About 10% of the ladies I meet-up every week for Bible studies are young working professionals aged 25 to 30. They, or rather we, have different but equal concerns and priorities compared to high school students and college student-athletes.
Students are more concerned about how they should deal with their friends, how to manage their time and resources, how to complete their academic requirements and pre-requisites, how to relate to their parents, professors and/or coaches, and how should or if they should commit to a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.
While the concerns and priorities of young working professionals are leaned on how they can help their families, how they can have a more stable source of income, and how they can have more quality time with their loved ones. But the concern that tops the rest is: When will or should I commit myself to a marriage relationship?
Some of them would ask this because they really want to seek counsel but some would ask just to filter what they want to hear and don’t hear. But at the end of the day, regardless of their motivation for asking, it is important that out of love, I let the word and power of God speak to and work in them. I may speak out of experience and insight but nothing beats hearing and believing God’s truth.
So, based on God’s word, how can someone know if he or she is really ready for courtship and marriage?
I remember having this merienda time with a friend. She’s about the same age as me. During our Bible study, she opened up about her desire to get married by 31. But she told me that she has been a little worried if that desire will still come true since the guy she has been praying for for years, though her close friend, still does not have a personal relationship with God. Since she is a committed follower of Christ, a guy’s solid maturity in terms of faith is a non-negotiable for her.
She was somehow troubled. She does not know if marriage is still for her or if someone out there is still going to be the “right” one. Then I told her, “There is this one question you should ask yourself first to know if you are really ready to be with that somebody you are praying for.”
She asked, “What is it?”
Will you be content and thankful even if you grow old and die single?
She stared blankly at me, absorbing the question and probably thinking of an answer.
I know that this question seems blunt or rather harsh but, in reference to God’s word, I think that this is an important question to ponder on.
If you can confidently say “Yes” to this question, it means that your security is not based on your relationship status nor from anyone else. It means that you do not need a relationship or another person to complete or satisfy you. It means that you are secured of who Christ is in your life.
If your security is rooted in Christ, then being single won’t be a source of dissatisfaction or something you will worry about but rather something you will consider as a gift from God. If your security is rooted in Christ, then marriage won’t also be a false god but rather a gift from God.
There was this young woman (about the same age as me) who admitted to me that she’s been living-in with her boyfriend together with her boyfriend’s parents. They intentionally hid this decision from their friends, including me, for almost a year. When I asked her why she made that decision, she gave me two reasons: she does not want to live-in with her family anymore because of relational conflicts, and she was told by her boyfriend that they are going to be engaged soon anyway so there’s nothing wrong.
I asked her, “Is that what’s right in God’s eyes?”
In her defense, she justified that they are not having pre-marital sex though tempted many times to do so. She told me that her boyfriend invited her to live-in with him because he thinks that it is the solution to her family problems and that there is nothing wrong with it. She also told me that her boyfriend’s parents insist that she stays.
I asked her again, “Is that what’s right in God’s eyes?”
She still did not give me a yes or a no. But her explanations led to the conclusion: It does not matter if it is right or wrong in God’s eyes, this guy was given to me by God and I do not want to lose him. I cannot lose him. He is the right one for me and I see myself as his wife and the mother of his children for as long as I live.
This troubled me to the point that my love and concern for her made me kneel before the Lord in tears and frustration. Professing believers of Christ are called to not give any appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), to not cause anyone to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:12), to set an example for others to follow (1 Corinthians 4:16) and to not lure God (Deuteronomy 6:16, Matthew 4:7 and Luke 4:12) by saying, “God, help me not to give into the temptation of having sex with this person I am not married to but deliberately living-in with.”
I prayed for her and the guy and I prayed for the right words to say to them. The problem is not really pre-marital cohabitation. That is actually just one of the many fruits from the root. The root problem is that her security is not in Christ but in someone else. Her security is in a guy who promised her good things in the future.
Her security is not in the God who tells us to not put our trust in princes or in human beings who cannot save (Psalm 146:3). Her assurance is not from the God who encourages us to not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we will be able to test and approve God’s good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2).
Again, if you can confidently say “Yes” to the question, “Will you be content and thankful even if you grow old and die single?”, it means that your security is not based on your relationship status nor from anyone else. It means that you do not need a relationship or another person to complete or satisfy you. Therefore, you won’t compromise God’s word just for the desire of being with someone.
If your security is in Christ, you won’t also compromise God’s timing just for the desire of being with someone.
There was this young woman (also about the same age as me) who decided to buy a ring, prepare a surprise event and propose to her boyfriend. She said that there is nothing wrong with it since we now live in a modern world of gender equality. She also said that she asked for the consent of her parents and the guy’s parents. Though they did not approve or disapprove her intentions, she convinced them that there is nothing wrong with it. She also said that she asked her close friends for advice and they were supportive of her.
When I asked her why she made that decision, she gave me three reasons: she wants to get married before 30, they both believe in Jesus, and they will be married in the future anyway so why not do it now.
This also troubled me to the point that my love and concern for her made me kneel before the Lord in tears and frustration. I prayed for her and the guy and I prayed for the right words to say to them. Thankfully, I was going through the story of Sarah and Abraham that time so I was able to share that to her.
God had given Abraham the vision of becoming a father of nations on several occasions which would have made Sarah the mother of nations by default. However, the vision had still not come to pass. Sarah’s heart had therefore become “sick” with impatience, doubt and insecurity, which caused her faith in the vision to decrease almost to the point of non-existence.
The issue was not that she no longer believed in God’s ability to bring the vision to pass; neither was it that she no longer believed that her husband would be the conduit through which it would come forth. The issue was that the disease of her heart had distorted her view of herself and her purpose in the grand scheme of things, especially since her personal circumstances did not match the vision that God had given.
This is why in Genesis 16:2, Sarah told Abraham that “the Lord [had] restrained [her] from having children” and asked him to sleep with Hagar — a manipulative and scheming fleshly decision which resulted to many physical, emotional and even generational consequences.
– Excerpt from ‘Lessons from Sarah on Patience’
My friend’s decision to rush or take charge of her engagement was not the problem. Again, it was only one of the fruits from the root. The root problem is that her security is not in Christ but in being with someone else. Her security is in the idea of getting married and having a family as if it is the ultimate goal in life.
I can relate to them because I also used to think that I can only be complete and finally happy if I find someone I can be with “forever”. I pictured marriage as that perfect companionship where the love of a man would make me feel secure. It was only when God reached out to me, corrected me and assured me of His unconditional perfect love that I realised I got it all wrong.
The emptiness in me, when I was not yet in Christ, can never ever be filled by a relationship or someone else. Only God can do that. Out of His great love for us, He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
He alone can save us thus He alone can fill the void in our hearts. Only Jesus can make us complete.
So if you can confidently answer “Yes” to the question, “Will you be content and thankful even if you grow old and die single?”, it means that you are sold-out secured in Christ.