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Engagement (2): Not with an Unbeliever

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Engagement (2): Not with an Unbeliever

6 minuten leestijd

Engagement is actually the first more or less official step toward marriage. It is, of course, a matter of great importance which persons shall be engaged to each other.

God’s Word speaks of the guidance of God in the lives of all people. The marriage form confesses that guidance very clearly when it says” that He does yet as with His hand bring unto every man his wife.” And this is very true. People sometimes say,” All marriages are made in heaven.” They mean by that that the counsel of the Lord is executed also in the carrying out of marriage. Every marriage that takes place is according to the counsel of God—also unhappy marriages are according to God’s counsel.

But we must notice carefully that this does not exclude our human responsibility. We may never appeal to this guidance of God to withdraw from our responsibility. That is nothing other than making a wicked use of the doctrine of providence. A person who enters upon an unhappy marriage by an imprudent, rash decision, can lay the blame only upon himself. Therefore we must use great caution in choosing the one we wish to marry.

Our choosing in the first place must be a matter of prayer. We must ask the Lord to guide us, and to keep us from sinful ways.

In this connection we think of the story of Isaac’s marriage. In this story we read that Eliezer, to whom the task of seeking a wife for Isaac was entrusted, prayed,” O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray Thee send me good speed this day.” He prayed for God’s guidance, and went to work with much caution and prudence, so that he might discern the tokens of God’s guidance. In the end he marveled at the disposal of God’s providence when he said,” The Lord has led me in the right way.” Likewise, we read that Isaac went out to meditate in the field. Emphatically the inspired writer relates this in connection with the story of Isaac’s marriage so that we may be certain that his prayer in the field was also connected with his marriage.

When our choice of him or her whom we wish to marry is a matter of prayer, we will be careful that we do not bind ourselves to someone whom the Lord in His Word forbids us to marry. In this connection there are clear statements in God’s Word. The Lord forbade Israel to allow their sons to marry the daughters of the Canaanites. In this commandment for Israel also lies a commandment for the New Testament church. We must therefore consider this seriously.

When we find someone to whom we would like to bind ourselves but who does not embrace the doctrine of truth, we must not wave this matter aside, saying that it will be all right and later we will talk about it. Many marriages that began with the best of intentions, also regarding the confession of the truth, later proved to be continual hardship for both parties. The difference that they first considered a trifle became a wedge that continued to drive husband and wife farther apart. The appeal some men make to what the apostle declares in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 is ungrounded, since the apostle there speaks of a person who came to the knowledge of faith in Christ after his or her marriage. The apostle urges such a person to remain with his or her spouse. Hence we may not apply this admonition to those who are not yet married, for Paul evidently refers to those who are married. For us it is important to heed his admonition that we be not unequally yoked to unbelievers as we can read in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

This commandment is clear and cannot be contradicted. God forbids the mingling of the” holy seed” with the children of the world. Sometimes the persons involved think that once the marriage is performed, agreement will be reached in this matter. Also we sometimes hear the foolish thought that by such a marriage a person who is estranged from the Christian truth will be brought to the doctrine of Christ. The apostle, however, strongly counsels against such an alliance when he says that no believer shall be yoked with an unbeliever. By the word” believers” we denote people who confess the Christian truth and want to live according to it, and by” unbelievers” we mean those who are estranged from the knowledge of the truth. But then we must not try to obscure the seriousness of the issue by using sophistry. Perhaps we appeal to an example with which we are familiar, by which we seem to be justified in our opinion in this matter.

We know that there are examples of marriages that began in wrong ways, but finally by the grace of God became blessed and happy marriages. But that did not happen as a result of the wrong beginning, but in spite of it. There are, on the other hand, many other examples that prove to us that we cannot slight God’s law with impunity. We think of the marriage of Samson with the Philistine woman. This marriage was not outside of God’s counsel. It even had to serve to give Samson an occasion to grapple with the Philistines, but the marriage itself was unlawful. Samson’s parents were at first justly opposed to this marriage, and asked Samson whether there was no wife for him among the daughters of his people. This marriage brought no blessing to him, although it served the counsel of God.

We could also mention Solomon’s alliances with strange women. Solomon was beloved of the Lord, endowed with great wisdom of which the fear of the Lord was the beginning. But even in his life the strange women drew his heart away from God so far that he caused altars to be erected for strange idols.

We can also notice in this connection what we read in Genesis 6:2,” The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” When this mingling of the generation of Seth with the generation of Cain continued, the destruction of the first world was hastened.

The examples are too clear to soothe ourselves with the idea that it will not be as bad as anticipated. A first requisite, therefore, is that in this most essential matter—that is, in religion—there must be a unity of feeling and thought before marriage. If there is no unity here, the marriage will seldom bring a true unity. In marriage it is not only necessary to be one physically, but also to be one in religious matters.

Rev. A Vergunst (1936-1981) served the Netherlands Reformed Congregations of Corsica, South Dakota and Kalamazoo, Michigan, in addition to three congregations in the Netherlands.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van zondag 1 april 1990

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

Engagement (2): Not with an Unbeliever

Bekijk de hele uitgave van zondag 1 april 1990

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken