Four Chemicals for Christian Chemistry: How do you know who you should marry?

 

by Sean Perron
by Sean Perron

 

How should a Christian think about another Christian when it comes to a potential romance? Perhaps you are considering pursuing someone or allowing someone to pursue you. Although these categories are probably not exhaustive, they may be helpful as you think about a potential mate.

 

Four Chemicals for Christian Chemistry:

 

1. Character

It need not go without saying. When it comes to marriage, godly character is not just a deal breaker; it is what the game is all about. This is first on the list because without it nothing else matters. This is the sun all planets orbit around. The rings of Saturn don’t matter without Saturn. Without a deep love for Jesus, marriage will be miserable. The potential wife should be maturing into a Proverbs 31 woman and the potential husband should be a Psalm 112 man. It also should be noted that there is a difference between potential godliness and actual godliness. A wise man pointed out to me that potential godliness does not exist. It is simply “potential.” The person you are considering for marriage must have real visible godly character in order to qualify for the picking.

If you are a woman, you need a husband who is maturing in the faith in order to lead you closer to Jesus. Perfection is not required, but pursuit of holiness is mandatory. If you are a man, you should be seeking a woman who is already exhibiting love, compassion, wisdom and gentleness. Look for the girl who is already serving in your church and washing the feet of the saints. She will be a keeper. Questions to ask include the following: Do I want this man to teach my children the Scriptures? Do I want this woman to raise my children to love the Lord? Is this man a role model I want to follow? Is this lady someone who can show me more of God’s heart and push me closer to Christ?

 

2. Personality

Not everyone is meant to get along all the time. It is a sin to have ungodly character (1 Timothy 3) but it is not a sin to be socially incompatible. Perhaps you are an extrovert and can’t help but be the life of the party. You may or may not mesh with the introvert who loves to study instead of playing Quelf. If wakeboarding gives you a high and you are the president of the local rock climbing club, you might jump off a cliff if you marry someone who is content to never see sunlight. Then again, that kind of thing just might stoke your fire. To each his own. The point is that you need to marry someone you can have a happy conversation with and that enjoys at least some of the things you do. Not all the pistons need to fire, but you at least have to have a motor that runs. Marriage is not meant to be miserable. You should marry someone who compliments your personality. The best way to figure out if your personalities mesh well together is to spend time together in as many appropriate settings as possible.

 

3. Trajectory

It is not just enough to be godly and personable. You need to be on the same tarmac. The man needs to have a plan. What will you be doing in the next 5 – 10 years? You need to be seeking the Lord and know the direction you are traveling. How are you going to turn the world upside down with the message of the gospel? How are you going to bring glory to Jesus with the days he has given you? This does not have to be anything spectacular – it can actually be rather simple. But it needs to be there. And it needs to be going some where.

 

A woman should not marry a man who is simply blowing in the wind. As a woman, do you want to follow the man you are interested in? Do you want to submit to his leadership and pursue magnifying Jesus together? If he wants to be a construction worker that shares the gospel while on a forklift, are you okay with raising his hard hat family? If he wants to be a missionary to Alaska, are you kosher with seal blubber boots?

If a potential wife wants to be a CEO of Google and a potential husband wants to make farm in Pennsylvania, these lovers need to chat before sailing off into the romantic sunset. These are conversations that need to be had and they can be determinative. Do your visions of life align with each other? (Philippians 1:17)

 

4. Attraction

Your future spouse will be your best friend on the planet. But they need to be more than this. If you come home from work and only want to play checkers together, we have a problem. The Bible commands spouses to delight sexually in each other and this requires a level of physical attraction (Proverbs 5:18-19).

Notice that attraction is last on this list. I place it last because attraction can be automatic or it can be cultivated. You may be interested in someone simply because they caught your eye. No problem here necessarily. However, don’t underestimated the reality that physical attraction can also be cultivated. Its funny how this works. Attraction can blind people to ungodly character, yet godly character can open eyes to see beauty. That beauty can spill over into physical interest. You may not be swooning over someone the first time you see them, but after you notice their character, personality and trajectory in life… you might be surprised to find yourself growing in affection for them. Perhaps they are a rare gem in the rocks that need a closer examination to see its value. Perhaps we all need to die to self and acknowledge true beauty.

