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Marriage Preparation and Improvement: The Role of Religion

Importance of religion in marriageHow important should religion, faith, worship, and Bible study be in marriage and in choice of a spouse? What authorities or experts should husbands and wives follow? Why should a Christian marry a faithful Christian?

This is part of a ten-part series about marriage preparation and improvement. This article should be studied in context of the whole series of articles. To start at the beginning of the series, please click here: Marriage_Improvement.php

Religion is important in the home in all of the following areas:

A. The Authority or Source of Guidance Your Home Follows

Many people are confused about the proper way to conduct their home life. What authority should your home follow?

People often follow human "authorities" to the harm of the home.

Worldly marriage "experts" - psychiatrists, feminists, sex educators, civil government, etc. [1 Corinthians 1:19-21; 2:4,5; Proverbs 14:12]

Practices of society - advice or example of friends, neighbors, etc. [Romans 12:1,2; 2 Corinthians 10:12; Matthew 7:13,14]

Practices of our parents - people tend to act in their families the way people around them acted as they grew up. [Matthew 10:34-37; Acts 5:29]

Personal desires or desires of the family members [Matt 16:24,25; 10:34-37]

We need not ignore all advice these folks give; they are not always mistaken. But they are often wrong, and many of the problems in our homes come from following these authorities.

We need a better standard - a source of higher wisdom. Suppose we had an infallible source of guidance. Shouldn't we follow such a standard, instead of these fallible human standards? If these human guides disagree with our infallible source, shouldn't we reject the human standards and follow the infallible one?

The ultimate source of guidance in your home should be the Bible.

Genesis 2:18-24 - God created marriage and the home from the beginning. Since He created marriage, He knows the best way to conduct it.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 - The Bible is a revelation of the wisdom, not of men, but of God. It works effectively in those who believe.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - Scriptures are profitable to teach and instruct us and provide us completely to all good works. Doesn't that include the good work of having a good marriage?

Isaiah 55:8,9 - But God's wisdom is superior to that of man, like the heavens are higher than the earth. This is true in every area.

Joshua 1:8 - We have success in our work when we study God's plan and do not depart from it. Many claim to believe this regarding salvation, the church, worship, etc. But do we likewise follow God's plan for our homes?

Psalm 127:1 - Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

We do not need to have so much confusion and uncertainty about family affairs. The Bible is the word of God, and God is never wrong. If you want a good marriage and a good home, you must follow the proper guide.

[2 Peter 1:3; Acts 17:11]

B. The Main Goal for Our Homes

Too many families put too much emphasis on materialistic goals.

Material possessions - Luke 12:15-21; 1 Timothy 6:9,10; 1 John 2:15-17.

Pleasure - 2 Timothy 3:1-5; Hebrews 11:24-26.

Popularity and social standing - John 12:42,43.

Beauty - Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:3,4.

Recreation, athletics - 1 Timothy 4:8.

The most important goal our homes should seek to accomplish is to serve God and to help one another receive eternal life.

Genesis 18:19 - Abraham commanded his house to keep God's ways.

Joshua 24:15 - Joshua committed himself and his family to serve God.

Malachi 2:15 - God seeks homes that result in godly offspring.

There are other important goals for our homes, such as love and companionship and raising our children to be good citizens. But even if a family has all these, it is still a failure if it does not accomplish the most important goal. Too often families become so involved in pursuing other less important goals that they neglect responsibilities to God.

In order to have proper home lives, service to God must be our main focal point. Do not marry someone who does not view serving God as their main goal in life.

[Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:1,2; 1 Corinthians 15:58]

C. The Importance of Worshiping God and Studying His Word in our Homes

Our families should worship God together.

Genesis 2:18-24 - Man and woman should be companions for one another. If serving God is our most important goal in life, then worship is one important area which we should share.

Joshua 24:15 - Joshua determined that he and his house would serve the Lord. This is something the whole family together was committed to doing.

John 4:23,24; Hebrews 10:24,25 - God wants His people to worship Him, including attending church assemblies. If we are to help one another serve Him, then we will do this together.

Young couples, from the very beginning of their relationship, should determine to attend every meeting of the local church and take advantage of other opportunities to worship. If someone is not interested in worshiping God with you, what are the chances that you can work with that person to help one another serve God?

If you want a good marriage and a good home, you must worship God regularly together.

To be guided by God's word, a family must study it together.

Hebrews 3:13 - Christians should exhort one another daily to stay faithful. But helping one another serve God is the main goal of our homes. We cannot possibly accomplish the most important purpose for our marriage unless we daily study and discuss God's word.

