Over the last 60 years, the percentage of adults in the United States that are married has fallen significantly – from 75% in 1960 to less than 50% in 2020. The reasons for this trend are numerous including the most common “there aren’t any good men out there!” However, it is important to note that this trend has followed on the heels of the explosion in the rate of divorce, which points to a deeper reason single people are choosing to remain single. Those born after 1970 are likely to have grown up in divorced households and are increasingly insecure or fearful of leaping into long-term commitments. They are fearful of repeating the mistakes of their parents. Yet the Bible repeatedly tells us to “fear not” which ought to certainly extend to entering into marriage.
So what does the Bible say we ought to be looking for in a mate? What characteristics, when present, should alleviate our timidity and fear about entering into a marriage? Let me give you 5 biblical characteristics of a person you ought to consider marrying.
1. You need to marry a person with similar values.
Genesis 24 tells us that when the time came for Isaac to be married, Abraham his father sent a servant 1200 miles to find a bride for Isaac from their homeland. It seems the reason for this was twofold: first, Abraham did not like what he saw among the prospective brides in Canaan. Second, he did not think a local bride had enough common to be compatible with his son.
Susan Vogt who has counseled over 5000 couples said that when she started out counseling she would have said the most important thing in marriage is communication. But after 30 years she said it is definitely shared values. She says you can teach people how to talk to each other using “I statements,” actively listening, and looking for deeper meaning. However, she also added she has counseled many troubled couple who communicate very well but still have serious difficulty living together because if significant differences in values.
2. You need to marry a person you can solve problems with.
Amos 3:3 reads, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” When considering marriage, you need to marry a person you can solve problems with because life is a series of problem solving exercises. That’s why a person who has a lot of conflict with their parents is an individual to be wary of marrying. Things like curfews, scheduling, appropriate dress, and privacy should be relatively easy for reasonable parents and children to work out. If a person has significant conflict with sensible parents, it is a good sign they are weak problem-solvers and ought to create hesitancy when considering a mate.
3. You need to marry a forgiving person.
Marriage is a series of problems to be solved but it is also a series of offenses to be forgiven. You don’t want to live in a marriage where forgiveness is in short supply. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
4. You need to marry a working person.
Again, when Abraham searched for a bride for Isaac, he sent a servant back to his homeland to find a girl with similar values. Yet, when the servant arrived in the land of Abraham’s birth, the servant narrowed the search further. He devised a plan to discover which girl was the hardest worker in the village (Genesis 24:16-21). The point of the passage is simply this: if you are a man don’t just look for hips and lips, look for a hard worker. The woman of virtue in Proverbs 31 is a hard worker.
When Rebekah, the suitable companion for Isaac is found she is brought to Isaac who was “in the field” (Genesis 24:63). He wasn’t playing video games in his tent and he wasn’t lying in bed. He also had a work ethic that made him a strong marital candidate for Rebekah.
5. You need to marry a happy person.
Mary and Judson Landis wrote a book a long time ago and said, “The most important characteristic of a marriageable person is the habit of happiness.” The reason is that a contented person can generally be happy wherever they are but a miserable person will generally be miserable regardless of their situation. There are people who can go to the beach and be miserable. It’s too crowded. It’s too hot. The hotel is too far away from the shore! Yet, happy people have found the secret to contentment. It is an issue of pride to believe that a miserable person will be happy if they are just married to you. In humility, admit that given all of your flaws, they are less likely to be happy after they are married to you!
In closing, these are strong reasons why a Christian should always marry a Christian. The Bible says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Face it, if Jesus Christ is the most important thing in your life you could never be happily married to a person who does not share that value. You will find problem solving to be a chore because you see life from two different angles. As a Christian individual, the prospective mate ought to hold forgiveness and hard work in high regard, striving to live up to biblical expectations for both disciplines. A person who is truly committed to Jesus ought to also possess a deep, abiding joy that allows them to be thankful in every situation. Again, authentic Christians should marry authentic Christians!
Dr. Nathan Leasure is the Senior Pastor at the First Church of God in Greeneville, TN. He has degrees from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Anderson University, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is married to Jenny and they have four children- Ava, Olivia, Maria, and Samuel.