You may be wondering how these things practically work themselves out. How can you actually use these four criteria? The church is essential. To quote one of my good friends:

 

Dating is a team sport. It is hard to determine this for yourself.  The heart is deceitful above all things.  And there’s hormones.  And emotions.  And social pressure to get married.  Or at least date.  When you get to be older, people start wondering if there’s extra marshmallows in your lucky charms if you’re not dating anyone.

 

Courtship is a community event. Invite your church into your life and don’t be afraid to ask them whether or not you are concocting the right chemicals in your Christian chemistry.

 

The content for this post has been updated and expanded in Letters to a Romantic: On Dating which will be released in 2017 by P&R Publishing. 

Letters To A Young Engaged Man: The Pit of Porn

by Sean Perron
by Sean Perron

Dear Young Engaged Man,

My heart is broken after reading your last letter. I am thankful that you have told me of your struggle and several steps must be taken immediately.

You probably have fears that abound in this season. What if someone finds out? What will my fiancée think? What will my pastor do? How will this affect my marriage? What if I can never be free?

If you are serious about your engagement and your relationship with the Lord, then serious action must be taken. You do not want to turn over in bed next to your bride and search for porn on your iPhone. Nor do you want to shrug off this sin and then turn over in the flames of Hell. Hands must be cut off and eyes must be gouged out. Pornography is not a pet to stroke, but a snake to crush. Realizing the severity of this sin is life or death. Yet there is a greater reality we must realize.

Brothers, many men do not realize the power they have been granted to fight even the darkest desires. When Christ screamed in agony on the wooden tree, He did not scream in vain. The strength that surged through the veins of Jesus now surges through the Spirit in you. Christ has come to set you free and you can be free indeed. There is no porn pit too deep that the light of Christ cannot reach. Christ is risen from the dead and He gives immeasurable power to those who believe (Eph 1:19) Come into the light and believe there is power in the precious blood of the Lamb.

Should you break off your engagement due to your addiction to porn?

This is a complex question, but it is one that must be answered. The first order of business is to bring in a wise counselor. Although we have corresponded for quite some time, I am not involved enough in your daily life to give hand-tailored advice. You will need someone who can speak directly into your life, assess the scenario, examine your fruit and help you make the call. You need a referee on the field rather than a commentator from the stands.

But from my aerial viewpoint, here is what I have noticed. There are two kinds of people who struggle with pornography. Those who are slaves to Jesus and those who are slaves to Satan. Those who have the Holy Spirit in them and those who do not. You must examine yourself and take inventory of your soul. Are you enslaved to pornography and making little to no progress? Or are you struggling but growing in grace and gaining victory? If you are consumed with porn and know it, breaking off the engagement is on the table – or – at least postponing it until you are able to get adequate help. For the man who is enslaved to porn, marriage is not the answer – Jesus is.

However, if you struggle hard but fall occasionally, breaking off the engagement might not be the best counsel. Marriage is not the solution to porn, but it certainly can help. If you burn with passion, it is good to marry (1 Cor 7:9). But in order for you to qualify for marriage, you must be fighting this sin vigorously and see Jesus giving you victory in battle. The marriage bed is to be undefiled (Hebrews 13:4).

Discovering a tumor and excising it is painful and frightening. Yet everyone would trade the short pain of surgery for a cancer free body. Sin thrives in secret. Mold, bacteria, fungus and all manner of porn fester in the dark. True confession may be a brief pain, but it brings sweet relief.  Every broken porn addict who comes to Christ will never be turned away.  He creates a clean heart and renews a right spirit (Psalm 51:10). Confess your sin to God and then confess your sin to a strong Christian leader in your life. God has given us pastors and mentors to help us grow in godliness. They will welcome you with open arms and then hopefully strengthen you in the faith.

The difficult part comes when it is time to talk with your fiancée. You cannot spring such a thing upon her the day you return from your honeymoon. To be quite frank, this should have come up before engagement. But since the question has already been popped, you must bring this up quickly. Great care and wisdom must be exercised when you tell her. Pray for the next available opportunity. Inform her that you are relying upon Jesus and fighting this temptation with all His might. Talk about how you hate sin and how Jesus is helping you overcome it. Make sure that you are clear, but not overly detailed. Do not tell her all the grit and grim of your struggle. Even if she wants to know, it will not build her up in her most holy faith to talk about what you watched and how long you stared at other women. State the struggle, show that you are serious about bearing good fruit, and ask for prayer and grace.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners and purify your hearts you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to sorrow and your joy to gloom. Humble yourself before the Lord and He will exalt you.” (James 4:7-10)

Shrivel your sin in the light, cut off all temptation, and run to the risen Savior.