Genesis 18:19 - Abraham commanded his family to keep God's way.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 - We should keep God's words in our hearts, teaching them diligently to our children, talking of them continually.

Ephesians 6:4 - Fathers train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Young couples should begin this practice from beginning of their relationship. Suggest spiritual topics and study them together. This helps you understand one another's beliefs, develops your Bible knowledge, and establishes a spiritual foundation for your relationship. If someone is not comfortable or not interested in studying the Bible with you, what are the chances he/she will work with you to achieve the ultimate goal of serving God and going to heaven?

If you want a good marriage and a good home, you must learn to discuss God's word.

[1 Thessalonians 5:11; Acts 8:4; 10:24,27,33]

In particular, families need to pray together and pray for one another.

James 5:16 - Praying together is one of the most important things Christians can do to help one another be saved. But remember, helping one another be saved is the main goal of marriage.

James 1:5 - Those who need wisdom should pray for it. This wisdom will come as we study God's word. But don't we need wisdom to have good marriages? Are there things about your marriage that you wish you had the wisdom to improve? Do you want to know whether or not it would be wise to marry some particular young man/woman? If so, then we must diligently pray that we will have wisdom from God's word in our homes. [Heb. 5:14]

Philippians 4:6 - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Don't we often have concerns for our marriage and our family? Do we become anxious or worried about what might happen? Don't we have needs we wish to see fulfilled in our homes? Then let us pray to God about these things.

Genesis 24:12 - Abraham had given a charge to his servant to find a wife for Isaac. The servant went to God in prayer for success. Do you want to be successful in finding a marriage companion or that your children will find a proper marriage companion? If this servant prayed about such a matter, how much more so the parents or the person who seeks a companion?

Again, I urge young couples to begin this practice from the very early days of your relationship. If someone is not comfortable praying with you or does not think prayer is important, will he/she make a good marriage companion?

Every Christian who wants a good marriage should never let a day go by that you don't pray to God for your spouse, your children, and yourself that all of you will serve God faithfully in your home. If you want a good marriage and a good home, you must pray to God regularly.

[1 Chronicles 29:19]

D. The Importance of Common Faith in the Home

Genesis 2:18 - One of the most important purposes of marriage is companionship: sharing common goals and interests. Failure to share a common religious faith is one of the major grounds for conflict in marriage.

A Christian should marry a faithful Christian for all the following reasons:

A faithful Christian will help, not hinder, your worship to God.

John 4:23,24; Hebrews 10:24,25 - We already learned that families should worship God together, especially attending public worship assemblies. When both companions are Christians, they commune together in song, prayer, the Lord's Supper, etc. They will agree about the need to give generously to support the church.

But if you do not marry a Christian, your spouse may not attend with you. Worse yet, he or she may attend a false religious group. He may actively oppose your attendance with the Lord's church. He may resent and oppose giving money to church.

Proverbs 15:8,29 - Even if your companion does not actively oppose your worship, you still lack the unity and support you need. God will not accept his worship as long as he remains outside Christ. [1 Corinthians 10:16,17]

A faithful Christian will pray with you, not hinder your prayers.

We have learned that Christians should pray to God together and pray for one another (James 5:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

1 John 3:22 - But if your companion is not a Christian, God will not hear or answer his prayer (Proverbs 28:9; James 5:16). He may even ridicule you for your prayers. If a young lady marries a young man who is not a Christian, who will lead family prayers before meals and other times when Christians would pray together?

A faithful Christian will help, not hinder, your Bible study.

We have also learned that Christian couples should discuss and study Bible principles together and encourage one another with God's word (Hebrews 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

But a companion who is not a Christian may not be willing to study. If you initiate a spiritual discussion, the result may be argument and conflict. In all these aspects of worship, instead of being a source of strength, your companion will become a hindrance and discouragement.

A faithful Christian will help, not hinder, your efforts to teach God's word.

Acts 8:4 - Christians should share the message of the gospel with others [Hebrews 5:12]. This too is something we can help one another do in our homes (Acts 10:24,27,33).

Acts 18:26 - Like Aquila and Priscilla, Christian couples work together in this, inviting friends over to discuss religion and study the Bible. They can talk together and share ideas to improve their teaching.

But if your companion is not a Christian, he may oppose your efforts to teach. He may object if you invite others to your home to study, and may resent the time you spend in teaching. He may openly contradict the truth, and will surely hinder your teaching by his example.

A faithful Christian will obey and help you obey Bible teaching about marriage.

