When does God want me to ‘pop the question’?

 

This is a question which men around the world have to wrestle with all the time. Is there a right time to pop the question, is there a set time. Do you get to so many months or years and then that’s when it is acceptable to pop the question. Well I don’t believe that to be the case. I am firm believer that when you know, you know. So for me, when you meet someone for the first time your thought should be “Is this the person I want to marry?” May seem slightly on the forward side but that should be running through your mind. Now you can test this over a number of months possibly a year to see is this the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. I must admit I have aimed this post at men who would be thinking of popping the question but of course ladies you can read this if you are wanting to ask your boyfriend to marry you.

So what criteria are there when considering if you should ask the girl you are with if they would marry you?

1. Do you love them?

This may seem obvious and non-Christians reading this may see this as a criteria for marriage but actually the importance of this is so great. In the book of Ephesians there is a call for men to love their wives as Christ loved the church (husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 ESV) Now I don’t know about other men reading this who may be thinking about asking their girlfriends to marry them but when you hear what Paul is saying here about the love which husbands should have for their wives it seems a bit daunting. But this is why it is the first port of call in questioning if you should marry the girl you are with. Do you love her? Love her so much you would be willing to give yourself up for her? Now I don’t think this is just that age old “would you die for her” sort of thing but, would you be willing to make sacrifices for her, give things up out of love for her. For example you may be like to go out partying every other night but that means that you don’t see much of your girlfriend, this is not a stable situation to find yourself in when it comes to marriage, so would you be willing to give up in that situation going out every other night and maybe instead only go out once every other week, or so. These are the sacrifices that Paul is talking about here.

2. Are they a Christian?

This is a topic of much debate. I would personally myself feel it most advisable to marry a Christian. I feel this is because of issues such as baptism of children, can the children go to church and so on. Not only this but there can be issues with moral standpoints and views which can lead to if not start arguments or debates. Saying this however Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians says this (To the rest I say (I not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he consents to living with her, she should not divorce him….. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know husband whether you will save you wife? 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 ESV).

Now this long passage may look a bit OTT but Paul is basically saying “look you don’t know what could happen with an unbelieving partner, you never know through your marriage they could come to faith” which sounds great because if you truly love someone and they are not a believer why is the thing you want most of all? That they would be saved and know the Lord Jesus as their Saviour.

3. Do they want the same things in life i.e Children?

This is admittedly more of a practical criteria really. But none the less is a very important criteria. The main example I have used for this criteria is children. The simple fact is if one of you does not want children this may lead to regret, anger or resentment. But this can be the same for any issue, such as where you want to live, what your jobs situations are like. This is obviously something which can be solved very easily with a number of conversations. You can easily discuss future plans. Obviously if you were planning a surprise of asking your partner to marry you, then make these conversations discreet but make sure you cover and think of everything.

4. Could you stand living with them?

This is also a more practical criteria. It is easy to thing someone is the most amazing person in the world when you see them for a couple of hours a day. But living with them is a completely different kettle of fish. It may be that they are loud eaters, or they snore or they are messy. Now I am not suggesting that you can not marry them if they snore. But these are things you need to take in to consideration and also have a conversation about. The most important thing to do in this new step forward in your life is to keep talking to each other.

5. Do you really love them?

Now why have I put this point you may be wondering? Well this is because as we saw in our first point you have to love your wife as Christ loved the church. But like at the end of John’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter (Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. John 21:15 ESV) Now Jesus asks this of Peter to make sure Peter is going to be willing to go that extra mile for him. Jesus is testing Peters love making sure Peter is ready to follow Jesus through thick and thin. This is the love you need to be certain you have for your soon to be wife and the love that they equally have for you. Then you will know if you are willing to through thick and thin for each other.

So there we go, we have been through five issues which I feel are grounds to think on when wondering about marriage. Are there more? probably depending on your situation with your partner. Are there less? No, I don’t think so.

I do hope if you are reading this and looking at going into marriage, that God will bless you and your future wife in all that you do together and that you will keep God the creator of marriage in the centre.

God bless
Gareth

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Valentine’s day: a day of love.

Valentine’s day. What can you say really. Fluffy teddies with love hearts everywhere. Every husband or boyfriend believes he has become Michael Buble with their song writing skills. But should Christians celebrate it? Is there anything to celebrate?

I am going to stick my neck out on the line and say that it is ok for Christians to celebrate it. It is a day of celebrating love between two people. It is  a day where married couples may snuggle up on the sofa and remember the day they pledged their vows to each other. It is a day of being thankful for the love that couples share. Now the problem is, how much do we celebrate? Is it right for Christians to be buying love hearts and buying a tonne of Chocolate?

We have to make sure we are only celebrating the love not idolising it.

In the Bible love is a gift from God. Our love for each other, our partners and spouses is a reflection of that love. We need to remember that love comes from God. So on Valentine’s day we should remember to thank God for the love we share. Then we remove the risk of idolising love. I think because of the reason that love is a gift from God and bearing in mind Paul says we have nothing if we don’t have love it is right that we give thanks for it. The joy it brings, the happiness it brings to peoples life’s. So we should give thanks thanks that God has given us love.

The day could also be a reminder especially those who are married to think over their commitment to their partner. To think if they love their spouse as the Bible calls them to love, to love self-sacrificially, giving all to their partner. In doing this also praising God that He has blessed them with the love that they share with each other.

So I hope whatever you are doing for Valentine’s you are thanking God for those you love in your life and those who love you, remembering that the love that you share is a gift from God. You are blessed.

I hope you have enjoyed this short message on Valentine’s day.

God bless,

Gareth

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A marriage that glorifies… and a marriage that offends…

Over recent years the gift of marriage has been disregarded or neglected by modern society. This is by either people deciding not to marry, or infidelity, money problems, abuse in the relationship or people rushing into something they don’t fully understand. This statistics say it all really:

Latest statistics (published December 2012) estimate that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce.

This simply is not the way marriage, a gift from God was meant to be. Marriage was a gift from God to us, a gift which we are to use to glorify God. The key problem lies at the fact more and more the world drifts further away from the God ordained marriage of the Bible.

We are going to look at firstly how it is God ordained and secondly how people have drifted from it.

Genesis 2:18-25

18Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called Woman,

because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

This is the creation of Eve the first woman and this is Adam’s reaction to the blessing of Eve’s creation. He rejoices at the fact they came from one. One became two. This fantastic way of creation that God chooses to do, is symbolically put back together in verse 24-25. These verses are based on and are all about marriage, this shows firstly Marriage is between a man and a woman and can only be between a man and a woman, because this is how God created marriage to be. This quashes the opinions that marriage can be between two people of the same sex, that is going against the creational ordinance that God put in place for marriage. So a factor in the destruction of marriage is the people that try to make it something it isn’t and never was intended to be.  But that marriage means more than is sometimes seen in the 21st century, where it might just be the joining of two people who haven’t tested the waters, instead its for two people who feel a deep love for each other. Marriage is the reconnection of a man and a woman together as one. A sign of God’s awesome power in creation and his sovereignty.

So these verses show that marriage is an ordinance put in place by God, at the start of creation. He made man and woman this way, and he made marriage to bring them together as one, and because this is God’s creational order we can not go messing around with it.

Lets now see how in some ways people are drifting from what marriage originally was made for by God.

1 Corinthians 7: 10-11

10To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11(but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

The way that people have drifted in relation to this passage, is that people are to quick to divorce, instead of seeing divorce as a last resort. They instead marry with the thought “well if it doesn’t work out, I can always divorce.” Which is the wrong thought to have when going into marriage, in fact when entering into marriage, divorce should not even be in your mind. Now i know there are perfectly justifiable reasons for divorce I.e. infidelity, abuse. But in all other situations in marriage you need to work through it and let divorce be the last resort not the first port of call. Through perseverance through trials you find you are more suited to marriage than you previously thought, but if you jump ship and divorce you can find yourself having missed the opportunity to solve the problems.

1 Timothy 3: 2-4

2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,

The reason for quoting this passage, is for part of verse 2. This passage is calling for husbands to be the husband to one wife. Which in this modern culture is seeming to be ignored on a more prolific basis.

25.4% of married men and 18.3% of married women and have cheated on their current partners at least once.

Most affairs start in the work-place – 38.8% of women have an affair with a work colleague in comparison to 30.7% of men.

These statistics are shocking to look at, when you see how high the figures are, you see there is a problem of infidelity in our culture, and it seems to be accepted as life now. It seems to be condoned instead of being condemned. This needs to be cracked down. You need to see that the Bible calls for monogamy from all marriages. The reality is, that this not only offends God, because of the complete disregard for his gift or marriage but also breaks the heart of the people who are cheated on.

To sum up marriage needs to be taken seriously, it needs to be a step taken by people convinced that they have met the person not that they can live with, but the person they cant live without. Marriage should glorify God, it should point people to him in the love that you show for each other. It should be an act of grace which people see the Lord Jesus Christ in. Your marriage should glorify God, not offend him. If you are a Christian i plead that you take this Biblical argument to keep marriage pure seriously. Pray for your countries government that they will keep marriage between a man and a woman, instead of “trying to find equality”.

I hope this post helped clarify a few things for you.

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God bless.

Gareth