your marriage and you will lose the spiritual support and encouragement a spouse of like precious faith brings into marriage. Don’t think you can be wiser than God. Wise King Solomon tried it and ended up miserable and shipwrecked.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
Ecclesiastes 4:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up (NIV).
Next, let’s look at the issue of physical or bodily compatibility. God has placed in the heart of every individual unique interests, desires and preferences. We all have individual idiosyncracies, personal tastes and opinions that make us unique and distinguish us from everyone else. We all have unique desires God has wired into us, which is part of our unique DNA and genetic make-up. God promised to grant us those desires of our hearts if we commit our ways to him.
Psalms 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and truly you shall be fed.
Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD: and he shall give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (AKJV).
Because we’re all uniquely wired, each person has different combinations of physical traits that attract them to people of the opposite sex. Some are attracted to fair-complexioned people, whereas others prefer dark-coloured people. Some like tall people, just as some prefer short people. Some are moved by fat people, just like others are excited by slim people. Some men are excited by big breasted-women, just like others prefer women with small breasts. Some men love women with big buttocks, just as other men admire women with small buttocks. All these different desires make each person unique. Each individual should look for those physical attributes that they admire so much and that attract them to people of the opposite sex. It is those attractions that spark romantic and sexual desires that are necessary for intimacy and bonding. Go for someone you’re physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to! Erotic love is an important part of marriage, and is necessary to spark the flames that energise and light up the matrimonial bed!
All the patriarchs and holy prophets in the Bible married women they considered beautiful and attractive. Being spiritual men didn’t make them settle for women they didn’t find physically and sexually attractive! Spirituality does not preclude unique physical and erotic desires! Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was a very beautiful woman. She was so beautiful that Abraham was afraid other men would conspire to kill him just to have her as wife!
Genesis 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.
Genesis 12:11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.
Genesis 12:12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ’This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.
Genesis 12:13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
Genesis 12:14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.
Genesis 12:15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace (NIV).
Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, was also a very beautiful woman, though spiritual and chaste. She too was so pretty that Isaac was afraid other more powerful men would kill him to have her as wife!
Genesis 24:15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.
Genesis 24:16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
Genesis 26:6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
Genesis 26:7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.” (NIV).
Rachel, Jacob’s preferred wife, was also a very beautiful woman: her beauty of character and body made Jacob so love her that he laboured for a total of 14 years, just to pay her dowry! And those years seemed like days to him, because of the great love he had for her!
Genesis 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
Genesis 29:17 Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful.
Genesis 29:18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Genesis 29:19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.”
Genesis 29:20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her (NIV).
Marry someone you love and are attracted to physically, emotionally and sexually! Marry someone you consider beautiful in your own eyes! Don’t marry for pity or just because the person is wealthy or has unique spiritual or other gifts. You’re not marrying a spouse for the sake of opening a church or ministry, neither are you marrying someone to sing or preach to you. You can get all the preaching from anointed pastors, and all the singing from gifted and anointed musicians. In marriage, you need someone you love, and someone who equally loves you enough to want to be with you for the rest of their life.
If you don’t marry someone you love very much and are very much attracted to (physically, emotionally and sexually), you’ll soon find your partner boring, and you’ll soon start admiring people outside that have the qualities you’ve admired all your life! When strong erotic love is not there, you’ll soon be looking for a way out, because you’ll be enduring and not enjoying your marriage!
Marriage should be based on passionate love and romance, not on pity or material possession, and not on visions and revelations! Don’t marry a dream! Don’t marry someone because your prophet or pastor said it’s the will of God for you! If it’s the will of God for you, it will match the God-given desires in your heart! God should reveal his will for you in marriage to you, not to another, because you’re the one involved! The will of God will make you happy and fulfilled, not sad and always looking outside and coveting and lusting after other people, while you’re married to another! The will of God will match the desires God has wired into you!
Song of Solomon 1:9 I liken you, my darling, to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariot horses.
Song of Solomon 1:10 Your cheeks are beautiful with earrings, your neck with strings of jewels.
