But the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership
Seven Thoughts on Who to MarryBy Evan Nehring
Dating, for better or for worse, is about heartthrobs and heartaches. It’s about dreams of what could be. It’s about finding that special someone, your soul mate. I want to encourage you to talk through life’s big questions before getting engaged. Keep the horse before the cart.
You can be like Reuben Pfeffer (Ben Stiller) in Along Came Polly and run a computerized, statistical risk assessment of the person you’re considering. It’s over the top, but there is some method to Reuben’s madness. List your pros in one column and your cons in another. That’s decision making: lay out your variables and look at the big picture.
But there is also a spiritual connection that mirrors our spiritual connection with God.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33, NIV)See, it all gets wound up together. Or like Pascal said, "The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing."
If we lay out our columns for pros and cons, though, what questions do we ask? We could start with the seven core values we’ve talked about:
1. More than just head knowledge, does this person humbly bow in submission and worship to Almighty God? (the worship question)
- If the value of worship registers a zero, this may be a good person who just hasn’t connected with God in that way. There may be a seed of faith to fan into a flame, but will Jesus ever truly be the center of his or her life?
2. Is this person committed to the spiritual disciplines of God’s Word and prayer? (the devotion question)
- No devotional life? You might be looking at a person who blows with the wind. Their values may be formed by TV, movies, strong personalities in their world, professors, or whatever seems socially acceptable. If you read the Bible or pray together, are they just doing it to get you?
3. Is this person committed to building quality relationships with close relatives and friends? (the family & friends question)
- If relationships are not important to this person, are they just that shallow or have they alienated most everyone close to them? Introverts may have fewer friends, but “introvert” does not equal “hermit.”
4. Does this person have a solid Christian worldview and compassion for the last, the least and the lost? (the outreach question)
- Not being outreach-oriented is more socially acceptable in church circles. It can come across as friendly and loyal, even highly active in church programs. But if they don’t have a heart for hurting people, are they really grateful for the price paid for their own forgiveness?
5. Do I see the character of Jesus displayed in this person as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? (the character question)
- Character is a really big deal. This is more than just being a “nice person”. This is steel in the soul that is stubborn about the right things and flexible about the right things. Low character means you’ll have a hard time trusting this person. “Hey, I can’t be perfect,” is true, but it can also be an excuse for making no real attempt at godly character.
6. Personal Management – Does this person honor God in how they handle their time, money, possessions and health? (the personal management question)
- Failing here leads to chaos. Maybe your person comes from money, so they haven’t had to establish much personal discipline. Maybe they’re just so dang cute that everyone excuses their chaos. Is it worth it for you?
7. Is this person committed to finding their place in the God’s great story of reaching out to mankind? Are they serving or working toward service in the church and community? (the kingdom story question)
- Many of us will have seasons where we don’t fit into church and community programs around us. If this becomes a lifelong choice, we are neither servants nor leaders.
Pretty intense, isn't it? If you find someone who models all of those qualities, you’ve found someone solid. Chances are they’re going to fall short in some of those areas. One of the questions to ask at that point is, Does this person have a commitment to Jesus that is likely to bring maturity in those areas?
It’s a far cry from the “good body and good personality” search criteria. If you have solid core values at the heart of your search, you’re much less likely to have the regret of landing a hot chick or stud muffin with a shriveled, weedy heart.
Can I be blunt? Most couples are way too physical at this point in their relationship to spend much time talking through these important questions together. Making out is easier. Kissing seems to be about acceptance. Talking can be a wet blanket on the sparks of romance.
Working through these issues, though, will give your marriage a foundation of love and respect. Careful chemistry...we'll be talking about that soon...
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