Brother, I have watched as pornography has ravished the minds of dear friends, leaving them lonely and cold. I don’t want that for you. I am confident in the Lord that you can put this to death. Christ has overcome the grave and pornography is no match for our resurrected Lord. Take hope in His power which can cut any chain (John 8:34-36).

Until then,
Sean

Letters To A Young Engaged Man: Young Love

by Sean Perron

Dear Young Engaged Man,

It seems people are concerned because you are a young engaged man. You just turned twenty and people wonder if you can even shave, let alone lead a family. The murmurs of relatives rumble and friends begin to prophesy your doom.

And it might just be that their concerns are warranted.  After all, divorce rates are high, and they don’t want you to join them.  I’ve always wondered if those stats included teenagers getting married. If so, they must be recent polls because if they included everyone’s grandparents, surely that would tip the scales a different direction. I think my grandparents got married at 19 and 21, and last year celebrated their 72nd anniversary.

Regardless, their concerns might be 100% valid if you were a lust driven high school grad who now eats Cheetos while playing Xbox into the wee hours of the night. If that were the case, we should all bar the chapel doors.

So the question must be asked: What does qualify you to get married at such an early age?

Here are some guidelines to think about.

Spiritually: Is your walk with Jesus thriving and growing? Proverbs says that the Word makes you wiser than all your teachers. (Psalm 119:99) God is not a respecter of age. His Spirit often quickens the young and at times matures them at lightning speed. The Scriptures do not card you before they give you bottles of strong wisdom.

As you pursue Christ, ask yourself: do you feel comfortable standing before God being held responsible for the spiritual direction of your wife? Adam was responsible for the spiritual direction of Eve. Let us not think that God will let us slide by easy. Leading a woman is a serious calling, and we should be prepared and sober-minded before we answer.

Financially: Are you able to support a family? You must literally count the cost before you get married. It is not sexy to buy your new bride chocolates with food stamps. Plan and present your budget to your parents. Save money and secure a job. If you cannot provide for your wife, you are worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

Having said those things, we must wake up from the American dream. You can actually live off of less than what most Americans think it takes. You don’t have to have thousands of dollars in the bank beforehand; you don’t have to eat out twice a week; you don’t have to live in prime real-estate; you don’t even have to have brand new furniture or two well-tuned cars. You need food for energy and clothing for when you leave your apartment.

Directionally: You need to have a God-honoring trajectory. You need to be gripped by the gospel and be driven for the glory of God. You don’t have to have all the details worked out, but you do need a direction. Before you get hitched, you should have an idea about what the next five to ten years will look like. Will you finish college? If so, how will this happen? Will you be living in a new location? Will you be pursuing a particular ministry? Will she be in school? When do you want children? These are not soft ball questions to hit around in the backyard. Wise counsel must be loaded into these conversations and the cannon must be prepared for firing.  You must find your pulsating passion in life that surges for the glory of God.  Life is too precious and God is too glorious for us to waste our lives. There are souls at stake and disciples to make.

John Piper says it well,

You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, perhaps just one, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by one great thing. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on into eternity, you don’t need to have a high IQ. You don’t have to have good looks or riches or come from a fine family or a fine school. Instead you have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things-or one great all-embracing thing-and be set on fire by them. (Don’t Waste Your Life, Chapter 3)

Should you get married young?

Not if you are unprepared spiritually, financially, or directionally.  But I do not think marriage should be postponed because of a numerical number.  The Scripture says to rejoice in the wife of your “youth” (Proverbs 5:8) and that to desire a wife is a  good gift. (1 Corinthians 7:7) And God gave us passions so that we can pursue them in Biblically mature, God-honoring ways.

So young engaged man, do not let anyone look down upon you because you are young. As long as you are setting the standard in faith, life, love, and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Until then,
Sean

 

The content for this post has been updated and expanded in Letters to a Romantic: On Dating which will be released in 2017 by P&R Publishing.