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Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Biblical Advice for Brothers Who Want to Find a Wife: Part 3 “Surfing the Internet for a Mate”
An important question a man has to answer if he wants to find a wife is, “Where should I look?” Since the time that our Lord walked the earth, a believer found a wife or husband in one of three primary circles (from friends of family, church associations, or their network of friendships [work/neighborhood/school etc.]). Fast forward thousands of years to our new digital age, without borders, and a new circle for finding a spouse has arisen—the Internet. Last month, I had the privilege of officiating a wedding where a brother in our church was encouraged by a missionary friend to pursue a sister in the Lord who lived in Brazil. Not knowing a lick of Portuguese, he pursued her via the Internet using Google Translate to communicate. As they say, the rest is His-story. God, who is able to do all things, can certainly bring two believers together from opposite sides of the globe. That’s no problem for Him. But the question for us is, is it prudent to find an Internet spouse? What does the Bible say? Here are a couple of biblical principles that might help you answer this question and find a wife.
1st Is the Internet the most profitable way to look for a wife?
The Bible teaches that Christians can marry anyone they want (so long as they marry another believer “in the Lord” [1 Cor 7:39]). But with the gracious principle of liberty believers have in Christ, we are also commanded to “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,” Eph 5:15. Paul specifically applies this principle to the kinds of relationships believers can enter into. He writes, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable,” 1 Cor 6:12. It seems that in this verse, Paul is responding to the shallow reasoning some single Corinthians used to justify being in relationships that they had no business being in. They seemed to be parading their liberty of not being under the law and therefore considered themselves free to do whatever they wanted. Paul responded that believers do have liberties, but our liberties must be circumvented by the principle that we need to choose ways that are more beneficial and advantageous. So before you turn on your computer to find a wife, make sure you are accurately answering the question, “Is the Internet a more advantageous way for me to find a spouse than looking within the circles of my Christians relationships: church, family, or friendships?
2nd Is the Internet the wisest way to find a match made in heaven?
The miracle of marriage is that God takes two people and makes them into one flesh or one new person (Gen 2:24). The first marriage was paradigmatic in the sense that Adam and Eve were literally of the same bone and flesh. God made Eve from Adam, then rejoined them in marriage. Therefore, their marriage union was the reuniting of a separated single person back into one flesh. Genesis 2:24 applies the reality of the first one flesh union to what God does supernaturally to all monogamous husband and wife unions. A husband and wife by God’s design are to become one in every sense. So in finding a spouse, Christians are finding the person with whom God has so designed for them to become one person. This would suggest that by God’s providence there need to be points of deep compatibility because the husband and wife have to fit together as one new person. If they are different in everything, then they will be prone to having conflicts over everything.
On the surface, it appears that Internet dating services are uniquely designed to address this concern. Those who are looking for a spouse can narrow their search to individuals that meet all their lists of wants: ethnicity, physical appearance, hobbies, personality test similarities, politics, specific Christian convictions, etc. Some sites even guarantee that through their scientific process, their match will be a match made in heaven.
Here are a couple of problems to consider with finding a spouse on the Internet. The source (and only source you have) to get to know the other person is what s/he decides to post about him/herself. And considering that the people posting their profiles on Internet dating services want people to like them (based on what they post), there’s a real good chance they’re not posting all of their pictures. Added to that, Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jer. 17:9. Our sin nature tempts all of us to gloss over our issues. And all of us do have issues. You need to get to know your future spouse without a mask hiding his/her warts. That’s why meeting someone in a circle of relationships where other people know him/her can be an invaluable, insightful help. Plus you have to ask yourself, if an Internet dream guy or girl is so great, why couldn’t they find a spouse from the circles of people who really know them? One more question to think about if you think that the Internet always tells the truth is, “Would you hide your warts on your profile?” If you would, or to whatever extent you have, then aren’t people responding to a misleading caricature of who you are and not the real you? It’s a scary thought to find out the day after you’ve vowed “I do” for the rest of your life that you just bond yourself to someone who really isn’t who you thought. Similarly what if the person saying “I do” to you thought s/he was marrying that amazingly flawless Internet profile you posted only to find, well, that that’s not really you.
3rd Is Internet spouse searching a reflection of walking by faith?
Remember how God promised Abraham a son then Abraham decided to help God by walking by sight (the cultural route of going through a surrogate to have a child when one’s spouse was barren) rather than by faith? The Bible teaches us that “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” Hebrews 11:6.
I can’t think of an issue that is more important for a Christian to pray about with faith and wait on God to answer than finding a spouse. There are billions of single people on earth. Christians need God and not just a computer to find their match. Christians have to marry Christians—not just people who post profiles saying that they are Christians. CNN’s Anderson Cooper did a survey in 2006 and 90% of the respondents claimed to be Christians. There’s no way to be 100% certain that anyone is saved, but we can be 100% certain that everyone talking about heaven ain’t going there. All the apostles thought Judas was saved. But a Christian man can be a whole lot more confident that the woman he is pursuing is really saved when the Christians he knows and trust affirm her salvation and character. I made myself promise that if my friends and (Christian) family disapproved of the woman I wanted to marry, I wouldn’t marry her. After praying for years for a wife, my dad called me and told me that there was a young lady that he thought I should meet. It just so happened that my sister ministered with her as well. And they both thought the world of her. I know the Internet gives an exciting new way to try to find a spouse, however, I am not sure that new is always better.
So in summary, what does the Bible say to a Christian trying to find a mate on the Internet? If you are trying to find someone saved, it doesn’t call it sin, but I think there are principles in the Bible that suggest Internet spouse-searching isn’t the most beneficial, wisest, or most faith-based way of looking for a spouse.
Now since I am getting into everyone business in this series, I might as well tell you what I really think. If in your circles of Christian relationships (church, family, and friends) you are confident that Christians are rightly pursuing and worshipping God, then why wouldn’t you do all that you can to find someone from those circles to marry. Since the primary purpose for marriage is to glorify God, and assuming that the people in your Christian circles are living for God’s glory, then shouldn’t there be a like-minded spiritually compatible sister you can marry from within those circles? This, of course, is assuming, brothers, that charm which is deceitful and beauty which is vain (Proverbs 31:30) aren’t at the top of your list. I’m just trying to keep it real.
I hope this helps you to start looking for a wife. May God’s grace and peace be with you.