We have learned that truly good marriages must be based on Bible principles. Most marital unhappiness comes because people do not follow the Bible principles about marriage.

We will learn more of these principles as we proceed: husbands should love and provide for their wives, wives should submit to their husbands and be homemakers, etc.

If you marry a Christian, you have a right to expect him or her to obey the Bible. But you would have no reason from the very outset to expect a non-Christian to obey God's word. If he or she does not obey God's plan for marriage, how will you motivate him to do right?

A faithful Christian will encourage, not discourage, proper morality.

2 Timothy 3:16,17; Psalm 119:105 - Christian couples have a common standard by which to determine their moral beliefs and practices.

But if you marry one who is not a Christian, he may have (or may develop) habits you object to: drinking liquor, smoking, profanity, dirty jokes, gambling, dirty TV shows, suggestive clothing, even pornography or drug abuse.

What if he/she spends family funds on things you consider to be immoral? What if he/she is dishonest in business dealings or refuses to pay family debts? What if he wants to donate funds to causes that you oppose?

How can you appeal to him, if you knew all along that he was not living by the Bible?

A faithful Christian will help, not hinder, your relations with friends and in-laws.

1 Corinthians 15:33 - Evil companions corrupt our morals. When you marry, you inherit your companion's family and friends. If you marry a faithful Christian, he will want to associate with Christians and good moral people.

But if you marry one who is not a Christian, his closest friends will not be Christians. And what about in-laws? Will your in-laws oppose your religious beliefs? How well you will get along with them, and how well will he get along with your family and friends?

You need to consider these questions seriously before marriage.

[Proverbs 13:20; 29:27]

A Christian will work with you, not against you, in raising your children.

Nearly all the concerns we have already discussed become magnified when the children come along. Each spouse wants the children raised in agreement with his or her views.

Ephesians 6:4; Genesis 18:19; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6 - Christians will agree to train the children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." They will work together in regular Bible study and bringing the children to all the assemblies of the church (Hebrews 10:25).

But if you do not marry a Christian, your companion may discourage your children from studying the Bible, attending services, or becoming Christians. He or she may even insist that the children go with him to attend a false church or allow them to attend recreational or social activities instead of church meetings.

Proverbs 13:24 - Parents who are Christians have a standard for agreeing what moral principles they will teach their children. They will agree to chastise the children, firmly and consistently yet lovingly, to motivate them to obey (Heb. 12:5-11).

But if your companion is not a Christian, what will you do if he or she allows the children to drink, smoke, dress immodestly, use profanity, attend dances, go to wild parties, run with a bad crowd, or even share a bedroom with a friend of the opposite sex? What will you do if he refuses to punish the children when they need it, or if he opposes your efforts to discipline the children?

Nehemiah 13:23,24 - When Israelites married people of other nations and religions, their children were influenced by heathen parents. So your children will be influenced by your non-Christian spouse.

Raising children is difficult enough, even when the parents work together. How will you feel if one of your children is eternally lost because you chose to marry a non-Christian?

A Christian will help, not hinder, your efforts to achieve your most important goal: serving God and receiving eternal life.

Matthew 6:33 - We already learned that helping one another serve God should be the most important goal of our marriage. If you marry a Christian, he or she will share with you this major goal. But if you marry someone who is not a Christian, then he or she will not share with you the most important area of your life.

Revelation 20:14,15 - Anyone not found in the Book of Life will be sent into the lake of fire, the second death. Your spouse should be the dearest loved one on earth to you. If he or she is not a Christian, then you face the great likelihood that your dearest loved one will be lost eternally! Will you be able to live with that fact without compromising the truth to please them?

Nehemiah 13:26,27 - The Old Testament forbade marriage to people of other nations, because it would lead God's people into sin. Solomon was an example of one to whom this happened (Deut. 7:3,4). We do not live under the Old Testament, but the danger still exists.

You and your potential spouse need to thoroughly discuss all such concerns early in your relationship. If your companion promises he/she will change, give them plenty of time to prove they are willing to change before making any commitment about marriage. And give it long enough you are convinced the change for keeps.

If your marriage is to be happy and successful, you will need to go through life working with another faithful Christian.

[Matthew 16:24-27; Romans 12:1,2; John 6:27,63; Luke 12:15-21; 14:26; Matt. 10:34-37].

This is part of a ten-part series of articles about marriage preparation and improvement. To continue with the next article in the series, please go to /family/marriage-purpose.php  To start at the beginning of the series, please click here: Marriage_Improvement.php

(C) Copyright 2007, David E. Pratte;
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