Saturday, 13 May 2017

WHO SHOULD I MARRY? HERE IS CHRISTIAN versus WORLD VIEWS ON MARRIAGE. #passion

 
It has been said that marriage is both the oldest and the most universal of all human institutions. It‘s union, that is, the family, constitutes the basic units of human society. Throughout the world the fact remains that cultures and traditions of societies vary widely. This situation has in turn fashioned many worldviews on marriage over a long historical landscape.

WORLD-VIEWS ON MARRIAGE:


For instance, in the Old Testament days, polygamy was circumstantially allowed. In Islamic societies, for official wives are prescribed. In some places in practise the four remain official and more could be taken and kept behind the scenes as concubines. In some other societies, polyandry is the norm, i.e. one woman to many husbands. Whatever a society permits, it reflects in her laws. In a few societies, a mixed grill is permitted. You choose the form that suits you, provided you indicate so at the point of entry. As the Lord Jesus would say, things were not so in the beginning.
 
As men and societies further drifted from God and His standards, they embraced many more crazy and unwholesome views about marriage. I believe that society is paying dearly for such aberrations. Such unwholesome views include the following:

• Marriage is a fifty-fifty social contract with terms clearly worked out ‘ab initio’.

• Marriage is a traditional union of two extended families. This may be true to an extent.

• Marriage is like a ‘Business Relationship’ with economic benefits. It is an economic cum socio cultural partnership of a sort.

• Marriage is a life imprisonment. You choose to serve it either with joy or with hard labour.

• Marriage is a necessary evil, which serves society in replenishing itself.

• Marriage is a special bondage, those in it want to get out and those outside want to get in. It is not what many think, they say.

Are these true? Such views about marriage could be quite scaring, to say the least. But let us go back to the account of the beginning to see if these things are true.

MARRIAGE IN THE BEGINNING


Right from its very beginning, marriage is God’s idea and design. How God fashioned marriage, the context in which he did, and the home environment, which he gave the first family speak for itself.

“And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge and evil.

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence. It parted and became into four heads.

The name of the first is person: That is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where is good: There is Chellium and Onyx stone

And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Euphrates.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat it; for in the day that eatest thereof, thou shall surely die.

And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Gen. 2:8-18 KJV)

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep fall upon him and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of the man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh and they were both naked, the man and his wife and were not ashamed. (Gen 2:21-25 KJV)

This biblical basis is a divine revelation about what God thinks about marriage. We therefore need a close study and appreciation of these. These ingredients and what they present are both powerful and profound. They, represent a strong foundation for all marriages that shall stand the tests of time. We can hold God on this!

In the scriptures (Gen.2:8-18, 21-25) in review, the following important facts emerge:

(1) God is the author of the marriage Institution (Gen.2:18,21 23)

(2) God has prescribed the basic principles upon and around which successful marriages can be built and sustained. (Gen.2:1-25)

(3) It takes three partners to make a marriage work namely, God, the man, and the wife (Gen. 2:7, 18, 22-23)

(4) God provides the short term, as well as the long term riches and provisions required for marriage and home making (Gen.2:8-15)

(5) God knows and reveals exactly what the human partners in marriage need spiritually, physically and emotionally (Gen.2:18,21-23)

(6) God prescribes order and limits for successful and God honouring marriage (Gen.2:15-17)

(7) Marriage is primarily made for one man and one woman in exclusion of all others. Every man just requires a missing rib to complete himself. (Gen. 2:21-24).

(8) In providing a wife for a man as exemplified in the case of Adam and Eve, God provides for adequate compatibility (Gen. 2:21 23)

(9) God gives primarily to the man the mandate of WORK, RESPONSIBILITY and LEADERSHIP (Gen 2:15,22-24)

(10)God has ordained full disclosure in all matters between a husband and the wife, physically, emotionally, materially etc. (Gen 2:25).

These items define the scope for any useful discussion of the marriage relationship. It is safe to use them as appraisal CHECKLISTS for successful marriage relationships. All true Christian marriage should of necessity fit this bill.

WHAT IS CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE?


At this point enough background has been given to enable us take a meaningful definition of Christian Marriage.

Christian Marriage is a three-person covenant partnership in which God in His Son, joins a willing man (husband) and a willing woman (his wife) in a three-way relationship in which God is honoured and the others are the best for it. It is like a threefold chord that is not easily broken (Eccl.4:12). It is a divine project in which the two persons are fused into one. It is a lifelong relationship built on genuine Jove and communion. It does not permit or contemplate divorce or separation. We must never forget that Christian marriage is ruled and guided by the scriptures.

For many young people married life is a DREAMLAND of love unlimited , boundless and exciting pleasures. This is possible if we are willing to pay the price, and determined to play by the rules. However, marriage is demanding and has its pressures.

