Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďADVICE TO A SINGLE MAN ABOUT MARRIAGEĒ

Proposition #3

Recognize the wisdom of planning for marriage.

Proverbs 22.3 and 27.12

In this series of messages designed to offer advice to those least likely to consider it, I have presented two propositions. First, tending to eternity is more important than tending to matters of marriage. Second, consider marriage only if you need to consider marriage. To date, I have been informed of no challenges related to either of these propositions, and only a few questions related to these propositions. Of course, as we journey more deeply into the unfriendly territory of thoughtful consideration of marriage we may very well find that opposition to the propositions I introduce and verify from Godís Word will increase. Todayís proposition is one that is unlikely to produce any opposition, since it is such an easily verifiable approach to life and important things that only the most strident opponents of Christianity and an orderly approach to life will oppose it, while even those who agree with it will frequently not abide by it. Let me state the third proposition: Recognize the wisdom of planning for marriage. My text for this evening is Proverbs 22.3, and obviously has much wider application than marriage alone: ďA prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.Ē

For the sake of simplicity, and to limit our discussion to manageable issues, allow me to make an application of this fundamental declaration of a reasonable approach to living to the single manís consideration of marriage. I will order my comments under three headings:

 

First, THERE IS THE PRUDENT MAN

 

That great English Baptist scholar of days gone by, John Gill, describes the prudent man referred to by Solomon:

A wise man, whose eyes are in his head, who looks about him and before him, and is cautious and careful of his conduct and behaviour; he foresees the evil of sin he is liable to be drawn into by such and such company, snares, and temptations; and therefore he keeps from them, and abstains from all appearance of evil, or what would lead him to it; and he foresees the evil of punishment, or the judgments of God that are coming on for sin; and he betakes himself to the Lord, to those hiding places and chambers of retreat and protection he has provided for his people, till the indignation be overpast.[1]

 

Matthew Henry writes these comments about the prudent man, contrasting the prudent man in our text with the simple man who takes no warnings seriously:

 

1.   The benefit of wisdom and consideration: A prudent man, by the help of his prudence, will foresee an evil, before it comes, and hide himself; he will be aware when he is entering into a temptation and will put on his armour and stand on his guard. When the clouds are gathering for a storm he takes the warning, and flies to the name of the Lord as his strong tower. Noah foresaw the deluge, Joseph the years of famine, and provided accordingly.

 

2.   The mischief of rashness and inconsideration. The simple, who believe every word that flatters them, will believe none that warns them, and so they pass on and are punished. They venture upon sin, though they are told what will be in the end thereof; they throw themselves into trouble, notwithstanding the fair warning given them, and they repent their presumption when it is too late. See an instance of both these, Ex 9:20-21. Nothing is so fatal to precious souls as this, they will not take warning.[2]

 

Therefore, you see, there are two kinds of men in the world. Our concern this evening is related to the two kinds of men who consider marriage. One is described as prudent, a man we would say exhibits wisdom, while the other is simple, what we might refer to as foolish.

Were I to address the matter of obtaining wisdom, becoming a prudent man, I would spend time examining the Biblical injunction to pray for wisdom, point out the wisdom literature of the Bible, and deal with the wisdom born of the experiences of life. However, this series is not of much benefit to the simpleton who is not wise, so much as it is designed to benefit the single man who is already prudent, and who will exercise the caution that leads to a marriage that is better as opposed to worse.

Suffice it to say that the prudent man recognizes that life is fraught with dangers, and that marriages tends to turn out badly more than they tend to turn out well, and that the considerations of a single man who is searching for a wife are usually not the considerations he will someday wish he had employed when deciding whom he would marry. Sadly, pastors spend a great deal more time working to help people fix marriages than they do working to help people marry well. Things typically turn out better when you are first a prudent man.

 

Next, THE PROBLEMS FORESEEN

 

What kinds of problems can interfere with a successful marriage? Keeping in mind that a successful marriage is a marriage in which God is glorified, in which Christ is served, in which the church is the center of the familyís activities, and in which the love of Christ constrains the husband and the wife to seek the salvation of the lost in their family, in their neighborhood, in their community, and in the far reaches of the world.