Song of Solomon 1:15 How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.
Song of Solomon 1:16 How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant (NIV).
Song of Solomon 4:9 You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.
Song of Solomon 4:10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice!
Song of Solomon 8:6 Set me as a seal upon thy heart, As a seal upon thine arm: For love is strong as death; Jealousy is cruel as Sheol; The flashes thereof are flashes of fire, A very flame of Jehovah.
Song of Solomon 8:7 Many waters cannot quench love, Neither can floods drown it: If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, He would utterly be contemned (NIV).
Don’t marry to satisfy anybody else but yourself. Don’t marry to fulfill anyone’s desires but your own- not your parents’, not your pastor’s, not your prophet’s, not anybody’s! You will live with that spouse for the rest of your life! If you forfeit your heart desires to please others, you will either endure suffering in marriage for the rest of your life, or you will jump ship midway! You cannot ignore your God-given unique desires meant to guide you from the inside, like an in-built GPS, and not miss your way in life, to your regret and sorrow!
We will move to the final area of compatibility to be considered in choosing a spouse- social compatibility, as it affects the spirit of man. Here, we will consider compatibility of intellect, educational level, social interests, as well as personality types. It’s important to find a spouse that matches or fits one’s educational level and social interests. One of the reasons for marriage is intimate companionship. To be able to perform that function well, partners must be able to connect and relate with each other intellectually, emotionally, and socially. They should be able to communicate and understand each other easily, and be able to relax and flow comfortably in each other’s social circles. Once there’s a disparity in any of these areas, the bond in that area will be weak, and couples will find themselves increasingly alienated from each other as they pursue divergent and sometimes opposing interests.
Amos 3:3 Do two walk together, unless they have agreed? (WEB).
You must agree with your partner socially, educationally and otherwise, to be able to walk together without confusion and without undue strain and mistrust. Marry someone you’ll be proud to display before your family, friends and the general public, not someone you’ll be ashamed to be identified with in public!
Also, your worldviews must match if the union is to survive joyfully for long. For instance, marriage between a conservative Christian man and a liberal Christian woman will have a lot of friction and strain. While a conservative man sees himself as the head of the family and expects his wife to be subject to him, a liberal woman will see herself as co-equal and a fellow head with her husband in the marriage. This tension is capable of tearing the marriage apart, as the issue of subjection will be hotlly contested. Two captains cannot successfully pilot the same ship. It’s sure to sink! How the scripture below is interpreted and agreed upon between the intending partners will go a long way in determining the extent of matrimonial harmony that will be enjoyed.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
Ephesians 5:24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything (NKJV).
Understanding and sharing a lot of interests together deepens the bond between couples. Couples are mates and should fit each other. The more the areas of fit, they more and the deeper the bonds that bind them together.
Genesis 2:18 Now the Lord God said, It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him (AMP).
Your partner should be fit for you: he/she should meet your spiritual and physical tastes, as well as complement your temperament and be suitably disposed to you socially and otherwise. The more the areas of fit, the more the likelihood of greater and widespread bonding.
In conclusion, marriage is an honourable lifelong venture that God designed to fulfill the sexual, reproductive as well as the intimate companionship needs of humankind. God has given every person the individual responsibility to find his or her spouse and to make the relationship work. To ensure a successful and enjoyable union, people should prayerfully seek partners that are suitable for them, and that will fulfil and complement them spiritually, physically and socially. Spiritual compatibility, deep physical attractions and a good socio-psychological agreement/ fit will ensure deep and widespread bonds at all levels that will keep and preserve the union through the inevitable times of testing that will come. It’s important to pray long and hard for God’s guidance and leadership before choosing a spouse. It’s important to seek prayer and counsel from more mature Christians and spiritual leaders while contemplating marriage. However, the ultimate responsibility to choose a spouse lies with the individual in question. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the in-built desires God has wired into each person, an individual is to make his or her choice. That choice can bring a lifetime of happiness or a lifetime of disaster. Choose wisely!
God bless you!