THE TRIANGLE MODEL OF MATRIMONY


Using the figure of a TRIANGLE, Christian Marriage can be beautifully illustrated. Take a look at the triangle. It is a figure of three sides joined tip to tip. If you rest it on its base, the apex points upwards.
The Triangle Model illustrates marriage as a three- partner union. Consider the triangle standing vertically on its base with its apex pointed upwards to heaven. According to this model, God is positioned at the apex of the triangle. This means that God is the initiator, crown, strengthener, and preserver of the union. The man, that is the husband occupies the one tip of the triangle the woman and wife is at the other tip.

You would observe, both from the husband and the wife, an arrow points up to God. From God also, arrows point, one towards the husband, and another towards the wife. Inside the triangle are items I,2,3,and 4 representing offspring's of the union. All these illustrate the following points and insights:

(i) Both husband and wife have a standing relationship with God. They are believers. They express themselves and their needs towards God who also responds to them in His love. God is the power and umbrella over this union. He is the sustainer.

(ii) In God both the husband and the wife including their children are bound together. They are obedient to Him. Their individual lives and union are ruled by God as their Lord and King.

(iii) Inside the triangle represents a haven of peace, love and the fear of God within which offspring's and wards represented by items (1) (2) (3) and (4) can be raised in the fear, nurture and admonition of the Lord.

When properly interpreted, the Triangle Model reveals that God, in Jesus Christ is the Saviour. Lord and King over the Christian husband and the Christian wife. He is stronger and wiser than either or both of them together.

In practise, no man and woman can be bound together in the true sense of the term unless what is binding and holding them together is stronger than either or both of them, It is not really that the husband and wife are held together by compulsion. No, God does not hold and keep any by force. It is rather that both the husband and the wife have voluntarily yielded themselves individually and collectively to God and His love. Usually, there may come times when extraneous factors seek to come in-between the couple. At such times, God to whom they have yielded their lives is able to hold them together. When we know this to be true, it is of great help in the time of difficulties and crisis. In such times we can revert to God. We can depend on Him.
By this model, the basic order of reverence and precedence is God first, then the husband, the wife, the children and the wards in that order. For the purposes of leadership and giving the union direction, this is God’s order and wisdom. It is not one that is based on superiority necessarily, but on divinely ordained ROLES AND WISDOM. This needs to be accepted in confident faith by both husband and wife, especially by wives who may feel powerfully and richly endowed. When God is the sovereign over our marriage, we can count on His leadership, direction, mediation, friendship, counsel and guidance.

WHAT IS MARRIAGE FOR?


When we put together the provisions of scriptures, and all we are saying from the beginning, we can summarise under the following four sub-heads, the divine purposes of matrimony (marriage) in order following:

(1) Partnership for kingdom Service: All that God has given man, including love, companionship, sexuality, pro-creativity, resources, etc must be used responsibly to serve the purposes of God and His Kingdom It cannot be any less for the marriage union. All Christian marriages must pursue this purpose; else they would not be truly fulfilled. God wants His Kingdom to come here on earth. He wants His will done here on earth as it is done in heaven. This is only possible through men and women committed to God. This is particularly so for Christian couples. God expects nothing less! This is the most important purpose for Marriage and the Home.

(2) Love and Companionship: God has designed marriage as an acceptable institution providing the right environment for the expression of the love instinct in man and woman. The marriage relationship is for sharing the closest type of friendship, social relationship, and communion possible. God made Eve to be a companion and help mate to Adam. It is still so.

(3) Sexual Expression and Fellowship: There is a natural sexual instinct in every normal man, male or female. Our make- up is such that there is mutual attraction between men and women. However, in its usage and expression, God commands a high sense of order and responsibility. For this reason, He ordained marriage for the expression and enjoyment of this sexuality. Only beasts are permitted to hop form one sexual partner to the other. In view of the fact that God is the God of order, He does not approve that man, the epitome of His creation should operate like beasts.

(4) Procreation and Nurturing of Children: The first couple Adam and Eve were anatomically prepared by God to effect fruitfulness and multiplication over the earth through pro-creativity. This same responsibility has been passed down to all of us, descendants of Adam and Eve. This goes with a parallel responsibility, that of nurturing our offspring's for God and society. The Scripture commands parents therefore, to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children the ways of the Lord and how to become responsible citizens in society.
In marriage, man and wife have liberty from God to relate with each other sexually. In marriage, there is freedom of sexual fellowship and expression. Therefore, couples should enjoy their sex life. That is God’s will.

WHAT THEN IS A CHRISTIAN HOME?


The Christian Home given our thrust so far could be defined among others by the following descriptions and qualifications.

1. The Christian Home is a family church and Fellowship Centre It can be made a place of peace, joy and fun. God’s presence can come down there, if we desire it and make a place for Him .This is His will from the beginning.

2. The Christian Home is a Training and Discipleship Centre. There, children and wards can receive direction, counsel, teachings, corrections and instructions on righteousness. See Prov. 22:6 Eph. 6:1-4.

