Stop and think! Do you expect to be a Christian? Are you a Christian now? What do you think the marriage you contemplate will add to your possible usefulness as a Christian?
This message is a personal one. If the nature of things did not demand reserve as far as the outspoken expression of my feeling on this subject is concerned, I should love to take groups of young people and analyze the reason that we should not be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14). This could not be done because I have a dear husband who would give his life for me and who is the kindest, most thoughtful of men. It would break his heart to have me express to any one that there is anything lacking in our marriage.
It was the most unkind thing I could have done to him to marry him. Had I been living in communion with the Lord when I met him, I would have limited my acquaintance to a helpful friendship. But I had allowed a bitterness to creep in and rob me of my fellowship with Christ. I had to find my way back to the Cross where joy and peace abide. This I have done, and the mercy that has received me into service again is beyond my comprehension.
Beginning On A Wrong Foundation
How subtle are the wiles of Satan, that archenemy! He made some one care for me and me care for him - one who knew the things of grace enough to converse and to sense what would offend my sensibility. But to know saving grace and place God first in a life is a far different matter.
I was not an outbroken sinner at that time. The world looked upon me as a Christian, I knew in myself that I was not living a Spirit-guided life. It was then I gave myself in marriage to my unselfish husband. When he had learned to love me, it seemed to me most cruel to break our engagement, although I did attempt to, knowing our marriage hardly could be blessed of the Lord. When I saw the pain this effort caused, I seemed like a criminal to have awakened so deep a love then to refuse to give it the natural culmination.
I told my fiance how I felt about it, and he insisted that not one bit of religious freedom should be taken from me in our marriage. I mentioned that we had always had family worship in our home and that I was used to asking the blessing on my food audibly at home. I added that these things I felt were part of a Christian home which I would miss and would feel wrong in omitting. Had he been a bloodwashed Christian, I would never have needed to urge for those matters. They simply would be understood. Tithing was a habit from my earliest childhood, and as I wanted to be sure I should not have that question to settle after our marriage, we talked it over very freely.
How It Has Worked Out
All this was agreed upon, and I thought that my future husband was very near to saving grace. The fact was he was very much in love with me and was willing to make any concession necessary to keep me for himself. I wonder now sometimes whether he was fully conscious of the things he assented to then, not knowing how vital they were to me. Or, I wonder whether he realized, but just thought I could be talked out of these observances when I saw how devoted he would be in other things. At any rate, when it came to the actual doing of those things, I was conscious that these practices looked foolish to him. The tithe not only looked foolish; it was an outrage to expect a person who had to work hard for an income to give one4enth of it away. Now it was different. We were married and building up our home. The people I enjoyed were distasteful to my husband, and my convictions were so strong on many subjects that I could only go part way in friendship with the people with whom he would have enjoyed cultivating a friendship.
I go to the church most of the time alone, and he finds an excuse to stay at home or to do something else. Not always; he often goes with me, but I know it is a concession. If there is no seemingly good reason that he should not go, he usually will attend, but I know it is only because he wants to please me. When we come home, perhaps the service has been one of deep inspiration, although not of an especially intellectual tone. I have been blessed; he has been bored. And I wonder whether he will resent going the next time.
The matter of family worship has been indeed one of delicacy. It was hard to have to take the lead. My father had always done that. But that was nothing, to seeing my husband smile an apology when an unsaved friend was present overnight one time. I was so heartsick then and many times that finally I decided to have my devotions alone and to allow him to decide on his own relationship with the Lord. I thought I just would not mention anything religious to him. This I tried and found there was no balm to heal when the tests came. I could not keep my own nerves in control, and his temper became cruel. We both acknowledged that we had to have help from the Lord to make our home life run smoothly. While I had to take the responsibility for it, there now never seems to be a resentment to the family worship or the grace at meals. But I know of no words to express how I long to feel that my husband and I are one in our hopes and aspirations.
There are times when he seems really to enjoy seeing me accomplish things in the service of the Lord, but it is a matter of being proud of me rather than thankful with me for the opportunity of serving the Saviour.
Yes, I can turn on the radio to any program I want, but when a religious program of really spiritual tone is turned on, my husband tries to find occupation to take him out of the room. If I am not here, his own choices are those of which he does not think I would approve. Often when I enter the room, he will turn off one of these programs, such as a Sunday baseball game. I frequently turn off the things I should like to hear, for after all the home is for both of us. There are many things in common, and we try to find them and make as little of our differences as possible.
I am grateful, oh, so grateful that grace has enabled us to love one another enough to adjust ourselves, but I do not congratulate myself on being a blessing to my husband except as infinite mercy may reach his heart and draw him to the Lord.
Yes, he has had occasion to know many times that I feel a hunger for spiritual companionship, but he thinks he is so much ahead of many husbands whom we know that I should be thankful. I am sure that the hurt of parting even after our engagement would have been small compared to the hurt of trying to adjust two divergent souls to a common interest, each one hiding his deepest longings lest the expression of them bring up discussion uncovering wounds that are trying to heal.
Indeed, I know there is grace to take me through to the eternal city, but my influence with young people has been hindered greatly by my example in disobeying the command about unequal yoking together. And my opportunity to serve the Lord is limited continually by the need of being fair to my husband's not to have his share of happiness and choices. There is continually the problem of how I am to be consistent in my loyalty to my husband and to my Lord.
Before you marry - STOP and THINK!