I would imagine that most of you, like me when I was your age, want to get married and have a family someday. While it’s not a requirement for a Christian to be married or have children, it’s certainly a fine desire to have, and a godly goal. After all, God’s overall purpose is to create a spirit family in the Kingdom of God.
Before talking about marriage and relationships in general, it helps to understand our roles individually as men and women. In fact, we talked about these roles in two recent issues of Compass Check: What Does It Mean to Be a Man? (ucg.org/members/compass-check/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-man) and Don’t be Fooled! God’s Truth About the High Value of Women (ucg.org/members/compass-check/dont-be-fooled-gods-truth-about-the-high-value-of-women).
So, with that in mind, let’s consider how God looks at family. In 1 John 3:1-2, we read: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” It can sometimes be a little hard to understand exactly what it will be like to be a part of the family of God. John admits that, and goes on to say in essence “we’ll find out when we get there.” But the key takeaway from this scripture is that we are being called to be children of God—a part of the God family!
God is building a spirit family for the future, an important part of which is that His family will have godly character. He helps us develop that character through the lessons and experiences we gain from our physical families now as human beings (Ephesians 5:28-32). So, as young people, what’s your part?
Ruler or head?
When it comes to the roles of a man and a woman in a family, we often go to Ephesians 5:22-24 for guidance: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” This is Scripture and we take it to be the divinely inspired Word of God. But is it saying that wives never have a say in anything and that men are superior beings who rule with a fist of iron?
Let me tell you: I’ve known people who thought this way. And if I’m honest, there were times as a young man when I thought this way. But an iron-fisted husband who makes all decisions for his wife and children without considering their feelings and needs is no kind of a real man. Those are people who were fooled into thinking they were men by what the world taught them.
This is talking about a married couple—one man, one woman, bound in marriage in the eyes of God. While the mere thought of marriage being defined this way has come under attack in the past few years, we know this is what the Bible teaches (Genesis 2:18-25). But consider what this verse does not say. It does not say that all men, everywhere, are the head over all women. It’s talking specifically about a husband and a wife—people who have made that commitment to one another before God.
So a natural reaction for you as a reader might be something like, “Okay, that’s fine. But how does that help me now as a young person who is perhaps just starting to think about dating?” Keeping our end desire of marriage in mind, what Ephesians 5 shows us is some character traits to look for in a potential future mate, and perhaps more importantly, some character traits we need to be working on ourselves.
To the guys in the audience . . .
Just because the Bible states that the husband is head over the wife, it doesn’t mean you can blatantly tell a woman what to think or do without regard to her feelings. A friend of mine has a sign in his kitchen that reads, “Telling a woman to calm down works about as well as baptizing a cat.” (He and his wife have been married for 40 years and have a great marriage, BTW). The point being, telling someone (man or woman) to think or feel a certain way just doesn’t work!
As noted above, when she gets married, a wife is saying, “Yes, I agree to take on the biblically defined roles of marriage, including having a husband who is now the head of me.” Do you know what she just did, willingly?!!??! She said, “I’m okay with giving up some of my freedom of choice and authority to this man.” As a future wife, she is putting a lot of trust in you to act as the head of a family in a way that considers her thoughts and feelings.
What Ephesians 5 shows us is some character traits to look for in a potential future mate, and perhaps more importantly, some character traits we need to be working on ourselves.
Fellas, a girl who senses a guy is trying to manipulate or control her will not be interested in pursuing a relationship with him. Understanding your biblical role as a future husband to be the head of the household, not an overlord, will go a long way in helping you pursue your goal of marriage someday.
To the ladies . . .
If we continue reading in Ephesians 5:25, we read, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” I remember at one point in my young married life reading this scripture and it hitting me like a punch in the nose. Jesus willingly died for me. To love my wife—really love her the same way God loved me—I had to be willing to “take a bullet” for her if need be. It was then that I realized being a husband was a whole lot more than being the one to make all the major decisions, or even minor ones, like what’s for dinner, what kind of car to buy, etc.
Ladies, as you start dating and getting to know a guy, consider the fact that he has been given a mission. His God-ordained role, if indeed he becomes your husband someday, is to take care of you. If he offers to open up a car door, suggests a particular place for dinner, or even gives you advice on your career and school, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s trying to tell you what you can or cannot do. He, in fact, may just be working toward fulfilling his responsibility to take care of someone he could see as his future wife!
In the meantime . . .
Take the thought of marriage out of it for a minute. What if you stay single all your life, like Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul did? Again, there’s no requirement as Christians to get married. How do we love others as we love ourselves? A good place to start is Matthew 7:12 where Christ taught “the golden rule,” “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely a teen living at home. Your parents have the authority to decide what you wear to school or church, have for dinner or if you are allowed to go out and use the family car. And while there are times they may give you firm directions on each of these things, I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of the time, they get your input and consider your feelings. You, in turn, recognize they are doing it out of love and concern for you and, in fact, are responsible for taking care of you.
Jesus willingly died for me. To love my wife—really love her the same way God loved me—I had to be willing to “take a bullet” for her if need be.
Does all that sound familiar? It should. Just as you hope to get married and start your own family someday, your parents had that dream years ago. Together, you and your parents are right in the middle of accomplishing their goal of having a family. And remember, the physical family we are a part of right now is a part of God’s goal of building family too!
Here and now
No family is perfect. Not the one you’re in now, the one that I grew up in, nor the one you hope to create some day. In fact, we won’t truly be the family God wants for some time. “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God’” (Revelation 21:3).
Until that day arrives though, we can work on building family here and now. As you begin to date and think about marriage and having a family, remember how God defines the roles of husband and wife, and let them guide you as you begin to think about a family of your own!