3. The Christian Home is a Healing, Refreshing, Comfort and Restoration Centre. This applies to

• The emotional

• The spiritual

• The psychological

• The physical and

• The socio-cultural

4. The Christian Home is a place of Rest, Refuge and Safety. We can return home in order to escape physical, social, and emotional hazards that are often our experiences out there in the larger society.

It is Christian Marriage that culminates in a Christian Home. It is more than a roof over our heads. It is not just a house. When love rules there, it turns that house into a home. Only when the Lord Jesus builds with us is a Christian home possible.

We live in an age when people, old and young, move in together under one roof live as husband and wife, when they are not. They want the benefits of marriage, but not its responsibilities. They keep on hopping from one such relationship to the other, driving more and more fatal nails into their souls and future happiness Co-habitation leaves you with plenty of unwholesome physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Those involved in such shameless practises are:

1. Marked out and down as deviants.

2. Rolling and collecting curses, spiritual, and emotional debris as they move from one mate to the other

3. Yielding themselves as instruments in destroying other people’s lives.
As we tie up this very part WHAT IS CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE?, It is useful that we shed light on sonic of these aberrations It will help those contemplating marriage to go for the real thing. Those contemplating marriage should also do well to consider the consequences of failed marriages or entering into it without proper care and preparation. They include:

1. The possibility of divorce and separation with their attendant pains and heart aches.

2. Reducing the HOME-BASE to a co- tenancy relationship between the man and the wife a life of two parallel lines that never meet.

3. Problems for the off-springs. Planting the wrong seeds and ideas in them, thereby jeopardising their chances in marriage and a future life of happiness.

4. Life-long pain and frustration for couples who may have to endure themselves.

When we are ready and willing to partner with God. He will help us and protect us from these terrible consequences. The Lord Jesus Christ has died that life in all its ramifications may by abundant for us, oven in marriage relationships.

Who should I Marry?


In the first phase of this article I have deliberately chosen to talk first about, What is Christian Marriage?” This is because a clear and proper understanding of what Christian Marriage is, is critical in making an informed choice regarding the right partner You need to be sure and clear about your destination before pondering and deciding how to get there.

The Question, ‘Who should I Marry?” may sound simple to many. However, be sure that it is a question whose answer would to a very large extent determine your happiness many years to come. Therefore, it requires thoughtful and diligent considerations. This would be particularly important if you are a Christian, and you would like to have a Christian Marriage. Experience has shown also that it could be a tasking decision. As you read through this, and at the end of it, I expect that you would have received sufficient counsel and assistance. Now we want to deal with, WHO? next we shall get on to How to find that person?

Talking about Christian Marriage, it is not everybody that qualifies. Therefore, there are several fundamental parameters that prescribe who a Christian should marry, in order to be happy and fulfilled in marriage. We shall get into specifics shortly. Meanwhile, let us consider some basic and fundamental issues relating to this. To make the right preparatory decisions regarding marriage, we must appreciate that marriages are not enterprised in the air. The marriage relationship subsists and is enjoyed in the context of:

1. Religion and faith

2. A Society, its Cultures and Traditions

3. The Couple’s Vocations and Positions in life

4. The now and the future.

All these are true, whether you are considering a Christian marriage or not. Therefore, no marriage is an island. Marriage exists in a social and spiritual milieu within society. Our choices, our preparations our future in marriage are determined and affected by these factors and the forces put out by them.

GOD FIRST:

Let me underscore the point that Christian Matrimony (Marriage) is a tripartite union involving God first, and then, the man and his wife. Indeed, it is not possible to have any fruitful Christian matrimonial partnership unless the man and the wife are in true union with God in Jesus Christ. For God to be part of any venture, He does not play second fiddle. He will not be an appendage or patch-work on it. He must be the dominant feature. Only then can a marriage relationship honour and glorify Him. When any two single people, individually desiring and seeking a partner, brings God in first as the Senior and First partner He naturally joins the search party for the right wife or husband. This search party is in the best position to find and bring in the most appropriate partner to complete the tripod, if God is on our side who can be against us?

PRELIMINARY PREPARATIONS:


When we have put God in His rightful place, we should then shift attention to ourselves. Morally speaking, we must be the right persons ourselves before setting out in search of that Mister or Miss Right. No man should have the moral justification to insist on a loving person as partner when he or she is not loving.

Anyone who desires marriage must prepare himself in many respects. The search for the right spouse is the most strategic subject in any person’s life, besides his decision for Jesus Christ. My conviction and recommendation is that it should start with some very honest and self-searching questions. Such questions should include the ones following. It will be useful to document your honest answers. You will have to share them with your spouse someday. The questions are:

1. Who am I really?

2. What is my goal and purpose in this life?

3. Am I ready to let in another person fully into my affairs, hiding nothing?

4. Am I ready to be an instrument in God’s hands to fulfil this special person and make him or her happy?

5. What are my personal inefficiencies: spiritually, intellectually, psycho-emotionally, economically, bio-medically etc.

