The Critical Decision
“If those who are contemplating marriage would not have miserable, unhappy reflections after marriage, they must make it a subject of serious, earnest reflection now. This step taken unwisely is one of the most effective means of ruining the usefulness of …men and women…No one can so effectually ruin a woman’s happiness and usefulness, and make life a heart-sickening burden, as her own husband; and no one can do one hundredth part as much to chill the hopes and aspirations of a man, to paralyze his energies and ruin his influence and prospects, as his own wife. It is from the marriage hour that many men and women date their success or failure in this life, and their hopes of the future life.”Review & Herald February 2, 1886 – Unwise Marriages.
Cinderella was a young woman who lived with her stepmother and two stepsisters. They hated her for her beauty, charm, and kindness so they treated her cruelly. She was forced to do all the chores in the house while her stepsisters were coddled.
One day the King sent out invitations to all the single women in the region to come to a ball at the palace. He wanted to find a wife for his son, the Prince. Cinderella was excited about going to the ball and she found a dress in the attic that had belonged to her mother. Her stepmother did not want her to go the ball, so she gave her extra chores hoping that she would not be finished in time.
While she worked diligently, the animals, who loved Cinderella, made her dress more special with bows and beads they found. But when her stepsisters saw it they tore it apart so Cinderella had nothing to wear to the ball.
She was sad and went to the garden and cried. But then her fairy godmother showed up and turned a pumpkin into a coach and made a beautiful gown and glass slippers for Cinderella. However, she warned Cinderella that at midnight the magic spell would wear off.
The White Knight
When she went to the ball, Prince Charming could not keep his eyes off her. They danced all night though he didn’t know her name. It was Cinderella’s dream come true. But before long the clock began to strike midnight. Cinderella hurried to get away so as to not be seen when the spell wore off. The Prince tried to stop her to get her name, but she was gone.
In her haste, Cinderella left one of her glass slippers behind and Prince Charming picked it up. The next day he sent the Grand Duke to go to every home and find the girl who fit the glass slipper. He finally came to Cinderella’s home and though her stepmother tried to hide her, she was found to be the Prince’s mystery girl. They were soon married and lived happily ever after.
Now be honest ladies, how many of you have dreamed of that kind of thing happening to you? Maybe not exactly that way but being swept off your feet and experiencing “love at first sight” has been your secret wish. Having a handsome and charming man mesmerized by you is every girl’s fantasy at some point in her life. And what about you gentlemen? Certainly, the idea of a beautiful woman being swept off her feet by your charm and being captivated by you is something that you have at least thought about if not dreamed of. It sounds like heaven on earth, right? And millions of people chase that fantasy year after year, whether they are willing to admit it or not. But is that wrong? If so, what is wrong with that? I mean, they did live “happily ever after” right? The book said it right there.
The problem with that kind of fantastical “love” is this:
True love is a high and holy principle, altogether different in character from that love which is awakened by impulse, and which suddenly dies when severely tested.The Adventist Home p. 50 paragraph 3
The problem with Cinderella and Prince Charming “love” is that all it consists of is a high date, a romantic pursuit, a wedding, and a “happily ever after”. The lack of testing of that love allows us to see only the good. If that was all there was to marriage, then there would be no divorce. But it is the tests that are excluded from the fairy tales that tell the truth about the problem with this mate selection process. So, let’s review some of the “courtship/dating” errors that though allowable in a children’s story book, make for disaster in real life marriage.
The Prince was charmed by Cinderella immediately and though her beauty was real, everything else was a facade that she wore for the time she was with him, but that was not made to last past the stroke of midnight. Too many of us, “put on our best face” for the person we are courting, and they are fooled into thinking that what they see is what they will get. However, after the “I dos”, the facade slips and you or your spouse are faced with the reality of what you have committed to and midnight strikes for real.
These facades cause anger, resentment, bitterness, and distance between spouses when something significant is revealed after commitment has been sealed. Though it is hard to reveal our true self to anyone, if you are serious about having true love and a godly marriage, then truth must reign before commitment can be genuine.
In our fantasy, the Prince is so mesmerized by Cinderella’s physical beauty that he does not even get her name. How much could he have really known about her if he did not even ask her name after dancing all night?
Too many of us spend too much time on the romance and exhilaration of the relationship and take little to no time to know and be known so that there are no facades removed after marriage that shake the core of the relationship.
