Preparation for Marriage and Thoughts on Courtship
By Tamara Eaton
In Proverbs 31, King Lemuel shares the words of wisdom and advice his
mother gave him, saying "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price
is far above rubies..." As a mother, I can identify with how his
mother wanted only the best for her son --a wife who would fear and serve the
Lord, and delight in following His ways.
The following articles were first written for my firstborn son, with a
heartfelt prayer that he and his future bride would commit their way unto the
Lord, and follow Him with all their hearts. Homeschooling gives us a
wonderful opportunity to disciple and train our children in principles for
godly living during their most formative years. Since these essential
qualities for marriage aren't formed overnight, preparation for marriage
actually begins from the cradle --and we can ask the Lord to be our guide!
"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt
go: I will guide thee with mine eye." --Psalm 32:8
Preparation for Marriage
Marriage is for mature adults --mature not only physically, but
psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually.
* One who is prepared for marriage has an
adult perspective on life, knows how to judge priorities and
determine God's will --not just live for fun and pleasure or selfish
* He understands how to set and achieve
both long-term and short-term goals and how to lead a disciplined
* He is willing to
"die to flesh" and place his future spouse's needs (and future
children's needs) before his own. No longer can selfishness reign! All
decisions and actions affect two people now.
* He is willing to pay the cost to lead
his family spiritually and he recognizes that he is going to answer to God
as to how he leads his family. He has surrendered himself fully to the
Lord and allowed Him full control.
* He is prepared to provide for
his future wife's and future family's financial needs.
* He has learned to judge things in light
of Eternity --he understands what is really important and what is not.
* He takes the time to study God's Word
and pray --for himself and for others, for his future spouse, and for
wisdom and understanding of the Lord's will for their lives.
* He realizes his spiritual maturity is
revealed by the degree in which he cooperates with the Holy Spirit and
chooses to live by His instructions and lines his life up with the Word of
* He prays that the Lord leads him to the
perfect spouse for himself, one who has also dedicated her life to Jesus
Christ and is submitted to His Lordship and desires to walk in accordance to
His Word -- otherwise, how can two walk together except they be agreed?
* He is totally committed to one spouse
for life, divorce will never be an option or even in his vocabulary. He
realizes love is a decision, not just a feeling and that while feelings may
increase and decrease in intensity according to current circumstances, true
love endures because it is based on more than just a feeling --it is a
"Essential Qualities for Marriage"
1. A personal total commitment to the Lord
Total commitment to Christ means not holding any area of your life back for
your own, but giving it all up to Jesus. Are you spending time in His Word,
applying it to your life, and do you seek His face daily?
2. An appreciation and acceptance of one's
own unique gifts and calling from the Lord.
Self-acceptance doesn't mean selfishness, but rather understanding that
God has created you for a special purpose and loves you with an everlasting
* He has a unique plan and ministry for
you that only you can fulfill. (Psalm 139; Ephesians 1:18, 2:10)
* Accept the gifts He's given you and
avoid comparing yourself with others.
* Offer yourself continually up to God and
He will continue His work in you and conform you to the image of His Son (Romans
* Be more concerned about being adorned
with the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22f) rather than your
* Let God's perspective become your
3. A humble and forgiving spirit
Pride and unforgiveness can cause bitterness, distrust, and resentment to
build and destroy relationships and marriages. It can also cause deep
depression. The cure? Forgiving others as Jesus forgave us, even while we
were yet in our sins. (Mark. 11:24-26, Matt. 6:14-15, Luke 6:37, Matt.
6:12, Luke 23:34, Col. 3:13, Eph. 4:32). And when the enemy tries to bring
those unforgiving thoughts up again, we must remind him that we've already
forgiven and are free thanks to our Lord Jesus!
" Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be
put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." --Eph.4:31-32
"Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one
will see the Lord:looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of
God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many
become defiled" --Heb.12:14-15
"Only by pride cometh contention..." --Prov. 13:10
"He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife..." --Prov.28:25
"... be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for
God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." --1
Purity is a beautiful gift to offer your future spouse. Confess any sins of
impurity and allow the Lord to help you "walk in the spirit, and you
shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) As
He lives in you, He will bring to your mind any thoughts, words or actions
that are impure. By filling your mind with God's Word (Romans 12:2; Psalm
119:11), you can defeat the enemy who would seek to distract you and rob you
of purity before the Lord and before your future mate.
5. Awareness of Purpose
Without specific goals and purpose in life, one is reduced to floundering
along life's roads with no sense of direction. Christians are given not
only a road map --God's Word --but also the means by which we can discern
God's Will for our lives --His Holy Spirit!
The Lord has a unique purpose and ministry for each one to fulfill and it's
important to seek Him for wisdom and direction. Having goals and a sense of
purpose is not only energizing but gives meaning to life, and allows one to
set priorities in planning and working for the future.
The first and foremost goal for all Christians is to glorify God. One's
job or career should not be an end in itself but only the means by which one
fulfills part of God's plans and purposes for his life. Neither should the
pursuit of leisure or pleasure be the ultimate goal --working in order to make
enough to spend on fun weekends and buy more "toys" is not a worthy
goal! Even working with the sole goal of financial security falls way short of
God's plan --He wants each one to be focused on HIM alone for the ultimate
Examine your priorities in light of God's Word and what is of eternal value
--don't squander time, energy and resources on things of no enduring value.
How much wasted time and stress could be avoided each day by taking time to
seek the Lord first and asking Him for wisdom and help in establishing
priorities and godly goals!