6. What do I honestly require in that person (man or Woman) to complete myself?

It will not help, if we are in undue haste to give answers to these questions. Searching for the right spouse ought not to be a QUICK FIX or a CRASH PROGRAMME. This is important because any mistake could leave us miserable all our married life. Marriage is to be enjoyed not endured or tolerated.

As we prayerfully find answers to these questions, as honestly as we can, these answers somewhat constitute a PLEDGE to the Lord . God expects us to live up to them. After we have dealt with these primary questions and have documented our responses, it is now time to pop the all important question; WHO COULD THIS MOST IMPORTANT PERSON (MIP) BE? Remember to share our documented answers with this MIP at the appropriate time.

To find correct answer to this MIP question, it must be someone with whom we must find love, agreement , mutual fitness and fulfillment. In this regard, following are some guidance and mutual fitness parameters which must be true as sufficient proof that we have found the correct MIP.


GUIDANCE PARAMETERS AND MUTUAL FITNESS

Rev. Paul Jinadu, in his book “CHOOSING A MARRIAGE PARTNER” identified four PARAMETERS on the basis of some studies that had been done. These are what defines the right partner.

1. Someone who shares your consecration to Christ and your spiritual devotion. Someone who is a believer like you - BORN AGAIN.

2. Someone whose character and personality you admire.

3. Someone you enjoy being with.

4. As far as possible, an individual whose intellectual and educational levels will be near enough your own to assure you the joy of companionship in shared understanding.

In addition to these four parameters, I am adding the fifth and sixth ones, which I consider quite crucial.

5. Someone who has not PLEDGED himself OR herself to somebody for the purpose of marriage.

6. Someone about whom you have prayerfully discovered an inner peace and persuasion that he or she is God’s will for your life, with no feelings of quilt or offence whatsoever.

The right choice is the person about whom all these critical questions and issues find YES answers. When all the six parameters are fulfilled, the resulting union should be in God’s perfect and blessed will. The contrary may mean self- Will and disobedience. When all, these are true it is a clear proof that you are in love already in the will of God.

On a serious note, it is possible for the first five parameter's to be true yet the contemplated choice may be outside God’s will for your life. Why? Those are indicative of what eyes can see. You will agree with me that there is so much about a person that ordinary eyes cannot see, but God sees. This is why the 6th parameter is very’ important.


A WORD FOR THE MEN


Men, especially Christian men, who are seeking marriage partners need to appreciate who and what a wife should be. In the same breath, they need to understand what she is not. Many times non Christian backgrounds and cultures in which people are raised twist their values and definitions about life. Marriage is not an exception.

 

What a wife is not


i   She is not a slave Or a house-help

ii. She i not a sex-object

iii. She is 0tababyfactory

iv. She is not a “foot mat”

v. She is not a punching bag

vi. She is not a piece of furniture or item of social decoration

vii She is not just an official wife and that woman at home.

The wife has been ordained by God in His wisdom to be so many beautiful things in a man’s life. She needs to appreciate this too in order to fill the roles well
 
i. She is a gift from God

ii. She is supposed to be the closest friend and confidant of her husband 

iii. She is the Queen of the Household

iv. She is the husband’s lover, heart throb and sweet heart

v. She is the Home Maker

vi. She is the mother of the husband and children

vii. If she knows Jesus, she is a saint and joint her with the Lord Jesus Christ.

viii. She is the husband’s exclusive choice and portion among all women.

ix. She is a mother-symbol for all in the home.

x. She is the only one who holds the legitimate certificate of ACCESS to the sexuality and substance.


A WORD FOR THE WOMEN:


The women also should spare some time to understand who a husband is meant to be. This counsel is Particularly important for the Christian woman. As she looks up to the Lord for that dream man, she would do well to contemplate these things.

The husband is:

i. A gift from God

ii. The Chief Priest and Governor of the Household

iii. The father-symbol in the household
 
iv. The only man in the wife’s life sexually and emotionally

vi. The closest friend and confidant to the wife

vii. The one who has the exclusive access to the and exclusive husband’s body wife’s body, sexuality, and substance.

viii. The chief bread winner and provider.

We can go on and on. The issue here is that those contemplating marriage ought to spare some time to consider well what is involved. It would help them to prepare well for it

MATURITY AND COMPATIBILITY:


Considering the demands of marriage, the question of maturity for those contemplating it cannot be over emphasised. When we speak of maturity, we mean the attainment of the right physical, emotional and spiritual standing. When there is immaturity it is easy to buckle under the weights and natural demands of adult life especially in marriage. Marriage is for adults in every sense. Marriage is for men, not for boys. It is for women, not for immature girls.

MATURITY:


Both for the man and the woman intending marriage, maturity is required. Maturity is usually expected in these areas - physically, spiritually, psycho- emotionally, and economically.

