Preparing Your Child for Marriage

The Bible does not provide children with a specific method or strategy for finding a spouse. In fact, cultures and families follow various models, each with variations. For some it is arranged marriage, for others it is courtship, and for others it is dating. Knowing this, the Bible does provide basic guidelines and principles for Christians to follow. Therefore, you should adjust your cultural and family approach to follow biblical teaching (Psa 119:105; Prov 3:5-6; Rom 12:1-2).

The Principle of Parental Involvement

Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Eph 6:2-3)

Any approach to finding a spouse should involve wholesome parental involvement. Parents should be involved in the process from the beginning, and they should be able to provide their child with candid perspective along the way. Children should welcome any guidance from their parents and should give serious attention to any input they provide. As such, it is generally unwise to pursue or enter a marriage without parental blessing. Some forms of dating, for instance, wrongfully minimize this principle.

The Principle of Parental Understanding

Fathers [parents], do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)

Just as children should embrace input and guidance from their parents, parents should take to heart any input and feedback from their children. In providing guidance, parents should avoid exasperating or frustrating a child by forcing him or her to make certain choices. While parents should not support a child’s unbiblical choices, they should remain flexible and understanding in areas of personal preference and feeling. Some forms of arranged marriages, for instance, wrongfully minimize this principle.

The Principle of Purity

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality … that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified … (1 Thess 4:3-8)

Under no circumstance should your child’s approach to finding a spouse include sexual activity. Though the unbelieving world generally disregards this principle, believers should take it to heart. Furthermore, a believer should avoid interacting with a prospective spouse in any way that “takes advantage” of him or her. This refers to using a pre-marriage relationship selfishly to meet needs in a way that is reserved for marriage alone.

The Principle of Compatibility

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)

It is better to remain single than to marry a person with whom you are not spiritually aligned. Paul teaches this principle by repeating an Old Testament proverb (Amos 3:3). On this scriptural basis, a born-again Christian should never pursue or enter a marriage with an unbeliever. This does not mean that a believer should divorce an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:12-14). Nevertheless, you should teach your child that a believer should not knowingly consider or enter a marriage with an unbeliever.

The Principle of Spiritual Maturity

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. (Psa 127:1)

This psalm underscores the importance building a family on the foundation of God as Lord. This means that a husband and wife should agree to pursue biblical ideals, embrace biblical roles, and follow biblical guidance. Before a believer marries another believer, he or she should discuss one another’s views on important biblical values and teaching in matters of marriage and family. Enrolling in a series of premarital counseling sessions with your pastor can help your child to do this.

The Principle of Financial Preparedness

Prepare your outside work, make it fit for yourself in the field; and afterward build your house. (Prov 24:27)

He who is married cares about the things of the world – how he may please his wife. (1 Cor 7:33-34)

Before your child begins a serious search for a marriage partner, you should help him or her honestly assess their readiness from a financial and material standpoint. In particular, a prospective husband should evaluate whether he is able to provide housing, food and other necessary living expenses in a marriage. If not, then he should refrain from pursuing a marriage until he is financially prepared to meet the daily needs of himself, a wife, and children who may follow. Furthermore, it is not advisable for a man to count upon the income of his prospective wife to make ends meet (1 Tim 5:8; Tit 2:5). Though her income may be helpful or supplemental, it is wise to refrain from depending on her for the necessary budget. A prospective wife should carefully evaluate whether her prospective husband is able to provide adequately for the daily needs of life and family.

Review Questions

  1. Which of these principles, if any, did you follow in finding your spouse?
  2. How can you take steps to follow these principles together with your child(ren)?
  3. How can your family put into practice what you have learned from this lesson?
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