Though you cannot, and should not, get to a place of total transparency until after marriage, that journey starts before marriage. Some critical topics that should be discussed early and openly are spiritual beliefs, past marriages, existing children, child-rearing, previous addictions, abusive relationships, sexual history/trauma, familial mental health issues, current health issues, financial issues, roles of husband/wife etc.
The story tells us that the night with Prince Charming was Cinderella’s dream come true. Too many of us, even when youth has faded into history, still spend too much time dreaming about relationships rather than preparing for one.
“Imagination, lovesick sentimentalism, should be guarded against as would be the leprosy”. Adventist Home p.51.
Preparing Instead of Dreaming
There is too much for us to do in correcting our own defects of character and personality flaws in preparation for union with another sinful human for us to spend time dreaming about being picked up by a knight on a white horse and moving into a castle on the hill.
When we are thinking about being in a relationship we should be in constant prayer asking God to change our character and fix our flaws, show us what we need to surrender to Him and give us the strength to surrender. We need to be praying for the wife or husband that we want God to give us. We need to pray that person will be surrendered and that they are praying for their own character as well. We need to pray that God will bring you together at a time when it would honor Him and be beneficial for us.
Endless dreaming about a fantasy spouse leaves us open to choosing anyone that seems to fit the dream whether they are the one or not.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” ….
satan teaches us this fantastical way of looking at love and relationships starting at such an early age that it is difficult to think of love in the way God does. But the fact is that satan’s purposeful distortion of love has created more contention, disillusionment and misery in marriage and relationships and have set many on the course to hell.
The Glass Slipper Effect
Prince picks up the glass slipper and the next day he sends his Grand Duke to go out and see who fits the shoe and then he would know that was the girl from the ball. Seriously? It was a shoe. Maybe it was a size 6, 7, 8 or even 5, but whatever it was, Cinderella was assuredly not the only girl in the region with that shoe size. It would be one thing if he went with him because he knew what she looked like. But a shoe? That was his “SIGN” that he had found the right girl.
What if the girl in the house next door had the same size foot as Cinderella? Now the Grand Duke brings this other chick up to the palace and she thinking I am going to marry the Prince! Meanwhile, he is thinking who in the world is this?
Many of us have asked God for a sign to show if this person that we like is the right person. We are looking for the “fleece” that will show that this is the one God sent for me. But we ignore all the character signs that demonstrate that this person is not a sincere follower of Christ. We keep asking for a sign and God, our family and friends have pointed out every red flag that is possible and we keep driving. But when we see a double rainbow after a phone call with this person, we are sure that is the “SIGN” and we move forward because the “shoe fits”.
Generally, God is not going to speak down from heaven and say “She’s the one”! I certainly believe that He could if He wanted to, but that is typically not the way. But the point is, He is NOT trying to keep His choice a secret from us.
“Marriage is something that will influence and affect your life both in this world and in the world to come. A sincere Christian will not advance his plans in this direction without the knowledge that God approves his course. He will not want to choose for himself but will feel that God must choose for him.”The Adventist Home p. 43
In asking God to show us, to choose for us, I do not think that it is bad to ask for a sign. However, we set ourselves up for more confusion, heartache, and misery when we don’t seek and wait for a clear “thus saith the Lord” and we rely on tepid, ambiguous signs for a green light. Had that shoe gone on a different size 7 foot before it got to Cinderella’s house that story may have ended with her still sleeping in the attic, cleaning after her stepmother and stepsisters forever. The Prince may have thought, this must be her, she looks a little different in the light of day, but the “shoe fits”.
I am not saying signs are bad, I am saying do not “glass slipper” your way into a miserable, unhappy marriage of your choosing and not God’s. If you ask for a sign, the sign needs to be something only God knows about and only He can do.
But the greatest sign is that the person you are courting has submitted their life to the Savior and they seek to reflect His character, they honor you and the relationship, and there are no red flags for you, your family or friends.
We have looked at some bad ways of finding our “happily ever after”, but the question remains, how do you choose a godly mate? Well before we choose a mate, how about we prepare ourselves to be the one that the one we are looking for is looking for. Come back next week and we will look at becoming before choosing.
We talked earlier about using the armor of God to become a godly single. I want to use that same armor to teach us how to identify a godly mate.