(I) Physical Maturity: All who marry must not be kids and under-aged. That marriage is for men and women not for boys and girls cannot be sufficiently emphasised. Physical maturity involves being sexually and anatomically of age. In many societies today at about the age of eighteen, young people are considered adults. However, from what we see today, it may not be the best time to dabble into

The man as husband is the priest and spiritual captain over the his home . If therefore, he is a young Christian, a baby in the Lord, he cannot be a good leader. He needs to get his spiritual basics and bearing right first. Many marriage counsellors do not usually emphasise this, hut in my view, it is quite important. Spiritual maturity is also important for the woman, so she can relate at reasonably the same level with her husband. However, it is always better that the husband is at least a few steps spiritually ahead of the wife. At that age, there are so many things about life about which people are still novices. My personal view is twenty years in the least for the ladies, and twenty three to twenty five for the men. This is, provided they have prepared well for marriage.

(2) Spiritual Maturity: If a man or woman is physically matured but is yet a “baby” spiritually, it is sensible that the person waits to prepare himself or herself sufficiently spiritually. For those who want to marry in the Lord this is critical. Often, we forget that the spiritual is an important and necessary preparation for marriage as well

(3) Emotional Maturity:
A man for instance requires a measure of emotional strength, stability and finesse to provide his rugged shoulders for a woman to lean on both in the times of romantic joy and times of trouble and crises. It trouble comes and the man is completely shattered and wails and sheds more tears than the wife then there would be no comfort and hiding place for the

I come from a place where certain approach was once usually adopted as a test on psycho- emotional maturity for young men who are asking for their father’s permission to marry, as was the tradition.

The young man would be given some domestic chicks to tend maturity. Usually these chicks are naughty a lot. They go where you do not want them. They lump on your bed as soon as you finish making it. They deposit their fecal matter just anywhere it pleases them. You chase them out one minute, before you had finished turning around they are at it again. It is additionally believed, rightly or wrongly, that these are the natural. tendency of women and children. For any man contemplating marriage therefore, this testing in question is considered inevitable.

Also, the woman needs a measure of emotional stability to cape with the demands of keeping his man, giving him attention and service, and yet be able to care for the kids when they begin to come. Such traits as restraint, self control, temperance are emotion related Without maturity the woman pant cope. This is the reason marriage remains a province for MEN and LADIES, not for boys and girls. Sexually potentially strong, and handsome this psycho-emotional test is critical If you fail it, you must wait for some time. You get a resit exam.

To pass this simple test you must nurture these chicks into “adult-hood” Cockerel or Hen. If you succeed in doing this taking all the naughtiness and the irritations , without killing any chick in annoyance and frustration you qualify to marry. Simple technique but quite profound and instructive.

4) Economic Maturity:  This has to do with financial independence. Ordinarily a man must not depend on his parents or his parents- in- law financially to keep his home. Until a man becomes financially independent, he should delay marrying for a while and work on this. If he does not, he definitely would find himself in quite embarrassing situations. This must be avoided at all cost.

COMPATIBILITY: In the context of marriage, compatibility is about two people being reasonably fitted to and tailor made as it were for each other It must be that one completes and.compliments the other. The other person is not meant to be a competitor. He or she is meant to be the other half of a winning team. So much is required to complement another person. Couples must discover these for themselves. Compatibility is vital, in at least three basic levels namely - spiritual, Psycho-emotional, and Biomedical.

(i) Spiritual Compatibility To ensure harmony in married life, both partners need to be spiritually agreed on fairly the same things. The Scripture would ask “Can two people walk together unless they agree? (Amos 3:3). In faith, tenets, and religious pursuits and orientation, couples need to fit. Spiritually therefore, both need to be headed in the same direction- in doctrines, disposition and religious practise. Experiences have shown that even for two Christians this could be a problem. For instance, if one believes that tongues are still relevant and the other feels otherwise, there could be problems. This indicates that, there could be a measure of incompatibility even among Christian. This underscores the need for a careful search and effective pre-marital counselling.

(ii) Psychological/Emotional Compatibility: Most things about how and why man behaves the way he does are psychological Within this so much about our persons are revealed and exhibited in our temperaments. All these are emotion-related. Consider such traits as self control, patience, anger, reaction time, speed, and drives. In these traits people are different. What do you think would happen in a home where the man is as easily angered and upset as the woman? What if the woman is as impatient as the man? What if both get on very will with tear shedding? Where the man is weak, the woman needs to be strong and vice versa so that they can compliment each other.

(iii) Bio-Medical Compatibility: Medics would tell you that biological and medical constitutions are critical for enjoying normal married life. They are also important in determining the ability of the intending couples to procreate. This is a very important consideration, no matter how it may be spiritualized away. Those women who suffer bareness, miscarriages or repeated birth deaths can tell you how it feels.

There is so much in our biomedical constitutions that can affect our ability to procreate with ease. Take for instance the issue of marrying people that are near of kin to us. The medical people would stell you that this could sometimes affect the viability of offspring's. The position of scripture is clear on this.