Jesus saw many needs when He was performing His earthly ministry but even
He didn't met them all--instead He did the work that His Father had given
Him. That's all anyone can do--seek the Lord for His will and do it, not
becoming side-tracked, even by seemingly worthwhile things. These side issues
can drain us or keep us so occupied that we aren't able to accomplish what God
has called us to do in the first place.
Remember: "There is always enough time to do the will of
6. Financial responsibility
Supporting a household is a huge responsibility, especially when you're
young and just starting out. There are many expenses that come up unexpectedly
and it's wise to have a cushion of savings to fall back upon if necessary (and
it almost goes without saying --it will be necessary!). If a young couple
starts out with both working outside the home, it's easy to grow accustomed to
having two incomes, which causes huge challenges when the children begin to
come along. It's best to learn to get along on one income to avoid these
Don't let a "worldly" philosophy be your guide --God
has much to say in His Word about finances and managing your money. Don't
go into debt. Pray before purchasing. Ask the Lord to make you a good manager
of the money He's provided. Look to the Lord to provide all your needs and
make sure you're meeting all the conditions of being responsible with what He
has already provided. If this has been a weak area, take time to read good
books on managing your money and learn to plan and budget. It is much easier
to learn this as a single person before you are responsible for providing for
another person, too!
Above all else --dedicate all your money, possessions, time and future
to God and allow Him to give you wisdom and direction! He doesn't want you
to be bogged down with worry about material things, He promises to provide all
your needs if you seek Him first. (Matthew 6:33)
7. Respect for authority and divine order
A couple prepared for marriage must have a proper respect for authority and
divine order in the home. The Lord is the head, the husband leads the home
under submission to God, loving his wife sacrificially just as Christ loved
the Church, and the wife is in loving submission to the husband. God has
given Christian husbands and wives to each other to function as a team, in
mutual respect and honor, totally sold out and committed to Him, each
contributing special gifts and wisdom as they're yielding themselves to Him,
and thereby working efficiently and effectively to further not only His will
in their lives, but in the kingdom of God!
Examine yourself and your future spouse --how many of these qualities are
now present? How many are lacking and need further development? Before
marriage the problem areas need to be strengthened and any weaknesses
overcome. The Lord doesn't leave you on your own to struggle with this, He
promises to equip and strengthen you as you trust and abide in Him. (John
"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him,
the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.... If ye
abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it
shall be done unto you." --John 15:5,7
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit
yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love
your wives, and be not bitter against them." --Colossians 3:17-19
"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the
Lord is....Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives,
submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is
the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the
saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let
the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives,
even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it..." --Ephesians
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that,
if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the
conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled
with fear..... Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge,
giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs
together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." --1
Thoughts on Courtship
Courtship, as opposed to playing the "dating game", is a popular
subject in many homeschooling circles these days--and you'll find various
definitions as to what exactly constitutes "Biblical courtship". I
don't believe there is one set of rules for courtship that applies to all.
Courtship has been around for a LONG time --and even in the Bible we find
different ways marriages came about. I think it's important to stick with
the principles found in God's Word for purity, faith in God, looking to
Him for wisdom, honoring parents, marrying in the Lord, living the crucified
life --instead of a set of rules and regulations. We have brought our
children up to know and understand the importance of putting these Biblical
principles into practice from the start --way before they became old enough to
start thinking about marriage!
We have prayed and will continue to trust the Lord to bring the right ones
into their lives (if it's His will that each one marry) and we have asked the
Lord to give them the wisdom and understanding necessary to discern His
perfect will for their lives. We do believe it will be confirmed to all of our
hearts when it is the "right one" and the right time for each of
them to marry.
One reason we have such confidence in the Lord's ability to work out all
the courtship details for our children is because we've experienced God's
workings in this area firsthand.
William and I both prayed before we met each other that the Lord would have
His way in our lives and provide a deeply committed Christian spouse. We saw
His faithfulness in the way He worked in our own lives and clearly revealed
His will to us. We also had the opportunity to get to know each other and
fellowship around the Word of God as brother and sister in the Lord BEFORE we
revealed our deeper feelings to each other. We discussed our convictions,
goals, the Word of God, prayed together and learned that we both viewed the
Word of God as our standard. It certainly makes it easier when both partners
go into a marriage determined to follow the Lord and the standards set forth
in His Word! (And it makes it much easier to talk about different issues
BEFORE being so caught up dreamily gazing into another's eyes!)
Some parents are fearful that if they don't join the "right
group" (homeschool organizations, church youth groups,etc.),
their children will NEVER be able to find good "marriage material"
(future spouses!). Certainly it's one way for young adults to meet other
believers their ages, but it's not the only way GOD can bring that special
someone into our young adult's life!
My mother was the only one out of all of our parents who was serving the
Lord at the time William and I met--and we're eternally thankful our fathers
didn't find spouses for us! We prayed; God answered. He is faithful and not
limited to our finite understanding and ability to make plans. We don't
have to hire a detective to investigate various families' backgrounds looking
for "quality matches". (Whew!) What a relief that we can trust Him
for EVERYTHING! We encourage our young adults to SEEK GOD, not a mate...."and
all these things shall be added unto thee" --Matt.6:33.
Bottom Line: If we can trust our Lord to handle all these other
issues of life, we can certainly trust Him to handle our children's
courtships and marriages.
[Note--If you don't know the Lord in a personal, saving way--find out how
you can be set free from all condemnation and receive Eternal life, as well as
His daily help and guidance! (Knowing God)
� Copyright Tamara Eaton 1994-2000, all rights reserved.
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We have always homeschooled our seven children (elementary through high
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"And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;
and great shall be the peace of thy children."