“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4).
Young people today need to be encouraged and taught to build their future marriage house wisely. There are so many who don’t and instead of reaping the blessings of wise preparation, like Proverbs 24:3-4 suggest, they reap horrible fruit and we clean up the mess. Wise planning and preparation lead to stability later on.
Premarital counseling is a wonderful tool to help prepare young people for marriage. Wouldn’t it be wiser though to start earlier so that the foundation of their future marriage house is even more solid? Don’t they need guidance now on how to choose a spouse? Shouldn’t they be working on communication and conflict resolution skills now instead of cramming during premarital counseling? Wouldn’t it be wiser for them to be thinking about why God designed this thing called marriage? Then they can look for someone that has the same convictions as they do. Let’s call it pre-engagement counseling or discipleship.
To briefly illustrate the benefits of an earlier start on marriage house construction let me tell you about Stacy. She is a single, growing Christian. Stacy is very intelligent and is entering her second year of university. Her Christian parents are busy with life, unfortunately, they do not seem to have much time to deal with all her questions about relationships. She has many.
Stacy is prone to crushes on guys, spending much time daydreaming. In the few years I have know her she seems to always have a guy in her sights. She finds herself anxiously asking herself, “What does he think of me?” Typically this ends up with her being hurt when she finds out he likes someone else. She fears that no guy will ever marry her.
Stacy would also admit to impatience. She even wrote a poem called, “When will you come?” She wants a serious relationship and she wants it now! In her “theology” marriage is the perfect remedy for life’s problems. When her prince comes all will be well in her kingdom. What will happen to Stacy if she does not deal with these tendencies before getting into a serious relationship?
She tends to be vulnerable because of her heart thinking that a relationship with a guy is the panacea for life. Almost anytime a guy expresses interest she thinks, “this is the one.” One time she prayed and prayed for a relationship and was particularly burdened to find someone. That day she walked out of class and saw a guy sitting on a wall reading a Bible. Because she had been praying so intensely she thought, “this must be from the Lord.” She went over and introduced herself found out he was a Christian and invited him to church. He came and visited a service but when she found out they had some significant doctrinal differences she realized it wouldn’t work. Again, she was hurt.
Can you see why she needs pre-engagement discipleship? She needs guidance in proper decision making instead of relying on “signs” — like a guy sitting on the wall. She needs to be taught to not trust her heart even though our culture says, “let your heart be your guide.” It has been significant for her to come to believe that “…the heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately
sick…(Jeremiah 17:9). Her thoughts and feelings, not guided by biblical wisdom, are not reliable.
She is learning that if she does not deal with this tendency of hers to “need,” and thinking that a relationship would solve all her problems, that she will be deeply disappointed when her future husband lets her down—and he will. She (and other young people) needs to be taught that a person was not designed to take the place of God in her life as her chief security.
This wonderful Christian young lady needs to understand that the Lord is her sufficiency. Instead of allowing relationships to be her refuge from life she needs to make the Lord her refuge (Psalm 18:1-3). She has begun to realize that her dreaming about relationships is an indication that her heart is leading her toward substitute gods in her life and away from finding the Lord all-satisfying. She is realizing that the Lord must be the solid foundation of her future marriage house. There should be no question of competition between a guy in her life and the Lord. She is learning the truth of Matthew 7: 24-25. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”
She is also realizing that her tendency toward worry is because she has a plan for her own life and does not trust the Lord’s timing. It is her heart’s tendency to want to control. She is realizing that if she does not deal with this she may have a hard time following her husband’s leadership. Psalm 27:13 and14 have become key verses to help her trust the Lord’s timing and not her own.
Here is how Stacy describes the benefits of thinking through relationship issues and dealing with what is in her heart even before being involved in a serious relationship. “A husband will not completely satisfy me, only God can do that…then the other relationship will be everything it is supposed to be, and I will not be surprised to find that my husband is human! Also, realizing I need to become a godly woman now, not assume it will magically fall into place when Mr. Right comes along. So, my time now isn’t wasted; I have a lot to do to become that person.”
I believe the state of marriage in our culture demands that we (whoever has influence) start earlier with our young people. Too many are stumbling around, making unwise choices, being guided only by their flesh. It is no wonder that so many homes are showing the signs of faulty construction. Let’s make a difference by discipling them toward marriage so that their marriages can glorify our great God as they were designed to do.