A good number of those things that create biomedical incompatibilities can be avoided or dealt with to prevent painful and life-long regrets. This could be through simple medical checks. With the use of such checks intended couples could be rightly advised either to go on, to stop the relationship, or at least know what they are in for, if they insist on going on. For instance

1. If both are sickle cell carriers with “AS” or “SS chromosome mapping, their proceeding with the relationship would result in begetting sicklers. This can be traumatic for couples. It is better avoided.

2. What about HIV screening? Who wants to be caught with HIV/AIDS”?

3. If the woman is “rhesus negative” for instance, certain precautions need to be taken for her to keep her subsequent pregnancies after the first baby.

4. The man may be discovered to have low sperm count, which could lead to difficulties in achieving pregnancies.

5. The woman could be discovered to have uterine complications and incapacities.

Those who are getting into marriage need to know these things in order to save themselves avoidable pains. In this age and time it may not be worth it at all to do otherwise. No person in his or her right senses should walk into unhappiness with both eyes open. Therefore, while we are choosing, we need to forstall all that will make for lifelong unhappiness.

It is important therefore to carry out the necessary medical laboratory tests like;

• BloodGroup

• Genotype

• HlV-A1DS

• Pregnancy Test

• Sperm Count  ..............................................................................Etc.

There should be nothing to hide. Many have ignored these counsels to their own hurt. Don't do so. it not wise!
 
All too often many Christians take their faith casually, easy with no determined efforts to really grow in the Lord, to grow in His ways. They make no efforts to learn the principles of God. They are poor students of scriptures They forget that whatsoever a man sows he shalt reap. They forget that what you earn and preserves in the summer and dry season is what you will survive with in the rainy season and winter.

Soon, they discover that the challenges of marriage and crucial life matters are starring them in the face. They just discover that they do not know how to;

HOW DO I FIND THIS SPECIAL PERSON?

They find it virtually impossible to find the leading of God. Why? When a man has not been accustomed to the voice of God, His leading and direction in small matters of life, how can he ever know how to handle such strategic and critical decision as who to marry in a sufficiently mature and spiritual way? It will not be easy. Regrettably, this is the experience of many eligible bachelors and spinsters.

I know cases where young ladies were scared stiff when men proposed to them. Many simply went home and cried their hearts out. Many just disappeared from that environment. Why? They were ignorant and unprepared. Many got really confused, spared and did not know where to start. Many have hidden behind spirituality When they responded, “Okay I will pray about it” and they may never pray for many reasons, including fear.

That people should learn how to hear from God, and be led of Him; how to find divine guidance in a clear - and organized manner; learn the fundamentals and practice of effective decision- making has remained as acute needs. We do not have -sufficient space, neither in this Chapter nor in this volume to deal with this subject matter. In another book, “IN THE WILL OF GOD” the subject has been deal with fairly exhaustively. You may wish to avail yourself of that book. I am sure it will be most helpful. May be I should say that the book is a prerequisite reading to this one. - We shall soon return to the possible methods and approaches as to how to find this special person. Our focus in this

I believe that the search should begin with understanding and appreciating the cultural context, dynamics and milieu in which marriage thrives. Is it African? Is it European? Is it a sin? Is it a combined setting? Etc. These may even affect the approach of the search. This factor usually dictates how the person, usually the man, will initiate his search. Where he is making his living can also dictate one or two things.

Typically, the man initiates the search in most cultures. So he will do the searching, the chasing, and eventually the courting. On the other hand, the woman, the bride to be, an eligible spinster, will do plenty of prayerful waiting and the responding when the time comes. Both chasing and responding, have their fundamentals and rudiments.

It has happened severally that people have entered into marriage relationships through the following routes:

(a) Love at first sight and chance meeting

(b) By a prophet’s ruling and directives.

(c) Other people’s recommendations, arrangements and match-making

(d) Search party efforts

(e) Extended family link-ups

(1) Through parental covenants

(g) By lot casting and chance taking.


As a primary approach to picking a spouse, I recommend none of the above. However, some of them may afford some help as secondary and supporting effort. Alt the same, Love at first sight, chance taking, the prophets ruling, lot casting should not at not be contemplated. In any consideration, they are utterly ridiculous. They most likely will lead to disaster than anything else.

At this point Let me raise two fundamenty important questions. Where should you find this special person, this MOST lMPORTANT PERSON (MIP) in your life? In what kind of places? The second question says, How? We shall take the last question a little later. But as a teaser, as a Christian 1let me say that how to find him or her is by searching how a Christian should search. This is especially so by directing your search in the right places. This brings us back to the first question, where?

It is fact widely accepted that BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER. I think also that birds of similar feathers flock near each other. Therefore, it stands to reason that young Christians ,eligible bachelors and spinsters if they are Christians indeed, naturally meet in Christian places, programmes an&. atmosphere like in the church, fellowship groups and meetings, Christian events, in schools, people’s homes, young peoples circles, among friends and peers. They could meet in places of interest, If not at “home , abroad. However, one should say that it will be counter productive to go to such places, especially Christian circles, with the sole purpose of wife or husband hunting. People should lust be themselves.

It remains true all the same that were the goose goes you will usually find the gander around or nearby. Just as I had said we shall come to the How subsequently.

Meanwhile, there is another important issue to ponder. Are there biblical guidelines and Oriteria to consider when a Christian is searching for a spouse? There are or  They include:

(i) Believers should marry believers. (2 Cor. 6;14- 18, Deut.7:1-6)

(ii) There should be spiritual, biomedical, and psycho-emotional compatibility and complementarity (Amos 3:3; Deut. 7:1-6)

(iii) There should be reasonable proximity in age, thoughts spiritual orientation, educational status, socio-cultural positioning and the like. (Amos 3:3.1 Cor. 13:11)

When these criteria are brought to bear upon our search, and whoever we decide upon score well along these lines, we would have laid a good ‘foundation for a happy home and married life.

In guidance and decision making, all the decisions of life that will face us are not all equally important on the same scale . There will always be things in our life that must take a higher pride of place than the others. Such should rank high on our schedule of priorities and desires: Let us refer to such matters as the STRATEGIC issues of life. They include: What career and vocation must I pursue to actualize myself? Who should I marry? What is God’s calling and ministry upon my life? Etc. These are strategic because virtually all the other thing. Our lives will one-way or the other be determine or influenced by such strategic matters. They are focal and serve as strong reference and rallying points. They serve as beacons, road-signs, and limits in people’s lives.

Therefore, they constitute God’s strategic wills in our lives. It is deserving therefore, that we deal with such matters in our lives and then use such results as guideposts to determine the lesser strategic matters in our lives. Let us for illustrative purposes consider the three strategic issues mentioned above. Which one should come first? Remember the one that comes first helps to determine the next on the line. Considering their critical importance I will order them as follows:

- What is God’s calling upon my life?
- What career and vocation must I pursue to actualise myself?



To effectively order and streamline such crucial matters in someone’s life requires forthrightness and good sense about oneself, about God 5 universal will, in the context of life in general How do I find this special person, this Most Important Person (IMP) in my life? I have been privileged to share the stories and testimonies of many faithful believers as to how they found this special person. I find so much refreshing and instructive uniqueness and peculiarities in most of the stories. Nonetheless, the same principles that we have been sharing.

Since we are considering the right choice of a marriage partner , what other issues could take precedence over this? I expect that matters like “What ministry is the Lord calling one to? What career should one pursue” qualify for consideration. The STRATEGIC- FIT approach provides that not just any marriage partner can fit into everybody’s life especially given their career or ministry . The implication therefore is that one should first determine such matters of higher and primary strategic importance like ministry. Then, thereafter on that basis seek out for that spouse that will FIT those STRATEGIC realities in one’s lives. The STRATEGIC FIT approach demands that the person doing the seeking and the searching should carefully and prayerfully define appropriate parameters, given the strategic realities in his life. He should then using those as criteria, seek for that special person. Such persons would normally fit into those STRATEGIC REALITIES as previously identified . This is provided it is subject to Gods leading and approval. This means that the other defining and confirming indices of God’s will should be in place. keep in mind when you are employing this approach that it is based on the principle of;

FIRST THINGS FIRST,  CONSTRUCTIVE- ELIMINATION Approach

This approach finds usage and application in those situations in which more than one or several options present themselves. Which way do you go? Which one do you choose? Which one is God’s will? It could be just one of them or none of them. When this is the case, it takes patience and being honest with oneself to wade through this kind of situation. This approach can go several rounds or phases before the green-light settles on one of the options or none of them.

I have know cases where Christian young ladies have battled with deciding on which Mr. Right to say yes to, when two or more such proposals have come their way. It could be a tortuous path to tread especially if all are reasonably eligible . It is also possible to convert a one option situation into a two option situation to YES or NO situation, In that case one can still apply the constructive- elimination approach to it.

How does this approach work? Each option is constructively (i.e. objective l) engaged, set under the richness  of God’s word. Each option is subjected to such questions as follow:

• What is the Spirit of God saying and revealing?

• What are visibly and clearly true about the person the option?

• What is the situation prevailing?

• is it expedient?

• Is there a strategic fit’?.............................................................. Etc.

It is useful to develop a check list based on certain criteria carefully worked out. Each option is then carefully and prayerfully considered in the light of the established criteria.

The beauties of this approach include that one will have clear and 0onvindng reasons why certain options were rejected and others decided upon. The other strong point is that the person concerned actively involved, spiritually and otherwise, in reaching a decision that can be described as Gods will and to which he can personally subscribe to.
 
