I see many Christians destroying themselves in the effort to find a husband or a wife. They wear revealing clothes, hang around nightclubs and feel ashamed in church on Sunday. Pain and desperation are driving them to clumsily adopt the ways of the world in finding a life partner. It can only lead to heartache and disappointment. For most of my adult life I have been single. I know that you CAN be happy and single and that it is possible to joyfully WAIT . Marrying a non-Christian is not a godly option. I won't be discussing that here as I have written a separate article on it. This article covers 14 principles for finding a godly Christian partner in this rather lonely world.
- Work on making yourself the sort of person that a godly Christian would LIKE to marry. Be kind, reliable, courteous and attractive. Have your life disciplined and godly and in reasonably good order. Be full of love.
- Have something interesting about you and work on it. You need to stand out from the crowd a little. Get interested in missions, help the poor, do something different that is still you.
- Be godly yourself. Have a daily quiet time where you read the Bible and pray and start putting Scripture into practice in your life. Go to church regularly to worship God and switch off your "partner searching periscope" when you go there. In fact switch it off as often as you can. There is something very unattractive about people who are obviously looking for a partner. Godly people want a godly partner.
- Make a success of your career. It will cultivate good qualities in you such as forward thinking, planning, diligence, and hard work and it will increase your self-esteem so that you don't feel as devastated by being single. It will also increase your confidence and attractiveness. Godly Christians tend to like people who do their best. Jesus had an obvious soft spot for stewards who did their work diligently and well and makes them the heroes of many of his parables.
- Make a list of the qualities you really want in a partner and bring this list to God in prayer. Make it quite specific. Use it as a "filter" to prevent you going out with people that are completely wrong. When you make the list remember the golden rule "do unto others as you would want them to do unto you". Would you want your future partner to be drawing up a list like yours? Would you have any chance of getting selected if they did? Is your list too unreal? Make sure that an "average person" - the sort you are likely to marry, is able to fulfill it.
- Take their weaknesses seriously. If a person is a Christian but has a problem with drugs or alcohol or promiscuity then be very careful. If they are constantly in financial trouble or always quitting their jobs you may be marrying misery. Things like eating disorders, very low self-esteem, high levels of hostility, and the need to control people can wreak havoc in a marriage. If they are believers then God is working in their lives and there is hope but some believers are not yet ready for responsibility. Some may be "barely believers" and not really committed to long term change. I am not saying don't marry them, I am saying think very, very long and hard before you do. Give them time to grow and to prove themselves before you tie the knot.
- Marry someone you can pray with. Couples that pray together stay together and that's a proven fact. The Christian marriages that fail (including mine) have one partner that avoids having daily devotionals together. Prayer really builds deep intimacy into a marriage.
- Learn to recognize predators. There are quite a number of people who hang around churches to pick up a "Christian partner" and who can fake being a Christian with considerable skill. They generally have no intention of being godly and little intention of marriage. They are generally after unprotected sex with someone innocent and free of disease. Sorry to be that blunt in a Christian magazine but you need to know the truth. Predators are often betrayed by their lack of true feeling for Christian things and their lack of insight into Scripture. Greed, not tithing, and minor ethical breaches are other good clues. Listen to God's promptings and your intuition. The Holy Spirit will scream "No" at you pretty early on. When God says "No" stop right then and there!
- Move steadily and wisely towards commitment and put aside undue suspicion, hostility and distrust of the opposite gender. As a rough rule of thumb people end up living up to your projections of their behavior. If you distrust people and are sure they will not stay with you but are "just using you" then they will flee! No-one will stay in a relationship with a person who distrusts them. However if you treat your partner well and trust , love, and enjoy them and delight in who they are and expect good things of them then they will enjoy your love so much that they will not think of doing anything else except marrying you! Positive people tend to get positive results and negative people tend to get negative results - so deal with your fears.
- Don't be paranoid about members of the opposite sex. In conservative Christian circles there is almost an assumption that you only talk to members of the opposite sex that you are interested in marrying! That is so destructive! Build many ordinary good friendships and confuse your church thoroughly! It takes the pressure off any emerging relationships and also gives you a better understanding of women/men as the case may be.
- Get good Christian counseling if you have had traumatic experiences that may be hindering your ability to relate to members of the opposite sex.
- If you really like someone and they are a good Christian then go for it! I spent a lot of time thinking "so and so is too good for me" and holding back and thus losing out. Being strong and courageous has many advantages and seems to get God's blessing.
- Many good Christian marriages have developed when a friend introduces two people together and they click. While some friends playing Cupid with your life can be a pain if you have a few really good friends that you trust ask them to keep a lookout for you and to pray for the right person to come along.
- Ask God's blessing on your efforts and develop the ability to listen to Him. God has a long history of putting some first class romances together. Let Him order your days and they will be pleasant. He really does care!