Ask “Why” Before You Ask “Who”
Most people ask the all-important question, “Who should I
marry?” But there’s another question that should be asked and answered first: “Why do I want to get married?” It’s not
that the “who” doesn’t matter (in fact, it matters very much); it’s just that
asking and settling the “why” question first will set you up to make a wise
choice about the “who.” Why do you want to get married? That’s what you need to
ask before you decide who to marry.
If I want to hire someone to work for me, the “why” question
will make a big difference. For instance, if I need a friend to be a plaintiff
attorney, I’d hire my friend Rob. If I needed a friend to be a business
contractor, I’d hire my friend David instead. The why helps answer the who,
and the same is true with marriage.
Asking the why question first is particularly important when
it comes to marriage because biblical marriage is a one-shot deal. Once you get
married, every evening, every weekend, every holiday, every morning will be
marked, for good or for ill, by that relationship. The person you marry is the
last person you’ll see every night before you go to sleep. Their face is the
first one you will see when you wake up in the morning. Their words will encourage
or discourage you, their humor will make you laugh in amusement or cry in
shame. Their body will pleasure you or threaten you. Their hands will hold you
or hurt you. Their presence will be a healing balm or a reminder of all that
could have been.
Jesus gives the “why” of marriage when He defines the goal
of each one of our lives: —“Seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Notice
He doesn’t say, “Seek first romantic infatuation.” He doesn’t say, “Seek first
sexual chemistry and relational compatibility.” In fact, the Bible specifically
warns people away from making marital choices based on these popular but faulty
motivations (Prov. 31:30).
Do you trust Jesus? Don’t you think He’d add an “exceptions”
clause if it was necessary: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His
righteousness, except when you’re
choosing someone to marry. Then just be motivated by the same superficial
fancies followed by everyone else, and all these shall be added to you.”
How are most marriages, chosen on those faulty premises,
A home established on Matthew 6:33 is a glorious thing.
While this verse contains a command, it’s also an exciting promise of a rich
and meaningful life. When husband and wife are committed in Christ, growing
together in the Lord, supporting each other in their spiritual walks, raising
children in the fear of the Lord, loving each other out of reverence for God,
joy abounds. Selfish people become servants. Self-centered children grow up to
become workers in God’s kingdom. Strangers become intimate friends. Daily life
is filled with the drama of kingdom building. There are plenty of mistakes,
lots of repenting, times of frustration, sickness, and even doubts. But in the
end, God’s presence prevails, people are transformed, kingdom work is
accomplished, and trials are overcome. If two people join themselves around
this mission—if they make their marital choice based on the best person with
whom they can accomplish this mission—they are far more likely to have a
fulfilling and soul-building marriage.
On the other hand, I’ve witnessed how miserable people can
make each other when they live for themselves. Though their initial sexual
attraction might have been off the charts, it is usually only a matter of
months until they are saying and doing awful things to each other. There was a
time when they couldn’t live without each other; every second, they had to be
together. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other. Now they can’t bear to
live together. When they’re in the same room, or in the same car, or on the
same telephone call, they can’t stop fighting.
Such problems usually erupt from trying to build a life
together without purpose, without mission, without something that not only establishes
a connection but keeps you caring about each other for the next fifty to sixty
Can I be honest with you? There isn’t a person alive who can
keep you enthralled for the next five or six decades. If they’re really funny,
really attractive, and you’re really infatuated, you can be enthralled for a
few years, but selfish people—even wealthy selfish people, or beautiful selfish
people, or famous selfish people—eventually get bored with each other, and the
very relationship that once gave them security and life feels like prison and
death. No matter how intensely you feel in love now, the same thing will happen
to you if you get married without a shared mission.
I want you to have a spiritually enriching marriage, a
marriage that spawns life, vibrancy, intimacy, a lifetime of memories with your
best friend, and the overwhelming joy of creating a family together. The reward
for making a wise marital choice is so tremendous that I don’t want you to miss
it. The consequences of making a foolish choice can be so painful and lasting
that I don’t want you to have to endure them.
I cannot overstate how crucial it is to be cautious and
discerning in making such an important decision. You don’t want to miss out, do
you? This is not a time for romanticized foolishness. If you remain rooted in
Christ, fully engage your mind, and draw on all your resources—God’s guidance,
Scripture, your family, your church, your sensible friends—and approach this
decision with all intention, purpose, and wisdom, you are far more likely to
enter a rich, satisfying, and soul-building marriage.
Ask the “why” question first, and
you’ll be far better equipped to recognize the “who” you want to marry.
(Adapted from The Sacred Search: What If It’s Not About Who You Marry