I am reminded of our missionary Pat Colemanís mom and dad, who are in the twilight of their lives in Bellflower. Wonderful Christians who have lived for God and served the savior in their church their whole lives, they are committed, resilient, and determined, and have raised three sons who serve God, with Pat and his wife Sherry serving in Zambia on the mission field. Theirs is a successful marriage, and such marriages as that are not accidents, but are the culmination of extremely hard work and Godís abundant grace.

What kinds of obstacles the single man who would have such a marriage as that must foresee? Setting aside his consideration of the person he would marry for later discussion, allow me to speak generally about four kinds of difficulties that cause problems in most marriages. The prudent man sees these future problems because the prudent man observes those around him who are married, engages in serious discussions of marriage with godly married men, studies Godís Word with such things in mind, and has extended conversations with Godís men about matters related to marriage. Four general topics need the prudent manís attention:

First, foresee financial problems. Finances are typically the number one cause of family problems, according to those who study such things. Yet, finances are typically the least considered ingredient when people enter into a marriage. The prudent man, however, asks himself such questions as: Whose job is it to provide for my family? Who do I want to raise my children, my wife, or some minimum wage worker who does not love them and cannot teach them the values I treasure? Where will we live? What happens if I lose my job? What happens if I am injured? What happens if I am overcome by illness? How will my ability to earn a living affect our standard of living, my wifeís ability to stay at home until our kids are raised, and the schools that I want our kids to attend? Of course, the financial problems you will face in marriage, and your ability to deal with those problems, is affected by your education before you marry, by your willingness to save and invest before you marry, and the skills you will more easily acquire before you marry than after you marry.

Next, foresee family problems. No one seems to listen to the preacher who points out that when you marry you marry families as much as you marry individuals, but it is true just the same. Therefore, you need to give serious attention to your ability to share the love and affections of a woman with those loved ones she has known a lot longer than she has known you, but who you will be with long after her family members have passed on or moved away. Do you love the woman, but hate her mom? Then do not marry her. Do you love the woman, but hate her dad? Then do not marry her. Do you find the woman intriguing, but have issues with her family that you find perplexing, that you find frustrating, that you find intolerable? Then you should not marry her. I am not pretending to address every problem that can arise with respect to a woman and her family, or a woman and your family. Perhaps your family is the one that will prove to be problematic should you marry her. Whatever the case, family is a primary consideration when contemplating marriage, both her family and yours.

Third, foresee physical problems. The entire seventh chapter of First Corinthians is devoted to the problems the Apostle Paul addressed in response to the Corinthian Christians seeking answers about sex and marriage in the Christian life. The existence of that chapter in the Bible should forewarn the prudent man that there might very well be serious physical problems associated with marriage. To be sure, it is better to marry than burn, First Corinthians 7.9, and marriage is a fit and proper alternative to sex outside marriage, which is fornication, First Corinthians 7.2, and is forbidden. However, surprising to me in my ministry is the frequency with which cases of Christians defrauding their spouses exists. Though no husband has a claim to governance over his own body in marriage, and no wife has a claim to governance over her own body in marriage, First Corinthians 7.4, I find that it more frequently occurs than I would have suspected for wives to defraud their husbands. The single man needs to foresee the possibility of such a problem, so he can prepare himself to forestall any bitterness and resentment that so frequently overtakes men who face such issues. In other words, sir, marriage had better not be all about sex to you, because you will be surprised to discover that deprivation of needs in marriage is a very common ploy used by women. It is not a ploy used by godly women, but it is a ploy used by women. Therefore, if momma tells you no, and she never says yes to you again, you should still prepare yourself in advance of marriage to love and care for your wife if you find that you then face such a problem.

Finally, foresee spiritual problems. Perhaps you get along with your in-laws. Perhaps money issues do not plague your marriage. Hey, it may even be that the marriage bed is not only undefiled, Hebrews 13.4, but the romantic aspect of your marriage is utter bliss. However, that is still not the most important part of marriage. The most important part of marriage is the spiritual union that takes place when a man marries and woman and a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church is reflected in the relationship between a husband and his wife. Are you willing to carry the burden of that role in your marriage? Keep in mind that the faithful and reliable party in your relationship with Christ is the Savior and not you. That would suggest that the faithful and reliable party in your relationship with your wife is expected to be you and not her. You represent Christ in your home, while wifey portrays the believer. Unless you have grown up in an intact family in which both mom and dad worked at living for God and serving Christ, you cannot imagine the degree to which spiritual matters can affect a marriage. All I can advise is that you be one question-asking guy whenever you are around older Christian men who are married. You need to be a sponge around such men, as you seek to absorb all you can to gain insights that may prove to be useful should you marry.

