A Letter of Encouragement and Realism to Christian Men Considering Marriage by Lore Ferguson Wilbert

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Our home is a magnet for single men. It probably has something to do with the near certainty of a meal or a hug and the absolute certainty of our love for them. When they come over, we almost always end up talking about single women.

My husband and I value marriage and singleness, so sometimes we end up encouraging our brothers toward a life of undistracted devotion for as long as they’re able and for the good of the kingdom. But we also at times nudge one of our friends toward asking a girl out, help them process a break-up, or encourage one of them to more seriously consider the possibility of marriage with a “mere friend.” From the guys considering a relationship, we often hear refrains of hesitance: “Will we be good ministry partners?” or “Will she make a good pastor’s wife?” or “Will we be stronger as a couple than we are apart?”

For them and many other Christian young men, delayed marriage is common. The reasons are complicated and include unrealistic expectations, lack of confidence, a desire for financial security, aversion to commitment, general immaturity, or more simply, the inability to find or keep a compatible partner. Recent studies indicate that fewer and fewer men are sitting in evangelical churches on Sunday and the men who stay are often marrying later. Anecdotally, at least, I’ve seen this trend in play, and so have my single female friends.

To the single men who are considering marriage and feeling hesitant, I issue this invitation from Elisabeth Elliot’s Let Me Be a Woman: You do not marry a ministry partner; you marry a person. You do not marry someone like another man’s wife; you marry your wife. You do not marry someone like you; you marry a unique woman. And you do not marry someone perfect, you marry a sinner.

The same goes for women in their search for a husband. After marriage, you are not committed to your call more than you’re committed to the person, husband, man, and sinner before you. Nowhere in Scripture is “pastor’s wife” the attribute of a godly, good wife, nor is “deep theologian” the attribute for a husband. The only four qualities we need to understand in our search for a spouse are littered throughout the Scriptures and true of every married person on earth.

You marry a sinner.

Every person sins more naturally than any other thing they do. By the grace of God, we are being sanctified day by day and are full of the Holy Spirit, who helps us on the journey. But sinners we are still. We may think we’re prepared for the sinfulness of our future spouse. But sin is far more pervasive than simply something that we do, and if we’re not aware of that, we’ll be taken by surprise when it is not necessarily our own sin or the sin in our marriage that wreaks the most havoc, but also the larger sin of a broken world. Because of general human sin, our own specific sin, and the sin of the person we marry, we must be prepared to be sinned against by others, by our spouse, and by ourselves.

In The Meaning of Marriage, Tim and Kathy Keller argue that “what keeps the marriage going is your commitment to your spouse’s holiness.” Instead of valuing a person for who they might be for you, ask instead how you might be sanctified as sinners together.

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Source: Christianity Today