Other than salvation, the question of marriage seems to be the single most important decision a person will ever make in his or her lifetime…at least in my opinion.
Question 2: Does God care who I marry?
Marriage is by God’s design so His rules apply. Before I jump past this assumption, let me tell you why living together is out. If you’re not married, then sexual immorality exists in the relationship. And marriage is to be treated honorably. (Heb. 13:4, 1 Cor. 6:13, 18 & 7:2, 9, and 1 Tim. 5:14)
The construct of marriage bears the mystery of Christ and the church, which is a covenant relationship. Ephesians 5 clearly states this. And there are copious articles and books that further discuss marriage, and why it matters to God.
A believer in Christ should always marry a believer in Christ. (1 Cor. 7:39, 2 Cor. 6:14) Take dating someone who doesn’t share your faith off the table. We’ll be looking at specific scriptures and biblical examples that drive this point home, but I would also like to consider a few other factors like—do circumstances play a role? Is attraction, and romance the most important aspect of starting a relationship? Is there one specific person created for another?
There were specific rules for priests in Israel (Ez. 44:20-22), and specifics concerning captives (Deut. 21:10-14). But for our purpose, we’ll look at scriptures that pertain to marriage and review examples of marriages that occurred for guidelines that may apply today (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Let’s start with Isaac. After his mom died, Abraham sent a faithful servant back to where his family lived to get a wife for Isaac. This request was more about finding someone suitable for Isaac than it being a mutually beneficial agreement customary with arranged marriages.
These were Abraham’s words in Gen. 24:2-3 ESV: “Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
His servant goes and prays for finding “the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac.” (Gen. 24:14 ESV)
Years later, Jacob, one of Isaac’s sons, after taking the birthright and blessing of his older brother Esau has to flee for distant relations and land. (Gen. 27-28) When he comes to a well where there are shepherds he asks about his uncle Laban, and they immediately point out Rachel, his beautiful cousin, and he’s in love. Before you think it’s all about the looks, go back and look at Isaac words to Jacob.
Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters Laban your mother’s brother. (portion of Gen. 28:1-2 ESV)
The text doesn’t say God told these fathers to arrange for these wives, but He certainly made their search successful. Maybe these fathers wanted girls with the same familial upbringing, who wouldn’t have the Canaanite religion in their training.
The point is these fathers narrowed the field to a specific place to find a suitable mate for their sons. The result was Isaac loved Rebekah, and Jacob loved Rachael. Interestingly, other than King Ahasuerus loving Esther more than his other wives, I haven’t been able to find other texts where this affection is specifically mentioned again, so these arrangements worked out nicely.
Moving on, most Christians are familiar with the scripture that tells us a man shall leave his parents and become one with his wife (singular), which is why it’s scripturally difficult to believe that only person is specifically designed for another. To further emphasis this point—and I warn you this is a sticking point for many believers—but men recorded in the Bible often had more than one wife. It was usually a custom of kings so they could sire many heirs. Let me add, God went on record saying don’t take many wives to the kings He raised up (Deut. 17:17). However, most did, yet God kept His covenant as long as the nation continued to serve Him.
Two prime examples are David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14), and his son, Solomon. David won Michal as a prize, took Abigail after her husband died, sent for Bathsheba after committing adultery with her then had her husband killed. He had several wives and concubines, yet God used him. Solomon took that custom to the extreme. He had 700 wives, and 300 concubines who eventually turned his heart away from God to worship foreign gods, exactly as God had warned.
Neither David’s nor Solomon’s lives support the “one person made for one person” (except for Eve) theory, but it does confirm the importance of attaching yourself to someone who won’t turn your heart away from God.
Another example concerning marriage is found in Num. 36:6. When all the males in a specific family died, the Lord commanded that daughters marry within the tribe. Why did God care? In context, the conquered land was portioned off to each tribe, and then to each family. Land went from father to son. This command would’ve kept the land portioned to that particular family within the original tribe (Num. 36:3). In other words, these women were free to choose a husband, but only within their own tribe to keep land since they couldn’t directly inherit it themselves.
1 Cor. 7:25-40 ESV Paul pinned the advantage of not being married versus being married as it relates to serving God. But he ends this segment saying “she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the LORD.”
According to the scriptures we've looked at, and using examples of other marriages mentioned in the Bible, we can conclude that we have a choice in marriage. A choice within limits, which gives room to romance and chemistry. Our parameters is that the person we choose to date and marry should be within the confines of other believers, which was stated in the beginning. Beyond that, circumstances probably will play a predominant role, because you have to put yourself where your best options will exist.