 

Finally, THE PLANNING CYCLE

 

If you look once more to our text, you will see that the prudent man who foresees the evil hides himself. Understand that this does not involve ducking down behind a rock when you see storm clouds approaching. It refers to building a shelter, to ordering your assets, to preparing for the storm. The same thing is true with respect to anything that might overtake you in the future, and is applicable to foreseeing the preparing for the difficulties of marriage as anything else.

With respect to prudence, though it is unlikely that a fool will decide to be wise or a simpleton will opt for prudence, it is very common for someone who is somewhat wise to seek greater wisdom, and for the man who exercises some prudence to develop more. Thus, a man of some wisdom should plan to acquire more wisdom, and the prudent man should seek to develop discernment so that he might become more prudent. Have you ever given that any thought?

Relative to finances. I stand before you a singular example of shortsightedness in this respect. My first pastor was not much given to providing counsel to church members, and it was evident that he did not want members to seek his counsel. Therefore, I made a number of spectacular blunders before I married, as a direct result of misunderstanding what Godís Word taught about certain things. The result, of course, is that my wife suffered terribly as a result. Use me as an example of what not to do. I do not generally give financial counsel, though I do seek to counsel people to exercise wisdom with respect to handling finances, and to preparing for life properly before marriage, so you do not have to play so much financial catch-up after you get married. Plan now how you will handle your finances so you will not be caught short, so you will know how to recover from tragedies, and so your attitude toward money and possessions reflects scriptural values.

Relative to the physical aspect of marriage. The physical union is a very important matter in marriage, deservedly so. The problem that sometimes exists is that marriage partners are sometimes extremists with respect to this aspect of marriage. One spouse treats the physical aspect of marriage as the most important facet of marriage, while the other spouse treats the physical aspect of marriage as being insignificant, or as a tool with which to gain leverage over a partner. Both postures are wrong, but the single man who considers marriage needs to recognize that marriage is not the Garden of Eden and will not necessarily be the romantic playground where all his fantasies are fulfilled. Women are not toys and find it intolerable when they find themselves dealing with someone who wants to treat them as if they were a toy. It is not at all difficult to understand why a woman would be uncooperative with anyone who tries to treat her in that fashion, so a single man needs to make sure that he does not look at the woman he would like to marry in that way.

Relative to the spiritual aspect of marriage. In marriage, the husband is supposed to provide spiritual leadership. How does one prepare for spiritual leadership in marriage but by providing spiritual leadership wherever he can before marriage? How many a young man will want a wife to follow his lead, though he finds no motivation to cultivate his leadership skills before entering into marriage? Excuse me, but a prudent man who knows he must someday lead will set himself to the task of learning how to lead before he marries.

 

ďA prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.Ē This is a pattern of behavior that is reflected in a prudent manís approach to every aspect of life, not just marriage. Therefore, it is valid that one should Recognize the wisdom of planning for marriage.

What are the benefits of planning for marriage that I have not yet touched on? Here are a few: What if your plans to prepare yourself for marriage reveal to you that you are simply not suitable for marriage? What if your plans to prepare yourself for marriage reveal to you that the kind of woman you would be most pleased with is quite different from what you have previously imagined? Then, of course, there are the benefits of you becoming by Godís grace a better man, one who is better able to lead a woman, one who is more appealing to a woman, one who is better prepared to provide for a woman, one who is more suited to deal with the extended family issues faced in marriage, and one who is more thoughtful about the spiritual implications of marriage.

Good Lord, man! You donít just decide one day you want to be married to go looking for a woman. Neither do you find yourself suddenly nor surprisingly in love with a woman you then decide to marry. Marriage is important, too important for anyone but a silly fool to enter into without preparation.



[1] John Gill, The Collected Writings of John Gill - Version 2.0, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000-2003)

[2] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henryís Commentary On The Whole Bible, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com



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