What does the Bible say we should look for in a potential spouse?
A Devotion to Christ
My mentor told me that they don’t refer to themselves as Christians in the church he now attends, but rather, they call themselves “Christ-followers” and I like that, because anyone can claim to be a Christian. Today, the word, “Christian” is so generic and far too many claim to be Christian and yet do not live a life of a Christian. I suggest to anyone who’s dating a potential spouse to read 1st John chapter 3 to see if the person they’re dating is indeed a true believer or a false convert. To be a Christ-follower is a totally different story than just saying “I’m a Christian.” A Christ-follower will follow in Christ’s footsteps, He will be a friend of sinners, she will be sharing the gospel with others, and he will be doing what Christ commands the church to do (Matt 25:34-40). If someone says they’re a Christian, and yet doesn’t even visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, then their religion is useless (James 1:27) and is in name only. A Christ-follower follows God’s will above their own, puts the interests of others ahead of their own, and will be humble in nature. There is no room for pride in the kingdom (James 4:6).
The first commandment that comes with a promise is that of honoring our parents and that means obeying them, speaking highly of them, and showing them love and gratitude for what they’ve done for us as children, even if we’re now adults. The Apostle wrote to the Ephesians, commanding them to “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Eph 6:2-3). That’s not just a promise; that is a cause and effect relationship. If we honor our parents, we’ll speak well of them when they’re not present and God promises it will go well with us in the land. Honoring them means we’ll speak respectfully of them in front of others, despise their many flaws. The first four commandments are vertical, meaning they are related to our behavior toward God and has to do with our relationship with Him, but that last six commandments are horizontal, meaning how we deal or relate to one another in this world, and I find it interesting that God’s very first command given to man in relation to man is to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Ex 20:12). God sees this as so important that He placed this command above “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13). Perhaps it was because if we honor and obey our parents, the sixth commandment would never be violated. If you are looking for a potential spouse, make sure they are honoring their parents. A person who doesn’t honor their parents may not honor you in marriage.
A Love for Children
Who doesn’t love children? Well, there are some, I admit, but to me, it’s impossible to not love children. If you have been dating someone who is a potential spouse, look at how they are around children. Do they treat them tenderly and with affection or are they short tempered and can’t be around them for long? How do they talk with them? Do they show them dignity and respect? Are they speaking to them condescendingly or talking down to them, or do they treat them as an equal, as God sees them. Children are very precious to God and so much so that Jesus warned us that “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42). In fact, Jesus says “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mark 10:15). On one occasion, children were trying to get to Jesus but the disciples forbid them, but “Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). How does your potential spouse treat children? How do they feel about them? If they don’t like children, how would they ever be a good parent to your children?
A Love for Animals
My wife is an animal rescuer. So is my cousin. It just seems that a love for animals runs in our family, and our own pets are more like family than just our pets. They are part of our family, and we are part of theirs. The Book of Proverbs tells us a lot about a person in regards to how they treat animals, as Solomon wrote, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel” (Prov 12:10). God is even concerned with “beasts of burden” as we read in the Old Testament law, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain” (Deut 25:4). What this law is saying is that it’s cruel to have an animal work for us but then not let them partake in the fruit of their labor. An ox that isn’t allowed to eat while grinding out the grains is unfair to the animal itself because it is helping to provide sustenance for their owner. If you are dating someone who’s a potential spouse, see how they are around animals. How do they treat their own pets? How do they treat yours? Do they have regard for the welfare of animals, or could they care less? Someone who has no regard for the life of animals is someone that God says “is wicked and cruel.”
So what does the Bible say we should look for in a potential spouse? Above all things, we are not to be unequally yoked with non-believers because like oil and water don’t mix, neither does light have anything to do with darkness (2nd Cor 6:14). Beyond this, make sure your potential spouse has a high regard for their parents, for children, for animals, and above all, a high regard for following Christ.
May God richly bless you,
Pastor Jack Wellman
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