DIVINE INITIATIVE APPROACH:

God is God, and He rules in the affairs of men. There are times in our lives when God reaches out in His providence and good pleasure to make His will known to us . As we receive it with by, He goes ahead to move things into place to actualize such wills so revealed. He does this even in matters of deciding on a 1ife-partfler.,

In my experience and in the experience of many people that I know, this is neater and makes things a little easier for the people involved. This does not at all mean that the implementation will be an easy and trouble free ride. However, the fact of the assurance of God’s leading in our hearts gives us all the drive and confidence we need to pull through whatever difficulties that may arise. Besides, that statement remains true that says, “The will of God cannot lead you to a place where His grace cannot sustain you”.

 DIVINE INITIATIVE. 

 
For the Divine Initiative Approach (DIA) to play out in our lives we can desire it by pursuing a life of obedience, closer communion and fellowship with God through prayers and digging deep in His word . A cultivation of the divine presence around us will facilitate this approach for us . I have the privilege of having benefited from this approach several times . When many years before now decided on who to marry it came through.

A clergyman once share this with me "I was away attending the wedding of one of my friends. On that fateful day,the least on the list of my worries was ‘who to marry.” It was not even on the list , I do remember it was somewhere between 400am and 500am, early in the morning. I was having an exciting time in the presence of the Lord in praise and worship .At a point in the whole atmosphere, the voice of “the GOOD SHEPHERD “ pierced though the cloud of His presence revealing to me who is going to be my wife and declaring all other doors closed. Well, the testimony is that for twenty five years now, I have enjoyed my marriage In response to this where this is heading, I married the same person as was revealed about two and half years later. Reached out so visibly to bring it about, in spite of initial setbacks.

We have talked about these four APPROACHES. However, have discovered that when a believer is having a close walk with the Lord,he may not be able to put these approaches in clear- cut compartment The spirit has a way of working these things out in a dynamic blend and overlap. The Spirit is all knowing and all powerful so you cannot draw hard and fast boundaries for Him. This is why the attitude of yield redness to the Spirit of God is crucial in receiving divine guidance.

In addition, you will discover in practise that the factors f0llowing below usually have critical places and roles in 3ciIitating divine guidance decision- making, and the estabU5hmt of what will of God is, even in the choice of marriage partner. They include

The word of God: This is speaking of the principles and provisions of the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) Every specific will of God or decision reached should agree with the relevant provisions of God’s word.


ii.. The Place of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit speaks prompts convinces and persuades all God’s children when they are seeking or and walking in obedience. Therefore, friendship and communion with Him will be of great help . (Rom. 8:14 and 16)

iii. Prayerfulness and Fellowship with God:

There is nobody who tarries in his closet in prayer and communion with God that will find God’s leading far-fetched . God hears and He who draw close. Go in there and sincere heart, pen and surprised more than notebook or diary and you will be that often you will come out with enough light and “words from God”.

iv. Inner Witness and Prompting Inner witness and prompting in the inner man is an experience , which those who walk with God can attest to. Through prayers, fellowship with the Holy Spirit , reflections upon the word, willing and trusting heart, GREEN-LIGHTS of the Spirit’s persuasion will be a recurring feature in your experiences. These would ensure that you will not walk in darkness and confusion in the issues that face you in life. (John 8:12, Rom. 8: 14 and 16).

v Situational Fits and Alignment: While situations and circumstances will always play out, God’s children are not ted primarily by that. In every believer’s heart, the voice of the Good Shepherd speaks and whispers. Time and again when the coast is clear, God could move situations to align and work together to make certain options that are His will for you inevitable and well distinguished. At such times we will speaks to those with faith, open need attentive hearts and eyes to identify those.

Also, situations can also be contrived by Satan to oppose the will of God. At such points, in fact at all times we need to be sufficiently sensitive to judge prevailing situations and circumstances appropriately in order to act accordingly.

v) Basic Rationality and Good Common Sense:

When we over spiritualise divine guidance we often ignore the place of rationality and good common sense in reaching decisions that are in God’s will. Rationality IS a gift and God given capacity to enable man make informed judgements and decisions. Once we operate within the limits,road markings, and boundaries

defined by God’s word rationality is powerfully useful. This is what enables us to appraise available options, given the criteria dictated by God’s word: Rationality and transformed common sense will need plenty of facts and information with which to work. All true convictions are based on reason and logic. It is this gift of rationality that serves this purpose for us.

How do I find this special person. this MOST IMPORTANT PERSON (MIP)? Do not forget, this is the matter under consideration. In considering any option or choice of a possible spouse you will find the six FACTORS we have just reviewed most useful. What you could do is to subject your option or options to this six factors and to those six others.

CLOSING NOTE:

This article was written with some key reasons in mind, namely to assist intending couples not only to appreciate what marriage is about, but also to make the right choices about marriage partners, and having made that choice to have a God-honouring courtship, get married, and build a Christian family to Gods glory. This is with the deep conviction that such families and homes are required in rebuilding the crumbling values of society and the Church.

The need remains acute and urgent, that of raising marriages and homes after which upcoming Christian couples can model their homes such that such homes may become discipline centers.

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Disclaimer: Comment expressed do not reflect the opinion of Isaac Yoma