Belt of Truth
Since that is your foundation, the first thing question you need to answer is, “Is that their foundation?” NO matter what he/she says or does good, if the Truth, God, is not their foundation, you should not invite them into your life or if need be you should invite them to exit your life today.
Truth is not doctrine. Truth is God! If He is the first, and final authority in your life, but He is not in theirs that is a deal breaker. Really think about this! A believer and unbeliever in God, come at life from two completely different perspectives and you are moving through life with different ultimate destinations in mind. That means often your “yes” will be his “no” and vice versa. Once you have determined to make truth your foundation, you can no longer be in intimate relationship with a person for whom that determination has not been made.
Breastplate of Righteousness
Right living creates an environment where the Son of God can shine His light on you. The breastplate protects your heart and living right keeps your heart safe. Where light shines, evil and sinfulness does not want to hang out. Where Christ abides, satan cannot reign. The man or woman who is living in darkness, though they may be attracted to your light, they cannot stay long because it makes them guilty and uncomfortable with their own darkness.
If you are sexually pure, those who are sexually impure cannot be in relationship with you because their desires are not satisfied. If you enjoy spending time serving the Lord in His church, those who are not interested in godly things will lose interest quickly. If you choose not to put ungodly movies, shows, or music before your senses, those who enjoy those things will not be happy in your presence.
Righteousness, right living, creates an environment in which satan’s servants are uncomfortable and cannot stay long and prevents you from getting your heart tangled in wrong relationships.
Shoes of the Gospel of Peace
When you have a relationship with God and the Gospel of Peace is your foundation, the thing that you stand on when all else fails, the things that allows you to have peace and be unmoved from God’s side in any storm, you cannot choose a mate that doesn’t have that same foundation. You cannot choose someone who is with God today and not with Him tomorrow because something happened. This kind of person will end up cracking your foundation in the gospel and destroying your peace as well.
In addition, if someone that you are involved with or testing the waters with brings constant strife, fighting and bickering, breaking up and reconciling constantly, they don’t know the Prince of Peace and you will never have peace in that relationship. If the storm comes from within the relationship you need to end that today.
Shield of Faith
You have picked up your faith shield, but the person that you are engaging with does not have a shield. Every trial that comes they bail on God and go off to handle things on their own and always make it worse. Satan is constantly attacking and winning because they simply do not believe that God can and will provide. You are unequally yoked and should you allow this relationship to continue, you will initially shoulder the burden of being the strength and faith in your family and then you will eventually not be either and satan will rule.
Anyone who comes into your life, needs to be exercising their own faith so that you know you can stand together with God when life comes at you. Finally, if they mock your faith in God, they have no right to intimacy with you.
Helmet of Salvation
Understanding your salvation in Christ, protects your mind, your thoughts, your emotions, your mental health! Your mind is protected from the whispers of satan and your thinking is focused and healthy. You need to examine the thought life of the one that you are considering bringing into your life. First, are they secure in their standing with God and their salvation, or are they constantly trying to “prove or work” themselves to God? This thought process will steal all the joy from your life and anyone around you.
Is the person you are dating full of negativity, doubt, fear, anger, or resentment? Is there evidence of mental illness or significant emotional deficits? Do they struggle with depression or anxiety which are attacks of satan on the mind and emotions of people? You must avoid intimate relationships with individuals who do not have their minds fixed and protected by the helmet of salvation.
Sword of the Spirit (Word of God)
Attack the enemy with the Word when he tries to bring anyone into your life who lives in contradiction to the Bible. Some examples are “Be not unequally yoked”. If he/she is not a follower of Christ, then you shouldn’t be with them. If someone is still living off of a parent or have an unhealthy attachment, the Bible says “leave and cleave”. If someone is happy to live in debt, the sword attacks with, “The borrower is servant to the lender” etc. The Bible doesn’t just outline who we are to be and how we are to live daily, it helps us know who should be excluded from our list of potential mates.
There are many important qualities that you should cultivate in yourself and seek out in another to have a successful, intimate, healthy marriage. Following your Cinderella dreams and Prince Charming wishes makes for a life of misery and leads to a destructive end. Paul ends his discussion on the armor of God with this. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end…” When it comes to choosing a mate, the end is a God-honoring, joyful marriage. Be prayerful and watch, using your spiritual tools to ward off the wrong choice and identify the right one.
Let us help you create a life you love now so that your decision-making about a mate is based on biblical discernment and human desperation.
See you next week!